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Why do earlier pressings sound so much better?

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Why do earlier pressings sound so much better?

Postby kingdhansak » 20 Aug 2013 14:21

Hello,

Recently I've been upgrading a lot of my existing LPs to earlier pressings if I can get hold of them at a decent price. I guess the question I'm asking would really apply to vintage pressings from the 60s and 70s.

For example, one of the recent finds was Fragile by Yes. This was a 1st UK on the Plum Atlantic Labels with A1/B1 matrix. You may like to refer to a recent post about this here about that with my thoughts:
viewtopic.php?f=41&t=127&start=9856


Weekend just gone, I picked up Genesis - Lamb Lies Down.. This again was an earlier press than my existing one. (Beige Mad Hatter Charisma replaced the Blue Hatter version). I noted that the replacement was also a 'Porky Prime cut'. not bad for £2 in Ex condition.
Spun this one and again could not believe what I was hearing. There were subtle instruments that I've never heard before. Guitar parts which I swear were not audible on my original copy. Vocals were way more 'up front', bass shone through.

How is this possible? It seems that so much detail is lost in later pressings. Can anyone explain why this is and how earlier copies sound so much better in so many different ways?
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Re: Why do earlier pressings sound so much better?

Postby Mark E Smith's Dentist » 20 Aug 2013 15:27

In short, closer to the master tape. The more copies are made from copies the worse the SQ is.

A general rule I heard here was always buy the pressing from the country the album was recorded in because the record companies wouldn't entrust first generation tapes on a plane to some foreign pressing plant so they'd fob them off with second generation. Makes sense.


JT


PS for a more definitive answer ask Phil Brown on the Ask Phil Brown thread.
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Re: Why do earlier pressings sound so much better?

Postby philbrown » 20 Aug 2013 17:41

Mark E Smith's Dentist wrote:In short, closer to the master tape. The more copies are made from copies the worse the SQ is.

A general rule I heard here was always buy the pressing from the country the album was recorded in because the record companies wouldn't entrust first generation tapes on a plane to some foreign pressing plant so they'd fob them off with second generation. Makes sense.


JT


PS for a more definitive answer ask Phil Brown on the Ask Phil Brown thread.


You just have and you are correct. Recuts are typically made from copies by another engineer.
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Re: Why do earlier pressings sound so much better?

Postby analogaudio » 20 Aug 2013 17:43

yes, there is a small loss in quality when you copy the master tape, happens every time, when you make a copy of a copy the losses add up :-(

something else is going on also. The press that makes the disc wears as the discs are made, produce more discs and the wear increases, a little. On the first pressing of a new release you are getting the best from the press, later the quality goes down, a little, over time. If the worn press is replaced with a new set then the quality jumps back up to where it was at the beginning. If on the other hand they run the presses longer and longer because they can't afford new press sets then the quality keeps on going down. This was and is the reality of vinyl manufacture, it was true back then and is still true today, to make the best quality you have to use the best tools all down the line from the recording studio to the finished disc.
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Re: Why do earlier pressings sound so much better?

Postby Lanthus » 20 Aug 2013 18:23

Recently I bought a new LP of a new release album (2012) and the quality was terrible. No loss because of time can be blamed. It sounds a bit like a 128kb mp3. Did they just do it better in the past?
:(
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Re: Why do earlier pressings sound so much better?

Postby kingdhansak » 20 Aug 2013 18:41

Lanthus wrote:Recently I bought a new LP of a new release album (2012) and the quality was terrible. No loss because of time can be blamed. It sounds a bit like a 128kb mp3. Did they just do it better in the past?
:(


It would appear that they did. There has been much debate on this forum about new releases. Can be just luck of the drawer as I have some that sound superb, others are as you have stated.


Many thanks for your replies. Makes perfect sense. Not sure why I didn't think of this myself really! #-o My search for early pressings will continue..
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Re: Why do earlier pressings sound so much better?

Postby josephazannieri » 20 Aug 2013 19:57

Yo those who say early records are always better:

I have some very early LP's from 1948, 1949, and 1950. They have very narrow micro'grooves, very low playback levels, noticeable background noise, and narrow frequency range, which are probably the flaws of the equipment they were made on 64 or 65 years ago. These records are pre-RIAA equalization, maybe AES curve and NAN curve.

Early is not always better, particularly if you aare going back into really primitive LP's from the way early days.

And good luck from that primitive old guy, who was actually alive in 1948,

Joe Z.
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Re: Why do earlier pressings sound so much better?

Postby jake » 20 Aug 2013 21:25

Good point, if the original sound was terrible, like in the case of poorly done 78 transfers, the re-issue has a great chance of sounding superior. This is true of most Mengelberg recordings.
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Re: Why do earlier pressings sound so much better?

Postby Lanthus » 20 Aug 2013 23:05

To my unsophisticated ear LP's produced from about the early sixties until the lateish 80's sound about the best. From the 50's on back and the 90's on forwards to the present, LP's just don't sound the same as from those few golden decades. I may be wrong, but that is just my own observation.

I have heard from some people that they have had recent LP's that sound pretty good. Maybe if that was your experience could you share with us who it was that produced those good one's so we know which company's pressings to look out for?
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Re: Why do earlier pressings sound so much better?

Postby Mark E Smith's Dentist » 20 Aug 2013 23:23

Then there are the classic classical pressings from the dawn of vinyl up until transistors took over. I've heard a few early '60s classical pressings, the "Wide Band Groove" Decca ones and the sound quality is sublime. Something this guy was aiming for with his uncompromising releases:
http://www.theguardian.com/music/2013/m ... -recording


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Re: Why do earlier pressings sound so much better?

Postby gaslover » 20 Aug 2013 23:37

I gotta say, I just LOVE people who are so knowledgeable about pressing records go on and on here.

Some guesses are actually right, sometimes! :)
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Re: Why do earlier pressings sound so much better?

Postby E.Man » 21 Aug 2013 01:59

there are some very fine new pressings and some rubbish early ones too.

No blanket rule as usual.

It's the wear on the old ones I'm finding a problem. Especially living in the sticks far from anywhere where I might find any UK plums.
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Re: Why do earlier pressings sound so much better?

Postby Audio_Man » 21 Aug 2013 17:28

Modern pressings done right can sound as good or better than originals. Of the recent reissues I would recommend Analogue Productions and Quality Records pressing plant. A lot of the recent Sundazed issues are done at Quality Records also. A good source preferably the original master tape is essential. Even hi-res digital sources can sound very good. A lot of new vinyl is a money grab and made from 16/44 or even worse. Hence Mp3 like sound.
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