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Author Topic: Breaking our own rule  (Read 8811 times)

Offline High and Outside

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Breaking our own rule
« on: January 26, 2010, 07:20:21 PM »
You all know the rules about what titles we do: we have to love the music, the master has to exist on analog tape, and we have to be able to get our hands on the original tape. The Linda Ronstadt title meets the first criterion, but there turned out to be a problem relative to the third.

Once we had concluded the deal and I got home with the tape, I couldn't help noticing that it sounded pretty crummy. Upon close inspection, I determined that they had given me an EQ copy that they used for LP cutting. I immediately got on the phone to their vault guy, and thus began a very long and interesting journey. In brief, they didn't have the original mix reels in their vault. So I started trying to find them. I checked in with everyone I could find who may have had anything to do with the tapes. Eventually I had pestered the producer, the main engineer, one of the other engineers, Linda's manager, vault guys in three record companies, the original mastering engineer (Bernie Grundman,) two tape librarians who had been at his mastering facility in 1974, Doug Sax (who had mastered a greatest hits package in 1975 that used a couple of the tunes,) the manager of the studio where the record was mixed, a guy at a third-party storage company in the LA area, and several other people whose connection to the tapes is just too hard to describe. I went over ground that other people had plowed before me, and ran down some leads that no one had pursued before. This whole process took months. The upshot is that the original tapes went missing some time late in 1974 or early in 1975, and they are still missing.

However, in the course of all this I did find (with a little help from Steve Hoffman. Thanks, Steve!) a flat copy that had been made direct from the mixes, with no processing. It was reputed to sound pretty good, so I got hold of it and brought it up to the studio. We were faced with the choice of using the copy or blowing off the title. We had to hear it for ourselves first, of course. We took our time, listening to the tape and talking it over among ourselves. We still love the music, and it still as a lot of that direct connection to the original event. So we eventually decided to put it out from the safety copy. That's what will be showing up on your doorsteps over the next couple of weeks. We have been enjoying it in our living rooms for a while now, and we hope you enjoy it as much as we do.
Paul Stubblebine
Managing Director, The TapeProject

Offline jcmusic

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Re: Breaking our own rule
« Reply #1 on: January 26, 2010, 08:19:03 PM »
You all know the rules about what titles we do: we have to love the music, the master has to exist on analog tape, and we have to be able to get our hands on the original tape. The Linda Ronstadt title meets the first criterion, but there turned out to be a problem relative to the third.

Once we had concluded the deal and I got home with the tape, I couldn't help noticing that it sounded pretty crummy. Upon close inspection, I determined that they had given me an EQ copy that they used for LP cutting. I immediately got on the phone to their vault guy, and thus began a very long and interesting journey. In brief, they didn't have the original mix reels in their vault. So I started trying to find them. I checked in with everyone I could find who may have had anything to do with the tapes. Eventually I had pestered the producer, the main engineer, one of the other engineers, Linda's manager, vault guys in three record companies, the original mastering engineer (Bernie Grundman,) two tape librarians who had been at his mastering facility in 1974, Doug Sax (who had mastered a greatest hits package in 1975 that used a couple of the tunes,) the manager of the studio where the record was mixed, a guy at a third-party storage company in the LA area, and several other people whose connection to the tapes is just too hard to describe. I went over ground that other people had plowed before me, and ran down some leads that no one had pursued before. This whole process took months. The upshot is that the original tapes went missing some time late in 1974 or early in 1975, and they are still missing.

However, in the course of all this I did find (with a little help from Steve Hoffman. Thanks, Steve!) a flat copy that had been made direct from the mixes, with no processing. It was reputed to sound pretty good, so I got hold of it and brought it up to the studio. We were faced with the choice of using the copy or blowing off the title. We had to hear it for ourselves first, of course. We took our time, listening to the tape and talking it over among ourselves. We still love the music, and it still as a lot of that direct connection to the original event. So we eventually decided to put it out from the safety copy. That's what will be showing up on your doorsteps over the next couple of weeks. We have been enjoying it in our living rooms for a while now, and we hope you enjoy it as much as we do.
I don't like being the first to make a comment on this but, I feel after reading this I need to. Why are we just now hearing about this story? You guys didn't think we should be told sooner? How much difference is there going to be in the copy used and what should have been used? I don't like to complain but, we are talking about a fair amount of money invested in the whole process!!! I may have more to say on this later, waiting for your response!!!

