Your reaction is not surprising. Based on my experiences 90%+ of reissues are inferior to the original pressing. Also the master tape of this lp is over 30 years old which also is a negative factor.
The best copy I have of Who's Next is the original 1971 UK track pressing. Every other pressing I have including a original US vinyl pressing are inferior. Especially bad is the MCA heavy vinyl reissue I purchase several years ago. Compaired my my UK copy it is dull and boreing espically at the top. It does have good bass though but everything else is poor. Look for a original Track if you want better sound from The Who.
the universal re-issue is infinately better.
Jaybo, are you referring to the 3 LP re-issue? The guys at Music Direct tried to talk me into buying that one, instead. I didn't take their advice. Maybe I should have?
yes....its pricey, but genuinely dynamic(more so than the original release), with extended range and holy smoke the grooves between tracks are quiet. lots of so-called audiophile re-issues are nothing more than newly pressed records using old source masters(if that). i recently bought joni mitchell's 'blue' on vinyl for $30 and it sounds worse than an audio cassette. most of the warner imports from germany are bad news. The classic records releases are nothing short of a crapshoot, as is simply vinyl. these two labels are last resorts.
My experience with Classic Records mirrors yours, Jaybo. I haven't been impressed, overall. I was also disappointed with "In Through The Out Door" by Led Zeppelin. It seemed to have the same sound "quality" as Who's Next. Restricted, to say the least.
I agree that some (maybe even many) of the so-called audiophile LP re-issues are a disappointment. One bright spot that I've found, however, is the Pure Pleasure label -- excellent sound fidelity and pressing quality. PP has more releases planned, and I intend to watch for them. I have been particularly happy with the following releases:
1. Otis Spann: Otis Spann IS The Blues;
2. Sam Lightnin' Hopkins: In New York;
3. Stevie Ray Vaughn: Couldn't Stand The Weather;
4. Charles Mingus: Presents Charles Mingus
If you're interested in PP's releases, here's the link to their British website: http://www.purepleasurerecords.com/
I'll also say that I've been very pleased with records released on the 4 Men With Beards label.
never had access to an orig uk of whos next, but outside of that I've owned every remaster on vinyl and on my system the current classic is by far the BEST of them all. also, my experience is that the mca hvy from around 1996? was better then the expanded uni from more recently. i have them all and have a/b'd them a lot. but maybe it is "system dependent" to some degree or maybe my vpi letting me adjust the vta while listening is making the difference for me, but with my gear thats the facts.
I agree that usually a good early pressing will smoke a remaster (my wlp of 'if i could only remember my name' slays the classic 35 rpm(yet the classic 45 rpm is neck and neck with my old standby, not AS fresh sounding but better in some ways). i would not trade my 1st uk pressings of 'traffic', cat stevens stuff, tull 'stand up', karajan beethoven 62-33 etc BUT these can be very hard to come by, and on many pressings Classic does an incredible job. the 45 rpm Louis 'st james infirmary' is actually better than then original pressing by 'audio fidelity' made in the 50's. so is beethoven's vln concerto (heiffetz/munch) and zep I is a revelation compared to any earlier u.s. pressing.
exceptions abound, but my experience is the opposite of some of what 42659 has had. Johnny, have you heard the 200 g classic in question?
tfkaudio, I think you got a bum copy.
i just opened copies of classic 200 g "born to run" and it is way better then my wlp first pressing. also got neil young's 'prarie wind' and it is un believably fine. (obviously it aint a remaster). btw the classic pressing of neil young's g.h. makes early pressings of his lps sound terrible by comparison (and I have some pretty good ones -promos abscounded by engineers and such). anyway, good luck!
yea, just played a 4 men with beards version of 'dusty in memphis' and was floored!
Tfkaudio, I can't relate to what you're describing. The Classic Records reissue sounds very good here. Have you cleaned the LP with a good cleaning fluid like Disc Doctor, RRL or AIVS? Have you adjusted your VTA?
The pressing to get is the British Track record with the name "Bilbo" hand scribed in the dead wax. This indicates that the disc was mastered by Denis "Bilbo" Blackham. Unbelieveable sound!
