My notes for side two on a copy we recently auditioned read:
- Could use more tubes.
- Strings could be a bit smoother.
- Needs a bit more weight down low.
My notes for side one:
- Side one had all of this and more!
Some Common Issues with Londons and Deccas
Many London and Decca pressings lack weight down low, thinning out the sound and washing out the lower strings.
On some sides of some copies the strings are dry, lacking Tubey Magic. This is decidedly not our sound, although it can easily be heard on many London pressings, the kind we’ve played by the hundreds over the years.
If you have a rich sounding cartridge, perhaps with that little dip in the upper midrange that so many moving coils have these days, you will not notice this tonality issue nearly as much as we do.
Our 17Dx is ruler flat and quite unforgiving in this regard. It makes our shootouts much easier, but brings out the flaws in all but the best pressings, exactly the job we require it to do.
Here are some other records that are good for testing string tone and texture.
Can we really be hearing all these things that nobody else seems to be hearing? Things like:
- The Opacity of Londons from the Seventies
- Smear on Violin Concerto Records
- Shrillness on EMI Recordings from the ’70s
- Bad Sounding Shaded Dogs
If audiophiles and audiophile reviewers are hearing these things on the records they review, in magazines and audiophile forums, why aren’t they discussing them? (Of course, they may in fact be discussing the hell out of them. I rarely read anything they write. But I don’t think they are discussing these things much. If they are, and you read them, please shoot me a link so that I can be a part of the discussion.)
You haven’t solved the problem, obviously. You’ve just made it much more difficult — impossible even — to hear what is really on your records.
Some audiophiles have gone down this road and may not even realize what road they are on. It is a dead end if you want to progress in this hobby. If you want to find Better Records, you need equipment that can distinguish good records from bad ones. Vintage tube equipment is good for many things, but helping you find the best sounding records is not one of them.
A rack full of equipment such as the one shown here is also very good for eliminating the kinds of subtleties and nuances that distinguish the best records from the second- and third-rate ones.
If you have this kind of electronic firepower, Heavy Vinyl pressings and Half-Speed Mastered LPs don’t sound nearly as irritating as they do to those of us without the kind of electronic overkill shown here. It can’t help but get between you and the music.
But it looks awesome, it costs a fortune, and for those with better eyes than ears, it is impressive as hell.