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.