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Steely Dan: Countdown to Ecstasy

Steely Dan: Countdown to Ecstasy

Analogue Productions  CAPP 135 SA

Stereo Hybrid

Pop/Rock


Steely Dan

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Comment by Paul - July 4, 2023 (1 of 3)

These Analogue Productions Steely SACD reissues are really the definitive version of these classic albums. It’s like listening to the master tapes. A very accurate, true and honest transfer from the masters. Nothing needs to be added because The Dan did it right back in the day…. So sit back and enjoy these recordings in the best possible fidelity you are likely to ever hear at this point in what I consider to be the definitive audio format, SACD.

Comment by Downunderman - December 2, 2023 (2 of 3)

This SACD is noticeably different in many respects to the pretty much universally highly regarded SACD released in Japan back in 2014 as Analogue's review (Steely Dan: Countdown to Ecstasy#comments) makes clear. I was also a big fan.

That Japanese SACD was claimed (On CD Japan at least) to be based on "HR cutting from DSD master in 2014 based on US original analog tape". Nothing on the source used, or who did the mastering in the packaging though. At this point a SACD reissue of this release remains available from retailers in Japan.

This new 2023 remaster from Analogue Productions is claimed on the Acoustic Sounds website to have been "Mastered direct to DSD from the original master tape by Bernie Grundman". Again though, nothing in the packaging as to the source used, or who did the mastering.

Total time indicated on the disc spinner is 40:54 for Analogue Productions and 41:13 for the Japanese version. The Japanese version being consistently a few seconds longer on a track-by-track basis.

Broadly speaking comparatively, the Japanese SACD sounds more immediate, has a more prominent bottom end - on my system occasionally obtrusively so, and is very slightly brighter in the higher frequencies. It is also cleaner and clearer sounding.

Whilst the Analogue Productions SACD is more analog sounding, but also a little murkier and consequently with a little less clarity. Overall though, the mix is better balanced and more natural sounding, and the presentation is more laid back. It sounds like a flat transfer of a tape from that era.

They are both excellent versions and which one you might prefer may end up being system dependent.

Comment by Downunderman - December 5, 2023 (3 of 3)

Addendum...

One thing that I particularly noticed when I first played this version was that the 1st track (Bodhisattva) sounded like it was running at a faster speed than I had become accustomed to. This prompted some poking around with the following proposed explanation unearthed.


"Digitally - only the AP SACD is running at the preferred speed per the tape box VSO notes - not concert pitch as the 3M based CDs (80s, Citizen-era, 2000s) or the SHM-SACD are, if this matters to you. The original vinyl is cut with the VSO notes - so the AP tracks will match the original vinyl pitch. Note the "VSO" and timing handwritten next to the entries for Bodhisattva, My Old School, Pearl of the Quarter and King of the World."

This seems plausible as the timings for those 4 songs do seem to indicate that those 4 songs are faster on the Grundman mastering, which is consistent with the VSO notes on the tape boxes.