Originals vs. Reissues, Another Point of View

Today we have a guest column by one of our loyal readers. I’ve been corresponding with Daryl Parks periodically for years and am pleased that we are finally able to provide him with a forum for his ideas. This one, we hope, should provoke some thoughts and discussion

By Daryl Parks

Discogs currently features an original Blue Note, first press, mono, deep groove copy of the Art Blakey A Night at Birdland Vol2  (VG+/VG+) for $500. Discogs also offers a (NM) 1985 Direct Metal Master, (DMM) French, “Cadre Rouge Audiophile” version, on scrawny vinyl, of the LP for $20 + postage. I own the original Blue Note (VG++) and the DMM re-issue (NM).  Prepare for heresy: I prefer the sound of the inexpensive, DMM, anorexic-vinyl re-issue. I’m not sure how to make sense of that.

Multiple variables are at work in this discussion, of course:

1) We collect objects;

2) We collect the sounds of our objects.

It is likely useful to distinguish those two things when we discuss collecting, at least as I try to come to sense with the six crates of records that I allow myself to keep, holy grails and reissues among them.

I love to sort the records as objects. It may be like those Zen sand gardens in which the repetition of rearranging and studying the objects brings joy; I don’t know. I also find pleasure in the idea of owning first press holy grails, showing them to my pals or envisioning my children selling them for prices above what I paid, as I’m lowered into the soil with Dizzy’s Swing Low, Sweet Cadillac playing in the background.

I find the DMM re-issue sound to be superior—more crisp, more separated, and more emotional for me as a listener. The Blue Note original is stellar, yet doesn’t quite match the DMM sound on that LP, to me.

Perhaps my educator-budget components are to blame: Rotel RA 812 amp, Dual 5000 turntable (w/Shure VST-V), and “large” original (rebuilt) Advent speakers, which are altogether uber-sweet, yet may hide the “real” playback sounds evoked by your tubed system that cost more than my house (he said, enviously). I’m also fearful that our 50-80 year-old ears are lying to us about all of our component purchases and playback!

I value your feedback on the major variables at work in this post:

1) If we tease out objects from the sound of objects is it possible that re-issues sound better than originals?

2) Can you listen to your DMM LP’s and give us feedback on whether that re-mastering approach may actually provide a better sound overall?

3) Might these scrawny reissues I praise diminish in quality so quickly that I will bemoan this post for the remainder of my days? Is this really a post of long-term vs. short-term audio quality?

I appreciate your replies as I try to make sense of my love of Blue Note records and DMM reissues.

 

51 comments

  • The same dynamic occurs in the Artworld. It would be easy to take famous historical photographs that have sold for six (or seven!) figures by Artists like Ansel Adams or Edward Weston or Robert Frank, input them into a computer, sharpen and refine every detail of the image, improve the contrast, make the blacks ‘blacker’, etc., and then print out a photograph that is the same as the original, only sharper, clearer – ‘better’ – in some collector’s opinions. The issue is that this layer of redefinition further removes us from the original conception and manifestation of the Artist. Perhaps the Artist would agree that the newer ‘improved’ version is better aesthetically – and they might not (even if you disagree). Collectors collect the original photographs, or the first press original Blue Notes, not because they necessarily look or sound ‘best’ – but because they are as close as one will ever get to the moment of the origin of Artistic creation – the original concept, the original manifestation of that concept. If I just wanted to look at images of Adams, Weston, or Frank photographs, I could just buy a book with excellent reproductions, and be happy. But – if I want to look at works of Art, I go to the museum and look at those actual photographic prints created at that time by those Artists. Best, Caroline

  • I ran across an article on NPR some time ago that summed it up for me:

    Nowadays, as the NYU art historian Alexander Nagel has argued, we as a culture tend to adhere to something like a “relic” conception of the work of art. We value the painting not just for what it is in itself but, rather, like a relic, for its presumed provenance. We, as a culture, participate in the cult of the originally produced work. For this reason, a mere copy, however informative as to the quality of its original, can never be a thing of commensurable value in its own right.

  • my reasons for collecting, i believe, bypass these issues completely.

    i am not an audiophile. i collect first pressing because i think it is fun to have the first commercial documents of recordings i love, not because i believe they sound better, and i don’t care if they do. i like to listen to records because as i do, i know that i have created a collection of first-to-market copies of musical treasures that others will be able to hear for years to come. my reasons are simple. first pressings feel close to the artists, and i like that feeling. it is no more complicated than that, and has nothing to do with sound quality.

    also, i’m glad that i like jazz, because people think it is fancy, and i definitely need a leg up as far as appearing to be fancy goes. haha.

    but this is an interesting read. i think many collectors THINK they collect for sound quality, but most do not. just a hypothesis.

