When your VTA, azimuth, tracking weight and anti-skate are correct, this is the record that will make it clear to you that your efforts have paid off.
What to listen for you ask? With the proper adjustment the harmonics of the strings will sound extended and correct. And you can’t really know how right it can sound until you go through hours of experimentation with all the forces that affect the way the needle rides the groove.
Without precise VTA adjustment there is almost no way this record will do everything it’s capable of doing. There will be hardness, smear, sourness, thinness — something will be off somewhere. With total control over your arm and cartridge setup, these problems will all but vanish. (Depending on the quality of the equipment of course.)
We harp on all aspects of record reproduction for a reason. When you have done the work, pressings such as this one are simply GLORIOUS.
Whatever Happened to Decca’s Famously Rich, Rosiny Strings?
It’s practically impossible to hear that kind of string sound on any recording made in the last thirty years (and this of course includes everything pressed on Heavy Vinyl). It may be a lost art but as long as we have these wonderful vintage pressings to play, it’s an art that is not lost on us.
It’s also as wide, deep and three-dimensional as any, which is, of course, all to the good, but what makes the sound of these recordings so special is the timbral accuracy of the instruments in every section.
I don’t think the Decca engineers could have cut this record much better — it has all the orchestral magic one could ask for, as well as the resolving power, clarity and presence that are missing from so many Golden Age records.
This is the kind of record that will make you want to take all your heavy vinyl classical pressings and put them on ebay. They cannot begin to sound the way this record sounds. (Before you put them up for sale, please play them against this pressing so that you can be confident in your decision to rid yourself of their insufferable mediocrity.)