More of the Music of Paul Simon
Analogplanet Visits Sterling Sound and Interviews Mastering Engineer Ryan K. Smith
The interviewer apparently does not know how bad the new version sounds, but we had no trouble recognizing its awfulness here at Better Records. As a public service, we soon set about describing what we heard when we put this remastered piece of junk to the test.
Up against a properly mastered, properly pressed early pressing, it earned a failing grade. Is it the worst version of the album ever pressed on vinyl? Hard to imagine it would have much competition.
The title of our review gives away the game: What to Think When the New Version Is Completely Unrecognizable?
The reviewer who interviewed the remastering engineer responsible for this and no doubt many other awful sounding records has never been able to tell a good record from a bad one, and he carries on that tradition with Graceland.
Ryan Smith, the hack who cut this album, has done quite a lot of work for Analogue Productions. We can’t say we’ve played many of his recuts, but the ones we have played are hopelessly bad, with the overly smooth sound so much in vogue today.
We played his recut of Scheherazade, and rather than just give it the failing grade it deserved, we explained how any audiophile can use its mistaken EQ in order to recognize what is wrong with it and others like it.
(Contrary to popular opinion, it is no better than Bernie Grundman’s bad sounding version from the ’90s, the one he cut for Classic Records.)
One of my good customers read this rave review from this same reviewer for the Texas Hurricane Box Set and made the worst mistake any audiophile can make: he believed it.
“His overdriven Stratocaster sound is one that guitar aficionados never tire of hearing live or on record, especially when it’s well recorded. … Yet again, Chad Kassem sets high the box set reissue bar delivering a “must have” package for SRV fans, every bit the equal of the one Doors fans have come to cherish. …every one of these records betters the originals and by a considerable margin. It is not even close…You’ve never heard these albums sound like this. That is a 100 % guaranty. …this is an impeccably produced box set physically and especially sonically. It’s the best these albums have ever and probably will ever sound.” — Music = 9/11; Sound = 10/11 — Michael Fremer
Sure, he’s out $400, but on the bright side he’s now learned a lesson he is very unlikely to forget.
Below you will find our reviews of the more than 200 Heavy Vinyl pressings we’ve played over the years. Feel free to pick your poison.
Even as recently as the early 2000s, we were still impressed with many of the better Heavy Vinyl pressings. If we’d never made the progress we’ve worked so hard to make over the course of the last twenty or more years, perhaps we would find more merit in the Heavy Vinyl reissues so many audiophiles seem impressed by.
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 and even worse.
Some audiophile records sound so bad, I was pissed off enough to create a special list for them.
Setting higher standards — no, being able to set higher standards — in our minds is a clear mark of progress. Judging by the hundreds of letters we’ve received, especially the ones comparing our records to their Heavy Vinyl and Half-Speed Mastered counterparts, we know that our customers see things the same way.