Esquivel and Other Vintage Recordings – What to Listen For

More Esquivel and Other Vintage Recordings

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Another in our series of Home Audio Exercises with advice on What to Listen For (WTLF) as you critically evaluate your vintage ’50s and ’60s All Tube recordings.

Folks, I can tell you right now most original LSP pressings, of this or any other Living Stereo Popular title, do not begin to recreate the Studio Wizardry found on this album. The sound rivals the best Chet Atkins albums and Bob and Rays in all their delicious three-dimensional Cinerama staging. 

Top end extension is critical to the sound of the best copies. Lots of old records (and new ones) have no real top end; consequently the studio or stage will be missing much of its natural air and space, and instruments will lack their full complement of harmonic information.

Tube smear is common to most pressings from the ’50s and ’60s and this is no exception. The copies that tend to do the best in a shootout will have the least (or none), yet are full-bodied, tubey and rich. (Full sound is especially critical to the horns; any blare, leanness or squawk ruins some of the fun, certainly at the louder levels the record should be playing at.)

Which brings up a point that needs making. The tonality of this record is correct when it is playing loud. The trumpets do not get harsh at loud volumes the way they will on, say, a Chicago record. The timbre of the instruments is correct when loud, which means that it was mixed loud to sound correct when loud.

The frequency extremes (on the best copies) are not boosted in any way. When you play this record quietly, the bottom and top will disappear (due to the way the ear handles quieter sounds as described by the Fletcher-Munson curve).

Most records (like most audiophile stereos) are designed to sound correct at moderate levels. Not this album. It wants you to turn it up. Then, and only then, will everything sound completely right from top to bottom.

Living Stereo

What do we love about these Living Stereo Hot Stamper pressings? The timbre of every instrument is Hi-Fi in the best sense of the word. The instruments here are reproduced with remarkable fidelity. Now that’s what we at Better Records mean by “Hi-Fi”, not the kind of Audiophile Phony BS Sound that passes for Hi-Fidelity these days. There’s no boosted top, there’s no bloated bottom, there’s no sucked-out midrange. There’s no added digital reverb (Patricia Barber, Diana Krall, et al.). The microphones are not fifty feet away from the musicians (Water Lily) nor are they inches away (Three Blind Mice).

This is Hi-Fidelity for those who recognize The Real Thing when they hear it. I’m pretty sure our customers do, and any of you out there who pick this one up should get a real kick out of it!



Further Reading

…along these lines can be found below. Other recordings that we have found to be especially Tubey Magical can be found here.

This listing will show you How to Get the Most Out Of Your Records .

Here’s a link with advice for setting up your Table, Arm and Cartridge that can be found in a section containinAudio Advice of all kinds.

You may find our recommendations for Record Cleaning helpful as well.

You can find your very own Hot Stamper pressings by using the techniques we lay out in Hot Stamper Shootouts — The Four Pillars of Success.

Record shootouts are the fastest and easiest way to hone your listening skills, a subject we discuss often on the site and directly address in this commentary from way back in 2005.

TRACK LISTING

Side One

Softly, As In A Morning Sunrise 
Music Makers 
My Reverie 
Johnson Rag 
Harlem Nocturne 
Take The ‘A’ Train 

Side Two

Macarena (La Virgen De La Macarena) 
Autumn Leaves 
Frenesti 
Marie 
Let’s Dance 
So Rare

AMG Rave Review

After several, probably ill-advised collaborative (or sideman) efforts, Esquivel returns to his full glory on Infinity in Sound. This is the second album — after Exploring New Sounds in Stereo — of the “typical” Esquivel, who pushed the envelope of stereophonic “gee-whiz-ardry”… While “Johnson Rag,” “Harlem Nocturne,” “Take the ‘A’ Train,” and “Frenesi” are all good examples of Esquivel in his prime, the chief attraction of the album is its consistency and overall integrity. It is a relief that Esquivel is not trying anything stranger than he already is.