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  • Electric Recording Company Goes The Extra Mile

    The Electric Recording Co. in London cuts albums the way they were made in the 1950s and ’60s — literally.
    Myles B. Astor, PhD, Administrator
    Senior Editor, Positive-Feedback.com
    ________________________________________

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  • #2
    Myles, Great articles - I read the reviews too. Do you own or have you heard any of these? Any thoughts about them?

    I would love to hear one of these recordings some day.

    Comment


    • #3
      It was about a decade ago that Dave Parsons, a London vinyl dealer of whom I had been a customer since around the turn of the century, took me to Pete Hutchinson's studio to show me their new project. Pete had a close relationship with EMI, for whom he had done work for in their pop division, remastering recordings, etc. However he had a love of classical music as explained in the article and Dave had the greatest access and knowledge of the used classical vinyl market in London. When we got there, the Lyrec machines shown in the article were in shambles. I'm pretty sure I posted some photos I took back then at some point on AN. Pete said that he had found this retired engineer who had the skills to rebuild the machines, tape, amps, cutting lathes, needed to reproduce vinyl recordings from that era. He also had access to the master tapes, through EMI. He showed me one of them, a master tape from the Johanna Martzy mono recordings of the Bach Violin Sonatas and Partitas recorded by EMI in the mid '50's. These were holy grail records, if you could get them. Dave explained to me that the plan was to start with mono and then stereo recordings, choosing records for both sonic/artistic and collectable value. The albums were going to have top quality album covers, etc. so would be both sonically superb (but made with the restored equipment from the era when they were first recorded) and limited in production. They would also not be cheap.

      In the following couple of years, I visited Dave on my annual trips to London, and heard about the progress and problems. I saw various sample album covers as they worked through the printing issues as well as hearing about various test pressings. Around 2012 (maybe it was as early as 2011) Dave had a test pressing ready for me to hear - the second Bach Partita (with the famous Chaccone) from the Martzy set. Fortuitously, I had received the Glenn Armstrong Martzy box (Coup d'Archet) which had been sent to our London timeshare. So I brought it along to compare to the test pressing and an original copy of the recording that Dave had (he was selling it for 1200GBP at the time). The price that had been set for the reissue was 300 GBP, about US$500 at that time. We got to hear all three records. I thought the tonal balances of the three were all slightly different. I speculated that it was because the EQ of the three was probably different. The ERC (Pete's) sounded best to my ear. However, since there were not any yet for sale and I didn't want to spend 300GPB on any one record, I didn't buy it.

      Later trips had me hear the Kogan Beethoven Violin Concerto and also Dave gave me a list of the potential records that they were planning on releasing, including some of the most sought after EMI titles (like the other Kogan SAX recordings, several Oistrakh SAX recordings, etc). Most of the list has never been released. Prices have gone up (although mostly that has been a problem of the weakness of the British pound). Dave told me that much (most) of the demand for their releases came from Asia, where the recordings have become collectibles. The outrageous rise in the prices of the original SAX Kogan recordings have also made the ERC prices appear reasonable by comparison.

      I spent a little time trying to persuade them to make a few tape dubs of the Martzy which would have certainly been worth 300 GBP per tape. They looked seriously at the possibility but the license agreement didn't allow that. Also around that time, Warner Classics bought the classical division of EMI and contracts had to be renegotiated, which caused some serious worries. However, Warner did not cause any problems, IIRC.

      To conclude the story, with a fortuitous circumstance, unrelated to ERC. A couple of years ago I was able to obtain a set of dubs of the Martzy Bach Sonatas and Partitas on 15ips 2 track tapes, quite wonderful in sound.

      Larry
      Analog- VPIClassic3-3DArm,SoundsmithZephyrII+MiyajimaZeroMono, 2xAmpex ATR-102,Doshi3.0,Merrill Trident Master Tape Pre,Herron VTPH-2A
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      Comment


      • #4
        I just received Monk , Brilliant Corners. I will have more to say later. Very nicely packaged.

