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CLOSE UP ! Beautiful sound

Thu Jul 10, 2003 1:51 pm

Hi folks,

Got the CLOSE UP box set a few days ago at the radio station where I work, as I am preparing to do a special on Elvis and his fans next week and really wanted to mention his latest release.

I had to write to say that I think this time thy put extra care in producing the tapes for a highly enjoyable sound. This might not be the most conservative approach, but it sounds great and that's what matters to me. What a pleasure for the ears it is : natural dynamics (no crazy hard limiting), deliciously flattering and comfortable timbres and balance, the medium has a very full sound with extremely low distortion (very defined and yet sweet/smooth which isn't so common), the cymbals are crystal-clear without a trace of hardness, the bass is deeper than I heard on a Presley CD. It is highly involving and simply sounds fine.

To me, music is based on 2 essential elements : rhythm and melody (all other elements are secondary to these). A good sound should let both elements vibrate for themselves : let the rhythm move your feet and have the melody move your soul.

Maybe because of the fact that we finally get to hear the bass correctly, this is what this release is doing marvelously. The engineers who favour the drums (kick) over the bass in mixing / mastering Elvis' music (as was sometimes so cruelly done in remixes from multitrack tapes) don't have a clue about the PULSE that was at the heart of Elvis' music from "That's all Right" to "Way Down".

In brief :

CD 1:

BEAUTIFUL, both in production / compilation and in technical terms. The depth in the bass register contributes to create a cohesiveness between the two binaural tracks for an excellent and very engaging sound. CD so good I can't mention the number of highlights.


CD 2:

I didn't expect much from this one whose content has been bootlegged so many times and often in superlative sound. And yet this sounds so good that the alternate takes are a pleasure to listen to and are often as engaging as the masters. Take 2 of "Summer Kisses, Winter Tears" is really charming (in spite of the Jords) and "Lonely Man" (solo) and "In My Way' are of course perfect. The sound, rendering perfectly the marvelous quality of Elvis' voice, is perfectly in phase with the performances. Even the distortion on the lead vocals in "Stepping Out of Line" is kept at bay.


CD 3:

EXCELLENT. Finally some outtakes from the October '60 sessions that aren't abused with ridiculous amounts of hard limiting. And what a marvelous performances this take 6 of "Surrender". Compared with previous releases the '61 recordings have extremely low distortion. Marvellous voice... "His Latest Flame" is so well-balanced that one gets the impression this must be a master. "Echoes of Love": none of the dryness which was so critical on the 3-track remix of the master. Etc, etc... Only the "How Great Thou Art" outtakes are lacking some in clarity, but are still good (i.e. emotionally engaging). Very sensitive and intelligent mixing ("Singing Tree"...)

CD 4:

Some nice moments, the whole thing mixed in a very coherent way (unlike the "An Afternoon..." or the "Alternate Aloha" CDs which didn't respect the sound or spirit of the original performances). Tapes obviously noisy: a nice option was taken to avoid heavy noise reduction which would have rendered the sound flat or muffled. Natural and vibrant, as the whole box set.

With no apparent digital distortion / jitter (as was so often caused by digital processing or noise reduction, hard limiting / compression), these recordings sound simply ANALOG-LIKE. I have many SACD or DVD-A which sound far less convincing than this... Who needs high-resolution when you can get such a marvelous sound from CD ?

Just wanted to share my enthusiasm...

Best,
JM

Thu Jul 10, 2003 2:22 pm

JM - Thanks for the input.

Eagerly awaiting my copy now.

The enthusiasm in your post is ........... making me impatient. :wink:


N8
... just a fan ....
Last edited by N880EP on Thu Jul 10, 2003 4:25 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Thu Jul 10, 2003 2:44 pm

Hi Jean-Marc!

Great review!

I'm expecting Close Up in my mailbox today, and now that I've read your enthusiastic review; I can't wait to hear it! :D

Br
Kristian

Thu Jul 10, 2003 4:19 pm

I've purchased Close up last friday. I'd like to say that this one is a real good box set.
The sound of cd1 is just amazing, cd2 is a pleasure to listen to with a lot of Elvis talking between the different takes, cd3 contains interesting material and, last but not least, on cd4 you get a terrific Elvis live performance with, among the others, a great version of Burning love and a laughing version of Suspicious minds! :D

Thu Jul 10, 2003 5:06 pm

This boxset is just great! I agree with you whole heartly! It is like listening to 4 of the most fantatic FTDs! My personal favorites are the "Nashville" CD & of course the terrific concert! IMO it is way much better set that last years "Today, Tomorrow & Forever" if I was going to compare it to another set. Amazing! Great stuff BMG!!!
JEFF d
EPFAN
ps & the booxlet is superb also!

