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Discussion: Miles Davis: Miles Ahead

Posts: 7

Post by SteelyTom May 14, 2012 (1 of 7)
There seems to be a persistent discontent with the original engineering (and Macero slicing and dicing) of this record. That said, is the JSACD (no alternate takes, I gather) a palpable advance on the various US-issued RBCD versions?

Post by ciderglider May 16, 2012 (2 of 7)
This album has a tortuous history. I think if you want the best stereo version, you should go for the Miles/Gil Evans box set from 1997. I'm not sure, but I suspect the SACD uses an earlier master. Have a look on the Steve Hoffman forum for more information.

Post by Claude May 16, 2012 (3 of 7)
As far as I remember, the SACD sounds good. It certainly uses good masters, unlike the first CDs. Strangely, it doen't have mastering credits, unlike the other Miles SACDs in the SRGS series. I haven't listened to it for a while, I'll do it this weekend and post my comments.

Generally, the Miles/Gil remasters on CD sound rather bright and thin (maybe that's how the recordings sound), and the SACDs have tamed that a bit.

For "Sketches of Spain", the most natural sounding version is the Classic Records LP reissue (the instruments have real body), while both the CD box set and the SACD sound very thin.

Post by SteelyTom May 17, 2012 (4 of 7)
Mobile Fidelity plans to release Sketches on SACD-- maybe they'll do better. There's something oddly dry and muffled about the sound on the versions I've heard.

Post by Claude May 17, 2012 (5 of 7)
I found it to be rather the contrary from muffled. Boosted high treble, which makes it sound very analytical. At the same time, the upper bass is missing, so everything lacks body and substance.

Post by Claude May 23, 2012 (6 of 7)
I just checked the SACD again and compared it to the Miles/Gil box set.

Both seem to come from the same master tape, and sound very similar.

The sound is lacking midrange, the stereo perspective is slightly unnatural and diffuse, and there is quite a lot of tape hiss, which is emphasized by the bright sound.

The SACD benefits from smoother and more airy sound.

Overall, the sound is very enjoyable (I would rate it 4 out of 5 stars), but this is not an essential upgrade over the current CD version.

Post by SteelyTom May 23, 2012 (7 of 7)
Thanks, as always, Claude.

Part of the issue here, it seems, is that none of the three great Miles/Gil records for Columbia were well-engineered in the first place. (I suppose that's especially true for Sketches; maybe Porgy made out the best of the three.) I'm rather fearful of being disappointed by paying a whole lot of yen for a JSACD that can't, in the final analysis, work miracles, even if DSD processing improves the sound at the margins.

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