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 Post subject: Re: Why do early Columbia Disc records sound bad?
PostPosted: Tue Nov 07, 2017 6:37 am 
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Victor III
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F. Depero, "Grammofono", 1923.
Joined: Thu Feb 24, 2011 4:19 am
Posts: 553
Location: Italy
Victor A wrote:
But what about the Fonotipias? They were a Columbia product, and the ones I've seen have a wonderful, rich sound and relatively little surface noise.

Why do you say so? I have always thought that they were pressed in Italy by Fonotipia itself.

While in general I second the comment that they play well, I have at least a pair in which the pressing was imperfect and the sound comes and goes at every spin of the record, especially in the final grooves.


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 Post subject: Re: Why do early Columbia Disc records sound bad?
PostPosted: Tue Nov 07, 2017 8:57 am 
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Victor III
Joined: Sun Mar 15, 2009 6:18 am
Posts: 660
Marco Gilardetti wrote:
Victor A wrote:
But what about the Fonotipias? They were a Columbia product, and the ones I've seen have a wonderful, rich sound and relatively little surface noise.

Why do you say so? I have always thought that they were pressed in Italy by Fonotipia itself.

While in general I second the comment that they play well, I have at least a pair in which the pressing was imperfect and the sound comes and goes at every spin of the record, especially in the final grooves.

The Fonotipias sold in the US were pressed by Columbia, and they were good quality pressings, I have a couple. The masters for the US pressings were the Italian ones, as evidenced by the artist's signature on the wax. I think you are right about the original Fonotipia, the company itself belonged to the German Odeon, but the recordings and pressings were made in Italy. The few I have in good playable condition actually sound great, matching the best recording and pressing quality of the period.


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 Post subject: Re: Why do early Columbia Disc records sound bad?
PostPosted: Tue Nov 07, 2017 9:54 am 
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Victor O
Joined: Thu Apr 27, 2017 5:52 am
Posts: 94
Location: Redruth, Cornwall, U.K.
I did not know about the survival of Columbia's Silent Surface on the mainland of Europe, nor about the connection between Columbia and Fonotipia in the United States. My thanks to CarlosV for both pieces of information.

Oliver Mundy.


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 Post subject: Re: Why do early Columbia Disc records sound bad?
PostPosted: Tue Nov 07, 2017 12:03 pm 
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Victor IV
Joined: Mon Oct 03, 2011 7:54 pm
Posts: 1994
CarlosV wrote:
The Fonotipias sold in the US were pressed by Columbia, and they were good quality pressings, I have a couple. The masters for the US pressings were the Italian ones, as evidenced by the artist's signature on the wax. I think you are right about the original Fonotipia, the company itself belonged to the German Odeon, but the recordings and pressings were made in Italy. The few I have in good playable condition actually sound great, matching the best recording and pressing quality of the period.


The bulk of Fonotipias sold in the US were indeed pressed by Columbia and are easily identified as such because "Columbia Phonograph Company" appears on the label. However, they were not the only US firm pressing and selling these. After Columbia gave up on them, Otto Heinimann's OkeH company also licensed some Fonotipia masters and released them. They are significantly less common than the Columbias.


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 Post subject: Re: Why do early Columbia Disc records sound bad?
PostPosted: Wed Nov 08, 2017 5:32 am 
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Victor III
Joined: Sun Mar 15, 2009 6:18 am
Posts: 660
52089 wrote:
CarlosV wrote:
The bulk of Fonotipias sold in the US were indeed pressed by Columbia and are easily identified as such because "Columbia Phonograph Company" appears on the label. However, they were not the only US firm pressing and selling these. After Columbia gave up on them, Otto Heinimann's OkeH company also licensed some Fonotipia masters and released them. They are significantly less common than the Columbias.


Now this I did not know! were the Okeh fonotipias pressed with the same label as the original ones or did they carry Okeh labels? They must indeed be rare.


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 Post subject: Re: Why do early Columbia Disc records sound bad?
PostPosted: Wed Nov 08, 2017 7:57 am 
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Victor IV
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A new blank with authentic formula and spiral core!
Joined: Wed Oct 21, 2009 10:50 am
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Location: 615 1/2 South Main Street Princeton IL 61356.
Most of my silver/black label Columbias sound horrible, except a few band records I have. I barely ever hear a sliver of consonance in them. The Viva Tonal records, on the other hand sound great! The blue gold ones vary a lot, from really bad, muddy recording quality, to crisp. I am though not a real big fan of lateral recording in general, I am a fan of cylinders and Diamond Discs. I need to do a spectrum analysis on cylinders and discs (acoustically recorded) however I think I will find the 78rpm acoustic disc probably has a hard time hitting 4,000 cps, while a cylinder can peak about 10,000 cps, and average about 7,000 cps high frequency response.