I remembered something about a reported problem with the 1st 200 g sqv classic pressing of who's next. did some searching and found what failed to paste here as a link, but you can at least cut & paste it and go to it:
besides the controversy it is interesting to note one poster preferring the classic to the orig uk track as follows
"I bought a second-pressing a few weeks ago. I haven't heard a first pressing (the Classic, that is), but I read all about the pressing problems many of you encountered. My copy is slightly dish-warped but sonically flawless: no distortion, no mistracking, no surface noise. The mastering is excellent. This copy is now my favorite, bettering my previous favorites (a UK Track original and a US Decca original)."
viridian, thats great, now can you just send us each a copy!?
just kidding, but have you heard the classic pressing in question and if so what did you think?
I did clean the record with RRL fluid. I didn't adjust the VTA. Do you think this could make a drastic difference? Because a drastic difference is what is needed here.
I assume you're implying that my arm height needs to go up a little, to accomodate the thicker record?
Also, the thread on Steve Hoffman's site talks about distortion in several places on the record. This isn't the problem I'm having, and I also verified that I have the second pressing (based on the best info I could find, which is the TRACK DELUXE 2408 102 inscription on the spine).
Have you tried adjusting your tone arm vertical tracking angle? 180 gram pressings or 200 gram pressings are thicker and require an adjustment to achieve that sweet spot. I adjust my tonearm when I play thicker vinyl. The Who's Next on MCA Heavy Vinyl after I make the adjustments kicks my Original 8 track pressing up and down the block.
Haven't heard it, but I find a lot of Classics records sound dull and lifeless, like they tried to smooth the rough edges off the sound, and they tried to make it sound "richer" (i.e., boosted mid-bass).
The other possible source of problem is the effect of thick records on VTA. If possible, I avoid thick records. 180 gm and heavier records are such a misguided marketing ploy (screws up VTA, prone to dish warping, prone to poor pressing quality from incomplete "fill" of the grooves, etc.).
Tagyerit, first I should point out that anecdotal evidence suggests that that the "Bilbo" pressing is not the first British Track pressing of Who's Next. Most likely it is the second or third, going from the numbering in the dead wax. I compared it with the Classic reissue in the fall of last year. I was not comfortable in commenting, as I do not know if the pressing lent to me was from the first, flawed, bunch or later production. Both myself and the owner felt, hearing both pressings on each of our systems, that the "Bilbo" pressing was superior in all ways save for the surfaces, which were much quieter on the Classic, and a certain warmth or "give" in the mid-bass that made the Classic a bit richer, which one may prefer, or not. The "Bilbo" was far superior in dynamics and high frequency response and a bit clearer in midrange textures, with greater presence. Please do not misunderstand, the Classic is excellent and highly recommended. I believe that they are hamstrung from the get go by having to use thrirty plus year old tapes. When you take this into consideration, the job that they have done is phenomenal. Both do justice to Glyn Johns marvelous production.
appreciate the more detailed account you just gave. I totally believe what you are reporting and responded w/ a wisecrack last night because, in believing, I am then in that good ol predicament of not (likely) ever getting that best pressing for my own listening. also, I knew zilch about the uk pressings, bilbo or otherwise before this. although normally I have the highest regard for all things bilbo.
it is rare that I get what I know to be an actual first pressing of uk stuff. with the cat stevens i bought, someone guided me based on island label design/colour et al and when I heard them it so blew away all others that i assumed it was the real deal. the old us pressings of who lps have always let me down but the only supposed early uk who i have are mono copies of the 1st 3 lps and they ain't great. but who knows if they were the real deal. its become too costly for me to keep chasing elusive uk early pressings after being let down a few times. (I've been sorely disappointed by beatle pressings I've bought also -have what i know is an early uk white album and it's no big thrill at all). as with all these things, another early pressing made another day or on a dif machine may be incredibly good. its a crap shoot to some degree. i also have the experience of disagreeing with many about the ccr repressings from a couple years back. people LOVE them, but my early fantasy blue labels blow em away simply by virtue of sounding FRESH/in your face. the added detail of the repressings costs too dearly to my ear by loosing that "immediate" sonic signature. anywho...i am surprised how many people are reporting here what sound like consistent let-downs w/ the classic pressings, as i usually am happy with them.
