Blue Note reissues

I became a serious vinyl convert less than a year ago and ever since have been buying records regularly to enlarge my collection. I listen almost exclusively to jazz and buy new reissues of jazz releases, most of them on Blue Note, but also Prestige, Riverside and Columbia.

To say that I am disappointed by the quality of the vinyl is an understatement. Virtually every record is warped, which I can live with, reluctantly. A bigger problem is the distortion that becomes more and more prevalent on reissues. It's a short buzzing sound, which sounds kind of like the sound of lost airwaves on the radio but higher in pitch. I know it's not my cart as I have records that sound perfect, and it's in the the same spot on faulty records so it must be a quality issue with transfer and manufacture.
I also own quite a few used original pressings or old reissues and none of them have a similar defect, which leads me to believe that it is a current problem with quality control. It is extremely frustrating as I've spent thousands of dollars on my rig and record cleaning machine only to spin warped records that sound distorted.

I know this topic has been discussed many times here on A-gon but I would actually like to do something about it. I know many designers and manufacturers read the forum, but it seems not record companies' reps as it's not getting any better. As a community of many thousands who pay a lot of money to indulge in our hobby and passion, I think we should be able to exert some level of pressure on companies like Blue Note to release products of high quality. I'm open to ideas and suggestions. Where I could, I emailed the record company, but Blue Note for example has not contact info at all. Also, I'm afraid single emails won't do much.
I've bought quite a few of these, including at least a dozen 45 rpm Blue Note reissues from Acoustic Sounds and Music Matters, and NEVER experienced this problem with any of them. A few are not the sonic equals of the original pressings, presumably because of tape deterioration, but that's the limit of my personal dissatisfaction. Am I that lucky?

I don't see any point in trying to "pressure" the present-day Blue Note, since the only thing the present company has in common with the original one is the name on the label. But good luck.
Well, good luck with your crusade against the pressings. I do sympathize but we've all be dealing with the reissues for years and many of us have given up on the majority of them. Vote with your dollar and don't give them any more business.

One series I can recommend is the Music Matters Blue Note reissues. I was an early subscriber and still continue to enjoy every release from them. They are more expensive at $50, but that is heavier vinyl and 45 rpm. It is really not such a bad price if you have tried to score quality, original jazz pressings. The jackets are of excellent quality and display some of the best photography I have ever seen on a record jacket. You won't find any of the major hits in this series but it is a collection of solid jazz from the Blue Note library.
I second the Music Matters recommendation. I still buy other reissues and return them if their quality is not up to snuff. If enough product is returned the manufacturers will get the message.
The stuff that I buy is usually $10 for a record and since I don't have a lot of records, it is very attractive to me, rather than $30 180 gr "audiophile" releases. And it has become so prevalent that I just find it very difficult to ignore. Almost every record I buy has at least one tune where you can hear half a second buzz and it's warped on the outside so that the clamp on my Scout can't do much about it.
Just yesterday I bought a beautifully designed "Slow Drag" by Donald Byrd and after cleaning it with the AIVS formula, I started to listen only to get distortion several times on several different tunes. No CD would make it into stores with such defects; why does vinyl?

I find it very difficult to believe that it is only my experience since I buy brand new records and it's not an isolated problem at this point. I know many 'Goners have expressed their frustration with current vinyl pressings and I think we should demand better quality control. Returning records to my dealer will probably only hurt my dealer who already is trying hard to survive in this economy, and won't send a big company like Blue Note a message. What I think would are letters from hundreds of vinyl enthusiasts expressing their disappointment with the current state of vinyl pressings, and demanding better quality control. I am more than willing to draft such a letter so that others can use it as a template and simply sign it and mail it. I just need to know that there are enough of us who are willing to support my effort.
Yet another recommendation for the Music Matters Blue Note Series from a very happy subscriber. Uniformly excellent sonics with first class packaging produced by people who clearly love what they are doing. Several of these are already out of print. I'm guessing 5 years from now most of these jewels will be gone and folks will slap themselves for not getting them while they could. Buy one and check it out - your ears will thank you.

