Top Artists – Earth, Wind and Fire

Earth, Wind & Fire – Gratitude

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame.

OFF THE CHARTS SOUND on three out of four sides! Make no mistake: This is BY FAR the best copy of Gratitude we have ever played. No other copy in our shootout was the equal of this bad boy. This copy showed us a Gratitude we had no idea existed. Every once in a while you run across a record that has both sides mastered as good as they can be mastered, and this is very nearly one of those times — for this double album only one side fell short out of four, and that side still rated a very respectable A+ to A++. That’s ten and a half pluses all told. Nice job, Mastering Lab. You did Earth Wind and Fire proud. (more…)

Earth Wind & Fire – The Best Of EWF, Vol. 1 – Our Shootout Winner from 2011

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame.

This original Columbia LP has AMAZING SOUND on BOTH sides. Side one was right up there with the best we have ever heard. Without ten side ones to play there is very little chance you will be able to beat it. Hell, you might need twenty to find a better side one, but since the first track on the album is Got To Get You Into My Life, you might just have a ball doing it. 

What a song. And it’s not on any other EWF album. Three points to make here: 1) It’s from the real master tape; 2) It happens to have DEMO DISC quality sound, which means: 3) You need this record in your collection. (more…)

Earth, Wind & Fire – That’s The Way of the World

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  • An outstanding pressing of the band’s 1975 release with solid Double Plus (A++) sound throughout
  • Both sides are open, spacious and transparent, with a huge three-dimensional soundfield and an energy level that’s off the charts
  • Includes EWF classics, Shining Star and, of course, That’s The Way of The World
  • 4 1/2 stars: “Earth, Wind & Fire has delivered more than its share of excellent albums, but if a person could own only one EWF release, the logical choice would be That’s the Way of the World, which was the band’s best album as well as its best-selling. There are no dull moments on World, one of the strongest albums of the 1970s and EWF’s crowning achievement.”

An excellent copy of this funk classic! That’s The Way Of The World starts off with great music that is, apparently, very difficult to reproduce. Most copies make “Shining Star” literally sound like a cassette, and a bad one at that! No highs, no lows, harsh vocals, and no real energy. When you hear it done right, you immediately remember why you love this song – the vocals are warm and present, the bassline is groovin’, and the energy makes you wanna grab someone and dance!

The title track gives you a much better feel for how transparent this copy is — check out the subtle triangle hits. The horns and strings need to be be dynamic and textured, and on this Super Hot Stamper they certainly are. (more…)

Earth, Wind, Fire and the Neverending Search for Balance

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Another in our series of Home Audio Exercises. As is usually the case when plowing through a big pile of copies, we learned pretty quickly that what makes the sound work is having these two qualities in balance:

1) Richness / Smoothness 
2) Transparency

When the vocals are thin and pinched, as they often are, the resulting edginess and harshness in the midrange take all the fun out of the music. Every track has group vocals and choruses, and the best copies make all the singers sound like they are standing in a big room, shoulder to shoulder, belting it out live and in living color.

The good copies capture that energy and bring it into the mix with the full-bodied sound it no doubt had live in the studio. When the EQ or the vinyl goes awry and their voices (and brass) start to take on a lean or gritty quality, the party’s over.

But richness and fullness are not enough. They must be balanced with TRANSPARENCY. (more…)