What in the world is going on.....


My system cost about 75000 dollars or so.  I got the rave review LP of the new Paul Simon album.....sounded pretty lousy.  I listened to the included M3P download using AirPlay through my Denon receiver and Senheisser wireless earphones, and it sounded wonderful......   What in the world is that all about....
stringreen
I listen to various quality recordings with both speakers and headphones and good amplification.  

Headphones tend to not have as much imaging and soundstage so I find the difference between very good and average recordings in that regard to not be as big with headphones.    

Or it is quite possible that mp3 done well can be higher quality than vinyl not done so well for whatever reason.

So technology alone seldom dictates what sounds best.   


Simple explanation is that most commercial recordings are mastered to sound great on lesser systems. High rez systems will make all those recordings sound like crap. Unmastered albums is actually a thing now.
I bought this album when it came out and posted a comment on it and did not receive one response. I felt that it was recorded hot, had sibilance issues and seemed compressed. I bough the vinyl. IMO, the song writing is disjointed and the lyrics seems forced. There are some interesting moments and probably worth  purchasing but not near his best effort. And, I am a big fan of his music!
I thought I was the only one who really didn't like this album.  Guess not, but Fremer sure creamed all over it.

http://www.analogplanet.com/content/simon-and-halee-reunited-again-make-musical-and-sonic-magic
I suppose, hew is correct about mass market production, but I don't think it fully explains the lousy sound from high end rig. There is something else to it. Bad pressing? Dirty record? High expectations?
I can give a somewhat similar example, comparing cd and youtube.
Yngwie Malmsteen with Japanese orchestra. Great music. First, I listened to it on youtube through Grado phones, no external dac, and it sounded acceptable. Then I got the cd and it sounded terrible on my rig, I threw the cd away. Somehow they managed to completely screw up that cd, I don't know how. My expectations were not high, yet I couldn't really tolerate that crap. Still listen to it on youtube.
The first sign that the recording was at least mastered, if not recorded digitally is the download card that accompanies the record. Not that all digital is bad- I have some wonderful sounding records on vinyl that were natively recorded in digital; indeed, a lot of stuff since the ’80s was recorded digitally. Remasters are a different story- the difference between an old analog record and a digital remaster is often noticeable, but in some cases, like some of the Steve Wilson remixes, the trade off of a better mix (e.g. Aqualung) is worth the price of admission, particularly if the original analog recording isn’t very good.

As to why this record sounds lousy on your "big" system, it could be that little care was taken in mastering it to vinyl. Or perhaps it isn’t a very good recording to begin with. I don’t know enough about the record, haven’t heard it, and don’t even know who mastered it. What sounds good over an MP3 is very different than what sounds good over a wideband playback system. (Think back to the days when pop records were created to sound punchy on the car radio - some sound great over a good hi-fi rig, but some are really dead and lifeless sounding). My suspicion is, another copy isn’t going to sound better, but if there are others who have this pressing, they can chime in.
I'm sorry that you are disappointed in the vinyl version of the new Paul Simon record, "Stranger to Stranger." I bought the CD the day it came out and played it in the car on the way home, and played it again listening to headphones later that day. I like it! So, just ignore the poor quality of the vinyl and buy the CD. After all, we're in it for the music, right?
Have you not noticed how loud this album is? Usually that is a sure sign of heavy handed compression. I'm going to make a digital transfer and will check the wav file. My guess is that I'll see plenty 9f chopped off peaks.

Do not have this CD but other recent Paul Simon CD I do have was definitely mastered to be "loud".
I can't say anything other than this particular record is not his best - So Beautiful So What is, IMHO, a far better album. 

I agree with the observations about its sonics - there's a marked difference between the two 
His early solo albums--standard issue-- sound pretty great as I remember. Don’t know if they were all Phil Ramone, but that would explain a lot. I have more respect for him now than I did back in the day--it was too "pop" oriented for me at the time. I got to hear him play several years ago at a small benefit show in a non-music venue-- audience of several hundred people. He was unbelievably musical.
Roy Halee was the engineer I believe. He did the mixes on this album. 

This from Wikipedia:  Simon also worked with longtime friend Roy Halee, who is listed as co-producer on the album. Halee, who had retired years earlier, was mostly recruited to advise on how to create natural echo. He was unfamiliar with Pro Tools, so Simon helped him with it. "I always liked working with him more than anyone else," Simon noted
I noted that with most of modern pressings there are lots of manufacturing defects that I had to deal with by sending copies back to receive replacement. I once had to send back whole batch of poorly mastered and sounding records where the bass diminished all other notes to almost inaudible. I guess certain current releases are better-of stickin' to MP3 or other similar cwap.