If you can't decide - I'll throw one out there for you - Open Sesame by Freddie Hubbard. A classic.
I have never had a problem with any Blue Note, Riverside, or Prestige releases that I have purchased. Perhaps the problem is with your source???
Funny as I've been eying this release for a while now. My dealer has it for $10 as a Blue Note reissue. I'll get it next weekend. Btw, where do you get the Music Matters Blue Note Series? Is there a link you can provide?
Thank you!
I have almost every single one of these reissues and have not had one problem.
For the Music Matters Blue Note web site go to

The website lists where you can purchase them.
Actusreus, I don't think that is the same reissue that Sibelius is talking about. What we are talking about with the Music Matters reissues are different than the $10 reissues (Mosaic?) that have been burning many of us for a long time now.

Here is a link.

Music Matters, Ltd.
Thank you for the link, Sibelius and Dan_ed!
Actusreus, I think I'm the only one that agrees with you in this thread. I notice the distortion mainly in the cheap re-issues that sell for about $13 here in Canada. The ones with the free CD are also terrible, not only is there an imprint of the CD on the vinyl, the record sounds terrible.
Thanks Mikeyc8. I'm glad to hear that someone finally confirmed my negative experience! I knew it wasn't a coincidence but this gives at least some validity to our complaint.

I've never seen reissues with free CDs, but the $10 vinyl reissues are so hit-or-miss, it makes buying vinyl much less enjoyable than it should be. I recently bought Jackie McLean "Action" released by Blue Note and there is an audible distortion (like clipping) on sax solos on few tunes, plus the short buzzing sound I described before in other places. I returned two Coltrane records released by Atlantic Records recently as they were simply unlistenable. Not only warped but had the buzzing sound on virtually every tune. I could go on and on but it is obvious it's a common problem across the board and would not be acceptable with CDs.

On the other hand, I recently was given an original release of the Wall, used, and the surface noise aside, the records sound sublime. I also have several other used and older records that aside from the surface noise just sound great. There should be no excuse for bad sounding brand new records, whether $10 or $30 price sticker. I think it's absurd that the rule of thumb seems to be that one has to spend at least $30 to get a good sounding new record today.
Actusreus: I agree completely, I've noticed the buzzing sound on quite a few Bluenote cheapo reissues as well, but no problems on the older copies that I have. I guess the free CDs are only available to the Canadian market, but the lousy quality LPs are common to both markets.
Have a similar experience - almost all new reissues I bought are warped. In fact, those heavy 180-gram vinyls are worse than the ordinary ones.

For this reason, I hesitate to plunge $600 into the Bill Evans Riverside reissues from Analogue Productions, although I am very tempting.

I'd be glad to sign and mail that letter if you have a draft.
Thanks Mmai. Unfortunately it appears there just isn't enough interest in petitioning the record companies. I'll keep this option open, of course. In the meantime, I suggest sticking with releases from Mobile Fidelity (rather limited selection unfortunately), 45s from Blue Note, or select releases from other companies. I've had a more positive experience with 180-gram vinyl than you so I'd recommend going that route, but I agree it can be hit or miss. However, all of the 180-gram vinyl I've bought in the past few months has been terrific. My last purchase was The Dave Brubeck Quartet "Time Further Out" from Columbia and the quality is top notch. I stopped purchasing the $10-12 reissues a while ago and never looked back; it's just a waste of money.
Some blue note recordings have distortion on them. Especialy earlier stuff. Van Gelder doesn't pad the mics down much and you can hear it on solos sometimes or loud drums or vibes.

I've no experience with the cheapie Blue Note reissues, but the sound you described is consistent with pressing voids, which are caused when the vinyl plug and mold are not up to temperature when pressed. The vinyl can't flow into all the groove modulations and literally leaves a void (gap) between vinyl and stamper wall. It sounds exactly as you described:
It's a short buzzing sound, which sounds kind of like the sound of lost airwaves on the radio but higher in pitch.
Pressing voids occur more often on the L channel (inner groove wall) than the R (outer), but can occur in either.

