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 Posted:   May 7, 2003 - 11:39 PM   
 By:   Thread Assasin   (Member)

Has anyone else had any audio issues with their copy of this release? I don't know if it's my equipment, the pressing I received, the source material, or my ears, but I'm hearing some 'drag' in some of the cuts; the opening theme and track 12 seem particularly 'wavery,' and there seems to be a bit of ambient-type noise in the background as well. I know this sort of thing can happen with older source materials, and certainly session noise is not unusual, but since I have never experienced this sort of thing with any of the other Varese releases I have purchased, I figured I'd check. Regardless -- what a great score! Thanks to Varese for getting it out there. Any feedback on this would be appreciated. Thanks!

 
 
 Posted:   May 8, 2003 - 12:23 AM   
 By:   jonathan_little   (Member)

...but I'm hearing some 'drag' in some of the cuts; the opening theme and track 12 seem particularly 'wavery,'...

I've heard the sound clips on the Varese website and it sounds like the symptoms of mag "wow." I think you've pretty much answered your own question. I believe that some of these old tapes physically drag in the player and that's what it sounds like. It doesn't have anything to do with your pressing of the disc, this is just the best sound that can be extracted from these old, deteriorating tapes. FSM's Beneath the 12-Mile Reef disc is afflicted by this problem throughout (listen to the sound clips on this site), but it's one of those scores that is so good that I'm able to listen to it and get beyond the sub-par sonics.

Does anybody know what causes these old tapes to drag? It doesn't seem like something that would be very easy to fix digitally.

Also, could somebody please fix the "Enter a Subject" bug? I sometimes can't post on this board in specific threads using Mozilla because of that Javascript popup.

 
 Posted:   May 8, 2003 - 1:00 AM   
 By:   SoundScope   (Member)

Reel-to-reel tape recorders used various methods of running the tape over the sound heads. My old Teac, used a reverse "Pull" on the feed reel to keep the tape taught over the heads. Other brands used a felt tab that held the tape in place over the heads. This, plus the constant expanding and contracting that even wound tapes go through, streches the tape eventually and causes the wow and flutter. If not stored properly (and I'm talking optimum conditions like climate control and right humidity) tapes actually "bunch up" on the reel. Also, the magnetic particles that are on the tape itself (much like a film emulsion) have a tendency to "run down" if the tapes are not stored on end (like a book). The magnetic stereo recorders were a vast improvement over the optical recorders in their ability to produce such rich clear sound with a wider dynamic range. But like film, we found out, in some cases too late, that what was once thought to last forever, dosn't.

 
 
 Posted:   May 8, 2003 - 2:04 AM   
 By:   Bill Finn   (Member)

It would have been nice of Varese to inform us of this distortion however before we bought the product.

Is that too much to ask? There are other folks who share that information (thanks FSM).

 
 Posted:   May 8, 2003 - 8:55 AM   
 By:   JJH   (Member)

I haven't noticed any such distortion, but I'll need to listen to the CD again. Would prior knowledge of a mere few seconds of distortion prevented you from buying the score?


 
 
 Posted:   May 8, 2003 - 11:01 AM   
 By:   jonathan_little   (Member)

SoundScope, thanks for that explanation.

JJH, you can hear a bit of the problem on the last 15 seconds or so of the clip of the first track on Varese's website. Note how "warbly" the french horns(?) get.

http://www.varesesarabande.com/asf/68-vcl-0403-1019.mp3

I agree with Bill, it would be nice if Varese let us know about the problem on their website. A little unavoidable wow and flutter probably won't stop me from picking up a good score, though.

 
 
 Posted:   May 8, 2003 - 4:07 PM   
 By:   manderley   (Member)

.....Reel-to-reel tape recorders used various methods of running the tape over the sound heads. My old Teac, used a reverse "Pull" on the feed reel to keep the tape taught over the heads. Other brands used a felt tab that held the tape in place over the heads. This, plus the constant expanding and contracting that even wound tapes go through, streches the tape eventually and causes the wow and flutter. If not stored properly (and I'm talking optimum conditions like climate control and right humidity) tapes actually "bunch up" on the reel. Also, the magnetic particles that are on the tape itself (much like a film emulsion) have a tendency to "run down" if the tapes are not stored on end (like a book). The magnetic stereo recorders were a vast improvement over the optical recorders in their ability to produce such rich clear sound with a wider dynamic range. But like film, we found out, in some cases too late, that what was once thought to last forever, dosn't......


