Miles Davis: Kind of Blue
"Kind of Blue"
Japan original SACD Hybrid release of Miles Davis's legendary album featuring digital remastering (remastering same as that used in the popular 2006 cardboard sleeve version). SACD layer also includes 5.1ch surround version of the recording.
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Review by Mark Werlin - December 31, 2021
Sixty years after its release, "Kind of Blue" can be streamed instantaneously, anywhere with an Internet connection, in good fidelity. Yet jazz-loving audiophiles continue to acquire the album in each new iteration, eternally hopeful that THIS will be the best version, the one that justifies the high cost of our audio systems and the inordinate amount of time we spend reading (and writing) reviews and discussions.
For some collectors, the present SACD, Sony Japan (SMEJ) SICP-10083, will be THE version to own.
It was mastered a few dB louder than the US Sony SACD and the MoFi SACD. File conversion (DSF-DXD-DSF) with gain reduction facilitated an A/B comparison. The Sony Japan SACD is clearly better mastered than the original US Sony release; Bill Evans' piano on the US SACD sounds thin by comparison. Switching between the Sony Japan and MoFi SACDs reveals substantial differences in sonic signature: Paul Chambers' bass is firmer and Jimmy Cobbs' cymbals are brighter. The timings are also a little different from the other versions.
The differences in timings and sound quality suggest that Belden and Wilder's 1997 remixed master analogue tape was sourced by Sony Japan engineers, perhaps with EQ sweetening, to create a new DSD transfer for this SACD issue.
My personal preference among the three Kind of Blue SACDs in my collection remains the MoFi release, but the Sony Japan disc offers a more vivid sonic presentation. And unlike the MoFi disc, which is stereo-only, the Japan Sony disc contains an MCH program described on the label as "Multi-5.1 ch".
Is it in fact 5.1, 5.0, or 3.0? MCH listeners, please add your comments.
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Comment by Gilles Daugenet - December 25, 2021 (1 of 5)
SACD japonais au son extraordinaire. Il est vrai que je ne l’ai pas comparé avec le MFSL mais cette production est fantastique !
Japanese SACD with extraordinary sound. It is true that I have not compared it with the MFSL but this production is fantastic !
Comment by Mark Werlin - December 31, 2021 (2 of 5)
Je suis d'accord, Gilles. La qualité est supérieure au Sony SACD américain. D'autres membres ont discuté de cette version:
I agree with Gilles, and with comments by Claude on the old site about the superior sound quality of the 2007 Sony Japan SACD SICP-10083.
Comment by Ad Rhenum - June 10, 2022 (3 of 5)
In response to the call in the review: Is it in fact 5.1, 5.0, or 3.0? MCH listeners, please add your comments.
I hear music from all five speakers, FL, C, FR, RL, RR
The fronts and centre are discrete. But the rears sound allmost identical to the fronts with a about 5dB lower sound level. Some may call it ambience. But when switching from surround to stereo and back, I hear less difference than usually with ambience mixes.
There is a youtube video, explaining the fronts and center are from the original three master tape. And the rears are from a 21st century recording, recording the playback of the three original channel. With microphones placed in such a distance that an appropriate reverb effect is created/recorded. This is in accordance with the listening experience. So it could be true.
Comparing this SMEJ surround edition with the Columbia surround edition, I experience the Columbia edition as smoother, more involving.
My player indicates there is content on the subwoofer channel on the SMEJ edition, where there is none on the Columbia edition.
Liner notes to both editions suggest the same source and personel.
Basicly its three channel with abstracted ambience in the rears.
Comment by Mark Werlin - June 10, 2022 (4 of 5)
Ad Rhenum: thanks for answering the question and resolving the mystery. Using the available rear channels to add room ambiance seems like a good idea, but from your description, capturing live playback of the front channels doesn't seem to have worked very well. Perhaps the engineers didn't have a large enough soundstage to place the microphones far enough away from the loudspeakers to create a realistic room effect.
Comment by Ad Rhenum - June 12, 2022 (5 of 5)
Just for completeness: I found the info about the rear channels in a youtube video:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ls9ns2tH4Q4, at 1 min 34 sec.
(link placed on quadraphonicquad.com, in a discussion about this title)
And as for the added room ambiance, preferences differ. Personally I prefer it, that remasters stays as close to the original as possible. In this case a 3-channel (FL+C+FR) edition might have been more appropriate.
Like Analogue Productions did on Miles Davis: Someday My Prince Will Come and on Seven Steps To Heaven