On many copies the strings are dry, lacking Tubey Magic. This is decidedly not our sound, although it can easily be heard on many London pressings, the kind we’ve played by the hundreds over the years.
If you have a rich sounding cartridge, perhaps with that little dip in the upper midrange that so many moving coils have these days, you will not notice this tonality issue nearly as much as we do.
Our 17D3 is ruler flat and quite unforgiving in this regard.
It makes our shootouts much easier, but brings out the flaws in all but the best pressings, exactly the job we require it to do.
What to Listen For (WTLF)
Listen for the waves of sound in Espana — only the best copies bring out the energy and power of Chabrier’s remarkable orchestration.
The typical pressing of this fairly common London has real issues, the most common ones being a lack of top end and a lack of midrange presence, making the sound darker and more distant than it should be. On the other extreme, many copies lack weight down low, thinning out the sound and washing out the lower strings. We’ve been saving up copies of this title for a while now, and dropping the needle on some of them made us wonder what the hell we saw in this record in the first place.
A Longtime Favorite
This has been a favorite recording of ours here at Better Records for a very long time, since at least the mid-’90s or thereabouts. We’ve mentioned how much we like the sound of Londons with catalog numbers ranging from about 6400 to 6500 or so (which are simply Decca recordings from the mid-’60s), and this one (CS 6438) is one of the best reasons we hold that view.
You get some of the Tubey Magic and golden age sound from Decca’s earlier days, coupled with the clarity and freedom from compression and tube smear of their later period. In other words, this record strikes the perfect sonic balance, retaining qualities from different periods that are normally at odds with each other. Here they work together wonderfully.
Production and Engineering
James Walker was the producer, Roy Wallace the engineer for these sessions from January of 1960 in Geneva’s glorious sounding Victoria Hall. It’s yet another remarkable disc from the Golden Age of Vacuum Tube Recording.
The gorgeous VICTORIA HALL the Suisse Romande recorded in was possibly the best recording venue of its day, possibly of all time; more amazing sounding recordings were made there than any other hall we know of. There is a richness to the sound that exceeds all others, yet clarity and transparency are not sacrificed in the least. It’s as wide, deep and three-dimensional as any, which is of course all to the good, but what makes the sound of these recordings so special is the weight and power of the brass and the timbral accuracy of the instruments in every section.
This is the kind of record that will make you want to take all your heavy vinyl classical pressings and put them in storage. None of them, I repeat not a single one, can ever begin to sound the way this record sounds.
Quality record production is a lost art, and it’s been lost for a very long time.