The Absolute Sound 40th Anniversary Best Sounding Music!
Michael Fremer Rated 10/11 for Music, 10/11 for Sound!
For many years, RR has been searching the world over for the best possible vinyl mastering, plating and pressing facilities so they could re-enter the LP market. They now have a production chain that allow them to produce LPs to meet their high standards and satisfy their customers' demands, who have been waiting for these LPs for a long time!
Assembling the Team
Disc mastering is done at half-speed to insure maximum accuracy. The lathe system has custom electronics by Nelson Pass. The simple signal path contains no compression, equalization or unnecessary circuitry. RR Chief Engineer and Technical Director, "Prof." Keith Johnson consulted on the design of the system and helped with the rebuilding of the lathe and electronics, which is owned and operated by long-time mastering expert Paul Stubblebine. "Prof." Johnson has pronounced it equal to the challenge of the master tapes!
Once successful results were achieved in disc mastering, Reference Recordings faced the difficult task of choosing the best plating and pressing facility to manufacture the discs. Fortunately, the new Quality Record Pressings plant in Salina, Kansas was coming on line, and they felt that waiting for this plant to open was well worth it. A crack team of experts was assembled to design and run the plant, employing many unique techniques and features that clearly set QRP apart from other pressing plants. The 180-gram deluxe vinyl pressings from QRP are truly exceptional.
Multiple Configurations for Reference Mastercuts
Depending on program lengths, some releases are cut at 45 rpm, some at 33-1/3 rpm. Some are single discs, some double. All feature deluxe gate-fold jackets crafted by Stoughton Printing . An unusual feature of new RR masterings is called the "FDS finish": the end of each side will have a 30-second band of silent grooves before the "pull-away." No one today uses a record changer, and the silent grooves allow time to lift the arm before the always-somewhat-noisy tie-off. (Some 1950s vintage Capitol Full Dimensional Sound pressings sported this feature.) RR founder, J. Tamblyn (Tam) Henderson deserves special recognition for identifying the value of this unique production feature and reintroducing it with the new Mastercuts.
Note: Half-speed Mastering involves a capturing process in which the original recording master is played back at exactly half of the recorded speed. A sequenced cutting lathe is then timed at exactly half of the playback speed. This process allows twice as much time to carve a groove that accurately represents the sound on the master tape. Half-speed mastering allows for cleaner reproduction and also permits extended high frequency response, extending into the ultrasonic region.
Sergei Rachmaninoff was one of the most beloved composers of the twentieth century. His music is redolent of his Russian homeland, and it sings long, lush melodies that define the term "romantic." Everyone who knows and loves his piano concertos will enjoy these lyrical and dynamic works for orchestra. The Symphonic Dances in recent years have become one of Rachmaninoff's most-performed scores. Vocalise is one of the great classical melodies, and is hummable by everyone. Initial response from renowned reviewers is amazingly positive. Two have said this is the finest orchestral recording Reference Recordings has ever made!
In any case, this reading is the deepest I've heard on record and while Johnson's recorded perspective is distant, the instrumental balance borders on outright perfection, the harmonic balance is equally so, and the dynamics and bass weight are staggering. If your system has the power reserves and low frequency response necessary to reproduce them, the macro dynamics and bottom end in this recording are sensational but more importantly, the string sound is sensation and the profusion of orchestral colors remarkable. The sense of being in the hall (well back of course) and hearing it live is palpable.
- 180g Vinyl
- Half-Speed Mastered by Paul Stubblebine
- Pressed at Quality Record Pressings
- Deluxe Stoughton Gatefold Jacket
Sergei Rachmaninoff (1873-1943)
- Non Allegro
- Andante Con Moto (Tempe Di Valse)
- Lento Assai