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In November 1957 the first stereo two-channel records were issued – by Audio Fidelity in the USA and Pye in Britain, using the Westrex "45/45" single-groove system.  Invented by Alan Blumlein of EMI in 1931 and patented the same year. EMI cut the first stereo test discs using the system in 1933. However it was not exploited commercially until a quarter of a century later.

In 1954 RCA records began their Living Stereo three microphone recording program, first on 2 Track Reel to Reel tapes and by 1959 finally on Stereo LPs.

In 1961, Mercury enhanced their "Mercury Living Presence" technique with three-microphone stereo recordings using 35mm magnetic film instead of half-inch tape for recording. The greater thickness and width of 35mm magnetic film prevented tape layer print-through and pre-echo and gained in addition extended frequency range and transient response.

In the late 1970s, "Direct-to-Disc" records were produced, aimed at audiophiles, which completely bypassed the use of magnetic tape in favor of a "purist" transcription directly to the master lacquer disc. Also during this period, "Half-Speed Mastered" LPs from "Original Master" tapes were released, using expensive state-of-the-art technology.

The early 1980s saw the introduction of "DBX-encoded" records, again for the audiophile niche market. These were completely incompatible with standard record playback preamplifiers, relying on a sophisticated DBX noise reduction encoding/decoding scheme to virtually eliminate playback noise and increase dynamic range. A similar and very short-lived scheme involved using the CBS developed "CX" noise reduction encoding/decoding scheme.

Also in the late 1970s and 1980s, a method to improve the dynamic range of mass-produced records involved highly advanced disc cutting equipment. These techniques, marketed as the CBS Discomputer and Teldec Direct Metal Mastering, were used to reduce inner-groove distortion. Many listeners reported while the LPs had lower surface noise that the sound quality of Direct Metal
Mastering was on the "cold" side.

In the mid 1990’s new-release Analog LPs were reborn, lead by Classic Records soon followed by many other audiophile companies. According to both hardware and software manufacturers 2005 was the best year for Analog LPs and Turntable sales in over a decade.

10 Recommended Audiophile LPs

1. ANTILL: Corroboree GINASTERA: Panambi Suite - Everest / Classic SDBR 3003 - This is sonically the most realistic LP I have ever found and the music is extremely exciting! It's a real treat!

2. RESPIGHI: Church Windows / Keith Clark, Pacific Symphony (45 RPM) - Reference Recordings RR-15 - Check out the tam-tams at the end of side one, one of Reference Recordings' best recordings and IMHO Respighi's best work!

3. DIE RÖHRE – THE TUBE - Music by Boccherini, Sammartini, Scarlatti, Handel, Vivaldi, Biber & Corelli - Stuttgarter Kammerorchester - Tacet L 74 - This has one of the most beautiful string tones I have ever heard, the music is exciting and well performed.  A winner all around.

4. WITCHES BREW / Gibson, New Symphony Orchestra of London - RCA Living Stereo / Classic LSC 2225 - Sir Alexander Gibson's performance of Malcolm Arnold's "Tam O'Shanter" has never been equaled musically or sonically. All the others pieces are superb as well. Another great Living Stereo LP.

5. HARRY BELAFONTE: At Carnegie Hall (2 LP Set) RCA Living Stereo / Classic LSO 6006 - You are in Carnegie Hall with Harry Belafonte. Not just the music but the dialog in between, and the music - oh wow! Harry at his best! Must have LP!

6. BRITTEN: Young People's Guide To The Orchestra - Felix Slatkin - Capitol Records / Cisco SP 8373 - This, along with no. 3 has some of the warmest and most beautiful string tone I have ever experienced, highly, highly recommended.

7. DÄFOS / Mickey Hart, Airto & Flora Purim (45 RPM) Reference Recordings RR-12 - This is the famous LP in which Mickey Hart big drum called "The Beast" falls down and makes the loudest crash ever recorded. Lots of great percussion-led music in superb sonics Reference Recordings is famous for, pure analog of course!

8. DUKE AT TANGLEWOOD / Ellington, Fiedler, Boston Pops - RCA Living Stereo / Classic LSC 2857 - This is both Duke Ellington and Arthur Fiedler's best recording and it is one of the best sounding Living Stereo LPs.

9. MILHAUD: La Creation du Monde; Suite Provencale - RCA Living Stereo - Soria Series / Classic LDS 2625 - Utterly beautiful and exciting.

10. PROKOFIEV: Love For Three Oranges; Scythian Suite - Mercury Living / Classic SR 90006 - The Scythian Suite is one of my favorite classical pieces and this is sonically and musically superb!

10 Recommended Commercial LPs

I don’t like the frequency limited sonics, constricted dynamics, smalller soundstage nor the higher surface noise of most commercial LPs. Most commercial LPs I have aquired have been either sold or donated. I much prefer the more musical and realistic audiophile LPs but I have had readers request a recommended list of commercial LPs so here goes:

1. HOLST: Japanese Suite / BLISS: Mêlée Fantasque / WALTON: Music For Children / BERKELEY-BRITTEN: Mont Juic: A Suite of Catalan Dances - Adrian Boult, London Symphony Orchestra - Lyrita Recorded Edition SRCS.50 - My favorite Lyrita LP with excellent sonics, I only picked one Lyrita LP for this list but most are excellent.

