Labels With Shortcomings – Cisco/Boxstar

Grieg / Music From Peer Gynt / Fiedler – A Cisco Disaster

More of the music of Edvard Grieg (1843-1907)

Music From Peer Gynt / Fiedler

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Sonic Grade: F

Hall of Shame pressing from Cisco / Impex

Pretty bad, on a par with the shrill crap Classic Records has been dishing out for years, but in the opposite tonal direction: dull and deadsville. (more…)

June Christy – Something Cool – Cisco Reviewed

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Sonic Grade: C-

This is a decent Cisco LP, which is now long out of print. Audiophiles who love female vocal albums and pass on this one are missing the boat, because finding a better sounding original in clean enough condition to play is practically impossible these days. Of course if you already have a clean original you sure don’t need to waste your money on this LP.    

However…

We went back and played the Cisco version about 6 or 7 years ago and were quite a bit less impressed with the sound than we were when it first came out

Dvorak & Glazounov – Violin Concertos – Milstein – Cisco Reviewed

More of the music of Antonin Dvorak

Violin Concertos – Milstein

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Sonic Grade: B or so

Some of the sweetest violin tone on heavy vinyl you will ever hear. For Heavy Vinyl this one gets a very high recommendation. The domestic originals we’ve played have been uniformly awful so pick up this Cisco pressing wherever you can find it if the price is right, assuming you can stand the lack of ambience and resolution that Heavy Vinyl consistently suffers from. To be honest, we have not played this record in many years and would probably like it much less now than we did at the time of its release. (more…)

Doc Watson – Home Again

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  • An outstanding copy of Watson’s 1966 release with solid Double Plus (A++) sound – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • This LP has the Tubey Magic, as well as in-the-room performance intimacy, that will surely bring Doc’s music to life in a way you’ve never heard before
  • “[H]is most affecting folk-style record, with unexpectedly warm vocals matched to the quiet virtuosity of his playing. [The album] features Watson performing lively, achingly beautiful renditions of popular folk standards. All are played with very imposing dexterity by Watson, joined by his son Merle and Russ Savakus on upright bass.
  • “A great showcase for Watson’s voice — vaguely similar to but rougher-hewn than Burl Ives — which is often overlooked in the aura of his playing.”

Folks, if you made the mistake of buying the Cisco Heavy Vinyl reissue of this album that came out in the early 2000s, you are in for treat. Instead of Doc and his band mates playing from behind a thick curtain at the back of your sound room, they can now be heard where they should have been all along: front and center between your speakers! The difference between a truly outstanding vintage pressing and a modern mockery of analog could not be more striking. We never got around to putting the Cisco pressing in our Hall of Shame (300+ strong!). There are just not enough hours in the day…

This vintage Vanguard stereo pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records rarely begin to reproduce. Folks, that sound is gone and it sure isn’t showing any sign of coming back.

Having done this for so long, we understand and appreciate that rich, full, solid, tubey sound is key to the presentation of this primarily vocal music. We rate these qualities higher than others we might be listening for (e.g., bass definition, soundstage, depth, etc.). (more…)

Linda Ronstadt – Heart Like A Wheel – Cisco Reviewed

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Sonic Grade: C

This pressing beats the typical Capitol LP, which is an aggressive, grainy piece of crap. Take my word for it: I easily have 30-40 copies of this album, and I can tell you from years of experience that it is extremely difficult to find good sounding pressings of this music. Cisco has done a service to the audiophile community by producing a very enjoyable LP of this, Linda’s masterpiece. It’s music that belongs in your collection. (If you have the bread, check out our Hot Stamper copies, guaranteed to kill any modern pressing — including this one — or your money back.) 

Cisco’s verison is completely free from compression of any kind, and sometimes that works in favor of the overall sound and sometimes it doesn’t. I may have additional commentary discussing these issues down the road, but for now let’s just say you will have a hard time finding a better copy of Heart Like A Wheel on vinyl. And of course, virtually no Capitol pressing is ever going to be as quiet as one of these lovely 180g RTI LPs.

Jennifer Warnes The Hunter – A Cisco Disaster

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Sonic Grade: F

A Hall of Shame pressing from Cisco / Impex.

