Steve's Steely Dan Aja

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

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  1. SamS

    SamS Forum Legend

    Location:
    Texas
    Well shoot!

    OK, so the American version is not Steve's (even though it sounded pretty good on my crappy computer speakers).

    And I just did a quick check through some of the tracks on my Japan-made version and none get higher than 91.7% peak level.

    Back to square one :sigh:
     
  2. KeithH

    KeithH Success With Honor...then and now

    Location:
    Beaver Stadium
    For what it's worth, my Japanese CBS/Sony pressing of Reach the Beach has "DIDX-54" on the back cover of the booklet too. I have one Japanese JVC pressing with "DIDX-53" on the back cover of the booklet and another with "DIDX-54" on the back cover of the booklet.

    As a final piece of useless trivia (for now), "DIDX-54" was actually assigned to Night Ranger Midnight Madness. :)
     
  3. Andreas

    Andreas Senior Member

    Location:
    Frankfurt, Germany
    But it would give me (and Grant and others) a chance to check if our version not only resembles but equals the Japanese (or the US JVC) CD. Also, I think the first 20 or so seconds of Aja (title song) unencoded would suffice for Steve to decide if it is his version. But it was just a thought...
     
  4. Grant

    Grant That really swings!

    Location:
    United States
    Only two things wrong with checking the stats, now that I think about it, the pressing plant could have normalized the digital tape to 0, or the ballistics of the gear or software is diffrent. Then, there is the possibility of any DC offset throwing off the true reading.

    Oh well...
     
  5. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Mastering Engineer Your Host

    They didn't do that in the '80's.
     
  6. Leppo

    Leppo Forum Librarian

    Location:
    Off Broadway
    :wave:

    Listen to "Aja" .wav clips and try to identify the SH Aja here:

    Steve's Aja?

    Please share your comments.
     
  7. thxdave

    thxdave Forum Resident

    Steve,
    that almost begs the question of "did you try to match ANY of those pressings or did you strike off on your own and put your own signature on it?" Were any of those various sonic renderings appealing to you or did they all have the "breath of life" sucked out of them?
     
  8. -Ben

    -Ben Forum Resident

    Location:
    Washington DC Area
    I agree :agree:
    Who ever did the Japanese version knew what they were doing!
    :) :edthumbs:
     
  9. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Mastering Engineer Your Host

    I just wanted it to sound good. I also didn't want to tamper with the obvious "sound" of the album; sort of a hollow sound on some of the songs. I just did a slight tweak to fill in some of the hollowness. I had no desire to put my own sonic signature on the album.
     
  10. Grant

    Grant That really swings!

    Location:
    United States
    From what my ears tell me, Steve doesn't add any sonic signature. He doesn't have one! Not to speak for him, but I think he just wants the basic sound of the tapes to shine through.
     
  11. thxdave

    thxdave Forum Resident

    Agree, but I guess it all comes down to how he "hears" the master tape. Obviously, Roger "The Immortal" Nichols heard the tape one way and Steve heard it another way. I guess the best analogy I can make is one that photographer Ansel Adams used to use. When he went into the darkroom to make a print from one of his negatives, he would emerge later with a finished product that varied ever so slightly from any other print made from that same neg. The content or information on the neg never varies but the prints can vary widely. He likened it to an orchestra conductor who takes a piece of sheet music and hands it to the orchestra. The notes are all in the same places but each performance will be subtly different.....the neg is the sheet music, the print is the performance.
     
  12. Grant

    Grant That really swings!

    Location:
    United States
    AKAIC, there's only one way to hear something. In other words, if two people listen to the same tape, the two people may hear frequencies differently, or whatever, but it's still the same tape! Or maybe in this case, they aren't hearing the same tape!

    Well, to complicate things more, Nichols said that as soon as he could back in the early 80s, he made digital copies of all the analog Dan tapes because he says the sound on analog tape changes over time. He wanted to halt the sound change. A lot of things can be read into this fact here, from Nichols remembering the way the digital tapes sound, and thinking that was the exact sound he printed to digital in the 80s, to the possibility of him dubbing analog copies, to him just liking a treble boost. There's of course, the situation of analog tape copies...

    Nichols may have been one of three engineers on "Aja", but Bernie Grundmun actually mastered it to LP, originally. He may have some answers.
     
  13. thxdave

    thxdave Forum Resident

    Well, they DID promise us "Perfect sound....forever". ;)
     
  14. Grant

    Grant That really swings!

