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Listening to PWK


Mallette
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Finally located an Otari MX-5050 II b2 2/4 track R2R from one of my RMHC advisors today and he brought it to me from San Antonio.  Heads a psychiatric clinic specializing in addiction and was going to the Caddo Indian Conference Nacogdoches this weekend as they were having a session on psychotropics used by that tribe so he just came up last night and stayed over until the AM.  He had never checked it out but it was sold to him as working.  Didn't get overexcited as I've been there before. 

 

Fired it up this morning and, sure enough, the reels took off at 30 or so ips.  Not being my first rodeo I knew that meant the idler solenoid was either defective or sticky.  Hoping for that later, I operated it several times manually and it fired, but not reliably.  So I rocked it in and out of play about a 100 times and it's been fine since.  At that point, I could see that the meters were running and such, but had nothing hooked up to hear it. 

 

Hauled my Audioengines down from the attic and Hooked them up.  Anyway, solenoids are responding nicely, transport is free of jerks or flutter, and the sound is excellent.  In fact, I got to thinking, in fact, MUCH better than most commercial prerecorded tapes.  This one was a Boston Pops Columbia release.  Suddenly, I realized why it was so good. 

 

Almost went teary-eyed when I realized that last time that tape sounded the ears receiving were probably Master Paul's.  It was from his personal collection. 

 

I've emailed Jim Hunter I'm ready for the first batch of PWK's tapes to transfer.  There are several hundred hours and most will have dry splices to replace and be very brittle as well.  Serious lot of work, but I am humbled and proud to be able to do it.  As we go along, Jim will determine what can be released and how it should be done.  There will be some serious treasures there.  If you've read about PWK's fuming about the crap source material he was stuck with you have to believe the recordings he made personally are going to be pretty stellar.  Several genre involved.  Aside from the jazz, I am, of course, looking forward to the triple whammy of PWK engineering John Eargle playing the classic Skinner pipe organ in Kilgore.  I CANNOT wait to hear that!  Then, there is the Joe Holland group, Rule Beasley, and others.

 

Next tears will be if the recording of the Camille Saint-Saëns 3rd with E. Power Biggs he played for me when I visited him turns up. 

 

I want to thank Jim and Klipsch for entrusting myself and the RMHC with this work.  It will be performed in strict adherence to International Association of Sound and Audiovisual Archives standards.  I hope many of you have the opportunity to hear these at some point.

 

Dave

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Wow, this is the second time I read this today, i didn't know what to say earlier. I still don't really, it's amazing and you should consider yourself gifted, although a crazy amount of work. 

 

Good luck Dave, I know you could never imagined this could happen, I would think it's going to be surprising what you find.  

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Gents, I tremble.   Literally.  "Vinegar syndrome" degradation to the acetates, binder hydrolysis in all kinds, "sticky tape syndrome" in the polyesters...mess of issues!  The acetates are incredibly fragile.  They weren't very strong when new, and after over half a century comparison to unwrapping the Dead Sea Scrolls may be a bit pretentious but given the source of these tapes I approach it that way. 

 

Each and every splice has deteriorated and each tape has to be run "silent" first just to locate and replace. 

 

But I feel very, very privileged and look forward to the adventure.  I'll report from time to time, and I'll work with Klipsch to determine what can be released to you folks and the public in general.  It's all their call, but I am sure they'll want to get this legacy out there.  Since the price is right (free) on the labor, I think they'll be willing to work with us.

 

Thanks for the kind thought!  Forward, into the past!

 

Dave

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Today Jim Hunter brought over the first batch of tapes for archiving.  All I can say is "Wow.   Wow.  Wow.  First one on was from 1958, Rule Beasley jazz band engineered by PWK at KOSY radio in Texarkana.  While all I have to monitor with are the Audioengine A5+, the sound is astonishing.  Very quiet, excellent image.  The music is awesome jazz!  Jim and Klipsch will have to OK the release but I hope we can make this available for download in the not too distant future. 

 

First thing is that when Gil said this is like Howard Carter is correct.  As was said when asked "What do you see?" when Tut's tomb was entered, "Wonderful things!' is the answer, though heard rather than saw.  I also compare to the Dead Sea scrolls in the since that these tapes are incredibly fragile.  We first learned by experience what PWK meant by his labels "M Master" and "P Master."  The Ms are edited from the 10" session masters.  None of those in this batch but hopefully they are there.  The M's are the "keeper" takes made via a dub and spliced.  Every splice has to be carefully replaced as all the splices have totally lost adhesion.  The P tapes are what, in my day, we called "running masters."  These are third generation copies of the the M edited masters used to copy for distribution.  We just worked with P masters today as the transfers I made were just for test purposes of the system.  Even being third generation they are amazing!  Incredibly quiet, excellent image, real piano.  We will play them at the Hope gathering.  Be there or be square!

 

I cannot express the honor I feel to be involved in this.  I am grateful for the trust that Klipsch and Jim have placed and intend to perform this work with all the experience I've gained in my entire life experience.  So many old tricks came back as I handled these tapes. 

 

Back to the future!  To paraphrase the LP cartoon recently posted "If my calculations are correct, when this baby hits 7.5 inches per second you are going to hear some SERIOUS SHIT!"

 

Dave

post-7390-0-87200000-1459981346_thumb.jp

Edited by Mallette
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I have read many times that old tapes have to be "baked" to get them to play properly.  What's that about?  Did you have to do that?

Mark, hope to see you in May. Would be great if you and Kim could both make it. Lots of wives attending this year. its going to an awesome get together. Looks like record breaking attendance this year!

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I have read many times that old tapes have to be "baked" to get them to play properly.  What's that about?  Did you have to do that?

No.  Won't go into the details, but I am dealing with acetates to which that does not apply.

 

Just finished my first archival transfer.  I am going to hold on further while I study the best ways to ensure the metadata of who/what/when/where/how and such is best stored.  Even things that we may not consider important at the moment may be of great interest centuries from now.  Who knows?

 

Dave

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Dave-

Great work you're doing. I look forward to being able to experience the fruits of your labors.

The Klipsch Tapes downloaded from High Definition Tape Transfers are excellent. The performances of The Joe Holland Quartet and John Eargle are excellent, as are the recordings. I hope you're able to resurrect and archive more of PWK's favorite recordings.

I know you don't need any Reg Williamson "goop" for R2R tape transfers, but please let me know when you're ready to archive vinyl and shellac. Then I'll send you fresh batches as my contribution to your worthy project.

Edited by DizRotus
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