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  Universal (Japan) -
  Stevie Wonder: Songs in the Key of Life
  "Songs in the Key of Life"

Stevie Wonder
Track listing:
  Single Layer
Recording type:
Recording info:
  Formerly UIGY-9054

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Related titles: 5

Reviews: 4 show all

Review by Blu Falcon May 31, 2011 (4 of 4 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
The 5 star rating is for the content of the disc and the sound quality of the mastering. I own Songs in the Key of Life on vinyl LP, the original Motown/ Tamla 2 CD set, and previously the AF gold disc. Imagine this: would you rather have creamy smooth full-flavored ale or a Budweiser? The SHM-SACD is hands down the most dynamic, full-bodied presentation of this classic recording I've come across. It is also the most expensive. So unless you have a dedicated SACD player you're better off trying to find yourself the original Tamla 2 CD set, which is sonically comparable to the AF gold disc. Not much difference to justify the extra cost there. Avoid the remaster (harsh). Regarding the SHM-SACD, the low-end is well extended, mostly punchy, but slightly boomy on some tracks. Mids are forward and lush, and highs are well controlled and not harsh in the slightest. I also find the recording generally mellow, and in a very good way. Listening to the SACD I feel like I've been transported back in time to the days of 70s hi-fi, where the sound is beautifully analog, warm and smooth, which IMO adds more depth and character to this particular pressing. It has all the characteristics of a nice vinyl pressing, but without the surface noise, snap, crackle and pop. It seems like great care was taken to preserve the natural sound of the original recording (regardless of the source) and provide us with a nice solid flat transfer. If one desires more emphasis on the top end you only need to adjust your treble a bit and you should be plenty happy. Overall, I prefer the way it sounds as is and feel no need to tweak any settings. It's perfectly "imperfect" if that makes any sense. There are reports that this SACD has issues playing back on some players during track one. It plays back on my Yamaha DVD-S1800 with no issues. However, I've read that there is a firmware update available to address this issue on some units. The disc itself is packaged in an mini-LP style case and rest in a scratch resistant inner sleeve housed in a hard paper outer sleeve. Given it's a Japanese import there's an obi strip for your viewing pleasure (apparently this matters to some collectors). Liner notes are mostly in Japanese. Universal Japan SHM-SACD build quality is second to none. You can easily tell great care went into the manufacturing of these discs. The SHM coating is supposed to enhance sound quality. Apparently there's some science behind this claim that I won't go into here, but Google is your friend if you want to learn more. Personally, I'm not sure if I buy into it, but the discs do look uber sexy if that matters to you. One thing to note is that the SHM-SACDs typically are not hybrids, so don't dive in expecting this to be a dual layer disc that you can play on any old standard CD player. Overall, a worthy investment if you're a fan of this album. Be warned that once you go SHM-SACD it can be a very expensive (but rewarding) path to sonic ecstasy. Given Innervisions, Fulfillingness' First Finale, Talking Book and Hotter Than July have all been announced on SHM-SACD, it can prove to be a very expensive year indeed, especially if the mastering is just as pleasant as SITKOL. Good luck.

Note: Edited review a bit after recent listen.

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Review by analogue March 8, 2011 (3 of 3 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
A classic 70's album by the great Stevie Wonder.
Originally a two album release.

This new shm-sacd sports one hour and 45 minutes of music on a single stereo sacd and from start to finish is a wonderful experience. This new dsd mastered sacd is sonically beautiful to listen to. Wonder's voice is rendered very warm and realistic. There is no listening fatigue and the sound is very detailed and analogue in feel. A very relaxing experience is to be had here. Nice mid-range and good sound to the individual instruments. All in all a very musical experience.

A great audio treat. I cant add anymore to what I have already said. Not all of these expensive shm-sacd's are good sonically and worth the price. But this one sure is.

Highly recommended. Great job by the mastering tech.

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Review by sonnysin168 March 20, 2011 (1 of 1 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
This is my third shm-sacd and they are overall good-sounding. SITKOL sounds pleasant to the ears, with very good bass and mids. The details are generally nice but I felt a bit more sparkle is needed to make it really outstanding. Like the what previous reviewer wrote, one may need to turn up the volume to hear the beauty of this album (not really that loud but just a bit above the normal listening level).

Despite its "imperfections" I still would have rated this 5 stars if not for the fact that the first track stops at 5:19 then skips on the second track on my Marantz DV 6001. However, my old Lexicon RT-10 plays it flawlessly.

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