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 Post subject: Re: Why do early Columbia Disc records sound bad?
PostPosted: Wed Nov 08, 2017 11:40 am 
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Victor IV
Joined: Mon Oct 03, 2011 7:54 pm
Posts: 1994
CarlosV wrote:
52089 wrote:
CarlosV wrote:
The bulk of Fonotipias sold in the US were indeed pressed by Columbia and are easily identified as such because "Columbia Phonograph Company" appears on the label. However, they were not the only US firm pressing and selling these. After Columbia gave up on them, Otto Heinimann's OkeH company also licensed some Fonotipia masters and released them. They are significantly less common than the Columbias.


Now this I did not know! were the Okeh fonotipias pressed with the same label as the original ones or did they carry Okeh labels? They must indeed be rare.


Here are the front and back label of a 1-sided Okeh Fonotipia that I own. Apologies for hijacking the thread.


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 Post subject: Re: Why do early Columbia Disc records sound bad?
PostPosted: Wed Nov 08, 2017 4:56 pm 
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Victor III
Joined: Sun Mar 15, 2009 6:18 am
Posts: 660
52089 wrote:
[
Here are the front and back label of a 1-sided Okeh Fonotipia that I own. Apologies for hijacking the thread.

That's nice, thanks for posting the label of this rare record.


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 Post subject: Re: Why do early Columbia Disc records sound bad?
PostPosted: Thu Nov 09, 2017 5:11 am 
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Victor III
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F. Depero, "Grammofono", 1923.
Joined: Thu Feb 24, 2011 4:19 am
Posts: 553
Location: Italy
How I wish that all "hijacks" were like yours, that was very interesting to see, I've never seen one of these before either!

One has to love Fonotipias: the engraved and stamped signature is such a cool and distinctive feature! I buy all Fonotipies that I come across (which are not many, "in the wild"). I've always asked myself if back then there were so many counterfeit records to justify such peciliarity, or if it was just one of the many ways deployed to stand out among all other makes. :geek:


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 Post subject: Re: Why do early Columbia Disc records sound bad?
PostPosted: Thu Nov 09, 2017 3:37 pm 
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Victor O
Joined: Tue Aug 13, 2013 12:24 pm
Posts: 85
CarlosV wrote:

If you include Continental Europe in the Old World, laminated records were produced in France from the 30s to the 50s, in different labels, like Gramophone, Pathé, Columbia etc, which (I think) all had the same ownership. Pressing quality was very good, about as good as the Australian HMVs. I have never seen laminated German records, although their pressing standard was very high almost from the start of their Hanover production throughout the 20s and 30s.

On the original subject, I have a number of old US black-and-silver label Columbias, and all have high surface noise and the quality of recording is lower than the Victors of the period. As Oliver mentions, in the 20s the scene changed with Columbia producing the best quality records that benefited from the lamination technique. But I also have some pre-laminated US Columbia (flag labels) that sound very good with quiet surfaces.


Clean early-electric Flag Label Columbias (and there aren't many of them!) are a delight! With the studio presence of the Western Electric engineers piloting the earlier electrical sessions (so I've read) and a clean surface, no recordings sound as immediate(to me, anyway) dating to before the pre-1932 Victor "hifi" records.

Somewhat more related to the original question, I've noticed that a number of my one-sided Standard and Harmony records (Columbia matrices, of course) sound rather rough and have a grainy look to them. This could of course be accounted for by the previous explanation regarding the heavy sound-boxes, storage through the years, etc, but were at least some of the odd-size spindle-hole records devoted to second-class Columbia products? I have no idea how record production and distribution back then worked, but what I'm trying to say is: were some of the records with more "rough" surfaces given over to Standard, Harmony, etc? I can't believe that I've found all of the grainy-surface records from that period by bad luck, and Uniteds, which date a bit later, are more smooth as to the surface and better with the sound quality. As to my double-sided Standards and Harmony's there are more on-par with Columbia Double Disc records, but definitely the matrices from 1904-07 "ain't all that great" compared to those on the Columbia label that I have from that same time-frame.


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