Ughh, Local Pressings

Agaton Sax

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Remember record shops? Cavernous places the size of a rugby field with concrete ceilings always painted gloss white. From the ceiling would be, seemingly, a thousand neon lights dangling from filthy chains. There would be racks and racks of records and a thousand pimply kids, just like you, rapidly paging through the covers, the shadowless neon glare painting their already sickly colour another shade of warmed-up death.

Twenty years from now a young female doctor is quickly going to get out of her chair and run to the tea room. She is excited, she is going to write it up, the fact that all old people have osteoarthritis of the first joint of the index finger. An old doctor, for there is always one, is going to shake his head sadly and with rheumy eyes looking at her he is going to say; "My dear, they simply have record buyer's fingers" For the "My Dear" he is going to be fired for being sexist.

Were you one of those spotty kids? Then you know the look: A similar facial expression of one who just grabbed a dog turd or a used condom. For the aspiring record buyer has just spotted the word "Interpak" on the record cover. Uggh, the dreaded Local pressing; no highs, no lows, no dynamics, noisy as hell and just BAD but like really yuck. Should one actually buy this filth, you would hide it, like some pornographic magazine and steel yourself for the withering look of the absolute genius at the till.

Looking through my records yesterday, I came across a misfiled one. The Waterboy's "Down by the sea" but a recent purchase. It still had the price on it, R349.99. With that, the sleeve also proclaims a free digital download. I listened. The music was fantastic but the recording was dire. It was bright and distorted. Were early ADA converters really that bad? I decided my cartridge must be at the end of its life, with serious tracking distortion. I tried another arm with a cart that would track a pepperoni pizza (as Mike would say) Nope, same harsh distorted sound.

This afternoon I went on a hunt, and I found it. The Waterboy's "Down by the sea", complete with the dreaded Interpak on the battered sleeve. I could only look at the record to know it was local. Blackish with swirls of whitish stuff-ground up labels? Anyway, I washed it and dried it: Same cart, same arm. Thunderous bass rhythms, shimmering highs with trumpet darting and stabbing. Harsh yes but harshly played. It went LOUD and as quickly went quiet. It beat my R349. 99 "Audiophile Pressing" so far into submission that that piece of junk is not even bleeding. WTF did whoever cut and made that new stuff think? Does he, she or sexless one even know how a Lathe works? Does that Ortofon cutting head even have a stylus? What the hell! No wonder the kids think this Analog revival is just a fashion fad. Bloody idiots making this stuff.
 

MusicMan_ZA

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This pretty much describes my own experience with many new "audiophile pressings" vs. my well-played vintage pressings.
And between Interpak and Artone (the two main printing press companies that made the covers for our local pressings, and whereby we mainly identify a local pressing) packaged records and "imports" (which I hunted for mostly at Ragtime but often even found at Dions), I as often found that Import was better than Local as I found that Local was equal to or better than Import. I guess we received the same master tapes, but often our local stampers saw less use (total number of pressings) than some high-volume overseas pressing plants, and therefore we sometimes had better pressings, right up to the end, than they had from about the middle to the end of their run?
 

KevinH

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Nothing wrong with the lathe or the stylus. The most likely problem, is that the original master tapes have not been used - what has been used is probably a badly digitised copy of the master tape. Also, there are very few mastering engineers left. Most of those who now call themselves "engineers" should be lined up and shot. I have bought some CDs in the last year or two of excellent young singers, but once the song really starts, the mastering and production is so badly done, that the singers vocals is overwhelmed by the orchestra or studio musicians. I cannot listen to the CDs anymore.

The Record Companies are fleecing us collectors with sub-standard shite. I currently use Discogs to find LPs, SACDs and CDs for myself. Well worth the wait from overseas. If you are in the Gauteng area, take a drive through to Parkhurst (Micogram) or similar establishments. There are other places around the country I am sure, but am unfortunately not familiar with them.
 

JonnyP

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I have quite a few S/H local pressings and locally sold versions of albums. The only issue with Interpak and Artone I have ever really encountered was that at times sleeve quality was particularly poor (bad reproduction of cover art/thin sleeve material/no gatefold). A lot were simply records from elsewhere with a local sleeve, others are decent local pressings, others shite local or international pressings.

I have, however, found that many of the so-called audiophile represses are lacking.

Can’t really say on CDs as generally I don’t buy new ones (and haven’t for years), but I do remember early on that a lot of them sounded pretty crap (AAD ones particularly)
 

Trompie67

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*snip*

If you are in the Gauteng area, take a drive through to Parkhurst (Micogram) or similar establishments.

I would rather pour 105 Octane in my eyes & set it alight than frequent that shytehole called Microgram in Parkhurst.

I have never met anyone more disinterested or uninvolved in what they were selling than the twat I met there.
No idea what he had in stock. As in zero. nada. fokkol.

Me: "Do you have...."
Twat: "Stop. I do not know what we have or do not have"
Me: "OK then. I'll search. Are your LP's in alphabetical order by artist or title?"
Twat: " No. No order. They are just there. In the shelves"
Me: "So how do I find what I'm looking for?"
Twat: "You go through everything. Because even if we don't have what you want, you might see something else and buy it".
Me: " Fk this for a joke. OK. Bye."
Twat: "Nothing to add".

Mr. Vinyl. Echo's. The various vendors at the vinyl faire.
All know what they have in stock. Or, in the case of the vendors, if they don't have it with them, they know if they have it at the shop/house.

I avoid Record Mad in Linden for the same reason. No clue what they have in stock.

Often I am looking for something specific (At the moment it's JMJ Oxygene). I phone & ask. No clue = no visit.
Remembering that when I visit I always buy more than one. or two, or three.


Off my soapbox.

