Sinatra / Reprise Sound Quality and General Discussion: "Sinatra and Swingin' Brass" - 1962*

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by SinatraFan, Oct 21, 2014.

  1. bferr1

    bferr1 Forum Resident

    Whoops. Missed that one...
  2. aoxomoxoa

    aoxomoxoa Play that fast thing one more time

    Dayton Ohio
    Yep. That seems to be the case. It's just obscene.
    bozburn and Bob F like this.
  3. wvk3

    wvk3 Forum Resident

    Brooklyn, NY

    I don't recall a definitive answer on this, but do we think the HD download is the same mix/mastering as the LP? Same question for Moonlight, I guess. Assuming they are the same, are you saying that you prefer the LP over the download (or as much of it as you've heard)? Just curious. I wish we didn't have to speculate about these questions so much.
  4. MLutthans

    MLutthans That's my spaghetti, Chewbacca! Staff

    No idea, personally. Maybe somebody else has spent time with both???
  5. MLutthans

    MLutthans That's my spaghetti, Chewbacca! Staff

    I'll try to tackle both of those.

    DISCLAIMER: All of these clips correspond either to the freely available clips at (starting at 0:00) or iTunes (starting at 0:45). All clips are brief. "No free music giveaways," as they say. :)

    That out of the way....

    David, here's a bit of Goody Goody:
    It starts with the LP, then a tweaked version of the LP. I'm not saying the tweak is good or right; it's just here for illustrative purposes. Is it better? I dunno. It's different. That's as far as I'd go.

    Aoxomoxoa, here's the same segment from my R-1005 mono LP:

    Here's a three-part clip from I'm Beginning to See the Light: . This starts with the mono LP, switches to the 2014 LP, then (for David) another tweak-up of the 2014, just for yuks, and with no level of quality implied. It's just different.

    Next are two of my favorite clips from that old mono mix:

    1.) The opening of Tangerine. Mind you, this is the kickoff for side two. Side one -- every second of it -- is a real super-soaker, just drenched in reverb. Suddenly, side two arrives, and it's DRY!. I suspect (nothing more) that this was a flat-out goof by somebody. As the clip progresses, you'll hear the reverb start to get turned up around the word "lips," and by the end of the 30-second clip, we're back in super-soaker mode, where we remain for the rest of side two. Link:

    2.) In Serenade in Blue, there's a tom-tom note that triggers the reverb chamber like crazy, sounding like the drums, for one note, at least, are being played in an empty indoor swimming pool. You'll hear it in the first few seconds, right after the snare and crash cymbal:

    As far as the home-brew tweaking stuff goes, David, I find that some of the Capitol stuff has a fair degree of "tweakability" before it starts to sound goosed/forced. Typically, the Reprise stuff, as far as game-playing at home with mono or stereo tracks, is pretty tough to improve much, at least with the few things I've toyed with. I recall spending several hours over several days tinkering with the original mono version of RING-a-DING DING, and finally just giving up. As I was working on it, I'd be able to convince myself that I'd made some sort improvement, then I'd go back and compare it side-by-side with the untweaked version, and the untweaked version was ALWAYS as good or better. I finally punted -- a wise move, IMO. My experiences trying to fiddle with Reprise stereo stuff has been similar, but YMMV, of course.
    wave, David m bond, aoxomoxoa and 2 others like this.
  6. bozburn

    bozburn Forum Resident

    Rome, GA, US
    Matt- Props on the tweaked version. :righton:

    The band on the 'raw' 2014 LP sounds fake to me, sort of an artificial tone. I'd rather pay for your tweaked version than the what I'm hearing of the new LP, though the LP does present an improvement in itself. Ah well.
    MLutthans and Simon A like this.
  7. MMM

    MMM Forum Hall Of Fame

    Lodi, New Jersey
    Almost gives it a tympani feel.
  8. MLutthans

    MLutthans That's my spaghetti, Chewbacca! Staff

    Re: Swingin' Brass:
    I listened again to the freebie clips of the HD version, and heard something interesting, so had to bite the bullet on Brass and Moonlight. Have not listened to the latter at all yet, but my suspicions on Brass were correct: The LP, if not a distinctly different mix, is at least a differently manipulated version compared to the HD download. You may recall that @aoxomoxoa pointed out that the LP had narrowed stereo spread. I'll go one step further: On the LP, the bass is centered. Considering that this is a 3-track recording, this bass movement to the center is not really do-able via simple channel panning, as the saxes would move with the bass to a dead-center location (since they are on the same track), so there's some trickery-pokery going on there with the new LP. Well, wide stereo fans can rejoice! The HD version has all the left stuff HARD LEFT and the right stuff HARD RIGHT -- no narrowing.

