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Deja Vu all over again! (Did you say 45rpm??!!)

[Italian version]

Classic Records Demo of the 33 1/3 vs. 45 rpm
The knowledge that 45rpm playback provides far higher fidelity is no secret. In fact, at the beginning of the antepenultimate LP era there were a number of companies that experimented with 45rpm issues in an attempt to capture the attention and approbation of the audiophile market.
Angel had done a few, and only today I learned of the existence of a Japanese pressing of "Cannonball Adderly in Chicago" on a "Japanese Mercury" 12" 45 rpm.
According to J. C. O'Connell, (in a post to one of the audio-oriented internet mailing list groups), "it only runs 23 minutes total but the sound is incredibly excellent. Dates from 1977 but all the liner notes are in Japanese only. It was a quintet. It sounds like a direct-disk it is so good".
(On the same list, Tony LaFoglia responded "The LP was recorded in Chitown [sic] in 1959. The 1977 date is most likely a reissue date as Cannonball died in 1975, as I recall. . . . The original lp was issued in 1960. . . . One of the trends for awhile in the 70's early 80's was for some labels to issue "audiophile" 45rpm edition 12" records.
EMI/Angel even did this with some classical titles. I have at least one of those".
(This dialogue was probably prompted by a post concerning the Classic 45rpm demo heard at our meeting).
For those of you who never acquired any of the D2Ds (Sheffield Labs innovated it) when they first appeared in the mid-late '70s, they threw audiophiles into a tizzy over their clear, unveiled sonics. For most of us, they were the closest we had ever heard to what a master tape might sound like.
However, their necessarily limited production was highly impractical for wide scale record distribution, and so, the process was relatively short lived, and confined to just a very few audiophile labels. But I believe that the D2D was a wake-up call to the mass market producers, and resulted in the emergence of the experiments with 45s which occurred at around that time. This too was short-lived, no doubt governed by dismal bottom line sales, for most of them were not very impressive.
If this Adderly disc is an exception, it is probably due more to the care and feeding in mastering by the legendary Japanese sound engineers than anything else.
The Classic discs support this assumption, for even on John's "low end" front end (Adcom GTP Tuner/Preamp and Onkyo turntable/Shure cartridge--an older one, at that), the differences were quite audible.
So, if you are thinking that only the audiophile upper crust can fully appreciate these recordings, you are much mistaken.

The audiophile realist's quote ot the month

(maybe of the year . . . maybe the decade!): "If I had a $7000 cartridge I'd be afraid to play a record!" said by Earle Stevens when Anna Airhead asked if his cartridge was a Clearaudio Insider.
The first comparison that was done sampled test pressings of the 33 1/3 versions of the LSC2449 album that features the ballet music of Gounod (from Faust) on one side and excerpts from Bizet's opera, Carmen, on the other.
In this case, we were comparing the Carmen excerpts. As it happened, quite a few people in attendance had never heard any of the Classic reissues before, so the entire program was a revelation, starting at ground zero with the wonderful clarity and extension of the 33 1/3 reproduction.
Thus, given the general mood of the room -- that "it doesn't get much better than this!" -- the switch to the 45rpm cuts of the same recording induced an awestruck reaction. These were audibly superior in terms of intimate detail -- not the "spotlighted" kind (though some of depth and width of the image, as well as a refined level mistakenly thought it was a trick of multi-miking, not fully understanding that both pressings were made from the original RCA "Living Stereo" master tape), but rather the same coherence and clarity that one hears in a live performance.
The orchestra presents an homogeneous, blended sound, yet within that there is no difficulty whatever discerning the separate instrumental choirs and even the sense one gets of individual instruments playing within those groups.
All those aural "clues" are discernible and present to a much higher degree in the 45 pressing. In short, to everyone present, it was an earful!

Overheard at the NJAS meeting

At the climactic finish of the Classic Records 33 1/3 pressing playback of the Bizet Carmen selections, a quiet voice in the background was heard to mutter: "Take that, you CD lovers!"

This was also one of those rare instances where nearly everyone simply sat and listened -- all the way through! (A tribute to the ITC-7s as well as to Classic Records, I think).
Nevertheless, in the interest of time, I limited the second sampling to the first half of side 2 of LSC2225, Witches' Brew, consisting of the Malcolm Arnold "Overture to Tam O'Shanter." The 33 1/3 alone will put any system through it's paces, having broad dynamics, high frequency extension that will bring every dog in the neighborhood running and a low end that probably registers on the seismograph at Cal Tech!
Given a 45rpm transfer, the results were mind-boggling. Shimmering, lustrous lifelike orchestral tuttis contrasted with hold-your-breath merest whispers of sound emanating from quiet, defect-free, vinyl surfaces.
So accurate-sounding was this that even a myriad of ambient noises captured during recording could be discerned. A guest attendee, Gary Johnston, later commented in an email to one of the internet audio groups that "I found the differences when you listened from one to the other to be pretty amazing in terms of more presence in the midrange, a wider stage presence, and an overall larger sound. There also seemed to be much greater dynamic range with the 45's".


These are, essentially, limited production products, and will not be carried in the catalog per se. So, if you are interested in acquiring these discs, you must sign up ahead of time to be on the "call" list of those who want to place orders as each new release is available.
While you are not obligated to do so (when the time comes), you may very definitely be left out in the cold if you don't preregister.
According to Mike Hobson, ". . .these [are] strictly limited to initial demand and pre-orders. Once the pressing run is determined, there will be no extras and the stamper will be destroyed after the pressing run is complete." (emphasis mine, A.L.).
To get on the pre-order list, call (800) 457-2577 (outside the US, the number is (213) 466-9694). The first release, (LSC2222, Debussy's Iberia) is GONE, and as of May 15, there were about 200 copies left of the Reiner/CSO Also Sprach Zarathustra (LSC1806, 4 discs), and limited supplies of the Verve 6149 reissue of the "Sonny Stitt Blows The Blues" album for you jazz fans. Scheduled for Release in June are the Gounod Ballet Music (Faust) album with the Royal Opera House Orchestra conducted by Gibson, and the Reiner/CSO "Festival" album, which features Russian orchestral favorites including one of the best-ever versions of A Night On Bare Mountain. (*Shiver!*)
p.s. The usual disclaimers apply. My only interest in seeing that Classic Records and other reissue labels survive is so that I will have a continuous supply of brand new, defect-free, fabulous sounding, high quality 180 gram vinyl records to buy.

© Copyright 1998 Anna Logg

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