Howard Popeck talks to Tony Andrews – one of our contributing editors about the audible differences between the CD issue already reviewed on the site and the newly released double LP issue(s)
Neil, I and many readers really didn’t know about Linda before you wrote your review and so, thank you. Now what?
Anyone who read my review of The Fetch will already know that this has to be my favourite CD at the moment by a huge margin. The musicianship and Linda's magical voice just lifts me on to a higher plain of understanding what true excellence really means in practice rather than in theory. With the current resurgence of vinyl it made perfect sense to me to hear the double LP.
And your first impressions?
My first impressions before even playing it was the fantastic quality of the product itself with a reassuring physical weight which confirms the superior quality of the pressings. Once the cover is opened you’ll see that the design is so thoughtfully created with information in abundance.
In terms of info, superior to the CD?
The CD is very well recorded and a joy to listen to but CD packaging ….. however well done ..... can be quite uninspiring as with most CDs. The double vinyl is such a joy to own.
A collector’s item in the making?
Yes. It is a bit like owning a superior coffee table book. It has real substance. This is a quality product; one which I’ll treasure forever.
Okay, thanks, and …. ?
Even the protective sleeves are of superior quality with heavy-duty polythene inners to protect the records. The musical content is the same as the CD with the addition of one extra track title Who's There?
You own a lot of vinyl, right?
I own a lot of vinyl much of which is on labels which were hailed as audiophile quality pressings. These include pressings on the Gale Label, Sheffield Labs and JVC to name but a few. These all had one thing in common and that was that however good they were they were never perfect; something which infuriated me on many occasions. (Slight edge to Tony's voice here)
What do you mean by ‘not perfect’?
Maybe I am asking to much but if I buy an Audiophile Record pressed on pure virgin vinyl I naturally expect the pressing to be exceptionally quiet but I have been disappointed so many times even from the aforementioned very expensive specialist labels. This is added irritation when I can buy a bog stand vinyl from a label like HMV, Decca etc., and the pressing will be as good or even better than an Audiophile product.
So, in this context, the focus of this discussion, then …..?
A fantastic pressing with minimal surface noise. This maybe due to the specialist Record Company "Pancromatic "being Norwegian. Apparently this record label is owned by Tormod Opedal who is fastidious about his efforts to create perfection. I’ve spent a lot of time in this magical country and they do have high aspirations to quality in everything they do.
Okay, so back to this particular double LP
The first impressions on listening is that in background noise terms this quieter than any record in my vast collection. I know it was the thing to do in the past to rubbish the CD format - if you were a true audiophile - but at least with CDs there were never any crackles, pops or surface noise.
Fair enough. You use a pretty impressive digital replay system – correct?
I am very fortunate in owning a CD playing system which can give vinyl quality sound every time if the source material; the original recording is of an appropriate quality. This includes the sensational masterpiece of engineering ….. the Sony SCD1 but with the CD output fed into an original Chord DAC 64 using BKS Pure Silver Interconnects and Chord Cables Signature Digital Link. Using this system it is virtually impossible to hear the difference between CD & Vinyl until now.
Any idea why that might be?
I assume the vinyl-like quality is down to the SCD1 Transport being exceptionally well engineered which sends such a pure digital signal to the Chord DAC 64 and this is processing in 64 Bit. The CD output of the SCD1 is very good and was compared very favorably with a £12,000 Linn CD at the time they were both current products.
When you switch to the Chord DAC 64 the difference in sound quality is huge. I did a lot of research before purchasing the SCD1 and DAC64 as I intended these to be with me for many years.
You’re not one for upgrading for the sake of it, are you?
Okay, so what’s so good about Linda’s vinyl release?
Hmm, not hum?!
Oh – okay.
It has a quality which I find difficult to explain. The sound is fuller and appears to have more detail and is ….. well ….. just nicer to listen to.
Okay, I'll return to this shortly. Meanwhile, what about your vinyl replay equipment?
I use an Alphason Sonata Turntable with the matching HR-100S-MCS Titanium Arm and Audio Technica OC9 Cartridge and the sound is …. to use that old fashioned expression ….. it’s mind blowing.
I can hear things that are just not apparent on the CD. I read a review of the SACD version of Kind of Blue by Miles Davis where it was stated that via SACD Technology that you could clearly hear the ambience and acoustic of the actual recording studio. I can confirm this to be true because my treasured Sony SCD1 was primarily designed to be an SACD Player.
Okay, so far – so good. But let’s get back to the vinyl The Fetch
This same effect is present on here and you feel as if you are in the recording studio with the musicians. I will continue to treasure the CD Version but I will revert to LPs whenever possible in future to gain the ultimate pleasurable listening experience.
As I have already stated The Fetch is musically superb beyond description and the addition of the bonus track “Who's There?” really is a treasure. It’s a delightful up-tempo ballad of the same quality of the rest of the music.
So, what’s the rest of your system Tony?
I use a Musical Fidelity Nuvista M3 Integrated amplifier with Musical Fidelity X-LP2 Dual Monoblock phonostage. This feeds a pair of BKS Athos Hybrid Ribbon Speakers in Black Granite which are masterpieces of Danish design and of outstanding sonic quality. The Interconnects are mostly BKS Pure Silver and the speaker cables are BKS Purest Copper in a Plaited Format especially designed for The Athos. I also use True Colours Interconnects which are so good when compared with cables at 10 times the price. To finish off I have a Sony DAB Tuner and Musical Fidelity headphone amplifier. I am so happy with the sound I have no intention of changing a thing.
