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With The Beatles [VINYL]
With The Beatles [VINYL]
Price: £28.43

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars First class LP sound but beware of the hyperbole, 30 Sep 2014
This review is from: With The Beatles [VINYL] (Vinyl)
I have decided to buy the new Beatles mono LPs separately just like I did when was a teenager in the sixties. This time of course I did not have the sense of anticipation even though I bought it on a whim from a record store. When I got the album home I inspected it as per usual. The album was wrapped in very strong cling film which I had difficulty getting off and once again I was tempted to use a knife. The outer sleeve is an exact replica of my 1963 copy without the fading. The inner sleeve was not exactly the same as it did not have the advertisement for Emitex; but perhaps this is nit picking.

The LP was not pressed perfectly and there is a slight bulge on the rim of the album but the run in part of the groove is not damaged. I am not going to return the album as I can cue the record to avoid the bulge. Therefore, I can give the record only four stars. Please, however, take note of this and if you are new to LPs and are not confident of cueing the record then take it back, if it is record damaged in this way, to exchange it for a perfect one. I am the only person who is likely to play the record. My wife seems reluctant to touch LPs anymore even though she had a nice Hi-Fi set up when I first met her and was always playing records.

The album was not warped or damaged in any other way and the spindle hole was correctly aligned.

This is the first time that I can compare the new mono pressing with an original of exactly the same recording. "With the Beatles" is one of my favourite Beatles albums and the music is five stars as far as I am concerned but reams and reams has been written about the music, so no more.

The first thing I noticed with my comparisons was that the new vinyl was very quiet and I could not hear any hiss between the tracks or on the run in or run off. I could, however, hear some crackle between two of the tracks. This goes to show that it is almost impossible to find an LP which does not have some surface noise. The crackle could have been static electricity generated from the atmosphere. I had cleaned the record prior to playing with a carbon fibre brush. The noise between the tracks did not detract from the music - but crackling like this would ruin the sound of a classical music recording in the soft parts.

My 1963 vinyl version has more surface noise, as you would expect, but this is barely noticeable at the volume that I use and it does not detract from the music either and there are no scratches or popping noises.

The 2014 version of the record seems to be mastered at a lower volume level than the 1963 version and I had to turn the volume down when I played the older record. Perhaps the older records were mastered louder to mask the imperfections of 1963 playback on "Dansette" record players and AM radio.

The new mono version has an improved frequency response over the original and there is less harmonic distortion. This is particularly apparent on "Till There Was You" as the acoustic guitars sound slightly richer, on the '63 version, as if they were using electronic pickups. The slight harmonic distortion could be the result of wear and tear on the record.

If you are new to LPs then you need to take a lot of the hyperbole and superlatives written about these latest versions with a pinch of salt. The records are mastered and produced almost perfectly and this is probably as good as a vinyl LP can get. The difference between the new version and the old version is marginal, however, apart from the difference in volume - to my ears anyway.

If the new version gets 95/100 for sound quality then my old version gets 93/100. Had the 1963 version been in completely mint condition then I would probably have had difficulty discerning any difference between the two when the volume was equalised.

1963 mono records had a wider groove than modern ones so you must playback modern records with a stereo stylus at 0.7 mil. Please heed the warnings; if you are new to LPs then do not play modern records on a mid 1960's record player as you will damage them.

I prefer the sound of my 1963 record: perhaps it is because it is slightly worn and brings back memories of my youth. The 1963 record was pressed and produced just as well as the new one - better in fact if you take the bulge into account.

The new record would have got five stars had it been pressed perfectly but the imperfection did not affect the sound quality which is first class for an LP.

If ever you come across some original Beatles mono LPs in perfect condition then you may not notice the difference. However, most perfect condition LPs will not be changing hands or they will cost you an arm and a leg. This is why I cannot recommend these albums more highly if you are a Beatles fan and a fan of playing their music in the analogue format.

