by Robert C. Bryant, Mike O'Brien, and Kevin O'Brien on 04/07/2012


We decided to have a group YFS listening session right before Easter. We're not sure why it took us this long to do this but hey, we got our act together finally. The multiple issues and formats we have on hand of Cannonball Adderley's Somethin' Else were just eating at us. Why not compare them all? Good idea. So we did!

We'd like to note that both copies of our vinyl reissues were cleaned on our VPI HW 17 record cleaner and then treated with Gruv Glide before we played them back on our vinyl rig. Even brand new records should be cleaned BEFORE playback to get everything out of the grooves including mold and other contaminants that may not be visible.

We started with the Stereo 33 RPM Blue Note 1595 reissue of Somethin' Else on vinyl. This is the classic recording mastered by Rudy Van Gelder. Not too bad. It definitely gave us that signature vinyl sound but we were a little disappointed with what we were hearing. Surface noise wasn't too bad but nothing sounded alive or vibrant. Things were a little on the 'dead' side. The piano especially sounded bland. Don't get us wrong, it still sounded good. We guess it's all relative. We're just being picky here because we can. Why not?

We then moved on to the Stereo 45 RPM Vinyl Blue Note 1595 Reissue from Analogue Productions. VERY COOL. This is the must-have vinyl reissue of Somethin' Else!  WOW!  We were really impressed with the job Steve Hoffman and Kevin Gray did with the remastering. This is the way this recording should be heard if you're a vinyl enthusiast. The music seemed to come alive compared to the 33 RPM version. No more 'dead' feeling. There was a type of presence that we couldn't get over. It just sounded right. We didn't notice much surface noise at all and the recording really brought out all the information and squeezed every last drop of musical performance out of the wax. Unfortunately this reissue will set you back $50 but we think it's well worth it for what you get. Vinyl fans should give it a shot. You really can't lose here.

Now let's move on to the stereo Red Book CD (16/44.1) version of the Blue Note 1595 title. This format gave us some interesting results. It definitely sounded better than the older 33 RPM vinyl reissue but could not compare with the 45 RPM vinyl. The mix portrayed the musicians slightly closer to the center of the room than either of the vinyl versions. Nothing major to note other than the slightly changed positions of the musicians. The recording definitely didn't sound 'dead' or veiled but it just lacked the sparkle and definition the Analog Productions 45 RPM vinyl gave us. The compact disc is obviously the cheapest price-wise of the reissues we tested so there's something to be said there. We don't really factor cost into the comparison but we're sure price factors in for plenty of folks.

The final format we tested was the 24/192 FLAC rip of the Classic Records HDAD. We used DVD-Audio Extractor to rip the files in 24/192 FLAC format onto our hard drive before we listened. The picture below shows the normal 24/96 DAD version but you get the point. We used the YFS HD Ref-2 music server as our source. We describe our latest iteration of our original YFS HD Ref-1 music server, the Ref-2, in a separate detailed article coming soon!!! We've been pretty busy testing the Ref-2 and we still have quite a bit of work left but we think we've got a real winner on our hands!  We implemented our playback suite of choice, Album Player and we used the ASIO option which gave us bit-perfect playback from our USB output.

We can definitely say the HDAD rip was our favorite format of this classic album. We experienced the same sound stage depth and placement as well as all the great attributes of the 45 RPM vinyl but with a more listenable sound. We would describe the FLAC files as having less fatigue. The sparkle was still there but presented in a more enjoyable way. The bass was more defined and tighter and the midrange was a little silkier/ smoother. The slight surface noise was obviously gone as well. A good way to describe what we heard was with a simple statement: we would play the 45 RPM vinyl if we planned on listening to only a track or two of the album but we would definitely play the 24/192 FLACs for an extended listening session. That's the main difference here.

We wanted to list the different reissues in our preferred order so here it is:

1) Stereo 24/192 FLAC from HDAD rip

2) Stereo 45 RPM Vinyl Reissue from Analogue Productions

3) Stereo Red Book CD

4) Stereo 33 RPM Vinyl Reissue

Take our comparison for what it's worth. It's just our opinion but we were all in unanimous agreement of the above statements. If you're a true vinyl fanatic, there's a terrific 45 RPM release that will blow you away! If you're a digital/ computer audio fanatic, there's a great 24/192 HDAD reissue for you as well. It looks like this album has gotten the royal treatment. Now we're patiently waiting for the rest of our favorite recordings to come out in 24/192 or 45 RPM vinyl. Are the labels listening in on this article or what? We hope so!

Thanks for reading and keep on listening!

 - YFS Design Team

 

Associated Equipment For This Review:

  • VPI Scoutmaster with VPI Zephyr cartridge
  • PS Audio P300 MWII+ as VPI Turntable Speed Controller
  • Eastern Electric Minimax Phono Stage (Tom Tutay Modified)
  • McCormack SST-1 Digital Drive CD Transport
  • YFS HD Reference-2 Computer Music Server Prototype
  • Eastern Electric Minimax DAC PLUS
  • Quicksilver 12AX7 Tube Preamp
  • McIntosh MC275 Tube Power Amp
  • Von Schweikert VR5 HSE Speakers
  • YFS Custom Litz Speaker Cables
  • YFS USB V3 Custom USB 2.0 Cable Prototype
  • YFS Custom Room Treatment
  • YFS Custom Interconnects
  • YFS Custom Power Cables
  • Herbies Audio Lab Dampening Products

 

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