pf logo

POSITIVE FEEDBACK ONLINE - ISSUE 47
letters.jpg (12485 bytes)

 

Our readers respond…we respond right back!

Send your comments to either drobinson@positive-feedback.com or dclark@positive-feedback.com

Hello, David Robinson,
I read your review of the Jena Labs guitar cable and bought one as a result.

It does sound a little richer and warmer, and maybe more even throughout the spectrum, than does my Phil Jones Bass cable, which is a very good cable (I play through the tiny Phil Jones Cub guitar amplifier). I was a little taken aback by the bulky Switchcraft plugs (these were not present in the photo I saw of the cable), but Jennifer gave me a thorough and rational explanation as to why she chose them (still, I'm thinking of sending them back to get a Neutrik silent plug installed on the guitar end).

I'm wondering if you ever tried the van den Hul guitar cable and/or the analysis plus guitar cables? I'm haunted by the thought that I might like these better than the Jena. The van den hul in particular seems to be universally liked by reviewers/players (of course, it's even more expensive than the Jena cable).

Sincerely,

Peter Arnold

Hello Peter…

Sorry for the very tardy response, but home base has been very hectic in January for me.

Thanks for the comments. I'm glad that you were able to try the JENA Labs guitar cable; I love mine on all six of my guitars.

The plugs don't bother me at all, but everyone has their own feelings about such things. I'm more concerned about the sound, and like the JENA Labs guitar cable much better than any other I've heard. I'm not familiar with the Phil Jones cable, and haven't had an opportunity to try either the van den Hul or the Analysis Plus cables, so I can't comment on those.

Now, if van den Hul wants to send me two cables to try, that would be just fine with me…

Enjoy the ride!

david


Hi Jeff,
I been following your columns since you first began at 6Moons. I appreciate your retrospect on reviewing and it fits my way of thinking.

I notice your new turntable happens to be a Technics SL1200MK5. I just so happen to acquire one recently and I'm in the midst of making most of the notable modifications. Swapped out the tone arm for a Rega RB900 with a Zu Dl103. Looking at doing the outboard PS, with either the KAB or I like the design from Sound HiFi in the UK. TTwieght from Canada has some very nice mat replacements and isolation solutions, and Mike New from Australia makes a new bearing assembly that looks well engineered.

This project is suppose to be budget minded and it seems to be getting carried away.

One of my questions for you is what do you think of the Technics table overall and where do you draw the line on mods? It also seems there has been a direct drive paradigm for so many years. I believe that CD killed the direct drive R&D and most of the big players abandoned TT for the new promise land. When I look at The SL1200 quality of construction vs. what I paid (500.00 on sale at Guitar Ctr) why wouldn't someone consider it? Just some thoughts, keep up the great works, truly enjoy it!

Tom

Hi Tom,

Thanks for the kind words amigo—appreciated!

I really like the vintage turntables, and have enjoyed the Garrard 301, the Thorens TD124, and quite a few others. I thought the Technics would make for an interesting article, because it's a little bit like being able to buy a new stock vintage turntable, and considerable R&D was put into its development at great expense, so I figured it'd have some real potential.

So I bought (at full retail!) a Technics SL1200MK5 turntable from KAB with all of the available mods installed, as well as a Herbie's Audio Lab mat, and a Yamamoto ebony headshell for the Technics arm. Later as an experiment I installed the Origin Live armboard and Silver MkII tonearm. For as much money as I put into it, and as hopeful as I was at coming up with something really special, I have to say my modded Technics turned out decidedly average, with really no particular sonic or musical performance attributes that would encourage me to recommend it to readers.

Even the frequent visitors to my listening room sighed in disappointment with its rather poor performance. I think I had hoped it would be a real giant killer, but that wasn't how it turned out.
I was bummed about the project, it was a dud, and I ended up selling my modded Technics for a fraction for what I had into it.

I've wondered what limited the Technics' performance: was it the direct drive (no, I don't think so), was it the platter (a significant contributor I suspect), was it the plinth (another contributor I suspect), or ... something else?

As a side note, my friend Chad brought over his direct drive Denon DP62L that he bought many years ago while in Japan. It's similar in concept to the Technics with its direct drive, but is implemented more like a Garrard 301 into a plinth as a motor assembly with a separate tonearm. The other notable difference between it and the Technics is the much heavier cast aluminum platter (a'la the Garrard). To make a long story short the ancient Denon kicked the crap out of my Technics. I was tempted to find one and build a real nice plinth for it to replace the stock plinth (there was a real nice one like that at CES this year!).

