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Article: The Best Version Of... Donald Fagen’s The Nightfly


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1 hour ago, The Computer Audiophile said:

This is amazing @JoshM.

 

THE DEFINITIVE PIECE OF WRITING ON THE NIGHTFLY!

 

@astrotoy Do you have or know anyone who has the Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab Betamax version of The Nightfly?

No, I don't.  I do have a 15ips 2 track second generation dub of a production or safety master tape, not a digital version.     Larry

Analog-VPIClas3,3DArm,SoundsmithZephyrII+MiyajimaZeromono,Herron VTPH2APhono,2AmpexATR-102+Doshi3.0+MerrillTridentMaster TapePreamp  Dig Rip-Pyramix,IzotopeRX3Adv,MykerinosCard,PacificMicrosonicsModel2; Dig Play-Lampi Pacific, mch NADAC, Roon-HQPlayer,Oppo105  Electronics-DoshiPre,CJ MET1mchPre,Cary2A3monoamps Speakers-AvantgardeDuosLR,3SolosC,LR,RR

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24 minutes ago, scintilla said:

Whatever misgivings I have had over the years with this site and Chris, both have continually surprised me with growth and evolution: Chris has become a pretty good columnist and trusted voice in the HiFi world.  The site has continued to improve in content quality and now, with this series I think has eclipsed print journals.  Nobody at Stereophile ever went in this deep, with such heart and so well.  Richard Lenhert never did this.  Michael Fremer never did this.  And here it is, for free on a website where a select group of audiophiles have found a place to commiserate and share the deep, neurotic impulses of music lovers that also want the definitive version of their favorite recordings without apology. Thank you Chris and Josh.  You have filled the cup and it runneth over...

You just made my year :~)

 

I can’t thank both the community and writers like Josh enough. Without you guys, this site wouldn’t exist. 

Founder of Audiophile Style

Announcing The Audiophile Style Podcast

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What a great article!  Got an "edumacation" on the differences between Analog and Digital recording methods....surprising that they like the 3M digital version the best!    Exactly the reason I gave up my Turntable fetish over two decades ago... 

 

Thanks to Josh for the post!   I never had any idea how little Donald knew about actual writing music!

 

And to read some think that  Morph the Cat was a better recording...which I agree...makes sense though with the benefit of 25 years later and the technology that the time period brought with it!

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23 hours ago, loop7 said:

Fantastic piece. These long-form articles on albums are gold.

 

So, I've only listened to The Nightfly about 150 times, most of those were the original US retail LP and then the original US retail CD. I no longer have the LP but I recall it sounding great.

 

In one of Michael Fremer's rants about the terrible-ness of compact discs, he remarked how Porcaro's drums on the album don't sound like drums (because digital recording was so flawed). I regret hearing Fremer say this because I tend to now agree the drums and cymbals don't sound all that great to my ears. I don't own a turntable so maybe I should steer clear of Fremer altogether.

 

I love this album and always will.

 

It's odd that Fremer would blame CDs for the drum sound, since Wendel is really what shaped it. Listening to Wendel tracks on Gaucho, it's the same sound (arguably more digital, since I believe Nichols updated Wendel between Gaucho and The Nightfly).

 

In contrast to Fremer, I agree with the contemporary CD marketers and hifi magazine writers who pointed to The Nightfly as an endorsement of the potential of CDs. Lots of early CDs were sourced from improper tapes, as Nichols himself wrote about in an 1983 article. So even The Nightfly's erroneous first CD issue tended to sound better than some other early CDs made from tape copies EQ'd for vinyl. Plus it's sound floor was almost nonexistent thanks to the digital recording.

 

 

17 hours ago, scintilla said:

Whatever misgivings I have had over the years with this site and Chris, both have continually surprised me with growth and evolution: Chris has become a pretty good columnist and trusted voice in the HiFi world.  The site has continued to improve in content quality and now, with this series I think has eclipsed print journals.  Nobody at Stereophile ever went in this deep, with such heart and so well.  Richard Lenhert never did this.  Michael Fremer never did this.  And here it is, for free on a website where a select group of audiophiles have found a place to commiserate and share the deep, neurotic impulses of music lovers that also want the definitive version of their favorite recordings without apology. Thank you Chris and Josh.  You have filled the cup and it runneth over...

 

I can't tell you how much I appreciate this comment, @scintilla. Thank you for the kind words.

 

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thank you. I quickly compared 5 versions of the title track, 2 of which are not included here.

 

To my ears on my system :

 

original CD (Target actually) sounds a bit hollow, old CD, everything I ever hated about CD

 

but the Limited pressing on Quiex II Promotional copy LP isn't great either with nothing of the thump you can get from a magical compression of bass/drums on vinyl. Could easily be judged as CD/digital version in a blind test I think.

 

SACD layer is pretty much OK and not sure I could blind test distinguish it from the 24/48/2. I think I'd pick the 24/48/2 for I perceived (but just gave each iteration one shot) more of reverb/echo, frank attacks when listening to it.

 

That's the reason why I come to reconsider, thanks to your work, my go to version which is 24/48/Mch mixdowned to stereo via HQP matrix. The bass and drums have much much more body and meat but then the subtleties of the mix, layerings, phasing effects, reverb, echoes, trails and THUS how digital pushed advantages in that album gets quite a bit lost. 

 

 

 

HQ Player 4 Mac Mini M1

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Since this site has taken the brave stance of shining a spotlight on MQA, it's worth my mentioning that this article is very wrong about MQA and The Nightfly. The MQA version he listens to is just an MQA-encoded version of the 24/48 release, and both the Redbook streaming version and the 24/88.2 version (which I presume is just a rip of the SACD's hi-res layer) he compares it to are different masterings. So any differences are not attributable to MQA, and in my listening the plain old PCM version of the 24/48 master sounded better than the MQA version even when fully unfolded with my Matrix XSP DAC.

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3 minutes ago, Jean Paul D said:

thank you. I quickly compared 5 versions of the title track, 2 of which are not included here.

 

To my ears on my system :

 

original CD (Target actually) sounds a bit hollow, old CD, everything I ever hated about CD

 

but the Limited pressing on Quiex II Promotional copy LP isn't great either with nothing of the thump you can get from a magical compression of bass/drums on vinyl. Could easily be judged as CD/digital version in a blind test I think.

 

SACD layer is pretty much OK and not sure I could blind test distinguish it from the 24/48/2. I think I'd pick the 24/48/2 for I perceived (but just gave each iteration one shot) more of reverb/echo, frank attacks when listening to it.

 

That's the reason why I come to reconsider, thanks to your work, my go to version which is 24/48/Mch mixdowned to stereo via HQP matrix. The bass and drums have much much more body and meat but then the subtleties of the mix, layerings, phasing effects, reverb, echoes, trails and THUS how digital pushed advantages in that album gets quite a bit lost. 

 

 

 

 

I've never tried folding down the 5.1 mix to stereo. Does HQP do that on-the-fly when playing the 5.1 files, or do you do a conversion beforehand?

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2 minutes ago, JoshM said:

 

I've never tried folding down the 5.1 mix to stereo. Does HQP do that on-the-fly when playing the 5.1 files, or do you do a conversion beforehand?

on-the-fly. By the attached recipe

Capture d’écran 2021-04-29 à 23.30.45.png

HQ Player 4 Mac Mini M1

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