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Re: [ARSCLIST] Peter Copeland on RCA Victor recordings (1941)

I don't think Peter's reference to Victor's multiple limiters and the
Wireless World article are related. The article actually does cover
de-emphasis, stating "A system of pre-emphasis and compensation with
what has been termed the "orthacoustic characteristic" has recently been



-----Original Message-----
From: Association for Recorded Sound Discussion List
[mailto:ARSCLIST@xxxxxxx] On Behalf Of Michael Biel
Sent: 29 September 2008 20:14
To: ARSCLIST@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Peter Copeland on RCA Victor recordings (1941)

Prentice, Will wrote:
> Doug and all
> I've looked up this edition of Wireless World, but there's no mention
> Victor's use of limiters I'm afraid. It's a short, 3 paragraph article
> entitled "New Recording Characteristic: Reducing Noise Level"
> in general terms the idea behind pre-emphasis. 

I think the key word here is the use of the word "level" in the 
headline.  Since limiters adjust level, could he have misinterpreted it 
to mean that this EQ was adjusting levels?  As we know now, a 
pre-emphasis properly works only if there is a calibrated reciprocal 
de-emphasis on the playback end.  Consumer phonographs did not have 
actual de-emphasis circuits at that time, only professional turntables 
in broadcasting had them for the newly emerging Orthocoustic and NAB 
curves.  Unlike Dolby and DBX, these units were completely passive.  Was

Peter possibly claiming that RCA was using limiters as an active EQ, 
several decades in advance of Dolby?   And what was the 1941 Wireless 
World article detailing?  Orthocoustic had been announced back in 1938 
for ETs.  Was this a curve being used on commercial phonograph records 
or a belated article on Orthocoustic?  
> I don't recall discussing this with Peter, but others he worked with
> a wider level may know his sources. George Brock-Nannestad, possibly?
> Will
I agree.  George, have you seen anything in the EMI papers that discuss 

Mike Biel   mbiel@xxxxxxxxx 
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Doug Pomeroy
> The following from Copeland's manual has always puzzled me, and I
> if anyone can shed light on the reference to "Victor's then-unique  
> use of multiple
> limiters (essentially one on each mike)", since I've never heard of  
> this from any other
> source.  This may originate in Ref. 60, Wireless World (1941), which  
> I have not
> seen.  RCA Victor may have experimented with limiters in 1941, but  
> Copeland's
> statement can leave the impression that this was common practice.
>> 6.71 Various RCA characteristics
>> Ref. 60 (July 1941) is the earliest contemporary reference I have  
>> found which describes RCA Victor using pre-emphasis on its 78s,  
>> although the time constant was not given. Straight listening  
>> suggests the idea was tried somewhat earlier, and we saw in section  
>> 6.23 that Moyer wrote about RCA's Western Electric systems with pre- 
>> emphasis at 2500Hz (corresponding to 63.6 microseconds); but I am  
>> deeply sceptical. It seems to me far more likely that, if something  
>> which had been mastered direct-to-disc was reissued on microgroove,  
>> the remastering engineer would simply have treated everything the  
>> same. And I consider it likely that judging by "pure sound" clues,  
>> Victor's then-unique use of multiple limiters (essentially one on  
>> each mike), would itself have resulted in a "brighter" sound.
> Doug Pomeroy

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