Sonic Grade: F
The original grade I gave out in 2015 when last I played this remastered version as part of a shootout was “D.” I explained at the time:
Just listen to how strange Van’s voice sounds, so lean, hard and sour. That alone qualifies it for an “F,” but considering how bad most pressings of this album are, let’s be fair, if not downright generous, and call it a “D.”
I just revisited the record in a current shootout, and after giving it some thought I have decided that the right grade is in fact “F.” It cannot be any other, for reasons I discuss below.
In 2014 I had written:
Where is the Tubey Magic of the originals? The sweetness? The richness? And why is there so little ambience or transparency? You just can’t “see” into the studio on this pressing the way you can on the good originals, but that’s fairly consistently been the knock on these remastered Heavy Vinyl records. We noted as much when we debunked Blue all the way back in early 2007, so no surprise there.
Having just played a marvelous shootout-winning early pressing, this time around I found the reproduction of Van’s voice on the reissue to be so leaned-out, artificial and unpleasant that I could hardly stand to listen to it.
We had reset the VTA correctly; the overall tonal balance of the recording from top to bottom was correct. It was only the voice that sounded so off. All the other shortcomings I had mentioned before were still true of course, but none of that mattered. The singer on this record just sounded awful.
As you know, we are constantly making improvements to our playback system. The real Moondance we had just played sounded better than ever. The fake Moondance, however, was sounding worse than ever. That’s what higher quality playback can do for you. It makes your good records sound better than they’ve ever sounded, and shows you just how bad your bad records really are.
Do I have a bad copy of the Heavy Vinyl pressing? Maybe, can’t say I don’t. If any of you out there in the real world have a copy of this pressing that you like, and would be willing to send it to me to hear for myself, I would be more than happy to give it a listen and report my findings on this blog.
Short of that I’m not sure what more I can do. I certainly do not feel the least bit inclined to waste a nickel of my hard earned money on another copy of this ridiculously badly mastered crap vinyl.
If you want to read about other records that have these same shortcomings, here are links to the ones we’ve auditioned and identified to date. Our advice would be to avoid them, and if you own some of these pressings, perhaps now is the time to give them another listen and see if you don’t hear the same faults we did.
And, of course, the Hot Stamper pressings we offer, when played side by side with any of these Heavy Vinyl remasters, can help you to see more clearly just where these new records are going wrong, or, in the case of Moondance, completely off the rails.
Here are more records that we found to have similar shortcomings. They are, to one degree or another,
- Lacking in ambience
- Artificial sounding
- Hard sounding
- Lacking in transparency
- Lacking in richness
- Tonally leaned out
- Sour sounding
- Lacking any trace of Tubey Magic
Some Fun Quotes (bolding added)