The return of an old favourite LRS002 in its new guise as LRCD001.
G'day. We've finally been able to digitize the master tape for the first 12in LP we released in 1974. The recordings of NSWGR Steam's last years were made in the period 1970 - 1973.
You will hear :-
-: all in "You'll think you're there!" Stereophonic Sound.
- Home grown green streamliner 4-6-2 3801 pounding up Spaniards Hill on its way south.
- American built 2-8-2 5910 working hard up to Tickhole Tunnel, crossing a 2-8-0 standard goods for good measure.
- British built Garratt 4-8-4+4-8-4 6009 working a coalie through the Australian bush to Wangi power station.
- " " " 4-8-4+4-8-4 6009 loading coal wagons at Newstan Colliery.
- " " " 4-8-4+4-8-4 + 4-8-4+4-8-4 6039 and 6009 working a 1200 ton coalie up Fassifern Bank.
- British Built 4-6-4 tank engine 3046 puffing sedately up Fassifern Bank on a Newcastle commuter train.
- Aussie built 4-6-0 3526 storming out of Strathfield station on its way to Sydney's Central Station.
- British built 4-6-0 3246 on the only steam-hauled passenger train still in service on the NSWGR.
- Aussie built 2-8-0 5353 pulling a wooden 4 wheel coalie up Thornton Bank.
- Aussie built old timer 0-6-0 1948 shunting in Sydney's Darling Harbour goods yard.
- American built 2-8-2 5915 hauling a heavy freight up the 1 in 44 'S' shaped climb called Hawkmount.
- Home grown 4-6-2 3820 flying up the same grade on what else but the "Newcastle Flyer". Just listen to that 38 go.
- The last built Garratt 6042 starting a long passenger train, from a standing start, half-way up Cowan Bank.
We have kept any digital processing of the audio tapes to an absolute minimum so as to give you every thing that was recorded as unadulterated as possible. The original recordings were made on a Uher 4400 Report stereo tape recorder (alas long since succumbed to a diet of too much coaldust), which was the (mono) machine favoured by most Radio-Stations of the day (only the Nagra, used by film companies, was better). Its signal-to-noise ratio was rather limited by todays standard at -56 dB. Todays digital recorders are around -90 dB. In order to get the approx 100 dB of dynamic range of steam-trains actually recorded on the tape, the record levels were adjusted, as carefully as possible, at the time of the original recordings. All possible effort was made to keep the original shape of the dynamic change in audio levels as the Steam-Locos passed. You will probably hear some low level hiss throughout the recording as -56 dB is nowhere as quiet as the -90 dB of digitally recorded CDs.
Our old ears believe the CD sounds better when listened-to on 1970s earphones or speakers as their frequency response is more in keeping with what's actually recorded. The Uher dynamic mics rolled off at 14kc and the recorder itself rolled off a bit above 16kc, so you can see that using 25kc headphones will not put back what is not there and will only let you hear more of the hiss. Similarly, the distortion of the recorder was approx 0.7% - 1% (2% on peaks) while the 1970s headphones and loudspeakers were around 4%. Nowadays, good quality headphones are around 0.5% so you can see, once again, that new technology headphones will only let you hear more of what is wrong with the recordings.
As everyone hears things differently, you can probably take what we just said with a grain of salt. However, if you only have modern equipment, then judicious use of the treble-cut control or a graphic equaliser will sweeten the sound to your hearts desire.
Given all the above, we still think the sound recorded is pretty faithful to the original and it's probably a miracle that it is, given the tapes are now 30 years old.
So put on your 'phones, switch off the lights, switch on your imagination and be transported back 30 years to the time of Steam-Power.
LRCD001 is available from Firebox Recordings
© Gary Yates Locofonic Recordings Australia
This page first written 6-11-2002 last updated 28-9-2005.