Is there (or could there be) such thing as High Definition Analog recordings and music reproduction, bear with me for a second, a process to engrave and read vinyl that would be in the nano tolerance. Forgive me if this is totally ridiculous but just curious to hear opinions.
Can a record be considered hi-def with such a limited freq response, high background noise and poor channel separation??? That's like saying black and white tv's are great because they do such a great job on grey-scale. IMO Now if you're talking high quality (studio grade)analogue tape that's a different matter.
Philijolet tks, this is part of what I was looking for...would there be such thing as a more precise cutting tool or cutting process that capture more subtle freq or volume changes of the recording? same for the reading, I know there are laser LPs, is this waht they are trying to do?
Yioryos: Tks, send me an email to tell me who you are on CAM but no need to worry I am still there, just in a different suit!!!!
Butsy, are you trying to say that LP playback is analogous to a B&W TV in quality?? And then you have the nerve to try to placate and assuage us with your second post? Further, I've HEARD systems with wide frequency response and no background noise and they sounded unrealistic and fatiquging. So, I think your point, has missed its mark.
Do you mean even smaller than the less-than 400-700 nanometers already achieved by the average LP? Ultra-high resolution is already a fact of vinyl pressings, since the quoted figures are those of the wavelength of visible light, and the grooves on LPs are even smaller than this. A nanometer is one billionth of a meter, and a record pressing already lies in this domain of scale.
It is more a matter of compressed recordings and poor pressings, and of the quality of the playback equipment (which, with an open mind, need not be extravagantly expensive), than even tighter tolerances, which, being analogue, can be achieved without having to change the hardware.
Okay heres the skinny on the MoFi Lps and how they were done.
Mobile Fidelity Sound Labs,as the first record-pressing house to offer commercially available half-speed-mastered LPs of popular music, MoFi set the stage for what was to come. And at $10 a pop, nearly twice the price of a regular record in the late 70s, MoFi had some chutzpah, too. They built the integrity of their now-famous label by acquiring ONLY original master tapes. By this I mean they used only the first generation of tapes from the recording session -- not second- or third- (or often even worse) generation copies -- for their work, ensuring the best possible source material from which to perform their sonic alchemy.
So just what does half-speed mastering mean? In overly simplified form, the master tape is played back at precisely half its recorded speed while the cutting lathe is similarly turned at precisely half the desired playback speed. Why? This time-shifting process gives the cutting head twice the time to cut its musically complex and physically demanding analog groove into the lacquer. This luxury affords considerably more accuracy with matters such as frequency extremes and microdynamic contrasts.
The final product was pressed to a special, thick (180-gram) blend of virgin vinyl that JVC trademarked as SuperVinyl. The result, especially when taken in union with MoFis meticulous re-mastering of the original tapes, yielded a truly wonderful sonic presentation. Audiophiles of my era sought the records out at every opportunity. They were very often the first records we played when showing off our systems to envious audio buddies. More often than I care to recall, I fired up my humble system with the pressing of Pink Floyds Dark Side of the Moon, only to rattle window and door frames with the famous opening chicken heart.
In the early days, MoFi executed their tape transfers to lacquer with a Neuman VMS 70 cutting lathe, driven by a JVC quartz-locked direct-drive motor and cut with a Neuman SX 74 cutting head. A specially modified Neuman SAL 74 amp (with no input transformers) fed the cutting head from a Scully SP-14 tape transport fitted with Saki glass ferrite heads. Once this superior master had been cut and the mother stamper made, they then used some of the quietest, most pure vinyl that could be manufactured, guaranteeing that the disc you got was as quiet as any that could be pressed -- as well as being of impeccable sonic quality.
They even listed their playback equipment. To sample their own wares for final production quality, they were using Denon and Revox turntables mounted with a Fidelity Research 64S (with the B60 elevator/stabilizer) arm and fitted with a Fidelity Research FR 1 Mk 3F cartridge. Preamps were the Mark Levinson ML-1 (with the D-6 card), the Audio Research SP-6 or the DB Systems 1a. One of these esteemed preamps would then feed an Audio Research D-110, a DB Systems 6m or the near-legendary Threshold CAS-1 amplifier. Does anyone out there remember the celebrated Beveridge Model 2? Or even the B&W D-7? They also dug deep with the use of a pair of RH Labs subs.
In 1982 came the first of the simply stunning UHQR series. They were pressed on thicker (200-gram) and supposedly even better vinyl than the regular 180-gram Super Vinyl series. Each press run was limited to maximum of 5000, further assuring high quality by not overworking any of the stampers. The packaging was scary -- a sleeve and its literature packaged with foam inside a separate box. Now this was unique! This series was to be 20 titles strong, but it was limited to just eight recordings, all duplicated from the original MFSL catalog. To this day, these are among the quietest, most dynamic records Ive ever played.
Sheffield Labs recordings were direct to disc as opposed to the tape transfers used by MoFi.
For those of us who were active audiophiles in the late 70's and early 80's, the name Sheffield Lab conjures up something special. Doug Sax and Lincoln Mayorga were pioneers of the Direct-to-Disc LP process, introducing the first modern "D-2-D" LP in 1968. Yes, at prior times in the history of recording, all discs were recorded direct-to-disc (e.g., 78's), since there was no tape. But the process was not used in the LP era until Doug and Lincoln made their first experimental recording in 1959, and brought out their first commercial product in 1968. For more details, see the interview with Doug and Lincoln by Raymond Chowkwanyun and myself in Positive Feedback Vol. 5 No. 4 (1995).****
However back up tapes were made of the original process, for reasons of security.
Later on in 1978 Telarc Records were to expand this process to Digital to Direct using the Soundstream Digital Recorder. The first LP released with this process was Frederick Fennel conducting the Cleveland Symphonic Winds,Telarc number 5038. No compression or editing was possible. The musicians had to be straight on from the onset of recording. These discs have a very large dynamic range and one has to be careful in setting volume levels on playback. Get stupid with one of these discs and you can kiss your speakers or amp goodbye. These were recorded in real time, what you hear is the actual performance, as if you were sitting there during the recording!!
TECHNICAL INFORMATION: This recording was made using three Schoepps/Studer transformerless omni microphones, Model SKM-52U. Their signal was fed through a Studer Model 169 mixing console directly to the Soundstream Digital Recorder. Mastering was accomplished by sending the digital playback signal directly into the electronics of a Neumann VMS-70, SAL-74 cutting system equipped with an SX-74 cutter head. [This Neumann system, which belongs to the JVC Cutting Center in Los Angeles, is completely transformerless and especially designed for half-speed mastering.] Mastering was done half-speed using Pyral lacquers and Adamant cutting styli. Absolutely no limiting, filtering, compression, equalization or low frequency crossover was used at any point in either the recording or mastering process. Monitoring was done using ADS Model BC-8 Broadcast Monitor loudspeakers.
SPECIFICATIONS FOR THE SOUNDSTREAM DIGITAL RECORDING SYSTEM
Frequency Response: Flat from 0 to 21 kHz (-3db at 22kHz)
Total Harmonic Distortion: At "0" VU, less than .004%
Obviously, you cannot cut a Direct Disc at half speed if it's going to played back at full speed. In fact, just the opposite is desirable - the best DD's are cut at 45 rpm. And 78rpm would be even better.
I personally find Direct Disc recording to be way more of a benefit than 1/2 speed mastering anyway. I have A/B'd some of the 1/2 speed and 45rpm reissues of original "normal" 33rpm recordings and found fairly minimal differences in the 1/2 speeds. The 45 rpms make a bit more difference but won't improve an average recording to anything approaching a decent DD.