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        Amps: Wyetech Topaz, Futterman H3 Quad II,Citation II, Marantz 8b, 5 ,2
        Pre-Amps:Marantz 7, Marantz Model 1 Consolette Pair
        Speakers: Quad ESL 57, Beveridge Model 3 DD amps, REL S/2 x 2
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        Comment


        • #5
          I have 5 or 6 of ERC's LPs and have heard all of the ERC library at one time or another in my system. So far I have not been disappointed in the sound quality of any of them. All have been top-notch in my estimation. I can only speak to comparisons with 2 of the LPs as I own original pressings of the Elgar and the John Lee Hooker. In both cases, the ERC is at least equal and in some respects betters the originals. The packaging is faithful to the original and is done to very high standards. I can also vouch for ERC customer service. While the LPs are shipped in large LP boxes with lots of padding one of my shipments must have received some rough handling. The LP had shaken enough to break the spine on the jacket. I informed ERC and they shipped another jacket out via the same express mail as the LP with no questions asked. The LPs are expensive but the originals are even dearer so I believe if you love the music get the ERC version and you will have almost the same experience as the original.
          Tannoy Glenair, April Sound SET 50 monoblocks and LR phono, EMIA silver remote attenuator and Strain Gauge, Mono TT - AE 208 TT, Abis 1.2BCS arm Miyajima Premium BE, Stereo TT - Fairchild 750 Schroder Custom BA, Miyajima Kansui, Mac Mini w/ Roon, Bel Canto RefLink, Dac 3.5VB, Wadia 860x.

          Comment


          • #6
            I have about 4 or 5 and I've since sold one and will probably sell the rest. The pressing quality is not great and the packaging is so tight that I wrestle to get the LPs in and out lol.
            Magico M-Project, CAT JL7s, darTZeel 18NS, Kronos Pro Limited Edition/SME 3012R/Atlas SL/Opus-1,CH Precision P1, Schiit Yggdrasil, KS Elation ICs & SCs

            Comment


            • #7
              I have 3 of them. In the age of One Steps and SRX, I wish they were a bit quieter.
              Speakers: Horning Eufrodite Ellipse III on Stillpoints Ultra 5S feet
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              Tonearm: TW 10.5" with Miyajima Zero Mono
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              Tweaks: Stillpoints Aperture II Panels & Stillpoints Ultra 5S's & SS's sprinkled about - DS Audio ION-001 Vinyl Ionizer - SRA Ohio Class and Symposium Super Plus Platforms

              Comment


              • #8
                I own their Rollins' Way Out West. It is an excellent pressing but it isn't nicer than comparable ones from Analogue Productions or Music Matters Jazz. It certainly isn't worth the price premium.
                Speakers: Vandersteen Model 7s, 4 M&K ST-150Ts, 1 VCC-5; Amplification: 2 Vandersteen M7-HPAs, CI Audio D200 MKII, Ayre V-6xe; Preamp: Doshi Audio Line Stage v3.0; Phono Pre: Doshi Audio V3 Phono Pre; Analog: Wave Kinetics NVS; Durand Telos and SME 3012R Tonearms, Clearaudio Goldfinger Statement v2; Miyajima Madake, Miyajima Zero, Benz Micro LPS; Reel to Reel: Technics RS-1500; Doshi Tape Pre-Amp; Studer A810; Studer A812; Tascam BR-20; Multi-channel: Bryston SP-3; Digital: Custom PC> Lampizator Big 7 DAC