This is a very good explanation---IF it applied to movie scores in the golden age. However, scores from the early 30s to the early 50s were recorded on 35mm (or 17 1/2mm---half of 35mm) FILM negative as an optical signal. This was followed (at some studios) by 35mm safety film recording for a short time. In long term storage (usually stored horizontally) the first group can succumb to "nitrate" deterioration, and the second to later problems of safety film deterioration, primarily "vinegar syndrome". All of the tracks which survive to be played later can shrink and stretch with the element of time. The wow and "flutter" (a term usually applied to the chattering and pulsing of the loop of film through the various sprocket assemblies as it is lined up to go over the sound head) is then recorded onto a new master element.

From the early 50s, into the mid-70s, movie scoring was primarily recorded in three-channels on 35mm magnetic full-coat film (people would often say, "Pull the FULLCOATS out of the vault" or "I need the FULLCOATS for this job"). This "Fullcoat" name derives from the film itself, which is fully coated, side-to-side, from sprocket hole to sprocket hole with magnetic particles. (Three-stripe mag film, which had 3 distinguishable stripes of magnetic particles running vertically on the film was also used extensively, but primarily for long-term storage of D-M-E elements, etc., essentially because it was considerably cheaper than full-coat, which was like "gold".) Sadly, the Fullcoats, with improper storage and the element of time, could also suffer the problems of "vinegar syndrome", stretching and shrinking, and the flaking of the magnetic particles off the film base because the cementing binder had deteriorated. (That's why you often hear the comment from an engineer that they only had "one pass" from the original elements: the magnetic particles are flaking off so badly that sound heads get clogged and the particles that make up the sound no longer are extant on the film base.)

I suspect that when "Beloved Infidel" was transferred (probably directly to a digital master), the reels probably had not been pulled in nearly 50 years, and it was off Fullcoats which had stretched and shrunk----or worse.

This is a very volatile and unstable medium.

I hope all of you truly appreciate what an amazing thing it is that we have any of these original "golden age" recordings at all---even with their current flaws. To have access to "unheard" 1935 stereo optical recordings from a film like MGM's "Born to Dance", or transfers from the magnetic stereo films in the fifties by Lukas and others, all in the new medium of CD, is nothing short of miraculous to me!!!

 
 
 Posted:   May 8, 2003 - 4:07 PM   
 By:   manderley   (Member)

Sorry....double post!

 
 
 Posted:   May 8, 2003 - 4:27 PM   
 By:   Rozsaphile   (Member)

I appreciate these explanations, but I still have trouble with the term "mag wow." If wow is a variation in pitch/speed and is caused by physical deterioration of the tape, then what is magnetic about the problem? Why is it called "mag"?

 
 
 Posted:   May 8, 2003 - 4:41 PM   
 By:   manderley   (Member)

......I appreciate these explanations, but I still have trouble with the term "mag wow." If wow is a variation in pitch/speed and is caused by physical deterioration of the tape, then what is magnetic about the problem? Why is it called "mag"?.....


Rozsaphile.....I think you've answered your own question. It's called "mag" in industry parlance because it is a result of the magnetic master being used, and "wow" because the master element is alternately tight and loose on the recording head causing the sound volume change.

I suppose if anyone ever had a need of it, you could refer to old optical film-recorded elements as having "optical wow", as well, but I've never heard that term used. In those days it was just "wow and flutter".

 
 Posted:   May 9, 2003 - 7:19 PM   
 By:   SoundScope   (Member)

Thanks Manderly for the 35mm exp. Of course you're right on this and I feel somewhat foolish at jumping the gun on my exp. I have old ree-to-reels that are near and dear to me and this has happend with them. After all the liner notes written for the Rhino/MGM musical and score release, FSM releases, Varese release et. al., we should all know this.

What we learn from this site and its many members is truly a library's worth of knowledge!

