If you’re looking for quiet vinyl and good sound on this title I don’t think we will have anything for you for the foreseeable future. But of course you never know, we could luck into some killer copies on any one of our regular record hunting days. It’s pure luck to find any early stereo copy in good shape, let alone one that has the right stampers, the right sound and good surfaces. Each of our last two shootouts took us five years to make happen if that tells you anything.
This Reprise Tri-Color stereo pressing has killer Hot Stamper sound on both sides, which means it came out on top in our recent shootout, only the second we’ve done since 2006 (!).
Folks, when we say that clean, good sounding Sinatra records are hard to come by, we are not kidding. It took us five years to find enough copies of this title to do a proper shootout. In that time an awful lot of bad LPs passed passed through our hands: the monos (never heard a good one), the reissues (ditto), imports, and, most commonly, original stereo pressings in groove-damaged condition.
People loved Sinatra and played his records until the grooves were worn smooth.
This album ranks right up there with the best of the Reprise era musically; recorded in 1963, Sinatra was still in his prime.
For audiophiles, the amount of effort that went into the recording, effort that actually paid off, is what will impress the most about The Concert Sinatra. The 73 musicians you see stretched out across the soundstage at Samuel Goldwyn Studios behind Sinatra will give you some idea of the size and scope of the sound. With 24 mics feeding 8 tracks of 35MM recording film, this was the sonic equivalent of Gone With the Wind. No expense or effort was spared.
Fortunately for those of us who are still playing records forty-odd years on, this special project took place before the advent of the transistor, which means that all the Tubey Magic of the singer and his all-encompassing orchestra was captured on the “tape”.
Ah, but how much of that sound made it to the record itself, that’s always the rub with records isn’t it?
In this case, plenty. There may be just the slightest touch of smear (most easily heard on the strings) but the sound is so RICH and Tubey Magical that you will barely be aware it. Your attention should instead be focused on the superb feel the man has for this music.
One thing to pay special attention to, especially if you have other copies of the album, is that Sinatra’s voice on both sides of this pressing always sounds natural even at its loudest. There is no strain or hardness. That, among many other things, is what separates the best copies from the also-rans (and, of course, all the reissues, which tend to have gritty, harsh vocals which quickly get unbearably edgy in the louder parts).
So rich and full-bodied and NATURAL that you will have a hard time finding any other copy that can hold a candle to it.
Half-Speed Mastered Heavy Vinyl
Mobile Fidelity has remastered this title as part of their Sinatra series. If you like the sound of the records they’re making these days you might want to check it out. It will certainly cost you a lot less than ours will.
Mint Minus Minus and maybe a bit worse in this case is about as quiet as any vintage pressing will play, and since only the right vintage pressings have any hope of sounding good on this album, that will most often be the playing condition of the copies we sell.
Those of you looking for quiet vinyl will have to settle for the sound of later pressings and Heavy Vinyl reissues, purchased elsewhere of course as we have no interest in selling records that don’t have the vintage analog magic of these wonderful originals.
If you want to make the trade-off between bad sound and quiet surfaces with whatever Heavy Vinyl pressing might be available, well, that’s certainly your prerogative, but we can’t imagine losing what’s good about this music — the size, the energy, the presence, the clarity, the weight — just to hear it with less background noise.