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ROLO46
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Joni Mitchel "Blue"

Can any one recommend a CD issue of "Blue" where Joni does not distort.
My 80"s transfer gets worse the better my player.
Please dont mention HDCD as Iam averse to marketing scams.
Roger.

Buddha
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Re: Joni Mitchel "Blue"

Blue is a great record, for sure.

I have also found it problematic in terms of sonic quality.

Some good news:

Blue will soon be released on 180gm vinyl, mastered by Steve Hoffman.

I will be queing up to buy it!

On the digital front, the HDCD re-master is only 12 U.S. Dollars...which is about two Euros these days, eh?

It seems like a cheap gamble to see if you like it, even if you do consider it a "marketing scam."

HDCD of Blue...warning, may be 12.00 marketing scam.

The Japanese import will set you back some money, but is better than the US domestic CD.

Japanese CD

I've heard this gold disc, but it didn't seem to be "all that" for me...

Gold CD

I think the gold CD version, at its price, makes the HDCD seem like alot less of a marketing scam.

Cheers.

ROLO46
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Re: Joni Mitchel "Blue"

Tell me more o wise one.
Are all HDCD's dual layer?
And is the CD layer as pristine as the HD.
Will it play on my I-Mac and can I I-tune it?
I have a gut feeling this was recorded via an early
solid state mixer with low headroom and the master
is compromised.
However Cedar software enables some reduction in harmonic distortion, so perhaps a clever remaster might work.
Roger.

Buddha
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Re: Joni Mitchel "Blue"


Quote:
Tell me more o wise one.
Are all HDCD's dual layer?
And is the CD layer as pristine as the HD.
Will it play on my I-Mac and can I I-tune it?
I have a gut feeling this was recorded via an early
solid state mixer with low headroom and the master
is compromised.
However Cedar software enables some reduction in harmonic distortion, so perhaps a clever remaster might work.
Roger.

No wise person here, I just like Joni.

In fact, I'm not sure about your next question. I always thought HDCD was a "single layer" that had different decoding algorhythms for being read by a regular vs. HDCD reader/player.

So, I don't know if any HDCD discs are dual layer, let alone all of them.

Were you maybe thinking SACD? They can come with two layers, where one layer is the regular CD and the other layer is SACD.

About that "pristine" thing. It seems to fit into the above answer about layers, except that I don't consider ANY of it "pristine." "Pristine" and "CD" are oxymoronic to me.

I know nada zip zilch about your iMac or iTunes.

Steve Hoffman did the HDCD re-master, so it shouldn't suck as badly as many other re-masters, but you never know. He seems pretty clever, however.

In truth, I've never heard that recording sound fully "right." I have my own hunch that the original recording overloaded the microphone in those places I don't like and no matter who and what happens with re-mastering, Blue will remain frustratingly flawed.

Hopefully, the upcoming LP will be a definitive re-master. Maybe followed by an SACD that will do it service in the digital domain.

Elk
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Re: Joni Mitchel "Blue"

HDCD is not a marketing scam. More importantly, for your purposes it does not matter whether a CD is HDCD encoded or not.

HDCD (not at all related to SACD) is an encoding process that allows the mastering engineer to get some extra dynamic range expansion and improved digital interpolation on playback. Few CD players can take advantage of an HDCD disk. All CD players can play one however without any degradation of quality. The discs also play without any problem on PC's Macs and can be ripped and encoded to iTunes, etc.

In summary, ignore the fact that the disc has HDCD encoding. This just makes it sound a little better for those that have the equipment to decode it.

Steve Hoffman is great. Thus my guess is that the transfer is as good as it can be.

Happy listening!

ROLO46
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Re: Joni Mitchel "Blue"

HDCD must be a North American thing.
Amazon UK lists only 13 titles.
I see Keith Johnson part developed(86-91) it and Microsoft is a partner.
It is compatible with Red Book players.
Linn Records seems to be the only compliant UK producer.
But does the cd encode distort or not on the HDCD of "BLUE"?