If you play these LPs regularly then they will probably achieve the slight harmonic distortion that I described above and they will begin to sound just a little bit like they did in the old days but be careful not to scratch them as they will be ruined.

I have digitised all my LPs and I only play an LP on special occasions or to make comparisons.

Happy playing.

CLEAR GROOVE - Advanced Vinyl Record Cleaner
CLEAR GROOVE - Advanced Vinyl Record Cleaner
Offered by Net Utopia
Price: £9.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars This product is good and I would have given it an extra star ..., 16 Sep 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This product is good and I would have given it an extra star if the composition of the liquid was listed on the bottle especially as one of the ingredients is inflammable and possibly poisonous.

The producers do not want to reveal any secrets but I suspect that the liquid is made up of distilled water, some form of alcohol and a surfactant similar to washing up liquid and perhaps some liquid polish to make the records shiny. You can make this yourself but Clear Groove have probably got the proportions exactly right.

The product is for use on vinyl records only and you are warned not to use it on old shellac records because of the alcohol.

I used four or five squirts on each side of an LP after laying it on a flat surface covered with some paper. I worked in the fluid on both sides with the supplied micro-fibre cloth and let the record dry.

For a record that was not too dirty one treatment was ok but for my 1967 copy of Sgt Pepper which has been well used I treated the record twice.

Clear Groove did its business well and removed most of the snap crackle and pop. My Sgt Pepper record was also affected by scratches and worn grooves so removing the static made the noises from the damage sound more noticeable but that is hardly the fault of the product. Please be aware of this when treating really damaged records.

It is so easy to get dust and finger marks on an LP or 45 as I found out when I played my new 180 gm vinyl copy of Rubber Soul which has just arrived. On the second playing I noticed a finger mark in the run off part of the groove; I cannot remember for the life of me touching the record and this goes to show how careful you must be when handling LPs. This would not have happened at the factory. Clear Groove came in handy to remove this grease which attracts dust and dirt. It will,therefore, be very useful to keep my records clean all the time. For me this is better than being anal and using cotton gloves or such like.

This is a good product for occasional LP users but a true enthusiast will probably be better off with a cleaning machine. It does reduce the static noise so I give it four stars for performance.

As I said, you can probably make this fluid up yourself for mere pennies so it only gets three stars for value for money.

Rubber Soul [VINYL]
Rubber Soul [VINYL]
Price: £26.76

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I even had difficulty slipping the album into its outer cover just like I did years ago, 9 Sep 2014
This review is from: Rubber Soul [VINYL] (Vinyl)
The music is in my mind 5 star but others may have a different opinion.

The Amazon service delivery was first class. The album arrived exactly as promised and was very well packaged and protected. There was no damage whatsoever to the outer cardboard.

The album itself was also well packed. The cling film wrap was tough and very tight and I was tempted to use a knife to open it. I resisted and found a corner to open the album with my fingernails.

The album cover was also first class and almost exactly replicated the original that I bought in 1965. The interior cover was lined with PVC. I even had difficulty slipping the album into its outer cover just like I did years ago.

I gave the album a good looking over. It was not warped or scratched anywhere and it did not look as if it needed cleaning. The central spindle hole was perfectly aligned as far as I could see. The album did not feel much heavier or solid than the original 160 gm version.

I had to wait until my wife finished playing music before I was allowed to put the LP on my main Hi-Fi. I dusted the needle and carefully mounted the album then gave it the once over with a carbon brush and very carefully cued the stylus.

The album sounded exactly like I anticipated. I could not hear any groove noise; the vinyl was very quiet.

Everything perfect so far.

Compared to what I was listening to in 1965 the music really did not sound that much different but of course in those days we were using much more primitive equipment and the record groove was wider. This mono remaster has got a microgroove which is the same width as a Stereo record. In 1965 the replay sounded a little softer; perhaps it was because we were using ceramic cartridges, sapphire needles and valve amplifiers which created more harmonic distortion than today. We also have better speakers today.