So what did I do? I ordered one of the new VPI Classic turntables in which Harry Weisfield incorporated many of the best design ideas from the Golden Age of turntables into the Classic's design. The underground rumble on the VPI Classic is that it is a killer table and a great value, which I guess I'll be finding out about for myself in the near future.

Well, that's probably not what you wanted to hear about my experiment with the Technics, but that's the way it turned out I'm sorry to say.

Here's hoping you have better luck with yours than I did with mine!

Kind regards,

Jeff


Hi David,
I read your glowing review of the Playback Designs Player. Did you ever get to compare it against the VSE upgraded SCD-1 (presumably a Level 7 upgrade with Uber Clock)?

I seem to remember reading you owned a VSE upgraded SCD-1 (but not sure what level of upgrade it had). Just wondering what the difference is on RBCD and SACD between the 2 players?

Cheers

Mark

Hello Mark…

Sorry for the delay in responding, but things are quite busy here.

To answer your questions succinctly:

1. No, I've never compared the MPS-5 with the SCD-1 VSE. We haven't had a VSE unit here in several years now. My last review of a VSE unit goes back to the Sony 9000 with VSE Level 5+, as I recall. That took a PFO Brutus Award that year.

2. My SCD-1 had the Richard Kern mods, not the VSE mods. That unit is long gone; I sold it after I acquired the EMM Labs system, which was notably superior.

3. I therefore cannot comment on comparisons between any version of the SCD-1 featuring VSE and either RBCD or SACD playback. I can say, as I did in my review, that the RBCD playback of the MPS-5 is the best that I've ever heard. If I ever find anything that's better, I'll say so in the pages of PFO.

Kind regards,

david

HI David,
Many thanks for the reply.

Hope you get the chance to listen one day to a VSE player with full upgrade and also the Uber Clock - it's quite a revelation!

Cheers

Mark

Yes, that's what I've heard from a person or two within PFO, Mark. And I hope that you get to hear the MPS-5 sometime soon…it's quite the remarkable player.

All the best,

David 

David,
Would be great if a comparison was done someday....

Cheers

Mark


Hi guys,
David [Robinson], it was great to see you (as always) a few weeks ago in Denver at the RMAF.

As you know, the subject of Blue Note Records, its history, artists and recordings, is one that is very near and dear to my heart.

I was pleased to see some coverage of Blue Note in your latest issue... I'm speaking of the review of Somethin' Else by Cannonball Adderley by Tom Campbell. The review itself seemed to morph into a general discussion of the various folks who remaster the Blue Note catalog, and more specifically, into a discussion about the merits of stereo or mono with Blue Note.

Normally I stay out of commenting on reviewers' opinions, but Tom makes some remarks in this review that offend me deeply and require further comment.

Tom quotes a few lines from the portion of the Music Matters website dealing with the Mono/Stereo issue whereby I simply state the fact that ALL of the Blue Note masters past a certain date (that date being October 30, 1958) are actually stereo master tapes that include the notation: "Mo Master Made 50/50 from Stereo." This isn't my opinion, it's a fact. From March of 1957 until October 30, 1958, Rudy Van Gelder recorded both mono and stereo masters simultaneously when recording for Blue Note.

It is at this point in the review that Tom goes seriously wacky by saying that I am "playing with fire [a little bit]" by suggesting that this is how the monos were made. Really? Show me how. If only one master exists, and that master is a stereo tape, please have Tom Campbell explain to me how a mono acetate is made, other than by folding the channels together in some fashion.

Campbell then goes on to state he finds "Harley's suggestion that the mono mixes were willy-nilly afterthoughts unnecessary, careless and overreaching." This is utter [bleep]! Nowhere do I call or imply that the mono mixes are careless afterthoughts. Nowhere. Please have Campbell pull the quote where I say this. He can't, because I imply no such thing, nor would I.

Having the two stereo channels to work when making his mono fold downs also gave Rudy some degree of level control on the horns by reducing one channel or the other for mono.