Elk
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Re: Joni Mitchel "Blue"

HDCD is a good idea that never caught on and is not supported by the majority of CD players.

The HDCD encoding is invisible to a CD player that does not recognize the encoding. No distortion is created or added by HDCD. Thus if "Blue" has distortion on it, the distortion results from a source different from HDCD.

HDCD does help eliminate certain kinds of digital distortion on playback (this is one of its benefits) but this improves upon reguar CD sound and does not degrade a CD's performance.

Again, do not give the fact that a CD is HDCD encoded another thought if you do not have an HDCD compliant player. If you have a player that recognizes it, it is worth getting HDCD recordings if one can do so.

ROLO46
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Re: Joni Mitchel "Blue"

I'm still not getting an answer.
Does Joni's voice distort on the HDCD of "Blue"?
Its not about enhanced resolution, just wether they used a better master copy with no distortion or managed to neutralise the gross distortions.

Jeff Wong
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Re: Joni Mitchel "Blue"

From an interview with Steve Hoffman a number of years ago with The Abso!ute Sound:

"I worked on Joni Mitchell's Blue, for example. The mastertape and the original LP sound nothing alike. You couldn't cut what's on the mastertape onto an LP, her voice is too dynamic. Your stylus at home would have jumped right out of the groove in the old days. To avoid that, the cutting engineer had to compress the dynamic range and change the tonality of the song to get the thing on the album. And No. 1 on Side One would have had a different sound from No.6 on Side One because the closer you get to the center of the record, the harder it is to cut. Even from one song to the next is a whole other thing.

With CDs you don't have these problems. With CDs, it really boils down to how I want it to sound. Whatever I have to do to achieve that sound, I'll do. Sometimes it's taking a mastertape that's solid state, and playing it back on a tube tape recorder. On the Joni Mitchell, that early Seventies solid-state sound is slightly brittle. Adding just one layer of vacuum tubes in there makes her sound much more lifelike. But in another instance, the mastertape might be too muddy, and I'd do the opposite."

A review of the DCC gold disc:

http://www.soundstage.com/music/reviews/rev125.htm

Here is what Steve Hoffman had to say about the new LP version coming out this year:

"Good morning (or evening depending on where you live).

Seems like everyone is excited about this new JONI "Blue" 180 gram vinyl release. That's good. We must support this major label and the push it's giving to quality mastered and pressed vinyl.

Regarding Joni Mitchell "Blue": It's a brand new mastering. So new that the paint hasn't dried yet. This is a really wonderful album; Joni just laid it all out there for the world to hear. Brave, especially back in the day. This album really grows on you. I'm still learning from it and I had a copy the week it was released (a "white label promo" that a friend's dad got from a radio station. He didn't want it; thought Joni "squeaked", heh). I feel that this new version is the true giant killer. Unlike the original 1970's pressings, this new version was mastered without ANY added compression whatsoever making it a true problem child in cutting (of our own making) but I wouldn't have it any other way. After many spoiled lacquer masters and one too many Altoids, it was finished to everybody's satisfaction. The effort was worth it IMO. The ebb and flow of the music is totally intact.

Parts were cut, plated and pressed at Record Tech (RTI) and the actual 1971 Reprise master tape (as recorded and mixed at A&M Recording Studios) was used in disk cutting, bypassing the usual "EQ'd And Compressed Cutting Master" completely. Unlike the DCC, most of the songs on this vinyl version were cut without ANY equalization at all so this will be the closest you will ever be able to get to the sound of the true master tape of "Blue". It was exciting to work on and I'm sure it will please y'all.

A comment from a member of the forums suggests the master is distorted to begin with:

"So a warts and all mastering will reveal a sort of scratching noise that is apparent about midway through the song 'This Flight Tonight', it sounds like vinyl surface noise for about two or three seconds. I've never had an original vinyl copy of this but had consulted someone who did when the original Reprise CD came out in the late 80's. I had noticed it on that and when comparing to the vinyl copy heard the same thing. This sound is for sure on the master tape. It was digitally removed for the Reprise HDCD remaster currently available. I'm sure that Mr. Hoffman has noticed this sound when mastering either DCC or the current project. Any comments or realizations from anyone on this? Anyone with the original Reprise CD or vinyl issue will have it on this song, haven't ever heard the DCC pressing but is should be on there as well, maybe.

