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Reviews: Billy Joel: The Stranger

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Reviews: 2

Review by gonzostick June 25, 2012 (2 of 40 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
Why bother with this two channel disc, when the original Sony/CBS issue was MCH and in surround?

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Review by analogue August 2, 2012 (9 of 9 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
I own the original Sony sacd from the earlier days of sacd. The multi channel layer has Joel's voice on its own channel and thats a thrilling thing to hear. Separated from the other music is a different experience.

The original stereo layer however.has gradually waned on me. I have always been unhappy with it for various reasons. As the years went on and sacd sound quality improved greatly I began to suspect that the original stereo layer was nothing more than a low rez pcm to dsd transfer. In fact now I am sure of it. This is one of the things that really ticked me off about Sony. They cheated the buying public by creating such transfers.

Musically there is really nothing to be said about this Joel album. Its virtually a greatest hits album on its own merit. Just a great collection of songs.

The recording of this material is rather unique. Throughout the years and in many different versions this is simply an extremely relaxed and mellow recording It does not seize you in the way other rock transfers grab you. Its all midrange but with limited soundstage. The word imitate comes to mind.
Joels voice is sort of stuck in the middle and instruments stay there as well. I am not complaining so much as simply describing the merits....both good and bad of this recording.

Sonically a comparison between the Sony and this new Mofi sacd is rather revealing but ultimately not so reassuring.
The original Sony was harder edged in the bottom octaves....slightly differently mixed and slightly louder. Like a remastered cd.
The new Mofi sacd is warmer, more analogue and meatier in the musical presentation. It is easily the better and preferred version. The first quality I noticed was that Mofi's sacd was more airier. Joels voice has more substance to it, drums are more liflelike as are acoustic guitars. Echoes in the studio are better heard.
But even though the Mofi is heads and tails the better version....there really isn't a night and day difference here. I believe that this is so because of the way it was recorded.

I guess I'm guilty of hoping that suddenly channels would become separated for the first time or that Joels voice would stick out more. But such is not the case. I guess what I really want to say is this. Mofi was able to scrape alot of the info that was on the original master tapes but in doing so they still could not create a stunning sacd. Its not their fault at all. The recording was created with a particular sound in mind and we are stuck with it. Case closed.

If you dont own this buy the Mofi.
However saying that............I would not be in the least bit surprised if there are those who could not detect any differences between the two. The differences exist mind you..but they are such that SOME listeners will beg to differ.

The Mofi is a real bonafide dsd from tape transfer while I believe the comparison is simply cd.

The new Mofi is highly crankable while the Sony has limits as it gets hard sounding at higher volume levels. The new Mofi is also darker and richer but in the best of terms.

I dont want to steer anyone wrong here. The new Mofi is the much better version and a good sacd. Its the more truthful version to buy but I'm afraid that its also not a revelation either. Even Mofi's much vaunted tape playback system cant grab info that isnt there.

Recommended and a good job by Mofi. A truly great rock gem.

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