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Author Topic: Barclay-Crocker collecting notes  (Read 16366 times)

Offline ironbut

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Barclay-Crocker collecting notes
« on: May 28, 2007, 08:38:06 PM »
Hey, this forum is Way too quiet! I don't expect you guys to give up your secret sources to the whole world, but I get pretty excited when I get a really, really great sounding tape. And when I get something cool, I like to share it with others who can appreciate it. And, let face it folks, that's a pretty select few.  I've been collecting BC's for a while and have quite a few now. I've found them to be in exceptional condition compared to other labels that I've gotten. I think that most of the people who took the time to buy them took better care of them. Most of them come with the boxes in good condition and the tape ends secured. One tip to keep them nice is to put the boxes in slip-covers. There's a guy on ebay that I get them from http://cgi.ebay.com/100-REEL-BOX-REUSABLE-Protection-Sleeves-R-J-100-Rk_W0QQitemZ300114194612QQihZ020QQcategoryZ618QQssPageNameZWDVWQQrdZ1QQcmdZViewItemThey are $15 for a bag of 100 and work great (maybe a little slippery when your trying to stack them). I've been slowly going through all my BC's to put leader on them and grade the sound quality. I'll try and post the ones that IMHO are must haves.
Virgil Thomson- Suite from " The River"/The Plow that Broke the Plains
Jean Sibelius-Kyllikki/Three Sonatinas/Sonata inF Major
Shostakovich-Symphony #13
Respighi-Ancheint Airs & Dances
Ravel-Le Tombeau De Couperin  Stravinsky-Pulcinella Suite
The BC catalog I have highlights many of the tapes. No less than 144 have quotes from reviews of either the tapes themselves or the lp release. I don't know how many of you have a copy of a catalog but I'm Not going to list them here. If you'd like a copy of my copy, PM me and I'll get one out to you. I'll list more of my fav's later. I'd love to hear what yours are though.
« Last Edit: May 29, 2007, 06:22:35 PM by ironbut »
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Offline Danny Kaey

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Re: Barclay-Crocker collecting notes
« Reply #1 on: May 29, 2007, 08:51:08 AM »
yep, everything "he" said! :)
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Offline scully280

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Re: Barclay-Crocker collecting notes
« Reply #2 on: May 29, 2007, 10:44:31 PM »
In addition to the above worthy titles how 'bout Vanguard Morton Gould Latin American Symphonette? (B-side Gottschalk OK, but not at all as dynamic).  I've always been partial to the Unicorn Horenstein Mahler 3rd, but some of my enthusiasm is for the sound.  It was one of the first 8-track mastered classical recordings, and the BC tape sounds way better than the discs, either imported, Nonesuch or HNH.

I like the Teldec Concentus Musicus Bach Brandenburgs for natural stereo, I like the DG Abbado Prokoviev Alexander Nevsky for being big, and  then there's the Philips Debussy Images with Haitink, again natural.  The Philips Dukas disc with Zinman isn't bad either.  There's plenty to like in that catalog.

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Offline ironbut

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Re: Barclay-Crocker collecting notes
« Reply #3 on: May 30, 2007, 06:28:41 PM »
I think the Gould was used by TDP at CES and I can see why. I don't have the Mahler or the Dukas but the others are fantastic. One of my fav. Debussy is the Music for Two Harps tape. It's definitely on the other end of the spectrum but Demo worthy IMHO none the less. The interplay of the 2 harps is so delicate, it sounds like a soft breeze could break the spell. The Debussy & Ravel string quartet tape sounds ok but I was really hoping for a more dynamic performance. I heard the Julliard Quartet do it in concert once and I think it kind of spoiled me for other interpretations.Thanks , I'll keep an eye out for those 2.
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Offline High and Outside

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Re: Barclay-Crocker collecting notes
« Reply #4 on: May 30, 2007, 07:38:05 PM »
In addition to the above worthy titles how 'bout Vanguard Morton Gould Latin American Symphonette?