    These are CLEAR differences, with the HD version erring on the side of "unfutzed."

    Here's a comparison clip. The order is: 2014 LP, HD, 2014 LP, HD. Have a listen, please.
    Bob Belvedere, rxcory and Simon A like this.
  9. wvk3

    wvk3 Forum Resident

    Brooklyn, NY
    Sorry to be a catalyst for even more Sinatra spending, but thanks for the analysis and comparison. :)

    Wow, yes those are very noticeable differences. I'm still preferring the download to the suitcase, which is the only other version I have. The mystery deepens as to the origins of these new releases. :confused:
    rxcory, Simon A and MLutthans like this.
  10. MLutthans

    MLutthans That's my spaghetti, Chewbacca! Staff

    @wvk3: Oh, yeah....that suitcase version is a real pip, in the bad sense of the word.
  11. MLutthans

    MLutthans That's my spaghetti, Chewbacca! Staff

    @David m bond -- If home-tweaking is your thing, the wide-stereo version certainly gives you more options than the LP will. (For instance, you can adjust bass levels with less impact on the vocal sound, as Frank & bass are both centered on the LP, but separated on the HD.)

    As an example -- and I'm not necessarily advocating this, as "touchups" often do more harm than good, IMO -- here's a clip from They Can't Take That Away from Me, starting with the HD version "straight," then moving to a quick-and-dirty tweak I did, bringing Frank a little forward, subtly-warming the vocal EQ, subtly taming the saxes, and un-goosing the bass.

    Changes to this degree -- good or bad, and I'd tend to just "leave it alone" -- really would not be possible using the LP.
  12. MLutthans

    MLutthans That's my spaghetti, Chewbacca! Staff

    These new versions are really full of wholesale changes vis-a-vis the old versions in terms of sound quality. They share virtually no characteristics with the former releases. Now, how much somebody is going to LIKE the changes....that's the $64,000 question, I guess. One question that I keep flogging is: Why can't new releases be allowed to be dynamically breathe a little? I'm no fan (at all) of the suitcase CD, but check out the dynamics of the suitcase vs. the 2014 HD:
    Why are the quiet parts no longer allowed to be quiet? In musical (not recording) terms, the loudest parts of GOODY, GOODY should be that spot right after the "break" in the middle, and the bit at the end, and we get that in the old versions. COOL! The new version -- which has many excellent qualities, so this is not an "overall bash" on that version -- adds a hardness, with basically the entire track being the same volume, start to finish. The suitcase version basically stinks.....but it has appropriately wide dynamics!

    To misquote Stan Freberg in 1966: "Does anybody here remember dynamics? Anybody? Anybody at all?......" And why aren't those people in the mixing/mastering biz? (EDIT: Or perhaps more accurately: Why aren't they allowed to call the shots on how things are handled in terms of final release?)
    Last edited: Oct 30, 2014
  13. aoxomoxoa

    aoxomoxoa Play that fast thing one more time

    Dayton Ohio
    For someone who doesn't do downloads and just spent $15 on the record, this is bad news. Why on earth would they not use the same mastering as the HD tracks? I think I am done buying any new Sinatra product, it's been too much of a letdown (except for the MOFIs). Nancy, I hope you are listening.
    bozburn likes this.
  14. MLutthans

    MLutthans That's my spaghetti, Chewbacca! Staff

    Maybe concerns with cutting "goosed bass" anywhere but dead center? I'd have rather had them release the LP with "normal bass levels" and full-width image.

    ....and you can still buy mono stuff, I guess! :cool:
    McLover likes this.
  15. SinatraFan

    SinatraFan Well-Known Member Thread Starter

    Well, this new HD download of Swingin' Brass is my favorite. The dynamics might suffer slightly, but the music does have a fuller and more engaging sound to it compared to the previous Reprise CDs.
    MLutthans likes this.
  16. David m bond

    David m bond Forum Resident

    So much to listen and read thanks Matt.

    I love your view on tweaking, I get to the same point on CFWM I've been trying to improve the stereo version for about 5 years and still try but some days I think I get somewhere and then I realised it's still not much better.
    Now that mono LP of Brass sounds funny. The tweaking of the LP sounds slightly different not certain if it's better.
    Ive had a play with the suitcase versions and can improve them a little but they are still a bit lame.

    I will have to have a go over the weekend and see what I can come up with based on the suitcase . At least these new tracks don't sound as honey bee like as the ones on the Sinatra Seduction album.
    MLutthans likes this.
  17. Pants Party

    Pants Party One Leg At A Time

    Washington, DC
    I was having a "moment" with these thoughts the other day -- my take is this. It's the ABUNDANCE (not scarcity!) of musical playback devices. Back then, people had High-Fi's.. and well, that's it.

