Half Speeed Mastering – Ghost in the Machine – The Police

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Half speeding is an elaborate process whereby the source is played back at half its normal speed and the turntable on the disc cutting lathe is running at 16 2/3 R.P.M. Because both the source and the cut were running at half their “normal” speeds everything plays back at the right speed when the record is played at home.

Ghost in the Machine, released in October 1981, is the fourth studio album by The Police and the first to feature a title in English, which was of course provided by Arthur Koestler’s The Ghost in the Machine, the book that inspired much of the material. The songs were recorded between January and September in 1981, in sessions that took place at Air Studios, in Montserrat, and Le Studio, in Quebec, and were co-produced by Hugh Padgham.

The album reached number one in the UK Albums Chart and number two in the US Billboard 200, spawning three successful singles: Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic, Invisible Sun, and Spirits in the Material World. In the US, however, the song Secret Journey was released as an alternative single to Invisible Sun.

As the band was unable to agree on a picture for the sleeve, cover art for Ghost in the Machine features three red pictographs, digital likenesses of the band members in the style of segmented LED displays, each with a distinctive hair style (from left to right, Andy Summers, Sting with spiky hair, and Stewart Copeland with a fringe).

Number one in six countries and top 6 in five others, sonically (in hindsight) it formed a bridge between their more direct early work and their more ambitious latter direction. In 2000 Q magazine placed Ghost in the Machine at No. 76 in its list of the 100 Greatest British Albums Ever. More recently Pitchfork Media ranked it No. 86 in their list of the 100 Greatest Albums of the 1980s. The album’s cover was ranked at number 45 on VH1’s 50 Greatest Album Covers.

The original cut for this record was half speed mastered at Abbey Road Studios.

1.What is ‘Half-Speed Mastering’?

This is an elaborate process whereby the source is played back at half its normal speed and the turntable on the disc cutting lathe is running at 16 2/3 R.P.M. Because both the source and the cut were running at half their “normal” speeds everything plays back at the right speed when the record is played at home.

2.What are the advantages of Half-Speed Mastering?

The vinyl L.P. is an analogue sound carrier. Therefore the size and shape of the groove carrying the music is directly related to whatever the music is doing at any particular point. By reducing the speed by a factor of two the recording stylus has twice as long to carve the intricate groove into the master lacquer. Also, any difficult to cut high-frequency information becomes fairly easy to cut mid-range. The result is a record that is capable of extremely clean and un-forced high-frequency response as well as a detailed and solid stereo image.

3.Are there any disadvantages?

Only two, having to listen to music at half-speed for hour after hour can be a little difficult at least until I get to hear back the resulting cut when it all becomes worthwhile. The other dis-advantage is an inability to do any de-essing. De-essing is a form of processing the signal whereby the “sss” and “t” sounds from the vocalist are controlled in order to avoid sibilance and distortion on playback. None of the tools I would ordinarily employ on a real-time cut work at half speed as the frequencies are wrong so the offending “sss” does not trigger the limiter and everything is moving so slowly there is no acceleration as such for the de-esser to look out for. This has always been the Achilles heel of half-speed cutting until now (see 6 below).

4.What was the source for this record?

This album was cut from a high-resolution digital transfer from the best known ¼ analogue tape in existence. The tapes were re-played on an Ampex ATR-102 fitted with custom extended bass response playback heads. Only minimal sympathetic equalisation was applied to the transfer to keep everything as pure as possible. Also, as this was an analogue, vinyl only high quality release, I did not apply any digital limiting. This is added to almost all digital releases to make them appear to be loud and is responsible for “the loudness war” and in almost every case is anything but natural and pure sounding.

5.Why could it not be cut ‘all analogue’?

