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SH Spotlight What are the differences between the AP stereo remixes on 45 RPM LP & SACD of Nat King Cole?

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by mahanusafa02, Jul 8, 2021.

  1. mahanusafa02

    mahanusafa02 Forum Resident Thread Starter

    I am still enjoying Steve and Chad's Analogue Production SACDs of Nat King Cole 10+ years later and, not surprisingly, it turns out I can't get enough Nat in any form! (I've done the requisite search but couldn't find the info I was looking for.)

    Steve has stated that there are slight differences between the stereo remixes he made for the SACDs and the 45 RPM LP versions of Love Is The Thing, St Louis Blues, Just One Of Those Things, and (I would presume) The Very Thought Of You. I am wondering if anyone could elaborate on what the slight differences are between the stereo remixes on the different formats. Also, does anyone know if there are different stereo remixes between the two formats for The NKC Story and Where Did Everyone Go as well, or are those ones the same?

    Paging, but certainly not limited to, @MLutthans, @jtaylor, @Clark V Kauffman, @dale 88, @MMM, @McLover, @Arkoffs, @CBackley, @rangerjohn, @stevelucille, as well as the mixer/masterer himself, @Steve Hoffman. Sorry to any other Nat nuts I might have missed...
    RubenH, otter, CBackley and 3 others like this.
  2. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Your host Your Host

    Just differences of human error (mine).

    Impossible to mix a song exactly the same every time. Even if there are only three channels, it's difficult. I tried to get everything to sound exactly the same every time but even I, now, can't remember exactly where differences stand out. Possibly in voice to music levels as I had to do that by hand every time, for the 5.1 mix, for the stereo digital mix and for the LP mix. I'm speaking of getting the orchestra to fall behind Nat and then to bring it up during the "breaks."

    I don't personally think that the differences stand out in any way considering the formats are different (digital vs. vinyl record.) Also, we didn't mix in order, we did the 5.1 first then days later maybe the digital stereo and then the lacquer cutting for vinyl. That's a long time to match something exactly but I think we did OK.

    The echo levels were mainly the same thanks to Kevin Gray keeping his notes in order, EQ almost matched (but not exactly, due to my mood) and on the songs that we had to use a compressor (Teletronix LA2a) the overall mix seemed to be OK from day to day.

    The Capitol recorded stuff of that era (unlike recordings from United/Western) required real mixing to get anything good. The United stuff was mixed right onto the three-tracks during actual recording, with EQ, echo and compression all done live on the spot, requiring only a straight dubbing down (reduction mix) to the stereo tape with more echo to get a good level. The Capitol stuff was totally unmixed, with vocal dry (no reverb) and music levels all over the place. The vocals were for the most part uncompressed giving Nat a GIANT dynamic range. So much so that he would float right off of the mix into the air if we didn't hold him back with the LA2a or by hand (jerking him back at the right moments).

    The three-track of JUST ONE OF THOSE THINGS album was the worst in that regard. I remember the first phrase of the first song on the album: "When you're alone, who cares for starlit skies..."

    That simple phrase was about 50 db from soft to loud. The "WHEN YOU'RE" part was loud, the "ALONE, WHO CARES FOR STARLIT SKIES.." part was so soft it vanished under the orchestra. Drove me nutty, had to compress the vocal. Other albums he was controlled more but not always. Sometimes during the same album some vocals were just right with proper dynamics and others the dynamic swing was so wide it was out of control ("The Very Thought Of You" album). Seems the engineer didn't set up the same way for each group of four songs. They just squashed everything during mixing back in the day (their answer to everything) but I wanted a cleaner sound.

    That JUST ONE OF THOSE THINGS album had really bad phase issues and on one version we corrected it, I played it back at home that night and thought it sucked so we went back and redid it with the incorrect phase because it sounded the best. Frustrating but there ya go.

    The milestone album "LOVE IS THE THING" (original title: "STARDUST,") was actually done and redone several times 'cause I was unhappy with my first efforts. Kevin was ready to kill me but I did each version a few times on a few different days to get it right. When it was decided (very late in the game) to add the original mono versions from back in the day (thank you, Chad), I was pleased to hear that the overall sonic picture I came up with was pretty close to the original mono hit mixes.

    I used the "LOVE IS THE THING" 1957 Zed open reel 7 1/2 ips master tape (newly discovered) in the vault as a guideline to what they were going for with stereo (labeled binaural on the tape box). The later 1959 stereo remix of "LOVE IS THE THING" done for stereo 45/45 LP cutting sucked the big weenie. The 1957 open reel mix was so much better. That was basically my guide for the mix and tone of the album when I was working on it (a bit different from my earlier DCC Compact Classics Gold CD/LP of the title). I remember being a bit more conserv. with the lacquer version, EQ wise..