Compared to 1965 the LP has a much better treble response so the tympani is much more apparent. There are lots of cymbal sounds on Rubber Soul along with triangles etc. On "I 'm Looking Through You" Ringo's slapping and clicking of a match box is much more apparent.

I don't have an undamaged copy of the Rubber Soul original but I do have an almost mint 1963 copy of With The Beatles and the sound of the latter sounds almost as good as a modern remaster.

Also the "S" sounds or sibilance are much more apparent than in 1965. The high notes on the guitars and sitar are also more piercing. As far as the bass is concerned the notes are clearer rather than thumping out but that could be because I am playing the record on much better equipment.

All in all from a technical point of view the record and its sound quality are first class even using a stereo stylus.

I am going to ignore all the griping that we are being ripped off and all the rubbish on forums that you can hear a mosquito passing John Lennon's microphone on the vinyl version but not on the CD or vice versa. No-one is forcing me to buy the record and it is really great to hear an LP without all the scratches and popping which were inevitable, in the good old days, because we passed the records around amongst our friends or bumped the record player when were jiving.

On a nostalgic note - I did not have to save for the LP so the anticipation and great feeling of opening a Fab Four album was no longer there. However, I still have the opportunity to buy the albums singly and when I feel like it; but I really appreciate the fact that nowadays I can afford to buy a whole set of Beatles LPs in one go. Back in 1965 nearly everyone thought twice about buying an LP - even adults, for money was that tight.

I quite often play Beatles music through a low powered single active speaker and this gives me more of a feel for the sound quality of the 1960s. To me 60s mono records sound better this way and this is no different with the new Rubber Soul album.

On a technical note: do not be tempted to play this record on old "Dansette" type equipment as you will ruin it in a short time. You must use a modern turntable equipped with a stereo cartridge and needle or a modern mono-cartridge and needle with a 0.7 mil tip radius that will not damage micro-groove records.

This is an LP lover's chance to get pristine records which play without all the clicks, pops and scratches that second hand vinyl from the 60s suffers from. To get a mint condition version of this album from 1965 will cost you and arm and a leg and this album will sound better. If you are a fan of The Beatles and love a vinyl sound then go for it and the others.

Price: £9.41

5.0 out of 5 stars In my opinion Spirit was one of the best rock groups and ranks up there with The Doors, 5 Aug 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Spirit (Audio CD)
In my opinion Spirit was one of the best rock groups and ranks up there with The Doors, Jefferson Airplane, The Beatles and the Pink Floyd. This is west coast music par excellence. The band is very under rated. I like the mixture of rock, jazz, folk and classical music. The psychedelic and progressive rock elements are always rhythmic and melodic and the band has a light touch just like the Moody Blues. I have played my Spirit LPs so much that they are beginning to distort the music and wear out. So I have converted to digital recordings. Spirit were very influential and their song writing and playing were second to none. Ed Cassidy played with Thelonious Monk and Randy California learnt some of his trade from Jimi Hendrix. John Locke brought a classical influence and Jay Ferguson combined all these influences with his brilliant songwriting.

As the previous reviewers have remarked the track Taurus had a heavy influence on Led Zeppelin's Stairway to heaven and it is worth buying this album to make the comparison.

The opening bars of "Fresh Garbage" crop up in the P!nk song "Feel Good Time" and this was one of the theme tunes to the 2003 film "Charlie's Angels". I don't suppose the producers of the song and the film saw the irony of using a riff from "Fresh Garbage".

To get yourself back to 1968 you must buy this album. My favourite Spirit album is "Clear" because of the jazz influence.

KEF Q100 Speakers (Pair)
KEF Q100 Speakers (Pair)

5.0 out of 5 stars Top notch bookshelf or stand speakers, 17 Jun 2014
PS 19 October 2014: I have finally got round to trying these speakers on my main hi-fi and they sound better. When used with the Sony microsystem the bass sounded a little bit boomy but just on very bass heavy recordings but this is not the fault of the speakers. The Sony will, after all, be replaced in the future by some new kit which matches the quality of the KEFS. Also the units do do what KEF claims, with a better amplifier; you do not have to sit exactly between the speakers to hear the sound stage, so I am changing my original opinion again. They will be great, therefore, if you use them with a surround system when watching a film with all the family.

