More of the Music of Neil Young
Reviews and Commentaries for Harvest
How does the heavy vinyl sound? We have no idea, never played one.
Actually, we do have an idea. Although we’ve never auditioned the heavy vinyl pressing of Harvest, we have played the newly remastered After the Gold Rush. We concluded that this is a reissue series that holds very little appeal for us as audiophiles. Some excerpts from our review for ATGR follow.
We know what the good pressings of the album sound like, we play them regularly, and this newly remastered vinyl is missing almost everything that makes the album essential to any Right Thinking Music Lover’s collection.
We can summarize the sound of this awful record in one word: boring. Since some of you may want to know more than that we’ll be happy to break it down for you a bit further.
What It Does Right
It’s tonally correct.
Can’t think of anything else…
What It Does Wrong
Where to begin?
It has no real space or ambience. When you play this record it sounds as if they must have recorded it in a heavily padded studio. Somehow the originals of After the Gold Rush, like most of Neil’s classic albums from the era, are clear, open and spacious.
Cleverly the engineers responsible for this audiophile remastering have managed to reproduce the sound of a dead studio on a record that wasn’t recorded in one.
In addition, the record never gets loud. The good pressings get very loud. They rock, they’re overflowing with energy.
And, lastly, there’s no real weight to the bottom end. The Whomp Factor on this new pressing is practically non-existent. The low end of the originals is huge, deep and powerful.
The Bottom Line
This new Heavy Vinyl pressing is boring beyond all understanding. I wouldn’t give you a nickel for it. If Neil Young actually had anything to do with it he should be ashamed of himself.
If you want a good copy of the album we have them on the site from time to time. If you can’t afford our Hot Stampers, please don’t waste your money on this one. I have an old CD from 30 years ago, and it is dramatically better than this LP.
Pass / Fail
We think the Heavy Vinyl pressing of After the Gold Rush is so awful that whatever supporters it may have — and there are surely some who have spoken well of it on audiophile forums somewhere, having seen the most ridiculously bad audiophile records touted again and again — are failing utterly in this hobby in one or both of the following ways.
They either cannot reproduce its shortcomings, or, having reproduced them, they have failed to recognize them.
Either one spells trouble. One or both should act as a wake up call of the most pressing kind. We explain what we mean by this kind of failure in more detail here:
Some records are so wrong, or are so lacking in qualities that are crucial to the reproduction of Hi-Fidelity sound — qualities typically found in abundance on the right vintage pressings — that the supporters of these records are failing fundamentally to judge them correctly. We call these records Pass-Fail.
Tea for the Tillerman on the new 45 may be substandard in almost every way, but it is not a Pass-Fail pressing. It lacks one thing above all others, Tubey Magic, so if your system has an abundance of that quality, the way many vintage tube systems do, the new pressing may be quite listenable and enjoyable. Those whose systems can play the record and not notice this important shortcoming are not exactly failing. They most likely have a system that is heavily colored and not very revealing, but it is not a system that is necessarily hopeless or unmusical.
A system that can play the MoFi of Aja without revealing to the listener how wrong it is must necessarily be at another level of bad entirely. A stereo of such poor quality is clearly a failure, what else could it be?
My system in the ’80s played the MoFi Aja just fine. Looking back on it now, I realize my system was doing more wrong than right. (Having very poorly-developed critical listening skills played a big part in my apparent satisfaction with both the MoFi pressing and the sound of my stereo in general.)
Today’s incarnation of that awful MoFi is the Cisco pressing, and yes, some folks are as clueless these days as I was in 1982.
Like all Self-Taught Audiophiles, I had a lousy teacher. I didn’t know it at the time — how could I? — but I had a very long way to go.
Some of the lessons I learned along the way, lessons you may find helpful in your own personal audio journey, can be found here.
The dramatic audio progress we’ve made in our 35 years in the record business, playing and selling thousands of audiophile quality vinyl LPs, is what has allowed us to recognize just how second- and third-rate most Heavy Vinyl and Half-Speed Mastered pressings really are.
Head to head with a good vintage LP — those you see pictured below, for example — they are simply not competitive. We think the new Harvest is unlikely to be worth our time, but if you have a copy of the album and like the sound of it, please send it to us so that we can hear it for ourselves We will put it up against the amazing sounding vintage pressings we offer and report our findings, whatever they turn out to be.