    Today... people have Pods and car stereos. Do people listen to music on real systems anymore? No. The answer is no. They put their iPod/Phone into the docking thingy... with small speakers.

    And bingo. That's my answer. The abundance of small speakers and sh-tty amps and UNATTENTIVE listening "sessions."
  18. MLutthans

    MLutthans That's my spaghetti, Chewbacca! Staff

    I think that's certainly in the loop somewhere, but I, for instance, listen to music via my phone's music player pretty routinely, and the files are high quality (WAV, m4a, or 320 kbps mp3 in a pinch), and when used that way, it's actually a very high quality audio device. Likewise, there's really no reason for an iPod to sound like garbage, but it's largely "garbage in, garbage out." Unless I'm mistaken, these HD products are CLEARLY marketing for a, shall we say, "discerning" audio audience. Exhibit A:
    Screen shot 2014-10-30 at 7.52.11 PM.png
    Their tagline isn't "The World's suckiest-sounding music downloads for your iPod." From a technical standpoint, AND based on their own marketing, there is ZERO reason to expect poor-sounding, compressed files, and at (often) about $1 per minute, these files should be making my ears ooze gold-plated earwax, but instead, we get Jingle Bells that looks like this, and sounds like you would think this should sound, i.e., bad:

    By NO intelligent definition is this file (based on sound, of course, not just by the visual) the "world's greatest sounding" anything. It's a second- or third-tier product, flat-out.

    If I were buying downloads for next to nothing at, say,, and I received a file like that, I'd laugh it off, but when I go to a site (and there are others besides HDtracks) that purports to sell, what was that.....
    Screen shot 2014-10-30 at 8.01.08 PM.png
    ....then the sound should be fan-horkin-tastic. If they, instead, are selling sub-par product, they should sell it for $3.98, and then they still should apologize.
    Last edited: Oct 30, 2014
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  19. Pants Party

    Pants Party One Leg At A Time

    Washington, DC
    That's what so damn frustrating about it! I was going to say puzzling... but I know the answer. They're just passing off what ever Capitol delivers them and deems as "suitable" for the HD bandwagon.
  20. MLutthans

    MLutthans That's my spaghetti, Chewbacca! Staff

    Yes, that may be, but if it is, they should drop the audiophile facade, no?
    Bob Belvedere, Gardo and Simon A like this.
  21. Pants Party

    Pants Party One Leg At A Time

    Washington, DC
  22. Arkoffs

    Arkoffs Northside bulldog

    Arkham Asylum
    Wow, all these clips are very enlightening. Thanks for putting these together!

    It's very interesting that they have concurrently released different versions of Swingin' Brass. Without comparing those HD clips sound like a crisper version of the original mix (has anyone spent time comparing that to the original LP, as far as the mix?), while that new LP clearly is a very different animal.

    The LP clips do sound a bit hollow when compared to the original mix, and the narrowing is sort of irritating; the old LPs may not sound good but the super wide stereo and reverb does give it a nice warm blanket sort of effect (probably an attempt to hide some of the knob twiddling inconsistencies clearly going on with this album). But while the new LP mix may not be perfect the clarity is an interesting proposition. Maybe the dynamic squashing is the modern day equivalent of trying to hide some of the consistency/knob-twiddling problems.

    Taken on their own, though, I like the way the new LP clips sound. Yeah, they perhaps dropped the ball on EQ choices and the stereo narrowing, but just listening to it it's a lot clearer than the old LPs or that Suitcase CD (wow, that sounded bad).

    Glad to see the note about the mono "Tangerine" too. I remember when I flipped that LP the first time, my initial reaction was "Hey, they fixed the stupid reverb on this song!" ... and then it came back.

    I guess if nothing else, the new releases are "historically accurate" in that there seems to be little rhyme or reason to how they are being put together.
  23. MLutthans

    MLutthans That's my spaghetti, Chewbacca! Staff

    @Arkoffs - great post! Glad I wasn't the only one who was really caught off guard by the start of side two on the mono version. (That bit is so dang odd!) I am curious about the remix situation. There's less (no?) added reverb on the new version, so that's got to be a remix, right? (Seems to me we had similar uncertainty initially around the Concord CD of Sinatra/Basie.)
    rangerjohn likes this.
  24. MLutthans

    MLutthans That's my spaghetti, Chewbacca! Staff

    While we're playing this game, and please pardon the photo quality: aside from stuff like barcodes, logos, fine print, etc., what's different about the back cover of Sinatra and Swingin' Brass?
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2016
    Simon A likes this.
  25. Bob F

    Bob F Senior Member

    Blue instead of green titles? (Except that little separator thingy which was black.) And some horrible dark green colors on Frank's face.
    Simon A likes this.

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