I tested the speakers on stands and they fill my living room with sound just like my floorstanders.

I also compared the sound of these speakers with my transmission line floor standers which were bought in the mid '90s. You might feel that this is an unfair comparison but it was not to my ears. When I wired up the KEFs and listened to my test cd's I could have sworn that they sounded better than my vintage transmission lines but when I swapped back the vintage speakers sounded marginally better. Transmission line speakers handle the bass better so an orchestra sounds "richer" - to my ears anyway. The KEFS had a slightly better treble response to my ears but overall I preferred my transmission lines which I shall not replace until they break. When auditing any equipment even in the comfort of your own home and without a salesman prompting you, you have to beware of thinking that new or more expensive kit sounds better and you must ensure that you monitor all the equipment at the same volume: louder often sounds better. To find out more look up the Fletcher-Munson curve on Wikipedia.

This time I audited the KEFs with a selection of Welsh folk music and the mezzo-soprano voice of Heather Jones sounded perfect and her duet with Meic Stevens also sounded perfect. The Welsh music also included a harp soloist and this sounded almost perfect too; if there is another instrument apart from a piano that can really test a hi-fi then it is the welsh harp.

I also played The Pink Floyd "Piper" album and Fairport Convention's "What We Did On OUr Holidays" and the speakers passed all the tests.

The KEFS also reproduced the maestro violinist Yehudi Menuhin playing Bruch's Violin Concerto with the Philharmonia Orchestra very well and I could hardly notice any harmonic distortion and at times I felt I was in the EMI recording studio with the master.

These speakers are very good with all sorts of music in a medium sized room but you must partner them with an amplifier and source kit of similar quality. I have no reason to change my opinion; they are worth the money and I recommend that you audition them.

Original review:

I was given these speakers but I would have no hesitation to buy them. I have tried them for several months now with all sorts of music ranging from jazz, to rock, folk and classical. They have a frequency range of 49Hz to 40 KHz. The bass, mid and treble are really well balanced. The bass notes sound musical and you can easily hear the tonal changes rather than just thumping bass all at the same pitch. They are very well made and designed.

I cannot think why KEF chose to give the speakers a frequency response of above 20 khz.. Most microphones do not record sound above 20 KHz and most amplifiers do not reproduce sound above 20 KHz either. No adult can hear tones above 20 KHz. However, none of this detracts from the quality of the music reproduction which is second to none at the price of £399 or thereabouts.

I am using the speakers connected to a rather modest SONY CMT series receiver. This is the sort of kit that any self-respecting golden eared audiophile would sneer at. Initially, I had convinced myself that the KEF Q100s deserve better so I am contemplating buying a more up to date receiver - maybe a Marantz CR610. But, I was rather shocked, the other night, at the quality of the sound reproduction when I played a jazz record by "Les Pommes De Ma Douche" who play jazz in the style of the Hot Club of France. At the end of the record, "Y Va Tomber Des Cordes", there is a recording of a thunderstorm. My wife and a friend of ours genuinely thought that they were hearing an actual thunderstorm and I had a job convincing them otherwise. If that is not high fidelity then what is? Perhaps the SONY equipment will stay in place in the dining room a little longer as it is rather neat.

I decided to test the speakers with some other CDs.

1) A semi-professional recording of "Mozart's Requiem" by the Thanet Festival Choir with the Festival orchestra recorded on 31st March 2012 in Holy Trinity Church Broadstairs. You can hear and feel the ambience of the Church location and you can hear the choir and orchestra with clarity. You can hear the position of the musical instruments clearly. You can also pick out the solo performances from amongst the choir and the orchestra. At one point you could hear one of the soloists drawing breath. There is a little noise apparent from the recording equipment but otherwise this recording puts some pop albums to shame.

