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Re: [ARSCLIST] New online publication: Manual of analogue audio restoration techniques, by Peter Copeland

I agree that it is a good thing to have this published, but it is even more unfortunate that Peter is no longer with us because there are many, many factual and historical errors and omissions. Chapters like 4,5 and 6 where he is laying out his experience in playing recordings and giving detail like how to identify BBC recording systems are magnificant. Look at page 109 when he explains that a test record was recorded with the cutting stylus slightly askew, and that this same situation happens on a lot of regular records made with the Blumlein cutter and need to be played with the pickup twisted at up to 30 degrees.

I am glad that he calls lacquer discs "nitrate" and he explains why on page 51 although I wish he had a source listed for his dating Cecil Watts as the inventor in 1934. His widow's book does not give any dates. I am also glad on pages 88 and 89 he explains the strobe disc as being the basis of 78.26 and 77.92 (leaving out the asinine contention from Warren Rex Isom that gear-drive teeth ratios were the original causal determination.) The discussion of the history of bias is good except the use of the term "shakes up" might lead one to think that the magnetic particles actually move, where it is only the magnetic field of the particles that is in motion, not the particles themselves.

But elsewhere in historical chapters I think that there are certain things that are included as place holders where for example, he states that something is the first he has found. It seems that he was hoping that as he went along and other items came to his attention he would replace the section, but if nothing did it could still go as it stands. An example is his use on page 216 of Mike Gray's discussion of a possibility of a 1939 Toscanini broadcast being done in what the community calls "accidental stereo" but he calls "archaeological stereo". He has reference to a Barry Fox article which apparently discussed Brad Kay's discovery of the Ellington Program Transcription from 1932 that is undeniably dual-disc accidental stereo, but refuses to acknowledge it (perhaps because of Keith Hardwick's angry denial of any possibility of its existence.) He says the Toscanini is "the first documented example" but the Ellington was on Lp and now is on CD and can be examined. On the next page he hedges his bets with ways that other recordings of this type might be found, but even though it had already happened, he was waiting for another. On page 126 he even asks for a date on a test disc he describes.

He has completely misunderstood how Les Paul created his overdubbing on page 287 when he talks about a mono tape recorder with the heads in the PER arrangement instead of the usual ERP. That machine was used for a time delay that was of the length of the tape loop. On the next page he misrepresents how the Beatles first LP was recorded when he says it was "compiled" with "the instrumental backing being recorded on one track with the vocals added on the other." By using the word "ADDED" he is implying that they were overdubbed in a separate pass. It is obvious when you listen to the tracks in isolation that they were recorded simultaneously because you can hear the studio ambiance of the other track on their opposite ones. On page 181 he assumes he knows the reason for the phase differential on the first stereo LP of the Disney Fantasia soundtrack, but he does not know that the magnetic master dub had been recorded around 1954 via telephone lines because the only multitrack mag film recorder available was about 15 miles away from the optical players. This is probably the cause of the slight timing shift. It is why there is a separate mono track on the video releases -- the opticals no longer exist in a complete form to allow it to be redone. The panning of the instruments were done live at the time of that dubbing by one of the original road show audio operators.

But the most maddening thing is on page 221 where he repeats the drastic error he put on page 48-49 in his British Library book "Sound Recordings." He insists there that the 7-inch Columbia Stereo-Seven discs were issued in 1953 and are mono despite using the dual-arrow logo Columbia used in the late 50s, and that the record he illustrates in colour is "Everything's Coming Up Roses" from the 1959 Broadway show "Gypsy" and is marked on the label as coming from Columbia CS-8330 "Give My Regards To Broadway" by Andre Previn and his Trio which was issued in late 1960. In this work he claims the record series was even earlier, 1951-52, that they were called stereo back then to merely indicate these single channel recordings include a "sense of space around the performers" and then firmly says "All these items are single-channel mono, and should be treated accordingly." Wrong Wrong Wrong Wrong Wrong. These *are* real stereo and I told him so in 2001 when I was there in the British Library and saw it in the little book. He bases his whole argument about the use of the term stereo in the early 50s on this series, and I see no basis in fact for this. He then goes on to discuss fake stereo in the stereo era which is an entirely different matter. He probably saw the little ads for Columbia 7-inch LPs on the back of early 50s LPs and thought these were them. How could he think that this song could be recorded six to nine years before the show opened, and why they would include the title of the show six to nine years before it opened? Shouldn't he have tried playing it in stereo? Actually Columbia's slogan for spacious mono sound was "360 Sound" and later when they were doing real stereo they also used the slogan "Stereo 360."

I wish he was still here to be able to make the corrections.

Mike Biel mbiel@xxxxxxxxx

Richard L. Hess wrote:
Dear Will,

I am so glad that the team at the British Library did this. As I was beginning my transition from broadcast systems engineering to analogue sound restoration, I was fortunate to make the acquaintance of Peter Copeland through this and other lists.

In 2002 I was asked by a publisher to review a proposal from Peter for a book (I was honoured that Peter had suggested me as a possible reviewer). When I heard of his passing and didn't see a book, I was afraid that much of his storehouse of knowledge would be lost.

This is absolutely WONDERFUL news that much of his knowledge and perspective has been captured. I am so pleased with this. I will shortly create a link to this on my website.

Again, many thanks to the British Library for making this possible. This is the best possible memorial for Peter that I could think of.



At 06:14 PM 2008-09-14, Prentice, Will wrote:
Dear ARSClisters

I'm very pleased to finally be posting a link to Peter Copeland's manual. As will be clear from the blurb below and the preface to the manual, this is not a straightforward guide to best practice, but a rich collection of history, detailed research, opinion, speculation etc put together by its author over a period of years. There's plenty to think about, and plenty to discuss. Enjoy!



Manual of analogue audio restoration techniques

Peter Copeland, Conservation Manager at the British Library Sound Archive from 1986 until his retirement in 2002, worked for many years on a manual of analogue audio restoration techniques, designed as an aid to audio engineers and audio archivists. Peter died in 2006 after a lifetime dedicated to understanding the history and complexity of analogue audio technology, and his manual was left incomplete.

The British Library is making the work freely available as it stands, as a service to professional audiovisual engineers and archivists, and as a testament to a life dedicated to the care of audiovisual heritage. As a snapshot of Peter's viewpoint at a certain time, some parts have inevitably dated. The core of the work however, is unlikely to date. Focussing in unparalleled depth on the correct playback of analogue sound recordings, the result of detailed research into the history of audio technology, it will be an essential guide for audio historians and for technicians working in digitisation programmes.

The manual is freely downloadable as a 2.25MB pdf here:


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Richard L. Hess email: richard@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Aurora, Ontario, Canada (905) 713 6733 1-877-TAPE-FIX Detailed contact information: http://www.richardhess.com/tape/contact.htm Quality tape transfers -- even from hard-to-play tapes.

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