Supersense Mastercut Edition Lacquers

Ron Resnick

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Chad Kassem hosted today a lively livestream debate on Youtube about the longevity of lacquers in connection with the sale by Supersense of lacquers made directly from master tapes. Chad moderated a discussion between Michael Fremer of AnalogPlanet and Mike Esposito, owner of The 'In' Groove in Phoenix, Arizona.

Here is the website for Supersense:
In the debate Michael Fremer described his personal experience with lacquers, and reported that he finds them to sound superior to any version of the comparable vinyl. He also said that, far from disintegrating after five or seven plays, in his experience, lacquers can maintain their sound quality for scores of plays.

Mike Esposito said that he views the Supersense lacquer business as a "cash grab" on unsuspecting vinyl lovers who would be better off buying a vinyl record. Mike thinks that any doubt about the longevity of lacquers makes their high prices unjustifiable. Mike said that many people in high-end audio disagree with Michael Fremer, and say that lacquers deteriorate rapidly.


I know nothing about lacquers, but I do know about Michael Fremer. I find Michael to be scrupulously intellectually honest. If Supersense offers laquers in a title I want I would not hesitate to buy it.

Has anyone bought a lacquer from Supersense? What has been your experience with it?

How does the lacquer compare sonically to the same title on vinyl?

Have you observed any sonic degradation in the lacquer over time or over multiple plays?
 
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Ron Resnick

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Solypsa

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Jun 7, 2017
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I used to master vinyl. lacquers are fragile and they wear. This is why a master is never ever played. adds to the fun ( not really, you wait for a test pressing to see how it went ).

Scores of plays seems optimistic but in the reggae culture 'dubplates' are used for many plays and they are lacquers. Apollo did ( or does ) offer long play dubplates vs their standard lacquers...
 

dan31

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Jul 22, 2010
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I guess this is a wait and see. I never see myself buying any of the lacquers.
I probably listen to 15% of my collection. Once in a while I grab something I have not listened to in years. I have several 1 step albums and UHQR pressings. Some of my standard 33 rpm sound great. I'm putting any new funds to a new cartridge.

I don't think I want to throw $450 at a lacquer that might last and might have a real master tape. I will let others experiment. I wont tell others that its not great if they enjoy the product. To each their own.
 

Ron Resnick

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I probably listen to 15% of my collection. Once in a while I grab something I have not listened to in years. I have several 1 step albums and UHQR pressings. Some of my standard 33 rpm sound great. I'm putting any new funds to a new cartridge.

I don't think I want to throw $450 at a lacquer that might last and might have a real master tape. I will let others experiment. I wont tell others that its not great if they enjoy the product. To each their own.
I understand. Thank you.
 

Ron Resnick

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If any of the titles released on lacquer is one if my favorites I will purchase it and play it and we can develop another data point.
 

jeromelang

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Dec 26, 2011
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Even at those prices, I would buy lacquers derived from the studio masters in a flash if my favourite albums are available, not the obscure, "audiophile" ones.

Tsai Chin - Lao Ge? Yes!!! Triple Yes!!! Even the run of the mill ordinary pressings of this album can cost up to SGD$2000. So what is USD$450?
 

adrianywu

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Nov 15, 2021
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Isn't it easier to just make tape copies as Chad and others are doing ? I doubt a lacquer would sound better than a 1:1 tape copy. And copying tape is a much more reliable process than cutting lacquer. I guess Universal is more likely to license their recordings for lacquer, since making tape copies risk piracy. On the other hand, if someone wants to make copies, they can already use the digital files that are easily available.
 

dave slagle

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Apr 9, 2020
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The question that needs to be addressed here is what is the actual source material that the lacquers are cut from? They say master tapes, but I find it quite unlikely that any owner of a master tape would let them be played 1:1 for each lacquer.

dave
 

K3RMIT

Well-Known Member
Sep 4, 2020
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Isn't it easier to just make tape copies as Chad and others are doing ? I doubt a lacquer would sound better than a 1:1 tape copy. And copying tape is a much more reliable process than cutting lacquer. I guess Universal is more likely to license their recordings for lacquer, since making tape copies risk piracy. On the other hand, if someone wants to make copies, they can already use the digital files that are easily available.
Tape is tape it’s not vinyl nor can it be period
I grew up on vinyl both tape and vinyl then left
I’m back a while to me there is pure magic in the grooves
 

K3RMIT

Well-Known Member
Sep 4, 2020
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some say lacquer degrades in time alone play or not
sound smith says not true he says it’s the needle causing the damage
he says some of his carts can play them hundreds of times. me I’m way below the pay grade to know.
 

