Workin’ Miles Davis Quintet. JVCXR CD?

I originally posted in HiFi Corner, but was advised to re-post here.

Have you listened to this CD? Imaging? Sound Stage? Tonal balance? PRaT? I am listening to it via a CD5si and SN3. Does it sound dull or overly warm? If so, would you attribute that to the CD player, SN3, Spendor A4 or something else?

I will go see if i have (shortly); in the meantime; perhaps check the condition of the disc…

Look at the underside, ‘scratches’?, and any damage to top surface? Data layer is 5% of way from top surface, and 95% of way from the underside… scratches to the top are destructive to the data, whereas the underside is for the laser to focus, very accurately, into the pits and grooves.
I’d NEVER buy ‘buffed’ discs (where someone has simply ‘polished away’ some of the scratches in the underside, as this will alter the ability of the disc to be read cleanly/‘clearly’ by the transport.
Many who do not understand digital say ‘error correction’ and all sorts of wishes and fairytales with regards to how ‘perfect’ it is…
The reality is well maintained discs read by great transports (ideally into NOS DACs) simply sound ‘better’.
scratched CDs might still play ‘perfectly fine’ (to those who discern ‘no difference’) but the imaging quality drops right off, and, as someone who has played some horrendously scratched CDs (worked in a hock shop) the bass lines all but disappear. (Scratched discs sound ‘trebly’)
Which makes sense when we think of how long a bass frequency is ie 20hz is a 20 metre long wavelength that needs to have ‘perfect reads’ or else it falls apart and loses its’ strength.
scratched CDs and ‘buffed CDs’ sound quite horrible and I won’t own either in my collection. (buffed discs simply leads to expensive transports wearing out needlessly just like scratched CDs make the whole system work very hard)

Arguably, if it was left in a car, or is a copy made on a dye that has ‘done its time’, it may simply be past its ‘sell by date’.
I use a Yamaha burner that burns longer pits/ grooves, ‘pro master recording’; its great quality though, but fits a lot less audio on a blank CD. (and I used to love researching which factories were making the best batches of any given media ‘back in the day’)

Great CDs are on a gold reflective layer (increases readability; lowers BLER /read error rates and equals less dependencies on error correction (always sound WAY more ‘bassy’ than regular silver discs)), and ideally have a ‘picture disc’ coating on the top surface… (again, ‘aids reflectivity’).
I like my discs to be ruler flat and weigh something (‘solid’)… not all discs are equal.

Alternatively, you might simply not like the source master that JVC used for the transfer, or the processing in producing the XRCD. Does the booklet shed any light on the provenance?

Do other (normal) CDs sound similar? Do other XRCDs sound similar?

I was going to comment that the album is in mono, but when I played my Japanese SACD, I discovered this release is in stereo. I didn’t think Prestige was doing stereo at that time, and I confirmed my versions of Cookin’ and Relaxin’ (both recorded at the same time as Workin’) were mono.

Can any expert comment?

I have the RVG remaster, Prestige 0888072300804, which I bought in Bristol some years back together with Steamin’, Relaxin’, and Cookin’, all for £3 each. It would have been rude not to. Anyway, my copy is definitely mono, but it does have a realism and depth to it. It’s a good recording for 1956.

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I do not know this one but I believe the JVC XRCD (VICJ-60126) credits Alan Yoshida as the mastering engineer (from the Discogs entry). He is highly regarded among audiophiles. However he doesn’t always have the best source tape, not sure what JVC used here.

The recordings were done in May and October 1956 and should be MONO. It is often stated that RVG started using a two track recorder (stereo) in March 1957. If there are stereo versions then one should assume that they were electronically derived from the mono recording? Some re-issues could also be carelessly mis-labeled?

The London Jazz Collector article on this indicates Sep/Oct 1957 as the earliest stereo recording for the Prestige label: PRST 7147, Paul Quinichette, Basie Reunion.
It also says (about Rudy Van Gelder recordings) , quote:

…"Prior to March 7, 1957: mono single track tape only, grey area immediately follows

May 8 1957 – Oct 31, 1958, both single and two track simultaneously

After October 31, 1958 , all recordings on two track tape only"

I don’t know what got into me. I just played my Workin’ through headphones, and it’s clearly mono. Maybe I accidently chose a different album. To be honest, I don’t always remember which tracks are on which Davis albums within a particular era.

False alarm. Sorry.

I will note that Discogs describes several releases of the albums as stereo.

Also describes the release I have as stereo.

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I am really not concerned whether it is stereo or mono. I raised specific questions about the recording quality. Tonal balance and imaging/sound staging etc. even mono records can image and soundstage. Much of what I asked regains unanswered. Thanks.

Did that not answer your question?

Um… you might need to explain what you mean here

Most of the replies seem to be concerned with whether the recording was stereo or mono. My point was that whether the recording was stereo or mono really has no bearing on my original questions.

True; but you did ask about soundstage, and I think you might be expecting too much from a mono recording. Depth - maybe; width - no…

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Ok. Fair point. I am most interested in the tonal balance.

On a balance of probabilities (as I don’t have the cd nor, it would seem, does anyone else) I would attribute it to either the source master or poor choices in the xrcd transfer.

Have you heard it sound better on a different system?

@AndyR Thanks. I used to have a Rega system with a Saturn and Rega RX3 speakers and Rega integrated. It got destroyed in a home renovation and we were without a system for 3-5 months. I remember the tonal balance to be less warm. I remember vaguely less PRAT and different imaging. However audio memory over time is unreliable.

Could be some psychoacoustic effects in play too. My gut feeling is that mono can sound ‘different’ for reasons other than the obvious. Stereo can mask things the system is doing (or not) that are more obvious in mono. Mono should give a distinct central ‘image’; whether it does depends on many things that are now different in your new system, such as speaker position, dispersion pattern, and room acoustics. These of course are also affecting stereo playback, but how your brain is ‘decoding’ the differences will affect your perception.

If it’s really bugging you - I’d suggest trying out a variety of stereo and mono recordings and see if you can spot a pattern. Maybe try some recordings that are new to you - see if they sound ‘wrong’, rather than just ‘different’?

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@AndyR Good suggestion. So far I have been trying many CDs. There is no pattern I can detect, but there are differences from one recording to the next. I guess that speaks for the system’s ability in the “resolving” area.

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