The Hoffman "Aja"

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by nashreed, Jun 2, 2002.

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  1. nashreed

    nashreed New Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Tulsa, OK
    ...or the question that would not go away...

    How do you tell if you have the Steve Hoffman Steely Dan "Aja"?
    I've been pretty obsessive about picking up all of the Hoffman MCA titles on CD (since the DCC gold's are so expensive, it is much easier to collect the MCA's- I'm well on my way, and almost complete-- but there's "Who's Next", and then...
    I recently picked up a used "Aja" that just might be the real deal. I played it today and I was just blown away! It sounds so natural, so musical. It has nice, deep natural bass and the drums kick ass. Solid volume, no distortion- a stunning version, and a treat to listen to. I compared it to the MoFi UD2 (the only other copy of "Aja" I have, unfortunately), and the MoFi sounds so "digital" in comparison, not near as nice and smooth.
    It's a "Made In Japan" disc, with a smooth-sided case, of course (those are givens)- in the inner ring it has just "DIDX-55" and a "21" to the right of that. In the clear plastic center there are the words "compact disc CSR" circling 3 times. Maybe Steve could pull out his copy of his version of "Aja" for comparison? With such a beautiful sound, how could it not be his? :o
    I think we all need firm confirmation on how to definitively determine this.

    Thanks for any input,


    nashreed
     
  2. Dave

    Dave Esoteric Audio Research Specialist™

    Location:
    Greater Vancouver
    Nashreed,

    Why not just get the Canadian Who's Next ? It is Steve's mastering you know.
     
  3. lukpac

    lukpac Senior Member

    Location:
    Milwaukee, WI
    Well, yeah, but that pop in WGFA really bugs me... Not to mention the fact that it's not as loud as it could be.

    If you can't find a Japanese copy, it looks like the BMG is the next best thing. Still not a clone of the Japanese (I've since found out), but closer than the Canadian.
     
  4. vinylrec

    vinylrec Senior Member

    Location:
    Delaware, Ohio

    I just picked up an Aja CD that was pressed in Japan. It certainly sounds like the same CD that you describe. I compared it to the 1999 remastered and I thought it was also "nice and smooth", much superior to the current remaster.

    It's not the Japanese CSR pressing, but does say "Manufactured in Japan for MCA".
    CD clocks in at 40:00.

    The inner ring says: MCAD 37214 M2E11

    I would recommend seeking one of these out.
     
  5. Evan

    Evan Forum Resident

    Location:
    Petal, Mississippi

    I don't think that the DIDX-55 means anything. My copy is a US pressing that came in a longbox (got it in 89 or so) and it also has DIDX-55 on the inner ring. I believe that it is the Roger Nichols mastered version. The versions of Deacon blues and Peg on it sound a bit better that the versions on my “a Decade of Steely Dan” remastered by Gary Katz, which says it is from the original first generation mastered tapes. Who knows? Neither disc sounds as good as my Japanese ABC label copy of Aja, although my CD sounds close to the LP if you boost the bass a little.
     
  6. Evan

    Evan Forum Resident

    Location:
    Petal, Mississippi
    Last week I re-compared the CD and the Japanese LP. Boy was I wrong!
    There is no way I could do a little EQing to make the Cd. sound like the LP. Oh well :o :sigh:

    I was in a used CD shop on Saturday and it occurred to me that there might be, in addition to the “Made in Japan” Hoffmanized “Aja” for the USA, some Hoffmanized “Aja” CDs pressed for the Japanese market at the same time (it could happen). So I looked around and found an old pressing manufactured by Warner-Pioneer Japan. Well, it certainly sounds better than my US pressing. It is more open and relaxed, less “compressed”. The vocals on the US pressing sound “stressed” in comparison. Even my wife, who usually says I am crazy, could tell there was a difference. I do not know if this disc has been Hoffmanized or if the differences are from the superior Japanese Quality Control at the pressing plant, but it is worth hunting down (Catalog # 20P2-2055) :cool:

    And as one of the songs faded out, I turned it up to listen to the tape hiss fade out (now that I know tape hiss is my friend, I do this often. And my wife thinks I crazy! HA!). Instead of fading to silence like the vast majority of my CDs, the tape hiss continued through to the next track, except for a small gap of silence between “Deacon Blues” and “Peg” and “I got the news” and “Josie”. My old US pressing does not do this. Curious :confused:

    Any opinions?
     
  7. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Mastering Engineer Your Host

    My "Aja" was blacked in between songs I believe.

    Roger's was ALSO manufactured in Japan...
     
  8. Evan

    Evan Forum Resident

    Location:
    Petal, Mississippi
    Steve, I did not mean that yours was the exclusive master used. I assume that when Roger remastered Aja, that his tape was the one used from then on for all of the CDs for the Japanese and US market. I meant that the first CD copies of Aja for the Japanese market probably would have been your mastering, as was the case for the US market. And I assume that CD production was still in Japan when MCA switched the master being used.


    Well, my Roger Nichols mastered disc is also blacked between songs, as is every copy I have ever heard of Aja. Maybe Nashreed and Vinylrec could listen to their Japanese copies and tell me if there is tape hiss between tracks :)
     
  9. nashreed

    nashreed New Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Tulsa, OK
    I checked out my copy of "Aja", and I didn't hear any tape hiss between songs- sounds pretty quiet. It's such a great sounding version, how could it not be Steve's? Maybe Steve could pull out his copy (1 of 10?), and see what the inner ring has goin' on.
    Steve's MCA output is so mysterious. I wish there was a way to get a month by month chronology of what he was working on and what was released during his entire MCA tenure. Wouldn't THAT be some kick-ass reading :agree: ! I still can't fathom why they would re-do CD's that Steve had just done?? There is no logic here.:confused:

    nashreed
     
  10. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Mastering Engineer Your Host

    No mystery.