Please describe your listening room; dimensions, furnishings and so on
Too small at 14x19 feet and heavily furnished but the only detrimental affect is the BKS Athos can be slightly over active at the bass end. That said, it can make Double Bass sound so lifelike as to be uncanny.
We get a lot of retailers reading our posts and so if we may, I want to steer the discussion towards a dealer perspective. You okay with that?
So to set the scene, the retailer is comparing CD to the vinyl for a person re-entering vinyl replay after many years. The digital and vinyl versions of The Fetch are used for the comparison. Okay so far?
Great. Please select three tracks that most easily and convincingly demonstrate the superiority of analogue over digital in this context. And by way of a bit of hand-holding can you point out what are for you – for each of the three chosen tracks, what to look for in the comparison?
I find it difficult to pick on specific tracks because as I listened every track had something different to make me sit up and take notice. My favourite track is Confessional with Cut and Run, Maida Vale and Earth & Stars very close behind. Each of these had a exceptional reality to the sound of the instruments but as I have already stated every track is outstanding.
Look ….. I am very uneasy in getting to specifics as I don’t want listeners concentrating on listening to the recording rather than the music which is enhanced by the exceptional recording quality on both the CD but even better on Vinyl. Apparently according to Producer Mo Foster (seen below) the LPs were created in 24 bit where The CD was in 16 bit.
Maybe this is an important factor.
Thanks. Helpful, but only to a degree. I have to say I feel a bit uncomfortable placing this wonderful recording in the temporary position of being a demonstration ‘tool’. But ….. that said …. It didn’t do Patricia Barber’s sales any harm, so I suppose from that perspective I suppose it’s acceptable. What do you think?
I think the comparison with Cafe Blue by Patricia Barber is very apt as this CD/SACD helped her be recognized as the fantastic Singer/Pianist she truly is. I believe that Patricia was booked for many Audiophile Shows in The US for many years on the strength of Cafe Blue and some opined that she was The Queen of Audiophilia.
I personally would not hesitate to use The Fetch on CD and Vinyl to demonstrate Hi-Fi equipment ….. if that was the business I was in. My only reservation would be nothing to do with the recording quality though. When demoing Hi-Fi, most listeners want music they can relate to which is why - sadly - Dire Straights were so popular at Hi-Fi Shows in the 80/90s. I rest my case.
Okay, I was hoping for a more expansive, more in-depth set of responses but yes of course I understand where you are coming from.
Okay, great, pressure off then?
Not quite yet Tony; not ..... quite. I don’t want to put words in your mouth – usually – but here and now I might have to. You okay with that?
Well, let’s see. (Tony grins his usual winning smile at this point)
Okay, here we go. The difference between the dynamics, tonal characteristics, ambience, depth and height of image are readily and easily discernable by probably anyone when comparing the vinyl The Fetch to the digital The Fetch. Correct?
Yes, in my experience.
Providing that the demo is fair in that both versions are played at the identical sound pressure level as measured by even a simple sound pressure meter. Correct?
And that the original performance is too important to be consigned to being merely a state-of-the-art demonstration tool. Correct?
Yup, you said it better than me!
And that both are in most situations, equally capable of creating sheer joy in the heart and soul of the listener?
Not sure about equally, but …. well …. along those lines. But …
It’s gonna be difficult except for just a few hundred worldwide. Because the double LP version is a very, very limited pressing. A few hundred only I believe. Including the special versions.
What can you tell your readers about special versions?
These are available from specialist suppliers as limited editions of 400 in Black and 200 in Coloured Vinyl. First come – first served. They are selling very fast so I’m informed and at a bargain price when compared to single LPs currently gracing the racks in what is remaining of the record shops in Central London.
Thanks. Anything else?
This masterpiece of musicianship and technical excellence as far as recording quality will now join Linda's previous vinyl treasures Affinity and Pieces of Me - especially first pressings. Once The Fetch double LP has sold out I assume the value will rocket as her two previous incarnations have. I was offered a lot of money to sell Affinity and Pieces of Me” by a record dealer some years ago when times were a little trying.
But you didn’t, did you?
Nope and I am so glad I refused.
Thank you Tony
And thank you Mr. P
Fancy a pint then?
Additional information from Mo Foster:
As you know, I produced this album — The Fetch — for my old bandmate Linda Hoyle. The CD was released on Angel Air Records. We had always fancied a vinyl release — especially because of Roger Dean's wonderful artwork — but it was not to be. Until now.
We were contacted by a Norwegian company —Pancromatic Records — who specialise in vinyl LPs. To fill four sides of the vinyl Linda and I had to write and record a brand new song: 'Who's There?' The double LP is now available.
It looks great, sounds great, and even smells great. The company only pressed 600 copies, but if you would like one here is the info:
For solid blue, black, and white vinyl: http://www.shinybeast.nl/item/441875/hoyle_linda_the_fetch_2lp_col.html
Useful relevant links re Affinity LP prices:
Useful relevant links re Pieces Of Me LP prices:
How to identify original vinyl pressings: