The Verdict: Is it Vinyl or Tape?

The Verdict: Is it Vinyl or Tape?

About a week ago, I promised an update to let everyone know just where the 1st Skafish album re-mastering project is currently at. And, for those of you who have just tuned in, let’s start with a little recap:

So far, two never-before-opened vinyl copies of the first Skafish album have been transferred to digital. Mastering engineer Trevor Sadler and I have listened to both, studied them and compared notes. Of these two, one pressing was from the United States and the other came from the United Kingdom. The vinyl transfers were promising.

However, there was still the unanswered question of the tapes. These would be the original tapes from the studio where the album was originally recorded that I talked about here. They are high-quality reel-to-reel tape dubs of the final master mixes. We wanted to see if they would sound better, worse, or the same as the vinyl transfers.

Current update – the tape transfers:
Trevor successfully transferred the tapes and sent me two copies in mid August. The first copy was a straight, unchanged flat transfer, meaning, nothing was done to adjust the sound whatsoever. The second copy had a small degree of mastering that Trevor had done. After listening to the second copy, it was pretty evident to both Trevor and I that the tapes sounded extremely promising. Proceeding from there, Trevor started working toward the final master.

Then, on Saturday, 9-3-16, I received and began listening to a more finished master made from the original tapes. This transfer further developed the album to be closer to a completed audio master, which involved such things as working with the treble/bass, overall EQ, balance, volume levels, compression, etc. That’s all technical jargon for getting the best sound out of the album possible.

So, what’s the verdict? It is absolutely clear that the studio master tape dub is superior in sound and quality to either of the vinyl masters – and that’s what I am going with.

I know this process has taken some time, but there are a lot of details to pay attention to as well as multiple sources we have needed to master from. The most important thing is not speed, but getting it right. Moving forward, there are a few tweaks and some details that still need to be taken care of. That’s in part because we need two separate masters: one for vinyl and the other for CD and digital. The vinyl and digital medium are notably different in terms of what they each require for a proper master. It’s important to me that both sound excellent.

When it comes to the audio master to the 1st album, there are two primary objectives I have in mind. First, I want to keep the sound authentic and loyal to the original album and its fans. Second, it is important to have the music work in the best way possible for both a vinyl and CD/digital release.

While the re-mastering is being worked on, there is something I would ask you to do for me. I am trying to gain control of my Spotify artist account, and I need 250 followers to do so. Currently, I have 111. Please follow me on Spotify. It doesn’t matter whether you have a free or paid account, because you can follow me with either type on Spotify. That will certainly help with making the 1st album project a reality, because I will be able to post updates, add pictures, playlists, and share things directly with the fans on Spotify.

I am not one who neurotically and obsessively posts about every little thing in a project, which is why you don’t hear from me constantly. In other words, I don’t believe that listening to the album at low volume versus high volume is worthy of a post, lol. My goal is to share substantial information with you that is relevant. Of course, you will be hearing from me as everything develops and comes together.

Your support has been miraculous.
Skafish



Skafish

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Comments ( 2 )

  1. John Frame
    Jim - I'm not surprised that the 2 track mix-down reel to reel tape is the one you've found will yield the best quality for your digital issue of the Skafish album. The 2009 restorations of new transfers from 2 track tape masters of the Beatles albums were a huge improvement over the first CD releases (which were before digital editing was possible, and so were direct transfers from the analogue tapes). The ability to perfectly fix erroneous noises, and to finely adjust nuances is a big advantage over what was possible in the 80's. I'm looking forward to hearing this album leap out of my loudspeakers. xx john
  2. AuthorSkafish
    John -- You are so right. Working with the tapes is the way to go -- I can't wait to be able to share it all with you! xx Jim

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