The biggest variable when cutting from tape is the replay machine. Every individual roller in the tape’s path will have a direct effect on the quality of the audio emanating from the machine. In addition to this, there is the issue of the sub 30Hz low-frequency roll off on an advance head disc-cutting tape machine which in effect will come into play at 60 Hz when running at half speed. In addition to this, there are also some unpredictable frequency anomalies in the 35-38 Hz region with analogue tape that will double up at half speed. These are all problems if you want to hear as originally intended the lowest register of the bass end on a recording. There is also the lesser potential problem of tape weave that effectively increases at lower speeds and leads to less high frequency stability and the possibility of minor azimuth errors. Even if these problems could be overcome, the source tapes for this album were encoded with Dolby A noise reduction. Dolby only ever made a very small quantity of half-speed enabled Dolby A cards none of which are available to me. Although the technical team at Abbey Road are more than capable of modifying some spare Dolby A cards for half-speed use, to do so would require an intimate knowledge of the expansion circuit in the card which has never been made available outside of the Dolby Company. Finally, analogue tape becomes degraded with each pass over the replay heads. These tapes are getting old and it is no longer considered good practise to play and play and play precious old original masters for fear of damage and general wear and tear. Far better, then, to eliminate the variable of the reply machine, to decode the Dolby noise reduction correctly and to minimise wear of the master by capturing the music digitally at very high resolution using professional converters locked down with stable external word-clocks. I can completely understand the reasons for the concerns that some people have when cutting classic albums from digital sources. Historically, there have been some horrible digital transfers used as a vinyl cutting source. This has absolutely not been the case with this series. Micro-management of the audio and attention to detail has been the order of the day. Abbey Road has striven to eliminate any digital weaknesses from the signal path in all the rooms in the building. Therefore to capture to high resolution digital from a well maintained Ampex ATR-102 with extended bass heads is a far superior working method in my opinion.

6.Are there any advantages to this working method?

Yes, any problems with the tape can be treated far more accurately digitally than they could be by using traditional analogue techniques. For example de-essing. I can, by clever editing, target just the offending “sss” and leave intact the rest of the audio. Therefore high-hats, bright guitars and snare drums are not affected or reduced in impact. Using an analogue scatter-gun de-esser approach would also trigger the limiter in many parts of the audio that do not need to be worked on. The de-esser cannot tell a bright guitar from bright vocal and will smooth everything out leading to dull guitars or soft snare drums and weak hi-hats. Targeting the “sss” sounds in the vocal as I have done in this series is time consuming but is worthwhile in the pursuit of the very best possible sounding record. Also if there was any damage to the analogue tape (drop-outs and clicks for example) this can by and large be restored using modern digital methods in a way that is unobtrusive and this would be impossible using analogue methods. For the record, none of the albums in this series have been de-noised. Only clicks and drop-outs have been repaired.

Miles Showell – Mastering Engineer, Abbey Road

Otras ediciones en Half Speed mastering en Abbey Road:

New Gold Dream is the fifth album by the celebrated Caledonian rockers. Released in 1982, it is widely considered to be a turning point for the band, a bridge between their post punk roots and stadium-filling destiny, and gathered enormous critical acclaim as well as impressive sales. Listed in the estimable tome ‘1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die’ New Gold Dream was a discernible move toward a more a commercial sound and it entered the UK chart at number 3, yielding the hit singles Promised You a Miracle and Glittering Prize.

The latter track and the synth-heavy Someone Somewhere in Summertime in particular represented a shift towards undisguised pop and it’s also worth noting that Hunter and Hunted features a solo by Jazz keyboardist Herbie Hancock, a rare distinction for any rock/pop album.

“Every band or artist with a history has an album that’s their holy grail,” remarked lead singer Jim Kerr. “I suppose New Gold Dream was ours. It was a special time because we were really beginning to break through with that record, both commercially and critically. The people that liked that record connected with it in a special way. There was a depth to it: it created its own mythology. It stood out.”

The artwork caused quite stir due to its religious imagery, so much so that on the version released in Yugoslavia, the cross was removed. Jim Kerr reflected “[During the writing of the album] we often went for walks. Around Perth you find a lot of Celtic crosses, crosses that seem to spring up from the earth. We thought it was a very powerful symbol. They were in the ground which produced the water we drank, so why not?”