2. DANSES ANCIENNES DE HONGRIE ET DE TRANSYLVANIE - Rene Clemencic, Clemencic Consort - harmonia mundi FRANCE HM 1003 - Early music at it best with very realistic sound.

3. THE BEAT GOES ON - Vanilla Fudge - Atlantic 588 100 - This LP is a lot of fun; it is mostly a history of music and spoken word. From early folk songs to the music of the Beatles. From the first words recorded on LP "Mary Had a Little Lamb" to speeches by Winston Churchill, Adolph Hitler and Roosevelt from World War Two interspersed by various improvisations of Sonny Bono’s "The Beat Goes On". I love this LP and just cannot understand why it has never been released in an audiophile version. The Piano, Orchestra and percussion version of Beethoven’s Fur Elise is to die for!

4. BOOGIE WITH CANNED HEAT - Canned Heat - Liberty S11-1811 - On The Road Again sounds the best I ever heard in this re-issue, an excellent Blues LP all around with very good sound!

5. HURDY GURDY MAN – Donovan - Epic Records BN 26420 - My favorite Donovan LP and has very good sound.

6. EMERSON, LAKE & PALMER - Emerson, Lake & Palmer - Atlantic SD 19120 - This is what I consider ELP's best recording from Knife Edge to Lucky Man an excellent recording, sonics are a little rough on climaxes otherwise very smooth sounding LP.

7. WHAT'S NEW - Linda Ronstadt & The Nelson Riddle Orchestra - Asylum Records 60260 - Excellent sound beat the 192kHz 24 Bit DVD-Audio it replaced!

8. PETER GUNN - The Art of Noise featuring Duane Eddy - Chrysalis 4V9 42992 (EP) - Really Cool version of Henry Mancini's Theme from Peter Gunn with very wide grooves and excellent sound.  This is a 12 inch single.

9. RAVI SHANKAR: Concerto for Sitar and Orchestra - Ravi Shankar, André Previn, London Symphony - Angel SFO 36806 - This is the only Angel LP I've ever bought that wasn't terrible.  The sound is excellent, very realistic and airy and unlike other Angel's there is NO distortion on climaxes!  The music is unusual and very exciting.

10. RHYTHM OF YOUTH - Men Without Hats - Backstreet Records BSR-39002 - My favorite 80's group best LP, well if you don't get up and dance with this one you must be dead!  Excellent sound and music!

The most important things I do to preserve my LPs.

When I buy a New or Used LP before the first play I clean it using Phoenix Cleaner with Enzymes and treat it with Grūv Glide. Grūv Glide increases the fidelity, reduces surface noise, removes static and further cleans the record. If you have an RCM (Record Cleaning Machine) you will get even better results using the Phoenix Cleaner with Enzymes for RCMs. For the first play make sure you use a deep cleaner to remove mold release compound to help prevent pops and clicks. Also Last Preservative may be used instead of Grūv Glide and the rare case when static returns to an LP just re-apply Grūv Glide.

All plays after the first play I dry clean using a Carbon Fibre Record Brush.

I clean the stylus before playing each side. I use Zerodust, which is an ultra soft plastic cleaner you dip the stylus into and it removes all the debris. The cleaning element when filled with dust can be cleaned with soap and water and used over and over again. There are also many excellent liquid cleaners but make sure your cartridge manufacturer doesn’t warn against their use.

After cleaning my LPs for the first time I put them in a new inner sleeve. I like Mobile Fidelity Sound Labs Original Master Sleeves but there are many other suitable types available.

I store my LPs in as Vertical position as possible without them leaning one way or the other. But I don’t get them too tight or it can cause ring wear on the covers. Make sure your LP rack is sturdy and does not sag.

I clean my felt turntable mat as soon as it looks soiled with sticky tape, which I find is a very good cleaner.

I wait at least 24 hours before playing the same LP again.

I never play an LP with a worn stylus. If I hear unusual distortion I will inspect the stylus to make sure it is free a debris, make sure are the measurements are correct, look at the stylus with my magnifier and play an LP that I know by heart. If it is worn I will cease playing LPs order a replacement stylus and play Reel to Reel tapes and Cassettes until it arrives.

My turntable sets on a very sturdy and heavy 200-lb. furniture stand. It is important to use a good support system for your turntable. Other options are a wall-mounted shelf, a good rack, and/or a rack with a specialty platform such as a Neuance platform.

With the proper care and maintenance your record collection can last for a century or longer. It is a valuable prize you can hand down to your descendants.

Mr. Clean Magic Eraser

This household product gets what my Zerodust cleaner misses. I do a dip or two before final cleaning of my stylus with Zerodust. The Zerodust will remove any residue left on the stylus by the Magic Eraser for safe vinyl play. Magic Eraser will get your stylus looking almost brand new! It is magic indeed! Read everything you ever wanted to know about Magic Eraser from the research of Doug and Paul: STYLUS CLEANING – LIKE MAGIC!