  • As for Caroline’s comparison to photography I think we may be talking about apples and oranges. Photographs are often distorted and manipulated by an artist in a way that doesn’t necessarily make the photograph look more like real objects that were photographed. I tend to believe that music (unamplified music in particular) is best represented by a live performance. If we want to get closest to what the artists (those playing the music) wanted, a more modern audiophile reissue may be closer to that vision. However one could also argue that the recording engineer is an artist in their own right and therefore an earlier pressing with the original mastering would be preferred.

  • Some reissues sound way better than the originals, especially if the original was pressed on shoddy recycled vinyl/etc. I’d take an OJC or Japanese reissue over a hissy Status pressing any day.

  • 1st pressings on all the early stuff would be 10” records. Nobody is having that conversation. To me the the marvel is playing the 10” l.p. and realizing that this is exactly the same record that jazz listeners first heard the music. Yours forever click, pop and hiss !

  • Actually, 78-RPM on a lot of these and, whatever the background noise, still often my favorite medium.

  • GST: Apples to apples – you miss the point(s) entirely. 1.) “Photographs are often distorted and manipulated by an artist..” – as are recordings – with reverb, splicing, mic placement to get certain effects, etc. – all those ‘distortions and manipulations’ are done to supposedly enhance the listening experience in some way, as a visual Artist would do; 2.) If, by your accounts, the listening experience is “…best represented by a live performance…” than I would say the best viewing experience is the same, live, standing on the spot where the photographer was, looking at nature “live.” A recording of a live experience, whether aural or visual, is a reproduction. A rephotograph/rerecording of an already existing photograph/recording of a live experience is yet another generation removed; 3.) I am discussing that collectors of original Art and original pressings share the same characteristic – an impulse to own the earliest possible generation of the recording possible – the first one – as I stated above “…the moment of the origin of Artistic creation – the original concept, the original manifestation of that concept…” Fidelity may not play any part in that collecting decision, particularly when one can also easily buy the later (supposedly ‘better) re-recording as well, and listen to that if one wishes without further degrading the original. Best, Caroline.

  • Abrasive_Beautiful

    I think the collecting aspect of jazz LP listening is easily likened to collecting MCM furniture–the pieces are both beautiful and functional, as well as artifacts of design/culture/an era. You can go out and buy a Repro/facsimile remake of an Eames lounge chair that might be softer or more comfortable or sturdy than an original, but there will still be people who would only consider purchasing the original (and there are some would NEVER sit in it!)

    The appeal of originality is pretty strong for me too but I was into audio, stereo imaging, and knew how records were made long before I collected jazz LPs. I know that a Liberty with the same deadwax markings and RVG is mechanically almost identical the the first pressing regardless of what the label says. Beyond that, the DMMs I have owned are surprisingly nice sounding—the shelved Parlan LP “Happy Frame Of Mind” sounds superb on DMM! The nice thing about that one is there’s no 60’s original to keep anyone wanting. I highly recommend it.

    The other side of it for me is that there is so much out there to discover that rarely is there a title that I need to own so badly that I’ll seek out a liberty repress, Japanese, or DMM pressing—I would rather save my budget and time to pick up the originals (or contemporaneous imports!) that come along or interest me.

  • I am 69 years old. I played nearly all my life, since I was 12, saxophone. I never was careful with my ears. I played in jazz bands, in rock groups, in big bands. I was a carpenter and worked with heavy machinery. Each thursday still I play in a very small bar with a big band. Four trumpets are about 1,5 meter behind me, playing enthousiastically at ear level. When I am in a quiet place I always hear, let say, “the sea against the coast”. All that does not bother me really – luckily I can neglect it at the moments I want. But of course it influences my hearing. But also, it gives me the great advantage to be able to listen to music without listening especially to the quality of the sound.
    Besides, I never had the money to see myself as a collector of originals. I was, as long as I like the music, happy with any pressing of the ones I like. So the luxury of having more than only one pressing of a record, and having to compare them, never was my problem. To be honest, I had some Miles Davis CD’s from the early cd time, that I despised because they did put in my opinion to much echo on (yes ! I can hear that)
    So I go for the music not for the pressing. But I do like the looks, the smell, and the touch of records that are some 60 or 50 years old. They carry history, physically and phonically.

