One of the more popular and readily available Early ISKCON Records is the India LP by Acyutananda Swami released on the Radha Krsna Productions label. I’ve been spending much of my free time recording the vinyl to digital wav files and then cleaning them up via a program called Gnome Wave Cleaner.
However, the new mystery about this album was discovered just recently as I was cleaning it up.
I take very good care of my records. Prior to ripping them to digital, I bathe them, allow them to dry and then dust them. This removes fingerprints, dirt, dust and static. With the exception of larger scratches in the vinyl (if they exist), my records sound like new.
But this one didn’t. This one had crackles the whole way through it. Crackles are caused by static and dust (as opposed to scratches which are caused by damage to the record itself). This record was static and dust free, so there should be zero crackling.
This really puzzled me and right as I was about to reclean the record, it dawned on me. This pressing wasn’t recorded from its master tapes, but from the first pressing of the same record.
Basically, the first pressing of the India LP was recorded from the original master tapes. When it came time for a subsequent pressing, the master tapes were not available for some reason. In order to make another pressing, they had to find a copy of the first pressing and use that as the source – crackles, pops and all.
You can actually hear crackles and pops where no dust or scratches can be seen. Also, the right channel is pretty muddy and most of the crackles live there.
Additionally, I thought I had recorded this record’s volume too high. I was getting distortion at the louder parts (called “clipping”). But no, my levels were just fine. When this record was recorded from the original pressing, whoever did it didn’t bother to check the levels, so there’s a bit of clipping here and there. My next job is to somehow fix that a bit. We’ll see how I do.
Usually when you rip a record to digital you try to make it sound as close to the original as possible. In this case, my digital rip sounds better. The crackles are gone and hopefully some of the clipping will be gone. It’s almost as good as the original pressing must have sounded.
Early ISKCON Records are confusing. How and when they were recorded, cataloged, released and distributed are all nearly impossible to understand. The India LP adds a level of surrealism to that confusion.
More on all of this in a few days – including the download!