Dire Straits – Brothers in Arms

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  • This outstanding pressing boasts solid Double Plus (A++) sound on both sides
  • Tonally correct from start to finish, with a solid bottom and fairly natural vocals (for this particular recording of course), HERE is the sound they were going for in the studio
  • Drop the needle on So Far Away – it’s airy, open, and spacious, yet still rich and full-bodied
  • 4 stars: “One of their most focused and accomplished albums … Dire Straits had never been so concise or pop-oriented, and it wore well on them.”

*NOTE: On side one, two marks make 5 moderate to light pops at the end of Track 2, Money for Nothing, and 10 moderate to light pops followed by 5 light ticks at the beginning of Track 5, Why Worry. On side two, a tiny mark makes 5 moderate pops followed by 7 light ticks near the beginning of Track 4, Brothers in Arms.

Fully extended from top to bottom with a wide-open soundstage, this is the sound you need for this music. There’s plenty of richness and fullness here as well — traits that are really crucial to getting the most out of a mid-’80s recording like this!

Drop the needle on So Far Away — it’s airy, open, and spacious, yet incredibly rich and full-bodied. The bottom end really delivers the goods — it’s punchy and meaty with healthy amounts of tight, deep bass.

This vintage Warner Brothers pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records can barely BEGIN to reproduce. Folks, that sound is gone and it sure isn’t showing signs of coming back. If you love hearing INTO a recording, actually being able to “see” the performers, and feeling as if you are sitting in the studio with the band, this is the record for you. It’s what vintage all analog recordings are known for — this sound.

If you exclusively play modern repressings of vintage recordings, I can say without fear of contradiction that you have never heard this kind of sound on vinyl. Old records have it — not often, and certainly not always — but maybe one out of a hundred new records do, and those are some pretty long odds.

What the best sides of Brothers In Arms 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 even as late as 1985
  • 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.

What We’re Listening For on Brothers In Arms

  • Less grit – smoother and sweeter sound, something that is not easy to come by on Brother in Arms.
  • A bigger presentation – more size, more space, more room for all the instruments and voices to occupy. The bigger the speakers you have to play this record the better.
  • More bass and tighter bass. This is fundamentally a pure rock record. It needs weight down low to rock the way the engineers and producers wanted it to.
  • Present, breathy vocals. A veiled midrange is the rule, not the exception.
  • Good top end extension to reproduce the harmonics of the instruments and details of the recording including the studio ambience.
  • Last but not least, balance. All the elements from top to bottom should be heard in harmony with each other. Take our word for it, assuming you haven’t played a pile of these yourself, balance is not that easy to find.

Our best copies will have it though, of that there is no doubt.

One Tough Album (To Find and To Play)

Not only is it hard to find great copies of this album, it ain’t easy to play ’em either. You’re going to need a hi-res, super low distortion front end with careful adjustment of your arm in every area — VTA, tracking weight, azimuth and anti-skate — in order to play this album properly. If you’ve got the goods you’re gonna love the way this copy sounds. Play it with a budget cart / table / arm and you’re likely to hear a great deal less magic than we did.

The Stan Ricker Half-Speed Mastered Vinyl

The Warner Brothers 180g Double LP pictured above was mastered by Stan Ricker at half-speed.

Most of the time Stan Ricker’s approach to half-speed mastering results in a record that is too bright, with sloppy bass.

And what do you know, it IS too bright and the bass IS quite sloppy. Imagine that!

We often discuss the unpredictability of records, but when it comes to Half-Speed Mastered pressings their faults are fairly consistent and easy to spot once you know what to listen for.

TRACK LISTING

Side One

So Far Away 
Money for Nothing

During the recording of “Money for Nothing”, the signature sound of Knopfler’s guitar may have been enhanced by a “happy accident” of microphone placement. Knopfler was using his Gibson Les Paul going through a Laney amplifier. While setting up the guitar amplifier microphones in an effort to get the “ZZ Top sound” that Knopfler was after, guitar tech Ron Eve, who was in the control room, heard the “amazing” sound before Dorfsman was finished arranging the mics.

“One mic was pointing down at the floor,” Dorfsman remembered, “another was not quite on the speaker, another was somewhere else, and it wasn’t how I would want to set things up—it was probably just left from the night before, when I’d been preparing things for the next day and had not really finished the setup.” What they heard was exactly what ended up on the record; no additional processing or effects were used during the mix. – Wikipedia

Walk of Life
Your Latest Trick
Why Worry

Side Two

Ride Across the River
The Man’s Too Strong
One World
Brothers in Arms

AMG 4 Star Review

Brothers in Arms brought the atmospheric, jazz-rock inclinations of Love Over Gold into a pop setting, resulting in a surprise international best-seller… What kept the record selling was Mark Knopfler’s increased sense of pop songcraft — “Money for Nothing” had an indelible guitar riff, “Walk of Life” is a catchy up-tempo boogie variation on “Sultans of Swing,” and the melodies of the bluesy “So Far Away” and the down-tempo, Everly Brothers-style “Why Worry” were wistful and lovely. Dire Straits had never been so concise or pop-oriented, and it wore well on them.