2) "Sibelius Finlandia and Karelia" suite by the London Symphony Orchestra recorded digitally in 1985 by EMI. Once again the orchestra sounded exactly as it should. The LSO was using a conventional seating arrangement therefore you could hear the percussion in the upper left, the violins on the left and stretching around to the middle and the double basses on the right. All the instruments sounded in perfect pitch and harmony. There was no noise from the amplifier, CD player or Speakers to intrude into the music.

3) Pink Floyd - "A Saucerful of Secrets". This sounded very good with all of the special effects readily apparent at the moderate listening levels that I use - 82 db maximum.

4) Mary Coughlan - "Under The Influence" ; on the track "Ice Cream Van" you could hear children playing and guess what? It sounded exactly like children playing in real life; where is the need for 24/96 HIRES? All you need is a Sony amplifier, a CD and two KEF speakers.

5) The Yardbirds Compilation CD - "Smokestack Lightning" recorded in the mid-sixties. The live recordings on this compilation sound great as does the playing of Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page on the studio recordings. The harmonica playing sounds exactly like a harmonica would sound if played live in your living room without amplification. This is genuine high fidelity.

In the sales blurb KEF claim that that the speakers produce the same "sound-stage" no matter where you are positioned in the room. Therefore, you do not need to be exactly between the speakers to hear the separation or position of instruments. I can see what they mean but this is a slight exaggeration in my opinion.

The sound quality of these speakers, in my modestly sized dining room, is almost as good as the main set-up that I have got in my living room; with 1990's TDL transmission line speakers, an Audiolab 8200 CD and DAC and an Audiolab 8200A amplifier. My main set-up is noticeably better because the equipment and the room acoustics are better. However, if the main set-up gets 95 points out of 100 then the KEFs and Sony get 92 points - if you get my drift.

After several months of use I have not noticed an improvement in sound quality so I remain sceptical about the need to "run in" speakers or any other hi-fi equipment for that matter.

I am using bog standard copper speaker wire - "Symphony 100" from Richer Sounds. I see no need to spend a fortune on speaker wire. How can a speaker wire sound different? The thunderstorm sounded exactly like a thunderstorm.

I have not tried out the new KEF's with the main set-up in my living room yet but will report back. I expect that they will sound very good, however.

In my opinion, the best way to get a noticeable improvement in sound quality is to to buy better speakers. A well mastered CD and even reasonably priced modern replay equipment give you all the sound quality that you will need.

If you pair these speakers up with a Marantz CR610 receiver then you are going to get very good quality hi-fi which will fill a modest room with lovely sounding music. What more could you ask for? These speakers will probably perform well with a home theatre system too but you will probably need a sub-woofer to get really strong bass.

I really recommend that you audition these speakers. It is my view that they are exceptional value for money. I got mine for nothing; maybe it is better to be born lucky rather than rich!

Behringer UCA202 U-Control Ultra low-latency 2 In/2 Out USB/Audio Interface
Behringer UCA202 U-Control Ultra low-latency 2 In/2 Out USB/Audio Interface
Price: £22.99

5.0 out of 5 stars The Behringer UCA202 U Control simply gives great performance for the money, 8 April 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
PS - 28 April 2014. In some of the reviews that I have read some of the correspondents have reported difficulty getting the Behringer UCA202 U Control to record in stereo and some are having difficulty adjusting the volume levels. Sometimes you have to adjust the sound settings in the control panel on a laptop or PC. You have to tell your computer to record in two channels instead of one for stereo. Go into the sounds window and select " Microphone 2 USB codec" with the device plugged in to a USB connexion. Select recording and advanced and set the device to 2 channel CD quality.

I use Audacity software. You need to check that Audacity is recording in two channels for stereo recording rather than one channel for mono. You go into "Preferences" which is in the "Edit" menu and then set the USB recording device to stereo in the recording box.

