Author Topic: The Doors - Analogue Productions 45RPM 200g QRP Reissues  (Read 10135 times)


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The Doors - Analogue Productions 45RPM 200g QRP Reissues
« on: March 10, 2013, 07:13:39 AM »
Chad Kassem has been ramping up the audiophile 45RPM reissues, especially over the past two or three years.  There was the Fantasy 45 Series, which started out as 25 hand picked selections from Prestige, Riverside, and Fantasy, but balooned to 100 titles due to its popularity.  Then there was the Blue Note 45 Series, which to date consists of 50 titles.  Then the Impulse! 45 Series, with 25 titles, and finally the Verve Series, also with 25 titles.

There have also been a number of boxed sets released by Analogue Productions that were cut at 45RPM on 180g vinyl. Among them are the Miles Davis Great Prestige Recordings and the Bill Evans Riverside Recordings.

Prior to 2012, most of the vinyl in these releases was pressed at RTI, in Camarillo CA.  The Bill Evans boxed set and the Impulse! 45 reissue series were pressed at Pallas Records in Germany.  I know there are a lot of audiophiles who think highly of RTI, but over the years I have experienced a considerable degree of variation in the quality of the their pressings.  So much so that I tend to avoid vinyl pressed at RTI with just a very few exceptions.  No need to go further into my thoughts about the QC issues at RTI.  Suffice it to say that currently it is my opinion that Pallas Records is pressing the highest quality vinyl on the planet.

Last year Chad Kassem started up Quality Record Pressings (QRP), which came right on the heels of his acquisition of Classic Records.  My first encounter with QRP issued vinyl was Ben Webster - Gentle Ben , and it was not a particularly good one.  My LP had a number of pressing defects, and frankly I was rather disappointed.  My thoughts were why did Chad even bother if he wasn't going to improve upon RTI's quality standards.  However, it is not really fair to judge QRP by one I thought I would buy several more and if I didn't see consistently high quality then that probably would have done Chad in as far as I was concerned.  I'm happy to say that every QRP pressing I have bought since then (a few dozen) has been of exceptionally high quality.

If I have any real criticism of Chad it has been in some of his choices for reissue titles.  For example, I felt strongly that the selections for the Verve 45 series was a missed opportunity.  Most of the titles in that series have been reissued on 180g vinyl a number of times.  The Johnny Hodges title Side By Side was issued on 200g vinyl at 33RPM and 180g vinyl at 45RPM by Classic Records, and also on 180g vinyl by Speakers Corner.  I would have preferred that he went for some other titles in the Verve catalog from the 1950s that are very difficult to find on vintage LPs.

When Acoustic Sounds announced the release of The Doors on 45RPM 200g QRP vinyl I was actually excited by the news.  I own copies The Doors and L.A. Woman on vintage vinyl, both first pressings.  I also have the boxed set on 180g vinyl that was issued by Rhino about 3 years ago or so.  Given what I had it might make you wonder why I would be looking to spend even more money on Doors LPs.  For one, while I think the Rhino set sounds pretty good, when I compared them to my vintage LPs I found the dynamics in the Rhino set to be overly compressed, and thought my original LPs had a smidgen more detail.  The 180g LPs had less surface noise, so it was a bit of a trade off.  I thought that if I could have these recordings on vinyl that had the detail of the original pressings and were as quiet as a good 180g pressing then that would be the best of both worlds.

I rate the Doors LPs musically in descending order as follows: The Doors, L.A. Woman, Morrison Hotel, Strange Days, Waiting for the Sun, The Soft Parade.  When Doors 45 RPM titles were available to order I decided to buy my three favorites to start, so I placed an order for The Doors, Morrison Hotel, and L.A. Woman.  If those three panned out then I would order the remaining three LPs so I could have a complete set.

My intent here is not give you a note by note review of each LP, but rather to share my overall impressions of these 45s and compare them to the other copies that I have on hand.

One thing becomes very clear when you open one of these titles and remove the records: this is first-class packaging (which has not always been the case with Analogue Productions).  The outer jacket is a high quality gatefold cut from heavy laminated stock.  The original album art is faithfully reproduced with vibrant colors.  The records are protected by a pair of high quality inner sleeves that are very similar to the ones used by Mobile Fidelity.

All of the LPs in this series were remastered by Doug Sax and overseen by Bruce Botnick, The Doors producer/engineer.  They were all sourced from the original master tapes except for The Doors (which was cut from a safety copy since the original master no longer exists).

I listened to all three 45RPM titles back to back to start.  I was very impressed with the sound quality and the quality of the pressings.  While I have not listened to my Rhino set for some time, I could already tell that the detail and dynamics were much improved.  Given that The Doors was cut from a safety tape, I was particularly impressed with how it sounded.

After going through the 45 LPs I pulled out my copy of L.A. Woman from the Rhino 180g boxed set and gave it a listen.  Oh my what a difference.  The Rhino LP sounded very compressed and was rather fatiguing to listen to after a time.  The detail was fine as far as that goes, but the 45 RPM LP carries much more sonic one would expect.  After listening to the Rhino 180g LP, I took my minty vintage first pressing of L.A. Woman for a spin, and then followed that up with another listen of the 45RPM reissue.

So how did they stack up?  I think it was very close between my vintage copy and the 45RPM, but feel the latter wins out in detail and dynamics.  The 200g QRP vinyl has less surface noise than either the vintage LP or the Rhino 180g reissue.  Comparing them all side by side left me rather disappointed in the Rhino set, but to be fair I only felt that way after making direct comparisons.  When I first got the Rhino set and listened to each LP I was fairly satisfied with the sound quality.

If you feel that you must have the best sounding copy of the Doors LPs then you should get out your credit card and order the 45RPM reissues from Acoustic Sounds.  They are $50 a pop so the complete set of 6 titles will set you back $300.  Or you can spend an extra $100 and get a numbered boxed set with all of the records plus a booklet (not worth the $100 premium IMO).

If you already have the Doors catalog on minty vintage vinyl then I believe you should think it over.  My vintage Doors LPs sound great and it is probably debatable about whether or not the 45RPM LPs provide a sufficient upgrade to justify the expense.  I believe that they do but someone else might come to a different conclusion.

However, if you own the Rhino set and that is all that you have then I feel that the choice is a no-brainer.  Buy the 45RPM reissues and don't look back.  Once you take delivery of your much better sounding Doors 45s you can toss the Rhino boxed set on eBay or Audiogon and get what you can for it to help offset the cost.  That is exactly what I will be doing.

Now if only we could get EMI to see its way to issuing The Beatles catalog on 45RPM 200g vinyl.  I know that's wishful thinking, but there is always hope I suppose.

Happy listening...

Equiment List:

Turntable: Garrard 401 in custom Walnut Plinth
Tonearm: Jelco SA-750D 9"
Cartridge: Ortofon SPU Gold Reference LOMC
SUT: Bob's Devices CiniMag 1131 Blue
Phono Preamp: SoundSmith MMP3
Preamp and Amps: Tubed separates custom built by Woo Audio
Speakers: Audiokinesis custom made variant of the Planetarium Alpha system.

« Last Edit: March 10, 2013, 10:52:52 AM by jsaliga »