  • DevastationWagon

    Maybe it’s just a way for me to make peace with not being wealthy, but I think I agree with the writer. I’d like to own originals as artifacts and as conversation pieces, more than as superior auditory experiences. (Currently, the only jazz originals I own are either noisy as can be – like the Sonny Rollins Plays for Bird I got for ten bucks – or are in great shape but not go-to records for me – like my Ornette Golden Circle vol two. I have some great original non-jazz records, like James Carr’s You’ve Got My Mind Messed Up, but even then, what I love most is the scarcity, the tactile encounter with history, and the conversations they start). My OJCs and DDMs and 70s Impulse! and recent Columbia reissues all sound amazing to me. Maybe I’m missing out on a truly magical experience with original Blue Notes, but with my decent system, loud volume, and a bit of bourbon, I can’t imagine things much better than how I have ’em!

  • “Snowflakes & Sunshine” is a killer! Different strokes, I guess…

  • I would guess that many of us have a tendency to want to possess and traffic in arcane knowledge and original jazz vinyl pressings is one that we have collectively landed on which bonds us.

    On a related note, I am in the process of digitizing my collection for convenient access via my phone. I am demoing new software and was speaking to the inventor/founder yesterday with some questions. I was asking about the noise correction features (removal of clicks, pops, etc.) and he was befuddled as to why that was so important. I explained to him that I had a lot of old records that had seen better days and these features were critical. He said that he had tons of old records from the 50s and they all sound great. But if one ever got too noisy, he would just trash it and get a new one. I repeatedly tried to explain to him that it was economically unfeasible to buy NM copies of these originals but at some point we were not connecting. For him, it was about perfect sound quality and for me, owning originals.

  • Agree strongly, Clifford. This is a record I play more than any other BN I own. I am also obsessed with the cover, and have ideas for a graphic novel based on it.

  • Art Klempner, we disagree about plenty sometimes, but those are 100% my reasons for collecting as well. Well said.

  • Caroline. Good points. I suppose I was separating the music and musicians from the product (i.e. the album) that’s produced, which as you point out should be considered a piece of art as well.

  • Ok, I Personally like originals but not necessarily for the sound quality per se.
    I like the fact that this was the artists / engineers way of hearing and releasing said Lp at a particular time and that it was enjoyed and held (Hopefully) by others at that given time. I also like the fact that so many of us care for these artifacts and they are being kept for others in the future to hopefully enjoy.
    I have no issues with owning reissues, Japanese Blue Notes as one example. There are many others…..
    I know this is not Jazz but sitting here listening to BST SD16605 on DBX Super Disk and all I can say is Wow !
    I really like these half-speeds cut from Analog Masters.

  • There seem to be some sort of dubious agreement floating around here that reissues ‘often’ sound better. I couldn’t agree less. There may be newer audiophile reissues sounding ‘as good’ as a NM original or better, but mainly due to quieter vinyl, or re-mastering, which is ‘changing’ the original sound. Overall, NM originals sounds the best I my experience. The problem is finding and paying for NM originals, which is beyond most people, at least on a larger scale. People look elsewhere for ‘clean’ sound. This is not to put down reissues – most are indeed nice products in a world full of trash – but they NOWHERE NEARLY come close to the magic of well-kept originals, and often smell a bit of faked authenticity; deep grooves, copied labels and all. But then again, I drive a well-kept Citroen XM, hydraulic suspension,18 years old and in my mind somehow vastly superior to even expensive modern cars, so I may just be one of those guys… (who cannot appreciate new things).

  • I somewhat agree here with Jonas B. But I don’t know if the commenters here are totally in agreement necessarily that reissues sound better, more so a refusal to engage in that discusssion at all. ‘We collect since we enjoy the artifact value and that’s good enough for me’ seems to be the common thought. But I honestly do prefer the sound on originals, not just because of my preference for holding the originals and knowing that they’re a piece of history. They feel like they have more nuances to me and subtleties compared to some modern reissues which to my ears often sound flat and unappealing. But hey, to each their own; again I fall more on Jonas’ side here myself.

  • It’s a wide world with lots of room (or at least there used to be) for differences of opinion and preference.