Campbell calls words like "fold downs" and "summed mono" "loaded" and takes me to task for using them. OK Tom, so what word would you suggest I use? If you only have a stereo tape to work from, how do you make it mono?

Rudy made both mono and stereo master tapes for a period of about 17 or 18 months. He then stopped the practice and simply made stereo masters. Not opinion. Fact.

Instead of running two machines, Rudy could just run one and make his stereo or mono lacquer cut using the same tape. It was a matter of convenience I would imagine, not to mention that it saves tape.

I've seen the oft-quoted Rudy Van Gelder passage that Tom quotes, many times. He says they only had one speaker in Hackensack. That's certainly true for the many years that Rudy only recorded in mono. And it's probably true for much of the period from March of 1957 through October, 1958, when Rudy was running dual tapes.

As a matter of fact I have mentioned many times on other forums that I don't feel that the early Van Gelder stereo tapes sound quite right. On many of the stereo tapes from 1957, there's nothing in the middle, and that, to me, just sounds weird. It is entirely probable that Rudy really was only listening in mono... it certainly sounds that way to me. However, listen to what happens in the fall of 1957. All of a sudden Rudy puts the piano and bass in the middle. (I have written down somewhere the exact date where this happened. I'll try and find it.)

And a few sessions later, instead of placing the horns over on one side (left) he starts his decades-long practice of placing the sax on the left and the trumpet on the right (on a quintet session.) So now you have a very believable stereo presentation of a jazz quintet. It certainly SOUNDS like Rudy was mixing in stereo. Either that or these beautiful stereo mixes happened by accident. Steve Hoffman, Kevin Gray and I don't believe that is the case, and we've discussed this at length.

By the way, in my opinion Campbell is flat out wrong (or his system needs adjusting) with his description of Rudy's placement of Hank Jones' piano in the stereo balance of Somethin' Else as "peeking out from the far right of the stage" while on the mono "Jones is front and center." Don't take my word for it. Anyone with a stereo LP can take Somethin' Else, cue it up, and check out where Rudy has the piano on the stereo mix. Front and center. You see, by the time of this session (March 1958) Rudy was well into refining his stereo mix technique. While he still had Sam Jones' bass placed right, he had Hank Jones' piano coming up the middle. And this is a crucial distinction for me. When there is a big hole in the middle (as there is on many of the earliest Blue Note stereos from 1957), we (Music Matters) go with the mono tape. Not only is Hank Jones centered (there is always a bit of shifting since there are no baffles used and all the mics are "live"), but I find his piano on the stereo version to be nice and full-bodied, albeit within the context of the RVG piano sound. Campbell describes Jones' piano as thin and, as mentioned above, "peeking out from the far right of the stage." Not. If Campbell really hears this, then I'd say that something is off in his system.

It was right about this time that Rudy finally placed the bass in the center, along with the piano, and he established his decades-long practice of putting trumpet left, piano and bass center, and sax and drums right on quintet recordings. On quartet recordings, Rudy would place the lead instrument (trumpet or sax) leftish with the rest of the mix as above.

So how to explain Rudy's comments that Tom Campbell references? Honestly, I don't know for certain, but one possibility that comes to mind (one suggested, by the way, by someone who knows Rudy very well) is that he simply does not remember events from over 50 years ago with crystal clarity. Based on what I hear from sessions of that time, I have no problem at all believing that Rudy did not monitor in stereo when he first began recording in stereo. In fact, those very early stereo mixes don't really sound like anyone was "home".

But soon enough, you can hear Rudy placing instruments in the stereo field with great precision. I doubt very much that this was done "blind."

Now there's the question of whether you prefer stereo or mono. That's entirely a matter of taste. I LOVE good mono! Ask Marc Michelson (formerly with Soundstage), currently with his own very cool new site: www.theaudiobeat.com.

It was my raving about mono, and specifically mono LPs played back by mono cartridges, that got him to take possession of several excellent mono cartridges. Like me, he loves hearing mono LPs played back by mono cartridges.

At Music Matters, we put out the Blue Notes in the form that we feel most sounds like musicians playing in the studio. We've put out many great mono Blue Notes. We've also put a few sessions out in mono where early stereo masters exist. We do this since we feel that the stereo from that time is not up to snuff.

