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jazzfan
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Music listener verus record collector

In the recent thread "What is your favorite Jazz Release(s)?" the subject of the various releases, issues, remasterings and pressings of a given recording was touched upon. Instead of continuing to intrude on that fine thread I figured I start a fresh thread to share my thoughts on this subject.

Through the many years of my music listening and record/cd collecting I have managed to find myself in possession of several different copies of various recordings. I've amassed these duplications due to a number of different factors: 1) my original copy was so bad I just had to replace it 2) I listened to the hype of either the record company (newly remastered) or some reviewer (the best sounding version) 3) new improved format (CD, SACD, DVD-Audio, Half Speed Master, Japanese Pressing, Test Pressing, etc.)

My observations on all of these super duper wonder records are split into two catagories. First there are the run of the mill recordings that just sound really good and are worth having as demo records or for the occassional listen. For these one buys the best quality pressing/issue available at the time and for a fair price and then one stops obsessing over that recording. You now own it, it sounds great and you go on with your life.

Then there's the second kind of recording. These are the classics. Recordings like "Kind of Blue" and "Way Out West" and "A Love Supreme" But here's the rub. They may or may not have been recorded all that great to begin with. Yes, some were, like "Way Out West" but others weren't, like "A Love Supreme". However, all of them are worth owning in the best fidelity possible. Now I find that useless I have a truly unlistenable copy of any these recordings I don't want to be sitting there listening to how much air is around the microphone on a given pressing, I want to be carried away by the music. So once again I find that just as with the run of the mill recordings, I buy the best sounding recording and then get on with my listening and life.

Please understand that this is in no way meant as a criticism of those who relish the fine art of record collecting. I've spent many an hour hunting down that hard to find record myself. And this is the Stereophile forum after all so a bit vinylmania is more than welcome.

stereophillips
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Re: Music listener verus record collector

Okay, I'll bite. Jazzfan. Knowing your style of conversation, I'm assuming that you're not posting so much to criticize the record collectors as to understand them, so am I correct that you're asking for someone to fill you in on the charms of seeking that perfect pressing/stamper alignment?

Someone like Jeff, for instance, who has been known to by a new copy of a favorite CD simply because they had added a new sticker to the shrink wrap (which then must be trimmed and stored inside the CD booklet)?

I kid Jeff, because, as a book collector, he introduced me to the concept of owning "reading" copies of books (I thought they were all reading copies). But sure enough, once you have a signed first edition -- even a not terribly rare signed first ed -- you start to think twice about eating that chocolate bar while reading in bed. Does this mean I want reading copies as well as collecting copies of every book (or playing copies as well as the perfect copy of every recording)?

Heck no, life is too short -- as is shelf space. But sometimes getting that extra bit of resolution out of the perfect pressing (or that new remastering) can make all teh difference between good enough and I love this music.

For me, anyway.

Jeff Wong
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Re: Music listener verus record collector

I'm nuts and I know it. But, it comes from a passion and appreciation for these things like books, music, records, or what have you. As an audiophile, getting that little bit of extra detail I couldn't make out before adds to my enjoyment of a recording... being able to hear that string overtone I couldn't make out before, or retrieve that decaying echo off the rear wall of the recording space - this adds to the magic. I don't rebuy all my albums, but ones that I get great pleasure from, I enjoy pursuing that nth degree. This is why I employ power conditioning and Shakti Stones and keep my cables off the floor and try to cross cords at 90 degrees when possible. It's in the details.

The collector/archivist in me gets a thrill from having a book or record in its original packaging. It gives me a sense of context for the item, what it was like when it was released. I collect rare books because I enjoy them, and I'm willing to carefully read them. But, there are times when this isn't wise and it's smarter to make use of a reading copy. Sometimes a book's scarcity (and admittedly monetary value) comes into play... to overhandle the book is risking devaluing it, not that I collect for the money aspect, but there's no point in throwing away money either. Unfortunately, when a book achieves a certain value, it is no longer a book in the sense it has become an object and is probably not going to be used as intended. I know I would be reluctant to read a $120,000 copy of The Great Gatsby in a dust jacket or a $100,000 copy of The Maltese Falcon in a dust jacket - at that level, those are not books anymore. I don't have either, but you get the idea.

