SH Spotlight Adventures in Mastering: First album by AMERICA on SACD for Audio Fidelity:

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by Steve Hoffman, Aug 15, 2013.

  1. KeithH

    KeithH Success With Honor...then and now

    Beaver Stadium
    I believe you. Maybe if I played America and Neil Young back to back, I'd hear what folks are talking about, but I'd rather keep them separate. :)

    Of course, if Neil Young had performed "A Horse With No Name", then Audio Fidelity would stand no chance of doing this SACD. ;)
    pdenny and WackyTobacky like this.
  2. carrolls

    carrolls Forum Resident

    When I first heard the song "Horse With No Name", I just presumed America were another one of Neil's super groups like Buffalo Springfield or CSNY. It really did sound like Neil on lead vocal. Although I did ask myself why is he singing such strange lyrics? Strange even for Neil.
  3. Greg Carrier

    Greg Carrier Forum Resident

    Iowa City
    I have the Japan mini LP version, too, and it's much better than the original US CD. I'm putting my money down for the AF, though. I'm betting our host can get a lot more out of this one.
    ultron9 likes this.
  4. Greg Carrier

    Greg Carrier Forum Resident

    Iowa City
    Agreed. I was trying to be kind.
  5. Chris C

    Chris C Music was my first love and it will be my last!

    Steve, I'm confused, as to your thoughts on the original CD, (which I personally feel sounds like crap), because in your very first post in this thread you said the following...

    But, then in your post #57, you say to forum member MYKE ...,

    "The old WB CD sounds OK, what was your problem with it exactly?"

    You also mentioned to MYKE in post #70, regarding the "LP", that what MYKE was hearing was a 8K roll-off on his vinyl and that the tapes sound nothing like the LP.

    So, since we are talking your "Adventures In Mastering", my question is, just how do you decide what to release "sound wise", to make it sound "familiar" to what we have all heard through the years, without making it sound like it's a remix?
  6. celticbob

    celticbob Forum Resident

    Another album I am unfamiliar with but have ordered. :)
  7. Jose Jones

    Jose Jones Outstanding Forum Member

    Detroit, Michigan
    Wow, I never knew wonder ol' George had no reservations about remixing Rubber Soul & Help years later.
  8. autodidact

    autodidact Forum Resident

    I owned the record back in the day -- early 70s. I have no idea what's become of it, like so many vinyl titles I recall buying but cannot find. :mad: I remember my 12 year old self liking the album, but I wonder if I'd like it now. This piques my interest. I'd like to hear of stream of it before I commit. I do love Horse and Sandman, to be sure.
  9. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Your host Your Host Thread Starter

    The old WB CD is cold and uninvolving because they shaved off the bass, or they used an EQ dub which had the bass shaved off. Sounds OK but nothing like the old LP which had the bass and the top shaved off due to the length and difficulty cutting those sharp transient sounds.

    Look, I don't want to play God with this stuff, ever. I want to give you the "Experience!" What they heard in the studio, not what you heard on some compromised record 40 years ago. You want WARM? Play the old record. You want an accurate representation of the master mixes that the band and producer approved 40 years ago, buy this new SACD.

    The guitars are "steely" because they were recorded and mixed that way. The "Trident Sound" was all about aggression in the early 1970's. Just listen to anything that was recorded there. Thing is, I could fix the guitars, make them sound natural, like an actual acoustic guitar. But, that's NOT what they wanted, obviously so who am I to tell them otherwise? And besides, if the guitars are warmed up, the vocals VANISH, I mean they are NOT aggressive, they are normal and they disappear if the guitar tone is tampered with (as you can hear on the old LP). So, in the world of Trident Sound, one is stuck with the mixing decisions made there. I, for one like the sound. It's the sound of the album, accurate, immediate, exciting and quite unique for that time.
    George P, hi_watt, DRM and 6 others like this.
  10. Chris C

    Chris C Music was my first love and it will be my last!

    Steve, thank you for the reply and believe me, I'm a longtime fan of your approach and I know that you've brought "life" to many old favorite albums of mine. I would have to guess that each new remastering job that you do, you must approach it a little differently, as there is no "exact" answer for each release. I would also love to mention that I'm so happy that you have hooked up with Stephen Marsh, as I feel that his studio suites, along with you in the "director's chair", have made your latest remasterings, some of your very best sounding discs, ever!
    Grant and Steve Hoffman like this.
  11. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Your host Your Host Thread Starter

    Correct, there is no exact answer for each album. I want to preserve the original intent, yes. I also want to give the listener the best sounding release of the material ever.