OP-

on a highly resolving system upwards of $100K, you will hear the best/worst in recordings, warts and all...
At $75K I would assume that your signal chain is higher res than average. Also, since the LP playback is the outlier, perhaps there is some incompatibility between your stylus and the cutter head, or maybe you need to play with SRA, azimuth, VTF, etc. If your tonearm doesn't have adjustable VTA, it could be as simple as adding a thin turntable mat on top of your usual one. It's generally known that one can get a somewhat richer, lusher sound with a *slightly* tilted back tonearm.

I've got a couple of early press Simon LP's. One Trick Pony, and I believe S/T. The latter has Me and Julio....by the Schoolyard. These are really great sounding records, particularly OTP. I believe BOTH are Sterling Sound mastered. First of all, I will admit to being a Michael Fremer fan. What he's doing for the vinyl revolution is great. He is not afraid to tell you how he feels, for better or worse. Another album he gave a 10 for sound was The Band: Music from the Big Pink. I bought that one, with medium-high expectation, and was let down. This may be a case of what was never a good recording, made as good as it can be. Besides that, I'm not so sure what to think. We all have our days, and of course our systems can have a bad or good day, depending on power quality or what have you.... That said, Mr. Fremer has certainly hit some home runs. 

fjn- if it is the MoFi re-do of Big Pink, try turning up the volume. That record was cut with really low gain. There are a few threads on this on the Hoffman board. I have a copy, but haven't played it in some time. 

It's Paul Simon, of course it's going to sound crap.
"Songs from the Capeman", is the last great album by Paul, however, it was and one that flopped as a Broadway show.  The song writing is excellent, the album has a fantastic flow to it and the sound is very good. 

I'm also a very big fan of "One Trick Pony".

One problem with his recent album is that it was recorded too hot, which can cause all kind of issues with the cutter head. 
I own Stereophile Class-A equipments. The Stereophile recommended disks sound great, but most of my other favorite music sound OK, or sound horrible with my B&W 800D... A friend of mine told me it's nothing unusual.
I don't mean to be insulting in asking have you checked your cartridge alignment? I think even cuts on the same album by Simon sound different.
I would have to agree with the post that recommends checking the cartridge alignment. If you've spent time with a turntable that has all the adjustments you'll discover that they are critical. There is definitely something amiss here.

Perhaps you would like to share the exact models of the items you are using for vinyl playback and who/how the cartridge was aligned.

Until you get this right you really can't expect your vinyl to perform at a high level. You can try yourself, but I can tell you, as a 61 year old music lover who has been in the audio business for over 40 years, it took me a decade to be able to setup a turntable properly and understand what I was actually doing.

I've setup thousands of turntables and I have yet to hear an MP3 through any system that rivals the performance of a mediocre turntable that is setup properly.

I'm not a vinyl fanatic, but I will continue to use LPs as my reference until something comes along that is in the same realm of performance and more convenient to boot.

I'm happy to say that I've built a music computer that is getting very close with good source material. Last but not least, Paul Simon recordings although musically excellent in almost all cases, are all over the map. This is something that is easily perceived when all is good.
I haven't heard this recording but it's all who masters the music because the record companies don't care. I have bought imports for around 40 years and get extra tracks not included on US vinyl. Better quality vinyl from the research I've done over the years of buying music. I have bought many new styluses in my day and they two make a big differences along with a good output on a your Pre-Amp for analog .

I also believe with a Digital transmission interface and a DAC with High Current Vintage Amp and great speakers will blow away MP3's any day. Digital is getting closer to vinyl because they first started making CD's from the vinyl mixes. They were absolutely horrible!!  80's Cd were sad!

The Japanese and Mobile Fidelity Companies both have made both vinyl and Cd's sound like they should. The are some other companies like Sony and Cherry Red Records that are stepping up and making some really nice recordings as well.

 I just wish Sony would make up there minds on a format as usual ! SACD ,DVD, Blue Spec CD's come on how many times can you sell us the same music? We are just hoping to get the great recording we deserved in the first place! First the record companies screwed the music artists then why not the consumers to ?? I wont even get started on this subject but another greedy bunch of big corporations at work.
Need we say more?
Thecablepro.....thanks for your interest and suggestions..

I am using a VPI Superscoutmaster with rim drive, Classic platter, with BearPaws (large brass cones) which replaced the original feet. The arm is the VPI 3D plastic arm into which I have an Ortofon Winfield installed and loaded at 1000 ohms from the Ayre preamp.  I set up the arm using a MINT protracter, and adjusted the azimuth with a Fozgometer...I have an electronic scale to weigh the vtf, and have adjusted it heavier/lighter to get the best performance from the cartridge.  The arm is adjusted slightly high at the rear.  The arm is wired with the new Discovery wire and is terminated using a balanced (xlr) connection to the preamp (actually, the entire system is fully balanced).  Thanks again for the interest.
I'm not going to list my equipment and set up but rather say that after 40 years my system is good and my set up is spot on. 

Btw, cablepro, have you bought and listened to the vinyl copy? If so, what are your thoughts? I assume you have and have no issue with it., yes?

