Sonic Grade: D (or worse!)
We have a special section for bad sounding records that are marketed to audiophiles, and you can find that section here.
It currently has 281 entries, but if someone wanted to audition more of them — that person is definitely not me, although I cannot imagine anyone more qualified — the number could easily hit 500. If one were to do just the Music Matters and Analogue Productions albums released to date, a thousand would be no problem.
And if one were simply to include vintage Japanese pressings, the kind many audiophiles regularly bought in the ’80s and ’90s for their quieter vinyl and supposedly higher quality mastering, our bad audiophile record section would contain multitudes. Multitudes I tell you!
Bernie Grundman’s mastering approach for the first PG album is a disaster — brighter and cleaner, which turns out to be precisely the wrong sound for this music.
In a recent commentary we went into some detail about Bernie Grundman’s shortcomings as a mastering engineer.
To be fair, he has cut some wonderful records. We survey more of his work here.
- New to the Blog? Start Here
- Classic Records – Classical
- Classic Records – Jazz
- Heavy Vinyl Commentaries
- Heavy Vinyl Disasters
- Heavy Vinyl Mediocrities
- Heavy Vinyl Winners
One final note of honesty. Even as recently as the early 2000s we were still somewhat impressed with many of the better Heavy Vinyl pressings. If we had never made the progress we’ve worked so hard to make over the course of the last twenty plus years, perhaps we would find more merit in the Heavy Vinyl reissues so many audiophiles seem to prefer.
We’ll never know of course; that’s a bell that can be unrung. We did the work, we can’t undo it, and the system that resulted from it is merciless in revealing the truth — that these newer pressings are second-rate at best and much more often than not third-rate or worse.
Setting higher standards — no, being able to set higher standards — in our minds is a clear mark of progress. We know that many of our customers see things the same way.