Steely Dan - Sound Quality gets better through the years? Right?

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by enfield, Apr 26, 2017.

  1. enfield

    enfield Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Essex UK
    Just been listening back to all my Steely Dan CD's

    What struck me is how the sound quality had gradually progressed through their albums..(Not talking about quality of music just recording quality)

    Here are my marks album for album.All original un-remastered,(apart from Katy Lied which is the 1991 MCAD-31194 which i believe was Nichols first correct mastering,after the original release wrongly used the vinyl master)

    Out of Ten:

    Can't Buy A Trill 6
    Countdown To Ecstasy 5.5
    Pretzel Logic 6
    Katy Lied 7
    The Royal Scam 7
    Aja 8.5
    Gaucho 8.5
    Two Against Nature 9.5
    Everything Must Go 9.5

    (Ps..I know the last two albums do not quite have the DR of some the earlier releases as they were recorded with high DB levels.But they still sound superb.)
     
  2. enfield

    enfield Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Essex UK
    Re: Katy Lied - Meant first proper master by Nichols.I know Steve Hoffman did earlier masters.
     
  3. tommy-thewho

    tommy-thewho Forum Resident

    Location:
    detroit, mi
    I wish everyone was as strict about sound quality like Steely Dan.

    Even live they do the best they can to make good sound.
     
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  4. They Call Me M

    They Call Me M Wall History Nerd

    Location:
    Fort Worth, TX
    I haven't heard everything from Everything Must Go, but Two Against Nature is an outstanding sounding album -- even the original pressings.
     
    Instant Dharma likes this.
  5. DeRosa

    DeRosa Forum Resident

    Really needs a vinyl release, hopefully this is on someone's radar to make happen this year.
     
    John Bliss likes this.
  6. PretzelLogic

    PretzelLogic Does not play well with fascists or southern rock.

    Location:
    London, England
    Aja - Nightfly is the sweet spot where the actual peerless, untouchable music was matched by the high quality of the sound.

    For me, Royal Scam is the only album that doesn't rate 9/10 or higher for musical quality, but it sounds excellent.

    +1

    Would love a reissue of Everything Must Go, just to avoid spending £70 or more on a copy.
     
    Fullbug likes this.
  7. enfield

    enfield Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Essex UK
    The Nightfly on CD sounds a bit thin to me.Sounds like the mastering has a bit too much top end and not enough bass.Otherwise it would have been lovely.I've heard the vinyl is a bit better in that respect.As you say the quality of the music is superb on that album.

    Although Kamakiriad doesn't quite hit the heights of its predecessor,the sound quality is better (at least on CD).You have to ramp up the volume a bit with that album as the DB levels are low (but with high DR).
     
    somnar likes this.
  8. George P

    George P Sing Your Life

    Location:
    NYC
    If every CD I owned sounded as good as my early Japan for USA Aja, I would be a very happy man. From there, I wouldn't say it got better. I would say that Gaucho is cleaner, leaner. The two albums that followed are out of the running, due to the compression used.
     
    enfield likes this.
  9. tmsorosk

    tmsorosk MORE MUSIC PLEASE

    Location:
    Alberta Canada
    I would agree. :righton:
     
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  10. jgkojak

    jgkojak Mull of Kansas

    Location:
    Lawrence, KS
    Isn't Aja the album audiophiles used to test their rigs with?
     
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  11. George P

    George P Sing Your Life

    Location:
    NYC
    Agreed!
     
  12. George P

    George P Sing Your Life

    Location:
    NYC
    That sounds correct.
     
  13. RichC

    RichC Forum Resident

    Can't beat the AB Aja or the RL Greatest Hits and Gaucho for sound quality.

    Some of the other albums dont have the best pressings... I know Countdown has some issues regardless of matrix.
     
    Fullbug likes this.
  14. Merrick

    Merrick The return of the Thin White Duke

    Location:
    Portland
    That's funny, The Royal Scam is tied with Katy Lied for my favorite Steely Dan albums.
     
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  15. Dr. Funk

    Dr. Funk Forum Resident

    Location:
    Fort worth tx
    The Aja AB 1006 is one of the best sounding vinyl records in existence.
     
    midniteinsanjuan likes this.
  16. Say It Right

    Say It Right Not for the Hearing Impaired

    Location:
    Niagara Falls
    In the Citizen box set, the booklet contains a review for a later album, which read "sounds like it was recorded in a hospital intensive care unit."
     
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  17. Andrew1967

    Andrew1967 Active Member

    Location:
    Oklahoma
     
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  18. Andrew1967

    Andrew1967 Active Member

    Location:
    Oklahoma
    The vinyl copies of 'Nightfly' with RL in the deadwax solve some of the problems you are hearing on the cd. Other US masterings I have heard do not. The MFSL pressing doesn't do much for me. Neither does the first Japanese pressing. The both have a more muscular sound, but sound innappropriately eq'd.
     
    enfield likes this.
  19. Instant Dharma

    Instant Dharma RIP Tyco the kitten. 2012-4/26/19

    Location:
    East Bay, Ca
    There was a time I felt Katy was flawless. Now I just think its pretty fargin good.
     
  20. chacha

    chacha Forum Resident

    Location:
    mill valley CA USA
    The early stuff sounds better on the original albums than the RL greatest hits to me.
     
  21. GregM

    GregM Senior Member

    Location:
    Daddyland, CA
    I think all SD's albums were impeccably recorded with the best available gear. The earlier albums had the raw sound of a working band that was accustomed to performing together live. Starting with Katy lied, they focused exclusively on the studio and that let Becker/Fagen take the quality up another notch.

    The Nightfly is a very early digital recording, which is why it takes a step back in sound quality.
     
    enfield likes this.
  22. enfield

    enfield Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Essex UK
    They were not compressed as such.Just recorded at higher DB levels (which would naturally lower the dynamic range levels). If a quieter mastering was done the dynamic range levels would be the same if not more than the previous two albums.Sometimes dynamic range levels do not tell the full story.They must be looked at in combination with ReplayGain levels to get the true picture.
     
    Fullbug likes this.
  23. Classicrock

    Classicrock Forum Resident

    Location:
    South West, UK.
    It did have a vinyl release in UK but it was quickly withdrawn. Not approved by Becker and Fagen plus quality issues. Based on the vinyl this would be at the bottom for sound quality and not at the top as Enfield Suggests. Everything Must Go sounds far better but does not beat most of the 70s output.
     
  24. Siegmund

    Siegmund Vinyl Sceptic

    Location:
    Britain, Europe
    The Fez lets the side down a bit, but Haitian Divorce is probably my favourite Dan song of all time.
     
  25. George P

    George P Sing Your Life

    Location:
    NYC
    Yes, they were.
     

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