Jon Anderson releasing new surround material ("Olias of Sunhillow" upmix out in March!)

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Ergh. After keeping me waiting for weeks and week, ImportCDs cancelled my order and issued a refund yesterday.
But seriously folks, I've often thought ImportCDs have a habit of over promising new releases. To their credit though, they did come through for me on Wakeman's "The Red Planet" surround title, when we were told no more were available and I actually ordered after that info- so :unsure:

Ultimately it's a business, and what ImportCDs are doing may be in the realm of what's called OPM or "Other People's Money" - since they charge you before a delivery that's not actually confirmed being stockable.
 
I’ve also got the stereo SACD of Olias (Audio Fidelity), given how they (both Steve Hoffman and Kevin Gray) always wanted to use the orginal tapes when mastering, I assume they didn’t have access to them either? That stereo mastering is great btw, same with AF work on Close To The Edge, easily the best sounding stereo versions of those albums.
 
I’ve also got the stereo SACD of Olias (Audio Fidelity), given how they (both Steve Hoffman and Kevin Gray) always wanted to use the orginal tapes when mastering, I assume they didn’t have access to them either?
They prefer(red) to work from the original mix master tape, not the multitracks. They'd have to do a new mix (remix) if working from multis.
 
Got this one today and was disappointed !
The recording just sounds horrible to my ancient ears...definitely something wrong with the top end....it has a frequency that drives me bananas.
The up mix surround was also disappointing .....it's the only album I am disappointed with since I've become a surround listener.
It's this horrible high pitched belly/percussion thing at around 2.5-3.0 k that seems to be on every track. Anyone else hear that ?
I then re-listened to the hi res stereo version and that was the same ...took it off after three tracks !
I then put XTC Skylarking on and then aural bliss returned.
And I ripped the Olias cover trying to get the bloody booklet out !
Jinxed I tell you...jinxed !
( the presentation was great ...but the audio .....)
 
It's this horrible high pitched belly/percussion thing at around 2.5-3.0 k that seems to be on every track. Anyone else hear that ?

Sorry don't detect that issue.

It isn't going win any awards but I wasn't expecting perfection. I felt the label was upfront with the limitations and the price point was reasonable for a release I did not previously own. It isn't the worst surround experience I have heard.
 
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Late to the show but I had an opportunity to hear this copy.
The original stereo mix in HD sounds muffled and generational and is also limited and boosted.
The upmix sounds like a phasey mess. Stereotypical upmix hash.

Avoid this.
The original Japanese CD is the one to get.

There are worse sounding copies than this new one across various other CD editions FWIW.
 
The Japanese CD is almost certainly 'generational'. The SACD/CD has the most dynamic range and claims to be from the OMTs. These observations are from ripping the JCD, SACD, and new set , and comparing via Audition.
 
Honestly, that Japanese CD sounds like it has a high end eq boost at minimum. It should be able to be bettered. This new set is not it though. If the tape was in rough shape or something like that... I don't know. I hear more of the recording and with less damage in the 1st Japanese CD edition. I mean... I obviously don't know that because I don't have the master here to A/B with! Perhaps I agree with an eq alteration done on that CD version?

All I know is this new copy sounded muffled and unbalanced frequency wise. And then it was boosted and limited for no good reason and when it had actual problems that needed correcting first. And then the goofy artifact soup upmix. This is just childish.

Whatever generational madness happened or didn't behind the scenes, that 1st CD has the most naturally clear sound and dynamics. I'm not normally a fan of the hyped high end eq boosts that are in vogue for CD versions.

That SACD version sounds even worse. I don't care what DR numbers someone made the meter read. (You can make those read anything at any volume. Check out TV or radio commercials. You can skew LUFS numbers almost as easily. Almost...)

None of this has anything to do with format limitations. None of the formats in question do any of this damage to audio.
 
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I wonder if the negative publicity surrounding this release will imperil any future Jon Anderson surround releases and if the original multitrack masters for The Friends of Mr. Cairo exist, an album I would love to see receive the surround treatment?
An excellent idea, but IMHO, an even better option would be a surround mix of The Best of Jon and Vangelis, which includes the best tracks from The Friends of Mr. Cairo as well as a selection of tracks from the other 3 JAV releases. All killer, no filler.
 
1625169848845.png
 
An excellent idea, but IMHO, an even better option would be a surround mix of The Best of Jon and Vangelis, which includes the best tracks from The Friends of Mr. Cairo as well as a selection of tracks from the other 3 JAV releases. All killer, no filler.
Some tracks are edited on the Best of... so I would prefer full album remixes.
 
Honestly, that Japanese CD sounds like it has a high end eq boost at minimum. It should be able to be bettered. This new set is not it though. If the tape was in rough shape or something like that... I don't know. I hear more of the recording and with less damage in the 1st Japanese CD edition. I mean... I obviously don't know that because I don't have the master here to A/B with! Perhaps I agree with an eq alteration done on that CD version?

