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 Posted:   Mar 23, 2014 - 8:07 AM   
 By:   MOVIEBUFF   (Member)

When I first started collecting soundtracks in the late 60s, I recall many on the United Artists label sounded really dreadful,
ones that come to mind were, Wonderful Country, The Unforgiven, The Vikings and of course The Big Country. Even for recordings made in the 50s they were well below par, did the films themselves sound this bad, were they cheap re-recordings? I cant think of any good reason, especially as many would say sound recording was at a high point at this time. Any ideas?

 
 
 Posted:   Mar 23, 2014 - 8:49 AM   
 By:   OnyaBirri   (Member)

The stereo pressings were very shrill. The mono LPs had a warmer sound.

 
 
 Posted:   Mar 23, 2014 - 9:13 AM   
 By:   dan the man   (Member)

it's a shame the music itself was great but with the pressings and stereo in the early days all I am sure were reasons the presentations of all this fine music was often sub par. But we accepted what we got and appreciate the inner through the inferior outer. This reminds me of how in the 70's so many of the Stylistics, Spinners[soul groups] records have terrible pressings on their music. Good music, but AVCO RECORDS, ATLANTIC RECORDS in the 70's, so many of them were warped, I used to think I just got a bad copy, but on some of them I buy 5 copies they all had some problems. Many of the young today will never know what we went through.

 
 
 Posted:   Mar 23, 2014 - 9:13 AM   
 By:   dan the man   (Member)

it's a shame the music itself was great but with the pressings and stereo in the early days all I am sure were reasons the presentations of all this fine music was often sub par. But we accepted what we got and appreciate the inner through the inferior outer. This reminds me of how in the 70's so many of the Stylistics, Spinners[soul groups] records have terrible pressings on their music. Good music, but AVCO RECORDS, ATLANTIC RECORDS in the 70's, so many of them were warped, I used to think I just got a bad copy, but on some of them I buy 5 copies they all had some problems. Many of the young today will never know what we went through.

 
 Posted:   Mar 23, 2014 - 9:32 AM   
 By:   The Projectionist   (Member)

My guesses are bad locations for the orchestra, too many musicians in a small space, or too few muscians in a large space drowning each other out, or over saturating the tapes.
Also different places had different recording gear, some primitive some more advanced.

Also didn't tape only record up 15khz in the early 50s?

 
 
 Posted:   Mar 23, 2014 - 11:16 AM   
 By:   cinemel1   (Member)

I think it's just poor quality control after the recording is made. The recent Ava E. Bernstein set on Intrada sounds fine. The LPs released in the 60s were pretty awful. Most of the Capitol and Columbia LPs were fine. The Rodgers & Hammerstein soundtracks especially Carousel & The King & I are examples. The Alamo, Guns of Navarone & Fall of the Roman Empire were also excellent on Columbia. The Rozsa MGM soundtracks were just ok, but the FSM releases of El Cid, King of Kings and Ben-Hur are great.

 
 
 Posted:   Mar 23, 2014 - 12:42 PM   
 By:   JEC   (Member)

Mainstream was awful, too. HEROES OF TELEMARK in particular.

 
 
 Posted:   Mar 23, 2014 - 2:38 PM   
 By:   dan the man   (Member)

oh gosh. MAINSTREAM WAS REALLY BAD.

 
 
 Posted:   Mar 24, 2014 - 9:25 AM   
 By:   jskoda   (Member)

I think part of the trouble with United Artists films/releases was that UA didn't have a physical studio or sound stages of its own. It was mostly just a distribution company. So their scores could have been recorded anywhere, depending on what soundstages the producers chose to rent.

Hollywood sound recording was at a high point then, but I'm pretty sure THE UNFORGIVEN was recorded in Italy (probably THE VIKINGS too).

 
 
 Posted:   Mar 24, 2014 - 9:36 AM   
 By:   OnyaBirri   (Member)

The recordings weren't the issue. The mastering and the pressings were.

 
 
 Posted:   Mar 24, 2014 - 4:25 PM   
 By:   bagby   (Member)

Problem number one is often the tapes handed over for album mastering were dubs, and a generation away from the original.

Due to the wide variety of types and limitations of record players of the day, sound engineers often compressed sound by raising volume of softer passages and lowering volume for louder parts. They also frequently reduced deep frequencies since too much bass or volume could cause the record to skip.

In some cases, reverb was added because of all the compression to add a little punch and depth into the thing, and that was tricky--a number of recordings from the era have way too much reverb added for my taste, but the practice was widely prevalent.

And, remember, this is all happening on a duplicate of the original tape, which in the analog days meant another generation away, which added tape hiss to the original tape hiss. And then it was output to another dub, which was used for actually creating/cutting the master.

Another reason for compressing the frequencies was due to potential radio play; broadcast standards of the day and the radios people were listening to were not exactly 'hi-fi.'

Also, in the 1950s and 1960s, albums were commonly released in both mono and stereo formats. If no stereo mix was available or one hadn't been recorded, it was fairly standard, even industry practice, to create a simulated stereo mix.

This was accomplished by running the mono signal through two channels, boosting bass in one channel, tweaking treble in the other and then running the channels slightly out of sync and in some cases adding more reverb. These ersatz stereo were often called 'duophonic' mixes.

If they had stereo tapes, they'd fold down the two channels into one to make the mono mix.

Really, considering the equipment of the day--ideally, today, assuming the original first generation tapes are in great condition, the sound quality can be quite high. Off of dubs, and the inherent problems of tape--stretching, inconsistent playback speeds, splices, wow, flutter--the surprising thing might be that some of them sound as good as they do.

 
 Posted:   Mar 24, 2014 - 4:28 PM   
 By:   Ron Pulliam   (Member)

It's my understanding that the so-called "stereo" issues on UA were really monaural with reverb added to create a stereophonic ambience.

"The Big Country", despite the album label saying it was stereo, was not stereo. Many attempts were made to find stereo masters for the original recordings but the end result is that it does not seem a stereo recording was ever made.

 
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