Moby Grape "Wow" reissue audio comparison

Discussion of CD reissues, including sound quality and track lists
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Moby Grape "Wow" reissue audio comparison

Postby czeskleba » Tue Oct 23, 2007 7:38 pm

I posted this over at hoffman and was met with an underwhelming lack of response (only two people bothered to listen and comment on the sample). I figured hey, if I'm only gonna get a couple responses anyway, I might as well be posting over at Luke's. The two people that commented over there (Andreas and Chris) are here anyway. So, here's my sample of four 35-second clips of "Can't Be So Bad":
It's sourced from:

1. San Francisco Sounds Wow/Grape Jam CD
2. Sony Japan Wow CD
3. Sony Vintage CD
4. Sundazed Wow CD

not in that order, of course. Does anyone here besides Chris and Andreas have any comments?

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Postby lukpac » Tue Oct 23, 2007 11:00 pm

Hmm. The order makes a lot of difference. At first 1 sounded great and 2 sounded overly bright, and 3 sounded muffled. But going back, 3 and 1 sound pretty similar. In fact, I'd say 3 may sound a bit better than 1 - slightly more open. 2 and 4 also sound pretty similar.

I don't know. In some ways 3 seems like a nice balance, but it also seems like maybe there's a bit of midrange exaggeration that is unneeded.

Not sure I can rank them. They are *different*, but at least at this time of night, I don't have a clear preference. I suppose *not* 1, but beyond that...
"I know because it is impossible for a tape to hold the compression levels of these treble boosted MFSL's like Something/Anything. The metal particulate on the tape would shatter and all you'd hear is distortion if even that." - VD

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Postby czeskleba » Wed Oct 24, 2007 8:35 pm

Here's the comments from
Andreas wrote:My favorite is sample 3: Fullest sound, dynamic and lifelike quality.
Sample 4 is rather bright, but also an upgrade in clarity and possibly from a better source.
Sample 2 is even brighter and also too harsh.
Sample 1 is very dull, sounds like a rolled-off high end.

Chris M wrote:Sample 1: very dull and muddy and likely from a poor source

Sample 2: much better than #1, a tad bright and lacking in bass but not bad. My guess is this is from Vintage.

Sample 3: Sounds bettween #1 and #2. Not bad.

Sample 4: My favorite of the bunch. Has the most full, life-like sound. My guess is this is from the recent reissue.

These results surprised me quite a bit.

lukpac wrote:Hmm. The order makes a lot of difference. At first 1 sounded great and 2 sounded overly bright, and 3 sounded muffled.

Your initial gut reaction was the most on-target, actually. Sample #1 is the new Sundazed, #2 is the Sony Japan, #3 is the San Francisco Sounds, #4 is Vintage.

I actually like the new Sundazed quite a bit, and I'm surprised it got so knocked. I wonder if Chris in particular just listened to these samples on computer speakers? It definitely is less bright than Vintage, and perhaps wouldn't sound good on cheap speakers, but overall I think it does really have a nice, clean, bassy sound.

The other big surprise is the praise of the San Francisco Sounds. This is from a needle-drop (I can hear surface noise on various tracks, though not necessarily on this particular sample). It is a decent needle-drop, though, so I guess the praise must be a testament to the original pressing sounding good.

The Sony Japan is too bright, and everyone did pick up on that. Also weak in the bass. I'd forgotten how bright Vintage is, too. More so than I'd remembered upon last listen.

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Postby Chris M » Thu Oct 25, 2007 1:14 am

Well I'll be damned. Andreas and I thought the new reissue was the worst of the bunch. I still stand by that for that one track. It really does sound dull. So dull that the snare is just lost. FWIW I listened to it on the main rig which includes Paradigm Studio Reference 100's.

I did a quick comparison (simply switching back and forth between Vintage and the Wow reissue) of a few of the common tracks and I slightly prefer the reissue but there were a couple of spots where the reissue was a little dull. The percussion on Bitter Wind sounded more "right" on Vintage. I'd love to hear some more clips. The guitars on Sweet Ride were a bit lacking in bite compared to Vintage but the low end sounded fuller. I would have expecting a Bob Irwin disc to be a little on the bright side. That said I think still prefer the reissue overall.

I think the debut reissue is really bright but I guess much of that has to do with the recording. I prefer it over Vintage as the low end is fuller. Vintage might also be a tad brigher than the reissue. I'm thinking about getting the mono LP reissue Rob Loverde did. So I take it the out of phase vox are only on the stereo mix?
"I've had 40 years experience with hearing tape and vinyl. I was recording tapes before you were born" - Grant

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Postby czeskleba » Thu Oct 25, 2007 1:43 am

Irwin seems to go for a duller sound lately... I actually prefer the gold Surrealistic Pillow over the Irwin for that reason. But in this case I like the dullness. I think in general I like a lot less treble than some folks.

I chose this particular track because I thought the variety of instruments would yield a more varied opportunity for comparison, and also because it had a quiet passage where one could assess for hiss.

I've got four versions of "Motorcycle Irene" ripped onto the hard drive, and on Friday or Saturday I will edit them together and volume balance and post a link here for a second comparison.

I was surprised by the almost total lack of response at I kind of wonder if people are afraid to stick their necks out and comment blindly? I bet I'd have gotten more comments if I'd identified the samples.