Finally, Tom Campbell mentions the fact that Hoffman/Grey Blue Note remasterings sound a bit warmer than original pressings. He's right, they do. Let's look at why this might be. And keep in mind that Ron Rambach and I have pristine original editions of the entire Blue Note catalog. Ron Rambach, in fact, is one of the country's leading purveyors of rare jazz vinyl.

In Blue Note seminars that I do, I often mention that I feel one of the many reasons Rudy Van Gelder was a genius was for his ability to take the playback systems of the day (think turntables/tonearms and cartridges from the '50s and '60s) and master his LPs to sound lively and believable on those systems. Also, keep in mind that the bane of labels then was returns "because the needle sticks." Rudy had to roll a bit of bottom and pump the upper mids to get the LPs to playback with a sense of life but without too much bottom end, which might cause styli of the day to "stick". RVG's pressings also played back fairly "loud." How did he do this? He did it by applying judicious amounts of limiting. All of this allowed Rudy and Blue Note to make records that were exciting to listen to, and records that didn't "skip".

Now, how do we know this? Easy, we listen to the master tape and compare it to original pressings.

So, taking a look mastering these great sessions now, what approach should we take? First of all, we're dealing with vastly superior playback equipment by and large. There's no shortage of top end in cartridges or speakers, generally speaking.

One of the first things that floored us when we began to listen to Rudy's master tapes was how DYNAMIC they are. We had frankly never heard from any of our vintage pressings this kind of dynamic range.

That was where the decision was made to do the transfers at 45 RPM. This was so we could run the tapes wide open, with no limiting of any kind.

What about EQ? Again, not having to play to the lowest common denominator, we did not have to roll the bottom OR pump the upper mids, for that matter. Sometimes a slight amount of EQ was used when we felt that it resulted in a superior playback.

Our goal is simple. We do whatever we can to give you the illusion that you are back in Hackensack or Englewood Cliffs at the original session. That's our goal. Why don't we release everything in mono? Let me ask this: when was the last time you attended a jazz concert and found the musicians all stacked up one behind the other, choo-choo train style? "Never," you say? More probably, you found the musicians arrayed on the stage in a way not too dissimilar from the way that Rudy mixed in stereo.

Again, I love mono! But where well done Blue Note stereo masters exist, I find that this often provides a more convincing portrait of musicians playing together. If you prefer everything in mono....enjoy! Music gets us high and however you chose to get high, go for it.

The opportunity to work on the cherished Blue Note masters is one the most thrilling experiences I've ever had. I truly love the label. To have someone I don't know try to impugn my reputation by making injudicious comments is highly offensive to me.

Please do pass along my thoughts to Mr. Campbell.

Best regards to you both,

Joe Harley 

Tom Campbell's response to Joe Harley's letter re: my Blue Note review

Before directly addressing some of Joe Harley's comments about my Somethin' Else review—and to insert a little perspective here—I think it's worth noting that the review in question contained the following passage:

"[The Music Matters and Analogue Productions Blue Note re-issues] are, simply put, some of the best LPs I've ever heard: beautifully mastered, beautifully pressed and, especially in the case of the Music Matters series, beautifully packaged. I have over a dozen of them, and there is not a dog in the bunch."

Sheesh… If this is Mr. Harley's response to a review with observations like that, I'd hate to see how he reacts to a really negative review. ;-)

Joe's published response is quite long, and includes an authoritative history of the way Rudy Van Gelder's sound evolved during the late '50s. But Harley's only really significant issue with what I wrote has to do with my interpretation of his note on the Music Matters website—in which, to my mind, in making a general case for the stereo versions of Blue Note sessions, he unnecessarily denigrates Rudy's famous mono mixes, referring to them as "fold-downs" of the stereo tapes and, in another paragraph, as "summed mono."

Perhaps the jargon and usage of actual recording engineers differs from that of audio writers, but in every audiophile publication I have ever read, the terms "folded-down mono" and "summed mono" are always used in a pejorative way. Those terms generally refer to creating a mono version of a recording by simply summing the two channels of a stereo recording into one without actually mixing them to create a coherent sound picture. As I stated in my review, "summed mono" is what you get when you hit the mono button on your preamp to listen to a stereo recording—it "generally creates a weird, opaque, cluttered sound: like having the musicians all on top of each other rather than spread out across a stage."