The original cut for this record was half speed mastered at Abbey Road Studios.

180gm double LP, replica VERY LIMITED first pressing packaging with additional ‘obi strip’. Includes 12 original postcards photographed by Norman Seeff.

Album photography and concept by Robert Frank. Original colour printed inner sleeves.

Exile On Main Street was released in 1972 and was The Rolling Stones’ 10th studio album. While some tracks dated from the sessions for their previous long player, ‘Sticky Fingers’, the rest were recorded in the basement of Nellcôte, a mansion leased by Keith Richards in the south of France after the band had found it expedient to leave Britain for tax reasons.

Although first received with mixed, hesitant reviews, ‘Exile…’ reached number one in the UK and the US, where it has also achieved platinum status and is now widely regarded as one of the group’s very best records. With Jagger’s vocals low in the mix and the sessions notorious for many participants’ prodigious use of narcotics and booze, the album should have been set-up for failure. Even Bill Wyman struggled amongst the chaos and therefore only featured on backing vocals on eight of its 18 tracks. Instead, the results were so powerful and enduring that the album eventually ended up at Number 7 on Rolling Stones Magazine’s Top 500 albums of all time.

The sleeve is famous for the collage of images taken from Robert Frank’s 1958 book ‘The Americans’. Characters used in the artwork include Joe Allen, “The Human Corkscrew”, a renowned contortionist from the 1950s and, perhaps most famous of all, Three Ball Charlie. Three Ball Charlie was a man able to fit a tennis ball, a golf ball, and a “5” billiard ball simultaneously in his mouth – a remarkable feat – and his image is the one that many people associate most readily with this unimpeachable rock classic.

The original cut for this record was half speed mastered at Abbey Road Studios.

Released in 1967, Disraeli Gears is the second studio album by the first rock ‘supergroup’ Cream (Eric Clapton, Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker) and the name of the album famously came from a malapropism. During a conversation about racing bikes, one of their roadies, a certain Mick Turner, made reference to Disraeli gears instead of Derailleur gears, which was greeted with hilarity and the group decided to use that as the title of the album.

Something of a departure from their blues roots, Disraeli Gears perfectly captured the mood of the period with a powerful array of psychedelic rockers, reached number 5 in the UK Charts and was Cream’s breakthrough release in the US, hitting number 4 in the Billboard 200. It was all recorded in three and a half days at Atlantic Studios, New York, in the presence of Atlantic Records (to whom they were signed in the US) boss Ahmet Ertegun, following nine shows as part of the Music in the 5th Dimension concert series. Their work visas expired on the last day of recording.

The sleeve was designed by Australian artist Martin Sharp, who lived in the same building as Eric Clapton, The Pheasantry in Chelsea. Sharp also co-wrote the lysergic tour-de-force Tales Of Brave Ulysses with Clapton and described the music on the album as a “warm fluorescent sound”. His artwork was an attempt to represent this visually and is acknowledged to be one of the finest ‘acid rock’ designs of the era.

The original cut for this record was half speed mastered at Abbey Road Studios.

Etapa de potencia Audio Research VT80

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Redefiniendo la amplificación a válvulas

El legendario fabricante de componentes de audio estadounidense Audio Research acaba de anunciar la comercialización de la etapa de potencia estereofónica a válvulas VT80, un producto que cierra con un broche de oro la más novedosa de sus gamas de productos: la Serie Foundation.