    I had a guy over at the house last week as I was looking to sell a pair of speakers. He was a charter member of the local audiophile-speaker club. He owned 17 pairs of speakers himself. He could care less about my room full of 1st pressings. All he wanted to do was play his Lee Rittenour CD, Track 5 over and over again. Not better or worse, just what his passion was. And no, my speakers were not up to the task of replicating the illusive sound he had in his head.

  • I find this article and the comments most interesting (I am also quite surprised to find that the vast majority of commenters seem to be at least in somewhat agreement with Daryl). I have given a great amount of thought to this topic of sound quality of original pressings and reissues (in all mediums) and I feel that my conclusions, though subjective, are very clear:

    1. When done right, digital reissues are the closest we can get to hearing an *accurate* portrayal of the sound of the original master tape. Modern audiophile reissues are close behind, only bested by the insanely low signal-to-noise ratio of digital audio and the finicky nature of the vinyl pressing process.

    2. To compete with the “accuracy” of reissues, original pressings need to be free from surface marks and distortion from wear. But even if that can be achieved, the mastering choices of yesteryear (mainly equalization and compression) were often extreme in order for the records to match better with the inferior consumer-grade playback equipment of the day. Since modern reissues take advantage of all kinds of advances in mastering, playback, and manufacturing technology, reissues usually allow us to hear the original master tape more as it really is.

    3. But the above beckons the question of tape condition. This is where an original has the potential to trump a reissue, if the tape has accrued noticeable damage over time that clearly affects the recording.

    4. Despite all the advances in technology, it seems that the quality of manufacturing was still greater in the ’50s and ’60s when compared to today. I find that vast majority of records pressed after 1990 to regularly have manufacturing issues that contribute to noise (the exception to this for me would be records manufactured at Quality Record Pressing). So by and large, when we’re talking strictly about manufacturing, I find that originals actually usually have the advantage and wil be more consistent, strictly in this regard.

    5. As some commenters said here, “accuracy” is not always the preferred quality in a listening experience. For me, sometimes I want accuracy, sometimes I don’t. I don’t always want things to sound “perfect” and like the sound of originals in and of itself, that’s a major draw to originals for me.

    I also agree with some commenters that there’s a “magic” to originals that is simply not there with reissues.

  • In conclusion, the thing that always makes me scratch my head is when collectors preach that their preference for originals is entirely about sound quality and they will never give any reverence to that “magic” originals have that has nothing to do with sound quality, and these collectors seem to do this out of fear that they would then be pegged as being in some way “inauthentic” in their approach to the hobby. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with finding value in all the factors surrounding vintage records that are unrelated to sound quality–in fact, I think it’s perfectly ok to collect vintage records and even prefer listening to them while believing that reissues sound better!

    Finally, I want to say that I think Caroline’s comparison of vinyl to photography is valid and that she is making interesting and relevant points. There certainly are ways that vinyl (recorded music) and photography are not comparable, but I think she is doing a good job of focusing on what makes them both artistic mediums with the potential to be copied and distributed.

  • Lastly, Daryl, I commend you for being brave and standing up to what I think we all perceive as this stereotype in the hobby that we all think original pressings “sound better” than reissues. Based on your article and the comments here, if anything, it is a much more complex issue than the stereotype would suggest. I also loved your analogy with Zen sand gardens, it makes a lot of sense!

  • Kristian kristiansen

    For me it is all about authenthicity, both sound quality and cover. But this also demands authentic gear to reproduce the music. The joy of finding and restoring vintage gear is thus part of the adventure, often at no big costs. However I lived most of my life happily with reprints, before this interest took over. Thus at 69 I appreciate the quality of vintage records in the same way as I assume others may appreciate rare wines, vintage cars: the joy of the connesseur. However this does not prevent me from also enjoying my music through other media, From reel tape to streaming. Everything has its time and joy.

  • I appreciate everyone’s feedback on the post. Your responses far exceed my fondness of any Shirley Scott Impulse records, pale compared to Contrane’s best on Atlantic, but are joyously equivalent to Charlie Parker w/Ray Brown on Verve. I have learned so much from the Jazzcollector community the past six years as I embarked on this love affair (don’t tell Wendy) with vinyl, jazz, sounds, and the tribe of those who share the crazy love of these random intersections (and more). Your responses inspire me to seek out half-speed reissues, original art prints, 10″ ‘original’ issues, live music from 69 year-olds, DBX Super Disk recordings, Snowflakes and Sunshine, and Citroen (I had to Google) XM vehicles. A beer and a few hours would be good whenever any of you are in MN.

