Listen to the trumpet at the start of Freddie Freeloader. Most copies do not clearly convey the transient information of Miles’ horn, causing it to have an easily recognizable quality we talk about all the time on the site: smear.
No two pressings will have precisely the same amount of smear on his trumpet, so look for the least smeary copy that does everything else right too.
Meaning simply that smear is important, but not all-important.
If you click on the above link, you will see that we regularly talk about smeary pianos, smeary brass, smeary violins and smeary Classic Records classical reissues. Nobody else seems particularly bothered by smear as far as we can tell, and one of our many theories about the stereo shortcomings of reviewers and audiophiles in general is that their systems are fairly smeary, so a little extra smear is mostly inaudible to them.
I had a smeary system for my first twenty or more years in audio, so I know whereof I speak.
And of course I was just as clueless as everybody else.
We’ve worked very hard over the last twenty years or so to make sure our system has a practically undetectable amount of smear. Any smear we hear on a record means that the smear is on the record. It is not the product of shortcomings in our playback system.
And almost any system that uses vintage tubes — whatever their pros and cons, however much you may like the sound they produce — will have some smear.
We got rid of our tube equipment a long time ago, and having done so, the smear it added to the sound of the records we were playing at that time was dramatically reduced.
About a hundred other tweaks and improvements got rid of the rest. As I say, it took about twenty years.