Steve's Steely Dan Aja

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

  1. peter

    peter Senior Member

    Location:
    Paradise
    Excellent idea. Please do so and post results.
     
  2. peter

    peter Senior Member

    Location:
    Paradise
    I NEVER meant to criticize SH, or tell him what to do. This is all just very frustrating, that's all.
     
  3. Sckott

    Sckott Hand Tighten Only.

    Location:
    Sagamore Beach, Ma
    Oh I know. :) But it's also important for him to get the inside work. That's what a lot of people don't realize. If doing a few Doritos commercials lands me a gig at the Tonight Show, why not?

    Maybe someone with a positive ID on the disc should rattle off the dead-area? Is the disc made by Ultech or JVC? Must be a way....

    Mr. Nichols' mastering of Aja wasn't all that bad either. Just MHO. I'd love to own a SH mastered copy too, but should I fight like heck on eBay among all of you? :eek: I might lose my fingers! :laugh:
     
  4. peter

    peter Senior Member

    Location:
    Paradise
    Right again on all counts, Sckott.
     
  5. Evan L

    Evan L Beatologist

    Location:
    Vermont
    And just what do you mean by THAT, sir? :confused:

    Evan
     
  6. Beattles

    Beattles Forum Resident

    Location:
    Florence, SC
    Does anyone know which mastering was used for the DIDY-55 discs? Also, I saw a version of AJA that was pressed by Columbia House? Don't know the cat number. Is anyone familiar with this version?
     
  7. davenav

    davenav High Plain Grifter

    Location:
    Brooklyn, USA
    I am.

    I have a couple of other Aja's to compare it with and I'm convinced that my Columbia Record Club version is the SH version.

    Look in the ring around the center hole of the disc. Mine has hand-written numbers that have been scratched out. It features nice round mid's and a fatter snare sound--pretty unmistakable SH trademarks.
     
  8. sharedon

    sharedon Forum Zonophone

    Interesting! I've got a CRC version that doesn't have that, but has a stamped "C M U" in the ring.
     
  9. davenav

    davenav High Plain Grifter

    Location:
    Brooklyn, USA
    How does it sound?
     
  10. sharedon

    sharedon Forum Zonophone

    Round mids, but I wouldn't say a fatter snare. I've assumed it's the earlier Roger Nichols version...
     
  11. peter

    peter Senior Member

    Location:
    Paradise
    OK, here we go again, today at Amoeba in Berkeley, for $3.99 (no joke), I find an original US 1984 Steely Dan Aja CD with the CD made in Japan!!!!! CD says: "Made in Japan for MCA Records..."

    No bar code on back cover inlay. DIDX 55 appears on the back inlay, the spine, the back page of the CD booklet, but NOT on the CD itself.

    Matrix on the CD is MCAD 37214 M2E11. There's a little loop to the right of the bottom part of the "3" in 37214.

    As one person pointed out earlier in this thread, the snare drum on this sounds "fatter" than my 1985 US made Aja CD.

    Did I score the SH one? Only you guys can tell me......

    Forgot to add, the JPN. pressed one clocks in at 40:00 exactly; the US one at 40:03.
     
  12. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Mastering Engineer Your Host

    Does it sound good? Is the midrange nice and realistic without a big "hole" or not? Is the bass a little more defined or not? Is the lower top end a little more defined or not?

    If not, it's not. :wave:
     
  13. Evan L

    Evan L Beatologist

    Location:
    Vermont
    Steve,

    I have it, and all the elements you describe are there. So maybe you've solved this after all...

    It does sound GOOD.

    Evan
     
  14. peter

    peter Senior Member

    Location:
    Paradise
    Steve:

    The US one is louder. But, I don't think I can say that one has a big hole in the mid-range, or that one has bass and/or lower top end that is a little more defined. The words I would use are that the JPN. one sounds softer, smoother, fuller. There IS a difference, but it's very difficult for me to put into words. I can say that the JPN. one does sound more analogue-like.

    I know this is not very helpful and I do apologize for that.
     
  15. poweragemk

    poweragemk Old Member

    Location:
    CH
    Peter,
    Do you have the Canadian red vinyl edition of Aja? When I compared my US pressings of Aja to that edition I was left thinking that the midrange hole on the CDs hadn't been filled, comparatively...
    The CDs I have DO sound good, though. Better than the MoFi, IMO.
    And I haven't heard the Japanese first pressing, so maybe that's different.
     
  16. peter

    peter Senior Member

    Location:
    Paradise
    Mike:

    I do not have the CDN. red vinyl issue. On vinyl, I stick with the JPN. VIM series LP's, on the black MCA rainbow label. I have all except Aja.
     
  17. Joel Cairo

    Joel Cairo Video Gort Staff

    Location:
    Portland, Oregon
    We may have a winner!!!

    OK-- I swore I wasn't going to get into this again... but I think peter is on to something. I found a copy of the same disc he's described on Page 9 of the thread, and it has the same graphical inserts as the original "Made in Japan" versions... only this one isn't. As he pointed out, the inner ring says "MFD BY JVC", but the label copy quite clearly says "Manufactured in USA for MCA Records...".

