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Set-up Discs, Part Three: Dialing in the Azimuth

Another in our series of Home Audio Exercises.

The Borodin title you see pictured has DEMO QUALITY SOUND OF THE HIGHEST ORDER!

One of the reasons this record is sounding so good today (1/12/05) is that I spent last weekend adjusting my Triplanar tonearm. The sound was bothering me somewhat, so I decided to start experimenting again with the azimuth adjustment. I changed the azimuth in the smallest increments I could manage, which on this arm are exceedingly small. At some point the bass started to go deeper, dynamics improved, and the overall tonal balance became fuller and richer.

Basically the cartridge was becoming perfectly vertical to the record. I don't think this can be done any other way than by ear. Although I don't know that for a fact, all the set-up devices I've ever used were much too crude to be of any real use, including gauges for precise tracking weight settings. That task is done entirely by ear because the quality of the sound is much more important than any numbers that might be recommended.


Truly one of the greatest London Classical Recordings of all time.

The performance by Ansermet is definitive, IMHO, and this recording ranks in the Top Ten Decca/ Londons I've ever heard.

The powerful lower strings and brass are gorgeous. Ansermet and the Suisse Romande get that sound better than any performers I know. You will see my raves on record after record of theirs produced in this era. No doubt the wonderful hall they record in is the key. One can assume Decca engineers use similar techniques for their recordings regardless of the artists involved. The only real variable should be the hall. Ansermet's recordings with the Suisse Romande have a richness in the lower registers that is unique in my experience. His Pictures At Exhibition has phenomenally powerful brass, the best I've ever heard. The same is true for his Night On Bald Mountain. Neither performance does much for me -- they're both too slow -- but the sound is out of this world. Like it is here.

Speakers Corner did a heavy vinyl reissue of this title, which is quite good, but like all reissues it lacks the weight found on this original. I remember it being a little flat and bright. I haven't played it in years so I could easily be wrong. The glorious sound I hear on this pressing is not the kind of thing one hears on 180 gram Speakers Corner records. They do a good job some of the time, but virtually none of their records can compete with the real thing when it's mastered and pressed properly, as is the case for this very pressing.

If you're looking for Demonstration Quality Sound, look no further. This record has it in spades.

The second symphony here is a work that audiophiles should love. It has many qualities shared with Rimsky-Korsakov's Scheherazade, which you will recognize. It also has some lovely passages that remind me of the Tale of The Tsar Saltan, another work by the same composer. If you like that exotic and colorfully orchestrated symphonic sound, you will love this album.