Oy, another 'Blue!' Nice to see them taking so much care - hopefully
extended to the rest of the Davis product. If only all the worthy music from
the late 50s could get so much attention.
I don't find stereo distracting, though it really isn't necessary for small
group sessions. More important to have good sound, which was the issue. The
naysayers of stereo at that time (like Fred Plaut, right?) would get a good
chuckle from hearing us say that in 2013. But, I really love what they did
10 years ago or so in creating a stereo (true stereo, not 'rechanneled')
Miles Ahead. The complex scoring is easier to hear with it spread out.
From: Association for Recorded Sound Discussion List
[mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Tom Fine
Sent: Wednesday, November 20, 2013 9:58 AM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] The new "Kind of Blue" remasters explained
The rationale was three-fold:
1. play the tape as little as possible because it's not in good shape
2. try to match the sound to what people are used to. This album has a huge
"sonic memory" out there with the buying public and critics. If the reissue
team didn't reference the original LPs for the mix and the general sonic
ambience, they'd get slammed by critics and careful-listening fans. Those
who don't "get" or accept this rationale are thinking too much as a
scientist or engineer and not enough as a music business person. One has to
understand the market, plain and simple. Deviating too far from what I call
a "sonic memory" is toxic to sales. I can cite numerous examples.
3. given that Mark Wilder has a long track record of excellent remasters
that sell well, I tend to trust his judgement to mix outside the box. In my
own experiments with using, for instance Izotope's "mastering EQ" plug-in in
Sony Soundforge vs. going back out to analog and using my Great River
mastering equalizer, I always prefer the Great River. I do not believe that
DSP has gotten as good-sounding as the best analog gear for "sweetening"
something to an individual's taste. I'd trust the Great River or my trusty
Pultec equalizers anyday over any DSP I've heard. I would also trust Mark's
analog mixer over, for instance, the ubiquitous Protools mixing interface.
Again, this is not worth arguing if someone is a hardcore believer in doing
these things in the box. Tomato, tomahto.
Wilder and Sony have a proven track record of sales to back up their work
I also think they cut new LPs out of the mixdown process. Like the LP
niche-renaissance or not, cutting an LP that will retail for $30 with a $10
profit for the issuer is a good business move for a popular title like this.
Regarding why the mono -- purely a marketing choice. There are many fans out
there, myself included, who prefer the mono version of this album and are
thrilled to have it in a high-resolution new version (I'm probably not alone
having worn out my original mono Columbia LP). Like the mono Beatles albums,
at least up to Sgt. Pepper -- and we can debate whether this is true all the
way through their last mono offering, the White Album -- with the Miles
Davis small-group albums of the late 50s and early 60s, the music hangs
together better in the mono mixes. I immediately notice that I hear complete
ensemble songs instead of compositions of well-played sounds coming from
three different directions. I feel the same way about the Blue Note
small-group records up to the mid-60s.
Small-group jazz does lend itself to close-in mic'ing in order to get all
the details of playing.
But, then taking those close-mic'd signals and building them into a
non-distracting stereo image took some learning and practice. It still
wasn't right in the 70s, when you'd have close-in wide-spread stereo mic'ing
of the piano (inside the lid, invariably) and drums, but have single-mic'd
horns then spread across the soundstage (think of Pablo small-group records
made at A&R or Group IV studios). It was unrealistic, like one's head was
simultaneously inside the piano, drum set and yet out in the room to hear
the horns spread across a plain. One can get used to it, but an excellent
mono mix keeps just the music and the ensemble front and center.
Given how terrible the original CD reissues of Sony's jazz library sounded
(including "Kind of Blue"), I am thrilled that lessons were learned and
budgets are being used to get us modern remasters that are faithful to the
"sonic memory" but also crisp and clear and dynamic as is expected in a
modern setting. To my ears, the "Kind of Blue" remasters keep the balance
and vitality of the original issues but remove several layers of fuzz and
gauze, so you get the same instrument tonality and mix approved by the
original team, but it's now like you're hearing it out of the original
signal chain instead of behind a layer of cutting-master tape smear and LP
fuzz. Oh, and this stereo version is speed-corrected, unlike the original
-- Tom Fine
----- Original Message -----
From: "John Haley" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Wednesday, November 20, 2013 9:30 AM
Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] The new "Kind of Blue" remasters explained
> Of course they should have used the session tapes, not later mixdowns.
> That's a given. The part I don't get here is doing DA and AD conversion
> just to use the analog mixer, if I understood that right. The resulting
> 192/24 signal has thus been unnecessarily converted twice already and
> subjected to a bunch of old analog electronics. Also, I don't get the
> for a mono version derived from the same tapes, and personally, instead of
> that I would much rather have had a three-track SACD version, which they
> have precluded, but that's me.
> John Haley
> On Wed, Nov 20, 2013 at 6:44 AM, Tom Fine
<[log in to unmask]>wrote:
>> Miles Davis "Kind of Blue" archival transfer made by Mark Wilder on an
>> This text (below) copied from the Kind of Blue description at
>> (HIGHLY recommend the new 192/24 downloads of BOTH stereo and mono, they
>> sound fantastic): The new mono mix is also in the new Miles Davis Mono CD
>> box set. As I understand the description below and in other interviews
>> Wilder and Berkowitz, the 192/24 transfer from the 3-track was a
>> high-quality NAB playback. Then all remixing and remastering was done by
>> bringing the 3-track high-resolution digital back out to analog, mixing
>> processing using analog equipment, and then back to a 192/24 stereo (and
>> mono) master.
>> Kind of Blue Becomes Digital, by Engineer Mark Wilder
>> "Since the Kind of Blue mixed masters are multiple generations from the
>> original (due to excessive play/wear), we decided to go directly to the
>> original session reels. Not only does this put us at the original session
>> as a starting point, but it also allows us to deal with the pitch issue
>> The three, 3-track half-inch tapes are in good condition, but age has
>> force them to "scallop" a little, meaning that the edges curl away from
>> tape head. This changed the initial focus from mixing from the originals
>> archiving them before mixing and working from the archive files. This
>> allowed us to gently guide the tape against the playback head to get
>> optimal contact and fidelity.
>> The archiving was done at 192kHz/24 bits, played from a modified Ampex
>> 104, and hard-wired to HDCD Model 2's directly patched to a Lynx 2 sound
>> An upside to working from the archive files was the ability to chase the
>> original fader moves done during the mix in 1959. We constantly compared
>> an early pressing - mono and stereo - and worked bar by bar to duplicate
>> the level moves on the three tracks to match as well as possible.
>> Each channel was converted to analog and passed through a GML mixer,
>> bussed to stereo or mono - depending on the release format - and
>> once again to 192Kc/24 bits. At the GML, we inserted processing where
>> - Mark Wilder, Battery Studios
>> -- Tom Fine