Sometimes a 1st edition is the only way to read a book in a certain form. The text for Ken Kesey's One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest was changed after the 1st printing because of a lawsuit involving the nurse character. James Joyce made changes to Ulysses through its first 8 printings - the text in each is slightly different. The same goes for records. Songs or graphics might be changed. Before the Ramones catalogue was remastered on CD, my 1st pressing of Leave Home was the only way to have the song, 'Carbona Not Glue.' The German pressing of Elvis Costello's 1st single has an organ intro to 'Less Than Zero' that I don't believe has made it to CD. The US single of 'Alison' has strings and vocals that has no legitimate digital counterpart.

There's also the consideration that a pristine 1st pressing of an LP might preserve the high frequencies of the master tape better than a CD reissue can document 50 years later... the highs on tape are the first to go.

jazzfan
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Re: Music listener verus record collector

Mr. Wong,

What a wonderful response. I really enjoyed reading what you had to say and wish you only the best in all your future pursuits of those ultra rare books and records. Me, I'll just make do with readable books and listenable records and CDs.

Anyway thank you again for raising the quality of the posts on this forum to a level one rarely encounters in the world of cyberspace. Pulsating head and all

Monty
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Re: Music listener verus record collector

Jeff, you could be my Asian twin brother. I collect books as well, mostly 18th and early 19th Century books printed in or intended for the American Colonists. I still read old copies of the British periodical, The Spectator.

Jeff Wong
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Re: Music listener verus record collector

Fratello!

That's very cool. How did you get into that? That's a very specific scope! The majority of my fiction collection is from the 20th century and there are 2 authors whose work I collect reeeally in-depth. Have you had to deacidify any/much of your collection? I have some manuscripts that are yellowing due to acidic content in the paper, but, I'm afraid the methoxy magnesium methyl carbonate solution used to treat the paper might affect the inks (or paper) in an undesirable way. I've chosen to do nothing at this point; at the worst, I figure they'll last my lifetime untreated (oh, what would Kurt Vonnegut think... the dreaded semicolon!)

jazzfan - Thanks for the kind words.

Anyway, back on topic:

My friend, Manny Maris always used to tell me, "Record collecting is for deaf people." He felt many collectors merely developed an acquisitive nature and forgot about the primary purpose of LPs, to play music. I try to keep this in check. I'm glad to know Monty reads his copies of The Spectator.

jazzfan
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Re: Music listener verus record collector

Jeff,

I just made you a five star head throbber!

Keep up the good work.

By the way, I know that you're far from deaf.

Jeff Wong
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Re: Music listener verus record collector

WOO HOO! Thanks! I was feeling nekkid without any stars! In celebration of my hearing, I'll be spinning 2 of your 2005 faves tonight.

Jim Tavegia
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Re: Music listener verus record collector

Way to go Jeff. Your posts are excellent. Do these stars mean the same thing they did on the cover of PlayBoy? Probably not!!

Jeff Wong
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Re: Music listener verus record collector


Quote:
Way to go Jeff. Your posts are excellent.

Thanks, Jim. I always enjoy yours.


Quote:
Do these stars mean the same thing they did on the cover of PlayBoy? Probably not!!

Well, if it does, several of us are living in the same region.

Monty
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Re: Music listener verus record collector

I don't do anything to deacidify the books. After 200 years, the damage has already been done. However, I am somewhat amazed at how well many of them have withstood the passing of time.

I got started collecting books from my passion for Early American History. Such a unique convergence of extraordinary men living at an extraordinary period in human history. A time when reason was unleashed and allowed to flourish. I just eat it up!

jazzfan
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Re: Music listener verus record collector

Ah, but the real mystery is whether Hef preferred single blind testing, double blind testing or was he in favor of subjective testing? Or perhaps that's blond and not blind testing.

