Side One: Mint Minus Minus
Side Two: Mint Minus Minus
- With two Double Plus (A++) or BETTER sides, this early Wideband UK stereo London pressing had the sound we were looking for
- This Demo Disc Quality recording has wonderful sound for both of these works, bettering our favorites from years past (which you can find on our blog if you care to search for it)
- Like so many of the top Deccas from this era, the sound is big, clear, rich, dynamic, transparent and energetic
- Here you will find some of the best orchestral Hot Stamper sound we offer
- The sound of the orchestra is dramatically richer and sweeter than you will hear on any other performance or pressing of the work -- we would expect nothing else from Decca's engineers working in Kingsway Hall
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Vintage covers for this album are hard to find in exceptionally clean shape. Most of the will have at least some amount of ringwear, seam wear and edge wear. We guarantee that the cover we supply with this Hot Stamper is at least VG
This early UK London pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records can barely BEGIN to reproduce. Folks, that sound is gone and it sure isn't showing signs of coming back. If you love hearing INTO a recording, actually being able to "see" the performers, and feeling as if you are sitting in the studio with the band, this is the record for you. It's what vintage all analog recordings are known for -- this sound.
If you exclusively play modern repressings of vintage recordings, I can say without fear of contradiction that you have never heard this kind of sound on vinyl. Old records have it -- not often, and certainly not always -- but maybe one out of a hundred new records do, and those are some pretty long odds.
What The Best Sides Of Peter and the Wolf Have To Offer Is Not Hard To Hear
- The biggest, most immediate staging in the largest acoustic space
- The most Tubey Magic, without which you have almost nothing. CDs give you clean and clear. Only the best vintage vinyl pressings offer the kind of Tubey Magic that was on the tapes in 1960
- Tight, note-like, rich, full-bodied bass, with the correct amount of weight down low
- Natural tonality in the midrange -- with all the instruments having the correct timbre
- Transparency and resolution, critical to hearing into the three-dimensional studio space
No doubt there's more but we hope that should do for now. Playing the record is the only way to hear all of the qualities we discuss above, and playing the best pressings against a pile of other copies under rigorously controlled conditions is the only way to find a pressing that sounds as good as this one does.
Michael Gray Discusses the Recording
Beatrice Lillie recording ‘Peter and the Wolf’ at Kingsway Hall, February 10th to 12th 1960, using the M50 ‘Head’ first introduced recording Mozart In Walthamstow Assembly Hall. This design, and several that followed, were intended to retain the characteristics of the omni-directional M50 while at the same time, avoiding what was then thought to be undesirable ‘bleed’ from the back side of the mics into the patterns of their neighbours.”
The Decca Sound
Differentiating the Decca sound from that of EMI by ear alone is not necessarily an easy thing to do, but Mike believes that the tracking method used by Decca caused them to mix in a particular way which can be heard on the record. The key to understanding the difference between Decca and EMI,” Mike explains, “is that Decca always wanted to mix to two tracks, although they had four-track backups as early the late ’50s, in case they needed to track in a singer who wasn’t on their best day, or rebalance. But the whole concept of Decca was mixing to two-track. EMI went to four-track in the mid ’60s so their records weren’t produced in stereo at the session like Decca’s.”
Mike is also keen to point out that something as fundamental as the choice of microphones had a defining affect on the general sound of Decca’s output. The Decca sound was really the sound of the microphones,” he insists. “The M50 was omnidirectional, designed for the German radio, with a boost at the top and that was a famous Decca trait from the age of 78s, although it was tamed a bit when the discs were cut. Later they mainly used KM56s and KM53s because they were small enough to put on stands in the back but eventually they started using bigger Neumann U67s, U88s and a whole variety of spot microphones. There would often be spots behind the horn section, percussion, on the woodwind, and that also became a Decca trademark.
What We're Listening For On Peter and the Wolf
- Energy for starters. What could be more important than the life of the music?
- The Big Sound comes next -- wall to wall, lots of depth, huge space, three-dimensionality, all that sort of thing.
- Then transient information -- fast, clear, sharp attacks, not the smear and thickness so common to these LPs.
- Tight punchy bass -- which ties in with good transient information, also the issue of frequency extension further down.
- Next: transparency -- the quality that allows you to hear deep into the soundfield, showing you the space and air around all the instruments.
- Extend the top and bottom and voila, you have The Real Thing -- an honest to goodness Hot Stamper.
Mint Minus Minus and maybe a bit better is about as quiet as any vintage pressing will play, and since only the right vintage pressings have any hope of sounding good on this album, that will most often be the playing condition of the copies we sell. (The copies that are even a bit noisier get listed on the site are seriously reduced prices or traded back in to the local record stores we shop at.)
Those of you looking for quiet vinyl will have to settle for the sound of other pressings and Heavy Vinyl reissues, purchased elsewhere of course as we have no interest in selling records that don't have the vintage analog magic of these wonderful recordings.
If you want to make the trade-off between bad sound and quiet surfaces with whatever Heavy Vinyl pressing might be available, well, that's certainly your prerogative, but we can't imagine losing what's good about this music -- the size, the energy, the presence, the clarity, the weight -- just to hear it with less background noise.
- Peter And The Wolf
- Carnival Of The Animals