By day, Stan Ricker is the head buyer for the Telemetry Department at the Naval Air Warfare Center at China Lake. By night, he is Stan Ricker Mastering in Ridgecrest, California. Stan specializes in less-than-real-time disk mastering from analog tape, DAT, CD and CDR sources onto 7 or 12 inch, 33 1/3 or 45 rpm LPs. Though his mastering skills were self taught, Stan is known for his development of the half speed mastering process and his part in the creation of the 200g UHQR (Ultra High Quality Recording). A few of the LP labels Stan has mastered include: AcousTech Mastering, Analogue Productions, Stereophile, Windham Hill, Telarc, Delos, Reference Recordings, Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab, and Crystal Clear. All this skill and experience is brought into focus by Stans love of music. His earliest memories center around music. He began playing musical instruments very young. He obtained a Bachelors Degree in Music Education from Kansas University, hes been a band leader and orchestra conductor, loves pipe organs and theories for tuning pipes, and to this day, bows and plucks the string bass and plays a mean tuba.
This frequency sweep and burn-in record is a unique tuning tool for system set-up, diagnostics and maintenance. It was produced by George Cardas and mastered by Stan Ricker. The Sweeper includes relative and absolute polarity checks, vocal channel identification and frequency sweeps that ultrasonically clean the cartridge stylus and degauss the entire system. Also, locked, white noise grooves that repeat endlessly, blank plateaus, even a sync label to check platter speed. This is a 180 gram pressing. Stan mastered it on a Neuman VMS 66 lathe with a Helium cooled, Neuman SX-74 cutter head. A Sontec Compudisk computer controller, and a Technics 5-speed direct drive motor were used. Keith O. Johnson designed the console and cutter head electronics.
A note on polarity:
The first burn-in section consists of voice announcements by George Cardas from the left, right and both channels. This is lateral modulation (mono, in phase). The tracks denoted "In polarity" feature George speaking into the front side of a Sennheiser MKH-20 condenser microphone which is figure-8 pattern only. The tracks denoted "Out of polarity", have George speaking into the back side of the same microphone. This microphone consists of a very thin (about 5 microns) Mylar diaphragm, suspended equidistant between two charged grids. This grid-diaphragm system is completely symmetrical, front-to-back, in terms of sensitivity, frequency response and polar response (the amount of high-frequency roll-off exhibited as the sound source moves increasingly off-axis to the plane of the diaphragm). The only difference between the signals derived from in-front-of vs. in-back-of the microphone is the absolute polarity. In microphones, electromechanically, positive polarity is defined as a positive pressure. For example, the "p" sound in polarity, causes the microphone diaphragm to move away from the sound source and rearward in the diaphragm-grid assembly. Further more, this rearward movement must produce a positive voltage at the designated (+) pin of the output connector. When George says "polarity" into the back side of the mic the diaphragm moves away from him. The diaphragm is moving towards the front of the capsule however, causing a negative (-) voltage to appear at the (+) pin , which is supposed to show positive (+) voltage. On a spoken voice, the effect of negative polarity is often subtle. On a singing voice, the effect becomes rather more evident. Wind instruments of the brass family (un-muted), produce a saw-tooth wave and the effect can be disastrous. It sounds worst on horn-loaded loudspeaker systems of high quality. Reverse polarity on a trumpet waveform means the loudspeaker diaphragm is moving rearward, away from the bell, or mouth of the horn and gives the effect of sucking on the trumpet mouthpiece, a near-impossibility. With bowed strings, from violin down to double-bass, especially when played solo, polarity makes it easy to discern the down-bows (positive polarity) from the up-bows (negative-going waveforms). If the polarity is reversed, the pairs of auditory cues become "cross-multiplied", causing an uncomfortable reaction in the listener, as the new pairs of cues simply do not exist in real life. By making the polarity correct, the pairs of cues line up, and everybody marvels at how "focused" the sound has suddenly become! Negative polarity with percussion instruments can cause snare drums to seem to lose their leading-edge transients and therefore, their clarity. Cymbals struck with sticks lose the instant of drumstick tip impinging on the brass of the cymbal. This causes the listener to try to boost the top end to a more forward sound. But alas, the next recording may have too much high end! Imagine a kick drum or a bass drum causing your woofers to recede or move away from you at the moment of impact!
1/2 Speed Mastering by Stan Ricker
Side 1: 33 1/3rpm - Side 2: 45rpm
Sweeper - 45 rpm:
Note: This is three cuts, interleaved with smooth sections, to be played at 45 rpm.
Track 1. Short Sweeps, short version (52 seconds)
Track 2. Short Sweeps, long version (4 minutes 46 seconds)
Track 3. Ive Got a Feeling Im Falling Artists: Tom Loncaric Band. Music Thomas Waller and Harry Link. Publisher: Ann Rachel Music. (2 minutes 29 seconds)
Track 4. 1K tone
Lead-out spiral and final tie-off
Burn-In - 33 1/3 rpm:
Note: Burn-in is mastered at two different speeds and designed to be played at 33 1/3 rpm. The first section, from the outside edge to the lock-out groove (the stylus will stay in the groove until lifted out), is mastered at 16 2/3 rpm. Tracks 2, 3 and 4 are mastered at 22 1/2 rpm.
Track 1a. Voice announcement by George Cardas, "Greetings from the left channel"
Track 1b. Voice announcement by George Cardas, "From the right channel"
Track 1c. Voice announcement by George Cardas, "From both channels"
Note: This is lateral modulation (mono, in phase).
Track 1d. "In polarity" Both channels in positive polarity
Track 1e. "Out of polarity" Both channels in reversed or negative polarity
Track 1f. 13 strikes on a high "B-flat" on a piano
Note: The last of the 3 strings are brought into zero-beat, dead-on tuning. Listen for the impact of hammer on string, quickly followed by room reflections mingling with one another, followed by a keener sense of the piano sound itself, as the ring-out time of the string exceeds that of the reverb time of the room.
Track 1g. Hollow sticks, of various lengths and diameters, being struck, one on another.
Note: It is recorded in a very reverberant, spacious environment. The spatial, impact and directional cues will not sound correct if the polarity is wrong.
Note: The remainder of this side is cut at 22.5 rpm and consists of three wide bands of pink noise, separated by two blank, 1/2 inch wide plateaus. The plateaus are protected by two blank grooves on each side, to keep the stylus from sliding into the pink noise. The three wide bands are groups of individually locked grooves of mono pink noise, recorded at "0" dB, relative to NAB standard level. These are continuous grooves and the stylus will stay in a groove until it is lifted out. This 180 gram pressing is made of specially formulated hard vinyl.
Track 2. 20 locked grooves, lateral modulation (mono)
1/2 wide, unmodulated plateau
Track 3. 32 locked grooves, vertical modulation (out-of phase)
1/2 wide, unmodulated plateau
Track 4. 20 locked grooves, lateral modulation (mono)
Track 5. 26 unmodulated grooves
Note: These unmodulated grooves facilitate electro-forming (matrix) operations and help vinyl flow in the record press, for a quieter, flatter disk.
Lead-out spiral and final tie-off