Typical flaw resulting from a rushed manufacturing process.
I've bought those cheap ($10-12) Blue Note reissues, said to be Scorpios, and have never encountered any buzzing sounds or other anomalies. In fact, I've been generally pleased with them -- not expecting much to begin with -- and have collected about a dozen of them. Are they sonically close to the 45 rpm reissues? No. But they're not bad IME and the ones I've bought have been perfectly flat, looked very good, and the covers are beautiful.
I've bought those cheap ($10-12) Blue Note reissues, said to be Scorpios, and have never encountered any buzzing sounds or other anomalies. In fact, I've been generally pleased with them -- not expecting much to begin with -- and have collected about a dozen of them. Are they sonically close to the 45 rpm reissues? No. But they're not bad IME and the ones I've bought have been perfectly flat, looked very good, and the covers are beautiful.
Actusreus said:
and it's in the the same spot on faulty records so it must be a quality issue with transfer and manufacture

If you are experiencing this problem repeatedly at the same point of on these LPs I would suspect that it's either a problem with your cartridge or (more likely) an issue with your cartridge mounting geometry. I know that you said that you do not have this problem with other LPs, but it pis ossible that your cartridge is just not a good compatible with the grooves cut by the particular cutting head used to produce these products. Have you tested with a different cartridge?
Ah, the short "buzzing sound," inner groove damage, mis-tracking and incomplete vinyl fill. Having upgraded to a Dynavector XX2, there's very little which doesn't track, but the amount of inner groove distortion in used lp's from previous improper playback can be disheartening.
As opposed to my earlier Dyna 20xL, the XX2 delivers the distortion on a silver platter--the "buzz" is so separate and clear from the musical info.

IMHO, incomplete vinyl fill is more prevalent in "recent" pressings from '83 onwards. I love Lp's but have gone back to CD's/SACD's for solo piano, and some chamber music. I went through five copies of the TAS listed Ashkenazy Rachmaninoff Preludes (London/Decca) including a sealed copy, but still mis-tracked during certain explosive upper-octave piano chords.

Doesn't always need to be a loud passage to invite tracking damage; I've found "buzzing" associated with even a solo flute passage.

Some of the original Bluenotes and Riversides, mono vocals/opera can sound better with the mono switch on, or folded down to mono via cables. The 45's in my experience don't seem to present tracking issues
Have you folks read Doug's method for determining what is irregular vinyl and what is mis-tracking? Simple and effective.

I have to say that I've been happy with the Music Matters Re-issues. I think I have heard a little of the overload Mothra posted on in one, maybe two of the recordings. This sounds almost like damage but the quality of the pressings with this series has been really good. The covers and pictures are excellent.
Wondering about this as I have heard mono Kind of Blue, CD, and the new blue vinyl 180gm remaster.

It seems there is distortion. Check out the intro to Kind of Blue, where the horns come in. the saxes? have distortion. The "breathy" quality breaks up. This is also found at the end of side 1 when the volume drops again and I think on the horns. I'm pretty sure this is on the recording, and actually much more apparent on my stereo remaster than on the mono.
I think I have heard what your are talking about. Several of us were listening to KOB and thought this was mistracking. To make a long story short, we concluded in the end that the sax needed to be "de-juiced", if you catch my meaning. I think it is Coltrane.
Hah! Yes, it is at the beginning and end of "So What" when the horns do that quiet riff. My stereo remaster really picks this up very clearly.
Ditto on KOB, the "audiophile" 180 or 200 gr pressing. I think the volume drop is on the original recording as it's the same on the CD but not the distortion.

Doug's explanation is right on the money and fits perfectly. I now use the Lyra Delos with the VPI Classic and the same albums produce the same distortion in the same passages as with my previous Soundsmith Aida/Scout combo; there is no way it's the cartridge misalignment or mistracking (unless the mistracking is caused by faulty vinyl!).

