Wednesday, August 2, 2017
KQED (HRV DVD 001 RevA)
KQED TV Studios
Video Lineage: 1982 KQED Rebroadcast > VHS > AVI > MPEG-2 (CBR 8Mbps)
Audio Lineage: 1" or 2" station master > 3/4" U-Matic sub-master > DVCAM > WAVE (48kHz/24 Bit)
Format: NTSC/PCM Mono
Running Time: Approx. 60 mins
01 - Atom Heart Mother
02 - Cymbaline
03 - Grantchester Meadows
04 - Green Is The Color
05 - Careful With That Axe, Eugene
06 - Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun
We decided to do a RevA of our 1st DVD release because we felt that, after much research, an audio upgrade was warranted. The video is exactly the same as our initial release. No re-encoding was applied. The video from the 3/4" U-Matic tape became unstable over time, resulting in a slightly jittery image while the audio was still solid. The audio from our initial DVD also came from this source but this was in the early days of HRV and while Mr Phloyd did a great job with the video, the compressed AC3 audio didn't really live up to its potential. We only recently looked into our original source after several FM (or VPro) recordings surfaced on Yeeshkul.
Some notes from MOB:
We had 2 sources to choose from: one source from a U-Matic TV station master, the other source from a mysterious FM broadcast. The FM source was said to be in stereo, but a quick analysis clearly shows there is absolutely no stereo separation on the instruments. Further analysis of the FM source reveals that the fake stereo effect is mainly due to multiple analog generations and fluctuations in the tape channels stretching. The fact is that the original recording was done in mono, and that there's no evidence of any true stereo mix of that performance. The FM source has also the typical alterations from FM processing (levelling and limiting), and is riddled with pops and crackles, not even mentioning a 1.7% deviation from the real speed.
On the other hand, the U-Matic source has the original mono recording with a very stable and correct speed, along with excellent spectral characteristics (as you could expect from a station master). A close comparison between the 2 sources shows some evidence of the "pureness" (in terms of sound fidelity) of the U-Matic tape compared with the multiple analog gens of the other source. It is not easy to describe it with words, let's just say that if you listen to the cymbals sound during some quiet parts, you hear "dziing" on the U-Matic source, while it's "tching" on the FM source… ;-)
Therefore, the remastering work was performed on the U-Matic source. It consisted in the following main activities: adjust the levels and EQ in order to bring clarity to the raw recording, get rid of the annoying low frequency hum that is present most of the time, and manually clean all the little imperfections of the raw transfer (mainly pops and drop-outs).
It has to be noted that, while Atom Heart Mother, Cymbaline, Green Is The Colour and Careful With That Axe Eugene were rather well recorded by the KQED sound engineers, it was much more difficult to get a good sound for Grantchester Meadows and Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun. These two tracks seem to have been captured differently by the KQED engineers and there were some bad sounding sections difficult to correct or improve (on every source we heard, these two songs are always with inferior sound quality than the four others). A possible explanation could be the specific instruments settings: acoustic guitars and vocals for Grantchester Meadows, and a lot of middle frequencies (gong, toms, lack of bass) for Set The Controls. Too bad KQED staff was not able to do a better job when recording and mixing these two tracks. (Ed: Perhaps these to tracks were recorded 1st and then adjustments/corrections were made?).