Listening in Depth to Pink Floyd – Wish You Were Here

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Listening in Depth

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For those of you who aren’t familiar with the album, Pink Floyd managed to record one of the most amazing sounding records in the history of rock music. The song Wish You Were Here starts out with radio noise and other sound effects, then suddenly an acoustic guitar appears, floating in the middle of your living room between the speakers, clear as a bell and as real as you have ever heard. It’s obviously an “effect,” but for us audiophiles it’s pure ear candy.

In-Depth Track Commentary

Side One

Shine on You Crazy Diamond, Pts. 1-5

Right from the dynamic intro you can tell this is going to be a wild ride. David Gilmour’s haunting guitar line that comes cutting from out of the abyss should be warm with tons of room for his phasers to do their phasing.

After the band comes in and the vocals begin (listen for the man chuckling in the left channel) you should pay attention to the balance of the mix. Most copies tend to be very midrangy which can make the guitars aggressive and harsh, often times taking emphasis away from the vocals. The good copies have lots of transparency and allow everything to sit in their respectively places. This is probably most noticeable during the saxophone solo.

The tenor that starts off this section needs to be breathy, full-bodied, and sitting delicately in the center of your speakers. It does NOT need be be honky and hard sounding without any top extension. As the solo slowly crescendos, notice the guitar line spread across the soundstage that actually bookends the saxophone. The more dynamic copies really let you hear the intricacy and delicacy of his picking that foreshadows the time signature shift about to come.

When the time does change to 6/4, the saxophone player switches to alto, totally changing the sound of the solo! You can clearly hear on the better copies that he is further away from the mike than during the previous section, but if you listen closely, it sounds as though he is moving on and off axis. Whether this is part of his mike technique or him just dancin’ and groovin’ to the music, we may never know. I certainly hope for the latter.

Welcome to the Machine

Side Two

Have a Cigar
Wish You Were Here
Shine on You Crazy Diamond, Pts. 6-9