I pulled out my old Columbia CD of Dylan's JOHN WESLEY HARDING just to be sure....

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by Steve Hoffman, Aug 14, 2004.

  1. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Your Host Your Host Thread Starter

    ...That I wasn't leading anyone down the garden path. I wasn't. It's great. When I say great, I mean it's a neutral transfer of the tape.

    CK9604 DIDP 70097.

    If you have a copy, go pull it out now.

    First thing to do is play cut 8, I AM A LONESOME HOBO. Crank it up really loud as the beginning is very quiet. When the bass comes in do you hear that nice bottoming out of the bass amp? Should sound very full and balanced. When his voice comes in, it's a nice Neumann sound, very dynamic.

    OK, now, turn the volume down a bit and play cut 1, JOHN WESLEY HARDING. The first thing you notice (besides the out of tune gee-tar) is that Bob's voice sounds a bit harsher than track 8. Different session EQ. Play about 20 seconds of track 1 and skip to track 2, AS I WENT OUT ONE MORNING. Hear how Bob's voice sounds much better? More hi-fi and pure? Different mic EQ setting. Should sound really nice on any system.

    SO, if you can hear the difference clearly in Bob's vocal mic from track 1 to track 2 you know two things:

    1. You have a good stereo system.

    2. This CD was not futzed with in any way.

    Try and find a used copy of this old CD; there should be a ton of them out there now that the SACD is out.

    It's one of my favorite Dylan albums.

    And don't go mistaking paradise for that home across the road.
     
  2. Damián

    Damián Forum Hall Of Fame

    Location:
    Spain now
    Thanks for posting your impressions Steve. I was the one who started the JWH thread before this one, and even though I'm stuck with the SACD for now, it's good to know there is a better version out there, and that it shouldn't be all that hard to find.
     
  3. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Your Host Your Host Thread Starter

    I'm not saying the old CD is better than the SACD, it's just "different"....
     
  4. SamS

    SamS Forum Legend

    Location:
    Texas

    Can you elaborate, please? I had the original CD version for many years. Now that I have the SACD, I find it has that piercing harmonica on occasion, but I no longer have the original redbook to compare if it's better or worse :confused:
     
  5. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Your Host Your Host Thread Starter

    Look, I'm not going to say which I like better. Not my right.

    Forget the friggin' harmonica. It's his VOICE that you want to sound the best.
     
    dalem5467 and danielbravo like this.
  6. SamS

    SamS Forum Legend

    Location:
    Texas
    Gotcha. I tried this experiment to listen for what you described. Cranked up track 8 LOUD, and phheewww, harmonica comes and slices off my head :D Voice sounded great though ;)

    I did hear many of the things you described with the SACD. But, I may have to borrow the old redbook copy to see if I sold that bugger in too much haste.
     
  7. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Your Host Your Host Thread Starter

    My advice to you, borrow it.
     
  8. stever

    stever Forum Resident

    Location:
    Omaha, Nebr.
    I played my old CD just now to see if I can pick up on the vocal differences. Bob's voice sounded different on track #1 than it did on tracks #2 and #8. Harder, harsher, tinnier is how I would describe the vocal on track #1.

    These subleties you talk about in recording, mastering, etc., probably go unnoticed to most people. I don't think I'd notice them unless I was prompted to listen for it, or unless it was quite blatant. Kudos to you and your colleagues -- not only do you probably require advanced equipment, but also much practice and a sensitive ear.
     
  9. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Your Host Your Host Thread Starter

    It's just ear training and years of listening to this stuff. Now that you know the difference in Dylan's vocal between track 1 and track 2 you could probably hear it on a boom box.

    But, the original engineers couldn't hear it when mixing, so what does that tell you?
     
  10. stever

    stever Forum Resident

    Location:
    Omaha, Nebr.
    Equipment, fatigue, inexperience, redundancy, carelessness?
     
  11. SamS

    SamS Forum Legend

    Location:
    Texas
    Will do :thumbsup:

    It is one of my fav BD albums, and one of the only ones issued as part of the SACD collection that is hard to listen to :sigh:
     
  12. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Your Host Your Host Thread Starter




    Equipment, I think. Those big old Altec horns made everything sound a certain way; no subtle differences could be heard. That's why I think that most old stuff that sounds really good is just a lucky accident rather than some grand plan. Just my opinion. The old-timers knew what they were doing, but I don't think they knew how good some of their stuff actually sounded "straight".
     
  13. Leppo

    Leppo Forum Librarian

    Location:
    Off Broadway
    I could clearly hear the difference between vocal mics from the first two cuts on both of my Columbia 360 Stereo LP pressings. :agree:

    BTW, I find that Dylan's harmonica sounds harsh even on LP. :shake:
     
  14. quicksrt

    quicksrt Forum Resident

    Location:
    City of Angels
    Steve, so while I agree that this CD was done very well, as Bringing it all back home was also, as Freewheelin' was NOT. It is warm and pleasing to the ears.

