More of the Music of Emerson, Lake and Palmer
Reviews and Commentaries for Emerson, Lake and Palmer’s Debut
If you’ve got the system to play this one loud enough, with the low end weight and energy it requires, you are in for a treat.
The organ that opens side two will rattle the foundation of your house if you’re not careful. This music really needs that kind of megawatt reproduction to make sense. This is bombastic prog that wants desperately to rock your world. At moderate levels it just sounds overblown and silly. At loud levels, it actually will rock your world.
To play this record right, you should have, at a minimum:
- Big dynamic speakers, and they should be pulled well out into the room to create a three-dimensional presentation, in this case of a live rock concert. If they are too big for the room, and stuck in the corners, you haven’t got a chance.
- A large room — our new studio has a 12 foot ceiling, a big help with recordings such as this.
- Strong walls with no windows, and a concrete floor to keep the bass from leaving the room (if at all possible).
- Seating for a single listener far from any boundary, especially the back wall (a common problem with small-ish rooms).
- Extensive room treatments to deal with the loud levels required by this music.
- Enough power to move all the air in the listening room with authority.
- And, finally, high quality electricity, a heavily tweaked front end and all the rest of the audio stuff we discuss so often on this blog.
Without all of these things, it’s hard for us to imagine anyone could hear this record sound the way the artists and engineers wanted it to. Playing a record like this in a small room at moderate levels practically guarantees that the listener will not be able to hear what makes the best copies of this album so special.
Our system evolved over the decades to play these kinds of records, primarily for two reasons:
- We love music and want to hear our favorite recordings sound their best, and
- With this much money on the line, we have to be right about the superior sound of the vintage Hot Stamper pressings we offer if we want to stay in business.
Take a Pebble
Superb sound! Big, spacious and effortlessly alive. So dynamic too.
Lots of sibilance though, which means it’s a good test for cartridge and arm setup. Higher quality arms and cartridges — at least those cartridges that are not only of higher quality but are more neutral, two things that cannot be assumed to go together — should be able to track the sibilance with less grit and distortion.
The piano on the best copies is clear and solid. Compare any two or more copies for how much weight, clarity and freedom from smear on the individual notes can be heard on each.
The copy with the best sounding piano is probably going to be the copy with the best sound, period.
Eddie Offord engineered Fragile, and the song South Side of the Sky at the end of side one has an exceptionally well recorded piano as well. I am not aware of any engineer who has done a better job recording the piano for a rock or pop album. On Big Speakers at Loud Levels it is a powerful instrument indeed.
We like our pianos to sound natural (however one chooses to define the term).
We like them to be solidly weighted.
We like them to be free of smear, a quality that is rarely mentioned in the audiophile reviews we read.