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Creada por el mismo equipo de diseño e ingeniería que puso a punto la fabulosa Serie Reference, la VT80 es un amplificador basado íntegramente en válvulas de vacío de última generación, que permitirá acceder a la reconocida excelencia sonora de Audio Research a un grupo más amplio de aficionados.
Dotada de una bella estética de nuevo diseño, opciones de conexión muy flexibles y funciones altamente innovadoras, la VT80 toma como punto de partida la configuración utilizada en la excepcional etapa de potencia Reference 75, compartiendo ambos modelos los mismos transformadores de alimentación y de salida, una topología circuital similar y un elevado número de componentes. A ello hay que sumar dos importantes incorporaciones en la funcionalidad de la VT80 presentes por vez primera en un producto de Audio Research. La primera de ellas es un exclusivo circuito de polarización automática –“auto-bias”- desarrollado íntegramente por el ingeniero jefe de la división analógica de la firma estadounidense y que permite a la VT80, una vez puesta en marcha y con todas las válvulas instaladas, ajustar automáticamente la polarización –“bias”- de cada válvula de salida (potencia). En concreto, dicho circuito ajusta en tiempo real la potencia de salida en función del desgaste de cada válvula o de las fluctuaciones de la tensión de alimentación, todo ello sin comprometer en ningún momento las prestaciones globales.

vt80_side_angle

Por otro lado, la VT80 también está capacitada para funcionar con un amplio espectro de válvulas de potencia, entre las que destacan modelos tan apreciados como la 6550, la KT88, la KT90, la KT120 o la KT150. La segunda novedad relevante de la nueva Audio Research es la inclusión de un fusible de protección para cada válvula de salida a fin de garantizar un funcionamiento fiable en todo tipo de condiciones de trabajo. En lo que a topología circuital se refiere, la VT80 utiliza una arquitectura balanceada que le permite entregar una potencia de 75 vatios continuos por canal con una dinámica, unos graves y una claridad excepcionales,  que se combinan con una presentación sonora extraordinariamente holográfica. Por otro lado, la estructura abierta del chasis extrusionado de este amplificador aporta simultáneamente belleza –con una integración perfecta con el resto de modelos de la Serie Foundation- y un fundamento rígido para las dos válvulas de ataque 6H30 y las cuatro válvulas de salida VT120 utilizadas. También el panel posterior de la VT80 ha sido especialmente cuidado, con entradas balanceadas y no balanceadas, tomas para señal de disparo de 12 V, un puerto RS232 para control externo y terminales de salida a cajas acústicas independientes para 4 y 8 ohmios de impedancia, sin olvidar un conmutador para activar/desactivar la función de apagado automático.

Características Técnicas

  • Etapa de potencia estereofónica de referencia cien por cien a válvulas..
  • Potencia de salida de 2×75 W RMS sobre 8/4 ohmios.
  • Respuesta en frecuencia de 0’7-80.000 Hz (puntos de corte a -3 dB).
  • Dos dobles triodos 6H30 (ataque) y cuatro válvulas KT120 (salida).
  • Compatible con válvulas de de salida 6550, KT88, KT90, KT120 y KT150.
  • Circuito de polarización automática para cada válvula de salida.
  • Fusible de protección para cada válvula de salida.
  • Transformadores de alimentación y salida de muy alta calidad
  • Slew rate” de 10 V/us y tiempo de subida de 4 us.
  • Entradas no balanceadas y balanceadas.
  • Toma para señal de disparo de 12 V y puerto RS232 para control externo.
  • Terminales de conexión a cajas acústicas separados para 4 y 8 ohmios.
  • Dimensiones: 483x262x468 mm (An x Al x P).
  • Peso: 20’7 kg.

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Su precio: 10.590,00 €

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The Alan Parsons Project. Edición 40 aniversario de su primer álbum “Tales of Mystery…”

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The Alan Parsons Project

“Tales of Mystery 40th Anniversary Box Set”

This beautiful 40th anniversary box set, made with the full co-operation of Eric Woolfson’s family and Alan Parsons, is a landmark release for the album that launched the Project.

– The original 1976 album is presented for the first time ever in a 5.1 surround sound mix Blu-ray from the original multi-tracks re-mastered by Alan Parsons at Capitol Studios, LA.

