Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Cue Burn

Cue Burn is a little piece of technical jargon used mostly my DJs from before 1980 and record collectors. It's a common find on 45s that spent time in radio station libraries. In most cases it's made evident by a hiss, crackle or fidelity loss in the first few seconds of a single. He's an example:

Cue Burn happens because of the way DJs cue up a record. The Jock drops the needle on the record and then by hand turns the turntable back until the stylus sits just before the start of the song. In this process the stylus is dragged back and forth repeatedly over the very beginning of the track.

The goal here is that the song start instantly, with no gap. When I did this, back in the Triassic period, we used a felt pad on the turntable. This was so that the platter could be spinning, but light finger pressure holding the LP from spinning. As you fade down the prior track, you can just let off the pressure on the felt and it starts spinning at full speed instead of "revving up."

regardless of my personal skill, we all had to cue the record. So we all generated cue burn. The act of turning the record back and forth under the stylus wears that segment of vinyl faster than the rest of the recording. It happens because the needle is a diamond, the hardest substance known to man, and vinyl is designed to be flexible and durable.. not hard.