What exactly is "half speed" mastering?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by greg_t, Sep 28, 2002.

  1. greg_t

    greg_t Screenwriter

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    I've been upgrading some of my older CD's to newer, remastered versions, such as the Rush remasters and some MFSL masters. I see that the MFSL's are "half speed" mastered. Could someone please enlighten me as to what half speed mastering is and how it benefits the sound? Any information or links is appreciated.
     
  2. Jeff Kleist

    Jeff Kleist Executive Producer

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    At least in video, it means that the master tape was laid down at half of normal playback speed. Just like with anything, taking your time results in less errors
     
  3. TonyD

    TonyD Who do we think I am?
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    i thought that with old vinyl the were recorded at high speed so they could do many at short periods of time but the mobile fidelity were recored at half normal speed instead of extremely high speed.
     
  4. Joel Fontenot

    Joel Fontenot Supporting Actor

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    AFAIK, "half-speed mastering" referred to vinyl LP mastering. There were several companies that did this including MoFi LP's. It wasn't exclusive to MoFi - CBS Mastersound and Nautilus also did them (I have some of those LP's). It was a way to remove the sound signal a full octave away from the inherent noise of the cutting process (or something like that - trying to remember the liner notes from one of those LP's).

    I'm pretty sure the CD's aren't half-speed mastered. Now, mastering engineers may require that the disc master be etched by the laser at 1x speed (1 to 1) since most cd manufacturing plants can cut the disc at faster speeds (similar to burning a cd-r at something faster that 1x). Steve Hoffman required that for his DCC Gold discs.

    By the way, beware of what you're getting with these "re-mastered" disc. Sometimes, especially recent studio released re-masters, the new discs actually sound worse. They may be louder, but the dynamics are compromised (and in some cases, actual sound signal is lost in the process of compressing the sound and pushing it closer to 0db and cutting off the sound wave as it wants to go above that brick-wall line).

    Now, you won't get that from any MoFi or DCC cd's, and a few studio re-mastered re-issues actually are OK, too - but just beware.

    Joel
     
  5. Jack Briggs

    Jack Briggs Executive Producer

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    Guys, it was the speed at which the lathe cut the master disc. Done at half-speed, it was possible to cut the disc for maximum fidelity. To this day, the best home audio I've heard for music-listening purposes has been from half speed-mastered vinyl recordings. Half-speed mastering pertains to vinyl LPs only.
     
  6. Ken_McAlinden

    Ken_McAlinden Producer
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    Beware of some of the CBS Mastersound half-speed mastered LPs. Apparently, they mastered some of them at half speed, but neglected to adjust their eq settings accordingly resulting in some not so wonderful results. I can't remember exactly which titles had the problems, but it has come up a few times at the Steve Hoffman forum.

    Regards,
     
  7. Joel Fontenot

    Joel Fontenot Supporting Actor

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    One particular Mastersound release - Heart's Little Queen had the L/R channels reversed [​IMG].
    I know, I have the original LP release, and the 1/2 speed release.
    Joel
     
  8. Jon_Are

    Jon_Are Cinematographer

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    Joel...sounds like your Heart LP wasn't done half speed.
    Sounds like it was done half fast. [​IMG]
    Jon
     
  9. greg_t

    greg_t Screenwriter

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    Thanks for all the responses guys. I have been doing some research on this on Steve Hoffmans website, and you guys are right, half speed mastering was done on pretty much vinyl only. Also read a post from Steve, and like Ken said, many of them were incorrectly EQ'd. So far, I've picked up a few of the Rush remasters, which I am happy with, and I got U2's "WAR" on MFSL CD. At first, I was kind of disappointed in it, as it wasn't "louder" than the Island CD. When I got a chance to really listen to both, I prefered the MFSL. It just seems much more in balance and not as harsh as the Island. Now to get "the unforgettable fire" and "the joshua tree". Two of my all time favorite albums.
     
  10. Mark R O

    Mark R O Stunt Coordinator

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    Some other claims made by MFSL regarding their H.S.M's...
    The master tape(s) from the original performance transferred directly to the cutting lathe without equalization, processing or alteration of any kind.
    Pressings used 100% virgin Viynl, no meltdowns of unsold titles or ground up 45's. (Many early titles were pressed in Japan at JVC, partly because of the facility, because that's where Stan Ricker (engineering immortal) was, but also due to the chemicals used in making the records being carcinogenic!
    Pressings were flat, of even thickness, and precisely centered. Also packed in anti-static onion sleeves.
    The number of albums allowed to be pressed by a "stamping"
    disc severly limited due to quality drop off from wear to the disc.
    There was other stuff, but it WAS a long time ago...
    Okay, now what about the other hi-end, audiophile recording format? Ever heard a Direct-to-Disc record? Sheffield Labs, Telarc, Angel, et,al.?
     
  11. TonyD

    TonyD Who do we think I am?
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    i have a sheffrield disk of a live thelma houston recorded live in the sttudio.
    it sounds great.
    her most known song may have been "i've got the music in me." she also did a version of "don't leave me this way."
    and yes she is whitney's aunt.
     

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