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RCA Shaded Dog (US) vs. RCA (UK) Vinyl

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  • RCA Shaded Dog (US) vs. RCA (UK) Vinyl

    For those that have the same classical title in both US RCA shaded dog and UK RCA , what's the difference ? Are their respective pressings derived from the same master tapes ? Is one more coveted (sound quality) over the other or is it title dependent ?
    Christian
    System Gear

  • #2
    Myles probably knows..
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    • #3
      Catalog number 2001 should have been Also Spracht Zarathrusta
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      • Madfloyd
        Madfloyd commented
        Editing a comment
        Good one!

    • #4
      I would think that the pressing from country of origin uses the "true" original masters and others are likely safeties. Maybe not, but that would be my guess.
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      • Johnny Vinyl
        Johnny Vinyl commented
        Editing a comment
        I would think that lacquer cutting and mastering have an effect as well.

      • MylesBAstor
        MylesBAstor commented
        Editing a comment
        No.

      • Johnny Vinyl
        Johnny Vinyl commented
        Editing a comment
        Myles......NO to what? Your follow-up post confuses me.

    • #5
      Originally posted by rockitman View Post
      For those that have the same classical title in both US RCA shaded dog and UK RCA , what's the difference ? Are their respective pressings derived from the same master tapes ? Is one more coveted (sound quality) over the other or is it title dependent ?
      It's been twenty years since we did the comparisons at Sid Marks' place. At that time, the UK pressings were inferior to the US counterparts; specifically the UK pressing were lacking low end relative to their US counterparts.

      Not sure of the specifics but being most RCAs were three track masters, it would be easy to make a two track safety for cutting the album. Remember only Decca and Mercury cut from the true master tapes. There were a few two track master tapes but not sure if they were co-released on both sides of the Atlantic.
      Myles B. Astor, PhD, Administrator
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      • Rob
        Rob commented
        Editing a comment
        what about the recordings by DECCA for RCA?

      • MylesBAstor
        MylesBAstor commented
        Editing a comment
        That's why I originally posted it was 20+ years ago. I seem to remember it held true for the Decca/RCAs too. Still may have had nothing to do with the tape but the cutting lathes and process back then.

    • #6
      Thanks Myles...guess I will need to get a U.K. Copy and compare.
      Christian
      System Gear

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      • #7
        It's complicated. Basically, Decca took over distribution of RCA in the UK from EMI, and started to press RCA records and even engineer many RCA releases (including some of the finest recordings). RCA would have the rights to those albums for 10 years and then they would revert back to Decca, which released many of them on their midpriced and bargain labels (including some on their London Stereo Treasury label distributed in the US.) One must remember that RCA's golden era was fairly short because of their disastrous decision to change to Dynagroove in 1963 (Although a few artists held out for the normal technique) The earliest catalogue number for a Dynagroove record was LSC-2614 the Reiner Beethoven Pastorale Symphony. (Chesky later rereleased the album in a non dynagroove issue Chesky RC-109). Decca pressed RCA's had a distinctive orange coloured label and the earliest ones had a groove in the label, like early Decca recordings. You can see the characteristic Decca markings in the deadwax of these records.

        I have several British RCA's and the same issue in US pressings. Generally I find the US pressings better, BUT the Brits tend to take better care of their records than the Yanks, especially when you are talking about records that were released from the late '50's to the early '60's. One major problem was that the US used automatic record changers much more commonly than the UK. So you can imagine having records drop down onto one another. The multirecord sets were generally numbered in automatic sequence (for a 3 record set it would be 1-6, 2-5, 3-4) in the US releases, but in a manual sequence in the UK (1-2, 3-4, 5-6).

        As far as the Decca engineered RCA's from that golden era ("Witches Brew", "Gounod Faust Ballet, "Venice", etc), Decca released all of those beginning in the early '70's on their cheap labels and using the transistor based cutting lathes which are different from the tube based lathes of a decade earlier. You are can find some of these in the $1 bargain bin in the US when they were issued on the London Stereo Treasury label - pressed in the UK at Decca's New Malden pressing plant.