Jim Tavegia
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Re: Music listener verus record collector

Now you've got it!!!!!

nunhgrader
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Re: Music listener verus record collector


Quote:
Ah, but the real mystery is whether Hef preferred single blind testing, double blind testing or was he in favor of subjective testing? Or perhaps that's blond and not blind testing.

Indeed!

Buddha
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Re: Music listener verus record collector

As Dirty Harry would say, "A man's gotta know his limitations..."

I admit to having the "collector" gene, but it only runs so deep (partial penetrance?) and then I hit my limit and wonder off.

I collected U.S. postage stamps until I ran headlong into 13 variations of the same stamp based on how many perforations per inch the stamp edges had.

Same with other things I've collected...there comes a certain level of "minutiae obsession" that activates my A.D.D. gene, which in turn limits the level of compulsion I am capable of exhibiting in my collecting endeavors.

For LP's, I can only go about two or three deep before I start wondering about how they make shag carpeting or how clever a builder must have been to come up with soffits or flying buttresses.

I think if someone told me exactly what to look for on an LP issue and turned me loose in a store with 100 copies, they'd find me 60 minutes later chatting with someone about their eyeglass frames with 98 LP's still to be evaluated.

I love good tunes and good sound, but when there are 15 different versions of the same disc, critical comparison becomes a task that takes longer to perform than my attention span will allow.

That's where y'all come in. I steal from you!

Same goes for the hi fi magazines I read. I'm just reading to steal the good ideas.

Also, I have a buddy who is diligent in his pursuit of "which pressing sounds best," so, I steal from him, too. I do have lots of attention capacity for finding new sounds, so he gets the benefit of me constantly auditioning new acts. I think we have a symbiotic hi fi relationship.

I know I'm probably missing out on some things by doing things this way, but I think if I pitted what underlying obsessive compulsive tendencies I do have against my attention deficit difficulties, my brain would 'splode if I tried to do what you guys can do!

So, you are my unknowing minions, seeking out the finer points and then feeding my audio soul.

Thank you for making me a "more efficient" audiophile!

___________________________
___________________________

Jeff mentioned shelf limitations with regard to book collecting. I used to live a somewhat nomadic lifestyle, so I've always used the "read and release" approach to books. Now I've settled in, but the habit remains. After I die, my executors will probably check out my book shelves and say, "He wasn't much of a reader, was he?"

jazzfan
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Re: Music listener verus record collector

Buddha,

Once again one of your posts just gets it so right. "...there comes a certain level of "minutiae obsession" that activates my A.D.D. gene, which in turn limits the level of compulsion I am capable of exhibiting in my collecting endeavors." That about sums it up for me and record/cd collecting. Very well put, if I must say so myself.

I also like the idea that you're the one finding out about new music while others are the ones finding the best sounding versions of the music. Kinda works out real nice.

Jeff Wong
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Re: Music listener verus record collector

Since it's been so quiet here the last few days, I thought I'd amuse you with some of my collector nuttiness. See the attachment ^ for a pic of various pressings of Elvis Costello's 1st album from my record collection.

In the top row, you'll see a UK Stiff test pressing (well there are actually two there)... an original pressing from the first 1000 copies with fully laminated sleeve (again, there's actually another there) with the original flyer that could be filled out in 25 words or less why you liked Elvis so that a friend could receive a free copy of the album from Stiff to help hype Elvis... an unlaminated version of the yellow backed cover & all eleven of the different coloured backs of the original Island pressing of the UK LP with the B&W photo on the front before the graphic was posterised (it took me 25 years to get all of the colours - I got the cheese yellow and pale aqua blue only just last year. I knew it would be tough to track down all of them, but, not 25 years hard.)

Below, you'll see American pressings, some German ones with different coloured lettering, a couple New Zealand pressings, at least three different Australian ones, some French & Belgian, Israeli, Greek, Portuguese, and a Japanese promo on see-through brown virgin vinyl (which sounds exquisite!)

Oddly enough, among these, there is at least one different mix of "Mystery Dance" and not so strange, some track variation.

So, you can shake your head in disbelief, or have a chuckle, as long as it entertained you on some level for a few seconds here.

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