    Location:
    United States
    I think it's just best to say to pick out the CD/LP/8-track...whatever...that YOU like, and be done with it. I have what I believe to be the best-sounding...and CORRECT version of "Aja" on CD, so my quest is over! For those of you who don't believe they have found what they are looking for, keep looking.
     
  15. Andreas

    Andreas Senior Member

    Location:
    Frankfurt, Germany
    Thanks a lot for posting that. Unfortunately, I am not at home today, so it will take me until Tuesday to listen. But I still guess that my CD is identical to the Japanese, and that Steve's mastering resembles that one and not the US DIDX CD.
     
  16. KeithH

    KeithH Success With Honor...then and now

    Location:
    Beaver Stadium
    I'm with you. I'm very pleased with the sound of the Japanese pressings of Katy Lied and Aja. They work for me! :)
     
  17. SamS

    SamS Forum Legend

    Location:
    Texas
    Leppo,

    Thanks for taking time to put those clips up. I have really crappy computer speakers, but I could tell the Japan pressing has a similar quality of my Japan CD on the big system. The US version seems to have more "life", but may be too bright :confused:

    And we have Steve on record as says neither of those two are his, correct?
     
  18. Grant

    Grant That really swings!

    Location:
    United States
    So far, he has only stated that the US one with the boosted treble isn't his.
     
  19. Andreas

    Andreas Senior Member

    Location:
    Frankfurt, Germany
    As I suspected, the Japan CD (MCAD 37214) is digitally identical to mine (Printed in Germany, MCD 01745). Now where has Steve said that this is not his mastering?
     
  20. Leppo

    Leppo Forum Librarian

    Location:
    Off Broadway
    See post #33 in this thread.
     
  21. TMan

    TMan Forum Resident

    Location:
    Washington, DC
    As soon as you touch a fader you are adding your sonic signature.
     
  22. reidc

    reidc Forum Resident

    Location:
    Fitchburg, Mass
    OK-
    I have read this Looooong thread a few times with interest, but just kept my mouth shut- because I never knew what I had. Now that I have looked and listened- I do NOT- repeat do not have the tonemeisters version.

    I bought mine SOMETIME back in the 80's(who knows when). My spine, back of booklet, and rear of case all say MCAD-37214 AND DIDX 55. There is no bar code on the rear. The Disc itself is SIMILAR to Kevin's(Joel Cairo) pic back on page 9 or 10, except the black inner ring on his is different from mine- with mine being narrower and a bit further out from center. My disc says made in Japan on the right with the same things others have reported on the right. I do not have ANY markings on the clear hub anywhere- but in the silver inner ring- it does say MCAD 37214 TGE XX, with the XX meaning something I can't quite make out. This is only listed once and does not repeat around the hub or ring.

    Time as reported by EAC is 39.57.65

    How does it sound? It sounds really good nice and tight in the drums. My thoughts are that it may be missing light amounts of mid-range, so I guess mine is a loser. I am happy with it, as it is the only real version I have. Until I hear another version- I can't make any other judgement.

    I would really like to hear the SH Aja and the Katy Lied version as well. I have seen many Aja- for sale in the used bins, but almost nothing for Katy Lied.

    Good Luck to all!
    Chris
     
  23. Grant

    Grant That really swings!

    Location:
    United States
    Now, if you're just lowering the volume, how are you adding a sonic signature? A sonic signature is a unique identifiable sound by a particular producer.
     
  24. TMan

    TMan Forum Resident

    Location:
    Washington, DC
    If you lower the volume for your mastering, a low volume could be considered part of the sonic "siganture". Even if you don't touch anything, your "signature" could be a flat transfer. I was initially referring to EQ - as soon as you change from flat transfer, you are adding your personal interpretation of the sound. But it really is sort of a philosophical thing.

    No matter how you slice it, a mastering engineer (or his boss) - someone - controls the sound of the master, so every recording has a "signature". What I am saying, which has been disussed before and is the reason this board exists, is the only way not to have the music you are listening to affected by anyone other than the performers is to be listening to it as it is being performed.

    If you define a signature as an identifiable sound by a particular person, then that person would have to master everything basically the same way, but my point is that each recording HAS a signature. FWIW someone somewhere said that Steve's signature is to bring out the vocals. I think in the interview archives, or somewhere, Steve has said that he tries to find the element that best defines the song, and bring that out, so that could be his "signature". It seems the consensus on here is that his signature is the "Breath of Life". :)

    "If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice". :)
     
  25. tone ded freb

    tone ded freb Forum Resident

    Location:
    Arizona Snowbowl
    I now reiterate post #75. If millions of forum users scouring the entire planet for several years cannot find the version mastered by Steve, does it really exist? :)
     
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