Janis Ian "Breaking Silence" 45RPM 2 disc reissue


Just thought it worth posting my impressions on the new Chad Kassem/Analogue Productions 45RPM QRO two disc set. As this is a well known reference disc many of us have high hopes that this is the "one" to own.

Unfortunately while there’s a lot to like in this set I’m afraid that, at least to this listener, it still falls short of the original (numbered) AP 33RPM issue. I have a very well loved copy of this issue and have tried the other more recent 33RPM pressings which fall well short. What makes this a great disc (other than the music) is the unforced and natural vocal and instrumental presentation as well as the way it spans from very intimate passages to string dynamics, often in the same track. For many years I have used "Walking on Sacred Ground" and "Tattoo" as some of my main reference tracks.

The new 2 disc set is very nicely presented, flat and clean vinyl and nice packaging. This is supposedly a limited release but is not numbered. The vinyl is very quiet but what strikes you immediately is that (unlike many 45RPM issues) this is mastered at a lower level than the original 33RPM. In fact overall it’s a very clean, open but rather polite disc. Some things, especially subtle detail in the bass, seem better but many things are worth. Mainly what seems to be completely absent is all the very high frequency air and room acoustic and/or reverb detail. As a result the 45RPM sounds rather flat and lifeless compared to the original. The vocal in particular while clear and less sibilant than the original lacks the extra realism that comes from hearing all teh details of breathing.

By any normal standards it’s a great disc but whether through the deterioration of the master tapes or decisions taken in mastering this one is not going to replace an original numbered 33RPM. From memory I’d say it’s better than a current 33RPM but I haven’t got one of those on hand for comparison.

So if you don’t have this on vinyl by all means try the 45RPM but if you have the original that’s probably still the one to keep

ps as this one is also available on tape I'd love to hear what anyone who owns that thinks?

pps there's a small possibility some of the above could be partly due to differences between a 180g and 200g record weight and effect on VTA/SRA -- I'd be surprised however as my cartridge while sensitive has never proven to be this sensitive ... maybe I'll try a hairs adjustment
Convert?fit=crop&h=128&policy=eyjlehbpcnkioje0ota2njm0ntqsimnhbgwiolsicmvhzcisimnvbnzlcnqixx0%3d&rotate=exif&signature=ff509b9a7d64df4ed7edcf1c6c034f2c9e55e82bb71804583c5026cf2597de42&w=128folkfreak
As a recording engineer, I had the opportunity to track and mix a recent show of Janis. She certainly puts on a great show and is a sweet heart to work with.

From that session I have a great high rez recording, time spent with a great artist, and quality person, and a personalized signed copy of her CD, which she gave to me unsolicited after the show.

Needless to say, I go to the live show I recorded first but it is always great to have the artist hand me their work in appreciation of my work.
I don't have that album on vinyl, but I do have Analog Productions Gold Limited Edition CD, and it is outstanding. I have an original LP of "Aftertones", it is an excellent recording as well.

Regards,
Dan
Thanks for the review.  I have the AP 33 1/3 version, which I like a lot.  Was wondering about "upgrading" to the new 45 - - but no more.

Just saw this and I'll be picking up that gold CD. Thanks for the reference!
I just re-watched the Leonard Bernstein "Pop Music" TV special from 1967, in which Janis performs live "Society’s Child". Bernstein discusses the song and interviews Janis, apparently very impressed by her and the song.
I too thank you. All of my JI lps sound good to me.
I've had a chance to spend some more time with this recording and also been able to clean it (I was out of solution previously) -- cleaning is well worth it as there seems to be some white crud in the grooves which the L'Art du Son got out

Anyway I'll revise my assessment a little and suggest that you should buy this version in addition to your numbered 33 -- think of it as an alternative mix that serves some tracks better than others. On "This Train Still Runs" for example the 45 gives the bass more room to open out and allows you to hear details that on the 33 were masked by the arguably overly hot cut on the bass and drums, I'm still missing the air on the vocals but I appreciate the way the 45 opens out the rest of the recording

If only we could get the best of both! 
folkfreak,

Thanks for the update. I guess I would have cleaned the lps thoroughly before an initial review but based on your latest findings, I don't feel I'm going to be missing much by not buying this new pressing.

The white crud... I experienced this once on my 1st pressing of Radiohead "OK Computer" years ago. At that time with a lesser cleaning method/equipment, it took me about 3 separate cleanings before I was satisfied. I've always thought that the white crud was the release mold compound?

Happy Listening.
@slaw you're right and normally it's always clean first but I was out of solution and couldn't wait!

my original observations still stand and were not affected by cleaning or adjustments to SRA. Clearly the decisions made in the mix have tamed the high end and "hotness" but with the loss of the air I noted
Just received the gold CD and found this to be a very dynamic recording.....except for the vocals. It's odd but the vocal dynamics don't seem to match the instruments. It's as though the vocals were cut in a completely separate studio (which I suppose is not unusual). I can't believe whoever mastered this didn't pick up on that fact. Love the music but question the mix. Overall though it is a good recording.