Electric Recording’s prices have drawn head-scratching through the cliquey world of high-end vinyl producers. Chad Kassem, whose company Acoustic Sounds, in Salina, Kan., is one of the world’s biggest vinyl empires, said he admired Hutchison’s work.
“I tip my hat to any company that goes the extra mile to make things as best as possible,” Kassem said.
But he said he was proud of Acoustic Sounds’s work, which like Electric Recording cuts its masters from original tapes and goes to great lengths to capture original design details — and sells most of its records for about $35. I asked Kassem what is the difference between a $35 reissue and a $500 one.
He paused for a moment, then said: “Four hundred sixty-five dollars.”
If they are made from solid unobtainium, forged in a dragon's breath, the stylus is tipped with unicorn horn, and hand assembled by elves in an enchanted forest, then that is one heck of a good deal! Otherwise, not so much.The turntable and tonearm are from Continuum Labs and at the time he purchased his, the retail price was I think $160k.
Hmm... the "average person" these days listens to compressed digital files, or low bit-rate streams, on a smartphone, through cheap earbuds, and thinks that they sound good. At home, they may play music through a little Bluetooth speaker, or listen through an app on their TV - through the TV speakers (gasp!). Can such an "average person" hear the difference between their low-quality setup, and a high-quality source played through good components and speakers? I'm sure that they can. They may be blown away by the difference. Would it matter to most of them? No. Convenience is valued over everything else. Having to carry only one device around, which contains one's telephone, computer, radio, stereo, entire music collection, watch, alarm clock, books, camera etc. is what's important, even if that device is nowhere near the best at any of those functions... it's "good enough". [/end old man rant]That's a good question Murray. And here is another question. Consider the very best of the best vinyl records from the original tape--I know that the records are one generation removed from the original tape--but for average person would the high quality record and original tape (assuming the tape hasn't degraded) sound virtually indistinguishable?
That tape hiss would be on the master the record is cut from, so what you'd hear is the slight vinyl noise as the record is playing. Although with high-quality pressings on the best equipment, the vinyl noise is quiet enough that it's barely audible anyways. The type of buyers would would spend $100 or more for an audiophile record have the equipment to play it back on--$100 may not even cover the interconnect from the tonearm to the preamp. (So you can pretty much guarantee that anyone who can afford a $400 record has the right caliber of equipment to play it back on.)As for myself, I honestly don't know if I could tell the difference between a high quality vinyl record, and the original master tape used to make it. I've never had the opportunity to hear a studio master tape, let alone do an A/B comparison with another format through the same amp/speakers. Perhaps the tape would have some hiss which would give it away?
Microphones are an incredibly deep subject. @Bobberman knows a lot about them, primarily in voice work, but can probably explain them a lot better than I can. (I know how the different types work.)Rudy--your opinion please--in the recording process is a top quality microphone the key element in creating a perfect recording sound or is it all of the above elements as described in the "360 Sound"?
Nowadays it’s usually up to the place holding the event. If they choose, they can have one mix and just run it too a mixer/splitter that each organization can plug into. Other locations, allow each individual organization to setup their own mic’s. As for those old newsreels, I would think that the technology was there, especially at the White House (since there are films where the old Presidents had one mic), but it was more advertising than anything else.Was it necessary for each organization to have their own mic? Couldn't they have shared mics? Or would that have been impossible, that is, would each organization need their own mic wired up to their own tape machine/recording device? I recall seeing old newsreels of FDR addressing Congress and at the podium he had 3 mics with one labeled NBC and the others labeled CBS and MBS. Would each mic be wired to go out to their respective radio audience? When you have the larger instrumental groups at Carnegie Hall playing before 11 mics would the inevitable outcome always be sound distortion for the audience?
I went to my Ruy Castro book "Bossa Nova" and on pp. 248-249 in reference to the 1962 Carnegie Hall concert he wrote: "All of the microphones worked well except for the internal sound microphones of the theater itself. Frey's team, overly preoccupied with recording a disc of the show, had paid little attention to this particular detail." Where would the internal sound mics be placed? Along the wall of the theater? At the foot of the stage? What kind of sound check should have been made for them, but apparently was not done? Are internal sound mics like today's boundary mics? Would this mean that the "forest of microphones" on stage would not amplify sound to the audience, but only feed the sound directly to their sponsors, that is, Audio-Fidelity, CBS, Voice of America, USIA, BBC, Radio Free Europe, and Radio Bandeirantes? So in essence, without the internal sound mics working properly, the audience truly heard an acoustical performance and depending on their seating, a very poor acoustical sound.Thanks Rudy for your explanation. You made a complex subject matter understandable.
I just thought of several more microphone questions, if you could answer. The legendary November 1962 Bossa Nova at Carnegie Hall concert was held at a venue known for its legendary acoustics. And yet the concert everyone said was a sonic disaster due to the poor placement of the microphones. At many locations in the Hall people could not clearly hear the vocals and instruments. Can a poor placement of microphones negate a concert hall noted for its superior acoustics? And yet the concert recording for album and later CD release sounds extraordinary. Apparently the microphone placements had no effect upon the tape machine's excellent end product. Could you also explain that?