Jethro Tull "Aqualung" Shoot out results

This last weekend I did some listening comparisons of 3 copy's of Jethro Tull "Aqualung" on vinyl. They were palyed on my Basis Debut table and were A/B for sonics. Listed below are the pressings.

1. UK Chrysalis ILPS 9145

2. US Chrysalis CDR 1044

3. US Reprise Records MS 2035 (Tan Steamboat Label)

All records were cleaned with the Disc Doctor to make it fair and played at the same volume level. The UK Chrysalis copy sounded fair only. I noticed a lack of clarity and transparency across the entire audio range, in general is sounded muffled and was somewhat dynamically constricted. I was disappointed with the sound quality of this UK pressings as I expected better.

The US Chrysalis sounded surprising similar to the UK copy except it was slightly duller but had a bit more punch where the UK copy sounded a bit more laid back and slightly clearer in general. Both copies had so much in common sonically that one could conclude they were probably cut from the same master but to be honest both were quite disappointing and luckily I only paid $3-$4 each and the loss was not that great.

The US Reprise Steamboat label was the big surprise. When I heard the first note played on my turntable from this 1971 original I knew instantly it was superior to the two previous copy's by a very noticeable margin. The Muffled quality was gone are replaced with a much clearer, cleaner and more dynamic sound not present in the other inferior copy's. The mid bass had greater definition and impact and the midrange came across with much more pinpoint clarity of notes and musicality. While I would not describe this LP as a sonic blockbuster it was very enjoyable to listen to and really showed the shortcomings of the previous other pressings listed above. It just goes to show you not all pressings are equal.

As a side note I can say based on experience that no two pressings, even with the same matrix numbers, are the same. This is especially true with US vinyl records. As a example I have (3) US copy's of Pink Floyds DSOM and they all sound different and they are all US originals with exactly the same label and cover. By process of elimination I have selected the best copy of the (3) and discarded the other two pressings. My best US DSOM betters my UK and German pressings. I shall later give my shoot out results for 5 different pressings of this record but my point is don't assume because you have a original copy of your favorite album that it is the best copy sonically. Where I live in California I can go to record surplus or Amoeba Music in Hollywood and buy 3-4 copy's of the same record for $2-$4 each. I go home and spend 10-15 minutes selecting the best copy of the bunch and using that copy as my future reference. This method is still cheaper than buying a inferior $30 180 gram reissue but does take more time and effort to seek out various pressings but in my opinion provides you with the best possible source material available on vinyl. It is amazing to me that people will spend thousands of dollars on audio equipment and not spend the same amount of time or effort to acquire the best source material. THE SOURCE MATERAIL IS THE MOST IMPORTANT PART OF THE AUDIO CHAIN. Johnny
Thanks Johnny, keep the 'em coming!
Don't waste your money on the MoFi; it is inferior to the Reprise pressings. They fooled with the frequency response way too much. I would say that the early domestic pressings of Thick as a Brick exceed all of the Aqualungs that I have heard....but that's a different story. Thanks for a great review.
Interesting results, the common thinking is UK pressings are better, you proved that wrong! What may also be at work here (and especially so with DSOM) is an early pressing versus a later pressing. I don't think there will be much argument that early pressings (from the same company) are better. With popular albums like Aqualung or DSOM there were millions made, usually with no discernable differences (covers, labels, etc.) to identify an early or late pressing. The only system of this sort I am aware of is the RCA Living Presence system where the stamper number was on the inner groove. Surely other companies did something, but I don't know if any have been decoded. Some other Audiogoner should have the answer.
While visiting the UK, my folks brought me a copy of Genesis/...and then there were three... on Charisma; CDS4010. It's remarkably lower in volume compared to all my other LP's. It too sounds muffled until you turn it up to compensate. An English phenomenon?
My first and last experience with MFSL was with LedZeppelin II just for the same reason you describe.
Bass levels had been artificially "equalized" that realy far away from the original tape.
Now in my collection there's only a place for original first-pressing vinyls. Other reissues are usually temporary for just listening and selling thereafter.
Marakanetz, the first batch of MoFis were quite good; mastered by Doug Sax before Gary Georgi started twisting the dials. The problem is that most of the music is crap, but try Poco, "Legend" and John Klemmer "Touch". The sonics on both are just wonderfull. I often wonder how different things would have been if they had done the rest like the first twenty or so.
Jethro Tull "Aqualung
I have heard them all, no contest the 180 gram DCC limited edition reissue
I have not heard a first edition Japanese Aqualung but they almost impossible to find let alone afford. I think it was a first edition of "a passion play" just sold on eBay for $167.00 to give you some Idea.

Pink Floyd DSOTM
Japan Pro use series
like you said 42659? (what's up with that)
about the Jethro Tull steamboat, after you listen to the mofi then put the pro use on, you can tell after the first couple of notes this is special

Led Zeppelin
classic records new 180 gram reissues
Got rid of my Japanese issues after I heard these.

For the most part the first edition from the country of origin usually is the best sounding.
and A first edition Japanese issue is also better that a Japanese reissue

but if you look at my list they are reissues
I have some newer mofi 200 gram reissues they seem very good.

If you have any questions about rock pressings, please ask.
I will be happy to give you my opinion on the limited knowledge I do have.
Rocky is right; the Pro Use DSOTM is by far the best. It just slamms the UHQR. I own them both. Most Japanese pressings of American rock records are just overrated. Many are seduced by the clean surfaces and miss the compressed dynamics. Though many think that a little compression even helps. The Wall is a good example; the highly touted Japanese pressing can't touch the Bob Ludwig mastered domestic pressings.
I am so thrilled with the CD version of Aqualung from DCC. The first CD issued back in the day was the worst remastering ever. Steve Hoffman did a great job...he has a great ear. He has a website

That LP was what we listened to the first time I smoked pot in 1973 or so.... I remember it vividly. Though I no longer partake...I get such a giggle.

Reading Circus magazine and learning about new releases and new bands. Jeeeeeze
"That LP was what we listened to the first time I smoked pot in 1973 or so.... I remember it vividly. Though I no longer partake...I get such a giggle" Upscaleaudio

You know something I went to visit my cousins out of state and I think it was 72 for me, Man I had not thought about that in years same lp same experience.

Viridian, I have both copys of the wall compared them both
many, many, many times this afternoon for the big shootout. maybe I don't have a Bob Ludwig mastered domestic,I don't know but it is a first edition. The 2 lp's are close but I like the Japan issue better also a first Ed,It is puncher with more weight and the mids are more refined the voices seem more lifelike as well.
I really like the Japanese issue of wish you were here. I have been told the UK first ed is better. I have one on the way and I will post my findings.
I've heard the DCC "Aqualung" is awesome. Apparently, Steve Hoffman remastered directly from the original master tapes and did a monster job of it. In one of his interviews, he recalled getting the masters directly from Ian Anderson and compared it to an almost religious experience.

Unfortunately, I've never heard the DCC version. I think they're almost impossible to find and very expensive if one DOES surface. Ugh! "Aqualung" was/is one of my desert island albums. Since it wasn't recorded too well (and the LP suffered as a result), there was always something lacking such as the frustratingly low volume of John Evans' piano in the opening of "Locomotive Breath." The Chrysalis CD remaster is an improvement over the original, but not by much. I've never really heard a good version of this classic. Such a wrong should be rectified ... how about Steve Hoffman taking pity on us all and doing another remaster under his new label.