        One of HP's TAS Super Disc's is a Decca reissue of one of their RCA engineered albums, Decca SPA-122 Sibelius Symphony 5 by Gibson which first appeared as RCA LSC-2405. The original RCA is much more expensive than the Decca issue. It was also reissued in the late '90s by Classics Records.

        After 1963, Decca continued to press and do some engineering for RCA. However, eventually RCA started pressing their own records in the UK (red labels, but no doggies - since EMI owns the doggie trademark in the UK and Europe - "His Master's Voice"). I have a good number of British pressings of the dynagroove era RCA's and they are almost universally better than their US counterparts. Decca was forced to cut the RCA's to the dynagroove spec (Decca engineer Tony Hawkins complained about having to do that), but to my ears, their dynagroove is much milder than the atrocities of most RCA US dynagrooves.

        Christian, I can lend you a few pairs of records (US/UK) if you are interested.

        Larry
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        • MylesBAstor
          MylesBAstor commented
          Editing a comment
          Thanks Larry!

      • #8
        Thanks Larry for the detailed RCA story....Very interesting. Do you have an opinion about the U.K. RCA of Witches' Brew with Red Lettering ?
        Christian
        System Gear

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        • #9
          Originally posted by rockitman View Post
          Thanks Larry for the detailed RCA story....Very interesting. Do you have an opinion about the U.K. RCA of Witches' Brew with Red Lettering ?
          Christian,
          Sorry, don't have that one. For the sought after issues most of the British RCA's are quite a bit cheaper than the US versions. I think that generally reflects their relative value. The good deals are on the Decca SDD and SPA issues of the '70's which I have bought for 1-5GBP. The Witches Brew version on Decca SPA-175 entitled "Danse Macabre" has one more cut (Sorcerer's Apprentice by Ansermet) but is a great bargain at $10 or less - gives a quite good sense of the original, which is in the multihundred dollar range.

          I do have the British SB2101 1S pressing of the LSC-2436 Pines/Fountains of Rome. I bought it for maybe 30GBP. A nm LSC-2436 1S US pressing is over $500. I have both (though my US pressing is not in great shape - paid less than $100 for it). The deep bass of the US pressing is not there in the British pressing, even though it is 1S. BTW, although it is a Decca pressing, the label is a deep red color, not orange. The deep red Deccas were earlier than the orange labels (IIRC).

          Larry
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          • #10
            Thanks again Larry. I find this golden age of classical music journey I am on to be fascinating. In addition to RCA, I have been focusing on original Merc's. After I get a good handle on RCA and Merc, I will look more into getting DECCA original records. I certainly like the Speaker's Corner Decca reissues for the most part. In general there is some magic I am finding in the originals that seems to be lacking on many reissues. I can't put my finger on what it is exactly...
            Christian
            System Gear

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            • #11
              Regarding original "vintage" pressings, the original master tapes (any tapes) start to deteriorate the moment they are made, so tape quality for the pressings is always a factor. Original pressing seem to retain the "freshness" of the original master tapes. In addition to aging, each generation of the master will lose something in the copy process. It's important to know the true provenance of the pressing. Reissues made years or decades later no longer have that original sound. Since we don't usually have access to even "dated" master tapes, original pressings can have the best sound quality commercially available IMHO.
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              • #12
                Originally posted by Joe Pittman View Post
                Regarding original "vintage" pressings, the original master tapes (any tapes) start to deteriorate the moment they are made, so tape quality for the pressings is always a factor. Original pressing seem to retain the "freshness" of the original master tapes. In addition to aging, each generation of the master will lose something in the copy process. It's important to know the true provenance of the pressing. Reissues made years or decades later no longer have that original sound. Since we don't usually have access to even "dated" master tapes, original pressings can have the best sound quality commercially available IMHO.
                Joe, I believe there is a balancing act here.

                Of course, no one can directly compare the fresh master tapes of 1960 with the same tapes in 2016. The closest we have are master tapes done by Jonathan Horwich, Ed Pong, Bob Attiyeh, Open Reel in Italy, and some of the Tape Project tapes (including TP-30 of the Cypress String Quartet recorded this past year and currently being edited for release soon). There is a freshness to these tapes which is remarkable. But I can say that my reaction listening to most of my safety masters made in the late '80's from masters which were 10 to 30 years old at that time is very much the same as listening to these fresh tape copies. Of course the selection is very limited. I have more tapes and records than most people - but my record collection of 15,000 records dwarfs my 15ips 2 track tape collection of less than 500 reels.

