Larry Kart

Best and worst sounding RVG Blue Note CD

14 posts in this topic

Thought of raising this topic while listening to Lee Morgan's "Tom Kat." There may be a better-sounding RVG Blue Note CD, but if so its name doesn't occur to me right now. I'm particularly taken by how Lee's upper register and that of McCoy Tyner's piano come through, especially because RVG's approach to piano micing has often been criticized for lopping off upper-register info. (Having grown up on RVG's piano sound, it took me a good while to notice this, but it is noticeable on many dates, especially on the recordings he did with Biil Evans for Verve.) As for worst sounding RVG Blue Note CD, off the top of my head I'd vote for "Speak Like A Child" even in its re-mastered form,  both for the way Hancock's piano sound is virtually crushed and for the lack of air around the ensemble. 

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The Soothsayer and Out To Lunch are among the worst.  The Audiowave XRCD of Tom Cat is fantastic.

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Pete La Roca Basra, only released in Japan (and Europe with copy protection*), is the best Blue Note RVG CD remaster I think I have heard. I still prefer the way Joe Henderson sounds on the very good BN Works (TOCJ-4205) with its wider soundstage, but the highs of the cymbals are a tad rolled off, though not as bad as other BN Works titles, and the RVG is not too hot.

The absolute worst RVG CD remaster would be hard to pick, but one that immediately comes to mind is actually a Prestige New Jazz album, Eric Dolphy and Booker Little at the Five Spot Vol. 1 & 2. The sound is drastically changed from what is on the tapes to create a booming bass. Only in the process there is actually at times distortion introduced in Booker's trumpet sound. Clearly audible on my Sennheiser HD 650s years ago back when I was listening on headphones only.  The best (SA)CDs of the three Five Spot albums are IMO the Japanese DSD remasters from 2007 by Kazuie Sugimoto and the Analogue Productions Hybrid SACD of vol. 1 by Kevin Gray.

 

* The copy protection used on the European Blue Note CDs in the mid 00s introduced audible artefacts. Digital pops only audible on headphones, but exactly reproducible. Avoid the Blue Note CDs pressed during that era at all cost. 

10 hours ago, CJ Shearn said:

The Soothsayer and Out To Lunch are among the worst.  The Audiowave XRCD of Tom Cat is fantastic.

The SHM-SACD of Out to Lunch, UCGQ-9020 from 2017, is the best by far. It's not hybrid and does not come with the bonus tracks.

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2 hours ago, erwbol said:

Pete La Roca Basra, only released in Japan (and Europe with copy protection*), is the best Blue Note RVG CD remaster I think I have heard. I still prefer the way Joe Henderson sounds on the very good BN Works (TOCJ-4205) with its wider soundstage, but the highs of the cymbals are a tad rolled off, though not as bad as other BN Works titles, and the RVG is not too hot.

I am with you here. That is a phenomenal-sounding CD. Joe Henderson sounds like he's in the room with you. The Japanese version of Lee Morgan's "Search for the New Land" is a close second and the Japanese version of Jimmy Smith's "Back at the Chicken Shack" might sneak into the #3 spot.

My least favorite sounding RVG CD was the Japanese version of Jackie McLean's "A Fickle Sonance". So tinny. Ugh. Sounded like it was mastered with some strange EQ.

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51 minutes ago, bresna said:

I am with you here. That is a phenomenal-sounding CD. Joe Henderson sounds like he's in the room with you.

I bought the Japanese RVG of Basra after reading your comment either here on on the Hoffman forums. So, it's more like I'm with you.

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1 hour ago, bresna said:

I am with you here. That is a phenomenal-sounding CD. Joe Henderson sounds like he's in the room with you. The Japanese version of Lee Morgan's "Search for the New Land" is a close second and the Japanese version of Jimmy Smith's "Back at the Chicken Shack" might sneak into the #3 spot.

My least favorite sounding RVG CD was the Japanese version of Jackie McLean's "A Fickle Sonance". So tinny. Ugh. Sounded like it was mastered with some strange EQ.

Was there ever a decent sounding cd issued of A Fickle Sonance? Did the original lp sound as poorly as the RVG cd?  Is it worth seeking out the lp for better sound? 

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Posted (edited)

4 hours ago, erwbol said:

The SHM-SACD of Out to Lunch, UCGQ-9020 from 2017, is the best by far. It's not hybrid and does not come with the bonus tracks.

