Gerhard Blum's "Making Vinyl" Keynote Address Is A "Must See" For Every Vinyl Lover

You do not want to miss the entertaining, informative and important "Making Vinyl" day two keynote address with visuals by Sony Music Entertainment International Services Co-Managing Director Gerhard Blum.

His is a very important and entertaining message for anyone interested in the vinyl record resurgence and especially in keeping it going strong for years to come!

COMMENTS
Zardoz's picture

I was wondering how valid a comparison of photography and audio is though? What part of the population is high end photography vs. high end audio? Are we talking similar numbers and ages? Differences of demographics could make a huge difference in the the projected out come based on photography's history.

swimming1's picture

Yah very cool,but who buys all this new vinyl and reissues for $30+++++ bucks? The new millionaires? Not me! I go into record stores ,see all the NEW stuff but rarely see any buying>

moron's picture

...and they're WAAAAAAAAAAAAAY harder to shoplift.

RH's picture

but who buys all this new vinyl and reissues for $30+++++ bucks?

Me.

You don't have to be a millionaire. It all depends on how someone decides to allocate money. I don't drive a nice car, don't own a cottage, or any number of other money-sucking hobbies. So...my spare money will more often go to buying new vinyl here and there.

moron's picture

Huh?
Who TF is "Sony"?

Ortofan's picture

... to start pricing them like luxury goods?
Doesn't ERC already have that end of the market staked out?
If this comes to pass, will we see the return of direct metal mastering and JVC super vinyl?

Toptip's picture

Since the last record lathe was designed, technology has advanced unimaginably. But record making does not seem to take advantage of this.

Starting with simple precautions, like clean rooms. I see in videos records still being made in what appears to be warehouses. With all that is built for silicon wafers, obtaining a cleaner environment should be less costly today.

Then the presses. Today’s electronic controls, I suspect, can improve quality and possibly also reduce cost. Because as we have learned from the iPhone and several other products, quality perception of a product has almost nothing to do with actual cost — phones people step over each other to buy for $1K+ plus, cost a minute fraction of that to produce. Yet their capabilities are infinitely superior to cell phones of 10 years ago that cost 3X more to make.

In other words you cannot have a value proposition by just keeping prices high. You also have to provide a superior product even if costs much less to make, which one should try their hardest to get to. That is not the case today. Restoring 50-year old presses with expensive, artisanal custom-made spare parts and having them operated manually, in today’s tight labor market, only add to cost without providing a superior product to what was around in 1979.

Today’s records should have zero imperfections when first opened, no warp, no falling beard whisker-caused plating blemish. They now put 1 million transistors on a pinhead with zero errors. Maybe the best way to make records is no longer a burning-hot piece of iron, maybe they can be etched for less with no temperature. Or maybe vinyl is no longer fine enough a material.

Of course there is also another way. There was mention of DBX-encoded records in one article (about a collector in Bulgaria) a while ago. Each time I listen to one, I am amazed by how excellent they sound — amazing dynamics, no surface noise. Analog tape recording for making records already uses some form of noise reduction, why not bring that back or extend to the LP? It takes care of 90% of vinyl’s ills with nary a disadvantage. I suspect making appropriate decoders in today’s electronics market place should cost pennies.

Ortofan's picture

... might well result in quieter LPs, as could the elimination of the use of any recycled vinyl.
Maybe the clean room atmosphere should be extended to the mastering facilities, as well.
DBX can yield an improvement, but there will always be those who claim to hear certain artifacts of the processing.
As long as there is the potential for LPs to be transported in un-airconditioned delivery vehicles during the height of summer, is having warp-free discs ever going to be a reasonable expectation?
At an acceptable added cost, are there better materials for discs that would be more warp resistant and/or could the packaging be improved to help keep the discs flat?

solarboy297's picture

This weekend I bought a near perfect copy of Side by Side by Ellington and Hodges for $8. I'm just saying. None of these surveys include the used vinyl market that is probably 50 times higher volume than new pressings. Keep digging!

Toptip's picture

“DBX can yield an improvement, but there will always be those who claim to hear certain artifacts of the processing.”

True, but again it — or Dolby A — is already used in most original tape recordings, otherwise tape hiss would build up with generations. It is almost less processing if the LP was made from the encoded original and first decoded at the consumer end. In fact you can do the opposite too: DBX used to recommend that encoded LPs be copied to home tape recorders as-is and decoding only applied when that tape is replayed.

eugeneharrington's picture

Although I had some difficulty in following Herr Blum's presentation due to the acoustics of the venue, I was taken by the mention of a vinyl record as 'an investment'. That is the way I see it as do many others I am sure. While I accept that his heart is in the right place as to matters of quality, he would do well to address the problems at SONY MUSIC.