K3RMIT

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Sep 4, 2020
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Before i buy this I spend money on hot pressings
but the few times I heard them it was a amazing
 
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sbo6

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Chad Kassem hosted today a lively livestream debate on Youtube about the longevity of lacquers in connection with the sale by Supersense of lacquers made directly from master tapes. Chad moderated a discussion between Michael Fremer of AnalogPlanet and Mike Esposito, owner of The 'In' Groove in Phoenix, Arizona.

Here is the website for Supersense:
In the debate Michael Fremer described his personal experience with lacquers, and reported that he finds them to sound superior to any version of the comparable vinyl. He also said that, far from disintegrating after five or seven plays, in his experience, lacquers can maintain their sound quality for scores of plays.

Mike Esposito said that he views the Supersense lacquer business as a "cash grab" on unsuspecting vinyl lovers who would be better off buying a vinyl record. Mike thinks that any doubt about the longevity of lacquers makes their high prices unjustifiable. Mike said that many people in high-end audio disagree with Michael Fremer, and say that lacquers deteriorate rapidly.


I know nothing about lacquers, but I do know about Michael Fremer. I find Michael to be scrupulously intellectually honest. If Supersense offers laquers in a title I want I would not hesitate to buy it.

Has anyone bought a lacquer from Supersense? What has been your experience with it?

How does the lacquer compare sonically to the same title on vinyl?

Have you observed any sonic degradation in the lacquer over time or over multiple plays?
My takeaway is:
- Fremer: A hypocrite, for example at ~13 min states, "I buy a lot of records" in defense of comments that he gets records for free. Then at ~1:23 he states, "you know what, you do this for 30 years and you know what happens, you end up with thousands of free LPs. LOL.". There are many more examples, defending lacquers that don't degrade, but then shaking his head as Chad states that lacquers degrade. In court he'd come off as a non - credible witness.
- Mike E: Sticks to facts, looking out for the consumer. I found nothing he said contradictory or unreasonable.
- Chad: Likes to yell, not so great for a supposed moderator.
- YouTube live video commentary - Clearly found Fremer to have lost the "debate" to the point where folks found him comical and uncredible (as did I). I give Michael credit for helping with vinyl revival, but he can't take criticism, speaks over others (disrespectful / unprofessional) and was inconsistent in this video.

On a different note - check out Mike E's video about when he bought records from George Benson, quite a fun story.
 
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astrotoy

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My understanding is that normally lacquers are cut from a production master (or a backup safety master) which is a copy of the original master. The production and safety masters are shipped to the mastering engineer and he/she cuts the lacquer and then one or more fathers and then several mothers and from each mother several stampers. The stampers are used to make the records. With a "one-step" process, the lacquer is used to make a stamper directly (or maybe a few stampers) and the record comes from the stamper (essentially skipping two steps in the process.) Since it goes from original master to production master to lacquer to stamper to record, I don't see it quite as a one-step process, but less than the six steps it takes to make a normal record.

I've only had one experience with a lacquer, when mastering engineer Paul Stubblebine cut me a lacquer which he used in a shoot out at my home when I was looking for an A to D converter more than a decade ago. He did cut it from a digital master, the Reference Recording Rachmaninoff Symphonic Dances Side A, quite a few years before he cut the lacquers for the release of the album on vinyl, along with quite a few other digital recordings that Keith Johnson engineered and Reference Released in the mid 2010's. We played it a few times along with a few of my favorite vinyl records and made digital copies with different pro A to D converters, which allowed me to choose my favorite.

I remember Paul saying that you could play a lacquer a few times, but not like a record. He took the lacquer back after the session.

