RTI

Tsuyoshi Yamamoto Trio / Midnight Sugar on Two 45 RPM Discs

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More Commentaries and Reviews for Jazz Piano Recordings

Sonic Grade: B

We haven’t played a copy of this record in years, but back in the day we liked it, so let’s call it a “B” with the caveat that the older the review, the more likely we are to have changed our minds.

The following notes were added in 2023. The original review can be seen just below them.

We should point out that the original Japanese pressings are clearly better sounding than any of the Super-Cut Analogue Disks that were pressed at RTI, regardless of the cutting speed.

I remember auditioning the 33 RPM recut that had been done in 1995. I was a big fan of the album in those days, and I had at least one and maybe more than one authentic Japanese pressings of the album in my collection. I still own the Three Blind Mice CDs of a number of titles as well.

It was no contest, the early pressings were obviously better in every way. I was selling heavy vinyl back then, and that’s what I had to sell, so I raved about the sound of the RTI-pressed reissues and sold plenty of them. I never bothered to point out that they were not as good as the originals. They were good and that was pretty much all I was going to say about them.

The authentic Japanese pressings were expensive to buy and very hard to find. Although they were better sounding, anyone buying the new pressings was likely to be happy with them, and that was good enough for the business model of Better Records at the time.

What accounts for the fall-off in sound quality from the earlier pressings to the reissues, remastered in Japan and then pressed at RTI, is anyone’s guess.

Some of that reduction results from the substandard sound that virtually all RTI pressings tend to have, a subject we discussed in some detail in this commentary from years back.

As you may have read, we stopped selling new Heavy Vinyl titles in 2007, eliminating the temptation to say nice things about records that are in print and reasonably priced, but not really as good as they should be.

Our commentary for Blue gets at all these issues. The Rhino pressing is a good record, but not nearly as good as it should be, and hopelessly outclassed by the good original pressings, the ones cut by the formerly excellent engineer, Bernie Grundman.

We made the decision then and there to simply raise our standards, and that meant the end of us offering Heavy Vinyl pressings to our customers.

We like to sell records that are amazing sounding, not records that can easily be beaten by other pressings you may happen to have already, or probably could manage to acquire on your own.

Our White Hot Stamper section is the place to go if you are looking for records that are dramatically better sounding than any pressings you could hope to find on your own. They are guaranteed to blow your mind, or your money back.


Our Original Review from Circa 2004

This 45 RPM Three Blind Mice 180g Double LP has DEMO DISC SOUND! The 33 RPM versions were pretty darn amazing but these 45s take the sound of this recording to an entirely new level. 

There are a couple of quite obvious benefits to mastering this music at 45 RPM. One is that Yamamoto tends to use his right hand in a percussive manner, which creates tracking problems on most any set up. At 45 RPM the mastering engineer is able to cut those transients, full of difficult to deal with harmonics, much more cleanly and accurately. The result is a sense of “ease” that you don’t hear on the 33.

It’s a bit like having a slightly underpowered system which makes loud passages or transients seem to be right at the edge of distortion, and then switching to a more powerful amplifier and hearing those passages reproduced with the relaxed quality that more headroom gives you.

Also the sound opens up quite a bit on these 45s so that more of the room ambience is heard. The Japanese are famous for their close-miking, and sometimes the sense of real musicians in a real space is lacking. Here much of that quality is restored.

Yamamoto is one of the few Japanese jazz players who has any feel for the medium. If you like bluesy jazz piano with amazingly dynamic sound, you can’t go wrong here. 

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Bonnie Raitt on Heavy Vinyl – DCC + RTI = Audio Enervation

More of the Music of Bonnie Raitt

Reviews and Commentaries for Bonnie Raitt’s Albums

This commentary was the first I wrote criticizing the sound of DCC vinyl, probably around 2008 or so. During our shootout for Bonnie’s first Capitol album, we found that the DCC pressing was lacking in so many ways that I felt compelled to spell out for our customers what its shortcomings were. I had enthusiastically recommended the album in 1996 when it came out, but our first big shootout had shown me how wrong that judgment turned out to be. Our complete commentary from 2008 is reproduced below.

The no-longer-surprising thing about our Hot Stamper pressings of Nick Of Time is how completely they MURDER the DCC LP. Folks, it’s really no contest.

Yes, the DCC is tonally balanced and can sound very good, but it can’t compete with the best original pressings. It’s missing too much of the presence, intimacy, immediacy and transparency that we’ve discovered on the better original pressings. 

As is the case with practically every record pressed on Heavy Vinyl over the last twenty years, there is a suffocating loss of ambience throughout, a pronounced sterility to the sound.

Modern remastered records just do not BREATHE like the real thing.

Good EQ or Bad EQ, they all suffer to one degree or another from a bad case of audio enervation. Where is the life of the music? You can try turning up the volume on these remastered LPs all you want; they simply refuse to come to life.

We play albums like this VERY LOUD. I’ve seen Bonnie Raitt live a number of times and although I can’t begin to get her to play as loud in my listening room as she did on stage, I can try. To do less is to do her a disservice.

The DCC Approach

The DCC is too damn smooth. It’s an understandable approach for DCC to take, since this recording is more hyped-up than any of Bonnie’s earlier work, but this album actually has loads of personality and nuance. Just because an album sounds polished and maybe a bit too “clean,” it’s foolish to think that it lacks intensity or passion.

You listen to a track like “Thing Called Love” on the DCC, and it sounds good — the tambourine sounds like a tambourine, the bass sounds like a bass. The problem is you don’t hear the jingles of the tambourine hitting each other; the bass doesn’t smack you in the chest. When these elements are veiled, the life and, for lack of a better term, the point of the music go with them. (more…)