    AJA was the first CD mastering I did, along with ET, and Poco's Legend.

    Who's Next and a bunch of other stuff came in the second batch. I chose not to put my name on albums that were "complete" and not compilations.

    Didn't realize how confusing that would be. Sorry.

    As for "Aja", Roger N. wanted to do the CD mastering for the Steely Dan series, so he took it over. No big deal. His versions and my versions were both pressed in Japan (as was everything else released then), so I have no idea when the cut off point was between versions.

    I actually don't even remember now if my version was "blacked" or not.

    I DO remember this: I felt Roger's version did not correct the midrange suckout problem on "Aja". But of course, why would it? If the SAME engineer does the mixing AND the mastering, he wouldn't change his own sound, right?
     
  11. Grant

    Grant C'mon let me show you where it's at!

    Location:
    United States
    Steve, have you heard the latest CD remaster by Nichols, and if you have, how does it match up with the master tape? I think it mirrors the ABC LP that I have.
     
  12. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Mastering Engineer Your Host

    I haven't actually. Sorry.
     
  13. notnow

    notnow New Member

    Location:
    Capitol City
    Steve has said in a previous post he thinks the Canadian Who's Next is fine, and that the biggest difference is just blacking out between tracks, which is no big deal. I still can't hear any pop in WGFA. I love my Canadian Who's Next!

     
  14. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Mastering Engineer Your Host

    Ya can't hear any pop?

    Try it with headphones. Hee hee.

    (Sorry Luke :p )
     
  15. lukpac

    lukpac Senior Member

    Location:
    Milwaukee, WI
    I can hear the pop from across the room...
     
  16. Joe Fornarotto

    Joe Fornarotto Forum Resident

    Location:
    New Jersey
    Has anyone noticed the new remastering credits on the back inlay of "A Decade Of Steely Dan" ? Neither Gary Katz or Roger Nichols... Did'nt recognize the name..it even gave the location of the re-mastering studio..again did not recognize it!!!
     
  17. Evan

    Evan Forum Resident

    Location:
    Petal, Mississippi
    Not that anyone besides me cares, but I finally got my hands on an early copy of Aja. A Japanese co-worker has one he bought when it first came out on CD. The inner ring has "DIDX-55 21A6" on it. I compared it to the Warner-Pioneer Japan copy I have. Same tonal balance. The Warner-Pioneer Japan copy is a little compressed(?) or something, as it is not as smooth as the MCA. But it is close. Maybe it is a tape copy of the original master Steve prepared.

    Also, I turned up the treble and turned down the bass on my tone controls, and then cranked the volume to listen as the the first track faded out. The tape hiss (which is VERY low but is there as this is an analog recording) is not blacked out between tracks on the MCA copy, except for a small gap of silence between “Deacon Blues” and “Peg” and “I got the news” and “Josie”.
     
  18. John

    John Forum Resident

    Location:
    Northeast
    Steely Dan/ MCA stuff on vinyl

    Steve- I remember some scuttlebutt about MCA/ DCC badblood sometime around the release of that killer Madman LP you did. Is this the case/ has this cleared up? Now that DCC appears to be out of the picture, and more options are available (ie S&P, Acoustech), will we ever see you do Steely Dan or more Elton on vinyl?
     
  19. Beagle

    Beagle Forum Resident

    Location:
    Ottawa
    Luke, do you know at what particular point, timewise, the pop occurs? I don't recall any pop on my Canadian copy.
     
  20. Chris C

    Chris C Music was my first love and it will be my last!

    Location:
    Ohio
    Well since "AJA" was the second CD that I bought after The Alan Parsons Project "I Robot" Aluminum MOFI way back when they were all shiny and new...I had to check which copy I have...

    I have a Manufactured in Japan with inner ring DIDX-55 21A1

    Hummmmm, 5 numbers below fellow forum member Evans!

    I would guess that since A1 comes before A6 that I have the first (?) edition?
     
  21. wes

    wes Forum Resident

    A pop every once in a while is really no big deal.....Records have a lot of em..and in a way I think it sounds kinda neat. Like listen to a camp fire pop every now and then.......


    -Wes
     
  22. Evan

    Evan Forum Resident

    Location:
    Petal, Mississippi
    I would agree with you. I assume that the master wears out and the prepare a new one (guessing here. Steve or anyone who knows the real answer, please feel free to edify me). So based on that logic, the CD I have was pressed later than yours, but from the same master production tape.
    Also, I have to ask, if you turn up the treble and turn down the bass on your tone controls, and then crank the volume to listen as the the first track fades out, "Is the tape hiss blacked out between tracks?" (except for a small gap of silence between “Deacon Blues” and “Peg” and “I got the news” and “Josie”).
    Just curious :D
     
  23. Chris C

    Chris C Music was my first love and it will be my last!

    Location:
    Ohio
    Evan...

    There are just those few mentioned QUICK "BLACKOUTS" on my disc!

    It sounds as if you made yourself a CD-R of a noisy cassette, stopped the CD recorder and then started it up again.

    Honestly, you have to REALLY turn up your stereo fairly loud to hear those blackouts! Not a bad sounding CD in my opinion!
     
  24. Evan

    Evan Forum Resident

    Location:
    Petal, Mississippi
    Cool! Thanks for looking. You are right that you REALLY do have to crank it to hear the tape hiss. Of course you have to turn it down REAL quick when the music comes back :D
    I wish I knew the story behind the Warner-Pioneer Japan version I have :confused:
     
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