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[ARSCLIST] Early Polydor electrics, the depression, etc

The early electrical Polydors shared Brunswick's recording method. They equalize very differently from the Western Electric licenced recordings. The Brunswick system also seems to have been designed to sound non-threatening when reproduced on acoustic players. Much of the DGG catalog was remade a year or so after their first electrics, often by the same artists.

With carefull treatment, that first group can sound decent and better. Anna Roselle made the two Turandot arias twice, both times in German, the first conducted by Fritz Busch. The second is a bit tentative and better sounding, the former my all-time favorite performances. The groove is narrower as is true of many in this group as well as the Brunswicks made during this same 1925-mid 1926 period. The red 73000 series Roselle almost always turns up greyed on the high notes.

Just because some machines were sold with electical reproduction systems in 1926 and 7 did not mean the far larger installed base of acoustic players were immediately discarded. And great parts of the US, rural and the less expensive city neighborhoods, lacked electricity. Radios could be run off batteries but record players took more energy. There was a small business in record playing attachments that ran off farm battey systems but it seems not to have been numerically significant.

I have no documentation to prove it but feel certain that the reason Columbia made paralell recordings acoustically to their electrics, the former issued on Harmony, was to cater to the old wind-up market.

I can't say I've been impressed with the sound of early electrical players- the acoustic orthophonics sound better to me. It took into the carly mid-1930s before the nominally affordable electrical players apeared, by which time the depression had bitten deeply, delaying futher the broader casting of the newer technology. Radio and movies gave more satisfactory "new" sound for less outlay. This factor has never been given the weight it deserves in sifting through the factors that make so many depression-period records so scarce, particularly in good condition. The multi-ounce pressure from normal electrical playback heads was bad enough. Not replacing the needles regularly (people spent money on food) accounts for the wretched condition of so many records issued at that time, particularly those for the black and country markets.

I could go on...but it's time for bed. G'night.

Steve Smolian

----- Original Message ----- From: "David Lennick" <dlennick@xxxxxxxxxxxx>
To: <ARSCLIST@xxxxxxxxxxxx>
Sent: Saturday, October 21, 2006 12:04 AM
Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Fwd: [ARSCLIST] Dynamic-frequency Range

Roger and Allison Kulp wrote:

As a rule the European Polydors,andespeciallt the
Ultraphone/Telefunkens are superior pressings to the
Brunswicks of the period.

Roger Kulp

Except that early electrical Polydors are just as ghastly as Brunswicks of the
time for recording quality..collectors joke that the "be" prefix on them stands
for "barely electrical". No question of the superior pressings though, for much
of that era..by 1940 Telefunkens and Polydors were coming from the same plant
and weren't as quiet as they had been. And by the mid 30s, Brunswick was
starting to press its old catalog and much new material from Polydor in
gorgeous laminated editions, because they were being included in the Carnegie
Collections which were already responsible for keeping older Victor and
Columbia album sets in print in the best pressings possible.


--- David Lennick <dlennick@xxxxxxxxxxxx> wrote:

> Matter of fact, there were recordings we never got,
> such as a Mengelberg Tchaikovsky
> 5th on Brunswick, because they didn't pass the "wear
> test". The range on some of the
> Western Electric test recordings in 1923-24 was
> quite impressive..many of them sound
> far better than the electricals we finally began to
> get from Victor, while some are
> very thin because they were experimenting with
> various filters and settings (which
> are marked on the discs).
> dl
> Don Tait wrote:
> >   A very interesting and rewarding reponse. May I
> add something about the
> > dynamic response on the earliest electrical 78s?
> >
> >   It seems clear that from the beginning the
> electrical system was able to
> > record a huge dynamic range. The classic example
> that I've seen cited in many
> > places is USA Columbia's first electrical release,
> 50013-D (Black Label):
> >
> >   Trad.-Andrews: "John Peel"
> >   Portugal: "Adeste Fidelis"
> >
> >   Associated Glee Clubs of America (LIve,
> Metropolitan Opera House, March
> > 1925)
> >
> >   The dynamic range on "John Peel" is astounding.
> Finding a copy that wasn't
> > chewed to pieces in the climaxes by heavy early
> pickups is difficult. And
> > that's why every company cut back on the dynamic
> range of electrical recordings:
> > the pickups of the time would quickly destory the
> loud passages on the records.
> > Roland Gelatt might have written about this in his
> publications; some did,
> > but I can't remember where for sure.
> >
> >   I regret that I do not have the equipment to
> provide scientific data about
> > this.
> >
> >   Don Tait

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