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Re: [ARSCLIST] Woody Guthrie and other LC new transfers (was SACD for Real Collectors

Was the entire collection transfered, or only the tracks for the Songbook?
It certainly is time for a new release of the complete recordings.
Best wishes, Thomas.

Matthew Barton wrote:

The main reason for the fine sound of the Woody Guthrie tracks on the Alan Lomax Songbook are the initial transfers made here at the Library of Congress by Brad McCoy. I now work at the Library, but four years ago, I worked on the Alan Lomax Collection, and the Songbook album was one of the last discs that I worked on.

When the Woody Guthrie discs were delivered to the lab, Brad and I were pleased to see them in such good condition, and we were blown away by the sound Brad got out of the grooves, which was a far cry from the muffled and muddy sound of earlier reissues of the same material. But those reissues were made from copies of tapes made in the early sixties--two generations or more removed from these acetates, which were recorded in a professional radio facility at the Department of the Treasury in Washington, DC.

While I was still at the Lomax Collection, I had a plain old CD dub from the transfer session that I played for people as a demo. Even in that state, without any equalization or other processing, the sound blew the other reissues out of the water. The Guthrie transfers were done at 24/44.1 kHz, as the Songbook album did not begin life as an SACD project.

This is the transfer that Steve Rosenthal and Bob Ludwig worked with, and their masterful use of the SACD process, which was very new at the time, brought out the best of what was in the original recording, particularly the warmth and spaciousness you mention. I too believe that SACD represents a great improvement over standard CD, so I'm not trying belittle the format at all, just saying that you have to start with a good source and good playback for it to work to it's fullest.

Matthew Barton
The Library of Congress
101 Independence Ave., SE
Washington, DC 20540-4610
email: mbarton@xxxxxxx

Steve Abrams <steveabrams@xxxxxxxxxxxxx> 2/28/2007 5:49:09 PM >>>

In my experience SACD is a very worthwhile improvement over standard CD. Comparing the CD and SACD layers of hybrid discs I find that the CD, even when mastered with DSD, has a residual graininess; a touch or a ghost of the digital nasties remains even in the best efforts. The SACD layer has a much greater warmth and spaciousness, including all the virtues of the best LP sound. There have been very few SACD issues from mono tapes or 78s. However, the sound on the Alan Lomax Songbook is quite astonishing. The voice of Woody Guthrie, at his first session in 1940, leaps out of the groove with astonishing presence. I am afraid that this means that David Lennick, Mark Obert-Thorne, Ward Marston et al may have to start over from the beginning. At any rate I doubt - and I hope somebody will correct me and convince that I am wrong about this - whether their 16 bit PCM DAT masters will be usable in the new medium. 24 bit 96 k PCM is the minimum standard and not really good enough for mastering SACD.

More generally, the people who ought to be promoting SACD are doing the best they can to kill it off, insisting that it is dead in the water when there are thousands of titles available and superb new stereo only machines coming onto the market. SACD is so good that it cuts into the sale of expensive CD and LP gear. The company that sold me my Marantz 7001 KI (600 GBP) refused to put it on demonstration because the sound that it evoked from Fritz Reiner Living Stereo discs was too good.

The fact that SACD is not going to replace CD is beside the point. It is already the medium of choice if you are prepared to spend a reasonable amount to get good quality sound. I am afraid that the great majority of record collectors prefer to spend nearly all their available cash on recordings. I have always thought this was excessively foolish.

Steve Abrams

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