More of the Music of Stan Getz
Hot Stamper Pressings of Bossa Nova Albums Available Now
A classic case of We Was Wrong.
Many years ago we had written these silly lines in a review:
Of course, you would never know this is a good recording by playing the average domestic copy. This Japanese LP is one of the few pressings that can show you that this wonderful smoky night club jazz LP really can have Demo Disc sound.
Ridiculous, right? Well, at the time we believed it. Now our understanding is quite a bit more sophisticated, in the sense that the Japanese pressing is clearly better than many originals, but certainly not all of them.
More importantly, there are amazing sounding domestic reissues of the album that we’ve auditioned over the last ten years or so that really blew our minds and helped to set an even higher standard for the sound of Getz Au Go Go.
Our old story:
Way back in 2005 I discussed this very subject when listing a sealed copy:
There are pressing variations for this title on Japanese vinyl, and there’s no way to know what this one sounds like but all of them are better than any other pressing I know of. As I played the open copy we have listed on the site (1/12/05) I couldn’t help but marvel at the quality of the sound.
These days we would crack open a sealed one, clean it up and shoot it out with any others we could lay our hands on, because finding a copy with sound like this is a positive THRILL.
I’m no fan of Japanese pressings as readers of this Web site know very well, but the Japanese sure got this one right!
The domestic copies of this album are mediocre at best — there’s simply no real top end to be found on any Verve pressing I have ever heard.
The top end is precisely where the magic is! Astrud Gilberto’s breathy voice needs high frequencies to sound breathy.
Gary Burton’s vibes need high frequencies to emerge from the mix, otherwise you can hardly hear them.
And Stan Getz’s sax shouldn’t sound like it’s being played under a blanket.
The only version of this album that allows you to hear all the players right is a Japanese pressing, and then only when you get a good one.
That was our understanding in 2005, after being seriously into audio and records for 30 years, as a professional audiophile record dealer for 18 of them. Clearly we had a lot to learn, and we were on the road to learning it, having embarked on our first real Hot Stamper shootout just the year before. (We had been doing them less formally since the ’90s of course. It was only in 2004 that we were able to do them with the requisite scientific protocols in place.)
In 2005, we simply did not have the cleaning system or the playback system capable of showing us what was wrong with the sound of the Japanese pressing we were so impressed by at the time.
And we couldn’t clean and play the standard Verve pressings right either.
We were unable to move forward. The technologies we needed to get to the truth had not been invented yet.
The Revolutions in Audio of the last twenty years are are responsible for allowing us to get the domestic pressings — originals and reissues — to sound much better than the Japanese imports we mistakenly thought were superior.
When I got started in audio in the early- to mid- ’70s, the following important elements of the modern stereo system did not exist:
- Stand-alone phono stages.
- Modern cabling and power cords.
- Vibration controlling platforms for turntables and equipment.
- Synchronous Drive Systems for turntable motors.
- Carbon fiber mats that sit on top of massive metal turntable platters.
- Highly adjustable tonearms (for VTA, etc.) with extremely delicate adjustments and precision bearings.
- And there wasn’t much in the way of innovative room treatments like the Hallographs we use.
And one of the most important revolutions is not a playback technology per se, but makes much better playback possible:
- Modern record cleaning machines and fluids.
A lot of things had to change in order for us to reproduce records at the level that is required for us to do our record shootouts and be confident about our findings, and we pursued every one of them about as far as time and money allowed.
Practically every one of the 5000 listings on this blog is a testament to the changes brought about by those hard-won advancements.
For a further discussion of these issues, please click here.