HiRez Poll Mahavishnu Orchestra, The - BIRDS OF FIRE [SACD]


Help Support QuadraphonicQuad:

This site may earn a commission from merchant affiliate links, including eBay, Amazon, and others.

Rate the SACD of Mahavishnu Orchestra - BIRDS OF FIRE

  • Total voters


Forum Curmudgeon
Staff member
Since 2002/2003
Mar 2, 2002
Last edited by a moderator:
Snood pretty much loved this release

Think of maybe like a funkier jazzier King Crimson with no vocals and better drumming. Been awhile since I had heard this one on stereo LP.

Was only gonna listen to a couple cuts due to time, but it kept me there all the way through. Very very good.

Drums in the rears - Guitar left front - Violin right Front and Keys seemingly middle even tho no middle :mad:@: - The Guitar & violin interplay with the keyboards was excellent throughout - the drums were real good - at first Snood was like oh nooooooes they buried the drums , but after the 1st track they come through.

Every track Snood was like whoa that was good what track is next............

The sound on it was very very clear & nice, could hear pretty much everything

Solid 9 from Snood...........almost a 10, just couldn't pull the trigger on the 10..........but could make a good argument for being a 10 also.

Get this one even if you are not familiar with it.........If ya like King Crimson or improvisational rock/jazz, you will love it :51banana:
As I had said in another post, this album never sounded this good when played from the SQ vinyl source even using a Lafayette SQ-W full-logic decoder. The SACD has excellent channel separation, clarity, ambience, tonal balance, etc. The mix with the drums coming exclusively from the rears is a tad strange but sounds very integrated with the rest of the mix none the less. Another thing I like about this album is that the music holds up really well after 42 years. In fact, I like it even more now than I did back then. I can't overemphasize the importance of high quality multichannel mixing and mastering with a complex recording such as this. This one will be getting a lot of spins. Ditto Snood's recommendation above.
Toughy for me. I agree with a lot of what has been written. Not sure if the mix is 100% balanced though. The bass was over-powering on my system during Thousand Island Park - when it's less busy and just hitting all those whole notes. I DO like drums in the rears, but, depending on what Cobham was whacking on, sometimes the drums sounded panned too hard to the RR. Not a big deal, but I noticed, which pulled me out of the music for a moment, here and there. I'll be giving it some more spins before voting. The pros outweight the cons though. Sounds much better and more interesting that mp3... :p
Drums in 'phantom rear center', or bouncing from R to L, L to R, or off center?
The drums tend to sound well-balanced across the rears, to these ears.

Yes most of the drums are balanced across the rears........definitely not phantom centered to rear to my ear - but there are plenty of drum rolls that pan from l to r and back - very good job on it.
The music and musicianship on this album is out of this world... these guys are so talented and so tight, I can't stop listening. This makes me want to get out my Quad SACD of "Blow By Blow" and listen to that, except this is better so I just keep listening to this!! The surround mix is perfect (to me)... I really enjoy having the drums in the surrounds, the guiter left front, the keyboard phantom center, and the violin right front. I'm not sure exactly where the bass is coming from, but it's full and punchy without being overbearing. All the tracks are great, but if I could only listen to one, it would be "One Word"... I love the way the opening drum roll moves around the room, and the way the solos alternate between guitar, keyboards, and violin across the front of the room. The sound quality is clean and dynamic and wonderful. Another great album and band I discovered thanks to the QQ and AF! I give it a 9.
Sorry, MO were *tight*. Any band that can play the blistering unison lines of (for example) 'Awakening' (from the first MO album), is '*tight*.

Tight = 'locked in'

No, they weren't playing Chic-like dance grooves, but 'tight' can apply to any genre.
So, I voted 8 here, but I'd have voted 7.5 if I could.
Excellent sound clarity. Awesome album.
It could be that I need more time to get used to the '70's quad thing of having drums nestled in primarily one speaker. Yes, the drums do span across the rears, but not all the time.
The majority of the time they are predominately in the rear right. At least that is where the snare is. I'd rather have it behind me (or in front of me) in the phantom center.
The quad mix is very interesting and I value the separation of parts, but the stereo mix feels more balanced to me.
The static placement of everything else I don't have a problem with.
This will definitely get many more spins before I drop in the box.
...The quad mix is very interesting and I value the separation of parts, but the stereo mix feels more balanced to me...