Some of the worst sound I have ever heard in my life. An absolute disgrace, both sonically and musically. 

Check out ouHeavy Vinyl Scorecard to read all about the latest winners and losers.

Billy Joel – 52nd Street on Impex (Cisco)

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Sonic Grade: Side One: F / Side Two: C+

The new Impex (Cisco) 180 gram remastering of 52nd Street was cut by Kevin Gray, under the direction of Robert Pincus (aka Mr Record), at the now defunct AcousTech Mastering in Camarillo. We noted in a recent review for a much superior (how could it not be?) Hot Stamper pressing:

Side one is a joke (zero ambience, resolution, energy, etc.) but side two is actually quite good. Side two fixes the biggest problem with the album: hard, honky vocals.

In his review appearing in The Absolute Sound, Neil Gader plucks two songs out of the album’s nine as especially meritorious. Oddly enough they’re both on side two. I wonder why.  (more…)

Wes Montgomery – California Dreaming – Cisco Reviewed

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Sonic Grade: C

Another Heavy Vinyl pressing from Cisco / Impex reviewed. 

Beware any and all imitations, even this one, which I admit I used to like somewhat. They barely BEGIN to convey the qualities of the real master tape the way the best pressings do. Our Hot Stampers exhibit huge amounts of ambience and spaciousnesss, with far more energy and the kind of “see into the studio” quality that only the real thing ever seems to have.

Note especially how so much musical information is coming from the far sides of the soundfield on the best copies. The Cisco reissue makes a mockery of that wall to wall sound, sucking it into the middle and flattening it into a single plane. (more…)

Dexter Gordon’s One Flight Up – A Dubby Mess on Heavy Vinyl

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Sonic Grade: D

Hall of Shame pressing from Cisco / Impex.

You will have a hard time finding any pressing that doesn’t sound better than this “dubby” Cisco LP. (The DMM reissues are worse, but I can’t think of any others offhand that would be. The CDs of course, but that’s a case of apples and oranges.)

If smeared transients and zero ambience are your kind of sound, this is the record for you! If you want a real Blue Note, we may have some in stock.

Check out our Heavy Vinyl Scorecard to read all about the latest winners and losers.

 

 

Mozart / Symphony #35 – A Cisco Recommended LP

More of the Music of Mozart

 

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Sonic Grade: B-

I wrote this review in 2001 and disagree with a great deal of what I said about the sound.  The music and performance are great but the sound has all the hallmarks of bad cutting equipment and dead-as-a-doornail RTI vinyl.

Hearing this performance from Thomas Nee and his orchestra is like hearing the work for the first time. It may be difficult to reproduce the magic in these grooves but wonderfully rewarding when you do. You won’t be bored! The sound is intimate and immediate; this is the record for those of you who appreciate more of a front row center seat. Count me in; that’s where I like to sit myself.  

I worked hard on my system for about 4 hours one night, using nothing but this record as my test, because of its wealth of subtle ambience cues, excellent string tone, and massed string dynamics. There is a lot to listen for, and a lot to get right, for this album to sound right.

The performance of the Mozart’s 35th Symphony is definitive. Without a doubt this is the best Mozart record currently available, one that belongs in any serious record collection. I give it a top recommendation for its sublime musical qualities that set it apart from other current releases. In short, a Must Own! 

Now I know better. Now I would say:

As is the case with practically every record pressed on Heavy Vinyl over the last twenty years, there is a suffocating loss of ambience throughout, a pronounced sterility to the sound. Modern remastered records just do not BREATHE like the real thing.

Good EQ or Bad EQ, they all suffer to one degree or another from a bad case of audio enervation. Where is the life of the music? You can try turning up the volume on these remastered LPs all you want; they simply refuse to come to life.

“One of Mozart’s most popular symphonies is given a visceral and driving performance. Instead of slowing down the tempo in service to lyricism, conductor Thomas Nee chose to adhere to Mozart’s written instructions: ‘The first movement must be played with fire; the last, as fast as possible.’ Even if you own several recordings of this bright and joyous work, you’ve never heard it played like this, and certainly never with this kind of audiophile sound!” Cisco Music