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Article: The Best Version Of… Steely Dan’s Aja

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This article just inspired me to look at what version of Aja I have in my library. I could have sworn I had the MF CD ripped to the hard drive but was surprised I had never been disposed to get anything other than my 1977 dated LP, now a needledrop file. This piece may push me to try and find a copy of the Hoffman mastering. Anyone care to share a copy via dropbox PM me.

But honestly 100,000 words to find the answer to the question asked by the title, a bit wordy don't you think Josh?

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14 minutes ago, Sal1950 said:

Anyone care to share a copy via dropbox PM me.

 

That would not be legal....at least not for US residents.

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1 hour ago, Sal1950 said:

Anyone care to share a copy via dropbox PM me.

But honestly 100,000 words to find the answer to the question asked by the title, a bit wordy don't you think Josh?

Well, the first part of the post is fine, but the quoted text above  is insulting drivel and illegal as @diecaster pointed out. Don't care for your comment on wordy, just doesn't belong. Honestly.

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1 hour ago, diecaster said:

 

That would not be legal....at least not for US residents.

But it's OK buy the zillions of used CD's available in stores, ebay, etc.

Sillyness

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13 minutes ago, One and a half said:

Don't care for your comment on wordy, just doesn't belong. Honestly.

Why, I thought the article was way over written,  JMHO

No disrespect intended.

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37 minutes ago, Sal1950 said:

But it's OK buy the zillions of used CD's available in stores, ebay, etc.

Sillyness

 

Yes, it is ok to buy and sell used CDs. It’s not okay to pirate music which is what you proposed. 

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23 minutes ago, diecaster said:

 

Yes, it is ok to buy and sell used CDs. It’s not okay to pirate music which is what you proposed. 

What the difference, no loyalties are paid when you buy a used CD to anyone?

Did you ask for a legal letter stating no one ever kept a ripped copy of that CD before buying it?

Like I said, a bunch of sillyness, please don't bother me with this.

 

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2 minutes ago, Sal1950 said:

What the difference, no loyalties are paid when you buy a used CD to anyone?

Did you ask for a legal letter stating no one ever kept a ripped copy of that CD before buying it?

Like I said, a bunch of sillyness, please don't bother me with this.

 

 

It’s not silliness. The seller of the CD is responsible for deleting any copies of the CD he may have. The buyer has no obligation or requirement to ask this be done or to insure that it is done. The person with legal possession of the CD is legal rights holder.

 

I suspect the owner of this forum does not want piracy promoted here. But you go right ahead!

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Sal, you are right that it makes no practical difference as vs. a used CD.  But it does make a legal difference in the US as there would then be an 'extra' copy of the work.  

 

 

As for "wordy" it is fine to criticize - I don't think it is too wordy but some bold-faced section headers would be good for the next one.

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A fabulous read Josh. I own the Hoffman CD, 1984 Nichols and a Japanese SHM CD from 2009 plus assorted others. The Hoffman is my go-to. That would go for the Hoffman Katy Lied as well.

Thank you again. A great article: fun, informative and interesting.

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@JoshM, long time Steely Dan fan here, and I really appreciate the detail of the provenance of the digital media for Aja.  Now if only these notes would come from the label in the first place, they are so shy about such matters when you really want them to, especially for digital downloads, then again we have MQA for that, well no.

 

If you're considering other albums for the series , could you cast your eye over Supertramp 'Crime of the Century', the dynamics on that recording are still vivid today. I play the MFSL version regularly, and life's good!

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8 hours ago, JoshM said:

 

Haha. I can assure you that it’s not 100,000 words, which is the length of Hunger Games or To Kill a Mockingbird. I also can’t quite say I expected complaints about too much free content!

 

That said, this is definitely my longest installment of TBVO thus far, and I doubt many in the future will be as long. But there are lots of great stories about the making of this album, and the digital version history is incredibly convoluted. There are easily hundreds of pages spread across multiple audiophile forums dedicated to identifying the various Aja CDs and debating their relative merits, and I don’t think either issue was close to settled despite all of the digital ink spilled. I knew this would be an involved column, but I though it was worth the effort. 

 

My sense is that some people read the columns mostly for the album history, while others are more interested in the version analysis. I don’t want to short-change either reader, but I understand if some people skim one section or the other. 

Make them longer!  You write well and more is needed:-)   I am more interested the history of the musicians and album's origin much more than the tech analysis but I read both.  

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9 hours ago, JoshM said:

My sense is that some people read the columns mostly for the album history, while others are more interested in the version analysis. I don’t want to short-change either reader, but I understand if some people skim one section or the other. 

In my case, both. Plus discovery. I have the SACD (and DSF via my PS3) version of Gaucho. I must admit it's  simply because it is a well known audiophile classic. Steely Dan is not really a fave of mine, but by learning all these tidbits I come to appreciate it more.

