David Bowie – The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars (Production Master 15 IPS IEC R2R) – (Remaster Lokkerman) – SQ 10
01. Five Years
02. Soul Love
03. Moonage Daydream
05. It Ain’t Easy
06. Lady Stardust
08. Hang Onto Yourself
09. Ziggy Stardust
10. Suffragette City
11. Rock ‘n’ Roll Suicide
In 2012, I got some flat transfer masters, on a HDD in Hi-Res format, that came from a studio in NY. They had been transferred to an Ampex ATR-102 Reel tape machine; they lay in a pile for destruction as the studio was converted into apartments. They were “apparently” baking masters; bin masters are normally the high speed tape masters used in the tape duplication process for cassettes, they are normally or 1″ tape and operate at speeds up to 120 inches per second. The tape transfers in question were in the generally 15 IPS ” tape and in some cases 30Ips ¼”. The only thing was there was a common thread – that they sounded strange (except for the 30 IPS). They were also noted as coming from Magtec. I really believe the versions you mention here are the “leaked” versions, when we compared different observations about what the problems were, Windows/pro-Tools installation error at that time.
Now Magtec is known as duplication facility suppliers, but in every way they supplied production masters to other studios and record factories.
I spoke to the technician who did the transfer, he was basically a small record producer, and he confirmed that they were all transferred to the hoof as it were and that they were using the default settings used to transfer production masters to pro tools .
Anyway, to stop the chase, a friend of mine who is also a producer and engineer asked me to re-evaluate it along with some good quality out-takes; with a view to putting some of these tracks on an upcoming commissioned Bowie DVD; which I think may have been postponed (Covid related). I’m known in my circles as a tape buff and closet restorer, so I sometimes get approaches from time-bound friends to help them out. (I am basically a retired product manager/advisor for telecom, etc.). As a result, I realized that the strange noise was due to the fact that these were UK Production Masters and masters in CCIRR (Equalisation) and not – as in the standard image of the American Production Master (PM), seen on Michael Harvey’s, Bowie place. that is 15 IPS NASRTB (NAB).
So, using the Magnetic Reference Library (MRL) tables for changing from one playback EQ to another, I built a FIR filter in my DAW to correct the anomalies. She has indeed converted this back to the sound I had expected. Some of them are Dolby A and to decode this I contacted Dyson-Hess to get a copy and license of their Dolby A decoder.
There was almost the entire (14) collection of RCA tapes and I think these are the basis of the U-Matic transfers from which the original CDs were made. http://picknmixed.blogspot.com/p/the-bowie-rca-cds.html
Anyway, here are my friend’s comments as an audio producer:
“It makes my cynical old heart rrally (sic) happy to read so many positive comments on this small collection as I am stunned by the restoration work that lokkerman (my online name) has done here.
These 14 tapes are literally ahead of the recent remasters, and to be honest, I just don’t understand why they’re so highly regarded because when you put the (se) Production Masters on and A/B put them on there’s really no comparison. .
For anyone not convinced yet, try loading the official High Res remasters (the analog Ray Staff remasters) and aligning the tape transfer from the same album.
Mute the band and learn how the remaster sounds (you should probably start by turning the volume of the remaster down 6dB when watching Ziggy). Hear the width of the picture, the quality of the voice. So far so good – it even seems to sound good.
Now mute the remaster by soloing the tape and prepare to be blown away as the stereo image expands, and the whole mix becomes more balanced and even and best of all the vocals lose that nasal quality.