Top Artists – Charlie Byrd

Charlie Byrd / Direct to Disc – Dark and Unnatural, Not My Idea of Good Sound

More of the Music of Charlie Byrd

More Jazz Recordings Featuring the Guitar

This Crystal Clear 45 RPM Direct-to-Disc LP is pressed on white vinyl. Of the couple of copies we played, this one had the best sound.

It had more clarity than the other copy, which sounded even more veiled and smeary than this one.

I sure never liked the sound of this record though. It’s dark and unnatural to my ears.  It would be best to avoid it if you are looking for audiophile sound.

There are so many other, better Charlie Byrd recordings, why waste your time and money on this one? It’s yet another example of an “audiophile” record with practically nothing in the way of audiophile merit.

Which should not be too surprising. The bulk of the Crystal Clear records we’ve played had third-rate sound and pointless music.

Most of their Direct to Disc recordings were nothing but Audiophile Bullshit.

This Charlie Byrd title is the kind of crap we newbie audiophiles used to buy back in the ’70s — typically at stereo stores, or “audio salons” as they are often called now, the ones that are still in business anyway — before we had anything resembling a clue.

Yes, I was foolish enough to buy records like these and expect them to have good music, or at least good sound. Of course they had neither. Practically none of these kinds of records ever did. Sheffield and a few others made some good ones, but most Crystal Clears were crap.

As clueless as I was, even back in the day I could tell that I had just thrown my money away on this lipsticked-pig in a poke.

But I was an audiophile, and I wanted desperately to believe. These special super-hi-fidelity records were being made for me, for special people like me, because I had expensive equipment and regular records are just not good enough to play on my special equipment, right?

We didn’t want the mass-produced regular version of Silk Degrees. We had to have this limited edition remastered one. The premium price is obviously proof that we were going to get premium quality sound, right?

To say I was wrong to think about audio that way is obviously an understatement. Over the course of the last forty years, I (and to be fair, my friends and my staff) have been wrong about a great deal when it comes to records and audio, but the last thing we would want to do is try to hide that fact.

Making mistakes, like buying direct to disc recordings thinking they would have higher fidelity than the “regular” records sitting in the bins, is how we made progress. Experience is a great teacher, perhaps the only one.

Which is why there are about one hundred entries in our section detailing the many things we’ve gotten wrong, and believe me, those hundred entries barely scratch the surface of the stupid things I’ve done as I pursued this hobby.

Thank goodness Audio Progress is real and anyone who figures out how to do audio the right way is bound to achieve it.

Most audiophiles today seem to be making the same mistakes I made in my formative years in the hobby.

There is a better way, and this blog is dedicated to helping audiophiles find it.

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Charlie Byrd – Another Hyped-Up MoFi

A Hall of Shame pressing and another MoFi LP reviewed [decades ago] and found seriously wanting.

This is a title Mobile Fidelity ruined (what else is new?), and having just played an early Riverside LP I can see how their mastering approach was — as is so often the case — misguided to say the least.

First off, the guitar and the drums on the original are tonally right on the money. They sound like bass and drums should. They sound, in a word, correct.

Mobile Fidelity felt it necessary to brighten up both and the results are a phony sounding guitar and phony sounding drums, with tizzy cymbals thrown in for good measure.

(The Wes Montgomery MoFi title has many of the same faults, but it’s not quite as bad as this one. We’ve had Hot Stamper copies of the originals so we know they can sound superb, some of RVG’s best work.)

The old Mobile Fidelity — the pre-Heavy Vinyl Mobile Fidelity — rarely met a master tape they didn’t think needed a healthy dose of top end boost. They also never understood what an acoustic guitar sounds like. They blew it on every last one of the Cat Stevens albums, brightening up the guitars, which, as we all know from playing with the treble controls on our receivers way back when, emphasizes the “picking” of the strings at the expense of the resonating guitar body as well as the vibrating string harmonics.

What makes Byrd At The Gate a good record is the natural acoustic guitar tone. Once you screw that up, what’s left?

An audiophile record, for audiophiles who like phony sounding guitars. (Chesky anyone?)