By his very usage of these phrases, it seemed to me that Harley was suggesting that the mono mixes were artless afterthoughts – when, in fact, Van Gelder himself has talked about the great pains that were taken with those mixes to achieve a natural balance and a convincing stage. If Joe says that those connotations are not what he intended, I will take him at his word. But when writing the review, I did not think that a person of his vast knowledge and experience would be unfamiliar with the customary use of those terms in the audiophile world.

Harley also asserts that Rudy Van Gelder employed compression and boosted the upper-mids at the LP mastering stage to make the original Blue Note albums sound good on the playback equipment of the day—and that the Music Matters re-issues, while indeed a bit warmer than the original LPs, are extremely accurate reproductions of what's actually on the master tapes. In saying this, he appears to be taking me to task for saying in my review that "The Classic re-masterings are more faithful to the Van Gelder sound and, presumably, to the master tapes."

Please note, however, the use of the term "presumably." I never said that I had heard the master tapes. In making my statement, I was in fact relying on the testimony of Harley's own business associate – and co-engineer of the Music Matters Blue Note project—Steve Hoffman. Here is what Hoffman wrote on his website (which was cited and paraphrased in my review; I've added the emphases below):

"Rudy Van Gelder recorded stuff to sound good THEN, not now. THEN is what counted! People had cheap phonographs or Hi-Fi's, nothing like what we have now.

Rudy did all his 'tricking' right on the master tape so he didn't have to redub and lose a generation... In other words, he didn't record something and re-dub it adding compression, echo, EQ, etc., he did it all live in real time while the music was being recorded.

Roy DuNann and Howard Holzer at Contemporary recorded everything flat and dry and the 'tricks' were added during LP disk mastering.

So, a Contemporary master tape today sounds amazing while a Prestige or Blue Note master tape needs a little 'reverse trickery' to get it to sound better."

So Harley says that Rudy did his "tricking" at the mastering stage, not on the tapes; Hoffman says the exact opposite. I don't know which is right, and the subject is ultimately moot—I clearly state in my review that the Music Matters re-mastering are uniformly gorgeous, and that the Classic Records re-issues are equally fine, but for those who prefer the "zing" of the original LPs.

Harley does catch me in one factual error: I made a mistake in stating that Hank Jones' piano on "Autumn Leaves" was merely "peeking out from the far right of the stage." I re-listened to the LP, and the piano is in fact centered; to me, it sounds right-center, not dead-center, but there's no point in splitting hairs—I was wrong in calling it hard-right. I will, however, stand by everything else I said on this particular subject: in my opinion, Jones' piano is altogether more present, impactful and immediate in the mono mix, while in the stereo it is comparably recessed, pushed a bit further back in the mix. Both versions of the recording are wonderful; I just happen to prefer the mono.

Finally, I caught a confusing contradiction in the final paragraphs of Joe's response. After stating several times that he loves good mono, he then goes on to say:

"Why don't we release everything in mono? Let me ask this: when was the last time you attended a jazz concert and found the musicians all stacked up one behind the other, choo-choo train style? 'Never,' you say? More probably, you found the musicians arrayed on the stage in a way not too dissimilar from the way that Rudy mixed in stereo."

If that is really the way he hears RVG's mono mixes—as "musicians all stacked up one behind the other, choo-choo train style"—I strongly disagree. And if that is really the way he hears these mixes, then isn't he dismissing and denigrating them in the way that I said? I'm not a dogmatist on this issue—there are many Blue Note sessions for which I prefer the stereo edition—but when I hear Van Gelder's best mono efforts, I hear a very cohesive mix in which I can "see" each player's position on the floor, in a way that seems more musically "right" to me than the hard-right, hard-left placement of certain instruments on the stereo versions. (To re-phrase Mr. Harley's question: When was the last time you attended a jazz concert and found the trumpeter standing on the furthest extremity of stage right, and the saxophonist on the furthest extremity of stage left?)

In the end, and as I said in my review, mono versus stereo is a case-by-case issue—and I will heartily agree with Joe in saying that it is also, above all, simply a case of what floats your boat!

Joe Harley is a major figure in the audiophile industry, one to whom a tremendous amount of respect and thanks are due. The Music Matter Blue Note re-issues will be treasured collector's items for as long as vinyl is collected. But I'm mystified by his lengthy, attacking response to my review—a review which contained no real criticism (and a great deal of praise) of his actual work, and but one criticism of something he wrote on the Music Matters website. I thought the phrasing of that note was questionable, and said so, but in no way was it my intention to "impugn his reputation."

