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In Reply to: RE: Stereotape/Audio Arts question posted by ironbut on July 06, 2016 at 07:49:52
RCA Victor started releasing their stereo tapes in 1954, and they were upper/left and lower/right whether stacked or offset (staggered).
Judging by their brochure (enclosed in the tape box) Audio Arts used the Ampex 3200 duplicators which - as I understand - used the upper/left and lower/right standard. So I would assume it was their writer in error.
In any case, I will play the tapes again, reverse the channels, and see which sounds better.
I don't think it's a question of reversing channels and hearing which sounds better. What matters is how the original recording was done and what the recording engineer intended. That's probably almost impossible to determine at this point.
Isn't it the Dvorak Serenade ST-8 tape that is under discussion? I've heard this piece with this exact instrumentation live. The players were arranged in an arc across the large stage with the oboes and clarinets on the left and the bassoons and two strings on the right. This is close to what I hear on the tape without the channels reversed -- from left to right: oboes, clarinets, bassoons, ending with the two strings on the right. It sounds like the three horns are behind, a common placement because horns are loud. Normally each pair of instruments are next to each other to facilitate coordination. In a recording it's likely the players were clumped closer together.
The tape box also says, "All STEREOTAPES , regardless of length, are wound on seven inch reels with the large hub." Not true. I have two Stereotape/Audio Arts tapes which are wound on small hub reels with the technical information on the box. The two reels have the correct label and look original. All higher-numbered tapes I have seen without the info are wound on small hub reels.
I also agree the writer was in error.
BTW, my Dvorak tape box is signed by the conductor. It says, "For dear old John (the right one) from David Raksin Happy leap year."
Here's one from YouTube. From left to right: oboes, bassoons, clarinets, horns, with the bass and cello in the center.
First, both ST-3 and ST-8 are on standard Scotch reels with 2-3/16" diameter hubs. If you recall, earlier 7" tape reels had a somewhat smaller diameter hubs, so maybe the writer was referring to those.
Second, my copy of ST-8 has a little sticker on the tape reel with Raksin spelled "Raskin," not an uncommon error. Great that you have a signed copy. Hope he spelled his name correctly :)
My copy of ST-3 has the same size hub, but my copy of ST-8 has a more or less 4 in. hub. To me that's the different between small and large size hubs on reels.
I just came from a concert of Brahms' Clarinet Trio and Clarinet Quintet. In the trio the clarinet was to the left and the cello to the right, both in front of the piano. In the quintet it was from the left, first violin, second violin, clarinet, viola, then cello. They formed an arc with first violin and cello further forward. Personally I find the sound blends better if the clarinet is in the middle.
These seatings in concert are fairly standard, but I've heard the Mozart Clarinet Quintet with the clarinet to the right, and in string quartets the cello and viola can interchange places. Like the seating of a symphony orchestra there are variations. It all depends on what the conductor or players decide.
My copy of the Dvorak also has the sticker with the misspelling of Raksin. One more thing that points to mistakes of the writer.
Note the Wiki bio of Raksin below.
I remember watching once a fascinating documentary on Raksin's composing the theme to Laura.
I have ST-3 and ST-8 that both have the same note about the channels. Now that you mention the group layout, I wonder if that array is standard for wind + strings group.
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