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Reviews: Sonny Rollins: Way Out West

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Reviews: 5

Review by Espen R February 15, 2011 (5 of 6 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
A true jazz classic album has now been released as an SHM-SACD.
This is an incredible good transfer. It outperforms the Doug Sax SACD issued by Analogue Productions by far. And it doesn't have this fake added reverb to it, as the AP SACD has.
The sound is incredible open, smooth, analogue, with textures in spades. All the instruments has so much body and presence to them, it's almost scary. I can't think of this digital transfer can be topped. The Art Pepper Meets the Rhythm Section SHM-SACD is on pair with this DSD transfer and I added a review of it a month back.

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Review by RWetmore March 26, 2011 (1 of 1 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
I agree with the previous reviewer completely. This an astoundingly good transfer. Smooth, tight and totally transparent. It beats the Analog Productions version by quite a bit. The AP version is softer and a bit congested by comparison. On a scale of 1 to 10, I'd give this release a perfect 10 and the AP about a 7 or 8. Even at the ridiculous price, it was well worth it for me.

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Review by willyevans March 29, 2011 (1 of 1 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
I also have both these SACDs in both forms (the Analogue Productions and these new Japanese versions) and agree both sound better on the SHM-SACD. They are more natural sounding and the sound stage is bigger. Funny thing is I thought the Analogue Productions versions of these recordings were reference discs... actually the Analogue Productions discs of these recordings are STILL reference discs compared to most SACDs. However, these new SHMs are even better.

Are they worth the extra money? Depends on the size of your wallet I guess. The AP versions ARE incredible, but these SHM SACDs are even better yet though they cost more than twice as much. Also the AP versions are hybrids so you can play them in your car or on any CD player as well. The CD layer on both is a huge improvement over the regular CD versions of these recordings, but the SACD layer takes you another step or two closer to being in the studio with the musicians.

As a side note both this recording and the Pepper Meets the Rhythm Section sessions were engineered by a guy named Roy Dunann. If you're interested look him up on the web. Stereophile has an article and interview with him from 2002 or so and these sessions are mentioned in the interview.

One last thing: to those who think digital recordings are the best sounding. You will NEVER get a jazz recording with acoustic instruments to sound this good and this natural recorded digitally. NEVER. Same goes for classical music. Analogue is the way to go for recording acoustic instruments. After all, that's what SACD is all about: trying to get that great analogue sound, like a high quality pressing of an LP played on an expensive turn table, via a digital format.

As anyone who is into vinyl knows the SACD is the best digital format for getting closer to that great analogue sound that everybody wants. I have the 45RPM LPs of both of these sessions as well (music is my vice. What can I say?) and these SHM-SACDs come the closest I've ever heard to analogue paradise in a digital format.

Yes. They do sound that good.

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Review by analogue April 12, 2011 (4 of 5 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
The previous reviewers are entirely correct. A great classic jazz album made all the more glorious with this new dsd transfer.

This is Rollins best album by far and one of my all time favourite jazz releases ever. Rollins brought a fascinating and original approach to the sax. And with great humour I might add.

The previous Doug Sax mastered sacd is still a wonderful listen but I feel it has been very much bested by this magnificent new shm-sacd. Universal Japan must be using some terrific new hardware to get this quality and also adding their own personal tastes to the dsd tranfer process.....and we have this new disc to enjoy because of it.

The original sacd is great but was also a tad compressed. It was also mixed differently. It was no where near as organic sounding as this new sacd.

If you want the best sound quality however.......the volume must be turned up louder than usual due to no compression being used. This is a flat transfer. Then things will pop into focus. If this isnt done the disc may appear tame to you.

The sheer realism....all the analogue beauty of the original recording comes out in spades. This new disc also sounds very fresh and new. Kinda hard to explain really. It is very beautiful sounding.

The two best qualities this new sacd possesses are....1) it is extremely relaxed and open compared to the previous disc which was ever so sharp, slighly louder and etched. And 2) It is so much more organic almost like a slow moving pool of sound which makes the listener just relax.

All instruments are rendered beautifully and I really cant fault this release in any way.

Superb and highly recommended. I dont think people can create this kind of music anymore. Its from a period of time where humans simply thought about things differently than we do today.

Turn it up.


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Review by Little Nemo July 20, 2012 (1 of 1 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
To those comparing the SHM SACD with the Analogue Productions SACD: a little background is in order.

Unfortunately Doug Sax - or his research staff - has made some really bad blunders and secured several second- or third-generation tapes, thinking he had the originals, despite the rather hissy quality and even dubbed reverb on many. Very very poor form indeed.
These included such titles as Rollins' Way Out West, Rollins' Saxophone Colossus, Cannonball Adderley's Know What I Mean, and a few others. In every single case that I have heard, there is a superior red book (CD) version that uses the genuine master tape. For example, Way Out West XRCD, Saxophone Colossus DCC, Know What I Mean DCC, etc. In fact, in all these examples, the actual studio session tapes were then used as masters (i.e. no mixing stage required) as they were all recorded direct to either 2-track stereo or 1-track mono tape. So one can think of these as "zero generation" masters! Sax appears to have obtained 2nd or 3rd gen copies, wetted with reverb for LP production.

In this context it is not surprising that the SHM is superior to the AP. However, SHM SACDs are usually NOT from the original master tapes. The only way to be sure (other than trusting your ears) is to examine the cover text for the word "master," which does appear in a minority of issues. "Original tapes" or "original Japanese tapes" does NOT mean "master" (i.e. earliest generation of the final mastered sound). Still, this one is clearly from a better source than the AP.

The Way Out West XRCD and MFSL issues both used the original master (session) tapes and sound better for it: more "up front," more immediate and dynamic. My preference is the XRCD. It just shows that a good source + excellent mastering is more important than absolute digital resolution. The SHM SACD is still warm and smooth but sounds like a tape copy - albeit an excellent one. You really have to hear the XRCD or MFSL to realise that the SHM is not the last word on this album, despite all the platitudes heaped on it by some reviewers here. Still, if SACD is a 'must' for you, then the SHM is the one to get.

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