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So I got this Canadian original pressing of the Bitches Brew. Well, I had to send it back because the records were not in good enough condition, but I listened to them. I prefer original American version because Miles's trumpet sounds more alive, though the Canadian is not bad at all. Yes, I did have this impression too that the Canadian was somewhat more refined and a little quieter. However, at least for this album, it was not the most important aspect for me. Now I think I am going to try original Japanese, this could be interesting. Japanese records of John McLaughlin and Mahavishnu Orchestra are so much better than American, British and Dutch. Didn't try German.
I think it is pretty hard to generalize, and you have to take it on a case-by-case basis. In my experience, the quality of the vinyl used in Canada in the '70s was probably higher than that of the U.S. But, if the album was first mastered in the States, the copies made in Canada were probably made from a later generation copy, and mastered differently. Sometimes, the benefit of the (different) mastering outweighs whatever negative might exist from using a later generation tape for the master. In pop records, some mastered by TLC sounded good (I've have to go back and search for titles); the first three Zep albums had some versions on the early Red Label inscribed with the letters TG which are outstanding- compared even to the "gold standard" UK plums and US RL (for LZ II). In some cases, like Columbia, for pop, the US records tend to be very bright, e.g. Blood Sweat and Tears second album, and the Canadian and UK pressings are less strident.
I'm not partial to Japanese pressings, despite the quality of the vinyl, because the EQ tends to be brighter, but again, depending on the record, there are winners. Somebody turned me on to a Japanese third pressing of LZ1, and it is outstanding, even by comparison to the UK plum with first matrices, the vaunted Piros remaster from the mid-70s and all the other uber copies I've heard or own. Of course, this is trying to make a pretty bad recording sound better, so perhaps it is not a good benchmark. I think for every rule of thumb there are exceptions. Which is why trying to get the best sounding copy often means buying a bunch of copies and doing the comparisons yourself. Obviously, a time and money-consuming exercise, particularly if you don't then sell off the copies you've decided aren't the 'best' -whatever that means. I also think in some cases, the 'differences' are a matter of sonic preference and system bias--I'm not talking about grossly bad records, but those in the zone of different shadings or points of emphasis.
I have a Joni Mitchell: Hejira that sounds great on Canadian Press. Then just last night, I spun Grateful Dead: In the Dark. The latter was never my fave Dead, but for $12 bucks, I grabbed it on a recent trip to Toronto. I was pleasantly surprised by how good it sounds. Based on the era of the recording, I would say it's likely not all analog. Really nice sounding record though. Bill (Whart)- I really enjoy your insightful website. I agree with you on The Doobies: Toulouse Street. Great music, and pretty darned good recording. Very enjoyable LP. Anyway, keep up the great work.
Forgot to mention that I also have two original Japanese pressings from eighties - Spleen and Ideal by Dead Can Dance and Cielo e Terra by Al di Meola. The former sounds better than original UK and the latter than original US and Holland. Better in every respect. These are not Columbia recordings. And Japanese vinyl is so quiet. I don't have any pop records, so can't comment. I heard that Pink Floyd's Dark Side sounds superb on EMI/Toshiba pro vinyl, and that original Japanese Wish You Were Here is excellent though not as good as original Harvest. The original German I have is okay, nothing special.
Inna- I’m probably violating my own admonishment by generally characterizing the EQ of Japanese vinyl as tending toward "bright." In fairness, my observations are largely confined to pop/rock music and then, to releases of records originally issued outside of Japan from the ’70s and early ’80s, when U.S. vinyl was pretty uneven, quality wise. The peak era Floyd- were there any bad pressings? For Dead Can Dance, I’ve had very good sound from the original 4AD pressings, though the Mo-Fi of Into the Labyrinth is very good for the money. For what it’s worth, I find that a lot of newer audiophile vinyl remasters from the U.S. sound tipped up too.
I have all the Dead Can Dance albums. The Aion is a white label promo and the rest are regular original UK issues. Though hard to compare different albums, this promo sounds really good.
I also have a few Japanese original promos in addition to regular original Japanese from seventies. The promos are significantly better, especially in terms of dynamics and resolution. Hard to find and expensive but worth it.