    I'm glad people are noticing how great this AF stuff is sounding. Stephen Marsh was a "cold call" totally. Marshall and I had no idea who he was. He had an ad, that's all and was in Hollywood like the others. I have no personal mastering studio anymore so I need a place to work out of, a relaxed place with a good vibe. Marshall wanted it to be in town and I wanted it to be with someone who would not only let me use the room, but would be a willing collaborator and a willing "idea bouncer". On a rainy day we drove into Hollywood with the James Taylor masters and met four "famous" mastering engineers at four famous mastering studios, explained what we were about and what we wanted to do. They all looked at us like we were from Mars. Same thing every place. They threaded up the James Taylor tape and DESTROYED THE SOUND totally. I said, wait, why are you brickwalling this? We are an audiophile record label! The famous engineers without any variance said: "You have come to (engineer X's) studio because you want our house sound, correct?"

    No, you don't understand, engineer X...

    Last on the list (only because he was in the general area) was Stephen Marsh. We walked in, rain soaked, sat down and went through it again, expecting the same bullcrap. But Marsh instantly understood, threaded up the tape and made it sound the way he thought best. Basically he ran it through one layer of tubes, didn't add any EQ or compression, just gave it a natural sound. He actually unpatched stuff to get a cleaner sound. It happened to be exactly what I would have done to it. That was it. Instant "working together for years" feel. So, Marshall asked if I would be happy there and I told him I thought I would, yes. That was a few years ago and Stephen Marsh and I have been doing this ever since. It's a simple relationship. I tell him what I want, he makes it happen. After all, it's Stephen's studio, he knows everything about how to get the best sound in it. I sit there and listen. It's great, I can fully concentrate on the sound this way. He will tell me if he thinks I'm going wrong or am full of **** or whatever..
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 10, 2014
    supermd, DRM, Agent57 and 31 others like this.
  12. Steel Horse

    Steel Horse Forum Resident

    Uppsala, SWEDEN
    Maybe Stephen Marsh had taken a sneak preview on the Forum and was familiar with the Breath of life sound. The X men obviously thought brickwalling an Audiophile edition is the preferred way to go. I thought the current discussions regarding anti brickwalling was well known among mastering engineers. Anyway it is good for us that you and Marshall hooked up with Stephen. Looking forward to more discs.....
  13. PTgraphics

    PTgraphics Senior Member

    Really looking forward to this. I have a few old early pressings of this LP and it always sounded like "Horse With No Name" was indeed added last to the pressings I have. Tonality, volume level or whatever didn't really match the rest of the record - hard to explain.

  14. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Your host Your Host Thread Starter

    Different mix location, different recording location, etc. The original mix is left channel heavy, very dynamic, very different sounding from the rest of the album. I believe we are using the original mix tape of that song, untouched for 40 years.
    lpfreak1170, Grant and PTgraphics like this.
  15. Tullman

    Tullman Senior Member

    Boston MA
    There is something to be said for having actual product in hand, to touch, to hold to look at.
    JimD likes this.
  16. thxdave

    thxdave "One black, one white, one blonde"

    Steve, I'm confused a bit. What is Stephen's role in this mastering project? Do you use his services for things that you can't do yourself or does his studio possess gear that you do not have? Confused...not trying to be snarky, just trying to figure out the workflow in a project like this.
    DRM likes this.
  17. ServingTheMusic

    ServingTheMusic Forum Resident

    I have been convinced for your years the reason why many audiophiles cling to their vinyl and detest the CD format is because of the "famous mastering engineers" you mention here and their attitudes. The format is fine, they have destroyed its reputation with their ******** "house sound".
    Larry Johnson and Grant like this.
  18. Tullman

    Tullman Senior Member

    Boston MA
    Studio engineer and mastering engineer are two different things.
  19. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Your host Your Host Thread Starter

    I revised my post a bit to make it more clear.. (post #111).
  20. Scott S.

    Scott S. lead singer for the best indie band on earth

    Walmartville PA
    When I first heard it, Heart of Gold was #1 and I thought to myself that the radio stations are premature for trying to break another Neil Young single when his was still at its peak.
  21. Grant

    Grant Life is a rock, but the radio rolled me!

    I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall at those other meetings!

    What I wonder is, you have said in the past that you practice on a tape copy you make of the actual master, then roll the real one when you make the acid cut, so to speak. Unless I am wrong, you did this to limit the times the master has to run over the heads. So, when you went to these other "name" studios to see what they could do, did you use the actual tapes? I imagine to use anything else would have been a great insult.

    And, two, don't you miss twirling the knobs yourself?
  22. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Your host Your Host Thread Starter

    Yes, we did.

    No, I don't.
    JimD likes this.
  23. KeithH

    KeithH Success With Honor...then and now

    Beaver Stadium
    Very interesting, Steve. I truly appreciate your sharing this inside information. :thumbsup:
  24. full moon

    full moon Forum Resident

    Thank You Steve for the insight.
  25. badfingerjoe

    badfingerjoe Senior Member

    New Jersey
    Those are the kind of stories I really like around here....thanks for all the insight on how you hooked up with Stephen Marsh...
    And not a bit surprised about the experience with the "X" crews.
    Can't wait to hear "A Horse With No Name"...interesting information about the original mix tape of that track.....


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