Tfkaudio, like some other folks here, I adjust VTA for every record. It makes a significant difference in my system. If a standard weight LP (120-150gr) sounds good on your system, then the VTA is probably set for that thickness LP. If you don't adjust (as you described), you'll likely hear materially rolled off and dull highs and lack of resolution through the midrange on a 200gr LP. Different cartridges are more and less sensitive to VTA changes. On my Walker Proscenium with Magic Diamond cartridge, the differences with even minor VTA adjustments are profound. Clearly, ymmv but it's something to check.
I was playing with the VTA today and it did make a difference. I was able to get Roger out of the basement, but he's still down the hallway. Unfortunately, the VPI Scoutmaster VTA adjustment is hard to fine tune. Makes me wish I had the JMW 10.5 or 12.5 arm, which has a really nice VTA mechanism.
If you start noticing sibilance, does that mean you've gone too high on the VTA?
sibilance can often be the side to side alignment being out of wack. never created any myself with vta though.
the new universal stuff and 4 men with beards have been pretty good. sundazed is a mixed bag(emough with the mono already).......dss is great, but very little rock and jazz....their Days of Future Passed and Wes Montgomery's Down Here On The Ground are must have's. most the classic and simply vinyl releases are mediocre. The 45rpm versions sound better, but only the very simple stuff(bill eveans trio) sounds borderline audiophile, plus they were created as long players with a true two sided beginning, middle, and end, which classic just disregards. the thinner pressings (120and 150 gram) from Japan are generally superb. take care of your records and they will take care of you.
Tfkaudio, hearing sibilance is not the best guide for VTA being too high (too many other variables). Assuming azimuth and overhang have been set correctly already, here's the most succinct description I know of on how to do the final fine-tuning for best sound:http://www.walkeraudio.com/fine_tuning_your_turntable.htm
That's a great little guide! Thanks for pointing it out.
MCA HEAVY VINYL !!!
If you want the absolute best vinyl pressing of Who's next, you have to get the MCA 180gm. pressing. I have not seen this used anywhere and for good reason. Paid $40.00 fron Music Direct years ago. Remastered from original analog tapes, no noise supression, bass rolloff etc. I also have the 4 track verson and the vinyl actually comes close.
>>If you want the absolute best vinyl pressing of Who's next, you have to get the MCA 180gm<<
No that's not correct. The 1971 pressing on Decca (DL 79182) kills the MCA 180g reissue.
I have all three, including the copy I purchased in 1971 and kept as well as could be, still sounds better than the Classic. I agree with Surfgod on this one, the MCA heavy is the best sounding of all three. When Entwistle hits that low E on Baba when Daltrey sings the "their all wasted" refrain, that's the defining note that says it all.
"accepting one note..."
not to go off on a tangerine, but I just listened to a 180g Sundazed Mono pressing of "The Times They Are a Changin'" by Bob Dylan and it was so good that it spooked me. On the last track, "Restless Farewell" you could tell instantly, of his picking technique, if he caught the string 'clean', or if he hit it a little bit light. Or if his finger was holding the string firm on the fretboard, or a little loose for a muted sound. You could even hear the pick snap when a string was hit good.
That's the type of recording I wanted this "Who's Next" to be, but wasn't.
Maybe I'm just dialed in perfect for 180g thickness, and haven't found the magic spot for 200g? Believe me, I've been tryin...
Take it to heart,The Sundazed recordings are in my opinion one of the best deals out there. I have been very happy with the stuff i have purchased from them and buying direct in bulk you save some swag. I have purchased the Love Lp's,Paul Butterfield Blues Band LP's and The Iggy and the Stooges LP's.Not a bad pressing in the bunch.
Tfkaudio, with respect to your tangerine... (enjoyed that expression - thanks! :)) While I've always loved "Who's Next," it has never struck me as a masterful recording job with exquisite resolution of the sort of acoustic detail you describe in the Dylan. In all of it's iterations that I've heard, I've always thought of it as an above average processed/synthesized rock recording, but nothing more. Are we expecting more from the mastertapes than is there?
You make a good point, Rushton. What has always bugged me about "Who's Next" (1971) is the fact that the earlier album "Tommy" (1968) was sonically much better. It never made sense to me that the best sounding Who album was the one they made when they were furthest in debt... By the time "Who's Next" came out, they were rich and powerful rock stars with access to the best recording gear and the best recording engineers. Maybe that's just it - maybe "Tommy" was recorded on crappy old tube gear (And the tube fans in the audience go wild!...)?
"Who Knows" ? :)