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A Date With Elvis New Issue On Vinyl

Sun Jul 10, 2005 12:41 am

An extract from the June 2005 copy of Stereophile:-

But the five songs on A Date With Elvis that were originally recorded at Sun Studios with Scotty Moore on electric guitar and Bill Black on upright bass—"Blue Moon of Kentucky," "Milkcow Blues Boogie," "Baby Let's Play House," "Good Rockin' Tonight," and "I Forgot to Remember to Forget"—are among the most original, powerful, and transcendent rock'n'roll music ever committed to tape. They're indispensable, along with the other Sun sides.

That's what prompted Speakers Corner, the German analog specialists, to reissue the album on high-quality vinyl, and to offer it as the latest in a veritable wave of modern mono LPs.

As other music lovers have found in recent years, not only should audiophiles not look down their noses at mono, they should shuck their prejudices and embrace it for the often superior format that it is. At its best, mono can be more colorful, more dramatic, and more direct and powerful than stereo. And while mono doesn't offer the same left-to-right spread of "images" as stereo (contrary to another audio writer's unintentionally funny observations a few years ago, when he suggested that a single microphone feed distinguishes sounds that strike one side of the diaphragm from sounds that strike the other), the format's spatial reproduction often has good depth and wholeness, and virtually always has a superior sense of scale—lacking, as it does, the fussiness and phasiness of its multichannel kin.

The remastering for the Elvis reissue LPs was done by the legendary Willem Makkee at Emil Berliner Studios in Hanover, Germany (footnote 3). For this project, Makkee, who is also cutting the lacquers for the Mercury Living Presence catalog (the LP rights to which were recently awarded to Speakers Corner), used the latest-spec Neumann VMS 80 lathe with an Ortofon cutting head. Although this isn't a dedicated mono platform, Makkee prefers his setup for what he considers to be its superior sound quality. And Makkee's examined the mono cuts he's done under his microscope, and can detect no vertical groove movement in any of them, going on to suggest that the only height variation that exists in his monos is less than the lacquer disc's normal vertical tolerances. (Bear in mind that the groove of a monophonic LP is modulated only in the horizontal plane; stereo uses horizontal and vertical modulations, coexisting in a 45º, V-shaped groove wherein the left channel is encoded on one wall of the groove, the right channel on the other.)

The new Elvis album is a wonderful thing, with the noiseless surfaces and high-quality graphics and packaging I've come to expect from Speakers Corner's LP reissues. The recorded sound itself may not please the average audiophile, since it's somewhat hobbled by RCA's queer decision to tamper with the original Sun recordings by adding an extra layer of reverb on top of the slap-back tape echo that was already there. An audible 60Hz hum also infected the masters during that stage—more audible on some tracks than others—and that, too, became a part of RCA's A Date With Elvis. That's what Willem Makkee and Speakers Corner have reproduced here—correctly, I think. As with their other LPs, to hear the Speakers Corner version of the record is to hear it as the person who bought the original might have. To me, that's the best one could ask for, historically, artistically, and for the sheer fun of it.

One more reason to order the Speakers Corner reissue right now: From March 1 forward, the days of the week are exactly the same in 2005 as they were in 1960, so the calendar on the back of the sleeve is actually useful, if for only a few more months. Just think: The first batch of Elvis calendars were probably marked up with such notes as "Give Fluffy a bath" and "Meet Reggie at the drugstore." The more recent ones will someday be found inscribed with notes such as "Colonoscopy at 10:30am"—and, well, "Meet Reggie at the drugstore." Plus ça change . . .

Upgrading from stereo to mono
I enjoyed A Date With Elvis on a Rega Planar 3 turntable dedicated to mono use, complete with Lyra Helikon Mono cartridge—a beautiful, groundbreaking product that carries the same $2195 price tag today as when it was introduced three years ago. Since then, other manufacturers have added mono pickups to their product lines, which I take as a sign that some folks, somewhere, are driving the market by actually buying these things.

Should you be one of them? Well, if you own lots of mono LPs, or if you enjoy the music that continues to be available on cheap, used mono vinyl—mostly classical and jazz, along with early blues, folk, and country music—you're a good candidate. Even so, you may be able to get away with what you already have—depending on precisely what it is you have, of course.

Here's a suggestion from Steve Hoffman, another well-known mastering engineer: If you want to play mono LPs on a stereo turntable in a stereo system, go to RadioShack and buy two Y-adapters—one with two female phono jacks on one end and a single male on the other, and one with two males on one end and a single female on the other. Plug the single male of one Y-adapter into the single female of the other, then plug your stereo tonearm cable into the open female pair—which will, of course, leave a pair of male plugs, ready to feed your stereo preamp. What you've just done is combine two discrete signals into one, then branch it back out to feed both channels of your system. That will give you a single "image," centered between your two loudspeakers.

