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Lots of new Blue Note titles on HDTracks


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HDTracks have been steadily offering more Blue Note Records releases at 24/192 with some really fantastic albums. From Don Was' press release it sounds like the entire catalog will eventually get an HD download.

 

I recently heard Herbie Hancock's Empyrean Isles at 24/192 and it is a good sounding download. But when I compared it to the 45 rpm Music Matters reissue it lacked that "realism". The MM reissue had a palpability that made the HD download sound flat.

 

One HD download I think sounded really great (I have no vinyl for comparison) is Lee Morgan's Cornbread at 24/192.

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Is anybody else annoyed that none of the HDTracks Blue Notes have the bonus tracks found on the cd reissues? Oh well...A couple others that sound really good in my opinion are Curtis Fuller's The Opener, Art Blakey's Moanin, and Kenny Burrel's Midnight Blue. The only Music Matter's LP I have been able to compare to the HD Tracks is the new 33 1/3 Blue Train. However the LP is in Mono and the HDTracks version is stereo so not a fair comparison. I have a Music Matters copy of Midnight Blue coming this week and will be very interested to A/B it with the HDTracks version.

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Is anybody else annoyed that none of the HDTracks Blue Notes have the bonus tracks found on the cd reissues? Oh well...A couple others that sound really good in my opinion are Curtis Fuller's The Opener, Art Blakey's Moanin, and Kenny Burrel's Midnight Blue. The only Music Matter's LP I have been able to compare to the HD Tracks is the new 33 1/3 Blue Train. However the LP is in Mono and the HDTracks version is stereo so not a fair comparison. I have a Music Matters copy of Midnight Blue coming this week and will be very interested to A/B it with the HDTracks version.

 

I am not a fan of Midnight Blue, but please do post your findings when you compare them. I agree it's really annoying that the bonus tracks are left off. Especially since the Audiowave XRCDs and Analogue Productions SACDs included them.

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I have purchased several and they all sound FANTASTIC. I am not as annoyed by the missing tracks as I am the missing liner notes on the latter ones ! The first several had them and they were really nice. Same as the MM Vinyl Liner notes I assume?

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I have purchased several and they all sound FANTASTIC. I am not as annoyed by the missing tracks as I am the missing liner notes on the latter ones ! The first several had them and they were really nice. Same as the MM Vinyl Liner notes I assume?

 

Empyrean Isles HD download is just a barebones cover image. The Music Matters vinyl is another league in terms of presentation, they include high resolution black and white photos of the musicians in the inner gatefold and the full text from the original LP on the back of the jacket.

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Finally had the chance to A/B the new Music Matters 33/1/3 Midnight Blue with the HDTracks 24/192 download. First, both sound spectacular, and though I could live happily with either, I have to give the nod in this instance to the LP. There is just more a bit more clarity, dynamic punch and presence with the LP. I don't know how much of this is attributable to the differences between my digital and analog playback chains, and how much is attributable to the differences in mastering. While both are transferred from the original tapes, the HDTracks Blue Notes have been done by Bernie Grundman or Alan Yoshida and all the Music Matters titles have been done by Kevin Grey. Some of these differences could have less to do with the analog / digital differences and more to do with the differences between the gear of the mastering facilities and the ears of those doing the cutting. A better comparison to determine the analog digital differences might be to A/B some of the Analogue Productions LPs / DSD downloads that are from the same mastering chain. Has anybody done this?

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Finally had the chance to A/B the new Music Matters 33/1/3 Midnight Blue with the HDTracks 24/192 download. First, both sound spectacular, and though I could live happily with either, I have to give the nod in this instance to the LP. There is just more a bit more clarity, dynamic punch and presence with the LP. I don't know how much of this is attributable to the differences between my digital and analog playback chains, and how much is attributable to the differences in mastering. While both are transferred from the original tapes, the HDTracks Blue Notes have been done by Bernie Grundman or Alan Yoshida and all the Music Matters titles have been done by Kevin Grey. Some of these differences could have less to do with the analog / digital differences and more to do with the differences between the gear of the mastering facilities and the ears of those doing the cutting. A better comparison to determine the analog digital differences might be to A/B some of the Analogue Productions LPs / DSD downloads that are from the same mastering chain. Has anybody done this?

 

I have not compared the LP to DSD download, but I have compared some AP SACDs to their AP 45 rpm reissue. Which should be similar to the DSD download, except the disc is being read off a transport instead of files on a hardrive.

 

In my opinion the SACDs are mastered a bit too quietly, and this shows in how much more dynamic and "alive" the 45 rpm vinyl sounds in comparison. But YMMV like you said, these could be differences in my analog vs digital frontends. I have more money invested in the former.

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The difference is in the reference. Was & Co. spent a lot of time tracking down original LPs to use as a reference when EQing the tapes. Those original LPs were EQd to sound good on the mainstream home audio gear of the day (mainly console stereos 50s-60s). The problem with that approach, IMO, is that they forgot to use vintage playback equipment (like a console hifi) to actually hear what it would have sounded like and EQ to THAT sound.

 

Music Matters, as an audiophile label, is looking to get us as close to the master tape due to the ability of today's modern audio equipment to take advantage of that.

 

So you're right to believe that it's not an analog/digital format/chain difference, rather it's the intent of both companies that differs quite greatly.

 

Bill

Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.

Mac Mini->Roon + Tidal->KEF LS50W

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The difference is in the reference. Was & Co. spent a lot of time tracking down original LPs to use as a reference when EQing the tapes. Those original LPs were EQd to sound good on the mainstream home audio gear of the day (mainly console stereos 50s-60s). The problem with that approach, IMO, is that they forgot to use vintage playback equipment (like a console hifi) to actually hear what it would have sounded like and EQ to THAT sound.

 

Music Matters, as an audiophile label, is looking to get us as close to the master tape due to the ability of today's modern audio equipment to take advantage of that.

 

So you're right to believe that it's not an analog/digital format/chain difference, rather it's the intent of both companies that differs quite greatly.

 

Bill

 

I have loads of original Blue Notes pressed in the Plastylite and Liberty era. The downloads sound very different from the original vinyl. The downloads actually sound closer to the audiophile reissues.

 

A few big differenes:

 

Van Gelder original vinyl has a distinct sound, the sound "jumps out" at out you, especially the percussion and horns. This is probably due to some compression, gain riding and EQ'ing of the higher frequencies. Some might liken it to what you'd hear at a live jazz gig. The HD downloads and audiophile reissues are more laid back soundstage and EQ wise. Both can be wonderful and are a different presentation of the music.

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