Jay
« Last Edit: January 27, 2010, 07:40:49 AM by jcmusic »
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Offline ironbut

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Re: Breaking our own rule
« Reply #2 on: January 26, 2010, 08:40:28 PM »
That is quite a tale Paul!
I hope there haven't been too many quests of that magnitude.
 
Regarding the generational differences, for the most part, I trust Paul to have rejected the safety master if it wasn't up to his standards.
I have a pretty decent pair of ears but I've gotta say that I've been there when he was agonizing over a problem with the sound and it took me half an hour just to figure out what he was talking about!
Believe me, those guys are in a whole different universe when it comes to critical listening (from me at least).

steve koto
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Offline mikel

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Re: Breaking our own rule
« Reply #3 on: January 26, 2010, 09:35:44 PM »
i just read Paul's comments and can relate to the serious considerations these guys had to weigh. this was the first foray into 'power pop' at a high level and almost a no win situation. do they reject the title and make it that much harder the next time they try to negotiate something like this? is the sound 'good enough'? how will the subscribers feel? what would be the ramifications of switching titles?

i do respect any subscriber's right to be upset; but i think if thought all the way thru that it seems that if it sounds great then it was the right decision.

ultimately; i've bought into Paul, Doc and Romo's sense of what is right. and if 'Heart Like A Wheel' sounds great then there should be peace in the valley.

TP-011, 'Heart Like A Wheel' arrived today and it's sitting next to me here. i'm about to listen to it. this thread is not where i'll post my impressions, but i did hear a demo cut at CES and it did sound wonderful there, so my expectations are high.

btw; bonus points awarded for full disclosure......not always the easy way but the right way.

mikel
« Last Edit: January 26, 2010, 09:38:07 PM by mikel »
Mike Lavigne

Offline High and Outside

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Re: Breaking our own rule
« Reply #4 on: January 26, 2010, 09:55:42 PM »

I don't like being the first to make a comment on this but...

Jay

Jay,

Once you get your copy and listen to it, if you aren't happy with it get hold of Eileen and we'll arrange for you to return it and make an adjustment.
« Last Edit: January 26, 2010, 10:32:56 PM by High and Outside »
Paul Stubblebine
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Offline John Beach

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Re: Breaking our own rule
« Reply #5 on: January 26, 2010, 10:48:52 PM »
I'm new at this so please bear with me. I thought when we met at the studio on October 24th that we listened to Paul's master copy of "Heart Like A Wheel". Wasn't that a useful demonstration of the quality of the tape? Like I said, I'm new at this so if I'm confused on this issue, forgive me.
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Offline jcmusic

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Re: Breaking our own rule
« Reply #6 on: January 27, 2010, 07:50:35 AM »

I don't like being the first to make a comment on this but...

Jay

Jay,

Once you get your copy and listen to it, if you aren't happy with it get hold of Eileen and we'll arrange for you to return it and make an adjustment.
Paul,
This is not the response I was looking for or expecting, just the same my response is the same. Paul my comments are not about how the tape sounds or may sound, my feelings on this are about notification!!! When it comes to my audio I do not like the unexpected surprize!!! If told up front I have no problem with what needed to be done, I am saying that if it is not going to be what I signed up for just let me know ahead of time!!!

I do happen to feel that you and the rest of the TP personel know more about what you're doing than I, so I do trust that you did the right thing or what ever had to be done in order to satisfiy all parties concerned. Just don't mislead me or say it is this when it is that!!! I also realize that you didn't know until later about the original master tape, so this is more of a if there is ever a next time situation I hope you understand!!!