All I know is this new copy sounded muffled and unbalanced frequency wise. And then it was boosted and limited for no good reason and when it had actual problems that needed correcting first. And then the goofy artifact soup upmix. This is just childish.

Whatever generational madness happened or didn't behind the scenes, that 1st CD has the most naturally clear sound and dynamics. I'm not normally a fan of the hyped high end eq boosts that are in vogue for CD versions.

That SACD version sounds even worse. I don't care what DR numbers someone made the meter read. (You can make those read anything at any volume. Check out TV or radio commercials. You can skew LUFS numbers almost as easily. Almost...)

So much speculation. Or, there's facts.

1990 = Japanese CD
2014 = hybrid SACD
2021 = latest remaster

These are data for the entire album considered as a single track (the SACD rip was downconverted to 44khz/16bit to make the measurements fully comparable)

Waveform view : 1990 blue, 2014 red, 2021 green. Why so skinny, 2014? it's because there's only one clearly highest 'peak' value in that one (in the track 'Solid Space'), aka old school mastering, versus the other two. Typically meaning: more dynamic range. Though neither of the other two are 'loudness wars' atrocities by any means.

1625251159087.png



Numbers. Include those darn untrustworthy Average RMS and LUFS numbers

199020142021
Peak Amplitude0.000.00-0.04-0.13-0.10-0.10dB
TRUE Peak Amplitude0.160.01-0.02-0.100.090.17dBTP
Maximum Sample Value327673276732634322673239332393
Minimum Sample Value-32768-32022-30642-29698-32394-32394
Possibly Clipped Samples710000
Total RMS Amplitude-18.21-18.49-21.52-21.49-17.43-17.12dB
Maximum RMS Amplitude-7.69-8.36-10.37-11.00-6.70-7.13dB
Minimum RMS Amplitude-50.10-49.97-96.57-88.75-96.48-96.62dB
Average RMS Amplitude-21.28-21.47-24.95-25.02-20.87-20.61dB
DC Offset %-0.64-0.990.00-0.070.000.00%
Measured Bit Depth161616161616
Dynamic Range42.4141.6186.2077.7589.7889.49dB
Dynamic Range Used35.2532.2559.8062.5562.5062.65dB
Loudness (Legacy)-15.31-16.08-19.72-19.48-15.06-15.01dB
Perceived Loudness (Legacy)-9.61-11.38-14.57-14.08-10.46-8.64dB
ITU-R BS.1770-3 Loudness (LUFS)-14.59-17.79-13.65
0dB = FS Square Wave
Using RMS Window of 50.00 ms
Account for DC = true

Conforming with the darn untrustworthy (/sarc) numbers above, replaygain indicated that that the 2019 and 2021 were perceptually louder than the 2014 SACD, and would need to be lowered by 3-4dB to 'match' it.
1625251511943.png



So, I used the replagain values to adjust overall levels for the two louder ones, to level-match to the 2014. Then , a frequency scan (Blackman-Harris, FFT=65536), graphed on a logarithmic scale (reflecting how we hear); the Y-axis is dB the X is frequency


1625250221662.png

For much of the midrange, these three are similar -- they overlap almost completely (though not identically). But note here the bass and treble. Below 60 Hz the 1990 JCD (blue) bass begins to drop off (has a lower level) significantly compared to the other two. The 2021 (grey) bass also drops off little bit compared to the 2014 SACD (orange), notable at 40Hz and less. Above about 4K the 1990 (blue) is trebli-er than the other two, and above about 2021(grey) has *less* treble than the 2014 (orange).

Details? Here's a closer look. This graph is the *difference* between 1990 (blue) and the 2014 SACD (black line at 0)

1625253085771.png




yep, there's the comparably steep bass drop off (JCD sourced from an LP-equalized master, you think?) , and there's the treble rise above (compared to 2014), actually starting near 6K, and showing a 'hump' between 8-9K. Also some lesser bumps and troughs in between (which should be audible too, in a level-matched comparison) .

And the 2021 (grey)?


1625253263029.png



yep, there's the smaller bass drop below 60, and the treble drop starting around 10K (compared to 2014).


Those aren't radical difference -- none of these mastering sounds 'bad' to me , 'badness' is mainly in the mix itself -- but they are all differences you can hear. Stuff people speculate about, maybe not so much.
 

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I'm sticking with my Audio Fidelity 2014 hybrid Stereo SACD [supposedly] remastered from the Original Analogue Tapes ..... Warts 'n ALL!

R.e0d5ba2c47d5ec6af919c9f890798d35
 
So much speculation...
Because I don't have the master tape in my possession to compare to.

And neither do you!

I trust my ears. I stand my my assessment.
That first CD release sounds suspect as I described. And it also happens to be the best sounding copy I've heard. This new release is disappointing. Other releases are more disappointing.
 
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