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


JoshM
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I certainly appreciate your effort here Josh. You make an excellent point concerning Qobuz not worrying about specific versions of albums. I am the opposite and own multiple mastering's and issues  of CD's. Even if one of your reviews isn't of an album I like it is still great reading to me. Thanks again.

Furutech GTX-D, GTX Wall Plate,106-D Cover > NCF Clearline >J River 27 > Curious Cable Evolved USB > Chord Hugo TT 2 > Empyrean Copper PCUHD Cable > Meze Empyrean > my ears > audiophile brain

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  • 3 weeks later...
16 hours ago, CharlesN said:

The best piece of writing about a single album that I've ever read, period, full stop. Astonishing work and research, Josh. The bar is set high for exhaustive analysis when it comes to TBVO features, but you've exceeded even that high bar here--the equivalent of a doctoral thesis on The Nightfly. 

 

I've owned Nightfly on digital disc since the CD was first released and, over the years, have collected every digital release except for the destroyed first mastering and the streaming releases. The 24/48 has ended up my fave, with the high rez layer on the SACD a close second. You're right to point out that the original CD (mastering #2) can be fatiguing and that's my main issue with it--I can't remember the last time I listened to it all the way through. It has a reputation as an audiophile classic, no doubt, but I'd argue that it's real claim to fame was as an audiophile demo disc, which is a subtly different thing. It's great for audio showboating a song or two or three to wow friends or high-end audio shoppers. But sometimes sound that wows you immediately doesn't hold up so well over the course of an entire album, and I definitely get "wow fatigue" from the original CD.

 

On a final note: this level of quality in writing deserves to be supported financially, at least on a voluntary basis, and I'd welcome a donation option for readers of TBVO. This is content that's worth paying for! 

 

 


Thank you so much, Charles. Comments like this mean the world to me. 

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  • 3 weeks later...

WOW awesome article. It reminded me to look for my DVD-A from 2002, been meaning to rip into my drives to listen through my ROON system. It might be interesting to see  how the streaming Qobuz sounds verse my ripped DVD-A ??? HMMM

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  • 3 months later...

What a read! Thank you.

 

This article inspired me to rip my original digital mastering CD to my library uncompressed. After repeated listens to that with my Grado SR 80s -- increasing my appreciation for the album, as I'd been listening to AAC (lossy) rips of said CD -- I decided to buy the 24/48 remaster from HDTracks. Have now been listening repeatedly to each mastering, alternating. Only yesterday did I buy the 24/48, so I'm still forming my comparative impressions. Definitely, I prefer the title track in the original mastering. As you said (and displayed), it's more dynamic; the verse chord blasts hit so great in the original, and although they might sound even "louder" in the remaster, it's just not as good. I.G.Y., I probably also prefer the original: it's just perfect for the mood and message of the song. Green Flower Street, I probably prefer the remaster for the grooving bass.

 

This is my current obsession (whilst simultaneously working), so I'll be happy to post more the more I listen.

 

Again, thank you Josh.

 

TDP

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As anticipated above, more unsolicited comparative opinions:

 

Though I still prefer the original I.G.Y., it's closer than I thought. The remaster horns are much better. Still, the dynamics give the original the edge. New Frontier, I have nothing against the remaster, and prefer it. Clearer, more defined drums and bass, and Larry Carlton's leads sound even better. For those keeping score at home (and why) it's tied.

 

I.G.Y., title track - Original

Green Flower Street, New Frontier - Remaster

 

I think Ruby Baby is gonna go to the original, but haven't yet decided.

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16 hours ago, Michel André Jouveaux said:

Fantastic article. Thank you. 

I own the 2007 "MVI" Box set with all three Fagen solo albums published at that time. Do you reckon the DVD side of those is the same 24/48 mastering you refer to here ? (It does sound fantastic, although I still go back to my German vinyl copy for The Nightfly).

 

 

Hi Michael, Yes. The MVI box is what I refer to as The Nightfly Trilogy box in the article. The CD in that box has Mastering 2 (the digital-sourced original CD), and the DVD in that box has Mastering 3 (the 2002 24/48 file). That box is my favorite Fagen release because you get it all!

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On 10/5/2021 at 6:10 PM, PeterG said:

THIS JUST IN!!!  Listening now for the first time, with Steely Dan Northeast Corridor teed up right behind it.  Must haves for those who still haven't lost that number...

 

https://www.amazon.com/Donald-Fagens-Nightfly-Live-Fagen/dp/B099TLRGWS

 

This is an awesome release. Fagen is in fine voice. 

 

Fagen's said that he's written a bunch of new material during lockdown, apparently for a new solo release. I hope that happens so and that he tours as a solo act behind it. Nothing against "The Steely Dan Band," but especially without Becker, I'd love to hear more of Fagen's solo material live.

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Quote

When EQ Magazine asked its readers to select “the best sounding recordings of all time,” Donald Fagen’s 1982 album, The Nightfly, ranked fifth 


Wut?
 

I was a huge Steely Dan fan in high school and college. Only The Beatles were better, in my young mind. But I was disappointed with everything after Aja and was always lukewarm about Fagen’s solo effort. I have The Nightfly on vinyl, unplayed probably this century. But this article caused me to load it on Qobuz, 24/28. I have to say, New Frontier sounds great! Still lukewarm on the music but that really is a great recording.

 

Thanks for the read.

Roon ROCK (Roon 1.7; NUC7i3) > Ayre QB-9 Twenty > Ayre AX-5 Twenty > Thiel CS2.4SE (crossovers rebuilt with Clarity CSA and Multicap RTX caps, Mills MRA-12 resistors; ERSE and Jantzen coils; Cardas binding posts and hookup wire); Cardas and OEM power cables, interconnects, and speaker cables

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7 hours ago, JoshM said:

 

Hi Michael, Yes. The MVI box is what I refer to as The Nightfly Trilogy box in the article. The CD in that box has Mastering 2 (the digital-sourced original CD), and the DVD in that box has Mastering 3 (the 2002 24/48 file). That box is my favorite Fagen release because you get it all!

Well thank you. Made my day, that. Good to know my ears weren’t deceiving me. Both the CD and DVD sound fantastic indeed - and I do have a preference for the DVD, in some respects over even the LP. 

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14 hours ago, JoshM said:

 

This is an awesome release. Fagen is in fine voice. 

 

Fagen's said that he's written a bunch of new material during lockdown, apparently for a new solo release. I hope that happens so and that he tours as a solo act behind it. Nothing against "The Steely Dan Band," but especially without Becker, I'd love to hear more of Fagen's solo material live.

Agreed all around.  But as a rabid fan who's seen Steely Dan at least 10 times live, including shows that may be on this disk and the Northeast Corridor co-release, I was surprised by two things.  First, they changed the soundstage and you cannot hear the rooms (A bummer, but maybe they had to).  Second, this disk sounds way better than the sound in the Beacon or the Orpheum. A miracle of the modern world, but also a bit ironic--it is simultaneously less accurate and more "audiophile".

 

Steely Dan is coming around again soon--check their website.  They are still a magnificent touring band--you will not say "oh, I only wish I could have seen them back when...".  Alas, I am probably too covid-conscious to attend.  Rock on!

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