    Some of the hardest songs to mix match over the weeks were "THOSE LAZY, HAZY, CRAZY DAYS" and "NON DIMENTICAR" and some oddballs like that (even "RAMBLIN' ROSE" was an unexpected pain in the butt). I remember we had a full audience for a few of those songs and we were due to all go to lunch but I wasn't moving until I at least nailed "HAZY." After about 15 attempts I was happy, mix 15 was it. We went to lunch, came back, played them all back and I went with my first attempt. That's show-biz. On the LP mixes I was very careful, had to do the entire side over again if I goofed on the sixth song..

    At any rate, as to differences between the mixes of the same songs for 5.1, stereo digital and stereo analog vinyl, very small (I hope) but time has been kind to my brain and the stress is gone, only the songs remain and those are always lovely to listen to..
    Groundcat, Mr Bass, pantofis and 36 others like this.
  3. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Your host Your Host

    Some of you who have (and I know you do) BOTH the SACD and the 45 RPM vinyl of some of the Nat Cole stuff we did, you can pick a song, sync both the analog and the digital mix together and compare and contrast. Report back!
    hi_watt, wwright, RiRiIII and 4 others like this.
  4. Mr Bass

    Mr Bass Chevelle Ma Belle

    Mid Atlantic
    That's interesting as I would have thought that the dynamic levels would be written into the score for the orchestra players. Composers routinely increase dynamic level markings (say, p to mf) those times the vocalist pauses more than a couple of seconds. Even if they were prerecorded the orchestra arranger would know the places where an extended vocalist pause would be occurring.
  5. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Your host Your Host

    Makes no difference in most cases. The music is still over here and the vocal over there. The engineer still has to be on the ball or it can sound like karaoke night. That meant I had to lift and dip for almost every song for 7 albums. Very tiring. At least the mono mixes had that built in (done live on the spot by the talented engineers of Capitol Studios back in the day.)
  6. a customer

    a customer Forum Resident

    Nat king Cole was a massive talent .
    The first black guy to own a house in Beverly Hills. He was a fantastic piano player who is remembered as a crooner.
    Cat ballou
    MGM likes this.
  7. raphph

    raphph Taking a trip on an ocean liner…

    This is a huge thread hijack and I apologise in advance - but has Steve H put out his mastered version of Something Makes Me Want To Dance - on CD anywhere? I know it he did a bonus vinyl cut...
  8. :laugh:
    George P likes this.
  9. CBackley

    CBackley Chairman of the Bored

    I’ll have to do that soon. I’ve tracked down the SACD and 45 rpm versions of all the albums you and Kevin did. That wasn’t my goal when I set out. Ha. I got all the SACDs first. Then a couple of years later I got Just One of Those Things on 45. It was all over. I just enjoy playing vinyl more, so I knew I was done for. I ordered all of the rest! A fellow member here alerted me to the last MSRP copy of After Midnight pretty much anywhere. And I grabbed The Nat King Cole Story off Discogs for a decent price because the box had a slight tear on the top. What a treasure that set is. Man.

    BTW, Acoustic Sounds recently restocked the 45 of The Very Thought of You. In case any NKC fans here don’t have it yet, get it while you can!
    morinix and aarsonbet like this.
  10. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Your host Your Host

    Let me know what you find. I can't really tell any more, too much time has past. Focus on one song..
    CBackley likes this.
  11. AnalogJ

    AnalogJ Hearing In Stereo Since 1959

    Salem, MA
    The latter is the one 45 I don't have, though I have the DCC.

    I have both the 45 AP and the 45 S&P Steve and Kevin did many years ago of Just One Of Those Things.

    @Steve Hoffman, you and I chatted years ago just as the AP of this was released. You were urging me to get the AP because you acknowledged that you had failed to rein in the extreme dynamics of the album. You were much happier with the way the AP ended up.
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  12. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Your host Your Host

    The difference being that I was on Capitol Studio time (paid by S&P) for the first version and even though it was midnight in Studio B it was still a time crunch.

    With the AP version I had as much time as I needed thanks to Chad's urging..

    Both valid versions. I'll have to compare the two sometime, been a while..
    RSteven, wwright and CBackley like this.
  13. AnalogJ

    AnalogJ Hearing In Stereo Since 1959

    Salem, MA
    You were sort of regretful about the S&P, as I recall. With the double copies I had amassed up till that time of Cole's work that you had mastered, it was the only time that you privately (via email correspondence, as we were friendly through the Phonogram group) strongly urged me to upgrade from a previous copy. I had the DCC LPs, and you were always happy with them and the way they turned out. When the APs came out, you were thrilled with them (and for good reason), but you were still good with the DCCs in their own way.

    But the S&P was one you just thought was TOO dynamic. And it is. The brass breaks just blows everything in the soundstage out of the water. The AP version is better balanced.

