- A stunning Shootout Winning pressing of this famous audiophile recording, with Triple Plus (A+++) sound or close to it on both sides
- This copy will be awfully hard to beat for sound – get your VTA right and the bottom end on this LP will turn into a Bass Demo Disc like nothing you’ve heard
- It’s very difficult to find this album in clean condition, and even more difficult to find one that sounds as good as this one does
- One of the rarest Hot Stamper records bar none — only a handful have ever made it to the site
This is a stunning copy of The Big One — Lincoln Mayorga and Distinguished Colleagues’ first Sheffield Direct-to-Disc LP aka S9. We’ve been comparing and contrasting pressings of this album for more than twenty years and this is one of the better copies we’ve stumbled upon. The sound is BIG, RICH and FULL OF ENERGY.
Both sides have prodigious amounts of bottom end. It is a thrill to hear the power of the bass on this recording. The kick drum is HUGE.
Both sides have about as much Tubey Magic as can be found on the album, although Tubey Magic is clearly not what the engineers were going for with this recording. It’s a sound that many copies reproduce less than ideally, being somewhat dry.
What the best sides of S9 have to offer is not hard to hear:
- The biggest, most immediate staging in the largest acoustic space
- The most Tubey Magic, without which you have almost nothing. CDs give you clean and clear. Only the best vintage vinyl pressings offer the kind of Tubey Magic that was on the tapes in 1971
- Tight, note-like, rich, full-bodied bass, with the correct amount of weight down low
- Natural tonality in the midrange — with all the instruments having the correct timbre
- Transparency and resolution, critical to hearing into the three-dimensional studio space
No doubt there’s more but we hope that should do for now. Playing the record is the only way to hear all of the qualities we discuss above, and playing the best pressings against a pile of other copies under rigorously controlled conditions is the only way to find a pressing that sounds as good as this one does.
We are big fans of Mayorga’s music for Sheffield from back in the day; all three of the Distinguished Colleagues records are fun and boast amazing sound when you get the right pressing.
Doug Sax, the man who single-handedly revived the direct to disc recording, passed away late in 2015. If you were an audiophile in the ’70s you no doubt played a lot of his records and were surely knocked out by some. I know I was. Rest in Peace.
Turn It Up
S9 is surely one of the best examples of a recording that ONLY comes to life when you Turn Up Your Volume.
There’s not much ambience to be found in this somewhat dead sounding studio, and very little high frequency boost to any instrument in the soundfield, which means at moderate levels this record sounds flat and lifeless. (You could say it has that in common with most Heavy Vinyl pressings these days, but those records never sound good even at good loud levels in our experience.)
But turn this pressing up and, man, the sound really starts jumpin’ out of the speakers and sounding much more NATURAL.
What We’re Listening For on S9
- Energy for starters. What could be more important than the life of the music?
- Then: presence and immediacy. The vocals aren’t “back there” somewhere, lost in the mix. They’re front and center where any recording engineer worth his salt would put them.
- The Big Sound comes next — wall to wall, lots of depth, huge space, three-dimensionality, all that sort of thing.
- Then transient information — fast, clear, sharp attacks, not the smear and thickness so common to these LPs.
- Tight punchy bass — which ties in with good transient information, also the issue of frequency extension further down.
- Next: transparency — the quality that allows you to hear deep into the soundfield, showing you the space and air around all the instruments.
- Extend the top and bottom and voila, you have The Real Thing — an honest to goodness Hot Stamper.
Testing for Energy and Whomp
Play the record at normal levels and pick out any instrument — snare, toms, sax, bass — anything you like. Now turn it up a notch and see if the timbre of that instrument isn’t more correct. Add another click of volume and listen again. I think you will see that with each increase in volume, assuming your system can handle it, the tonality of each and every instrument you hear will continue to get better.
This record would sound right at LIVE levels, of that I have no doubt.
It gives you the LIFE and ENERGY of the music — the tonality of the instruments is correct (although admittedly some tracks can sound a bit dark. That’s not actually a pressing issue, it’s more of a mixing and mic’ing issue.) and the whomp factor is fully intact. This is what made the album such a Demo Disc in its day. It’s got real power and IMPACT from the deepest bass up through the lower midrange, that range that small speakers and screens have so much trouble with. (The Legacy Focus we use for our shootouts has three twelve inch woofers and LOVES records with this kind of WHOMP.)
Above the bottom you will find wonderfully transparent and sweet mids and highs. This is the kind of sound that brings out the breathy, reedy quality of the saxes that play on so many of the tunes here (alto, tenor and baritone, pretty much the full complement).
Anyone Who Had A Heart
I’ll Be Back
Learning To Be Kind
Up, Up and Away
She’s Leaving Home
Don’t Think Twice
All The Things You Are