I have one, count 'em one, Barclay Crocker, and that's the one. Doc sent it to me so I could see how one of these 7-1/2 ips pre-records would sound once we got one of our machines up and running. I still haven't spun it once. And I don't know what I'm going to do about Dolby. I have every flavor of professional Dolby plus DBX and even Telcom around the studio. Hell, I even have two channels of half-speed Dolby A. But I don't have any Dolby B.

Anyway, at least I know that if I ever get around to this, I've got one of the good ones.
Paul Stubblebine
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Offline docb

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Re: Barclay-Crocker collecting notes
« Reply #5 on: May 30, 2007, 10:35:50 PM »
I never listened to it either. Sounds like you guys need to list those Dobly Bs you've been meaning to get rid of on ebay this week. I promise not to bid against Paul. I hear he has some space opening up in his storage...
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Offline classicrecordings

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Re: Barclay-Crocker collecting notes
« Reply #6 on: June 01, 2007, 09:02:40 AM »
I've always been partial to the Unicorn Horenstein Mahler 3rd, but some of my enthusiasm is for the sound.  It was one of the first 8-track mastered classical recordings, and the BC tape sounds way better than the discs, either imported, Nonesuch or HNH.

Granted, I have spent a lot more on each of my various turntables than any single 4 track tape machine I have ever owned, but I have not been completely won over to the sound of 4 track tapes when they have been compared to their vinyl counterparts.

But, based on this discussion, I'm getting the idea that the BC's are the way to go for later 4 track releases. I have to say that I have always been turned off by the idea of dolby B and DBX. I have always felt that adding another piece of equipment in the signal path will degrade the sound as much as any benefit that will be gained by adding it, thereby ultimately changing the sound, and not necessarily improving it.

So what is the overall sense of the BC tapes compared to duplicates by Bel Canto, RCA, Columbia, Ampex and others? Were the BC's the best duplicates for later 4 track releases? Were there any benefits to these processed tapes over the standard non-processed tape releases?

TIA, David
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Offline ironbut

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Re: Barclay-Crocker collecting notes
« Reply #7 on: June 01, 2007, 08:58:26 PM »
Anyone that's tried to find a transparent Dolby B decoder will instantly agree with your "turn off". For the most part, I don't use one when I listen to my BC tapes. I know,.. the top end is tipped up a bit and the tape hiss is very present, but my ears get used to it and until I can get one going that doesn't add or take away too much ( my Integrex is pretty close) that's how it will stay. Regarding BC tapes, they were made to a higher standard than the "big" record companies offerings. The tapes are all on 1 mil tape of pretty good quality and were dup'ed at 4:1 which is much lower than the high speed dup's that are the norm. There were over 300 BC's in the catalog. These performances are hand picked and while I don't always agree with the choices made, overall, they are excellent. A case in point; I love Stravinsky's Rite of Spring. I even have a record that a friend had cut in San Francisco for my 25th birthday present of a famous 78rpm. BC's recording with Ozawa is easily the best sounding recording I've ever heard. Because of the extreme dynamics on this tape, it is only recorded in one direction ( there's a few done this way). But,.. it just doesn't do it for me. But man,.. the dynamics! I'd say that 10-15% are like that. But, at least they sound great.
In practical terms, as my original post indicated, the tapes are in better shape period! Out of about 100 only one has a splice, periodic drop outs and balance problems. There are a few that have slight problems at the end of the second side ( if only they'd splice in some leader!) but nothing serious. So, consistency is BC's biggest selling points for me. I have a few Londons and I'm a fan of Solti/Chicago. These can sound just as good as your above average BC.But, I've got 3 copies of Solti's Symphony Fantastique and I'm still looking for a good one. This is an extreme example because I have lots of good sounding problem free Londons.  I've also had ones that were great at first and then, upon repeated plays, the sound degraded. Same thing with Phillips and Columbia. Finding a minty Dave Brubeck Take 5 is another quest. The last one I had just sounded fantastic  except the first track( one of my fav's on the album) was almost entirely erased along with the last 8 bars or so on side 2! That tape sounds sooo good though, I almost kept it.
Aside from BC, I've tried to concentrate on Mercury. I have a few very old Mercury 2 tracks and they sound great. None of the ones that I have so far are dolby encoded. They're made by Ampex just like the Londons and Phillips but they "seem" to stand up better to the ravages of time. Perhaps a case of the owners care again though. Maybe Mercury spec'ed a different tape formula. I don't know, but I've got a couple whose boxes are very worn but the tape still sounds great.
There's nothing like getting a tape of a performance that you really love but, if you're compelled to have a balanced collection of classical music, you'd be hard pressed to find a better catalog of competent performances.
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Offline scully280

