Offenbach / Gaite Parisienne – Reviewed in 2005

More of the Music of Jacques Offenbach (1819-1880)

This is one of the pressings we’ve discovered with Reversed Polarity.

Superb sound! The top end of this record is PERFECTION. When you hear all the percussion instruments, the tambourines, triangles, wood blocks they just sound so lovely. The overall sound is rich and sweet, just like a good vintage RCA should sound. Some may find the sound colored, but I find it enchanting.

Side two, however, sounded fairly unpleasant when I first played it. As I listened more and more, I came to the realization that the absolute phase was probably inverted. The orchestra, rather than being back behind the speakers where they belong, was coming AT me, a sure sign that something is funny. One way to think about it is the sound stage becomes convex instead of concave.

So I switched my headshell leads and sure enough everything got much better — the orchestra now had depth and the strings became less forward and shrill, and the horns took on more body and had less of that blary quality they sometimes do.

Some people like the sound of the Classic reissue on this album. I do not have one around so I can’t say what that record sounds like anymore, having not played it in quite a while. I doubt if it has the smooth, sweet, rich sound this pressing does. I don’t recall any Classic record having that sound.

If you buy this record and you own the Classic, shoot me an email and tell me what you think of their relative merits. I’d be curious to know.

[The last time I played the Classic I thought is was awful – smeary, thick and opaque, with little in the way of ambience. How bad does a stereo have to be for fans of this label not to notice how awful their records are?]

For those of you who don’t know much about this recording, it’s a famous early stereo recording using just two microphones, directly to a 2-track tape recorder. The original Shaded Dog is LSC 1817, the second release in the Living Stereo catalog.

This music has always been an audiophile favorite, and for good reason. It really has the Living Stereo magic!