I listened to the stereo mix enhanced to 7.1 channels with Logic 7 last night. I thought it to be every bit as excellent as the discreet quad mix, and in some cases perhaps better. Then I listened to the quad mix again with a Logic 7 overlay converting the 5.1 to 7.1. It too was also excellent. It's great having all these various ways of listening to these new stereo/multichannel releases!
Excellent mix. I love the drums in the rear speakers. Gus Skinas seems to do a consistently excellent job of the quadraphonic transfer on all these Audio Fidelity SACDs.

A 9 methinks.
Having heard the SACD now, I still think the 'drums (nearly) all in the back' decision for the 4.0 mix of this classic was a terrible choice....but it's nice to have the mix in such high quality. I like the discrete guitar-synth-violin placement across the front image. And I've always loved the music.

Some tracks work better than others with this remix strategy -- the first three are the least successful but it gets more coherent after that. Not surprisingly the best to my ears is the one without drums -- 'Thousand Island Park', which sounds gorgeous.

So, a 6 from me. A 4 for the mix, a point for the SQ and another point for the music. Because the scale is 1 to 10. There has to be *some* use for the ratings 1 through 6. Otherwise everything gets a 7,8,9,or 10...which is pretty much what has happened. (The poll results overall on QQ are absurdly top-heavy.)
I really hope that those who refrain from voting due to disliking the release, whether for taste or for technical reasons, would still vote on the polls, or else we noobs will possibly buy it too, relying on QQ poll info for our purchases and assuming that no ratings means you guys don't have it yet. I still buy from my taste, but have been shy on buying some stuff when the reviews are mixed. That has at least influenced my desire and willingness to pay for certain titles. It doesn't matter iff it is a digital surround title or an analogue title, they can be pricey and still suck eggs.

I would warn people that one needs to acquire a taste for this title. It will take some getting used to. When I first bought the album as an SQ record back in the mid-1970's, my initial reaction was "WTF is this? Ultra-weird. Why do people think this is any good? What kind of freak is McLaughlin with that short haircut?" But I listened to it a couple of more times and it grew on me to the point where I really loved it. And I reiterate that the sound quality has never been as good as presented on this SACD whether you choose the stereo or the quad mix.
Ken Scott devotes a chapter to this album in his recent memoir, Abbey Road to Ziggy Stardust, so I thought I’d post a few details on the recording process for those interested. Several band members also provide recollections in the book and by all accounts it was a very positive experience. They began recording at Trident Studios in London. Cobham’s drum kit was so massive that it would not fit in the drum booth so it was set up in the main studio with some baffling. Scott was concerned about leakage from the other instruments (but if you isolate the rears on the quad it’s evident he did an excellent job minimizing the leakage). The band played live often with no overdubs. After the first take the group headed to the control room to hear the playback. Jan Hammer turned to Scott and said, “You’re a bad motherf***er!” and Scott’s heart sank. That particular phrase of admiration hadn’t yet made it over the pond. :) Further recording at Criteria Recording in Miami was abandoned after they deemed the room too dry. They later moved to Electric Lady Studios in New York (which was kept secret due to CBS policy to only use their studios and engineers for their artists). “Thousand Island Park” was recorded at CBS Studios because Hammer was dissatisfied with the piano at ELS. Scott, not being a member of the local NY union was not even allowed in the control room, hence the engineering credit to Jim Green on the album. When all three soloists were active in a tune Scott would place the instruments left, right and center (the quad does not follow his exact scheme). But since then he’s always placed solos center in the mix due to an incident during the press tour when playback was set to a single channel and McLaughlin’s solo, being panned hard to the other side, was not heard.

BTW the whole book is a terrific read with stories of working with The Beatles, Elton, Bowie, George Harrison, Rick Wakeman, Supertramp, Missing Persons, Happy the Man and many more.
I received this title today, listening now. First impressions are good, but I will listen several times before voting. I have made the mistake of judging an album too soon before, I will not do it again. AF thank you very much.