  • For the most part, the first 10-inch jazz Lps on independent labels were reissues of 78s, which were the original issues. Very few early 10-inch Lps were original issues. Independent labels that went from 78 to Lp include: Atlantic, Blue Note, Contemporary, Dial, Discovery, Fantasy, Mercury, Prestige, Savoy, etc. Some labels continued to release 78s while also issuing the same recordings on Lp. Examples include Contemporary, EmArcy, and Debut. This was during a “bridge” period in the early 1950s when many consumers did not yet have long-playing equipment. 78 recordings reissued on 10-inch Lp then tended to then be reissued on 12-inch Lp, which became the new industry standard. This includes all those early 12-nch Blue Notes collectors are so willing to pay big bucks for. Buying the original 78 issues would be much cheaper (that is, if you can find them).

    Many collectors do not know that some of the most vaunted performances are actually splice jobs. Teo Macero did that with certain Miles recordings. Same with certain of the Columbia Buck Clayton LPs. In short, the performance preserved on record is not the performance as originally recorded. It has been altered. This is akin to changing film images in the dark room. Every photo is a unique artifact, not a facsimile image. This is all the more true when the image printed in a dark room is altered. I know because I frequently developed my own black-and-white film and would “dodge” or “burn” the image which becomes something quite different from the one shot by the camera.

  • geoffrey wheeler

    One of the problems with 10-inch Lps is the often tight fit of the record in the jacket. Removing the disc casually from the jacket could result in splitting the top seam. To repair this, a person might apply tape–clear being better than masking. This might in no way affect the artwork on the front cover or the record inside the jacket. But many owners of 10-inch Lps did not handle their records with care (perhaps a product of how they mishandled 78s), resulting in scratches and bruised surfaces. When the 12-inch Lp became standard, many owners of 10-nch Lps simply tossed their records after they had been replaced with the new marvel–the 12-inch Lp. This is perhaps why 10-inch Lps are more scarce than they should be. My first 12-inch Lp purchase was the Benny Goodman Carnegie Hall Concert on Columbia Masterwork, followed immediately by 10-inch Lps on Prestige, Savoy, and other independent labels. This would be around 1951 or ’52. I purchased records with money I earned from odd jobs.

    I remember when I was in the ninth grade playing records for a class. One was Lionel Hampton’s Victor recording of “Confessin.” I then played two Capitols by Lennie Tristano. These were greeted by uncomprehending stares from some of my classmates. My bet is I would get the same looks if I played the same records for them today!

  • A couple of things come to mind in discussion that I wonder can anyone answer. Do the 10″ Blue Note original recordings of say Blakey at Birdland , Miles 5040 or Donaldson 5055 for example sound better than the 12″ original issues ?
    When stereo came into being a number of companies ran two tapes at the one time ,one mono and one stereo. In some cases the sound is quite different , do collectors in this case collect the original mono or the stereo or both ?.
    Finally ,going off topic slightly and mentioning CD’s. Which would you rather listen to today , Miles Blackhawk LP’s or the CD with the Mobley solos reinstated , Mingus Town Hall concert LP disaster or the remastered, restored Blue Note CD , Paul Gonsalves 26 chorus historic Newport 1956 performance (with audience sounds) on LP or the CD with the clear Voice of America recording of the same performance and finally ( my pet hate ) Go ahead John from Miles Big Fun LP with its childish left to right channel dial twiddling or the Jack Johnson box set CD reissue with dial twiddles removed.?

  • Being on a somewhat limited budget and having been on a VERY limited budget when I was in my late 20’s I found great joy in buying and amassing quite a bunch of OJC records. This is probably moot to most of the audiophiles but what I enjoyed most of all about the OJC series was the perfect replication of the jackets and look alike labels very similar to the originals. I had a poor stereo system, except for a heaven-sent Dual 1019, in those days so the sound issue was not too pressing. What was terrific was hitting the record store, grabbing about 30 of the things for $4.99 and taking them home for a “long weekend” of listening, ensconced in my “listening room” fondly holding the covers in my hand and imagining what it would be like to one day own a few originals. It was so nice to be able to get this series in vinyl and not be restricted to CD’s in plastic little miniature containers. Scoff if you must but Keepnews is one of my heroes for having reissued so many of these great records on vinyl and making them available to the less moneyed amongst us all. I have been able to afford a few goodies over the past few years but I have kept all my OJC’s and play them frequently leaving the treasures tucked away in a custom cabinet that I can sit across the room from and smile warmly at.
    My 2 cents for what its worth. The deal is really listening to this beautiful music not just having something so valuable that one becomes paranoid to let it out for a romp lest damage occur. LONG LIVE JAZZ!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Early OJC records (at least before OJC 250) have geat sound quality because they are not digital.
    OJC 1700 are all digital.