 
 
 Posted:   May 9, 2003 - 8:27 PM   
 By:   manderley   (Member)

.....Thanks Manderly for the 35mm exp. Of course you're right on this and I feel somewhat foolish at jumping the gun on my exp. I have old ree-to-reels that are near and dear to me and this has happend with them. After all the liner notes written for the Rhino/MGM musical and score release, FSM releases, Varese release et. al., we should all know this.

What we learn from this site and its many members is truly a library's worth of knowledge!.....



SoundScope.....I feel I may have sounded "curt" in my explanation to you and I didn't mean to! smile

We all have reel-to-reel tapes we love which are now unusable which certainly distresses me no end, and probably everyone else as well.

To backtrack a bit, though I was discussing the original mechanisms for recording the old music tracks, it is also true, as you suggest, that some of our CDs, etc. are taken off 1/4" or 1/2" tape masters. For example, in the sixties, the MGM master material was transferred (in some cases badly) from the 35mm sound film elements to reel-to-reel dubs for storage and then the originals were (presumably) junked. I believe this is the source for much of the original optical and very early magnetic material. (This is why the early mag stereo units from MGM now turn up in mono, sadly.) Reel-to-reels certainly took up less space in the vaults, but were not a great choice in the end. In the case of Fox, I don't think they took this step, preferring to leave the material in its original form.

 
 Posted:   Feb 26, 2014 - 4:41 AM   
 By:   Anabel Boyer   (Member)

For the holidays i've borrowed a bunch of golden age scores from relatives of mine and BELOVED INFIDEL is a score praised by someone i care a lot about. I listened to the CD on sunday afternoon and found the sound having serious audio -- 'wowing' -- issues i'd never experienced that much so far. I suppose that when the CD was released the technology wasn't good enough to fix those sound issues.
Since the movie has eventually been released on BluRay featuring its score on an isolated track, i wonder if the score could sound much better on this isolated track. I ask because I've planned to buy it and offer it to the one who lent me the CD. Has anyone bought the BluRay and listened to the isolated score?

 
 Posted:   Feb 26, 2014 - 7:55 AM   
 By:   Basil Wrathbone   (Member)

Thanks to newer technology for combating wow in old recordings, like "Capstan", there's not much of an excuse for not cleaning up wow-afflicted recordings
For the technically inclined, here's a demo:

http://www.celemony.com/en/capstan

Of course, it also gives them yet another excuse to sell us the same titles over again. This time though, it could be worth it.

 
 Posted:   Mar 1, 2014 - 6:37 AM   
 By:   Anabel Boyer   (Member)

Thanks to newer technology for combating wow in old recordings, like "Capstan", there's not much of an excuse for not cleaning up wow-afflicted recordings
For the technically inclined, here's a demo:

http://www.celemony.com/en/capstan




Very interesting info, Basil. smile I wish they would use it for the isolated score track of BELOVED INFIDEL.

 
 
 Posted:   Mar 1, 2014 - 7:25 AM   
 By:   Joe Caps   (Member)


I think it could be a bit more noticeable on Beloved Infidel, because the entire score seems to be long slow string lines for the score.

Does anyone know if Beloved was retransferred, minus some wow, for the ISO track on Twilight time?

 
 
 Posted:   Mar 2, 2014 - 11:45 AM   
 By:   finder4545   (Member)

Thanks to newer technology for combating wow in old recordings, like "Capstan", there's not much of an excuse for not cleaning up wow-afflicted recordings...

Sometime these seem rather publicity than certified processes having solid scientific basis. "Audionamix" promised the miracle of separating mixed elements, like a voice in the orchestra, by special algorithm, giving astonishing samples:

http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2011/09/07/movies/west-side-story-audio.html?ref=classicalmusic&_r=0

On another and more scientific side, "Backing" process resulted to be a very useful way to save old tapes losing oxide, making a temporary restoring of the chemical binding, just to do a copy, before returning instable (Wendy Carlos' "Tron" recording was saved in this way):

http://www.tangible-technology.com/tape/baking1.html

http://www.wendycarlos.com/newsold.html

In any case, these are expensive processes, not very suitable for soundtrack's market for their high cost, I think.

 
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