Johnny Mathis – Testing For Sibilance

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All copies have sibilance, some more than others. The best copies have the least amount and make the spit they do have much less gritty and objectionable.

We’ve known for decades how good a test sibilance is for tables, cartridges and arms. Sibilance is a bitch. The best pressings, with the most extension up top and the least amount of aggressive grit and grain mixed into the music, played using the highest quality, most carefully dialed-in front ends, will keep sibilance to an acceptable minimum.

VTA, tracking weight, azimuth and anti-skate adjustments are critical to reducing the amount and the quality of the spit in your records.

Play around with your table setup for a few hours and you will no doubt be able to reduce the severity of the sibilance on your favorite test and demo discs. Your other records will thank you for it too.

Especially your Beatles records. Many Beatles pressings are spitty, and the MoFi Beatles pressings are REALLY spitty. Of course MoFi fans never seem to notice this fact. A large collection of MoFi pressings and an owner with critical listening skills rarely can be found together. You either have one or the other.

Vintage Reverb

If you don’t like at least some reverb on your vocals, Mathis’s albums are probably not for you. The standard recording approach for Male Vocals in the ’50s and ’60s was to add reverb to them. Sometimes it sounds right and sometimes it’s too much. For “too much” play some of Nat King Cole’s records from the era to hear what I mean. Try “Those Lazy-Hazy-Crazy Days of Summer” from 1963 if you don’t know where to start. Tony Bennett’s records have plenty of reverb as well.

Like any processing of the sound — compression, limiting, reverb, EQ, etc. — it can be used with taste and discretion and make the recording better, or it can be overdone and practically ruin everything. For our part we think Johnny Mathis’s recordings use reverb tastefully and correctly for the most part.


In 1963 Mathis joined Mercury and stayed with the label for three years during which he released eleven (!) albums.

We’ve played quite a number of them and never heard a good one. Our advice: steer clear.