If you have a pure analogue production or safety master, they would normally be the generation of tape used to cut the lacquer, so they should be better than the lacquer. Normally pure analogue 15ip 2 track tapes you can buy commercially can sometimes be cut from the original master tape (like some of Jonathan Horwich's tapes), but mostly they are dubbed from a production or safety master cut from the original master, so would be the same generation as a lacquer. They typically cost $200-$375 per tape (one side of a typical album or one lacquer).

A big collection of tapes or lacquers is not for the faint of heart or light of pocketbook.

Please make any additions or corrections.

Larry
 

mtemur

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Mar 26, 2019
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With a "one-step" process, the lacquer is used to make a stamper directly (or maybe a few stampers) and the record comes from the stamper (essentially skipping two steps in the process.) Since it goes from original master to production master to lacquer to stamper to record, I don't see it quite as a one-step process, but less than the six steps it takes to make a normal record.
I’m quite skeptical about so called “one step” process. I have a suspicion that the source being digital or copy of the original master tape. I mean a generation later copy of the original master tape that is used for regular process. I have doubt about it cause each stamper can only be used for approximately 1000 records and you need a new lacquer for each new stamper. mofi kind of blue is printed more than 20.000 copies which requires 20 lacquers to be cut. mastering and mistakes made on cutting lacquers add up to that number. I suspect that record companies would ever let their precious original master tapes to be played 20 or more times. on the other hand -for regular process- playing master tape only once and cut lacquers once is enough to press as many records as you want. if you add up mastering and mistakes maybe it requires playing 3-4 times. that’s why I believe one step process records are sourced from one step later tapes or digital in worse case scenario.
 

astrotoy

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I’m quite skeptical about so called “one step” process. I have a suspicion that the source being digital or copy of the original master tape. I mean a generation later copy of the original master tape that is used for regular process. I have doubt about it cause each stamper can only be used for approximately 1000 records and you need a new lacquer for each new stamper. mofi kind of blue is printed more than 20.000 copies which requires 20 lacquers to be cut. mastering and mistakes made on cutting lacquers add up to that number. I suspect that record companies would ever let their precious original master tapes to be played 20 or more times. on the other hand -for regular process- playing master tape only once and cut lacquers once is enough to press as many records as you want. if you add up mastering and mistakes maybe it requires playing 3-4 times. that’s why I believe one step process records are sourced from one step later tapes or digital in worse case scenario.
I agree that lacquers are not generally cut from original master tapes, but from production/safety masters which are made from the originals. I've seen copies of the data sheets from Decca tapes which show each time the original has been used to do make a production/safety master. In some cases this has been ten or twenty times over a period of 40 years or more. In some cases, the original masters have been worn out and can no longer be used. When I was writing my Decca book, I interviewed several of the Decca engineers and other high level Decca (now Universal) execs. One example is the Solti Ring, which has had so many reissues, both vinyl and CD and then digital that the original tapes are no longer useable. I was fortunate to obtain a complete set of 15ips 2 track tapes of the Solti Ring done for the Russian release of the albums (done on Russian Svema tape! - 26 reels). It is still in great shape and certainly better than the current state of the original tapes.

In the case of cutting lacquers directly to stampers, I'm not sure whether you can get more than one stamper out of each lacquer. If so, can you get enough so you only need one lacquer, or do you need to cut a bunch of lacquers to make as many pressings as MoFi did for their "one-step" KOB. I'll see whether I can get an answer out of my MoFi contact.

Larry
 

signature music

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I have recently heard the Getz / Gilberto Supersense Mastercut lp. Sonically it is simply another world of sound quality. This record fills the whole room with sound, with full dynamics, you hear each detail of the recording. None of the vinyls - audiophile, original, 1Step, UHQR or whatever - I have ever heard comes even close to this listening experience. It is worth 500 USD? Is an original Hank Mobley Blue Note 1568 worth 4000 USD?
Who knows how this record will sound in 10 or 20 years, who knows if my ears are good enough for such a listening experience in 10 or 20 years.
If you´d like to have the best listening experience you´ve ever had, you need to grab one of these editions.
 

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