RCA Victor records' quality

I just bought three old records, I guess all the way from the mid and late 1950s. They each sound very harsh and "shrieky". I wonder if it's the way they were meant to sound? The records themselves are in great shape.


Should I rely on tone controls or is it how music was produced and published back then? Namely Elvis' first few albums?


No, it is not "how music was produced back then".  Vintage RCAs can be fine.  Much depends upon the recording studio, and the conditions set by the engineer that day, and who owned those LPs before you, and how they were treated. One can never know.  Also, the master tapes may also have been used to produce 45 rpm singles, which often don't translate well in modern high quality systems.

RCA Victor is the budget RCA label.  RCA IN LIVING STEREO recordings are the only good RCA recordings, which are mostly late 1950’s and very early 1960’s, as in the early 1960’s RCA went budget with their pressings, and used poor quality materials and engineering.  You can try buying Japanese RCA pressings of the later recordings, which are quite a bit better.

@drbond 1+

Early rock and blues where not taken seriously and given short shrift in the quality department. Kids bought mostly 45s. Classical and some jazz were given much more attention in terms of quality. The early stereo mixes of rock recordings could be comical if it was not so sad. Stuff like all the instruments on the right and vocals on the left were not uncommon. The production of rock and blues records was not taken as seriously either. My Dad's classical RCA Red Labels were pristine but The early Jefferson Airplane RCAs were terrible in all regards. In time recording of modern music improved but the quality of popular music pressings did not. They were never as good as the European classical records or older RCAs. In the mean while American Classical deteriorated. London pressings were never as good as Decca, same company. 

thank you guys @drbond @mijostyn , I noticed significant differences between the same albums from different labels but never such a unique and annoying sound as RCA Victor. Instruments just sound like throwing forks together. I somehow thought old and major label meant decent quality as they didn't yet know how to screw it up

you might try cleaning them......RCA's sound good, even excellent to me....Mancini's Peter Gun, Bob and Ray Throw a Stereo Spectacular, etc.

You say the LPs are in great shape.  I assume you mean they look good on the surface.  I've purchased many LPs that are 50+ years old and looked like they had never been played.  Only to find they sounded terrible,  Even after Ultra Sonic cleaning.  I think somtimes they are just worn out, even though they look great to the naked eye.  It's a gamble with any LP that old.  IMHO.


That might be newer DGG, but the older stuff is fine to incredible although not quite up there with EMI. I do not have any experience with Roulette. I'm not that old:-)

1+ @bigtwin 

My experience buying used records was awful. I have not purchased a used record for over 20 years and won't even look at them any more. Either I was extremely unlucky or my definition of a satisfactory record is different than others. 

Mijostyn, if you’re buying LPs in the here and now, and if you like Count Basie, Sarah Vaughn, Joe Williams, and etc, you don’t have to be old to buy LPs on the Roulette label. Thankfully, most of those great jazz artists also recorded on other labels, like RCA.