If I misinterpreted him, then I apologize. But I maintain that my interpretation was a reasonable one, based on what he actually wrote.

Tom Campbell

Reviewer, Positive Feedback Online

Hello Tom,

While I thank you for your comments about Music Matters and my past work, your apparent befuddlement at why I would be offended by several of your remarks strikes me as disingenuous at best.

Tom, you say you are "mystified" by my "attacking response" to your review. Let's see... the review is for a Blue Note record by Cannonball Adderley called Somethin' Else... a record I had nothing to do with. Not too far into the review you turn your attention to me and make the following statement: "I myself find Harley's suggestion that the mono mixes were willy-nilly afterthoughts unnecessary, careless and overreaching."

I asked you Tom, to find the quote from me where I suggested that Rudy's mono mixes were "willy-nilly afterthoughts". You could not, because I've never said any such thing. Instead you again say that because of my use of the phrase fold-down and summed mono "it seemed to me that Harley was suggesting that the mono mixes were artless afterthoughts."

So... you have me calling Rudy Van Gelder's Blue Note mono mixes "willy nilly afterthoughts" and now "artless afterthoughts". And you seriously wonder why I might take offense to this? Are you kidding?

So "sheeesh" Tom....call me offended. I've loved Blue Note most of my adult life. I take the opportunity given to me and Ron Rambach by EMI and Michael Cuscuna very seriously, and I believe that shows in our Blue Note reissues. So when a writer I've never heard of comes along and inaccurately characterizes the way I view Rudy Van Gelder's mono mixing, you can bet I don't take it casually.

I find the fact that you go from presenting Hank Jones' piano placement on the stereo Somethin' Else as "peeking out from the far right of the stage" to now (once I corrected you) saying that it is "in fact centered" indicative of your need to be more careful as a writer. Otherwise, you run the risk of your readers deciding that your reviews are not very authoritative.

Now, on to your Steve Hoffman quote. I don't know the source or date of the quote... it may have been before we did all of these Blue Note reissues. It really doesn't matter either way. These are the facts: Rudy used compression on both the original recording and the mastering. To our ears (having extensive experience listening to the master tapes vs. original pressings), Rudy applied far more limiting during the mastering phase than during the original recording. That he did some limiting during his original live-to-two-track recording is obvious. And never have I said any different. But that he added much more in the mastering phase is even more obvious when you compare the master tape to a first generation pressing. This is the reason people are so shocked at the dynamics of the 45 RPM Blue Note pressings, whether from Music Matters or Analogue Productions.

It is also clear—again from listening to the masters vs. original edition pressings—that Rudy often bumped the upper mids and rolled the bottom during mastering to produce a record that was saleable, because it was playable, during the '50s and '60s.

What else? Mono vs. stereo. Bottom line...we at Music Matters release these tapes in the form we feel is most likely to make the listener feel that he or she is at the original session.

In conclusion, I do accept your apology, but ask that next time you'll be more careful when you get the urge to put words in my mouth, or assume that you know what I'm thinking without checking with me first.

Cheers,

Joe Harley

[Tom Campbell's second response to Joe Harley]

With all respect, I have to say that Mr. Harley either doesn't get or refuses to acknowledge my repeated point that his use of the phrases "fold-down" and "summed mono" is tantamount to calling the original RVG mono mixes (in my phrasing) artless afterthoughts. In neither my review nor my reply to his initial response did I say he used the exact phrase "artless afterthought." That was my interpretation of what he wrote. But that's what a fold-down is: summing the two channels into one by flipping a switch. No mixing, no balancing, no nothing: the very definition of artless.

I also want to say that in my original review, I was presenting two sides — the pro-mono camp, represented by Classic Records and by Rudy Van Gelder himself, and the pro-stereo camp, represented by Harley and his colleagues. I absolutely believe in the merits of both sides, and rightly or wrongly, I did feel that Joe was unfairly maligning the mono mixes. But at all times, I tried to be fair-minded. It is worth mentioning that in the sentence just after the one that has Harley most inflamed—the "willy-nilly" comment—I made a point of balancing the scales:

"I myself find Harley's suggestion that the mono mixes were willy-nilly afterthoughts unnecessary, careless and overreaching. But in the end, I do think that both sides are sincere advocates for their respective positions, and each has legitimacy: Van Gelder can rightly claim that the mono mix represents the original artists' intentions, while Harley, Hoffman and Gray can fairly believe that they hear a straight-to-mic purity in the stereo tapes of which Van Gelder is not even aware."