If you are having problems setting up the recording volumes then Audacity can be adjusted with the microphone slider which is on the tool bar. This works fine for me with a line level output from my amplifier - I do not use the phono pre-amp from my turntable kit when I record an LP or single. If this fails (or where you do not have a line output from your amp) you could try the headphone output which is usually located on the front of the amplifier. If you turn the amplifier volume control right down then it will attenuate the output level. Using a combination of the Audacity microphone slider and the headphone output you should be able to adjust the volume of the recording level to make sure the recording is loud enough but does not distort. In the view menu you can set Audacity to "show" clipping" . This will display a vertical red line on sections of the recording where the volume levels are too high and therefore the music will sound distorted - this is a very useful tool.

I have never used a MAC PC but I would think that it has similar methods of controlling whether you record in stereo or not by using a sound control feature. I would guess that other types of recording software similar to Audacity need to be set up to record and playback in stereo or mono according to your choice.

If the above does not work then you are faced with the possibility that some of your equipment is not working correctly from a physical point of view. You could check the connections have been fitted correctly or use alternative equipment to find out what has gone wrong.

When set up correctly this product works really well; I am sure you will not be disappointed.

Main text: I bought this brilliant device to "digitise" old LPs, which I buy in second hand shops, and archive old audio cassettes before they self destruct.

I read all the reviews and I agree with most of them and decided to buy it even though it is of flimsy construction. It is not going to be used very often and I am careful with equipment so it should last years.

It literally took me ten minutes to plug it into the line outputs of my amplifier and connect the device to a laptop, then cue up a Beatles 45 and digitise it with Audacity. Audacity is brilliant in my opinion and there is plenty of help text and Wikipedia information to get you going. I deleted the the Beatles 45 file as I just used it to test the recording levels.

Next up was a Shadows LP "Rock on with the Shadows in Mono". Yes, you can buy this on CD but sometimes I like to play an ageing LP for old time's sake. I was pleasantly surprised with the results. I did not use Audacity to remove any surface noise from the record or clicks or pops; Hank's twanging drowns them out anyway. I played the digital recording back through the same amplifier and neither my wife nor I could hear any difference from the original: it sounded the same warts and all. At the end of the "first side" I felt compelled to jump up and turn the laptop er, record over. What more can I say about the sound quality? This was great stuff - the Shadows back in their 1960's glory, and you cannot damage the needle when you jive.

One of the reviewers has complained about the the inability of the analogue converter to sample at 24 bit 96 KHz (24/96) as it is limited to 16 bit 48 KHz. This might affect you if you are mastering music and you want to keep the noise floor down when mixing lots of "takes". So, I take the point.

For me, digitising old recordings at 16/44.1 or at red book CD standard is good enough. I fail to see how using a 24/96 sampling rate could improve the sound quality as I am only doing one "take". If you are only going to use this converter to digitise your records you can save yourself money and some disk space by buying this device.

I have got plenty of external DACs, so I do not need to use this device for playback from a laptop or PC but I tested it just the same.

The Toslink optical output works really well and so do the line outputs.

The headphone amplifier is not so good but it is sufficient for my purposes. If you are on the road this device will probably perform better than your laptop's sound card or headphone output.

The Behringer does not perform as well as the rinky dink DAC that I have got in my main HI-FI and I could not expect it to. But, it performs well compared to my other portable DACs.

There is no Toslink input facility.

Pros :-

You can use a laptop for line output sources.

You no longer have to use the line inputs of a desktop PC. You can connect it to a USB port on the front rather than fiddle about with connecting line outputs to the input connexions on the back of the PC. This is especially useful if your kit is under a desk.

You can take your laptop to your HI-FI equipment rather than the other way round. There is no need to unplug your turntable or cassette player etc. and then plug it all back in again.

It is small, very portable and very versatile - an ADC and DAC in one box!