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Re: Barclay-Crocker collecting notes
« Reply #8 on: June 03, 2007, 08:43:03 PM »
I've been picking up a few 2-tracks out of curiosity, and that acetate tape, if it was wound correctly has aged quite well.  I remember from my teens when polyester tape came out and was touted as so superior, but the older Scotch 111 class of tape on 2-track releases regardless of the maker has really stood the test of time, again as long as it was wound properly.  A few Living Stereo's in 2-track tape are quite magic.

I don't enjoy Ampex 4-track stuff much 'cause their non-Dolby stuff compensates for the noisy 4-track format with some pretty aggressive high-end equalization that's hard to eq back out.  They even have a bit of hi boost in Dolby tapes, though less, in general.   BC was much closer to flat than any previous tape vendor.

In my self-appointed role as know-it-all here's an odd tidbit.  The BC Mercury Ancient Airs and Dances notes that they used a new mix from the original 3-track master.  And indeed it's a bit different than the Wilma Cozart supervised CD re-mix version.  I don't have an original Mercury LP so I don't know what the baseline is, but the BC, especially in headphones isn't so super-stereo with everything bunched up extreme right or extreme left, and I like it better than the CD re-issue.  Haven't compared it to the any other releases either like the SACD or the Speaker's Corner LP.  Other weird stuff.  Early tapes were dubbed 4:1.  For some reason some sort of 180Hz buzz in the duplicator gets translated down to a noticeable 45Hz.  That's not there in the later 8:1 tapes, well actually it's just pushed an octave lower where my speakers and headphones don't respond much at all.  Sometimes on the European masters the specta show 50Hz at a very low level, but at least I know that's not my equipment.

I agree that Dolby units are a problem, even the pro units.  The most common pro-unit on e-bay is the Dolby Labs model 330 which as aimed at cassettes and has a very steep low-pass filter at about 17KHz.  One of these days I'll get around to taking one of these apart and trying to bypass the filter and tinker with the amps and capacitors, but until then I use it as-is.  I don't think you can really get the true sense of the tapes without listening to some of them in Dolby B because of the dynamic filter effect.  The dynamic range just seems to much more natural with the inverse dynamics of Dolby-B playback.

And as far as BC being better than LP's or other tape, I dunno.  It really depended on what kind of equipment you had, TT and cartridge or tape deck.  By and large LP's, especially since I now have much better playback equipment, often have an edge.  But like all things, tapes are a product of the times.  LP's were mass-produced, and as the 70's began, mostly by large corporations, run by bean-counters.  That meant lots of pops and ticks, and basically lot's of lousy sounding disks.  Sure you could find imports or special issues, but tapes solved a lot of the manufacturing problems that were inherent in LP's.  Classic Recordings or Speaker's Corner LP's are made essentially by hand in small batches with a religious approach to quality, cottage industry stuff, so they sound great.  Barclay Crocker was ahead of them making tapes, not LP's by hand in small batches with the same religious zeal, so they were just a little ahead of the LP renaissance, but doing it with tape.