Another reason the Mobile Fidelity is such a joke is that this recording inherently has a lot of ill-defined bass. Since Half-Speed mastering causes a loss of bass definition, their pressing is even WORSE in this respect. Bad guitars, bad drums and bad bass — that pretty much covers everybody in the trio. Resulting score: 0 for 3. (more…)

Charlie Byrd – Mr. Guitar

More Charlie Byrd

More Jazz Guitar

  • Mr. Guitar makes its Hot Stamper debut here with KILLER Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound on both sides
  • Big, rich and lively, this trio is having a blast and we think you will too
  • Features Keter Betts joining Byrd on bass and Bertell Knox’s “deft touch” on drums
  • 4 1/2 stars: “A delightful trio outing with an adroit and light feel… Byrd’s playing combines jazz swing with influences from both Spanish guitar and classical music on a session comprised of both Byrd originals and covers, usually of Gershwin and Ellington

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Stan Getz and Charlie Byrd – Jazz Samba

More Stan Getz

More Charlie Byrd

  • A stunning copy of Jazz Samba with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or close to it from start to finish
  • Exceptionally spacious and three-dimensional, as well as relaxed and full-bodied – this pressing was a noticeable step up over practically every other pressing we played
  • 5 stars: “[Jazz Samba] was the true beginning of the bossa nova craze, and introduced several standards of the genre… But above all, Jazz Samba stands on its own artistic merit as a shimmering, graceful collection that’s as subtly advanced — in harmony and rhythm — as it is beautiful.

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Charlie Byrd – Latin Impressions

More Charlie Byrd

More Bossa Nova

  • An incredible sounding copy with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound from the first note to the last; exceptionally quiet vinyl too!
  • These sides are doing everything right — clean, clear and spacious with tons of space around all of the players and a lovely bottom end
  • “Having been a major part of Stan Getz’s very popular Jazz Samba album, it was only fitting that guitarist Charlie Byrd would start recording his own bossa nova records… Byrd and his trio are augmented on some selections by strings, extra percussion, plus horns. In reality the background musicians are not needed since Byrd was at the top of his form in those days.”

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Charlie Byrd – Brazilian Byrd

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  • Brazilian Byrd makes its Hot Stamper debut here with STUNNING Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or close to it throughout
  • Big, balanced, lively and musical, these two sides had the best sound we heard in our most recent shootout
  • 4 stars: “Acoustic guitarist Charlie Byrd always had a strong affinity for Brazilian jazz, and he sticks exclusively to Antonio Carlos Jobim songs (including ‘Só Danço Samba,’ ‘Corcovado,’ ‘Dindi,’ and ‘The Girl from Ipanema’) during this tasteful and melodic effort. Truly beautiful music.”

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Charlie Byrd – Byrd at the Gate

This is a nice Early Riverside stereo pressing (not as pictured) with excellent sound! It’s also a title Mobile Fidelity ruined, and having just played this record, I can see hear how they did it.

First of all, the guitar and the drums are tonally right on the money. Mobile Fidelity of course brightened up both and the results are a phony sounding guitar and a phony sounding drum kit, with tizzy cymbals. (The Wes Montgomery MoFi title has many of the same faults, but it’s not quite as bad as this one.)   

The other reason the Mobile Fidelity is such a joke is that this recording inherently has a lot of ill-defined bass. Since Half-Speed mastering causes a loss of bass definition, their pressing is even WORSE in this respect.

Mobile Fidelity rarely understood what an acoustic guitar was supposed to sound like. They blew it on all the Cat Stevens masterpieces, brightening up the guitar which emphasized the “picking” at the expense of the resonating guitar body and vibrating string harmonics.

What makes Byrd At The Gate a good record is the natural acoustic guitar tone. Once you screw that up, what’s left?

An audiophile record. For audiophiles who like phony sounding guitars.

Riverside cut this record, and they knew how to cut it right.

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Charlie Byrd – Delicately

  • Byrd’s 1968 release finally arrives on the site with STUNNING Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound on this Columbia 360 Label LP
  • Teo Macero’s production here is rich, sweet, and highly resolving, with all the space and three-dimensionality that Frank Laico’s brilliant engineering is known for
  • This is the first Columbia Charlie Byrd shootout we’ve ever done – we dropped the needle on a copy a while back and were shocked at the sound we were hearing
  • More importantly, the music on this enchanting jazz/pop guitar album is every bit as good as the sound quality (and that is rarely the case with these kinds of records – we should know, we’ve played scores of them)

Hearing is definitely believing, especially in our unique corner of the record business — we don’t give a fig about who, why or when a record was made; we just play it and judge it based on what we hear in its grooves. Needless to say. this pressing of the album was judged to be a knockout.

Apparently the album has garnered attention from other audiophiles – HDTracks offers a high-rez digital download of it! (more…)