Steve's Steely Dan Aja

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by Dave, Mar 19, 2004.

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  1. Andreas

    Andreas Forum Resident

    Location:
    Frankfurt, Germany
    Would it be possible to post small (about 10 seconds) .wav samples of both? Then everybody could compare it digitally to his own version, with no room for error.
     
  2. Grant

    Grant A Musical Free-Spirit

    Location:
    Arizona
    Also, the muddiness I hear on the first example could have something to do with the mp3 encoding. My CD comes closer to the first example, but sounds cleaner.
     
  3. Grant

    Grant A Musical Free-Spirit

    Location:
    Arizona
    As I just mentioned, that's exactly what I did! My ears tell me I have Steve's version then. I'll leave the issue at that. The guys on another forum who dispute my assertion that I have the right one will have to trust me on this one. If they don't, I don't care. It sounds DAMN good!
     
  4. KeithH

    KeithH Success With Honor...then and now

    Location:
    Beaver Stadium
    Does anyone here have both the US JVC pressing and a Japanese pressing (CBS/Sony or JVC pressing)? If so, have you run both through EAC? What does EAC say about the two versions in terms of peak levels, etc.?

    Also, is someone here going to send a copy of the US JVC pressing to Steve? Let's see if he signs off on it as he did with Katy Lied.
     
  5. Leppo

    Leppo Forum Librarian

    Location:
    Off Broadway
    Kevin,

    Send me .wav files if you like and I'll put 'em up. :thumbsup:
     
  6. Joel Cairo

    Joel Cairo Video Gort Staff

    Location:
    Portland, Oregon
    Keith:

    That's what I used for the comparison .mp3... as you might guess from hearing the .mp3, the files are not the same, in terms of data content. If they were, they'd "zero out" once they were put though the inversion test. The files don't zero out, and in fact, do not even stay in perfect synch, which is another dead giveaway that the US JVC disc is an entirely different transfer of the material.

    Additionally, the wave forms are **visually** quite different, and do have different values for min/max peaks, etc. in a statistical comparison.

    And then of course, there's the different sound...

    So really, I'd question the value of posting .wav excerpts-- if the point is to see if this is different from the previously-known early versions of "Aja", well, we've already done that. No amount of data crunching is going to tell us who mastered the disc... and frankly, our choices are rather limited, I think. :)

    -Kevin
     
  7. Dave

    Dave Esoteric Audio Research Specialistâ„¢ Thread Starter

    Location:
    Greater Vancouver
    Send it to Steve Kevin and then we'll have the definite answer we all so crave.
     
  8. Joel Cairo

    Joel Cairo Video Gort Staff

    Location:
    Portland, Oregon
    Looks like that's going to be the best solution, Dave... I'll see if he's got time for the review.

    I'll include the Japanese mastering that he originally nixed, for the sake of comparison.

    -Kevin
     
  9. Evan L

    Evan L Beatologist

    Location:
    Vermont
    Dammit!

    I HAD this disc, and sold it because I thought it *was not* Steve's! AAaarrgh!


    Evan
     
  10. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Your Host Your Host

    You guys are STILL going on about this? Heh. Wow.

    To recap, AJA was the first thing I ever mastered for CD. I did it at Bruce Botnick's DIGITAL MAGNETICS studio which at the time was across the street from Capitol Records on Vine Street in Hollywood.

    The actual AJA master tape sounded quite dull to my ears, but the LP mastering notes inside the tape box had a bunch of EQ to brighten up the sound. I tried following those EQ steps and it made everything sound too pinched and bright. Instead, I simply added one db at 3400 cycles and one db at 8,000 cycles on a parametric equalizer. That's it.

    So, that "American" version on your sample isn't mine. It's way too over the top with EQ.

    Is the Japanese sample mine? I can't tell on my computer speakers, sorry.

    MCA pressed 5,000 of "my" mastering initially. I think around 4,000 were destroyed due to "pressure" from Steely Dan's mgmt. who wanted to be in charge of the CD remastering of their catalog (or they wouldn't sign off on the CD agreement, heh.). I didn't care one way or the other, it was just an assignment for me, I didn't even ask for credit. So, I think a bunch of my version got out even though they were supposed to be destroyed because, well, it happened.

    My version fills in the "hole" in the midrange and lower treble a bit by adding a db here and there. It still sounds "duller" than that over the top American version example I heard but my version sounds a lot better than the actual tape which was one of the dullest I'd ever heard up until that time. (Dull tonality, but not dull music!)

    Hope this helps!
     