 

The part that I am finding challenging is identifying each version. I got a copy of the remastered 1999 version from Amazon, and it sounds good and is interesting music. But how to identify a Hoffman copy for example? Finding it a little cryptic. The one obviously easy to identify is the SACD version - but it is a bit too expensive for me until I learn this group enough to appreciate it.

 

So to my point after this drivel: Any pointers on where to find a Hoffman CD?

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1 hour ago, miguelito said:

"...Any pointers on where to find a Hoffman CD?"

Whether for a Hoffman CD or not, assuming it isn't available at a local used CD store, if it's never been remastered or only once after the original CD, I check Amazon and eBay.  If there have been multiple CD remasterings, I usually give up on Amazon and find it on eBay.  Discogs also has a marketplace, but I haven't tried it. 

 

PS - Sorry, I may have misunderstood - if what you're asking is out how to identify a Hoffman mastering, I go to Hoffman forums and Discogs to find out what I should be looking for , e.g. release year, label, artist, matrix codes.

 

 

 

 

Edited by Mayfair
clarification

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2 hours ago, miguelito said:

Any pointers on where to find a Hoffman CD?

 

I found the Hoffman master of Aja on eBay using the Hoffman forum ID info. (Didn't buy it if anyone wants it - was about $17 as I recall.) I assume you can do the same for Gaucho. Let me know if you think it's better than the SACD, which I have also.

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An excellent piece of work. Amazing, in fact.

 

By the time I got to the version comparisons, I was too buzzy with energy to read it... Went back to listen to all of the albums talked about to match them up with the story here. Spectacular "intro to Steely Dan" piece right up front. Heck, you could have stopped there and it would have made my day.

 

Not saying that the comparisons weren't interesting, just that what came before was so dense and intense that I couldn't care about Aja until I'd gone back and checked out everything else. Talk about high engagement writing...

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8 hours ago, miguelito said:

In my case, both. Plus discovery. I have the SACD (and DSF via my PS3) version of Gaucho. I must admit it's  simply because it is a well known audiophile classic. Steely Dan is not really a fave of mine, but by learning all these tidbits I come to appreciate it more.

 

The part that I am finding challenging is identifying each version. I got a copy of the remastered 1999 version from Amazon, and it sounds good and is interesting music. But how to identify a Hoffman copy for example? Finding it a little cryptic. The one obviously easy to identify is the SACD version - but it is a bit too expensive for me until I learn this group enough to appreciate it.

 

So to my point after this drivel: Any pointers on where to find a Hoffman CD?

 

Check this thread over at SHF. If you want a Hoffman, you want a 3, 6, or 7, according to that thread’s numbering. The complexity is that some “37214” discs are actually the Nichols’s ‘84 mastering, while some are Hoffman’s. It takes more digging to distinguish the two. All “1745” discs, at least according to that thread, are Hoffmans. If you want to be absolutely sure, you can ask Discogs or EBay sellers to confirm the peak levels. You can also post a “Wanted” ad over at SHF saying that you’re looking for a Hoffman Aja (or clone). I got several of the discs for the column that way. 

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Thanks for the article.  I've had the album, but never have listened to it before.  I'm not much of a non-classical music fan and mistakenly thought Steely Dan was hard rock.  Aja is a very pleasant album to listen to, quite jazz influenced.  My copies (SACD and copy of safety master tape) have the voices less prominent than many rock/pop albums. 

 

Larry

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For what it is worth, when Walter lived in Ward Manner Annex at Bard College, I remember he had a huge set of Klipsch speakers in his relatively small dorm room.  Beyond a vintage tube amp, preamp and TT, he had an oscilliscope.  I do not know which Klipsch he had (it was 50 years ago and I was not into it then),  but they were big, and I would not be surprised if they were corner horns.  Really monstrous in that small dorm room..  A nice guy...I get a kick out of the fact that there is now a street named for him in Queens.  Surprised really, that we are mostly still alive.  Those were strange days.

 

Alan

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On 1/19/2019 at 1:24 AM, JoshM said:

My sense is that some people read the columns mostly for the album history, while others are more interested in the version analysis. I don’t want to short-change either reader, but I understand if some people skim one section or the other. 

 

16 hours ago, jcbenten said:

Make them longer!  You write well and more is needed:-)   I am more interested the history of the musicians and album's origin much more than the tech analysis but I read both.  

No offense meant Josh.  But reacting to jcbenten post above I would say if Steely's history is the focus, make the articles title more reflective to such. It's like using the hook of the "ten best"  but not getting around to the reason I clicked till 3/4 of the way into the article. I find the way you presented it more like all the misleading advertising we deal with daily. Otherwise answer the titles question first, then give me as long a history lesson as you chose. If that's interesting to me, I will continue to read it.

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On 1/18/2019 at 4:02 PM, Ralf11 said:

Sal, you are right that it makes no practical difference as vs. a used CD.  But it does make a legal difference in the US as there would then be an 'extra' copy of the work.  

 

Very reminiscent of the US marijuana laws. LOL

The laws make no sense but some expect you to respect them anyway.  ;)

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