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Madfloyd View Post
                  I have about 4 or 5 and I've since sold one and will probably sell the rest. The pressing quality is not great and the packaging is so tight that I wrestle to get the LPs in and out lol.
                  I have had the same experience with the small jackets. For 300 Euros everything should be perfect and it isn't.
                  Speakers: Vandersteen Model 7s, 4 M&K ST-150Ts, 1 VCC-5; Amplification: 2 Vandersteen M7-HPAs, CI Audio D200 MKII, Ayre V-6xe; Preamp: Doshi Audio Line Stage v3.0; Phono Pre: Doshi Audio V3 Phono Pre; Analog: Wave Kinetics NVS; Durand Telos and SME 3012R Tonearms, Clearaudio Goldfinger Statement v2; Miyajima Madake, Miyajima Zero, Benz Micro LPS; Reel to Reel: Technics RS-1500; Doshi Tape Pre-Amp; Studer A810; Studer A812; Tascam BR-20; Multi-channel: Bryston SP-3; Digital: Custom PC> Lampizator Big 7 DAC

                  Comment


                  • MylesBAstor
                    MylesBAstor commented
                    Editing a comment
                    I order from a dealer in Hungary and his records are packed securely and never had an issue.

                • #10
                  I appreciate the effort, and willing to add a few but only if it checks all the boxes, like others said, One Step, Analogue and others present well for a lot less.
                  Source Analog: Kuzma Stabi R with 4point 9 arm & Kuzma 40 Cartridge
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                  Comment


                  • UltraFast69
                    UltraFast69 commented
                    Editing a comment
                    Couldn’t help myself, and preordered Sonny Rollins Way Out West in Stereo, pressing is 300 copies. Ill let everyone know the outcome guessing around June.

                  • dminches
                    dminches commented
                    Editing a comment
                    Why haven’t you gotten your copy yet? I received mine 6 weeks ago.

                  • dminches
                    dminches commented
                    Editing a comment
                    Never mind. I got the mono version.

                • #11
                  Only got my hands on one copy. Too much for what they offer.
                  Sketsoteric Audio: "Analog Sound, Digital Flexibility"
                  http://mortechpr.wixsite.com/cassetteadventures
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                  Comment


                  • #12
                    Hello Everyone, I am new here, this is my first post. I was invited by Miles Astor to share my review comparing the Electric Recording Company reissue of Hank Mobley's Mobley's Message (2016) and the Analog Productions reissue of same (2012). I wrote it for my Facebook business page, Living Acoustics, in multiple parts, joined here.

                    Our original impression was that the ERC was superior to the AP, but with our system completely upgraded since the last time we played either of these records, we thought a new A/B comparison was appropriate as it may reveal a more clear picture of the two reissues. The system used: Ortofon A Mono on a VPI Avenger Reference (uni-pivot Fatboy), all cables are the by Genesis Absolute Fidelity and all amplification by Merrill Audio. Loudspeakers are the Genesis Maestro. We began by giving each record a good vacuum cleaning with Record Time cleaning fluid on a VPI Cyclone RCM. Then proceeded to play each track in full on the AP immediately followed by the same track on the ERC, replaying as necessary to better asses portions of the music.

                    Part One, Packaging and Media:

                    The AP comes in a loose thin plastic sleeve with a perforated top that you must tear, while ERC comes in a heavier and harder top-loading plastic envelope with their named engraved and sealed with a folded over tape seal that must be cut.

                    Both covers are made of heavy cardboard stock and weigh very close to 135 grams each. The quality of the print is excellent in both. The AP is a glossier all around finish, while the ERC is pearled on the front face and matte on the back. The quality of the artwork print is very fine on both, but on the cover, the AP is sharper on the text and a bit more jagged on the illustration, while the ERC is a bit more jagged on the text and sharper on the illustration. The AP is overall a brighter white stock while the ERC has a more papery bone-white look. The quality of the type on the back is very good on both, with the ERC having an edge with more of a feel of an old-fashioned book print. In general the AP has more contrast and saturation with darker and more solid hues of both green and black and whiter whites, while the ERC is a shade lighter and lightly speckled on the green and black with a tad less bright whites. Aside from these differences, the only way to tell them apart is the edition copyright statements on the back bottom faces which differs slightly. A quick search in Discogs.com appears to show the ERC to be more accurate in color and speckling, but whether this is true to the original Prestige edition or artifacts of the 55 years between them is not evident.

