Anticipointed

Anticipointed /an’tise’poin(t)ed/

adjective

  1. When something is regarded as probable, expected or predicted, but is instead sadining or displeasing because someone or something has failed to fulfill one’s hopes or expectations.

I had been eyeing a 180 gram reissue of the album Legend by Bob Marley and the Wailers:

This posthumous 1984 release had been in my CD collection since my very first CD player. I even sprung for a later copy with video tracks included!

With a Christmas gift Amazon credit in my hot little hand there was little doubt which record I was going to order.

Now, I have ordered several new reissues from Amazon or from one of the local record shops. 180 gram audiophile etc etc. I have always been extremely pleased with the quality of these reissues.

This one, on the Island Records label in association with Tuff Gong, was a 2009 pressing and listed the country of origin Europe.

When the package arrived, everything seemed fine. The packaging was the typical Amazon double boxing, the cover was in fine shape and the disc came out flat and true.

But once the thing was on the turntable, that’s when I noticed there was an issue. It seemed like the volume knob had mysteriously turned itself down. I had to crank it up to near half of full just to get an acceptable volume level in the listening room.

Having done so, the pops and clicks became more noticeable, even moved to the forefront of the music in some cases. That’s right, pops and clicks! On a brand new record!

Further examination turned up a small sticker on the back cover that said made in the Czech Republic:

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Could this be the problem? Was this an old Soviet record pressing plant turning out shit copies for the re-emerging of vinyl market?

A quick Google search turned up two vinyl record pressing plants in the Czech Republic, one called GZ Digital Media and another called xVINYLx.

Although reviews of quality were mixed, most were positive on balance with a few negative reviews mostly due to aesthetics.

One thing’s for sure, the quantity was there! There were some reports of GZ manufacturing many of the new releases we are now consuming… as many as 6 million pieces per year!

So, with that theory shot down I had to look elsewhere. What could possibly be the issue? Why did my copy of Legend sound so thin? So compressed?

Then it hit me, I had recently purchased a bootleg copy of the soundtrack from the movie The Crow for my wife. This copy developed slight warp, so I took to a friend to have straightened in his fancy schmancy record heater thingy. While we were looking at the record he noticed that the run out dead wax on the record was amazingly thin, almost right up to the label. He mentioned that, in order to keep the dynamics of this vinyl where the manufacturers wanted it, they had to use all of the acreage available to them on the record surface. I also commented that they had to leave two of the tracks from the CD off of this bootleg because there was not enough room! Then, while cleaning up a batch of my K-Tel compilations, I was noticing how many tracks, up to 20 per record, we’re on each of these compilations. How did they manage that?

Well, if you’ve ever listened to one of those K-Tel compilations, you would know that the sound quality is quite bad. Very thin and compressed, even worse than my copy of Legend!

I then went and added up the time of each of the individual 14 tracks on Legend. Lo and behold, this album is almost an hour long!

Knowing that the typical album side of a 33 1/3 LP is between 20 and 25 minutes it all makes sense now!

So, the moral of the story is if you’re buying a reissue of an album from the CD era, it pays to do a little arithmetic!

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6 thoughts on “Anticipointed

  1. Interesting.
    Just to add to the discussion… A year or so ago, while browsing in a favourite record store, the chap behind the counter and I did a comparative listening test between a new re-issue of ‘Legend’ and an original. The new one sounded thin, compressed, wimpy.

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  2. I actually have a copy of the original and it sounds really pretty good considering the amount of music on there. Perhaps the sound issues here are the result of the pressing plant using a not too great audio source?

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    1. From what I could find, with many assumptions, the pressing plants in the Czech Republic are legit. I wonder if it could be a pressing master issue rather than a source issue. Isn’t that one reason why first pressings are more highly valued, pressing quality? For all I know the master used to press my LP has been in continuous use for years!

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      1. Quite possibly. I’ve heard a few issues with the master being a poor quality digital source (on account of labels digitising for storage and CD, I guess). But yeah, I guess it could be any number of things.

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