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Earth Wind & Fire - "Gratitude" SACD

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quicksrt

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Is it just me or has collecting surround discs become more exciting lately? Seems more good stuff out there than I can catch up with which is good.

There are some really exceptional quality mixes out there for many labels. And I think some of the labels and mixers are starting to get it they we don't like ambient rears, but totally immersive mixes, and that does not mean ping-pong.

We've come a long way baby!!!
 

sjcorne

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Figured I should mention that I received the disc today and gave it a first listen. Thanks again "djstephan" for posting the listing!

I confess I really just played the studio tracks today and skimmed only a few of the live ones. Anyway, the studio 5.1 is a blast. As Fredblue mentioned, this is definitely not a quad mix (not sure where that SACD.net review got that idea). The center clearly contains vocals and bass.

"Sing a Song" is an attention grabber immediately with rear horns and various voices spread around the room. I also thought I heard some of the backing vocals panning around the room...maybe I'll have to record this in and really play with the mix in audacity to see exactly what's going on.

The separation isn't as extreme as the other EWF surround disc I have, which is the quad of "Head To The Sky" (obviously not a fair comparison as that is a 70s Columbia mix with isolated instruments in each speaker, designed for matrix mixdown and decoding), but it is pretty adventurous compared to other early 2000s 5.1 mixes. It's FAR superior to Paul Klingberg's Chicago 5.1 mixes on DVD-A, which are basically double stereo/reverb with isolated center activity. Guess he wasn't feeling too adventurous that day...

The live tracks are generally ambient, but they have a nice 3-dimensional feel to them. The occasional instrument does seem to pop up back there with the crowd though...

Overall, it's one of the better 5.1 mixes on those old Sony single-layer SACDs IMO, but it doesn't quite beat the two Billy Joel's or Toys In The Attic. I'd say TITA is probably my favorite Sony disc after the ones sourced from quad masters. As for Gratitude, if this were a poll thread I'd prob give it an 8.

Now will someone help me track down the two PIR quads released on SACD back then??? I'm hoping to upgrade from the SQ LP of Ship Ahoy eventually...
 

fredblue

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Figured I should mention that I received the disc today and gave it a first listen. Thanks again "djstephan" for posting the listing!

I confess I really just played the studio tracks today and skimmed only a few of the live ones. Anyway, the studio 5.1 is a blast. As Fredblue mentioned, this is definitely not a quad mix (not sure where that SACD.net review got that idea). The center clearly contains vocals and bass.

"Sing a Song" is an attention grabber immediately with rear horns and various voices spread around the room. I also thought I heard some of the backing vocals panning around the room...maybe I'll have to record this in and really play with the mix in audacity to see exactly what's going on.

The separation isn't as extreme as the other EWF surround disc I have, which is the quad of "Head To The Sky" (obviously not a fair comparison as that is a 70s Columbia mix with isolated instruments in each speaker, designed for matrix mixdown and decoding), but it is pretty adventurous compared to other early 2000s 5.1 mixes. It's FAR superior to Paul Klingberg's Chicago 5.1 mixes on DVD-A, which are basically double stereo/reverb with isolated center activity. Guess he wasn't feeling too adventurous that day...

The live tracks are generally ambient, but they have a nice 3-dimensional feel to them. The occasional instrument does seem to pop up back there with the crowd though...

Overall, it's one of the better 5.1 mixes on those old Sony single-layer SACDs IMO, but it doesn't quite beat the two Billy Joel's or Toys In The Attic. I'd say TITA is probably my favorite Sony disc after the ones sourced from quad masters. As for Gratitude, if this were a poll thread I'd prob give it an 8.

Now will someone help me track down the two PIR quads released on SACD back then??? I'm hoping to upgrade from the SQ LP of Ship Ahoy eventually...
thanks for the confirmation on the Centre channel activity :)
fwiw I've come to take many surround music reviews with a pinch of salt now, unless they're from people i trust here at QQ/at the SHF.

maybe Mr. Klingberg was working under advice from the band (Chicago) to make his 5.1 mixes of II & V less active.. or perhaps Maurice White who co-mixed Gratitude into 5.1 wanted a more discrete mix (afaik EW&F were involved in co-mixing at least one of their Quads with my 4-channel mixing hero, Larry Keyes, when "Spirit" was done in Quad.. so its possible that's why Gratitude's more 'surround-y'?

there was, regrettably, only one PIR MCh SACD from Sony (O'Jays' "Ship Ahoy"), The Isley Brothers' "3+3" Quad was originally on their own T-Neck imprint (distributed by Epic in the 70's, an Epic/Sony SACD in the 00's).. in my experience, back when i was tracking down all these OOP Surround SACDs in earnest, 3+3 was hard to find for decent money but a less scarce disc than Ship Ahoy, i can't imagine that situation has changed but anything is possible with this hobby, all it would take is for someone to find a boxful of Ship Ahoy cutouts in a warehouse or something.. unlikely but stranger things have happened! maybe DV will reissue Ship Ahoy! or to boost sales perhaps on a 2-fer with one of the other O'Jays Quads, that would make my 2018! :D
 

humprof

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Yes: that's what I get for copying from sloppy old notes. Glorious 70s funk, but not glorious 70s quad. I can't say what the fellows on SA-CD.net were thinking. (I can tell you that it does sound good on the secondary "4.1" surround system--no center channel--that I cobbled together in my office, though!)