Thu Jul 10, 2003 5:34 pm

Jean-Marc wrote:

With no apparent digital distortion / jitter (as was so often caused by digital processing or noise reduction, hard limiting / compression), these recordings sound simply ANALOG-LIKE. I have many SACD or DVD-A which sound far less convincing than this... Who needs high-resolution when you can get such a marvelous sound from CD ?


Excellent observation, Jean-Marc and my feelings exactly.
I would much prefer to sit down and listen to recordings from the Today, Tomorrow and Forever
and Close Up box sets than be subjected the "hi-res" sound from ELV1S 30 #1 Hits (just for the record,
that is not to say there were not excellent cuts from E1, particularly "Hound Dog", "Stuck On You" and "Burning Love" to name a few).
The sound on the complete Close Up set though is a real stand-out and an enjoyment to listen to (over and over).

I appreciate how you stated your comments so eloquently.
Thank you, again.

Re: CLOSE UP ! Beautiful sound

Thu Jul 10, 2003 10:30 pm

Jean-Marc wrote:Hi folks,


I had to write to say that I think this time thy put extra care in producing the tapes for a highly enjoyable sound. This might not be the most conservative approach, but it sounds great and that's what matters to me. What a pleasure for the ears it is : natural dynamics (no crazy hard limiting), deliciously flattering and comfortable timbres and balance, the medium has a very full sound with extremely low distortion (very defined and yet sweet/smooth which isn't so common), the cymbals are crystal-clear without a trace of hardness, the bass is deeper than I heard on a Presley CD. It is highly involving and simply sounds fine.


Maybe because of the fact that we finally get to hear the bass correctly, this is what this release is doing marvelously. The engineers who favour the drums (kick) over the bass in mixing / mastering Elvis' music (as was sometimes so cruelly done in remixes from multitrack tapes) don't have a clue about the PULSE that was at the heart of Elvis' music from "That's all Right" to "Way Down".

JM




Maybe this is because they mastered and mixed (CD 1,2 and 3) at Sony Studio instead at the usual bmg for mixing and Tocano for mastering. Sony are well know for their analog/digital skills.

The 50's recordings never sounded so good to my ears in "close up". The widht and depth of the soundstage is amazing.

Thu Jul 10, 2003 10:40 pm

I'll also point out that everybody's "favorite" studio mixer Dennis Ferrante :wink: only worked on one disc (disc 4). But I have to say he did a good job on it.

Rich

Thu Jul 10, 2003 11:08 pm

There are so many highlights on this set, but I always get a laugh out of "Slicin' Sand."

"Sand in my sandwich....what the hell?" Priceless!

Thu Jul 10, 2003 11:16 pm

I've been thoroughly enjoying this box set for the last several days. It's fantastic!!! The sound quality is everything one could hope for. The material is very much worth the wait. CD-4 is amazing. Great show, great show!!!

Eagle

His Avatar is Marching On!!!

Sony Studios New York!

Fri Jul 11, 2003 9:49 am

There is a thread about this topic over at http://www.stevehoffman.tv/forums/showt ... adid=17734, check it out.

Apparently Vic Anesini was responsible for the mastering at Sony Studios in New York, presumably employing DSD technology in the process - by way of which BMG is archiving all of their mastertapes now.

I really hope we will see an SACD release of the SUN masters next year - that would be a fitting tribute for the 50th anniversary of these recordings...
-wolf

Fri Jul 11, 2003 10:09 am

Hi all!

I'm pretty excited right now!

Got Close Up yesterday, and I must say that the sound is AMAZING!!!
Never have an Elvis box-set had THIS fantastic sound quality!
I swear to God; if you close your eyes when you listen to these cds, you'll believe that the King is standing right in front of you, singing his heart out!

Once again; TERRIFFIC SOUND!

Br
Kristian

Fri Jul 11, 2003 12:03 pm

Worth Getting,.....Totally Impressed, actually Willem talked me into it, and I couldn't help but get it today, and I certainly wasn't dissapointed, Great Job RCA well done. !!!
PEP 8)

Fri Jul 11, 2003 3:07 pm

I have to agree..this release is one of the best sounding to date..i hope it's a turning point for BMG,and all the rest of the new stuff we get is of the same great sound quality.


Close Up- is close to PERFECT!!


the squirrel

Fri Jul 11, 2003 4:41 pm

ALT+CTRL+DEL
Last edited by vinyljunkie on Thu Jan 22, 2004 4:18 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Sun Jul 13, 2003 11:58 pm

Hi friend,

One thing is certain : a carefully produced CD will always sound better than a hastingly or tastelessly produced SACD / DVD-A... ;-)

DSD Technology!

Mon Jul 14, 2003 12:44 am

This could probably be explained by the fact that BMG has recently started to use DSD technology for archival of all of their tape material and is now using outside help for mixing and mastering of their projects.

I believe getting the sound right has always been a huge problem for BMG on Elvis' material (a lot of mid-80's releases were quite shoddy), but with DSD we seem to be seeing the light at the end of the tunnel...
-wolf