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Reviews: Donald Fagen: The Nightfly

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Reviews: 5

Review by Discspinner November 5, 2011 (3 of 3 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
Own the original CD. I would give a very slight edge to this version on stereo, but there is plenty to like about the original as it was quite well done. Would love to hear on multi channel but am not set up for it. For stereo, a little brighter and maybe the vocals are slightly more distinct. Nice, but no reason to buy over the CD unless more modern versions of the CD are somehow different from the original.

Anyone have thoughts on MC?

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Review by onenairb November 11, 2011 (3 of 3 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:    
This was originally released (in hi-res format) as a DVD Audio. The resolution used was 24bit/48kHz for both stereo and surround layer. The 24/48 stereo is now available for download from HDTracks for those with music servers and digital streams players.
I suppose the question regarding this release and the other recent Warner Japan SACD 5.1 releases (Doors, Fleetwood Mac, Eagles etc) that were originally released as DVDA’s is have they been re-mastered again from the original masters to DSD? I doubt it and this is obvious by the fact that the releases that Warner have chosen to put out on multichannel SACD were originally released as DVDA’s. They are labelled ‘DSD Mastering’ but what does that actually mean? Converted from PCM to DSD? Frankly I can’t imagine Warner spending the money to get an engineer to re-master from the original masters when the work has already been done for the DVDA releases. Perhaps some tweaking here and there has been done to the DSD. So I suspect they have taken the DVDA source and transferred to DSD for SACD release.
The sound is what most wish to know about. How do the DVDA and SACD compare? The mix is the same and SACD seams slightly quieter, especially on the Stereo layer, but just slightly clearer. But frankly the difference is so little most will never notice.
We all know this is a superb album, probably Fagan’s best IMHO. The DVDA is one of my favourites. The stereo is good but the surround mix is superb and completely opens up the soundstage bringing the band into the room with lovely clean bass. This is definitely a SACD (and DVDA) for demonstrating and promoting multichannel music. Just love it.
Since the DVDA will probably cost you more to obtain this is probably the better option to go for (at time of writing at least). It is just a pity that Warner along with Universal’s recent SHM SACD’s catalogue chose to make these recent releases only in Japan hence the rather expensive cost on other international web sites although some of the more specialist web sites are selling them as well now.
I should also say that this is the same for the other Warner releases mentioned above.

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Review by FagenFan November 11, 2011 (10 of 10 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:    
This is the umpteenth release of a classic desert-island recording. Based on the same 12+4bit/50KHz 3M digital master recording, it is a high-resolution archive of that master, no better or worse than the DVD-Audio version. The CD layer is typical fare: probably a straight copy of the standard redbook release.

Having said that, I'd like to state for the record that if you do not own the DVD-A or MFSL LP, this is still a reference recording. On my system, and to my ears, it is ever-so slightly slightly "smoother" than the DVD-A recording which I also own. Probably an artefact of the SACD format which I've grown used to. The DVD-A can, in parts of the music where a lot is happening, sound punchier, more detailed, more immediate, but also more edgy. This is where the SACD softens the glare just a bit, but at a tradeoff of soundly slightly slower and more laid back. I'm nitpicking though, the effects are very subtle. Although system resolution can heighten or reduce the difference, I'd say the DVD-A and SACD versions are virtually identical, sonically. I was expecting more from the SACD since it comes many years after the DVD-A, and had the potential of achieving more. But I guess since the excellent digital master has already been enshrined in the 16/50 format, there's only so much we can do to make it sound "better" without adding coloration or subjective biases to the tonal balance.

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Review by Ricoflashback August 24, 2013 (5 of 5 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
Absolute, stone cold fabulous Japanese remastering of Donald Fagen's finest solo effort.

Brilliant mix - - true Multi-Channel 5.1 heaven.

An absolute, hands down, must have JSACD to show off your Home Theater and Audio System to your family and friends alike.

A true "reference" SACD that shows 5.1 music in all its glory.

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Review by The Polo Lounge December 21, 2013 (4 of 4 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:    
Let me cop to one thing up front. I'm a huge fan of Steely Dan and have been for well over 35 years.In terms of sheer musicianship and prowess in the studio, they are in my opinion one of the top artists in the pop genre.

I became a fan of SD as a teenager in the 70's with their release of Aja. I remember hearing "Peg" on the radio, and rushed out to get the LP that weekend. That piece of vinyl marked the beginning of my admiration of SD's polished, tight sound, and later an even deeper appreciation for their slick, sardonic lyrics and world view.

After Walter Becker and Donald Fagan disbanded in the early 80's, I was bummed. So it was with great excitement that I purchased The Nightfly soon after its release in 1983. It quickly became one of my all-time favorite albums, and remains so to this day.

I own this album in several iterations, but my intention here is not to provide a case study/comparison of each and measure it against this 2011 release of the Japanese SACD . Therefore, my comments are relative only to this disc.

After listening to the disc in its entirety several times over the course of a few days, I have to say that from a purely sonic perspective, it is one of, if not the beat sounding disc in my high-res library.

I won't go through the entire set list, but will mention a few observations relative to the things that stood out to me.

I've always thought The Nightfly was one of the better-sounding albums I had heard. It is also one of the first albums to be mastered in a true digital format, which was rare for the early 80's. While I'm not a big fan of all-digital recordings - just because it's digital doesn't mean it's better - I have found that the older digital recordings are actually pretty good. This was before the true advent of all digital mastering where everything was compressed to the hilt and all sense of warm, organic sound was lost. With that said, you can hear EVERYTHING in this mix, as the multi-channel format is utilized to its fullest extent.

The vocals are where they should be, front & center, providing nice separation between them and the rich instrumentation and backup vocals. However, the most impressive thing to me is the sheer transparency of the electric piano notes, particularly at the very end of The New Frontier. The decay is also amazing.

This mix also provides an extensive and expanded sound stage that reminded me why I was drawn to the SACD multi-channel format.I thought previous mixes sounded a little tight, but now each track has room to breathe and expand. There is a warmth I haven't heard since I last put needle on vinyl. Although you can clearly identify the Rhodes (and things like high-hat arrangements),they don't overpower the mix at all. Each component of the mix adds to the whole, fitting together like pieces of a puzzle.

To me, this disc represents why SACD discs can be so amazing. I now use it as a reference CD when i want to demonstrate to my friends the difference between regular CD's and multi-channel SACD's. Even if you aren't a fan of SD, this mix has something to offer in terms of pure melodic performance. Because of the SACD format, I now selectively purchase music in genres I never before listened to based simply on reviews from listeners (examples being Getz & Gilberto and a few classic titles from Gershwin & Tchaikovsky). It's been a nice way for me to expand my musical palate so to speak.

I highly recommend this disc, and don't think you will be at all disappointed with this purchase.

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