Cons: None really unless you are going to subject the device to hard and continuous use.

In conclusion: Five stars for sonic performance and overall convenience; it is simply brilliant . But, it gets only three stars for build quality.

The USB deck can now be given away.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 23, 2014 8:28 PM BST

The Shadows' Greatest Hits (Mono / Stereo) (2004 - Remaster)
The Shadows' Greatest Hits (Mono / Stereo) (2004 - Remaster)
Price: £6.69

4.0 out of 5 stars A real great blast from the past, 6 April 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This one brought back some memories for me. It's amazing how many hits they had. Not the greatest quality music or musicianship. The records are catchy and this is what all the kids were listening to before the arrival of rock and rhythm and blues of Beatles and Stones style. Some of the tracks with orchestration backing are naff and after a while the twanging and distortion of the Hank's Fender can be a bit wearing but the style was distinctive. It is best listened to in mono; only the rich had stereos in those days and we only had AM radio and Black and White TV when the Shadows first became popular. The Shadows were musical leaders when they started out. Foot Tapper was one of my favourite hits from them and released in 1963 it was their last number one. The Beatles were on the popularity scene then.

Entre Cada Palabra
Entre Cada Palabra
Price: £14.11

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great Lp from a wonderful singer, 6 April 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Entre Cada Palabra (Audio CD)
Miss Gomez has a wonderful voice - a latter day Astrud Gilberto or Jacqui McShee perhaps. These are wonderful Columbian folk/ballad songs. She is backed by perfect musicians who generate a a pacey Latin American rhythm.

The quality of the recording from Chesky records is exceptionally good , there are no loudness wars here. The recordings bring out the best of her voice and the music.

This recording is quoted by HiFi journalists as a reference point to show how good 24/96 "HiRes" music downloads are. The CD sounds just as good to my ears and will do so for virtually everyone else. Save you self some money and plump for the CD version or the 16/44.1 CD quality download: 5 stars for the music and 5 stars for the sound quality.

First Generation
First Generation
Price: £5.66

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars I can't think why I liked this music when it first came out - most of it is dreadful, 25 Mar 2014
This review is from: First Generation (Audio CD)
In 1969/70 Van Der Graaf Generator was all the rage amongst progressive rock enthusiasts and I went to see them live. Most of my friends at the time had their records - on LP of course.

I quite like the tracks Darkness, Killer and Theme One but this is as far as it goes. This compilation album has selected the best tracks from albums 2,3 and 4 on CD1 and the complete album "God Bluff " on CD2.

From an historical point of view this album gives you a taste of what was happening with the genre in the late 60s and early 70s.

Van Der Graaf Generator have been compared to King Crimson but their music is much darker and dirge like and it lacks the rhythm and pace of such iconic records as "In the Court of The Crimson King".

Technically, the albums have been re-mastered well and they have all the dynamic range of the original LPs. Musically, the albums have very little dynamism at all. I can't think when I shall pluck up the courage to play "God Bluff". How times have changed and how tastes change too? Just goes to show how great The Beatles, The Floyd, King Crimson, The Doors, Jefferson Airplane and Captain Beefheart really were from a progressive music point of view. Also, I include Caravan and Soft machine.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 8, 2014 11:05 PM BST

Breakfast In America
Breakfast In America
Offered by beaches_music_canada
Price: £10.04

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars In my Opinion, one of the best Pop Albums, 24 Mar 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Postscript on 06 April 2014: after reading some comments about the Getz /Gilberto albums, I have to agree that you might be better off buying the CD, especially if you do not have a Bluray player already as a separate item or as Bluray player and the software to play the recordings integrated to your laptop or PC. The investment in new equipment and software might not be worth it as the 320kbps MP3 download sounds just as good to my ears and you can replay this format or the CD for that matter on all types of player or a computer. £10.50 was not too much for me to pay for the Bluray version but many of the other titles are much more expensive and are available on CD much cheaper.

