Comments for page: RCA Dynagroove

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Posted by John Land October 10, 2014 - 07:27 pm
Just wanted to add my 2 cents here. I just found a dynagroove recording called Supercussion. It is the best recording i've ever played on my system. I have a pretty resolving system and have tweaked it as much as my small budget allows. The presentation was just so stunning, airy, detailed. I have never been so amazed by the sheer impact of a recording as this one. Which has sent me running to find out more about this dynagroove process and hence to this page. I am using an elliptical needle and if there is any distortion, who cares. My jaw dropped at every moment in this recording. From what i experienced, these guys in 1963 nailed it. Everything recorded since seems like flatland to me. The horns blew into my ear canals, the vibes tickled me, the dynamic range was breathtaking. Space, tons of space.... where no man has gone before! Even though the tunes seemed old hat, I wanted more. Make all my recordings sound like that.... please.
What happened to the recording art after that pinnacle? With the compressors, and mixing boards etc., the pride of so-called technological development. Aah what we have missed. If any of you guys can turn me onto recordings and labels with as much slam as this I'd be obliged. Wow.
heartland22@gmail.com

Posted by Steve L. October 22, 2014 - 08:26 am
Hi Andrew, Thank you for your comments. They seem to confirm that Dynagroove DSC does cancel spherical stylus tracing distortion. Your description of the "mushy HF artifacts" suggests that Dynagroove DSC does degrade the sound, when played with an elliptical stylus. Would it be possible for you to record an mp3 file comparing the spherical and elliptical playback? Would love to post that with the article. You can reach me at: [see homepage ABOUT].

Posted by Andrew B August 17, 2014 - 02:44 pm
Seems this thread has been around for a while...

I have the Dynagroove pressing of Paul Desmond Take Ten. It is above average in sound quality for 1963 recordings of popular music, but alone among my records it does sound 'better' when played with a spherical stylus. An elliptical seems to bring out surface noise and some odd mushy HF artefacts.

Posted by Steve L. January 24, 2013 - 08:35 pm
Hi Fred, Certainly, DSC was applied at the disk mastering step. Since that was not frequency selective, it is unlikely that it could be responsible for the effects you mentioned. Indeed, since you play the records with a spherical stylus, it should reduce inner groove distortion as it was designed to do and otherwise be transparent.

That leaves DSE as the other possible cause. It would have been applied after the final mix. It could have been applied either before or after the master tape. Common engineering sense would lean towards keeping the master tape unprocessed, in my opinion. So yes, your assessment that the most controversial element of Dynagroove was only applied in the final stages, seems correct.

It's wonderful that today via the Compact Disc, we can enjoy the best aspects of Dr. Olson's efforts. By the way, do you have a reference that the tape decks were vacuum tube? They could have been but by 1963, they could also have been solid state. I note that RCA was a leader in transistor production and engineering.

Posted by Fred E. January 24, 2013 - 06:40 pm
Thanks for your quick response Steve. RCA's HP series of CD's have released many Dynagroove recordings and without fail, the 1960's recordings in these HP series are excellent, comparing to the best of the "Living Stereo" era due to Pfeiffer's minimal miking techniques and the vacuum tube 30 IPS tape drives that they used.

I play many of my vintage records on a Grace 707 tonearm equipped with a Shure V15 Type IIIG which has a spherical stylus (I've been using this setup since 1975 -- luckily, I bought about 20 extra styluses for this cartridge back in the early 80's).

Unfortunately, the Dynagroove LP's (e.g. Martinon/Chicago Symphony Rhapsodie Espangnole) sound like crap compared with the new HP CD's. The Dynagroove LP features no dynamics, weird pumping of the low end, shrieky highs while the HP CD features a warm rich vacuum tube sound with a life-like 3 dimensional defined stereo image (the recording was made with only 4 mikes).

Thus, since the CD sounds so great (as good as ANY "Living Stereo") it is apparent to me that the offensive parts of the Dynagroove process (the "dynamic equalization" etc) was something applied at the mastering and cutting stages ONLY and that the original 4 track tapes were representitive of the BEST of Pfeiffer/Mohr.

Perhaps Dynagroove "encompassed" things like minimal miking, superb mike placement for a "20th row center" perspective, 30 IPS tape speed to reduce tape noise, but the actual "doctoring" was ONLY done at the mixing and cutting stages.

Is my assessement correct????

Posted by Steve L. January 23, 2013 - 09:14 pm
Hi Fred, I can't answer your question directly. However, as you can see from the article, RCA considered the Dynagroove process to be far more than just the record mastering and pressing steps. I recognize that those aspects of the process are what people emphasize these days but this was a far broader undertaking for RCA at the time. One could well argue that the pre-mastering steps were the most important parts of the process. The fact that the recordings weren't made with the specified studio, microphone, mixing and tape recording performance parameters, might have precluded applying the Dynagroove stamp of excellence.

Not that there was necessarily anything substandard about other processes. But if one is trying to establish the reputation of such a sweeping overhaul of record making practices, it would seem counterproductive to muddy the water by labeling a product with Dynagroove, when in fact it could only benefit from part of the process.

Of course, this is just my opinion and certainly marketing departments as we know them today wouldn't bat an eye at taking such liberties with labeling. On the other hand, the dates you mentioned would have been at the very beginning of the Dynagroove era, so one would expect the sanctimonious zeal to have been maximum then.


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