    But I read what you have said to mean that this particular CD was mastered from the 1st gen tapes, and not a copy? Couldn't a 2nd gen copy if done well, show off these details you tipped us off to? Or are you stating that the tape used was not monkey'd with, but may have been a good copy, either way, it is flat. Sorry to press.

    I confess, after reading your comments I went straight for the < 360 > 2-eye LP and not the CD. I will compare later.

    That track Frankee Lee and Judas Priest, is catchy, and you know, it is one of the really easy ones to learn on guitar. I used to strum along to this album and that track a lot.

    Jeff
     
  15. AudioGirl

    AudioGirl Active Member

    Location:
    Los Angeles
    Steve had mentioned that the EQ copy was shot so they had to use the actual original tape to make the CD. Shot from being dubbed so many times I would imagine as well as used to cut records.
     
  16. Rspaight

    Rspaight New Member

    Location:
    Kentucky
    Hey Steve,

    I'm glad you brought this up, because this has been bugging me since the SACDs came out. I compared the LP to the old CD to the SACD, and it sounds to me for all the world like the old CD is a different mix than the LP and the SACD. The instrument/vocal balance on the LP and SACD sounds very much the same, while the CD seems like a different beast.

    For example, check out "Watchtower." On the LP and SACD, the vocals and harmonica are way forward and the rhythm section way back. On the old CD, they're more evenly (and pleasingly, IMHO) balanced.

    So what's the deal here? If the old CD is a flat dump of the master (which I have no reason to doubt), was the old LP botched in the mastering stage, fixed on the old CD, and then re-botched on the SACD in an attempt to replicate the sound of the LP? That's the only scenario that sounds plausible. (Even though the differences I'm hearing sound more like mix differences than mastering differences...)

    Ryan
     
  17. Damián

    Damián Forum Hall Of Fame

    Location:
    Spain now
    I for one had grown used to the sound of the old CD.. which I've never had- the SACD fails to grab me 100% for some reason.

    In an earlier thread where I'd posted an MP3 I pointed out one of the things that bugged me, and it's that the piano on Dear Landlord, which I love, is a lot less noticeable on the SACD.

    So what exactly are we hearing on the SACD? If the CD's a flat transfer, then what's on the SACD?
     
  18. Damián

    Damián Forum Hall Of Fame

    Location:
    Spain now
    :confused: Wow, so they actually did it right when they couldn't do it wrong?

    'Darn, this wrong master tape we picked is damaged'.

    'Man.. *sigh*. OK, get the right one, we'll just use that. No-one should notice. '
     
  19. Damián

    Damián Forum Hall Of Fame

    Location:
    Spain now
    Steve would probably have a better answer, but I believe I read once that the stereo channels were slightly 'folded in' (narrowed) on the SACD, which caused the balance between things -the mix, effectively- to be altered.

    Maybe the original LP went thru this also, since I believe it's one of the things they used to do when mastering LPs- narrowing the stereo field so the early stereo record players could track 'em.
     
  20. KeithH

    KeithH Success With Honor...then and now

    Location:
    Beaver Stadium
    Steve, out of curiosity, was your disc pressed in Japan or the US? I ask because there are mastering differences between some CBS/Sony Japanese and US pressings. Recall that we discussed the difference between Japanese and US pressings of Boston Boston recently. There is also a difference between the Japanese and US pressings of E.L.O. Discovery. The US pressing is cleaner to me.

    I don't honestly know if there is a Japanese pressing of John Wesley Harding, but I thought I should check with you.
     
  21. Rspaight

    Rspaight New Member

    Location:
    Kentucky
    Hmmmm. Yes, that sounds possible, I suppose. I do recall reading something that said the people behind the SACDs used the LPs as a reference, so that adjustment migh have crept back in.

    Ryan
     
  22. BradOlson

    BradOlson Country/Christian Music Maven

    Steve, you are right that Bob sang with different intonations on several tracks on the album.
     
  23. davenav

    davenav Forum Resident

    Location:
    Brooklyn, USA
    If I remember correctly, (according to ICE) the original master was a few generations down the chain. For the original release some poor slob had to edit out dozens of popping 'p's' and worked on a copy of a copy, and those edits have deteriorated. In other words the master could not have been adequately restored, and since it was third or fourth gen, why bother?

    The new SACD is much closer to what the original recording actually sounds like, they said.
     
  24. vintageonevinyl

    vintageonevinyl Active Member

    Location:
    Columbia, SC
    I want to pull my Simply Vinyl LP and see if the same holds true.
     
  25. mne563

    mne563 Forum Resident

    Location:
    DFW, Texas
    I never even bought this on cd until the SACD came out. I was so pleased with the sound of the original vinyl I never felt the need.

    I also have heard the story of that the original master tape had to have a lot of pops and hot peaks sliced out before Dylan (or whoever) would approve it. The general upshot was that the SACD has all the warts on it. I may listen to the SACD tonight to hear how good or bad it sounds. (I don't think I've even played that particular SACD yet!)
     

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