    And I have said to you that I think the AP Cole series on 45 is one of the best sounding collections I own. The albums are mesmerizing to listen to in these versions.
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  14. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Your host Your Host


    I'm remembering the problem at Capitol. The playback sound was very compressed coming out of the monitors. Made it hard to judge dynamic range. I think it probably was the same for everything that came out of that room, probably to this day...
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  15. CBackley

    CBackley Chairman of the Bored

    I have that S&P reissue of Just One of Those Things. It’s a very good listen, but I reach for the AP reissue every time. Or the SACD because I like to listen to both the stereo and mono mixes. That said, it’s been about two years since I spun the S&P.

    Those AP SACDs were my first real steps into truly caring about audio quality, even within the constraints of my budget.
    RSteven likes this.
  16. Tim Lookingbill

    Tim Lookingbill Alfalfa Male

    New Braunfels, TX
    I'm new to this album so I looked it up on Discogs and their YouTube samples never work so I searched on YouTube which at first the album cover never showed up in a Google search until YouTube AI seemed to understand what I was searching for -WEIRD!- and gave me the full album which I'm assuming from the sound in regard to 3 track as to mean
    Left/Right/Center. NKC in the center. The orchestra L/R. Very realistic and balanced orchestra sound almost mono with the way NKC is surrounded by the orchestra behind him but doesn't drown him out and yet sounds 3D. I can feel the distance between him and the band without the wide stereo effect I usually hear in Capitol recordings.

    Let me know Steve or anyone else here if this has the intended sound by the Hoffman/Gray remaster. Damn good sound for such a loud style performance without destroying my ears.
    Nat "King" Cole – Just One Of Those Things (2011, SACD)

  17. teag

    teag Forum Resident

    I bought all of the 45 rpm AP LPs when they came out and now also have the SACD's of NKC Story, Love is theThing and After Midnight.

    Side 1 of Story is in the top 5 of all LPs I have ever heard from a sonic standpoint (I have over 2000, a few hundred are MFSL, AP, Org, etc). The phrase "in your room" is quite overused, but not in this case. The SACD, while very good sounding, sounds quite different to me. I can really hear the difference between analog and digital when comparing these. But again, both are very enjoyable.

    Oh, and the mono mix of Love is the Thing on the SACD is really great to hear. Thats the version of that album I play the most.
    Last edited: Jul 9, 2021
    chris8519 likes this.
  18. jwoverho

    jwoverho Licensed Drug Dealer

    Mobile, AL USA
    One of the wonderful benefits of the NKC SACDs is the choice of mixes available. I have a 3-channel setup in my living room just for these and the LIVING STEREO classical titles that have the 3-channel option.
    teag likes this.
  19. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Your host Your Host

    That ain't my mix, that is for sure. Way too much echo.
    Tim Lookingbill likes this.
  20. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Your host Your Host

    Here's one from the "Just One Of Those Things" 45 RPM vinyl we did. Note the distorted piano. Not our fault!

  21. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Your host Your Host

    This sounds pretty good.. Remember, these are unique direct mixes to vinyl.

  22. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Your host Your Host

    I'm glad our efforts are on YouTube. Even there this stuff sounds so good. I notice a few mix variations on this. Something I didn't try to do because of the vinyl cutting max limit. Just as well..

  23. Tim Lookingbill

    Tim Lookingbill Alfalfa Male

    New Braunfels, TX
    OK! HUGE improvement in all three videos you posted. The first one of the 45 RPM vinyl sounds live and right inside my head like my head IS the room listening on Sony studio monitor headphones on a 2010 MacMini.

    There's no distancing except by the high frequency portion of the strings rolled off so it doesn't clash and add scratchy noise with NKC's tiny phlegm smacks which is like he's right in my ear. This must sound great on good speakers and a home system. The piano distortion was hard to spot except maybe at the beginning which sounded like cupping from mic positioning. It's a very short segment.

    You really know how to control directional frequencies like Edgar Bergen throwing his voice. And NKC's low end throaty bass tone doesn't over power and resonate like the Christmas album I got which is loudness war-ed to death. I gave up fixing that.

    Just a note but after years on this forum I haven't heard much of your work except the Ray Charles instrumental CD I bought which I couldn't find an alternate remaster to A/B against. This thread makes it all clear to me you do have golden ears.

    Are there any SACD versions on Youtube?
    NorthNY Mark likes this.
  24. AnalogJ

    AnalogJ Hearing In Stereo Since 1959

    Salem, MA
    For those of you who don't have the SACD of this, try to get your hands on an original mono. It's a unique mix, different than the stereo. The cello line in the intro is front and center.
    CBackley likes this.
  25. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Your host Your Host

    Really, hearing this again brings back memories of the faults of the early Capitol binaural recording process. The vibes totally off mike, no bass foundation, etc. Some of the other songs on the album have the same orchestra but other stuff is highlighted, like the vibes and the tuba, etc. Makes no sense. I basically listen to the mono mix..
    Tim Lookingbill and NorthNY Mark like this.

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