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Tuesday, June 7, 2016

SPARS code follow up on "A Steadily Collapsing medium"

E. was kind enough to provide the following information regarding the all-digital vs. analog recording of cds:

"The debate on the source material or SPARS codes really was dependent on several factors. DDD was a recording produced using a digital multi-track recorder, mixed to a digital 2 track and mastered digitally. Easily the best pop recording of this genre was Donald Fagen's "The Nightfly" with its hit track IGY from 1982. His engineer Roger Nichols was a master of sound, digital or analog. Runner-up was Billy Joel "Songs In the Attic". This was a live album done on the 3M 32 track digital system. Fagen's disc was used all the time at Square Deal as a demo.
ADD was an analog multi-track master mixed and mastered digitally. Some of these recordings were abominations. Mainly because the "hit" analog mix of a particular album was well known and often the artistic intention was changed, as well as the audio. I had a CD of Elton John songs that were remixed in this fashion. Digital or not, the mixes were inferior to the hit versions done on analog.
In the Classical world the Mercury Living Presence series ADD remixes were clearly superior to the originals. The 3 track tapes were mixed by the original producer, Wilma Cozart Fine on the original analog playback equipment from 1st generation source materials. Spectacular. Listen to virtually any of these recordings. I liked Romeo and Juliet and the Frederick Finnell band recordings.

AAD was analog master, analog mix, digital mastering. Quality depended here on the source material used and the analog playback equipment used. One of the worst examples was Fleetwood Mac Rumors CD. Made from a 4th generation tape copy, it was awful.  So was all the original CD issues of Simon and Garfunkel's music. The original tapes had "disappeared" and 3rd gen copies used for the CD. Most of these were improved in later issues. Many AAD discs were masterpieces. Kind of Blue by Miles Davis in the CBS Master Sound version was a favorite. Crazy but Bert Kampfert's early stuff like Swinging Safari or the Beach Boys early albums with stereo mixes were outstanding examples."

I own some Steely Dan, but none of Fagen's solo stuff.  It won't be very expensive to add "The Nightfly" to my collection though:


Looks like the DVD-A version is still available from some sources, but it'll cost you around $79!

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