More of the music of Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1840-1893)
More Reviews and Commentaries for The Nutcracker
Not that we know of. If audiophiles and the reviewers who write for them are listening carefully to these famous recordings on high quality equipment, why do they never talk about this problem?
Here is what we noticed when we played a big batch of Nutcracker recordings on London and Decca:
On some copies of this album the strings are dry, lacking in that wonderful quality we like to call Tubey Magic. Dry is decidedly not our sound, although it can often be heard on the hundreds of London pressings we’ve played over the years.
And we imagined that this might be the culprit:
If you have a rich sounding cartridge, perhaps with that little dip in the upper midrange, the one that so many moving coils have these days, you may not notice this tonality issue nearly as often as we do.
Our Dynavector 17Dx Karat is ruler flat and quite tonally unforgiving in this regard. It makes our shootouts much easier, but brings out the flaws in all but the best pressings, exactly the job we require it to do.
We discussed the issue in a commentary entitled Hi-Fi Beats My-Fi If You Are At All Serious about Audio.
Here are some other records that are good for testing string tone and texture.
Can we really be hearing all these things that nobody else seems to be hearing?
Like what, you ask? Like:
- Opacity on London Recordings from the Seventies
- Shrillness on EMI Recordings from the ’70s
- Smear on Violin Concerto Records
- Acoustic Guitars with a Bit Too Much Sparkle
- Boosted, Sloppy Bass on Half-Speeds and Modern Heavy Vinyl LPs
- Overly Smooth Sound on Remastered LPs
Not to mention the fact that we have played a lot of these kinds of records:
If audiophiles and audiophile reviewers are hearing these things on the records they review, in magazines and audiophile forums, why aren’t they discussing them?
Case in Point Number One
We occasionally take the time to create a little “test” to see if audiophiles — customers or just visitors to the blog, makes no difference to us — can hear a specific quality we’d noticed when auditioning a record. Normally this would be a quality that jumped out at us when playing the record, and we were just curious as to whether it jumped out at anybody else.
On this version of Sweet Baby James we heard something that took us by surprise, an artifact we subsequently dubbed an “EQ Anomaly.” We put the question of what this anomaly might be to our readers and waited for someone to spot it. And here is what we got in return.
Crickets. Nada. Zilch. Not even one response.
Does no one own the new Heavy Vinyl reissue? As we said in our review, it’s very good sounding and the vinyl is quiet. I think you could buy one for twenty bucks or less before it went out of print. Seems like someone should have bought one and played it.
If someone did play it, they must not have heard it, because the anomaly could be described in ten words or less in an email to me.
Many of the Heavy Vinyl pressings we play these days — watch for reviews for some heavy hitters coming soon — suffer from the same problem, a shortcoming, by the way, that is almost never heard on authentic vintage vinyl pressings in our experience, our experience being derived from the tens of thousands of them that we have auditioned over the past twenty years.
In the case of Sweet Baby James I believe I know why most audiophiles can’t hear it: It actually helps fix a problem in their systems. That’s probably why lots of records these days have it. Audiophiles may actually prefer that their records have it. They sure don’t seem to complain about it much.
But if your system is correct from top to bottom, it’s easy to hear. In fact it sticks out like the proverbial sore thumb.
Case in Point Number Two
Nobody seems to want to play this game, although Geoff Edgers took a stab at it, and he would no doubt describe himself as more of a music lover than an audiophile.
I guess none of this should come as a surprise, because only one person wanted to play this game, and it’s been around for more than fifteen years.
These games, as well as doing your own shootouts, can radically change everything you do in audio for the better.