I have the HDCD version of this album. Tell me what track you want checked and I'll report back.

Elk
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Re: Joni Mitchel "Blue"

Wow! Jeff, your post goes way beyond the call of duty! Great info and fun to read. I'm voting that you get another star!

As to the original poster, the CD is cheap. No one can answer for you whether you will be pleased with it or not. You seemed quite concerned with HDCD so I did my best to explain what it is to you. Why not take a deep breath, buy the CD, and see if it is good enough for you. If not, I am sure you can find someone who would like it. Please don't take this as a snide comment, I just don't think there is any other way to fully resolve your concern and buying a single CD is an insexpensive answer.

Then report back and tells us what you think!

ROLO46
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Re: Joni Mitchel "Blue"

Thanks for the voluminous and detailed replies.
I have the original Reprise 2038-2 cd copy printed in the US.
It has a brittle/ fuzzy feel to it and the piano clangs rather than plays.
Joni's voice is on the edge of a discordant distortion on Blue, This flight tonight and Last time I saw Richard.
Not major just unerving.
Sounds like an early 70's mixing desk.

Jeff Wong
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Re: Joni Mitchel "Blue"

I've just listened to the 3 tracks* you mentioned. On my system, the piano doesn't "clang". What you describe sounds like glare, and that may be due to the mastering on your CD, something I find common in mid to late 80s CDs (you mentioned having the WEA version on the Steve Hoffman forums -- the very first USA Reprise HDCD version was not labelled as such -- the easiest way to tell is the lettering on the tray card is very small and looks like the LP cover. Your version probably has fairly large lettering for the songs.) The vocals on "This Flight Tonight" do have a sense of being a little soft or unfocused, and Joni's vocals do overload the mike in a couple of spots, but, I believe this is inherent to the recording. I don't own the DCC CD -- I suspect it is fairly mellow sounding because of the tubes used in mastering.

Elk - Thanks... just trying to help.

*When I heard "Wurlitzer" on "The Last Time I Saw Richard", I immediately thought of DUP and his mondo speakers.

Elk
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Re: Joni Mitchel "Blue"


Quote:
*When I heard "Wurlitzer" on "The Last Time I Saw Richard", I immediately thought of DUP and his mondo speakers.

LOL!

ROLO46
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Re: Joni Mitchel "Blue"

My Reprise is definitely a CD ,it has large lettering.
The concensus is that the DCC CD is the best sounding.
But I think the master is to blame (its not mic overload but mic amp overload)The first generation of ss mixers in 69/70 were not as tolerant as the valve devices they replaced.
Thanks again for all the info, very interesting.
Will check the Bay for a bargain.
Roger

ROLO46
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Re: Joni Mitchel "Blue"Updated.

I have purchased Reprise HDCD's of Joni's "Blue" and "Ladies of the Canyon" mastered by Joe Gastwirt at Ocean Way (my favourite studio).'
They are louder but that's it.
Not cleaner.
Not more dynamic.
Roger.

Richbrennan
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Re: Joni Mitchell "Blue"

Just got the HDCD remaster, and yes Jodi's voice clearly distorts on some tracks, particularly noticeable on"Blue" and "The last time I saw Richard" - which is a bummer for me:)

In fact I was so surprised to hear it when I first listened to the CD tonight that I found this thread from a Google search to make sure I hadn't got a bum version!

Sounds Like amplifier overload distortion to me, so I think it's probably like that on the master, and more resolving versions will only make it more evident. Anybody with a good vinyl version notice this? 

Fantastic album musically, but a shame that the contemporary technology couldn't do full justice to such a lovely pure voice. Otherwise the production is quite good on this version, if a little loud. Don't have any other "native" recordings, so I can't compare to the DCC version or any others directly.

Allen Fant
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Roger-   what components

Roger-

 

what components are in your system, especially, the CD player?

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