This time around  no other copy of Time Out could touch our good Six Eye Stereo pressings. They were simply in a league of their own.
If you’ve been with us for a long time you may remember that this was not always the case. We used to really like some 360s as I recall, as well as the original mono pressing. This time around, not so much.
This time around most everything is different. Allow us to explain.
1. Our stereo is different; we’ve made quite a number of changes to it since our last big shootout for Time Out a few years back. We are strong proponents of Making Audio Progress.
2. We’re different; we have better (I would hope) listening skills. In fact I’m sure we listen for different qualities in a recording than we might have years ago.
3. Even more importantly, we don’t have the same pile of pressings we had years ago. They’re gone, replaced by a new batch. This new batch had some killer original pressings, some good 360s, and not much to speak of on the later labels. This comes under the heading of Moderately Helpful Title Specific Advice.
With a different batch we might have found a great sounding 360 pressing; we have to believe they exist, and we certainly can’t say that our best copy here could not have been bettered in some way. That would be foolish; anything can be bettered.
The next time we run this experiment, the results could be different.
[Update from 2021: we have run the experiment a number of times in the five years since this commentary was written, and the best Six Eye in the shootout has not been beaten yet. Yet.]
For us, in 2014 (and probably through 2015), this is it. This is the right sound.
As of 2021, this record sounds best this way:
This copy blew our minds — nothing could touch it. The cymbals ring in an exceedingly natural way, Desmond’s sax was dramatically more breathy and intimate, Brubeck played with more energy and clarity, and the whole of the ensemble was so clearly “in the room” that the music was as real and as palpable as it would have been had I been standing in the studio with the four of them in 1959.
If this had been any other original record — Kind of Blue for instance — it’s very unlikely we would have bothered trying to sell a copy with surfaces such as these.
Ah, but that’s cheating: Kind of Blue doesn’t sound its best on the original label; we actually [usually] prefer the Red Label Columbia pressings.
[We have since found originals and 360s that sound every bit as good as our best Red Label pressings, with different strengths and weaknesses, of course, but White Hot nonetheless. You can read more about the album here.]
On this side listen to the drums on Everybody’s Jumpin.’ This album was recorded on a big sound stage and there is a HUGE room which can clearly be heard surrounding the drum kit. Add to that that some of the drums are in the left channel and some of the drums are in the right channel and you have one big drum kit — exactly the way it was intended to sound.