May fredblue and sjcorne's MCh Philly Sound wishes come true in 2018...

thanks for the confirmation on the Centre channel activity :)
fwiw I've come to take many surround music reviews with a pinch of salt now, unless they're from people i trust here at QQ/at the SHF.

maybe Mr. Klingberg was working under advice from the band (Chicago) to make his 5.1 mixes of II & V less active.. or perhaps Maurice White who co-mixed Gratitude into 5.1 wanted a more discrete mix (afaik EW&F were involved in co-mixing at least one of their Quads with my 4-channel mixing hero, Larry Keyes, when "Spirit" was done in Quad.. so its possible that's why Gratitude's more 'surround-y'?

there was, regrettably, only one PIR MCh SACD from Sony (O'Jays' "Ship Ahoy"), The Isley Brothers' "3+3" Quad was originally on their own T-Neck imprint (distributed by Epic in the 70's, an Epic/Sony SACD in the 00's).. in my experience, back when i was tracking down all these OOP Surround SACDs in earnest, 3+3 was hard to find for decent money but a less scarce disc than Ship Ahoy, i can't imagine that situation has changed but anything is possible with this hobby, all it would take is for someone to find a boxful of Ship Ahoy cutouts in a warehouse or something.. unlikely but stranger things have happened! maybe DV will reissue Ship Ahoy! or to boost sales perhaps on a 2-fer with one of the other O'Jays Quads, that would make my 2018! :D
 

fredblue

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Yes: that's what I get for copying from sloppy old notes. Glorious 70s funk, but not glorious 70s quad. I can't say what the fellows on SA-CD.net were thinking. (I can tell you that it does sound good on the secondary "4.1" surround system--no center channel--that I cobbled together in my office, though!)

May fredblue and sjcorne's MCh Philly Sound wishes come true in 2018...
maybe your 4.1 system is downmixing the Centre channel information into the Front L&R so you're not losing anything (too perceptible?) playing it back that way? just for a laff i'll go back to the 6-ch Gratitude files at some point and check exactly what's in that Centre (i.e. is it reinforcement of lead vocal that's already in FL & FR, etc.)

thank you! fingers crossed we can all get down with the Philly sound in Quad master tape quality.. soon! :D
 

sjcorne

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Yes: that's what I get for copying from sloppy old notes. Glorious 70s funk, but not glorious 70s quad. I can't say what the fellows on SA-CD.net were thinking. (I can tell you that it does sound good on the secondary "4.1" surround system--no center channel--that I cobbled together in my office, though!)

May fredblue and sjcorne's MCh Philly Sound wishes come true in 2018...
I'm playing it now...you do lose some bass by shutting the center but otherwise it doesn't really change how the mix sounds. Vocals and bass are prominent in front L&R as well.
 

humprof

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That was my off-the-cuff impression, too: center largely doubles the bass and the group vocals from the fronts, with a solo vocal fillip interjected here and there. We'll see what Adam's channel analysis says.

Kudos on scoring that disc!

I'm playing it now...you do lose some bass by shutting the center but otherwise it doesn't really change how the mix sounds. Vocals and bass are prominent in front L&R as well.
 

halbroome

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Speaking of Earth, Wind, and Fire, I have the Audio Fidelities -- and in the post, the DVs ;) -- and just last night noticed another one of their albums is surround: GRATITUDE.

Any comments on the quality of that one? As a completist, I feel the itch. . . .
 

fredblue

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Speaking of Earth, Wind, and Fire, I have the Audio Fidelities -- and in the post, the DVs ;) -- and just last night noticed another one of their albums is surround: GRATITUDE.

Any comments on the quality of that one? As a completist, I feel the itch. . . .
i remember some criticism of it being harsh sounding but i never found it bright to the detriment of the overall sound quality which i think is very good. (there were also some rumblings about it being possibly from a 44.1kHz PCM source rather than Hi-Res, a potential red herring imho.. would i rather it wasn't? yeah maybe but that's possibly how the mix was delivered, maybe it was prepared at a time before being destined for the SACD format.. who knows?).
fwiw i ordinarily skip the live tracks, not because they are poor performances or sound bad, i just find them underwhelming surround.. but the studio tracks are fabulous in 5.1 (and for some tracks i prefer the mixing approach to a few of the old Quad mixes) definitely worth getting the disc for the 5.1 mixes of Sunshine, Gratitude, Sing A Song, Celebrate & Can't Hide Love šŸ„°
 

humprof

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i remember some criticism of it being harsh sounding but i never found it bright to the detriment of the overall sound quality which i think is very good. (there were also some rumblings about it being possibly from a 44.1kHz PCM source rather than Hi-Res, a potential red herring imho.. would i rather it wasn't? yeah maybe but that's possibly how the mix was delivered, maybe it was prepared at a time before being destined for the SACD format.. who knows?).
fwiw i ordinarily skip the live tracks, not because they are poor performances or sound bad, i just find them underwhelming surround.. but the studio tracks are fabulous in 5.1 (and for some tracks i prefer the mixing approach to a few of the old Quad mixes) definitely worth getting the disc for the 5.1 mixes of Sunshine, Gratitude, Sing A Song, Celebrate & Can't Hide Love šŸ„°
Agree with Adam 100%. I like the live sides, too, partly b/c I just love the album (the first EWF I ever bought) and partly b/c this is a case where I find the concert-surround mix truly adds some depth. But the studio tracks--"Side 4" of the old double-LP--are total knockouts.
 
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