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Article from Making Music, June 1987

at five


Record companies see Japan's new Digital Audio Tape (DAT) recorders as an invitation to make top-quality — and illegal — copies of their copyright material. So some of them are now withholding their material for use as DAT software until some technical form of copy-prevention is adopted.

The copy-prevention method that the record companies are favouring is the Copycode system, invented by CBS Records Technology Centre in the USA. This works by intermittently removing a 'notch' from the recorded sound spectrum, at 3.838kHz, which equipped DAT players will recognise. CBS say in their literature that this notch is designed "to fall between the fundamentals, overtones or harmonics of notes on the musical scale. It is effectively inaudible and does not affect the quality of the music". David Stebbings of CBS says, "We have made extensive trials of the (Copycode) system both in studios and the laboratory."

Early in May, a British record company trade organisation, the IFPI, held two listening sessions on consecutive days to demonstrate the Copycode system. Most people attending were record company personnel — the IFPI could tell us of no musicians or rock engineers present. So we spoke to freelance technical journalist Barry Fox, present on both days.

Mr Fox described much of the audience on day one, at London's Mayfair Hotel, as "already committed to Copycode — they would applaud any criticism of DAT". Mr Fox asked at the meeting for one test to prove Copycode's claimed inaudibility: to record each note from middle C to top C on a piano, and to play back each note with and without Copycode. This would prove a suitably scientific yet instantly quantifiable means of proving the CBS claims, he suggested. They said no, they were unprepared.

The next day at Abbey Road studios Mr Fox raised the matter again; this time the CBS representatives presented a similar test based on the top four notes of the studio's piano. "The effect of the notch was clearly audible to many people," Mr Fox told Making Music. "Having started by saying that Copycode is inaudible, by the end of the day CBS were saying things like the Copycode could be switched in and out during a recording, or that artists could refuse to have it if it bothered them."

We have heard of one record company which is already committed to Copycode. EMI's chairman and chief executive Bhaskar Menon says in an April-dated statement: "EMI Music will very shortly commence encoding our recordings released on CD."

Barry Fox: "It's the same old story that we had in the past with the CBS quadrophonic system and their CX noise reduction system. Whenever there are criticisms they say well, of course we're changing the parameters, this is not the final version." Well, is it7


As we go to press, plans are well underway for this year's British Music Fair (BMF), the major exhibition of musical instruments and gear to be held at the end of July at London's Olympia halls.

The wild and raving public will be admitted to the show from Friday 31 July to Sunday 2 August, from 10am to 7pm on each day, and the adults amongst us will have to pay £3.50 for the privilege. Under-14 persons get away with £1.75, while members of the MU with a card will get in for £2.50.

Last year, 26,000 of us went to the BMF; this year the organisers expect 30,000 or more, but promise more pleasant and less crowded surroundings. They tell us that there is 50% more stand space than last year, but that they've incorporated part of the National Hall as well as Olympia 2.

The ground floor will be the main hangout for group types, not least because Making Music's stand will be N86, on the ground floor of the National Hall. Save the first dance for us. Also around these parts will be a massive Yamaha gathering, the biggest single stand of the exhibition, and there's even the possibility that one company will be operating a revolving stage. Hang on to your best bits.

Over the road from Olympia at the Hand & Flower hotel, distributors Dixie's Music and Scott-Cooper Marketing will team up to present what they call the Guitar Extravaganza, open to the public on the same days as the BMF. On show will be gear from the likes of Kramer, Jaydee, Hamer, Dobro, Floyd Rose, Groove Tubes, Gallien-Krueger, Acoustic, Rockman, Polytone, E-Bow, and Nadine. More details from us on both shows nearer the time.


See those smashed up apologies for mikes (right)? Well, we knew these Lemmy chaps were rather vicious, but... well! H W International, who distribute US-made Shure mikes in the UK, say they've "rarely seen" a Shure in such a state. "The SM58 looks almost pristine in comparison," remarked a shocked spokesperson. Making Music offers a very special prize for a photo of a worse-off mike. Get to it...

On the subject of mikes, we'd draw your attention to Electro-Voice's new N/Dym mikes, priced between £120 and £300. Electro-Voice developed a new magnetic material called N/Dym, a neodymium-based alloy, and say this allows them to use a smaller magnet and magnetic circuitry than normal mikes, and consequently a larger voice coil and diaphragm. This, they promise, means "distinct performance advantages"...

Distinct wallcovering advantages are offered from Premier, who will let you have their poster featuring drummers in Saxon, Eurythmics, Status Quo, Twisted Sister and more, for the cost of an A4 SAE. The poster has Premier's 1987 catalogue on the back, which is right handy. Write to Premier Percussion Ltd, (Contact Details), and mention Making Music.


New York based Steinberger Guitars, whose big thing has always been tiny, tiny bodies, have collaborated with a British musician and guitar-maker to design their first guitar with a traditional body shape. Released this month, the GM1TA's body was designed by Mike Rutherford of Genesis and Roger Giffin of Giffin Guitars. "Mike Rutherford invited me up to one of his shows to check out the new body," company president Ned Steinberger told us. "Top musicians around the world have been asking me for the Transtrem on a full body style, so in one glance I knew we had a winner." The GM1TA features Steinberger's Transtrem system, and US price is (aghhh!) $1375...

Peavey have launched a new £255 bass pre-amp, the Probass 1000, featuring pre-and post-gain, nine-band graphic, two effect loops, twin direct outs, and headphone monitor (with facility for monitoring click track or similar additional input)...

Picato have released sets of strings in Ritchie Blackmore's favoured gauges (010, 011, 014, 026, 038, 048), the RB010 set (stainless steel £3.49) and the RB77 set (nickel, £3.89). They've also got some new "reverse roundwound" bass strings called Pro Bass and selling for about £13 (£16 for double ball-end and five-string sets).

Fish, Mark Kelly and Steve Rothery looking sombre at the prospect of Marillion playing Wembley Arena on November 3rd and 4th, Edinburgh Playhouse on December 17th-19th, and Birmingham NEC on December 21st and 22nd.


News of two talent contests reaches us this month. First, Yamaha want to find the best amateur band in the world. And they mean the world. The British final will be held at Olympia during this year's British Music Fair (see story above). Prizes for the British winners include an all-expenses paid trip to Japan to compete in the world final at the famous Budokan Hall, Tokyo, along with studio time and musical equipment. Any amateur band with between three and eight members can take part, 'amateur' defined as 'not having a current recording contract'. You'll need to provide a cassette with a single piece up to five minutes long, and be able to play live at the final. Look out for entry forms in the press — closing date is 1 July...

When we heard that the 'Head To Head Challenge' offered not just a Red Bus contract for one single, publishing by Blue Mountain Music, and £1000 for the winning artist/group, but a parallel contest to find "the most outrageous hairstyles" we felt that, well, these people are not too serious. Still, those are good prizes. Then we noticed the contest is sponsored by Wella, who apparently make chemicals to chuck on your bonce. Still interested groups should write for an entry form to Challow Handling, (Contact Details). Closing date is 31 August.

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Publisher: Making Music - Track Record Publishing Ltd, Nexus Media Ltd.

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Making Music - Jun 1987


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