Sony has been using MPO in France, almost exclusively, for the past number of years. I have never encountered such poor quality as I have in the last two years or more from this French manufacturer. 'Non Fill' is nearly the norm with this manufacturer. Go online to the various audio fora and you will read posts from very disappointed and disaffected purchasers of Bob Dylan's 'Blood On The Tracks' Original New York Test Pressing which was offered for Record Store Day 2019. 'Non Fill', 'Warps' and 'filthy scuffed vinyl' affects quite a large proportion of the pressing run, it seems. As of now at least, I know of no program to replace these shoddily pressed and packaged copies. MPO pressed the RSD vinyl for 'BOTT'. I did not bother standing in line on RSD for this one as I knew it would be a 'crap shoot' with the French manufacturer involved. Having bought Van Morrison's 'The Healing Game; vinyl reissue the previous week, (re)issued by Sony/Legacy, I had no stomach for any more Sony vinyl. I received the most hideously off centre pressing I have seen in nearly 50 years buying records and an identical replacement which I also returned. I had to settle for the 3CD Deluxe release in place of the vinyl and it is fine, no make that wonderful. If MPO cannot correctly align stampers in a vinyl press then I wonder where vinyl is headed. A sightly off centre spindle hole can be 'corrected' but not when misaligned stampers are the cause of the problem.

I get the impression that Sony has ceased using Optimal and Record Industry for its vinyl because of cost issues and has instead opted for a cheaper alternative with disastrous results. Just to be clear, my criticism of MPO is not limited to Sony product. Everything that has come my way recently from MPO has been defective. I run a vinyl record cleaning service (www.vinyllpcare.com) and customers have brought records to me to wet and ultrasonically clean, because of noisy replay. It transpired that it was 'non fill'. I recall especially well a 2LP set by LONDON GRAMMAR that comprised of two 45 rpm 180 gram discs that was ruined by 'non fill' and manufactured in France. My customer was very unhappy and disappointed with his 'investment'. I was not bashful about telling him who pressed his records either. Most collectors are oblivious to this and need to be informed and perhaps they will think twice about 'investing' in records from this source in the future.

So in essence, my feeling is that we are going down the rocky path of poor quality vinyl in recent years where 'cheapskate' pressing plants are getting the work and making a 'dog's dinner' of it. The often cited excuse is 'oh well, vinyl is an imperfect format'. That is arrant nonsense. The Japanese manufacturers pressed perfect records during the 'first vinyl' era so it can be done if the mindset is right. Indeed, MPO pressed great records in the 80s and 90s for many indie labels in the U.K. which makes the current decline and unreliability all the more conspicuous. I agree with what Toptip posted in his message. Technology has advanced so much that vinyl records should now be of very high quality and issues such as 'off centre spindle holes', 'stitching','non fill' 'scuffing' etc. should be non existent. Of course, the record labels insist on using card inner sleeves which potentially cause hairline scratches and other damage to the vinyl disc. It would not happen in Japan!

I am going to Germany on Wednesday for the annual High End Show in Munich and some record shopping. I will be buying used records or new old stock items from the 'first vinyl era' when all of these problems were far less troublesome than they are now. I have confidence in Record Industry, Optimal, Pallas most of the time but I am slow to take a chance on new vinyl these days unless I can return it if it is defective. Modern cleaning methods have brought vinyl to a new level of quality where well cared for records from the 'first vinyl era' are noise free and sound wonderful as are many of the newer pressings from the 'second vinyl era'. I would pay higher prices so that quality can be guaranteed. I have no interest whatsoever in 'cheapskate' pressings that only cause aggravation and dissatisfaction. If this is not checked and addressed, then the attractiveness of vinyl will decline. I am sure I speak for a sizable percentage of the vinyl population, if only the so called 'outlier' audiophile contingent. I really hope that Herr Blum can cause a culture change at SONY MUSIC so that the emphasis is placed on quality product rather than what we are getting right now.

moron's picture

Oh ... okay...

hans altena's picture

I have never switched to cd, always have stuck with lp, although I sometimes hear a cd at a friends home, so I was at first very happy with the growing popularity of vinyl records which caused more albums to be produced that way. But indeed, the quality is degrading fast, with Blood on the Tracks Test Pressing as an all time low, I literally cried when I tried to play it on my system after having cleaned it carefully but without results. For years you wait for this to come along and you are willing to pay for it a high price and then you get something awful, even the pirates like Wax records make better shit (at least those lp's are noiseless, though sterile like a cd). I too fear that Vinyl popularity will soon cease to be if this problem is not solved.

mikenc's picture

I throughly enjoyed that video, as I do with nearly everything posted by Michael on this site. I don't think a day goes by without me poking for something new on this site (usually a few times a day). Great site, thank you Michael!

The quality of many records I get are just outstanding, dead quiet and super dynamic range. I invest in vinyl, SACD and now Blu-ray for my music. If I want to hear something before I buy I just go to youtube...there's always multiple versions of anything I want to preview. (my favorite local record store that's now out of business used to have listening stations with headphones)

During his presentation I thought about this -- When can we start printing our own records, including the gatefold? Never say never!

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WilliamC's picture

Buying vinyl these days is like a box of chocolate, you don't know what you will really get for your money. And when you want to sell your record collection down the road, it's worth next to nothing unless it's a John Coltrane or Miles Davis album. For some, there isn't much we (consumer) can do except accept the inevitable.

I listen to music for the enjoyment of it and not so much about the economics. When I come across a record that doesn't sound right, I would spend hours tweaking my TT until I am satisfied. That's why I chose this hobby.

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