Simon and Garfunkel – Sounds of Silence

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  • You’ll find outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER on both sides of Simon & Garfunkel’s sophomore release – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • Forget that critical listening stuff and just notice that these wonderful early pressings are simply more relaxed, musical and involving
  • Although the rock tracks come to life and really do sound good, the Tubey Magical folky tracks are the real reason to play the album
  • “A work of finely expressed folk. It’s arguably the duo’s big breakout, a crossover success with some handsome hits.” — COS

The sound is big, open, rich and full, with the performers front and center. This 360 Stereo pressing also has the MIDRANGE MAGIC that’s no doubt missing from whatever 180g reissue has been made from the 50+ year old tapes. As good as that pressing may be, we guarantee that this one is dramatically more REAL SOUNDING. It gives you the sense that Simon and Garfunkel are right in the room with you.

They’re no longer a representation — they’re living, breathing persons. We call that “the breath of life,” and this record has it in spades. Their voices are so rich, sweet, and free of any artificiality, you immediately find yourself lost in the music, because there’s no “sound” to distract you.

This 360 Stereo pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records rarely even 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 Sounds of Silence 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 1966
  • 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.

Tough Sledding

This album is the proverbial tough nut to crack, a mix of folkie tracks and ambitious big production numbers, all recorded on a four track machine and bounced down maybe just a few too many times along the way. Some got handed a troublesome case of Top 40 EQ — hey, this is 1965, it’s the way they thought pop records should sound.

But many of the best tracks survived just fine. They can sound wonderful, it’s just that they rarely do. This is precisely where we come into the picture.

The key to good sounding pressings of this record is to look for the ones with a top end. Now of course you can’t see the top end when you buy the record. But most of the copies of this album you pick up are going to sound like cassettes. There won’t be much over 8K, and that means hard, harsh, transistor radio sound.

Although the rock tracks certainly come to life and really do sound good on the hottest of the hot copies, the folkie tracks are the real reason to buy these early pressings. They have the Tubey Magic that’s missing from virtually any reissue or digital format version.

What We’re Listening For on Sounds of Silence

  • 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.

Best and Worst

For the best sounding tracks try Leaves That Are Green on side one, and April Come She Will on side two. Click on the Track Listing tab above to read more about them.

Keep in mind that the big hit ”Sounds of Silence” will never sound much better than it does in the car. It’s basically the track from their previous album with rock instrumentation added, meaning an electric guitar, a second generation of tape and some extra distortion for good measure.

But on a superb copy like this one, the track can still be surprisingly enjoyable. Not Demo Disc quality, just enjoyable.

TRACK LISTING

Side One

The Sound of Silence
Leaves That Are Green

Listen to the harpsichord in the left channel and tambourine in the right. On the best copies they will sound unbelievably good. The more veiled and distorted the sound, the more obvious the need for a better copy. As our buddy JT says, that’s why we’re here.

Blessed
Kathy’s Song

We prefer the best stereo pressings, but some of the songs, including Richard Cory to take just one example, actually work better in Mono. Most of the Mono copies we’ve played bored us to tears, but one exceptionally good one actually showed us something. Of course it still holds true that the ultimate stereo copies are in a league of their own.

Somewhere They Can’t Find Me
Anji

Side Two

Richard Cory
A Most Peculiar Man
April Come She Will 

A sweetheart! The best copies bring out the intimate and breathy quality of Garfunkel’s lead. Notice the care he takes with his phrasing, precisely the kind of thing real transparency allows you to hear. Fifty-odd years ago Mercury coined the term Living Presence to describe the effect, and we’re more than happy to go with that.

We’ve Got a Groovey Thing Goin’
I Am a Rock

Rolling Stone Picks the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time

#157 The Sounds of Silence

Simon wrote this as an acoustic ballad, but Simon and Garfunkel’s first single version died. While Simon was in England, Wilson, who was producing Bob Dylan’s “Like a Rolling Stone,” asked members of Dylan’s studio band to add electric guitar and drums. Columbia released the amplified “Silence,” which became a hit before Simon and Garfunkel had even heard it.