Monday, 8 July 2013

Going for the one

When it comes to specialty mastered cds there are two names that are heads above most others, Mobile Fidelity Labs  and Audio Fidelity, the company formed from the ashes of the former DCC label.
Recently Audio Fidelity issued the second disc in a re-issue program by the Prog Rock group Yes following an agreement with the bands management and Wea who hold the rights to much of their catalogue.
This was one album I have strong memories of 1977 coinciding with the period I learned a lot about rock music from being in my early teens from shows such as Alan Freeman's Saturday afternoon show when he'd play an incredibly wide range of music including new releases which this album was one of.
Originally it was released on lp, cassette and 8 track cartridge which is one of the versions I had at the time and has had three previous cd issues of which the last one I bought was the 1994 remaster by Ted Jensen.
Musically it has 4 shorter tracks of which one, Wonderous Stories, was a 45 and a good showcase of Jon
Anderson's voice and the much long piece Awaken that features Rick Wakeman's organ playing which was recorded separately in Switzerland.
The original recording and mix  is one dimensional and a bit shrill in high level high notes something that even the UK original lp didn't cure.
This re-master by Steve Hoffman is surprisingly effective for he managed to find the deep bass previously hidden to bring out the organ and to carefully reduce the shrillness without it sounding as if he'd removed all the high notes losing detail. We are given to believe Yes band members are impressed with how this turned out.
As with most recordings he remasters, it has a wide dynamic range as unlike a number of remasters on mainstream labels he doesn't severely reduce it in the mistaken belief it brings out more in the mix by bring it forward.
I also acquired the earlier Close To The Edge issue Audio Fidelity put out which is a significant improvement on the 1994 and 2003 reissues.
Technically, it is a super audio cd giving higher resolution on sacd comfortable players such as many blu ray players or sacd audio players but also has a layer that plays on regular  players.

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