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NWN diehard editions are for pussies
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ill omen



Joined: 23 Jul 2009
Posts: 753

PostPosted: Tue Jun 04, 2013 11:33 am    Post subject: NWN diehard editions are for pussies Reply with quote

I haven't seen this article posted anywhere on the board, but its a pretty fascinating read:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/2013/may/25/pete-hutchison-interview-new-vinyl-recording

Four years ago, Pete Hutchison realised that his record-collecting habit was getting out of control. From a young age he had been buying music across a wide variety of genres – folk, rock, punk, jazz, house and techno – but recently he'd been getting into classical music, and that, for a lover of rare vinyl, is an expensive move. Classical music tends to fetch much higher prices on the collector's market than other genres. "In a single year," he says, "I spent £40,000 just on classical, not counting all the other music I was buying." One purchase that year, a rare box set of Mozart recordings from 1956, set him back £7,000.

Seeking to address the problem, Hutchison decided to take matters into his own hands. Since 1991 he has been running Peacefrog, an indie label that has enjoyed considerable success in recent years with acts such as José González and Little Dragon. His label's distributor was EMI, which held the rights to a formidable collection of classical recordings. Through his contacts there, Hutchison got permission to remake 80 celebrated recordings from the so-called "golden era" 1950s and 60s and reissue them himself, via his new label the Electric Recording Company.

The first limited-edition repressings, three sought-after LPs of Bach sonatas played by the Hungarian violinist Johanna Martzy. They went on sale last November, priced at £300 apiece. The second reissue was the rare Mozart box set. A collection of the composer's complete Parisian work on seven discs, directed by Fernand Oubradous, and limited to 300 copies, it will cost you £2,495.

These are no ordinary reissues. Hutchison's purism as a collector, it turned out, was outstripped by his perfectionism in the studio. Many vinyl reissues are produced cheaply and quickly on contemporary machinery. Hutchison insisted on doing everything as it would have been done half a century ago, but with added perfection. "I want to have the best-sounding records in the world," he says.

Naturally, this wasn't going to come cheap. "The first challenge," he tells me when I visit him at his studio in Notting Hill, London, "was finding and restoring the equipment." A willowy man with long hair and a gratifyingly bushy beard, Hutchison is every inch the obsessive audiophile, and now he has the machinery to match. The EMI reel-to-reel tape recorder on one side of the room, which had to be fully restored, would have been used at Abbey Road to record the Beatles and the Stones.

The mastering console in the centre, also built by EMI, came from Nigeria – but the real find, Hutchison tells me, was the pair of contraptions to our right: a valve-powered tape machine the size of an Aga and a vinyl-cutting lathe, both manufactured by the Danish company Lyrec in 1965. Hutchison found the two machines "shipwrecked" in a council garage in Cheshunt, bought them for £10,000 and spent three years and "10 times" the purchase price rebuilding them with the help of veteran sound engineers Sean Davies and Duncan Crimmins, guided by instruction manuals Davies had kept since the 1970s.

Valve technology all but disappeared in the mid-70s, when the studios switched over to cheaper transistors – a travesty, in Hutchison's view, exceeded only by the subsequent switchover from analogue to digital. "The problem with transistors is they sounded a bit hard and glassy," he explains. "They didn't have the texture and open top-end of the valve sound." Now he is bringing that lost texture back to life. "These, we believe, are the only machines in the world capable of producing an all-valve stereo cut." When they put out their first stereo release in July (the Bach and Mozart records are mono), it will, he claims, be the first all-valve stereo cut in almost half a century.

Having paid so much attention to how his product would sound, Hutchison didn't want to skimp on appearance. "The sleeve and artwork design and manufacture had to be done as it was in the 50s," he decided. In east London, he tracked down an artisan printer with a 1959 Heidelberg letterpress and set him to work. Everything had to be authentic, right down to the vintage gold paint and the silk cords, and nothing could be scanned: even the images had to come from the original photographs, which meant tracking down the photographers, or their children, to request permission. The 50-page booklet accompanying the Mozart box set took an entire year to make .

When Hutchison plonks the £2,495 item in my lap, informing me that it's probably the most expensive record ever made in terms of manufacturing costs, I open it nervously and peek inside. It's a beautiful object, and the attention to detail is astonishing. But has all this effort really been worthwhile?

Financially, perhaps not. Although he says he's recouped 50% of the manufacturing costs for the first two releases since November (they are still coming out on a drip-feed basis), breaking even on the entire project will take a lot longer. "Possibly my kids might recoup it," he says, laughing. Money, it seems, isn't the main issue here. Hutchison tells me with obvious pride that when a writer for the American magazine Stereophile got his hands on the Mozart box set, "he said it was the most expensive record he owned but by far the best. And that was a great accolade: success to me is more about getting the respect of individuals like that than it is about the financial side."

It's also about drawing attention to superior technologies that have been neglected in the scramble to do things in cheaper and more convenient ways. It would be easy to read the project as a critique of the digital era, and in fact Hutchison represents it quite openly as such. "It's not really just about vinyl," he says at one point. "It's about a whole philosophy: it's the aesthetic, it's the sound, it's everything."