  • Life is made of “stories” not atoms. Original pressings are the initial Intent and first Incarnation, hence carry Value in historical and honorific terms. Whether or not 1st presings sound better is secondary to the reverance and respect awarded them …the confluence of artists, time, place and context. The Intangibles trenscend the Tangiable. The object has aged gracefully with distinction, earning time-honored status; has become more than it’s music and material; has become a symbol…an artifact, a cultural touchstone. Take good care of rare originals, handle gently, organize thoughfully – somewhat like a Zen garden.

  • Well said Robert.

  • So, it really isn’t about the music then…

  • Richard I’d say it more than just the music, but the music is part of it.

  • richard: not for everyone. for me it is, but it certainly isn’t JUST about the music, or my whole collection would be music matters reissues.

  • A very interesting and timely subject. My views on the matter have changed over the years. I remain firm in my belief that a clean later pressing generally sounds better than a horrible first pressing. However the first pressing retains an intrinsic value that while intangible, makes it unique in its own right. As others have pointed out, a first pressing is as close as one generally can get to the source performance of the musician in front of a microphone. Some Asian collectors believe recordings such as these also include the auras of the previous owners. Another dimension certainly to consider. The other issue is sound. Does a Lexington pressing sound different than a 47/63 DG no Inc/ no r pressing ? Probably not, but the market says the later is worth about 1/2 the value of the former. That said, there -is- a sonic difference between a Lexington and a NY or a Liberty pressing, so some value must be assigned to the differences. I am at the point where my collection represents significant value, and I now purchase with as much focus on upgrading as on adding new titles. It behooves me to look for the best and earliest pressings I can find, because the market says earlier pressings will hold value better, and that is a consideration when I sell an older purchase to pay for an upgrade purchase.

    Reissues are another matter entirely. First, understand that a LP pressed in the 1950’s could not reproduce all of the information contained on the master tape. Second, engineers back in the day deliberately applied compression and EQ to ensure that a given LP would be playable on average home equipment of the time. Unfortunately our standard of what a classic LP should sound like is shaped by the sound of the classic LP, which is impaired for reasons stated above. So does a reissue engineer seek to reproduce everything contained on the master tape, or reproduce a better approximation that is consistent with what we are familiar with ? THESE ARE TWO ENTIRELY DIFFERENT GOALS. For example, the first RCA Living Stereo releases from Classic Records sought to deliver exactly what was on the master tape. And they sounded different than what collectors were used to. And Classic was excoriated for the changes, such that subsequent releases were truer to the original LP pressings than the tape. Sure bass was deeper, and treble more extended, but dynamics and overall sound were EQd to be closer to the LP than the source. Part of this thought process was what drove Classic to eventually employ a dedicated mono cutting head and flat edged vinyl composition- to better approximate what was produced back in the day. Music Matters and Analogue Productions seek middle ground. Sound that is similar to the original LP, but with all elements enhanced (separation and depth for stereo, room ambiance and impact for mono).

    But again, what is better ? As close to the source as possible, or using the original LP as a template to create a better version ?

  • “Early OJC records (at least before OJC 250) have geat sound quality because they are not digital.
    OJC 1700 are all digital.”

    My understanding is any OJC with a copyright date of 1984 is analogue.

    Any OJC that contains fine print including “remastered by” is probably digital.

    Any OJC with a copyright date of 1986 or later is digital.

    Irony at work:

    Most OJC pressings from 1987 or before are now as old as the original LPs were when the OJC series was introduced ! And some dealers are starting to price older OJC pressings as “collectibles”.

  • Abrasive_Beautiful

    I don’t buy OJCs anymore, but when I did I kept an eye out for “GH” which stands for George Horn in the deadwax. That always meant analog and good sound. Also, it’s true that “remastered by..” means digital, I think most are Phil Delancie remasters.

  • GTF – if was just about the music, you could have anything you’d conceivably need on CD for £2 a pop.

