Letter of the Week – “I did not know this was a well known example of a below-standard re-issue…”

More of the Music of Paul Simon

Reviews and Commentaries for the Music of Paul Simon (and Art Garfunkel)

A new customer writes:


I read about your experience with the re-issue of Paul Simon’s Graceland.

I did not know this was a well known example of  a below-standard re-issue, but your experience reflects my own  a few years ago,  over here in the Netherlands. Being very disappointed about the sound quality, I have returned my copy to the shop and asked my money back.  As I told you, I have done this more often, but always because of excessive surface noise – that does not belong on a new record at a price of €30+ .  This was the first and only time I have done this because of sound quality – apparently it was that obvious.



This is NOT a well known example of a below standard reissue. We are the only critics of this record that I know of. The audiophile reviewers loved it!

A famously clueless audiophile reviewer even visited the hack who remastered it, that hack being a Mr. Ryan Smith, so he could learn more about the man’s approach to mastering.

Perhaps he wants to stop writing reviews for bad audiophile records and learn how to make them. If so, he is studying at the feet of a master.

A Short History of the Remastered Audiophile LP

Older audiophile records, typically those made by Mobile Fidelity in the ’70s and ’80s, suffered from a common group of problems on practically every record they released:

boosted top, a bloated bottom, and a sucked-out midrange.

Nowadays that phony sound is no longer in vogue. A new, but equally phony sound has taken its place.

What seems to be in vogue these days, judging by the Heavy Vinyl Reissue pressings we’ve played over the last few years, is a very different sound, with a very different suite of shortcomings.

These newer records, with few exceptions, tend to be compressedthickdullopaque, veiled, recessed and lacking in ambience.

These are currently the hallmarks of the Heavy Vinyl LP. Whether made by Speakers Corner, DCC, AP or any other label, starting at some point in the mid-’90s, the sound these labels apparently preferred had an infuriating tonal balance problem we noted in practically every record we played — sound that was just too damn smooth.

The phony boosted highs of the bad old days are gone, replaced by the phony rolled off highs of today.

(Bernie Grundman cut hundreds of records for Classic Records starting in the ’90s, and it’s clear he chose to go a different way, but his way turned out to be every bit as problematical.)

Are the audiophiles who buy these new, super-smooth records any better off?

The ones with bright, phony systems probably are.

As we have been saying for years, first you need to have reasonably good sound. Then you can buy records that actually are good.

Further Reading

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