This has been one of my complaints that as your system evolves (improves) some poor recordings sound worse but the good ones sound even better. That was the case for half the posters on one thread and the other half claim that all recordings improve even the poor ones as they climbed the ladder of higher end components. But higher resolution may be a double edged sword.

Stringreen, congradulations on your investment, sounds like you have assembled a top notch system.
While on Paul Simon, especially on CD, his best of...Negotiations and Love Songs is excellent. Graceland is excellent as well.
Stringreen, can you be more specific as to the term lousy  as compared to the mp3...
Was it distorted, less dynamic, lacked clarity, poor imaging - get my drift?

My guess is it is a poor pressing and you should probably return it.

I've had pressings from supposedly good labels that had metal shavings in the grooves and other similar cutting related defects.

Vinyl should not sound worse than digital
Regards
Yes I own some poor recordings both on CD and LP but I will still play them even if they don't bring my system to its full potential, I want to hear the music that they contain but still recognize that the system can and does sound better with quality recordings.
BearPaws (large brass cones) which replaced the original feet. The arm is the VPI 3D plastic arm int

Late at night so I screwd up post. When I was a VPI dealer I noticed that the feet  a deference and used the Star Sound ones. I told Harry about this but I suppose that they were too expensive and most would not notice the difference.

The CD of "Will the Circle be Unbroken" was very bad compared to the LP and I could not listen to it. The remaster is much better.

" It's Paul Simon, of course it is going sound crap ".
Infection, I won't disagree with that, but you were too cruel.
Paul Simon recordings "sound crap"? Really, go listen to the "Graceland" CD or vinyl, and tell me it sounds "crap." You may need a hearing check. And for the comment about the new album being recorded "loud," makes me think about a car that is too fast. Your preamp has a volume control for the same reason a car has an accelerator. I’m not a rabid Paul Simon fan but his works are some of the favorites in my collection, all the way back to his collaborations with Art Garfunkel. Lighten up!
this indeed a common problem. We invest a lot in our systems and it is disappointing when our some of our favorite music doesn’t sound so good on our high end systems. Heck, the music coming from my cable box music channels sounds consistently good compared to my media player /highend DAC. I don’t know if the stuff on the music channel is equalized a certain way or what, but it consistently sounds warm, spacious, alive, and extended. Whereas some of the recordings through my expensive media player/DAC is inconsistent, some recordings are just bright/hard. Just the way it is.
I think my posting is irrelevant here but I too had a system close if not more in dollars to yours..I found the more I spent the less I enjoyed listening.Only a small fraction of my music library sounded "worth listening to"..Finially I figured out this was ridiculous, I dumped everything except my source,bought a modest system and listen to music a lot..The bad recorded/produced stuff sounds good to great as does  the well recorded..maybe try getting back to basics,lol
you may be on to something missioncoonery.   
The issue is not with my volume control. The problem is what happens when you send too hot a signal to the cutter head, which, IME caused the minor sibilance issues. This could have been avoided with more care. It is not terrible but it is there. And, once you hear it, there is no avoiding it.
Well, bad recording will of course sound bad on anything but it will still sound better with better equipment. You are talking nonsense.
infection329 posts07-29-2016 8:13pmIt's Paul Simon, of course it's going to sound crap.

That's the best answer of discussion. Even if he's perfectly recorded and mastered, he would still sound crap.
czarivey
3,041 posts
08-01-2016 9:26am
infection329 posts07-29-2016 8:13pmIt’s Paul Simon, of course it’s going to sound crap.

That’s the best answer of discussion. Even if he’s perfectly recorded and mastered, he would still sound crap.

Whaaaaat?  If that true what’s up with all those Grammy nominations for album of the year?

"Frank Sinatra, Stevie Wonder, Paul Simon, Daniel Lanois (as record producer) and Bob Ludwig (as mastering engineer) are the biggest winners in this category with three victories each. Ludwig is the only person to win the award three consecutive years (2013–2015). Paul McCartney leads all performers with nine nominations: five as a member of The Beatles, three for solo albums, and one as a member of Wings. Sinatra leads solo performers with eight nominations, seven for solo albums and one for a duet album. McCartney and Simon are the only artists with nominations in every decade from the 1960s to the 2000s."
Post removed 
Whaaaaat?  If that true what’s up with all those Grammy nominations for album of the year?

What's Grammy?
That's fun. Anyone wants to say that Beatles are always crap too? Or Dylan?
YESS! To Beatles and of course certainly most certainly Dylan!
Czarivey, if you wanted to say the same about Miles Davis, this would make me extremely unhappy. But he played crap too from time to time. Everyone does.
Not Miles Davis, He's a musician!
Thank you.
@inna & @czarivey - I appreciate your affirmation! 

I agree re: Bob Dylan too; I find his music boring.
Grammys...They mean nothing to me.