                I have spent (invested?) a very large amount of money on early original pressings of RCA, Mercury, Decca and EMI classical vinyl, and a lesser, though considerable amount on tapes, both recent issues like Tape Project, and safety masters, as well as much less money on vinyl reissues from old tapes - Chad, Speakers Corner, Classics Records, etc. It is very, very difficult to find pristine records from the "golden age", even when spending hundreds of dollars for a single record.

                Most of the problem is the playback equipment from that time. Very early stereo records started being issued in 1958 and the golden era for RCA was over a scant 5-6 years later when Dynagroove was introduced. Mercury was done by 1967 and Decca and EMI continued with analogue until about 1980. Original records from the Decca SXL2000 series and early SXL6000 series as well as the EMI ASD three digit and SAX series are from the late '50's to the mid '60's. So we are talking about the earliest commercial stereo phono equipment playing the earliest stereo records. Needles - not styli, were often not even diamond. Turntables and tonearms were much more primitive. A common trick, when a record wouldn't track or had a scratch, was to tape a penny or nickel onto the head of the tonearm to increase the tracking force. People also had, by our standards, very primitive ways of cleaning vinyl and keeping dust off records+ - a swipe of an antistatic cloth, and there were the infamous automatic record changers I mentioned earlier. Remember, on an automatic changer, the record dropping onto a stack of already playing records would gain speed buy the friction with the played records. The records have a raised edge to minimize the groove damage from these collisions. Finally for Mercury, in particular, there are two major issues - the quality of vinyl of the original pressings was often not that good - quite noisy, and the practice of cutting the records very close to the label (almost no dead wax in many of their records) makes inner groove distortion very common.

                My observation is that classical recordings, particularly grand opera, are easier to find in decent condition than pop/rock/jazz recordings of that era. I surmise that classical music lovers took better care of their records and did not play them to death. They may have had better (more expensive) playback equipment. Of course one doesn't know the provenance of a used record, unless one partakes in estate sales. The best success I have had with buying old classical vinyl is through trusted dealers who play grade their vinyl (at least sampling). Starting almost 20 years ago, we began visiting the UK annually and I would load up on classical vinyl (mostly Deccas and EMIs) from local vinyl shops, where I could at least visually inspect the records. I also developed relationships with several dealers throughout the UK who had good stocks of classical vinyl. Unfortunately, except for one shop in London - which is a shell of its old self, there is nothing left. I do still have a very few dealers in the UK who have emerged over the past decade and whom I still buy from one occasion.

                Chad, Speaker's Corner, etc., although using master tapes which are 50 years old to make their records, are producing the best versions of these classic records that most people are going to hear. I generally agree with Christian's observations that when the old record is in fine condition, it does have qualities that the reissues don't. Chad with his RCA reissues and Speaker's Corners with their Mercury reissues are about the best I have heard for reissues. The Speaker's Corners Decca reissues from a decade or more ago aren't up to that level.

                Larry
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                • #13
                  This is all great information Larry. I have kicked off in earnest...my original Decca (SXL) search....It appears I will be buying stuff over sea's for the best selections. My mailman has been busy as of late. Thank you !
                  Christian
                  System Gear

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                  • #14
                    Originally posted by rockitman View Post
                    This is all great information Larry. I have kicked off in earnest...my original Decca (SXL) search....It appears I will be buying stuff over sea's for the best selections. My mailman has been busy as of late. Thank you !
                    That's what I did for years but it's getting harder and more expensive these day, not a fan of the reissue, as good as some are there's just something lost in translations...

                    david

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                    • #15
                      Speaking of late 70's Decca's...this record just blew my socks off ! SXL 6822
                      Christian
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                      • JCOConnell
                        JCOConnell commented
                        Editing a comment
                        I have the mofi UHQR of that one...Its good.
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