I recently caved in and bought a $11 Blue Note reissue of Lee Morgan's "Sidewinder" with a CD version inside. The release was absolutely unlistenable; not only warped but had horrible distortion throughout side 1. I sold it for $5 at my local record store to cut my losses. But I'd like to get a Blue Note executive to listen to this record and ask him in person what he thinks about the quality.
I had some time this evening to listen so I pulled out both the SACD and Classic 33 1/3 reissue of KOB. I first played the SACD and the opening and closing saxophone sections of the first cut "KOB" by Coltrane and Adderley played cleanly. I then played the LP and it also played cleanly but with much more space and low level detail. I think I got a good pressing since there was no breakup at all. I also played the ending to "Blue In Green" where miles is playing muted. Again it also played back cleanly.

I'll count this one as a lucky pressing.

IIRC, the copy we were listening to was an original. It wasn't mine or I'd have it out playing again. Maybe it got cleaned up in the reissues?

BTW, I'm still impressed with my Music Matters reissues. They're pricey, but not so much when you consider the quality of the vinyl and the jackets and the photos.
Interesting. I have a SS Voice on the way, and after meticulous setup I will try again with the re-issue blue vinyl KOB. I hear that break-up on many versions, even CD in my FLAC collection (not sure which it is yet).
A friend of mine moved to France and I have been receiving all of his Music Matters and Acoustic Sounds Blue Note reissues. Before forwarding them on to him, I examined and listened to every one so if any were defective I could secure a replacement from here in the States. Every LP is perfect, no issues whatsoever. And of course they sound superb and I wish I could afford to subscribe to these reissues.

While that is testimony to Music Matters and Acoustec reissues, I regularly receive other reissues that are warped, buzz, click and pop. Or, are so poorly remastered that they sound strident or compressed. Ray Brown's "Soular Energy" from Pure Audiophile Records was unbearably bright and an email to them went unanswered...of course.

This applies to new issues as well. I've been thru four copies of Stanley Clark's "Jazz In The Garden", from Heads UP label, to get one free of problems. Why should that be?

It is disconcerting and frustrating that several new LP's I have purchased in the last year are (censored) up for one reason or another. The buyers of vinyl and their dealers must endure the consequences of poor quality control. I'm weary of the "throw it against the wall and see what sticks" mentality of manufacturers who produce LP's that require me to take a chance every time I buy one. It should not be "like a box of chocolates:!!!

Bottom line? I agree completely with Actusreus but we are probably too small a number to make a case.
The best thing is to buy from a dealer who will take them back no question I guess. Maybe I can add a list to track bad pressings to my blog too.
I'm one my 2nd copy of a double LP, new release from RCA Sony. Both have been all marked up like they had been played on a crappy table. They were clean of course, but in indirect light all these surface marks were apparent, AND some pitting too!
"In 2009 to celebrate the album's 50th anniversary, Sony Music decided to reissue the album newly mastered from the same original 3 track master Classic had used, both on CD and blue vinyl as part of a box set containing a book and other supplementals. That set can still be found online in in some stores.

The lacquers were cut (speed corrected) from the 3-track original tape by George Marino at Sterling Sound and plated and pressed on 180g blue vinyl either at Rainbo in California or at United in Nashville (I can't remember which). Unfortunately, virtually every copy pressed was horrendously noisy for the first ten minutes or so (at least) due, probably to "non-fill" that occurs when the vinyl begins to harden before it's squeezed outward fully and the plate's ridges can create a clean groove.

What a shame!

However, at the same time the lacquer was cut, Marino created a 96k/24 bit file from which the set's CD was produced. That file was used by Music on Vinyl, a European company that some years ago bought Sony's Holland-based vinyl pressing plant.

This two LP set is also pressed on blue vinyl. The first album is the KOB we all know and love but speed corrected, while the second LP has the alternative version of "Flamenco Sketches" on one side and a version of "On Green Dolphin Street" recorded prior to the KOB sessions featuring the Evans, Coltrane, Chambers and Cobb lineup."

I have the Music On Vinyl copy and like I said, the horns break up at that low volume while the rest of the spectrum is fine. Must be the horns mic'ing or needing dejuicing.