– 3 CDs (the 1976 original & 1987 remix with bonus tracks, plus a whole CD of over 70 minutes of previously unreleased bonus material)

– 2-LP set of the original 1976 recording, half-speed mastered by Miles Showell at Abbey Road, March 2016

– Stunning 60-page coffee table book with photographs and new interviews about the making of the album

– An original album poster, a replica 1976 press kit and tape-man sticker

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Full Track List:

DISC ONE: A Dream Within A Dream / The Raven / The Tell-Tale Heart / The Cask Of Amontillado / (The System Of) Doctor Tarr and Professor Fether / The Fall Of The House Of Usher (suite)
i: Prelude – ii: Arrival – iii: Intermezzo – iv: Pavane – v: Fall / To One In Paradise (Original 1976 edition) / The Raven (Original Demo) / Edgar (Demo Of An Unreleased Track) / Orson Welles Radio Spot / Interview with Alan Parsons and Eric Woolfson

DISC TWO: A Dream Within A Dream / The Raven / The Tell-Tale Heart / The Cask Of Amontillado / (The System Of) Doctor Tarr and Professor Fether / The Fall Of The House Of Usher (suite) i: Prelude – ii: Arrival – iii: Intermezzo – iv: Pavane – v: Fall / To One In Paradise (1987 Remix) / Eric’s Guide Vocal Medley / Orson Welles Dialogue / Sea Lions In The Departure Lounge / GBH Mix (Unreleased Experiments)

DISC THREE: (ALL MATERIAL PREVIOUSLY UNRELEASED) Album Launch at Los Angeles Planetarium – Introduction by Warren Duffy / Dream Within A Dream (Piano Takes) / Dream Within A Dream (Recorder Takes) / Dream Within A Dream/The Raven (Early Mix with Eric on Vocoder) / The Raven (Out-take and Extended Jam) / The Tell Tale Heart (Eric Guide Vocal) / Cask Of Amontillado (Rough mix – piano and backing vocals) / Cask Of Amontillado (Eric and Alan Guide Vocals) / Dr Tarr and Professor Fether (Early Rough Mix) / Dr Tarr and Professor Fether (Vocal Take) / Dr Tarr and Professor Fether – (Eric Guide Vocal) / Prelude (Orchestral Take 19) / Pavane (Experimenting & Take 1) / To One In Paradise (Rough Mix) / Interview with Alan and Eric – London, August 1987

DISC FOUR BLU-RAY:

Original 1976 album 5.1 Mix by Alan Parsons, Mixed at Capitol Studios, LA, June 2016

A Dream Within A Dream / The Raven / The Tell-Tale Heart / The Cask Of Amontillado / (The System Of) Doctor Tarr and Professor Fether / The Fall Of The House Of Usher (suite) i: Prelude – ii: Arrival – iii: Intermezzo – iv: Pavane – v: Fall / To One In Paradise

Original 1976 album 96/24 HD Mix by Alan Parsons, Mixed at Capitol Studios, LA, June 2016)

A Dream Within A Dream / The Raven / The Tell-Tale Heart / The Cask Of Amontillado / (The System Of) Doctor Tarr and Professor Fether / The Fall Of The House Of Usher (suite) i: Prelude – ii: Arrival – iii: Intermezzo – iv: Pavane – v: Fall / To One In Paradise

2-LP SET: Original 1976 Recording / Half speed mastered by Miles Showell at Abbey Road, March 2016

LP 1 / SIDE 1
A Dream Within A Dream / The Raven / The Tell-Tale Heart
LP 1 / SIDE 2
The Cask Of Amontillado / (The System Of) Doctor Tarr and Professor Fether

LP 2 / SIDE 1
The Fall Of The House Of Usher: i: Prelude – ii: Arrival – iii: Intermezzo – iv: Pavane- v: Fall
LP 2 / SIDE 2
To One In Paradise / (The System Of) Doctor Tarr and Professor Fether (Single Version) / The Raven (Single Version) / To One In Paradise (Single Version)

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Ya es posible adquirir por separado el Blu-ray de esta edición especial en amazon.es
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Unos pantallazos del arte del bluray:
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