Mike Vernon Mixed by: Dudgeon and John Mayall Mastered by:
Mike Vernon Mixed by: Dudgeon and John Mayall Mastered by: Bob Irwin MUSIC SOUND Randy Wells' recent review of this Sundazed reissue may have seemed thorough and matter-of-fact to most of you and judging by the emails, well appreciated, but the folks at Sundazed were anything but pleased, which kind of surprised me, though Wells did prefer the Audio Fidelity release so perhaps I should not have been surprised. Well the harm is to pride, and that can cut sharply even if the resultant press spurs Sundazed sales.
Rather than asking Sundazed for a copy I bought one from its website and had Mr. My recording engineer source tells me it's the best he's heard decoding his own high resolution digital recordings so I'm sure it's at least "pretty good"! First of all, this is not a great recording to begin with, though Gus Dudgeon would go on to making some of the great ones later in his career. But it's an honest recording, primitive and direct with a lot of microphone bleed-through as producer Vernon explains.
It's dimensionally flat overall and dynamically lackluster too and if you crank it up too loud it's a lot of fun but it will also make your ears bleed.
It's much better appreciated at moderate levels where the "live" quality still comes through and you hear decent instrumental differentiation without it turning into a pile of sonic hash.
To be used for Manufacture of Gramophone Records. And since I'm not sure exactly what tape Audio Fidelity used—either the same one, or a copy of the master sent to America by Decca—I can't account for why the two sound somewhat different. And of course two different sets of ears doing the mastering and probably EQ-ing. In fact, at first I thought perhaps he'd snuck in a bit of additional reverb but it's more that the warmth accentuates the reverb. The Audio Fidelity edition is definitely warmer and somewhat softer and easier on the ears and that warmth is in part I believe what Wells hears and describes as 'depth' on this mono recording.
But I do not hear the Sundazed as being "polite" in the treble compared to the Sundazed! It may give that impression because it sounds as if Gray has upped the midbass and therefore, the treble will be relatively polite by comparison, but at least on my system, I thought the Sundazed was more extended on top with a faster attack. I also thought the "reduced dynamics" he noted on the Sundazedis perhaps partly a result of the Audio Fidelity's midbass "push". Just compare the opening track's first few notes.
Neither version is a paragon of dynamic contrasts because the recording was born compressed. The Sundazed is definitely leaner in the mids, but tighter and more rhythmically taut—it's like comparing a softly sprung car with one that's tuned for better handling: Which version you might prefer is dependent upon the rest of your system, your sonic tastes and especially how loudly you like to listen.
I bet were Gray and Irwin to sit down and listen to both over a beer and discuss what they heard and what they did to finish the product, they would not be in disagreement.
No doubt Gray went for "audiophile" sensibilities with a somewhat warmer portrayal and Irwin went for the tighter, springier and I'm sure he'd say more honest approach. But really when there's no playback standard involved, no one's right and no one's wrong. It's just a matter of taste.
I found the Sundazed mastering more exciting and more detailed but I couldn't play it as loudly as the Audio Fidelity without sonic strain setting in. As for the vinyl, it was cut anonymously at an undisclosed location, probably from a digital source, hopefully at 24 bit resolution.
Judging by the relatively good fit'n'finish and the somewhat ragged edge, it has "Rainbo" written all over it—and these days that's not a bad thing, especially compared to still mediocre United in Nashville. The CD's top end through this monster MSB transport and DAC offered more detail, clarity and shimmer to the drums and overall better instrumental focus.
The LP sounded somewhat warmer but at the expense of transient precision and rhythmic certainty. So there you have it: Both CD are very good given the recording quality. The Audio Fidelity is easier to listen to, the Sundazed produced greater rhythmic excitement—on my system.
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The great state of Ohio, U. So what is the way to go re vinyl for this title?