The recent 2013 Japanese SHM-CD issue of Out to Lunch -- the one with the extra 14-minutes of bonus tracks (alts of "Hat and Beard" and "Something Sweet...") -- also sounds pretty phenomenal.  And I say that as someone who's NOT much of an audiophile, but the sound-quality improvement over my RVG was like night and day better (something I rarely notice that much).

https://www.discogs.com/Eric-Dolphy-Out-To-Lunch/release/8645147

I would assume this even more recent 2019 Japanese reissue would sound the same? (which also has the bonus tracks)...

https://www.discogs.com/Eric-Dolphy-Out-To-Lunch-2/release/13735106

I haven't upgraded to very many of those 2013-era SHM-CD's out of Japan -- just a few that had new extra material (Unity being the other most significant one, in terms of bonus tracks, and Mode For Joe had one incredibly sweet bonus track that hadn't ever been released before, and the Shorter title I'm forgetting).  But in every case, the sound-quality of those releases has been really stellar (again, something I rarely notice all that much).

 

Edited by Rooster_Ties

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The new remasters released on regular CDs last June and July for Blue Note's 80th anniversary are also very good and do not suffer from the limiting problems a handful of the 75th anniversary SHM-CDs had.

37 minutes ago, sonnyhill said:

Was there ever a decent sounding cd issued of A Fickle Sonance? Did the original lp sound as poorly as the RVG cd?  Is it worth seeking out the lp for better sound? 

The 75th anniversary SHM-CD, UCCQ-5092, is good and worth seeking out, but is one of those with just a bit too much limiting IMO. When there are already peaks in the audio like on McCoy Tyner's Expansions or Wayne Shorter's Odyssey of Iska this creates problems unless you prefer to listen on low volumes anyway.

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43 minutes ago, sonnyhill said:

Was there ever a decent sounding cd issued of A Fickle Sonance? Did the original lp sound as poorly as the RVG cd?  Is it worth seeking out the lp for better sound? 

I think the "regular" TOCJ CD sounds pretty decent. I bought the Japanese RVG because at the time, I was really digging their sound. I kept the TOCJ for my listening copy.

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38 minutes ago, Son Of Ice Bag said:

Best: Lonnie Smith: Think!

I am not an organ fan in general, but the RVG remasters sucked the life out of all organ CDs I heard, like Unity. I'm not saying Unity was the worst RVG, but it made the Hammond B3 even harder to listen to.

On the other hand, I loved the 75th anniversary SHM-CD of Unity with the unreleased alternates. Also John Patton's That Certain Feeling.

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1 hour ago, erwbol said:

I am not an organ fan in general, but the RVG remasters sucked the life out of all organ CDs I heard, like Unity. I'm not saying Unity was the worst RVG, but it made the Hammond B3 even harder to listen to.

On the other hand, I loved the 75th anniversary SHM-CD of Unity with the unreleased alternates. Also John Patton's That Certain Feeling.

The Sermon and Houseparty sound terrific.  My friend and I played the RVG on his system with Focal 948's, and it sounded amazing, like a B-3 sounds in real life, like when I saw Smith live.  The hi res version sounds pretty similar, just more relaxed bass  Shame you aren't an organ fan, there's an incredible world there when you open up to the early history: Bill Doggett, Milt Buckner, then on to Jimmy Smith, Jack McDuff, Larry Young, Johnny Hammond, Don Patterson, Charles Earland, there's some GREAT records there.

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The (U.S.) RVG of "A Fickle Sonance" does sound tinny. It sent me after the "Blue Note Works" CD, which is fine - as usual. So, get that version if you want a good one. There might very well be good Japanese versions since 2000.

The Japanese RVG of "Speak Like A Child" sounds great. (I haven't heard the U.S. RVG of that.) It has also a neat replica of the gatefold LP cover.

Overall, though, I haven't had much trouble with RVGs from either country. Often, they are the only way to get some tracks. An important example is "I'll Be Around", first take, by The Three Sounds, which was almost hidden on the JRVG of "Out Of This World". The CD sounds fine to me.

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My RVG Copy of Grantstand (Grant Green, the one with Yuseef Lateef and Brother McDuff) has a bad Sound Quality. 

And yes: "Fickle Sonance" the same. I don´t listen to it with pleasure.  Anyway as much as I remember this was made from two different sessions. In General I prefer the Albums that were made in one single session…..

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