                    The vinyl media itself is flat and free of visual imperfections in both. The AP is a heavier record, 200 grams (213 grams actual weight), while the ERC is an 180 gram edition (189 grams).

                    Both labels appear to be from official, but different Prestige editions, differing in typeface, layout and color. The AP is more saturated and less contrasty with darker orange and lighter blacks, while the the ERC is lighter and yellower with darker blacks. The AP is fuzzier on the peripheral illustrations and ERC is sharper. In Discogs the AP label artwork, type and layout are more accurate to the Prestige first US edition, while the color and sharpness are closer to the ERC.

                    Other differences include: The AP comes in a QRP paper rice inner sleeve while the ERC contains both an original printed paper sleeve facsimile with selections from the Prestige catalog at the time and a thin plastic rounded corner sleeve. Discogs does not show an image of the original inner sleeve of the first edition to compare to the ERC one. The ERC includes a signed card and stamped edition card with the item number, no. 220 in our copy.

                    This concludes our edition packaging and media comparison. To summarize, both reissues feel solid in covers and vinyl and both feel of high quality with the ERC having a more luxurious feel in wrapping and packaging. Accuracy of cover art and labels seem to be go to AP, but ERC appears to be more faithful to original colors, speckling and sharpness. Holding either edition in your hands is self-sufficient unless you have them both, in which case the ERC seems more luxurious and old-fashioned in craftsmanship.

                    Part Two, Side A Sonics:

                    We will note first, that, curiously, the diameter of the AP is slightly larger than the ERC making placing the periphery ring clamp on the ERC a more delicate operation. The ring could rest on top of the record, but it had to be manually centered and spun-started carefully so as not to make the ring half drop past the record.

                    In general the sound of the AP is very good with great dynamics and good transparency, but in comparison, the ERC has much greater dynamics and clarity. In A/B succession the AP sounds slightly veiled in general, but I am not sure this would be evident if played by itself.

                    In tracks Bouncing With Bud and 52nd Street the ERC has, as mentioned, the edge on dynamics and transparency, but also a greater sense of front to back depth as well as vertical specificity. The drums and bass are farther, next is the piano and then the sax and trumpet, but also the drums are lower vertically than the sax which is lower than the trumpet. More impressively there is more nuance in articulation and modulation of volume levels. This is pretty evident in the first 8 seconds of Bouncing With Bud where the piano introduces the main theme. In the AP copy, the piano is clear and articulate, but the ERC copy shows more differentiation of subtle shifts in loudness between the keys as Barry Harris is modulating his keystrokes. In the same track, when the full ensemble echoes the theme starting in second 8, in both records Donald Byrd’s trumpet dominates in pitch, force and loudness, but in the ERC Hank Mobley’s sax is more differentiated and distinct from the trumpet. During the solo passages of Byrd or Mobley, the instruments sound somewhat louder and more dynamic in the ERC. On 52nd Street, which is a fast paced track, the note articulation and fluidity is very good on both records. On the AP there is an almost fuzzy sense of notes merging into the next ones, like a smearing. This is not necessarily negative as it augments the sense of flow. On the ERC on the other hand, there is good fluidity, but the finger work and individual notes on the melodic sequence are more incisive and clear. Spatially, on this track in particular, on the ERC the drums sound more recessed and the trumpet and sax are more forward and again there is a greater sense modulation of levels as if, for instance, you could hear as the players swing their heads and bodies, moving their instruments farther and closer to the microphones. On the piano solo the ERC has a bigger sense of bounciness, as if the keys were elastically responding to the pressure of actual fingers playing with precision and excited playfulness. The ERC also has sharper drum attacks.

                    Surprisingly, the third track, Au Privave, initially sounded more dynamic on the AP record. I played them a couple of times each to confirm and came to to the conclusion that the AP is mastered a bit louder on this track than the ERC. Increasing volume by one db on the ERC seemed to level the playing field. Even then the tracks seemed much more closer in quality than the previous two. The AP seemed to be less veiled and more dynamic than before. Still, the ERC had a slightly weightier and more controlled bass in the background, but otherwise they were impressively close.