In terms of the listening experience, digital, he says, "is the great con. They said that CDs were indestructible, but they weren't. They said it would sound better, but with the MP3 we are at probably the lowest point in the history of sound. It's a compressed file. If you try to play an orchestra over a proper sound system on MP3, it's just garbage."

Hutchison has bigger criticisms to make about digital culture – we have become slaves to our technology; the distractions of mobile phones and social networks are threatening creativity – but, I wonder, is this project really the best way to get those points across? How effectively can a philosophy be expounded if it costs hundreds, even thousands of pounds to buy into it?

Hutchison acknowledges that exclusivity is an issue. "We've had some comments where people have said, 'I wish I could afford these records, why does it have to be so elitist?' The reason is simply how much these things cost to make – it's a bit like Aston Martin making cars at a loss in the 60s. But I think now that the technology's settled, we can look to do some stuff that's a bit more affordable to some people."

In July, the Electric Recording Company will put out its third release, a 1959 stero recording of Leonid Kogan playing Beethoven's violin concerto, conducted by Constantin Silvestri. Further ahead, Hutchison has plans to move beyond classical music into rock, jazz, and other genres with a broader appeal, which would help lower the price somewhat. "They would sell more so we could press more and maybe do them around the £100 mark," he says.

Still not fully convinced, I ask Hutchison if his products are for audiophiles only; or would the average listener be able to make out the difference in sound quality? "Anyone could tell," he says. To prove his point, he places one of the Bach LPs on to a turntable and lowers the needle. Across a gap of more than half a century, Johanna Martzy's violin begins to play. It's not only the music that's extraordinary: the sound is warm, textured, gorgeously nuanced. We sit in silence for a few moments, marvelling at the clarity. Save for a few little crackles here and there, it's perfect.
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IXTAB
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 04, 2013 11:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yosuke needs to add another wing onto NWN World Headquarters, build an all-analog recording studio (capable of producing an all-valve stereo cut), and fly all bands in to record. Then he needs to start a Bandcamp clone site that only accepts reel-to-reel upload format.
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rauta



Joined: 23 Apr 2008
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 04, 2013 11:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

IXTAB wrote:
Yosuke needs to add another wing onto NWN World Headquarters, build an all-analog recording studio (capable of producing an all-valve stereo cut), and fly all bands in to record. Then he needs to start a Bandcamp clone site that only accepts reel-to-reel upload format.

Let us not forget a reel-to-reel streaming app for analogue iwhateverthefuck.
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Dalen



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PostPosted: Tue Jun 04, 2013 12:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

/waiting for Yosuke's official statement
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Descension



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PostPosted: Tue Jun 04, 2013 12:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dalen wrote:
/waiting for Yosuke's official statement
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holy ghost



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PostPosted: Tue Jun 04, 2013 12:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Reading that, my facial expression was similar to when I go into the hi-fi shop and listen to a $4,000 preamp into a $30,000 receiver, using a $12,000 turntable to play a $24.99 Lady GaGa LP.

Somewhere between Mad Shocked Rolling Eyes Confused

Maybe Surprised
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harorld



Joined: 25 Feb 2013
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 04, 2013 1:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

wow, the mozart release is basically $5,000 USD. editions of 300 and they're half sold out.
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WarInvocator



Joined: 06 Dec 2010
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 04, 2013 2:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The only thought that came to mind when reading this was "First world problems"
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Manta



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PostPosted: Tue Jun 04, 2013 2:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Talk about commitment.

Perhaps the man can make more revenue renting out his recording equipment, or producing vinyl for other labels. Twisted Evil
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NWN PROD



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PostPosted: Tue Jun 04, 2013 2:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I wonder what this guy can make Necrofago sound like Dissection?
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ArnusProfanus



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PostPosted: Tue Jun 04, 2013 3:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This guy is a real audiophile
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 04, 2013 3:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

death to all hippies, death in the ovens
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Demoniarch



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PostPosted: Tue Jun 04, 2013 3:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sounds awesome, I need the $80,000 stereo and the $1000 record to play in the scummy basement of my home. Should be good and quite noticeable the difference between cd to vinyl and tube horn cut groove action.
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Aeonblade



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PostPosted: Tue Jun 04, 2013 3:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

ArnusProfanus wrote:
This guy is a real aspie


Fixed that for you.
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ill omen



Joined: 23 Jul 2009
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 04, 2013 4:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

it isnt really surprising that this article would get this sort of sarcastic response here. obviously i dont have $5000 to spend on a record, but i applaud the effort to pursue a better quality product even if it is far outside my price range. everyone on here who claims that vinyl is a superior format or whatever mantra they repeat is basically engaging in the same logic. but in truth, the quality of most vinyl these days really is shit even compared to what was being produced just a few decades ago (listen to an original pressing of sin after sin and compare it to something produced today). our collective inability to hear the overall decay in sound quality is apparent and i think this guy may have a point even if its somewhat obscured by the absurdity of the end result. i think often the problem with the "audiophile" mentality is that the issue of fidelity supersedes the issue of musicality to a point that it becomes meaningless. having said that, his basic premise that pretty much every musical format we have today -- and the means by which we produce them -- is inferior is intriguing especially because his work illustrates how difficult it is to achieve a quality product now that we have irretrievably sacrificed quality for convenience.
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