Sonic Grade: D-
[This is a somewhat out of date commentary from about ten years ago. The last time I played the MoFi pressing mentioned below I found the sound so weirdly colored as to defy understanding. Ten years ago I apparently found it tolerable. More recently I did not. Bottom line: A pox on all their houses.]
Years ago a customer sent me his copy of the Analogue Productions LP (mastered by Hoffman and Gray) in order to carry out a little shootout I had planned among the five copies I could pull together: two MoFi’s, the Fantasy ORC reissue, a blue label original, the AP, and another reissue.
Let’s just say there were no real winners, but there sure were some losers.
My take on the Hoffman version is simply this: it has virtually no trace of TUBEY ANALOG MAGIC. None to speak of anyway. It sounds like a clean, tonally correct but fairly bass-shy CD. No pressing I played managed to be so tonally correct and so boring at the same time. The MoFi has plenty of weird EQ colorations, the kind that bug the hell out of me on 98% of their crappy catalog, but at least it sounds like analog. It’s warm, rich and sweet. The AP copy has none of those qualities.
More pointless 180g sound, to my ear anyway. I couldn’t sit through it with a gun to my head.
It’s shocking how bad most of the original blue label pressings are. No top, no bass and hard mids, not a recipe for audiophile happiness.
You would need a LOT of vintage tubes in your system to get the AP record to sound right, and then everything else in your collection would sound wrong.