    I, unfortunately, bought a great many of my CDs at premium prices in the 1990s!

  • That’s not a diss, just an observation BTW.

  • I ignore the DMM and OJC reissues mainly because I can get those records digitally on Tidal or other services. So, for me, I either like a record enough to buy an original (or pressing from original masters) or listen digitally.

  • RE: All the talk of digitally-sourced OJCs, I have turned over a lot of stones on this subject and TMK there is no hard evidence suggesting a specific date or year that OJC would have begun producing digitally-sourced vinyl. True, the best bet to avoid digital sourcing is looking for “GH” in the dead wax, as George Horn was one of the earliest mastering engineers to work for them in the early ’80s, but there’s no hard evidence that the Phil De Lancie stuff from the late ’80s, for example, is or is not digitally sourced. Also note that “remastered” is a generic term not specifically applied to digital mastering work. Anyone mastering a record for release after the very first mastering and release of an album is “remastering” the record regardless of the format and source material.

    Ian: I’ve heard a handful of original 10″ Blue Notes and Prestiges over the years, and when they’re in good shape they sound just as good as the original 12″ LPs in my opinion. This came as a surprise to me because I’ve heard a lot of people trashing them online.

  • yeah richard, that was my point! 🙂

  • I like “old records”…. But they certainly don’t have to be originals. Generally speaking I’ll buy whatever vinyl pressing I can afford and which can be found and I don’t think I have ever spent more than GBP30.00 on a record. In extremis, I might now — just about — adjust that upwards to GBP50.00 for something I really wanted.

    In a few instances I have replaced originals with later reissues and found an improvement in both sound and condition.

    Personally, it isn’t just about the music — it is to some degree also about the record as artefact. But I tend to regard records much as I do books. While an absolutely compulsive book buyer, I would never under any circumstances expect (or require) every book I read to be a first edition hardback. If I happen to find a first edition hardback of a title I like *by chance*, then of course I gladly add it to the collection. But for general purposes, I buy the nicest edition I can afford and find, and “nicest” means decent production qualities, good condition, well used but well looked after…

    Indeed, when set against some of the online collectors I read about here and elsewhere, it is doubtful that I even really qualify as a “record collector”. Just another compulsive record buyer…as I was when a teenager.

  • RE: OJC

    Phil DeLancie remasters appeared at the same time as the first generation of OJC CD issues. Sonic comparisons upheld my suspicions. My suspicions were confirmed when I was lucky enough to speak with a wholesale rep when visiting an audio store. He explained that the OJC catalog was digitally remastered beginning in 1985 to create a uniform master that could be used for either C D or vinyl pressings.

  • For me it is mainly about the music. If I can find a reasonably priced reissue from a analog source I will grab it. If the same $100.00 can buy 1 original with questionable sound or 3 brand new reissues sourced from the master tapes why not? Three times the music.

  • First pressings of classic jazz titles are collectibles, first and foremost. The fact that you can play them is now of secondary importance, given the current plethora of high grade reissues. Unfortunately, records are at the bottom of the totem pole in terms of the collectible hierarchy. How often do you see old records being shown on ‘The Antiques Road Show’? Unfortunately, never.

  • No one in this thread has mentioned the all analog, 2 disc 45 rpm Blue Note reissues of the last decade (priced about $50 ea) that quite clearly stomp the sound of the original lps by a wide margin.

    I have just the Horace Parlan ‘Speakin’ My Piece’ 2x45rpm, and the piano and drum sound is so realistic it’s scary.

  • Great Comments!…..My own personal experience with originals & reissues is always a surprise and that is the beauty and fun of vinyl. I have original Blue Note’s, Japan King’s, Music Matters, Universal Japan 200G Mono’s and can honestly say that yes originals are fantastic if you find them in NM condition but the Non-originals have also given me as much satisfaction. I will hve to admit that I have all of Miles Davis’s Columbia recordings in original pressing format in NM condition and love them to bits AND listen to them obsessively 😀

  • Some people have a stamp collector mentality when it comes to original pressings. All that matters to me is the sound quality. And the only way to know for sure is line up a bunch of different pressings and do a shoot off.

    Sometimes the latter blue label blue note pressings sound the best and when they do I sell the original and keep whatever pressing sounds the best. Sometimes the originals sound good but pressing equipment in the 50’s was not so great. I realize my views are out of the mainstream but I’ve been doing this for a long time……..

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