Another in our series of Home Audio Exercises .
For our review of the new Heavy Vinyl After the Gold Rush we wrote:
Cleverly the engineers responsible for this remaster have managed to reproduce the sound of a dead studio on a record that wasn’t recorded in one.
This pressing has no real space or ambience. Now the album sounds like it was recorded in a heavily baffled studio, but we know that’s not what happened, because the originals of After the Gold Rush, like most of Neil’s other albums from the era, are clear, open and spacious.
In other words, they are TRANSPARENT.
Modern records like the new After the Gold Rush are just so damn opaque. We can’t stand that sound. It drives us crazy. Important musical information — the kind we hear on even second-rate regular pressings — is simply nowhere to be found. That audiophiles as a group — including those that pass themselves off as champions of analog in the audio press — do not notice these failings does not speak well for either their equipment or their critical listening skills.
Once you hear a top quality Hot Stamper pressing, those 180 gram records you own may never sound right to you again. They sure don’t sound right to us, but we are in the enviable position of being able to play the best properly-cleaned older pressings (reissues included) side by side with the newer ones.
This allows the faults of the current reissues to become much more recognizable, to the point of actually being quite obvious. When you can hear different pressings that way, head to head, there really is no comparison.
…along these lines can be found below.
Tubey Magic, the other side of the Transparency coin, is key to the better pressings of After the Gold Rush as well as many of our other favorite demo discs.
Phony Detail is easily confused with transparency, so here is some advice that will help you to spot it when evaluating equipment or tweaking your system.
The most important advice on the site can be found under the heading 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.
Here are more entries in our ongoing Shootout Advice series.