In the end, I most object to the suggestion that my review was some sort of flame-throwing piece, filled with reckless accusations. I spent a couple of weeks writing that 4,000-plus-word essay, and tried very, very hard to weigh every word and support every opinion. If I misread Harley's words—and several colleagues whom I consulted beforehand misread it exactly the same way—it was an honest mistake, not an act of malice.

Tom Campbell

Reviewer, Positive Feedback Online

[At this point, Ye Olde Editor is going to draw the curtain on this vigorous exchange of views between Tom Campbell and Joe Harley on the subject of the Music Matters Blue Note re-issues. It's been an interesting exchange, one of real educational value to our readers. I believe that both parties have made their points, have hit the point of diminishing returns, are not likely to agree, and so will have to agree to disagree.

I do note that I own a number of these wonderful re-issues, and appreciate the fine work that the very experienced Joe Harley and the Music Matters team has put into this important effort. May those of us who love these great recordings have many more of them in the coming days… whether we disagree about them or not!

Ye Olde Editor]


The Higher End

About the "expectation of privacy" and those emails to Positive Feedback Online

Ye Olde Editor

We do like hearing from you, our readers. It adds a great deal fun to what we do, encourages our editors and writers, provides information we may have missed, and correction that we may need. This is all to the good.

Your communication with us these days is almost always via the highly rational path of email. And we do read it, responding to the constructive correspondence—which is most of it, really—as quickly as possible. (The destructive stuff is routed directly to the bit bucket. Didn't yo' mama teach you better than that?!) Dave Clark and I are generally pretty rapid in getting back to you if a response is needed from us, or in re-directing inquiries to the appropriate person at PFO if it needs to go to an editor or writer.

By the way: please understand that the writers and editors at PFO are helpful folks, eager to assist their fellow audio/music lovers, or they wouldn't be doing what they're doing. Nevertheless, PFO is not an audio consulting service. Please do not clog the gears with complex requests for assistance with the sourcing of audio gear in your personal setting. Remember too that PFO is not, and has never been, an audio ombudsman. If you are having problems with a particular vendor, company, or dealer, please avail yourself of the normal channels for such resolution; no audio publication has the time or resources to take on such a responsibility for consumers. Enough said.

With an increasing flow of emails to Positive Feedback Online, and upon evidence of some recent confusion on the part of our email correspondents, it's become necessary to re-state the ground rules by which we operate here. So gather round the campfire, friends…

Any time an email, or an exchange of emails, is both constructive and of potential wider interest, we exercise the reserved right to publish it in "Reverberations," the letters section of PFO. This is, after all, a publication, a "journal for the audio arts." We are seeking to further educate and entertain our readership in our common love for fine audio, and contributions in the form of emails/letters from our readers are one way that we accomplish this goal. When you write to any of us… our essayists and reviewers included… we assume that you are aware of our nature as a publication, and that you write to us in the light of that knowledge.

This means that—unless you request confidentiality explicitly in your email or letter—there is no expectation of privacy here at Positive Feedback Online.

To put it another way: Any email or letter sent to this journal will be considered fair game for publication, unless you state in the document itself that the contents are private/confidential.

So… our default is PUBLISH.

The reverse is also true: the editors do reserve the right not to publish an email or letter. We are not obligated to publish your letter or comments simply because they are submitted. And hostile, negative, sarcastic, destructive emails or letters are never published.

So…sometimes we DON'T PUBLISH.

Finally, our subtitle for "Reverberations"—"Our readers respond—we respond right back!" is not a guarantee that we will always respond to an email or letter that is published. Often we do; sometimes we don't… usually when we don't, it's a case of res ipsa loquitur.

So finally… sometimes we PUBLISH WITHOUT RESPONSE.

I think that makes things clear. Having said all of this in the name of clarity, keep those cards and letters coming in!

All the best,

David W. Robinson

Editor-in-Chief


POSITIVE FEEDBACK ONLINE © 2010 - HOME

BACK TO TOP