Insofar as local vs. import goes. Have some great local pressings dating back to the 70's, if not before. Have some great imports (and yes, @Agaton Sax is 100% correct: imports were always perceived as superior to local back in the day), but, I also have some despicable local pressings (only reason I still have them is nostalgia and unobtanium) and also some horrendous import pressings.
I remember how "proudly" Plum Records, Universitas, Hillbrow RC & Look & L used to display the "IMPORTED" sticker on the LP's! And add a significant premium to the selling price!

Back then they always sounded better though..... Kind of like now, when one spends a significant amount on a piece of hardware & it simply HAS TO sound better because, well, spending money....
An audiophool and his money are sooner parted than paired.... :ROFLMAO: :eek:
 

Agaton Sax

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In the early 90s European Record plants started digitizing their Master Tapes. Well it was really Running Masters or Safety masters as no one would let the Master out of the building. I am ambivalent about that. I have the original Kraftwerk albums bought in the early 80 s and a set of the later digitally cleaned up re releases. The re releases are not bad but to me is like eating low GI food, drinking non alcoholic wine or listening to a Class D amplifier (oops!)

So why am I ambivalent? Well Europe's 2 biggest plants (One in Germany and another in the Netherlands) digitised their masters and threw the tapes in a dumpster. There were people waiting there and if you know who to call, you can own some of those tapes. I own (weel not really own but have) about a 100 of my favourite favorites. Listening to them on the same type of machine they were made on does make,even the best,vinyl sound like a child's toy.
 

KNL

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I am not convinced modern pressings are that bad. You need to know what to look out for. GZ Media pressings can be poor (but can also be fantastic). Optimum and Pallas pressings are excellent. Although we don't get them here much, there are some fantastic American plants and labels. In all cases, Mastering is the most important variable. Try find out who the Mastering Engineer is and where it was pressed before you buy.

As a rule of thumb (and there are exceptions), I found the good local pressings were those of local artists. I suspect it would be firstly because the artists would listen to those pressings and the Mastering Engineer wanted to make sure he did not get any comebacks. Secondly, those would probably have been made from first generation tapes (perhaps even a master tape).
 

HOTaljaard

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Isn't part of the problem the fact that most modern vinyl is cut from digital source?
With regards to old vinyl i find UK pressings sounds best, better than US. German pressings also not that great (at least the few i have) but Netherlands/France are nice. Canadian also nice. There is a trend.
Some SA pressings sound horrid. The Beatles to be avoided at all cost. But there's exceptions for example Pink Floyd.
But its not only pressings but also recordings. Neil Young, Zappa and the Doors made great recordings.
Queen and Genesis less so (or is it only the SA pressings...not sure now)
Etc etc.
 

Agaton Sax

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Regarding The Doors: I have the boxset in the fake lizard skin released a few years ago. It is said that the masters degraded to such a degree as to be unusable so it was made from digitized material. I only bought it to get LA Woman as that was the only Doors Lp I did not have. The others I bought from an old hippy under a tree. He bought those on Height Street as they were released in the late 60s. There is no comparison as the first releases are spectacular. LA Woman on the re-release sound notably worse than the others. Thin and bright but I only have it on the re-release. The other re-releases are really OK. Disappointed I shelled out a huge amount for safety master of LA Woman-and guess what? The tape sounds thin and bright. The safety master of LA Woman is used by all big-time US players as a demo, so I don't know? Either they are deaf or there exists another master.

"The Wall". I always thought local releases to be quite good. However, the tape is simply astonishing to such a degree that I never pursued the imported vinyl." Dark Side", I find beautiful on tape but other listeners find it as compressed and distant as the vinyl." Wish you were here" I have the 1/2 speed master lp and it is very, very good but the tape is simply the best-sounding anything of anything I have.

The local release of Harvest is good. The first edition US release is better and the tape even better.
 

johan.pretorius

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But there's exceptions for example Pink Floyd.
But its not only pressings but also recordings. Neil Young, Zappa and the Doors made great recordings.
Queen and Genesis less so (or is it only the SA pressings...not sure now)

Cannot agree more - I have a local copy of Queen's A Night At The Opera, and it sounds very thin. Also listened to Uriah Heep's Fallen Angel (local pressing) last night, it's on the verge of making an exit.

On the other hand, Pink Floyd's UK pressings are excellent.

But I also have some great local pressings, most notably from local artists such as Ballyhoo and Johannes Kerkorrel.

So, it remains a bit of a hit and miss affair (luckily not nearly as bad as pre-recorded cassette tapes, though).
 

Family_Dog

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Many years ago when I was young and foolish I imported an LP from a well-known Record company in the UK, thinking the quality would outshine a local pressing. That was my very first - and last - time that I did this, the quality of the LP was absolute rubbish, it sounded as if it had been played 1000 times with a worn stylus. The appearance looked good but the quality was very questionable. Never had that with a local pressing. My setup at that time was a Garrard 301, SME3012 and Shure V15 cartridge. Actually, I still have all these items, lovingly waiting for me to use them again. ;-)

-F_D
 

HOTaljaard

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Cannot agree more - I have a local copy of Queen's A Night At The Opera, and it sounds very thin. Also listened to Uriah Heep's Fallen Angel (local pressing) last night, it's on the verge of making an exit.

On the other hand, Pink Floyd's UK pressings are excellent.

But I also have some great local pressings, most notably from local artists such as Ballyhoo and Johannes Kerkorrel.

So, it remains a bit of a hit and miss affair (luckily not nearly as bad as pre-recorded cassette tapes, though).
Agree with you Kerkorrel and all the Shifty stuff was very well recorded/ pressed. Also the other 80s SA bands such as Dog Detachment (listening to it right now) and Asylum Kids sound great.
 
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