Jay
« Last Edit: January 27, 2010, 07:55:06 AM by jcmusic »
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Offline TomR

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Re: Breaking our own rule
« Reply #7 on: January 27, 2010, 11:25:30 AM »
I'm glad to have heard this story, and I don't think Paul, Michael and Dan are putting out Heart Like a Wheel on the TP in order to make a ton of money, but because they believe in the music and the recording. I've heard a demo tape at the studio as well and it sounded fantastic. One wonders how the original master of a seminal recording like this goes missing, and I also wonder what was used as the source for the audiophile LP edition of Heart Like a Wheel that came out a while back.....hmmmm. Maybe Linda has the master locked away herself - or Peter Asher.

Mine is supposed to arrive today. Eagerly awaited. The full disclosure is appreciated. 
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Offline Tim

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Re: Breaking our own rule
« Reply #8 on: January 27, 2010, 12:57:01 PM »
Copy the Ronstadt "flat copy" digitally at 32bit/352.8kHz, then generate the TP tapes from the digital file.  The number of tape generations would then remain the same as the other titles.  Blasphemy?   
« Last Edit: January 27, 2010, 01:07:11 PM by Tim »
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Offline docb

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Re: Breaking our own rule
« Reply #9 on: January 27, 2010, 01:17:08 PM »
When Paul picked up the first copy he mastered a couple of tracks to 1" and sent 1/4" real time dubs of them to me for eval - the exact process we use to make subscriber albums. I had a clean original vinyl pressing available (actually a couple), so I could make a comparison. For what it's worth I thought it was good but I didn't think the tape sounded that much better than the LP and we usually experience a pretty dramatic difference when making this comparison. Paul was feeling the same way about it, so he decided to pursue a better tape, which took some time and is why the TP-011 is shipping after TP-012 and TP-013. For me the second tape Paul mastered is quite superior to the vinyl and to the first tape.

As an interesting aside, I experienced the same kind of thing with the cover art. No one saved original cover art in those days, so I often use high res scans or photos of original album jackets. The first jacket I bought was pretty clean, but I soon realized that it was printed very dark compared to most images I had seen. The subtle hair highlights and delicate skin shading of the Rembrandt lighting in the cover photo were not like what I had seen on other jackets. Luckily Shawn happened to have a clean jacket with the original shrink on it and we used that cover print with better tonal balance to take a second whack at our cover art.

I'm not particularly trying to sell anyone anything here, I just want to point out that a lot of the processes we deal with in producing these tapes require judgment calls based upon evaluation and experience. Though that aspect of the process may not appear that important compared to what might seem to be clear cut audiophile selection criteria like "original master" (which is not always that clearly cut) or "produced by Rudy Van Gelder" or "recorded by Keith Johnson", in fact creative decisions are the heart of this whole venture, from choices of titles to choices in duplicating procedures, electronics, tape stock, packaging, and of course the sonics. We're going to do our best work when we have some creative leeway during the process, and hopefully that is what will best serve the subscribers and their investment.
Dan "Doc B." Schmalle
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Managing Director - retired, The Tape Project

Offline xcortes

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Re: Breaking our own rule
« Reply #10 on: January 27, 2010, 05:15:59 PM »
I think I've said it before but you guys rock!

This thread shows why being a TP suscriber is, as Doc said, an investment instead of a simple (and enjoyable) expense. Keep up with the good work!
Xavier Cortes

Offline blaupunk

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Re: Breaking our own rule
« Reply #11 on: February 09, 2010, 07:52:02 PM »
While my profile may indicate a newbie, I am an old hand at this as a prior iteration.
I forgot my password so many times the program presumed I was daft or one of the undead.
Neither one was true.  I am reimagined.
Steve do you remember the movie Mr. Jordan?

Now for the Ronstadt title.
I learned about the disappointment of the owners of the TTP as did everyone else.
I do not ascribe blame to anyone involved in this transaction except perhaps for the folks at Capitol and the apparent vagaries of the licensing process.
That being said, my interest in the TTP was analog only and master tape sources.  The linkage is intentional.
As far as I am concerned, if the linkage cannot be realized the title scrubs; no exceptions.

In this instance, the truth became realized after the deal was done.
In the future I would hope that as a lesson learned, the TTP owners would make a condition of their licensing that the master tape was available and if not the deal was void; money refunded.
I think this is a reasonable expectation based upon TTP criteria.

No title is more important than the criteria, unless the criteria is altered in advance.
That's my take.





 
Charles Vonderheid