                    In conclusion, both reissues are great and the differences, though noticeable on A/B comparison, would not be so obvious otherwise. However, there is no doubt the ERC has greater transparency and dynamics and those contribute to a greater sense of depth and vertical layering as well as loudness modulations that greatly add to the illusion of real players performing in front of you. Of course we can’t ignore the tenfold price difference. For the ultimate in sonics, the ERC is the clear winner, but at a 10th of the price, the AP is not far behind and is a better value. Our recommendation is, if the Electric Recording Company reissues your favorite recording or artist, do not blink and preorder it if you can afford it. For everything else you can get 10 Analog Productions for the same price and won’t be disappointed.

                    Part Three, Side B Sonics:

                    When preparing to listen to the tracks we noticed that the ERC cover on the back has a typo on Alternating Current, printed as 'Alernating Current'. Mistakes happen, and specially when the process involves manual crafts like the typesetting ERC uses, which is not spell-checked and highlighted by a computer. However, at this price point [insert your own opinion here...]

                    This side again presents clear reproduction with very good dynamics, transparency and texture on both records and the following comments are relative when comparing them in quick succession, but may not be apparent otherwise.

                    On Minor Disturbance, the AP shows, like on track 3 of side A, Au Privave, improved dynamics and resolution when compared to the first two album tracks. The intro sequence of trumpet, sax and piano is clear and impactful. At around 2:48, Donald Byrd's muted trumpet cuts in sharply with convincing transients. On this track, depth is somewhat compressed and sounds limitted to a shallower, dual layer of back for drums and piano and front for the wind instruments with a somewhat ambiguous bass placement. However, there is good separeation of the saxes and trumpet when playing together. The ERC record is not dramatically better, again, like on Au Privave, but this time without the volume compensation, it does present marginally better depth and dynamics and slightly better separation of the wind instruments' individual voices. The back cover essay states that Au Privave is a sextet with the addition of Jackie McLean on the alto sax, but it is readily apparent that this first track of side B is also a sextet. The reduced dynamic advantage of ERC over the AP on these two tracks makes me wonder, if there was something that Rudy Van Gelder did while recording in having to accommodate an extra musician that accounts for this. Whatever the case may be, on these two tracks the difference in sound quality between AP and ERC is very slight.

                    Little Girl Blue is a dreamy balad and playing the AP record evoked a delicate serenity that made me crave a gin martini. The track opens with a couple of bass plucks before the piano, which is closer to the listener, joins in shortly followed by the sax, which is even closer. There are certain bass plucks, like those 2 first notes, and then again at 0:50, against the soft piano, that are exquisitely real and charged with melodic emotion. There was a soft, but noticeable short human hum at 1:52 that caught our attention. At around 6:28, in bass and sax solos the instruments sound substantial and material and on the closing sax sequence you can faintly hear the instrument's keys clicking softly as they are being hit just before their note attacks. In the ERC the sense of depth is enhanced: the sax is closer and the bass is better placed in the background. There is more clarity and string plucks are a bit more controlled while piano keys are a bit more crystaline. The sax is slightly more throaty and the reeds vibrato more apparent. Some details came forth self-evidently in spontaneous ways that did not require straining, like distance shifts of sax to mic at around 1:00, bass plucks and that 1:52 human exclamation. Turns out there were other short and soft vocal noises at 2:49, 3:00, 3:36, 3:44 4:30, 4:50 and 5:16, some, like this last one, very quiet, but we noticed them more than on the AP or at all. Those 6:28 bass and sax solos are even more substantial and material with better spatial layering between the bass played louder, but behind the softer piano on front.

