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Ron user not visiting Queenzone.com

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Posted: 26 Oct 04, 15:27 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

(as requested, see the topic about Queen II)

"..... but back in 1971/72, one of the easiest methods was to make a quick disc of the evenings work onto a "reference acetate", a thin metal disc covered in a thin coating of shellac plastic. They look like "real" 7"/10"/12" singles (or even LP's) but slightly thicker. Infact they are very fragile - and can be played only a few times."

which is a nice description by John about what an acetate is.
It looks like a record, it smells funny (different), feels cold (due to the metal) and is fragily (well it looks like that).

Since making a normal vinyl copy takes some time and is expensive (four steps are needed: positive original, negative metal matrix, positive mother, negative stamper) bands used to make an acetate, since this is the first step of creating a vinyl copy.
Usually when a band made some recordings and wanted to have a copy they could tape it or put it on an acetate. It's therefore possible that different versions of songs can appear on these discs or even unreleased ones. Nowadays cd-r's are probably being used, but there are however no cd-r acetates (like some people say on eBay).
Play an acetate a few times and the sound will definitly start to decrease in quality. It's therefore always wise to record the song on an other medium to keep the acetate in a good shape.

Dunnu if there is more to say about it. Just ask :)

Oh.. the proper name of an acetate record is actually a lacquer.


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John S Stuart user not visiting Queenzone.com
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Posted: 26 Oct 04, 19:14 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

"Oh.. the proper name for an acetate record is actually a lacquer".

Well, well, well. In all my born days... I never knew that Ron, I never did.

See we all learn something new everyday, and we all learn it here on Queenzone first!



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Wilki Amieva user not visiting Queenzone.com
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Posted: 26 Oct 04, 20:19 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

...So this post is about lacquer discs - not acetates ;-).

You know, the first commercial discs were all lacquers. They might have not survived as such, but they are still alive in the way we talk about recordings...

As the lacquer provided poor audio definition, those discs were recorded at high speed: 78 r.p.m, thus dramatically stretching the efective playing time. Also because of the fragile condition of the material, most of the discs were not bigger than 10'' (to avoid bending - being the lacquer rigid, if the metal plate where it was poured was bended, the lacquer got cracked and lost) and some of the pressings were one sided (so the recorded side never faced the player plate, where it could be exposed to friction). So the labels used to market the recordings in albums containing various discs each. That is why we call 'album' a collection of tracks.

During the WWII a lot of research was made to find light and resistant materials, and some recently discovered petroleum derivatives proved to be highly versatile. When the war ended, some of those new materials were made available to the civil industries. So in 1948 a new kind of disc saw the light of day. This new disc had great definition, was also more resistant and had some flexibility - thus allowing more recording time. The 'long play' was born, and so was the term.

By the way, 'real' acetates, commercially known as 'flexi-discs', are created quite in the same way as vinyl discs, but they can be cut directly from a special non-metallic matrix which is less durable but cheaper to make than the whole vinyl manufacturing process described above by Ron. This compromise was acceptable for small budget and/or limited issues (Fan clubs and magazines were top users of this technology - and we have QUEEN-related examples). Furthermore, some labels used to cut acetates as test pressings prior to start the proper vinyl production. That is how inhouse acetates got mixed with in-studio lacquers ...and then with CD-Rs - nowadays the term 'acetate' is widely used to refer to any kind of test pressing which might contain or might not contain exclusive recordings.

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Posted: 27 Oct 04, 13:56 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

thanks Wilki

"Well, well, well. In all my born days... I never knew that Ron, I never did."

Nice :) So for a moment I knew something that you didn't know ;)


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Pim Derks user not visiting Queenzone.com

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Posted: 27 Oct 04, 16:04 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Ah - another acetate expert. You've got a rare Silver Salmon-cd acetate, right?

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Posted: 27 Oct 04, 16:48 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Pim Derks wrote:

Ah - another acetate expert. You've got a rare Silver Salmon-cd acetate, right?


I think he's the same guy who also got these very rare Milton Keynes '82 DVD Promo CD-R acetates.


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Wilki Amieva user not visiting Queenzone.com
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Posted: 27 Oct 04, 18:33 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Yes, that is true. Most 78 r.p.m. recordings were made of bakelite, were two-sided and had no metal plate. But the post was about lacquer discs, not bakelite ones so I deliberally ommited that part. Perhaps I should have included that information, as then I commented vinyl and acetates, albeit I was discussing the terminology rather than the discs.

I am no acetate expert, although I am fortunate enough to have some BEATLES lacquers. My connection with such kind of discs was more than anything a professional one, as I was hired several times to restore and transfer some unique Jazz pieces and family recordings. I do have some QUEEN-related tapes, DATs and CD-Rs from Abbey Road and Chop 'Em Out, though.

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Posted: 28 Oct 04, 23:51 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

In that particular matter (bakelite discs being older than lacquers) I stand corrected. I have always believed that lacquers were more primitive, as their technology is somewhat similar to late Edison cylinders. Thanks for that nice piece of information!