Direct to Disc

Discussions on Records, Recording, & Artists
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chunnybh
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Direct to Disc

Post by chunnybh »

Nowadays, not many things are recorded direct to disc. There was a spate of vinyl LP's recorded direct to disc in the 1970's specifically for audiophiles.

This is a new release and I just got my copy today. Wonderful stuff. It's a weird mix of Indian influenced free-form Jazz.
Sarathy Korwar & Upaj Collective: Night Dreamer Direct​-​to​-​Disc Sessions

https://sarathykorwar.bandcamp.com/albu ... c-sessions

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Inigo
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Re: Direct to Disc

Post by Inigo »

This simply is a return to the immediacy of the performance. We're used to 78s, which were recorded this way, isn't it? Until the use of tapes or acetate transcriptions, records were done directly onto the matrix, and most of them were done in one or two takes, and no more. Let alone the purity of the acoustic recordings, where besides of the immediacy of the performance, the energy for engraving was the pure sound of the performers....! No extra energy except the gravity, to move the weight that provided the disc rotation. This is the charm I find on 78s, and yet more on acoustic 78s... They are the real thing, like attending to a direct performance!
Inigo

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Re: Direct to Disc

Post by CarlosV »

I loved the direct-to-disc records from the 70s! I still have some, of Harry James's band, Buddy Rich and others. They were quite expensive at the time, and the production was in small numbers, everything recorded as Iñigo says, directly from the mike to the cutting lathe like in a live session. On the Harry James records we can even hear the noises of the band shuffling their scores in between numbers. It is heart-warming to hear that this technology is coming back, too bad most of my preferred artists are gone, but there are new ones around worth the investment on such high fidelity medium!

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Re: Direct to Disc

Post by poodling around »

Inigo wrote:This simply is a return to the immediacy of the performance. We're used to 78s, which were recorded this way, isn't it? Until the use of tapes or acetate transcriptions, records were done directly onto the matrix, and most of them were done in one or two takes, and no more. Let alone the purity of the acoustic recordings, where besides of the immediacy of the performance, the energy for engraving was the pure sound of the performers....! No extra energy except the gravity, to move the weight that provided the disc rotation. This is the charm I find on 78s, and yet more on acoustic 78s... They are the real thing, like attending to a direct performance!
So very well said. I agree entirely. Especially:

"the purity of the acoustic recordings"

"They are the real thing, like attending to a direct performance!"

I often imagine the singer in front of the horn with pianist or orchestra near. Absolutely marvelous.
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chunnybh
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Re: Direct to Disc

Post by chunnybh »

Direct to disc is one of the main reasons I love 78's. Listening to different takes is always fun. I am always amazed at the quality of musicianship. That immediate live feel and improvisation on each unique take.

Direct to disc vinyl is what really excites me. You can actually feel you are in the recording room. Live recordings.

With the advent of magnetic tape, direct to disc was relegated to the fringe. Most vinyl was and is mastered from analogue tape. It's an art form when it is then cut on a recording lathe. For example, Doug Sax is such a famous mastering engineer. His work on The Doors and Pink Floyd albums is legendary. A lot of those albums have recently been re-mixed and re-mastered. In my opinion, where they are let down is in the cutting to disc. The cutting engineers are just so important.

Most new vinyl records these days are digitally mastered and then often the same masters are used for producing vinyl LP's. They sound terrible, worse than on a CD. Most seasoned artists will remaster it again specially for vinyl.

But there is nothing quite like direct to disc vinyl. Lets hope it comes back again.

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Re: Direct to Disc

Post by Marc Hildebrant »

With regard to the 78 RPM Electric Records, there were modifications made to the Low frequencies (roll-off) and at times the highs (turn-over).
It was also true that the production engineers boosted the lows or highs to compensate for the playback technology at the time (1930's).

All of the electric recorded songs were modified in some manner from the Studio Sound, but, that doesn't mean that they do not sound wonderful.

The real purists would want only the Edison Brown Wax versions for direct to disc (insert smile ).

Marc

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Re: Direct to Disc

Post by BillH_NJ »

The direct-to-disc recordings I have from the 1970s are of the classical repertoire, but I appreciate them for the feeling of a live, unedited performance in the same way that 78s present a real, unspliced document of the artist. That said, it must be a very different and stressful experience for the musician(s) to record 20 or so minutes uninterrupted compared to 4 or so minutes for one take of a 78.

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Re: Direct to Disc

Post by chunnybh »

That said, it must be a very different and stressful experience for the musician(s) to record 20 or so minutes uninterrupted compared to 4 or so minutes for one take of a 78.
That is exactly the point. It is a "live" performance captured to disc.
The real purists would want only the Edison Brown Wax versions for direct to disc (insert smile ).
Yes, true enough, a horn attached to a cutter was true direct to disc. All other direct to disc still go through microphones and amplifiers before they get cut to disc, and that is when the cutting engineer gauges the highs and lows and also the spacing between grooves.

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Re: Direct to Disc

Post by CarlosV »

Regardless of discussions on what is pure direct to disc or what is not, the original post referred to what we saw in the 70s: a recording process that bypassed the tape recorder, and with it removed all distortions and limits imposed by the tape. The down side of that, among others, as Bill alluded to, is the loss of editing capability during the performance. But to me the most important is that the results were outstanding in terms of acoustics: I never heard any recording that sounded better than a direct-to-disc.

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Re: Direct to Disc

Post by Marc Hildebrant »

Interesting discussion. I'm not sure that the conversion to magnetic tape and then to the cutting lathe causes any distortion that you can really hear; rather the key fact is that this type of recording bypasses any modifications made by the recording engineer. For example in the live recordings I have you can hear coughing, some talking, etc. that adds to the presence that you are in the audience.

The recordings from the concert halls sound wonderful without extra processing by the recording engineer and that's what makes the direct to disc recordings sound great (in my opinion).

Marc

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