Restoring Old Records - How it's done
All the tracks on Windyridge CDs are transferred from either original 78 rpm records or phonograph cylinders. After cleaning, each disc is transferred to the computer using a high quality turntable and pick up, the stylus size being selected to best recover the music from the groove. The transferred sound is then treated to a number of individual processes which remove clicks, crackle, and a fair amount of the background noise and other disturbances. This is a painstaking and time consuming exercise since much of the work must be done manually; blanket processes tending to obscure the sound. Correct equalisation for differing recording characteristics is also applied. Phonograph Cylinders are transferred using modern purpose built equipment; this avoids any additional noise or rumble being added to the sound such as from the worn mechanism of an old phonograph.
The tracks on Windyridge CDs date from recordings which are generally between 70 and 100 years old. They may suffer from the ravages of time, or be in excellent condition for their age. The ideal might be thought to recover all of the wanted recorded sound, whilst removing all of the noise, clicks, pops and other distortions. In reality, a compromise must be struck between removal of unwanted noises and the effect on the overall sound. One might think of an old bronze statue as an analogy; you could polish it to make it look like new, but in so doing you would loose much of the detail and most of its charm.
One factor which is difficult to establish with early discs (pre 1920) is the exact speed at which the original records were recorded. Whilst cylinders were more or less standardised, disc records may have a range from below 70 rpm to above 90 rpm. Some manufacturers published speeds at the time of issue, but these are thought to be somewhat of an estimate. Songs may have been transposed to alternative keys; and the effect of the hot recording studios of the time (heated to soften the recording wax) can cause some instruments to go out of tune. Occasionally instruments of different concert pitch may have been used. In these transfers, we try for a consistency of voice across the various tracks, using available information at the time of reissue. This generally works, but in some instances, the performer may "put on" a different voice for artistic reasons which makes matching more difficult.
In addition, recordings from different companies have different acoustics, due to the original location and equipment used. In the interests of authenticity, unless these appear to grossly affect the sound, usually no alteration is made to the overall balance.
At this distance in time, there are few, if any people who have actually heard these performers "live" on stage. In many cases one can only attempt to put together an suggestion of what their performance should sound like from a number of apparently conflicting pieces of information.
The aim in these transfers is to strike a compromise between all these different factors to produce a programme which is as far as possible consistent, musical, and of interest and enjoyment to the listener. The restoration process is used in a fairly gentle manner to preserve as much of the wanted sound as possible.
Windyridge CDs are produced on high quality Grade A CD-R blanks (Taiyo Yuden since 2005), and duplicated at low speed. Each CD has a full colour on-body label and comes in a Jewel Case with an illustrated cover colour laser printed on stiff card, together with full track listings, matrix and issue numbers and concise biographical information. The styling of the packaging is consistent across all the discs in each range, so that together they will form an attractive collection. Stocks are held of each item to ensure rapid delivery; they are not made to order.
All our downloads are standard mp3 files, and are designed to play on any mp3 player. We use variable bitrate encoding (Standard VBR, High Encoding Quality, Quality setting 2, mono) which produces a sound of a similar quality to our CDs. Your agreement with us on the purchase of an mp3 file is that it is for personal use only and not for further distribution.
These recordings are transferred from original 78rpm and cylinder recordings. Under current UK copyright law, the original recorded sound comes into the public domain after 50 years. However, the underlying published song lyrics and music remain in copyright for 70 years after the death of the author. All Windyridge CDs are licenced by the Mechanical Copyright Protection Society (MCPS), and a royalty fee has been paid. As well as keeping within the law, purchasers will be pleased to know that they are also making a contribution to the descendants of the original authors. Please note that all Windyridge CDs and downloads are copyright in the re-issue transfer to which we retain all rights.
Any Comments on the CDs?
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We don't claim to have all the answers,
and always welcome submission of
helpful suggestions .