  11. KeithH

    KeithH Success With Honor...then and now

    Location:
    Beaver Stadium
    Steve, thanks so much for chiming in. It sounds like finding your version of Aja is going to be a very, very difficult task and is also going to require some incredible luck. Based on your comments, I go back to the premise that your version was limited to Japanese pressings. It's possible that none of us have found it yet. I have three Japanese pressings that check out identical on EAC -- a CBS/Sony pressing for the US market, a JVC pressing for the US market, and a CBS/Sony market for the Japanese market (with textual information in inserts in Japanese). They sound great, but my guess is that none of them are your version. I can't imagine that your mastering could have made its way onto three different pressings based on what you just said.
     
  12. peter

    peter Senior Member

    Location:
    Paradise
    Steve:

    I take it that you do not have a copy of your Aja in your own personal collection, then?

    Cause if you did, you'd post the matrixes, etc. info, right?
     
  13. How many versions of this album are there on CD?
    It sounds as though someone filled the middle a bit too much then..... It looks like the Japanese version may be the one.
     
  14. KeithH

    KeithH Success With Honor...then and now

    Location:
    Beaver Stadium
    Steve posted quite awhile back that he did not have his version.

    Steve, has this changed? As I recall, you said you were happy with your LPs and the MFSL gold disc. Is that true?
     
  15. Evan L

    Evan L Beatologist

    Location:
    Vermont
    Having heard both, I still maintain the Japanese pressing is the better sounding out of two,



    Evan
     
  16. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Your Host Your Host

    I do not.
     
  17. RDK

    RDK Active Member

    Location:
    Los Angeles, CA
    This is a very funny thread! I think the general rule we should all follow - and I suspect that even Steve will agree - is when presented with several different masterings we should prefer the one we think sounds best rather than because of who did or did not master it...
     
  18. KeithH

    KeithH Success With Honor...then and now

    Location:
    Beaver Stadium
    Well, I think the Japanese pressings sound great.
     
  19. Grant

    Grant A Musical Free-Spirit

    Location:
    Arizona
    Right! I'm sticking to what I have. Until I hear that almighty master tape played back on the properly aligned deck, I will believe I have the best sounding CD, and that is NOT the Japanese, Glenn Meadows, OR the Roger Nichols remaster!
     
  20. peter

    peter Senior Member

    Location:
    Paradise
    Except that what one thinks sounds "better" is an evolutionary process. That's what this whole forum is about.

    Example: Steve's gold Badfinger/Straight Up is probably (maybe not even probably) the BEST CD I have ever heard in my life. It's better than ANY SACD I own.

    If, even 2 years ago, anyone had told me that a CD, any CD, could have ever sounded this good, I would never had believed them.

    My point is that this search for Steve's Aja is an effort well worth the undertaking. That being said, it's an awful lot of fun too!
     
  21. KeithH

    KeithH Success With Honor...then and now

    Location:
    Beaver Stadium
    RDK makes a very good point. I would like to hear that US JVC pressing on my systems at home and then compare it to my Japanese pressings. Likewise, I plan to compare my US DADC pressing to the Japanese pressings this weekend. We each should decide what we each feel sounds best. However, I can't help but put stock in Steve's input. :)
     
  22. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Your Host Your Host

    If it's any help to you, I was careful in mastering not to hit digital "zero" at all during the songs. I think -1/2 was as far up as I got. Maybe that will help.

    The reason I didn't keep one for myself? I was AJA'd out by that time, having reviewed the USA ABC, MCA, Canadian ABC, British ABC and Japanese pressings of the album, none of which sounded like the other, grrrrr...

    The other albums I mastered for CD that week at Digital Magnetics were The Who/WHO'S NEXT, Poco/LEGEND, the ET Soundtrack and one other that I can't remember...There were to be five in all for our first compact disc release at the label.
     
  23. Grant

    Grant A Musical Free-Spirit

    Location:
    Arizona
    Well, you heard the man, fire up your audio editors and run stats on your CDs. It still may not answer the question, but may help whittle down the choices.
     
  24. Joel Cairo

    Joel Cairo Video Gort Staff

    Location:
    Portland, Oregon
    Steve--

    Could your 5th title be "Reach the Beach" by The Fixx?

    Its got a CSR (Japan) mastering number of DIDX-53 (though the booklet says -54; anyway, it's in that ballpark..."Aja" was -55).

    -Kevin
     
  25. Joel Cairo

    Joel Cairo Video Gort Staff

    Location:
    Portland, Oregon
    With regard to Steve's comments above, I've run a comparison on the on the "Deacon Blues" track from the Japanese and the US discs, and (at least for that track), the closest approach to digital zero on the Japanese disc is -0.84, whereas the US-pressed disc does indeed hit 0.0

    Hmmm... interesting.

    -Kevin
     
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