If you cannot remember the late seventies then this one of the most played albums. Nearly everyone had a copy of the LP or the audio-cassette. LP was still king and in 1979 we were still waiting for CD players. Supertramp was being played everywhere; at your friend's house, on AM radio, on FM radio, on the telly and at the disco and nightclub. The music is great; it is very much jazz influenced and is a little bit symphonic. The musicians and music are great too and so are the lyrics. Breakfast In America has all the liveliness redolent of the USA but the music is very definitely European in style. Supertramp were big on the continent as well as the UK and USA.

I have an original 1979 copy of the LP. The record has survived the years very well and plays almost without surface noise and clicks and pops. I felt no need to buy the CD.

So why did I decide to buy the snazzy Blu Ray version and what was I expecting?

First of all, Blu Ray disc audio is a relatively new format and I thought I would give it a try.

I was expecting the best of pop music to be delivered at the highest quality of sound reproduction. I was expecting only two channel stereo as this was the original format of the music . I do not believe it was released in quadrosonic or quadrophonic four channel audio.

I was also expecting a high quality download either in 320 kbps MP3 or in Flac lossless audio.

I was not disappointed in the music as I am obviously a fan. I was impressed by the quality of the sound reproduction and the music came out of my speakers sounding far better than I had heard this music before from any source. If you go back to 1979 all music lovers had separate HIFI systems and the quality of the equipment varied considerably. None of the turntable sound reproduction that I can remember matches this version.

Why is this? It is not because the delivery mechanism is "HIRES" 24 bit / 96 KHz ( 24/96) but it is because it has been mastered so well and the music retains the dynamic range of the original recordings. The audio has not been compressed and you are hearing the music as it was originally intended. 24/96 is great for digital recording and manipulation of the master recording in the studio but for general distribution 16 bit/44.1 KHz recordings or CD quality is plenty good enough.

I played the Blu Ray disc through my player which is connected to an amplifier via audio line outputs and the music sounded fantastic. But so did the 320 kbps MP3 download, which came with the package, when I played it back through the USB interface on the same player. Some of the MP3 tracks are from different masters and you can hear this difference. But the others sound the same. I also cut a CD from the MP3 and played this back through my Blu Ray player with similar results. The 320 kbps sounds as good as the "HIRES" but this is no real surprise - read on.

Then I connected the Blu Ray player to my HIFI Digital to Analogue Converter (DAC). The Blu Ray player optical digital output re-samples the music to 24 bit 48 Khz. You might expect a reduction in quality but quite the reverse. My HIFI DAC reproduces music better than the DAC in the Blu Ray player.

If you are expecting HIFI nirvana from 24/96 or 24/192 "HIRES" music than you will be disappointed. No-one has been proven to tell the difference between "HIRES" 24/96, 24/192 or SACD sound reproduction and 16/bit/44.1 CD quality when all other parameters are equal - including the same master recording and audio reproduction equipment at the same volume. I cannot do this nor can any of my friends.

Of course, some people may be able to do so and the journalist Justin Colletti would like to hear from you to try a scientific double blind test and find out if and why anyone is able to hear a difference. Type this into google search: Think You Have Golden Ears? Take the Scientist Challenge! The results could be used to make HIFI sound better for all of us.

Lastly, I played the LP record and it sounds almost as good as the Blu Ray and the download but I could hear a little bit of extra harmonic distortion but that is to be expected after all those years.

I am not knocking 24/96 music; the sound quality is excellent and if this is the only way that music fans can get hold of uncompressed music, which is very well mastered, then I am all in favour of it.

I hope Blu Ray disc audio is going to be successful and will take off, especially as you have the opportunity to download a 320 Kbps MP3 too. A third of households in the UK have a Blu ray player so you do not have to buy a specialised player and you can play the audio back through a high quality AV system or through a conventional HIFI.

At £10.50 Breakfast In America on Blu Ray audio represents excellent value for money and it arrived quickly from Canada. I recommend this highly.

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