More of the Music of Benny Carter
More Thoughts on Tube Mastering
Here’s how we weighed the tradeoffs in the sound of the originals versus the reissues.
This superb sounding original Black Label Contemporary pressing of Benny Carter’s swingin’ jazz quartet is the very definition of a top jazz stereo recording from the late ’50s recorded and mastered through an All Tube Chain.
There’s good extension on the top end for an early pressing, with TONS of what you would most expect: Tubey Magic and Richness. If that’s what you’re looking for, this copy has got it!
We prefer the later pressings in most ways, but this record does something that no later pressing we have ever played can do — get Benny’s trumpet to sound uncannily REAL. If you want to demonstrate to your skeptical audiophile friends what no CD (or modern remastered record) can begin to do, play side two of this copy for them. They may be in for quite a shock.
The sound of the muted trumpet on side two is out of this world. It’s exactly the sonic signature of good tube equipment — making some elements of a recording sound shockingly real. The reason this side two earned Two Pluses was that most of the rest of the players are clear as well; this is normally not the case (and is mostly not the case on side one).
What About the Other Guys?
But are the other players as clear as they would be on the better reissues we like? Hardly. The Tubey Magic of Benny’s trumpet comes at the expense of the other three instruments — drums, bass and piano — which are less easily heard, less immediate, less “live in your listening room.”
Some will find the tradeoff more than acceptable, preferable even. All we are saying is that there is a tradeoff that one should be aware of when choosing this early pressing. It does do something — really, one thing — better. Everything else, not as well –but still pretty good, hence the high grades. Keep in mind that the average Black Label would have a hard time qualifying as a Hot Stamper at all.
Why We Do Shootouts
Yet this is precisely the sound that many, even most, audiophiles would find perfectly fine. There are many reasons for this, but one of the main ones has to be that they have never heard a truly amazing reissue, the kind we sell. Had they heard such a pressing they would be in a much better position to weigh the pros and cons of both.
This is why we do shootouts. Every pressing has the potential to show you some quality you can’t hear on any other, some aspect of the sound you would not even know could possibly exist.