    Now, most importantly, this is the only mid-80's vintage disc that I've found that doesn't match up to the CSR and JVC(Japan) versions. As you may know, once any two of the Japanese versions are properly aligned and one is inverted, they cancel each other out perfectly when combined, indicating that they are all identical masters. The disc that peter and I have, however, doesn't cancel out with any of the Japanese discs... in fact, it doesn't even stay synched, as the transfer speed varies **ever so slightly** from those CDs.

    And the nicest part-- it does sound noticeably different than the Japanese discs. It's still subtle, but I have a comparison two-minute .mp3 of "Deacon Blues" that cuts back and forth between the versions, and illustrates what I'm talking about. The US-made disc is a bit more dynamic, but the more interesting thing to me is that the Japanese discs sound... well, muffled and a bit distant by comparison.

    If someone wants to host the .mp3, let me know, and I'll send it to you. I think you'll all understand what I'm talking about pretty quickly.

    By the way, it starts with the Japanese discs, and then cuts back and forth at 30-second intervals.

    Just let me know who wants to make it available, folks!! :)

    -Kevin
     
  18. Grant

    Grant Senior Member

    Location:
    United States
    All I know is that the copy I have has the cymbal work that sounds very clean, detailed, and natural, and as a drummer, I know what that sounds like. You can almost feel the sticks hitting the whole kit. The whole CD sounds very uncolored and natural, with no obvious EQing.

    I don't know what I have-it's supposed to be Steve's version, but it sounds better than ANY other version!
     
  19. KeithH

    KeithH Success With Honor...then and now

    Location:
    Beaver Stadium
    As I understand it, Steve mastered Aja for MCA in 1984. He claims that his masters were stored on very fragile tape. I recall him making a comment here once to effect that these tapes would only last for "ten minutes." Now, a US JVC CD with "MFD. BY JVC..." in the matrix code is a later US JVC pressing. I'm guessing it's from '86 or maybe even '87. The earliest US JVC pressings have matrix codes that look identical to Japanese JVC pressings. Given all of this, I have to wonder if a US JVC disc with the later, more modern JVC matrix code style could have been made from Steve's master.

    I have an early US DADC pressing, and I really need to compare it to the Japanese pressings. I've passed up US JVC pressings in the used bins many times. Next time I find one, I'll buy it.
     
  20. peter

    peter Senior Member

    Location:
    Paradise
    Just to clarify. On my JPN. pressed Aja, decribed above, the info. I posted as being the matrix info (on the inner ring) of the CD is ALL there is. None of the info that Dave/NightGort describes in his earlier post is present on mine.
     
  21. Joel Cairo

    Joel Cairo Video Gort Staff

    Location:
    Portland, Oregon
    ...and Leppo has kindly volunteered to host the excerpted .mp3 file that I referred to earlier, so hopefully, we'll have that set up a little later today, which should give everyone a chance to hear the comparison.

    -Kevin
     
  22. thxdave

    thxdave Forum Resident

    If we ever (EVER) get this mystery nailed down, could somebody post (or host) some scans or digital pix of the ENTIRE package (booklet, tray insert, etc.) so we have a reference. I've passed over so many copies of this disc trying to find a Japanese pressing and I'm more confused than ever. Do the oldest pressings of this title have a barcode on the back of the insert? I just need something that I can use as a quick visual clue as to what I'm looking at. Actually, I could host the shots on my website if necessary. If I can ever find a copy for myself, I'd be happy to do some macro shots of the inner ring details too.....just another brick in the wall. ;)
     
  23. poweragemk

    poweragemk Old Member

    Location:
    CH
    Not the ones I have.
     
  24. Joel Cairo

    Joel Cairo Video Gort Staff

    Location:
    Portland, Oregon
    No, they don't have a barcode, which is what caught my eye when I found this copy. The inserts are absolutely identical to the Japanese-pressed copies. in fact, I'd go so far to say that these discs were most likely packaged with over-run copies of the graphics. As Steve has pointed out, it's common industry practice to print large quantities of the inserts/covers, etc., and just use them up as you press more discs.

    Attached is a detail scan of the label of the disc... you can't see the JVC factory markings, in the data ring, apart from the "1A" portion of the full master number, which is:

    MCAD-37214-1 1C1A

    the "1A" part was obviously added at the manufacturing stage, as it's physically on the surface of the disc.

    Looking at this from another angle, though, I'm pretty positive that we've finally found what we're looking for. There are only two possible masters that were used back then, and Steve has shot down the one that we intially thought was his (the Japanese-pressed discs). So the challenge has been to find an early pressing with a mastering that is numerically and audibly different than those Japanese discs, which we've now done.

    There is precedent for the late use of one of Steve's Steely Dan masters, too-- Leppo's SH-mastered "Katy Lied" disc, which also turned out to be an early US pressing (from DADC), rather than a Japanese pressing, as was previously believed.

    But let me know what y'all think when you've heard the .mp3.

    -Kevin
     

    Attached Files:

  25. Leppo

    Leppo Forum Librarian

    :wave:

    Please have a serious listen here:Steely Dan Aja Deacon Blues comparison and post your comments.
     

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