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 Post subject: Re: Why do early Columbia Disc records sound bad?
PostPosted: Sat Nov 11, 2017 7:47 pm 
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Victor IV
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Having slowly built up a collection of the earliest 7" Climax, Columbia and Victor band recordings, I think the Climax and Columbia generally sound better than the Victors. Most of those surviving records were played to death on front-mount machines, but when you finally hear a record in excellent condition you can appreciate how good they actually sounded. Judging by specimens I have seen, the wax masters must not have been polished to a mirror smoothness, the lathe marks from the shaver can still be seen; however, the grooves were cut clean.


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 Post subject: Re: Why do early Columbia Disc records sound bad?
PostPosted: Mon Nov 13, 2017 10:28 am 
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Victor V
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VintageTechnologies wrote:
Having slowly built up a collection of the earliest 7" Climax, Columbia and Victor band recordings, I think the Climax and Columbia generally sound better than the Victors. Most of those surviving records were played to death on front-mount machines, but when you finally hear a record in excellent condition you can appreciate how good they actually sounded. Judging by specimens I have seen, the wax masters must not have been polished to a mirror smoothness, the lathe marks from the shaver can still be seen; however, the grooves were cut clean.


Basically the point I was originally trying to make. Add playing electrically on modern equipment with usually a smaller than the typical 3 mil stylus (I use a 2.0 mil TE most often for these) and the sound can be noting short of amazing - full, clear and forward.

Sean


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 Post subject: Re: Why do early Columbia Disc records sound bad?
PostPosted: Mon Nov 13, 2017 1:29 pm 
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Victor VI
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I have a 12 inch flag label pressing of Ricardo Stracciari singing the Toreador Song & the surface and sound are just fine. It might be a later pressing of something from the Banner label days, I don't know.

I like the Banner label records- they do seem a bit more distant than the contemporary Victor discs but to me they have a less manipulated sound.


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 Post subject: Re: Why do early Columbia Disc records sound bad?
PostPosted: Tue Nov 14, 2017 5:43 am 
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Victor III
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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.

Fonotipias, besides those manufactured by Columbia and Okeh in the US, were pressed in Berlin-Weissensee, Germany, by the International Talking Machine Company m.b.H. ("Odeon-Werke" from 1911). Recording engineers of the International Talking Machine Co. recorded on behalf of Fonotipia in Italy, Germany, France and elsewhere. Fonotipia was an independent music publishing house and did neither employ recording engineers nor disc manufacturers.


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 Post subject: Re: Why do early Columbia Disc records sound bad?
PostPosted: Tue Nov 14, 2017 9:40 am 
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Victor III
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Once again: why do you say so? It seems there is general consensus here and elsewhere that Italian Fonotipias were recorded in Italy; the wax was even signed by the artist, etc. I seem to understand that J.R. Bennett concludes that at the end of its history, some Fonotipia recording machines were passed to Odeon, which is quite the opposite of what you seem to suggest.


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 Post subject: Re: Why do early Columbia Disc records sound bad?
PostPosted: Tue Nov 14, 2017 11:48 am 
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Victor IV
Joined: Mon Oct 03, 2011 7:54 pm
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Marco Gilardetti wrote:
Once again: why do you say so? It seems there is general consensus here and elsewhere that Italian Fonotipias were recorded in Italy; the wax was even signed by the artist, etc. I seem to understand that J.R. Bennett concludes that at the end of its history, some Fonotipia recording machines were passed to Odeon, which is quite the opposite of what you seem to suggest.


I can't definitively say who pressed what, when, or where, but I can tell you that I have a 1-sided Fonotipia with a large Odeon "dome" logo pressed into the blank side. This certainly shows that Fonotipias were indeed pressed by Odeon, at least at some point.


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 Post subject: Re: Why do early Columbia Disc records sound bad?
PostPosted: Tue Nov 14, 2017 12:02 pm 
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Victor III
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Unfortunately, it is a quite persistent myth that Fonotipia was an independent label. Another good hint is the exact match of the 'groove design' which is identical to a period Odeon.


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 Post subject: Re: Why do early Columbia Disc records sound bad?
PostPosted: Tue Nov 14, 2017 1:14 pm 
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Victor III
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I cite from Frank Andrews, A Fonotipia Fragmentia, UK 1977, who nicely summarized his findings:

"The catalogue numbers allocated to Fonotipia records from the outset formed part of the blocks of numbers of Odeon records. Likewise, the matrix numbers given to Fonotipia recordings were of the same general characteristics as those for Odeon Records, excepting that on Fonotipia records the letter prefixes denoted size, but contained no information on location.

Recording, production of metal masters and stampers, and mass-production of pressed discs for Fonotipia records, were, from the very first, by the International Talking Machine Co.m.b.H., just as were Odeon records; the only distinguishing features which set the two apart were the labels and rosters of artists, who, in the main, appeared only on one or other label. The two labels were associated from the first, Societa Italiana Fonotipia being agent for Odeon Records in Italy, and, at the same time, contracting artists for its own Fonotipia-labelled discs."

End of quote

I know the history of both the International Talking Machine Co. (Odeon) and Fonotipia very well, have a considerable collection of records of both companies (1904-1912) and can only support Mr. Andrews' opinion.


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 Post subject: Re: Why do early Columbia Disc records sound bad?
PostPosted: Thu Nov 16, 2017 5:47 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
WDC wrote:
Unfortunately, it is a quite persistent myth that Fonotipia was an independent label. Another good hint is the exact match of the 'groove design' which is identical to a period Odeon.

It's funny that you write this, because J.R. Bennett in his fundamental work "Dischi Fonotipia - A Golden Treasury", 1953, concludes exactly the opposite from the same observations. He reports that Fonotipia had an engraving techinque of its own which was unique to itself, and was intentionally deployed in order to easily recognise fake records pressed by others. He also adds that, when Fonotipia was finally absorbed by Odeon in 1926, then this technique began to appear also on some Odeon's records (that is: Odeon was using machinery that formerly belonged to Fonotipia).

What does it mean that it's a "persistent myth that Fonotipia was an independent label"? It's actually a new persistent myth that it wasn't. Nobody ever questioned this point before the unfamous notes of the "1904-2014" reissue CD, full of inaccuracies and fictional snippets, were pressed. Fonotipia was an Italian company, founded and placed in Italy, led by an Italian partnership; it was provider of her majesty the queen mother, and also won a prize at the Milan Exhibition of 1906.

Why should have Odeon absorbed it in the end, should Fonotipia already belong to itself? Why Fonotipia records had to be dsitributed worldwide with the Fonotipia label, and not directly with an Odeon label as Odeon itself pressed them in foreign countries? Finally, why "waxes" signed by singers were unique to Fonotipia, if Fonotipia and Odeon were the same thing?


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 Post subject: Re: Why do early Columbia Disc records sound bad?
PostPosted: Thu Nov 16, 2017 1:52 pm 
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Victor III
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We will probably never agree on this, but I do also keep it with Frank Andrews' statements, which I do find to be much more plausible, especially because the style of a period Fonotipia and Odeon are almost identical. And I mean records made long, long before 1926.

It had been quite a common practice for record companies to found foreign dependencies under different names that we 100% owned by them. The only last word would be a conclusion of primary sources, such as letters or entries from a historic business register.


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