jeudi 8 juillet 2010

Original Master Tapes... Or Not? (The Sequel)

Eh bien l'expression "From The Original Master Tapes" est appelée à devenir obsolète. Car si Audio Fidelity eux-mêmes ne l'emploient plus, qui le fera?

J'ai employé une expression un peu forte pour décrire le récent imbroglio de AF, pris, disais-je, "la main dans le sac" pour emploi de "dubs" pour la création d'une édition audiophile de Simon & Garfunkel. Eh bien, la controverse qui a fait rage par la suite a amené l'étiquette à retirer la mention de ses célèbres rééditions. Et c'est celui par qui l'expression a été consacrée, l'ingénieur de son Steve Hoffman (célèbre pour avoir retrouvé, au milieu d'un fatras de rubans oubliés, la véritable bande maîtresse de Highway 61) qui nous recommande de ne pas en faire trop de cas. Dans une véritable partie de ping-pong avec les visiteurs de son forum, il explique la décision de Audio Fidelity ainsi:

The artwork is done in advance, way, way, way before mastering. That is why AF took off all disclaimers in the first place. It's just not possible to look into the future while typesetting, sorry. (...) 
How many times can I tell you guys that the art is printed long in advance? Then, it needs to BE APPROVED by the major record label. That usually takes MONTHS as well. They have the last word on what is to be printed. Do I gotta spell THAT out for you? (...)
Keith, the vault search is the last thing that is done before mastering. Months have gone by since the art was typeset and printed.
Is this not understandable?
10 years ago it was different. All those people have retired and the pencil pushers are in charge now. Do you think Sony Music will put on one of their discs: "Oh, we threw out this tape 25 years ago and are using a dub copy, dig it".
No, they won't and they won't and won't. (...)
George, 80 to 90 percent of the music in your record or CD collection is mastered from a dub. I doubt you could tell the difference. Heck, going from a 24 track tape to a 2 track tape is dubbing it. Or, what do you think two songs that run together are? They blend them by dubbing (Sgt. Pepper, Santana, Band On The Run, etc.)
You want to eliminate almost all of your collection because you are worried about pedigree? Better sit down first and take a breath...
You are not making any sense. (...)
The only pure recordings I have ever worked with are live to mono (like a Bill Haley) or live to two-track (like Art Pepper Meets The Rhythm Section). Everything else is NOT first generation. Heck, anything recorded after 1963 is not. So, we get the closest we can and go with it, it's usually tons better than what the majors use. Still, a master tape is not the Holy Grail (just listen to HOTEL CALIFORNIA raw if you want to be shocked). Everything is a copy, either from a multi or from a work part or whatever. 
Doesn't mean it's going to sound wonderful. Usually it doesn't. The master tape is itself a work part. Played back "raw" is usually a disappointment, like watching "straight" footage from a movie shoot. The thing comes alive in the tweaking (mastering) which is what I do.
I haven't heard the new Stevie Wonder but it was cut from the MASTER which is a dub. (Say "master" like Dr. Evil sez "Laser", use your fingers and everything.)
This MASTER is a master not because I'm calling it that but because it was the only tape EVER USED IN CUTTING THIS ALBUM. Nothing else was used ('cept maybe a dub of this). So in essence it's the real deal. Doesn't matter if Stevie has the work parts, nothing was ever cut from his tape. Do you see? A master is only a master if it was ever used to MASTER ANYTHING. Stevie's tape wasn't. Stevie probably has 50 different mixes of YOU ARE THE SUNSHINE OF MY LIFE and 200 other songs sitting around. So what? None of them was ever used to master anything. (...)
You guys are way too puritanical in your approach.
Take Paul McCartey's RAM or VENUS & MARS. Those "final masters" are dubs. Heck, VENUS & MARS was redubbed just to add a layer of compression. That third generation tape was then labeled MASTER. Should we never listen to it again? No. Do we dig that album? Sure. Do we care that it is technically a dub? We shouldn't.
OK OK. We get the point.
Lui qui s'est fait  l'avocat No 1 de l'utilisation des bandes maîtresses d'origine, pourquoi soudainement tourner le dos à cette conception simple?

Once again, the master tape is the original approved version. You go further back and it's only work parts that need to be massaged. Don't like that except in certain cases. The master tape is the real deal. You probably forget that for every master tape there are many dubs of THAT master that have been used over the years to "master" stuff. What we do is go back as far as we can and eliminate those EQ Dubs and copies. We want the real deal. Hopefully it still exists. In a few cases, it's worn out, lost or dumped. If the album is an important one it can still be worked on with alternate cutting material. It's either that or settle for some really bad sounding older CD's.
Audiophile labels try and make the best sounding versions of favorite and beloved albums. Sometimes the process isn't all fun and games. The end result is worth it though. If I can improve the sound compared to what is already out there, if I can crank it without my ears bleeding, restore lost dynamic range or remove old grating EQ moves, I'm a happy camper.

Les propos de Steve Hoffman ont par la suite été censurés... sur son propre forum!!!
Ainsi est donc révélé le secret honteux: Audio Fidelity ne peut plus utiliser l'expression From The Original Master Tapes parce que ça se trouve à faire ombrage aux rééditions des majors! Vous l'avez lu ici!

1 commentaire:

  1. Anonyme24.2.12

    Très intéressant à lire! Fais en sorte que ce blog garde ces informations, pas faciles à retrouver avec la censure du forum, effectivement!