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Robert’s Disc Progress Report

Posted by peahix on February 13th, 2009

We’ve had great success with the Radioaktivox release, and since we have been getting requests for more Optigan and Orchestron offerings, we thought we’d take time to explain what it is we do in regards to disc production.

One of the most important things we bring to the table is a reliable method of converting wave files to a digital file format that can be read into a high resolution photoplotter. We also have access to what remain of the original session tapes for the Optigan and Orchestron.

What we currently are not pursuing is a system of copying original discs using reprographic techniques. Others have tried this with varying success. We support the efforts of the Optigan/Orchestron community to continue to search for reliable ways to do this. However, the skill set and resources we offer are audio production, file conversion, and digital disc fabrication, not the ability to photocopy discs. Eventually we may look into extracting audio from original discs, especially from rarities like those made for the Chilton Talentmaker where the original source tapes are lost, but this will be a side project and much more in the spirit of research than development.

With this in mind, we believe we can offer something of value to community. We can release previously unreleased Optigan and Orchestron material, we can create new discs using new source material, and we can even do special projects for individuals who want discs made from their own sounds. We can do all this with tools that were not available at the time when the Optigan/Orchestron were being produced. We also can do a smoother job of joining the loop seams and controlling other audio parameters while remaining true to the spirit of the Optigan/Orchestron.

Some of the earliest discs for the Optigan were made from sections that were cut with a knife out the master tapes. We still have the parts that remain, but the sections that were cut are gone forever. If we were ever inclined to release some of the earliest titles, our discs would sound different than the originals because we don’t have access to the exact loops that were used. This is not necessarily bad news since some of the lost sections were originally picked for ease of looping with the limited tools they had, and not due to the quality of the performance. Because purists will notice a difference and since the early discs are not especially rare, we have no plans to rerelease those discs. We welcome the community’s feedback on this.

We are now in the process of remastering the original Orchestron discs. We are discovering that this requires a more thoughtful effort than the Radioaktivox disc. This is because the Orchestron is more sensitive to crosstalk and noise than the Optigan. Like the early Optigan discs, we are concerned about pleasing the purists, but we realize there are limitations. There is no feasible way to exactly duplicate the original loop points. Also, we don’t want to arbitrarily introduce flaws or forced errors by recreating glitches at the loop points. Instead we’ll endeavor to bring the richness of the original performance to the discs without introducing the flaws. We believe this is what Mike LeDoux would have wanted, and we are operating as if he was in the room directing our efforts.

As always, we look to the Optigan/Orchestron community for feedback and support. If it weren’t for all of you we would never have attempted this project. We always welcome your comments, and we actively discuss your remarks amongst ourselves. So please, if you’ve purchased a Radioaktivox disc, let us know your thoughts, good or bad.

2 Responses to “Robert’s Disc Progress Report”

  1. Luke Says:

    Hi Pea, this is great news about the new Optigan discs. I had no idea that you were working on this. I would love to pick up a couple of the new discs only if I still had my Optigan :(

    My question is how did you go about pressing the new discs and especially the part about getting the center hole precise? Remember we were trying to duplicate the original discs and everything was fine except getting the center hole punched out precisely.

    A detailed description of the software and process that you used to do this would make good reading on your website. I still have a couple of those prototype discs that we did with the updated art work on the discs. Did you ever show those to anyone?

    Luke P

  2. peahix Says:

    hi luke! robert can best answer your queries, so i’ll leave it up to him how much he’d like to divulge about his process, above and beyond what he’s already written about here. suffice it to say that there’s plenty of “secret sauce” involved.

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