Stan Ricker, GRHS

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Stan Ricker, GRHS

Post by Fonotec » 17 Jul 2015, 11:22

Vinyl has lost another great cutting engineer, Stan Ricker, who has now gone to his Reward. He cut many audiophile records and is best known for his 1/3-, and 1/2-, speed cuts. By playing the dub master through the console at slow speed and cutting the grooves while the turntable goes only a fraction of its target angular velocity (e.g., 16+2/3, instead of 33+1/3, rpm), the normal-speed playback of the resulting grooves can sound closer to the full-speed playback of the dub master (tape), since there is a reduction in cutting-related delay to the rise times of excursions. Fractional speed cutting also allows for hotter treble signals to be cut without endangering the drive coils, since all such signals are cut at a fraction of their normal number of cycles per second. Although most cutting heads can already easily cut a groove with treble frequency modulation that is too fast for a pickup stylus to trace, audible gains are nevertheless achieved in the the midrange frequency groove undulations that are cut in slow-motion.

Stan told me that he once paired an interesting combination of the Ortofon DSS732 (rocking bridge) cutting head with a couple of Pass Labs monoblock amps. He also told me that his best sound was using the Neumann SX-74 cutting head being driven by a pair of Ortofon GO741 amps. His tech made the custom impedance-matching circuit to mate the 90-degree torque tube-deflecting stereo cutter's 4 Ohm coils to the amps that were originally designed for stereo cutting heads with vertical mounted rocking-bridge 8 Ohm coils, plus the fine-tuning of the DC resistance-measuring Safety Circuit that needed to open the mercury-wetted reed relay contacts at about half its normal peak resistance (~17 Ohms) to avoid overheating the coil glue.

Mr. Ricker played double bass and tuba and also had a degree in Music Education. The vinyl champion will be missed by many in the record business. His cutting discography includes Dark Side of the Moon for Mobile Fidelity, Frank Zapps's Joe's Garage, and Wilco's Sky Blue Sky, among many others.
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