Sun Jul 10, 2005 12:44 am

There will be Elvis fans turning in their graves. ... 16,00.html

Sun Jul 10, 2005 10:12 am

Well, that's a nice audiophile story - but they forgot to mention that they used the ORIGINAL album master for this LP, with the added echo an lot's of hiss ... no re mastering, no original master tapes, when i played it, it sounded like crap to me ...


Sun Jul 10, 2005 10:55 am

Oh brother. That's one of the most ridiculous....... aw the heck with it.

I almost want to get that just to hear which version of "Milkcow" they use. (That'll be an in joke to anyone who's ever listened to any original US version of A Date With Elvis, including the original US CD version.)

KiwiAlan, is that bit about Hoffman and the Y-adapters in the article? If it is - in Stereophile - Oh Brother.

Or is that whole "article" a late April Fools joke? I can't tell with Stereophile.

Sun Jul 10, 2005 7:40 pm

Here's the link to the Speakerscorner website;

Here's the link from that site that describes the vinyl album:

The only place here in the USA [as far as I know] that sells that vinyl album is from here:

Sun Jul 10, 2005 11:42 pm

Why so negative?

At least they are doing more than RCA are doing.

As regard the sound - I bet anything it will sound heaps better than the course vinyl release of 1959. It does not have to be digital perfect - in fact it's better that it shouldn't :!:

And look at the cover - perfect - none of this rubbish that we can't use the exact original.

The cover alone is worth the price :D

And, yes, the Steve Hoffman bit is from Stereophile.

Mon Jul 11, 2005 12:46 am

It's hard for me to get feelings into words here, but I didn't mean to be negative as much as just stunned at this thing. (And I guess that would be a negatively-stunned.)

I think it's just another superfluous cash-in. If they want to do a "180-gram vinyl" exact reissue Elvis RCA album with the royal vinyl treatment, there are better choices, from original RCA album masters, that would be still be worth the careful vinyl treatment.

For this one, for 30 bucks I would advise anyone to just get an original in VG condition.

"As with their other LPs, to hear the Speakers Corner version of the record is to hear it as the person who bought the original might have. To me, that's the best one could ask for, historically, artistically, and for the sheer fun of it. "

Oh brother. Are they doing the original fold-out cover with calendar? It's unclear but it seems not. And which back cover are they using?

It's things like this that make me wonder... way back when, I bought the Mobile Fidelity Original Master Recording LP of From Elvis In Memphis, ($20 circa 1980) then I carefully recorded it (by the best Stereophile standards I could afford then, and I was a subscriber around that time) to an Ampex GrandMaster reel tape ($9 in 1980).

Then I played it once to verify my recording. I have not played it again in nearly 25 years?!? WHY DID I DO THAT? I always (carefully) played my original RCA LP or reel tape made from that, or my carefully-made cassette in the car, now various CDs.

I've, kinda, always meant to make a CDR from my GrandMaster tape - but I've never gotten 'round tuit.

That good reel of Ampex GrandMaster - is probably more valuable than that only-once-played MFSL LP now.

I advise anyone to just get the originals, especially for this LP. It is unlistenable in any pressing.

For the Sun stuff, there is an "original" LP release of "Elvis At SUN" available at that same site noted above and elsewhere, and I have seen it at Tower. That counts as an original RCA Elvis release for my purposes (although I have not purchased it on LP). It may not be on 180-gram vinyl or mastered for vinyl with as much care, but I bet it sounds much better.

(And these days every copy will be a -1S or -2S or equivalent) :)

I wonder who's buying Stereophile these days who would need to have an explanation of Y-cables-to-make-mono in any review there. I guess it's very important that such "advice" came from Steve Hoffman!! And mentioning Radio Shack! Alongside a $2195 turntable!! I would expect Stereophile to demand Monster Cable, but only the special Limited Edition versions... :D

(I don't buy Stereophile anymore - could Speakers Corner be a major advertiser there?)

Thanks KiwiAlan for noting this article and this reissue, and here is the link for the complete Stereophile article, which I just found: ... listening/

I would advise Speakers Corner to concentrate on albums that would have a purpose on high quality vinyl, like those Mercury Living Presence and also RCA Living Stereo classicals. If they use the same care on those that is noted in that article, and I believe they do, those are worthwhile. (I'm sure they would welcome my comments.)