                    The album concludes with a faster paced track, Alternating Current. On the AP we noted the sharp entry of Byrd's trumpet melodic syncopation at around 1:05. But in comparison, the ERC was generally more dynamically dramatic and the AP a bit more even and fuzzy. This was specially noticeable in the drums and bass plucks throughtout, but particularly clear on a low note of the sax that attacks at 2:52, a sequence of drum stick hits on the rim of a snare around 4:17 and bass plucks around 4:45. The conclussion starting around 5:06 of alternating call and responses between trumpet and drums sax and drums is more impactful and dynamic on the ERC.

                    In summary, the ERC again has an edge on dynamics, resolution and spatial separation, specially on Little Girl Blue and Alternating Current. This was evidenced by the spontaneous obviousness of many details throughtout those tracks that had escaped us on the AP. However, the AP is thoroughly satisfaying on its own and its somewhat lower resolution may please some on tracks like the dreamy balad Little Girl Blue. How much are those additional nuances and cues worth to the music lover? That is a question each of us has to answer in consultation with our wallet and spouse. But we think that for those very special and dear recordings the ERC editions are worth considering. For everything else, AP allows our collectin to cover more ground with very fine quality indeed.


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                    Last edited by IsaacRivera; 05-05-2020, 10:04 AM.
                    MFA, Sr. Web Developer
                    Owner Living Acoustics, Brooklyn Heights, NYC
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                    Comment


                    • #13
                      Great write-up Isaac, thank you! I think you nailed it for most people. The ERC definitely seem like a no holds barred product but is only for the deep pocketed. The APs & those of similar quality will get you 95% of the way there.
                      "I'm...a rather simple person with a limited talent and perhaps a limited perspective"...Bill Evans

                      LP playback: Ariston RD 11 Superieur, Audiomods Series 6 Tonearm, Dynavector DV DRT XV-1s, Valab LCR MkIII, Target wall-mounted turntable shelf

                      Amplification: Exposure 2010 S2

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                      Cabling: Audio Sensibility Statement SE (ics), Audio Sensibility Testaments (spkr)

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                      • #14
                        Originally posted by shawnwes View Post
                        Great write-up Isaac, thank you! I think you nailed it for most people. The ERC definitely seem like a no holds barred product but is only for the deep pocketed. The APs & those of similar quality will get you 95% of the way there.
                        Thanks Shawn. Of course this is what I had handy in response to the NYTimes write up. I wonder how would a MMJ SRX would compare to ERC...
                        MFA, Sr. Web Developer
                        Owner Living Acoustics, Brooklyn Heights, NYC
                        • Genesis Advanced Technologies Maestro loudspeakers
                        • Merrill Audio Adavanced Technologies Element 116 mono blocks
                        • Merrill Audio Adavanced Technologies Christine preamplifier
                        • Merrill Audio Adavanced Technologies Jens phono stage
                        • VPI Industries Avenger Reference/ 2x Fatboy unipivot tonearsm
                        • Integrity HiFi Tru-Glider Universal Pendulum tonearm
                        • Ortofon MC Anna Diamond
                        • Ortofon MC A Mono
                        • Ortofon MC A95
                        • Genesis Advanced Technologies Absolute Fidelity interconnects, phono, speaker and power cables

                        Comment


                        • #15
                          Given the history that I didn't buy any of the previous releases, I decided to purchase the Stereo copy of Way Out West from ERC.

                          The album was sold out before completion. A friend and I were lucky enough to preorder before the album was sold out.

                          My LP arrived today and I'll play it this weekend. I'm looking forward to giving it a spin.

                          Click image for larger version  Name:	ERC-WoW-Dre.jpg Views:	2 Size:	132.1 KB ID:	137028

                          Dre
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                          Every day is a good day to play analog.
                          - 12" 33-1/3 RPM or 45 RPM vinyl
                          - 10.5" 15ips or 30ips tape
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                          Every day is a good day for live music.
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                          Comment


                          • kcin
                            kcin commented
                            Editing a comment
                            I just got mine as well. Let's compare notes

                          • Dre_J
                            Dre_J commented
                            Editing a comment
                            Sure. I commented in post #17 below
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