The Police – Synchronicity – Our Shootout Winner from 2011

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock Hall of Fame and another in the long list of recordings that really comes alive when you Turn Up Your Volume. 

WHITE HOT STAMPERS on side two! That gives you amazing sound for Every Breath You Take, King Of Pain, and Wrapped Around Your Finger! It’s been about a while since we last found Hot Stampers for this album, mostly because so many copies just plain suck. The sound on this one is meaty and punchy down low.

More remarkable, it also comes without the phony upper midrange boost on Sting’s vocals that would normally have you reaching to back off the volume. The choruses get LOUD and are so POWERFUL on this copy they make a mockery of most pressings you play.

We call it Master Tape Sound when it’s this good!

The energy on side two is incredible; this is a recording with real Rock and Roll POWER — if you’re lucky enough to have a copy that has that energy inscribed in its grooves. Some do and some don’t. Welcome to the world of analog, where no two copies sound the same and most are nothing special. (No two covers of this album look the same either. Get a pile of them out and see if you can find two that match. It’s not easy.)

The Big Sound

I’ve been struggling with Synchronicity since it came out way back in 1983. It took a long time to get to the point where we could clean the record properly, twenty years or so, and about the same amount of time to get the stereo to the level it needed to be. It’s not easy to find a pressing with the low end whomp factor, midrange energy and overall dynamic power that this music needs, and it takes one helluva stereo to play one too. As we’ve said before about these kinds of recordings — Ambrosia; Blood, Sweat and Tears; The Yes Album; Dark Side of the Moon, Led Zeppelin II — they are designed to bring any audio system they come in contact with to its knees. If you have the kind of big system that a record like this requires, demands even, you are going to hear some amazing sound when you drop the needle on these Hot Stampers.

Musical Appreciation

In the old days I didn’t care much for this album; it always sounded commercial in the worst sense of the word: thin, bright, pinched and compressed like a 45 single, perfect for FM radio but perfectly deadly on an audiophile turntable. I couldn’t get past the sound in order to hear the music. This version, however, is full-bodied, sweet, and transparent, just the way we like ’em.

Another example, if we needed one, of how the sound of a piece of music affects the ability of the listener to appreciate it. I find it hard to imagine this album sounding any better than it does on side two of this LP. If you want the best sound, look no further. The All Music Guide gave this a rave review (4 1/2 stars) and after hearing a pressing like this, I have to agree with them.

Sides One and Two

Side two has A Triple Plus sound AND most of the best songs, how about that! We’re talking Every Breath You Take, King of Pain and Wrapped Around Your Finger, pretty hard to beat that lineup on ANY Police record.

Side one earned a respectable A+ to A++ grade. It’s super spacious with 3-D depth and staging. It could use more richness and there are a few other areas where the very best copies can beat it, but overall the watchword here is MUSICAL.

Universal Heavy Import Vinyl and Proto Hot Stampers

We raved about their pressing when it came out, noting that it was a huge improvement over the sound of the dreadful MoFi CD and the domestic vinyl pressings we had played. Our long-time customers may remember that we then did something we had never done before. Since so many copies of the Heavy Vinyl had noise issues, we cracked them open and played them to make sure they were quiet, the idea being that since they were already out of print the quiet ones would sell for much more money than the average noisy one.

To our shock and dismay we noticed that many copies of the album lacked bass, this on a record we had claimed finally had the bass that was missing from the domestic pressings! Ouch. Yes folks, even Heavy Vinyl pressings have Hot and Not So Hot Stampers. The ones with bass had their prices raised and the ones without had their prices lowered. The Proto-Hot Stamper had been born.

(It wasn’t long after that we played a bunch of DCC Pet Sounds and noticed that no two of them sounded the same, that some were glorious and some were grainy and aggressive. Now one thing I can tell you about Steve Hoffman: grainy and aggressive is not his sound. Somewhere between his EQ notes and the finished record there was a problem. To this day nobody really knows exactly where the fault lies when a record comes out badly, but the lesson to be learned is to keep your ears open and just let the record speak for itself. It’s an approach we’ve been using for more than a decade. We can only hope that someday it catches on with the general audiophile public.)

TRACK LISTING

Side One

Synchronicity I

One of the two title tracks on this record (huh?), it’s also one of the quickest ways to hear what is happening sonically on this side. It’s a high energy, take-no-prisoners rock track that usually ends up sounding bloated and brittle on the typical pressing. However, when it’s cut right it’s amazing! The bass guitar and kick should be driving the track, not making you want to skip to the next one. Also, when you can hear the separation and detail in the multitrack army of Stings during the chorus, you’re in good shape.

Walking in Your Footsteps

Is that a pan flute I hear? More than likely it’s a synth, but if you can hear the “air” going through it and all of the ambience surrounding it, you’re not off to a bad start. Also, the percussion should actually sound like a drum and not like a stack of textbooks getting smacked.

O My God
Mother
Miss Gradenko
Synchronicity II

The second title track on this album (ahhhh!) features a classic Andy Summers guitar intro that usually sounds much too midrangey but on the best pressings can actually have richness and body.

Side Two

Every Breath You Take

Probably the most famous of all Police songs, the vocals are mixed way too loud for comfortable listening. However, the right copies prove that the dynamics can be controlled, even in the super-powerful bridge.

King of Pain

One of the more dynamic points on the album, the intro here is dark and alluring. The piano should be weighty and the upright bass should be full and clear.

Notice how silly the edit sounds right before the drums come in. Sting’s voice suddenly gets loud for no apparent reason, other than somebody spliced one piece of tape to another, tapes no one noticed were recorded at different levels, ouch.

That first snare hit should be an indication of what you’ve got. Hopefully it’s got body and attack to drive this track home.

Wrapped Around Your Finger
Tea in the Sahara

AMG Review

One of 1983’s biggest singles, the haunting “Every Breath You Take” is an obvious highlight, as well as other hits — the cacophonous rocker “Synchronicity II,” plus the far more temperate “Wrapped Around Your Finger” and “King of Pain”…

Few other albums from 1983 merged tasteful pop, sophistication, and expert songwriting as well as Synchronicity did, resulting in yet another all-time classic.