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Offline ironbut

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Re: Barclay-Crocker collecting notes
« Reply #9 on: June 24, 2007, 10:55:02 AM »
Thanks Scully280,.. yeah, I've gotta get on upgrading my Dolby unit too. Those Speakers Corner Mercurys are super though. Especially the Shostakovich sym #5 and the Debussy Nocturnes!
BTW how did it go with that Tape Op want ad? I've never bought anything from it and I'd be interested in how it went.
Back to BC's though,..
Another couple of tapes I'd like to mention
Bruckner Requiem- The sound on this is just wonderful. If your not familiar with the piece, it's one of those " cast of thousands" productions. If you like well recorded choral/orchestral this is a must have. The organ comes blasting through like a freight train at a crossing when the chorus is silenced. Huge soundstage! What more do you want?
Chopin 24 Preludes Ivan Moravec piano-The piano sound on this tape is as good as I've heard. Lots of weight from the left hand and sparkle from the right. There's enough on stage incidentals to satisfy the detail freak in you and the size of the venue is easily determined. I does lack that last bit of resonance and impact that would make it virtually real sounding.
steve koto
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Offline ironbut

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Re: Barclay-Crocker collecting notes
« Reply #10 on: June 30, 2007, 01:03:25 AM »
Wow,.. I just got done listening to the BC Tchaikovsky-Ballet Music from Operas. Talk about demo material. Conducted by Colin Davis, previously released by Phillips. This isn't exactly the sort of thing that I'd listen to for relaxation, but if your looking for huge dynamics and all those audiophile demo things; triangles, bass drums galore,.. the 1812 for almost an hour! You get the idea. So, if you want to scare the cat or impress that special someone ( think Peter Sellers/Paula Prentiss in " The World of Henry Orient") this could be just what you need.
BTW, I found this and 4 others for Buy it Now @ $9.99 ea.. So there are some bargains out there still.
steve koto
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Offline AZ_Gary

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Re: Barclay-Crocker collecting notes
« Reply #11 on: July 07, 2007, 08:23:24 PM »
Steve,

I just snagged my first. The seller is local, so I should have it Tuesday or Wednesday. I got this one from your "must have" list: Virgil Thomson- Suite from " The River"/The Plow that Broke the Plains.

Thanks again for the catalog and the tips.

Gary

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Offline Mr Uggs

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Re: Barclay-Crocker collecting notes
« Reply #12 on: July 23, 2007, 08:43:15 AM »
Greetings all,
After reading the first thread from ironbut about purchasing bags for tapes, I thought that I would throw my 2 cents in. I have been making my own bags. As I have access to a shrinkwrap machine, I can take vinyl album covers, cut them down, and form fit them to single, or double, tape boxes. I then create indents on the flap portion, cut down to a thin stripe, double sided tape, and, voila!, a protective, sealing cover has been made. It takes time to do, however, it is a use that I have found for used clear vinyl sleeves, rather than tossing them out into the environment.
Although, when I run out, checking out that link for pre-made tape covers will be a good thing.
Yeow.
Kevin MacDonnell

Offline ironbut

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Re: Barclay-Crocker collecting notes
« Reply #13 on: July 23, 2007, 06:06:55 PM »
Welcome to the forum Kevin. Always glad to see another Bay area tape lover. That's a good idea about reusing the record bags. Especially for 2 tape boxes. I have some 2 tape covers that I got with some auction goodies and man, are they tight! As far as the Ebay guy with the covers, his presence has been a little on and off lately but when you catch him, those bags a high quality.
BTW, if you need a copy of the BC catalog, I have a 1981 copy I've been sending to folks, so PM me if you want a copy.
steve koto
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Offline scully280

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Re: Barclay-Crocker collecting notes
« Reply #14 on: August 29, 2007, 08:12:38 AM »
I was playing some BC tapes this weekend and there's something I've been doing since I started with tapes years ago that I just take for granted.  I've always had a large hub 7 inch plastic reel for a take-up reel.  I've found this very helpful on with the typical  pre-recorded tape that's also on a large hub 7 inch reel because you don't get the large mis-match in back tension.  That shouldn't make a difference with a completely aligned and set up tape deck, but....  It always helps, I think.  They sometimes go out of stock but US Recording generally has these.  Oh, I also have lately been moving tapes on small hub 7 inch reels to 10 inch reels for critical playback for the same reason.  But then maybe I'm just weird.

Rich
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