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Review----New Limited Edition SACDs

The most important thing you need to know about this crop of CD issues is that they are not exclusively SACD's. They are what is called "Hybrid" CDs, which means they contain regular CD files, and the same songs in SACD files. If you have a SACD player, or the more common high-end Blu-ray universal disc players such as the Oppo (highly recommended!) when you play these CDs, the SACD files will play, and the regular CD files will be ignored. Take the same disc and play it in your car, or a cheap CD player, and the SACD files will not be recognized by the player, and the regular CD files will play. It is unfortunate that YesAsia does not make this clear in their online catalog.

The difference in sound quality between CD and SACD is trivial compared to the difference between the new masters, or the new mix, and the previous issues. To simplify I will call the original Capital Artist CD issues Phase I. Phase II would be the second wave of CDs starting in 2004, and have a "DSD" label meaning they used a more high-resolution digital format in the mixing process; they all have a grooved black "label" surface in imitation of a 45 RPM record "single". Phase III are the current new "SACD" or more accurately "Hybrid", Limited Edition discs. The vinyl LP records on sale now are almost certainly prepared from the new Phase III masters.

So what are the new masters like? If you compare audio to video quality as a measure, Phase I would be like a first-generation DVD, with the subtitles part of the image, and black bars top and bottom of the screen; Phase II would be like second-generation 16x9 anamorphic digital remastered DVDs (sharper image, better color). The improvements in Phase III are like a Blu-ray version of the same film, but not all the CD are improved to the same extent. Anita's first CD's, through Red Anita, were quite good sounding even in their Phase I editions, and their faults were mainly over-done and distorted reverb when she sings loudly. Starting with "Red Lips" the studio production practices changed in a way that resulted in a sound as if the singer and instruments were recorded in a parking garage, the reverb seems to be part of the original music tracks, the damage is permanent, and so the Phase III remaster is only slightly better.

But with "Cover Girl" production practices changed again, the individual vocal tracks are saved in their pure state, and most or all of the instrument are MIDI files. The bass in the song "Cover Girl" is not a bass guitar, its a synthesizer triggered by the MIDI track. Same with all of the parts of the drum kit, the percussion sounds, strings, and piano. None of these have to be performed in real time, it's just a talented person clicking the mouse on a graph-like display. What this means is that the song can be re-performed NOW, using new and more beautiful sounds from the MIDI library ( along with the saved analog tracks of Anita, background vocals, and those instruments that do not lend themselves to MIDI performance, like rock guitar solos. Then, this new performance can be mixed down into a new CD master using new reverb space-modeling software. So listening to the new Cover Girl and the Wild Beast CD's is like a 3-D Blu-ray, compared to the originals. None of the instruments cover up Anita's voice even when she is singing softly of in her low range. With good headphones, you can close your eyes and point to the source of each voice and instrument. I would guess that "Ladies" and "In Brazil" would fall into this group as well, but unfortunately they sold out of them and I missed out.

The more recent CD's like "With" used more modern production techniques than the Cover Girl period, and sounded great in their original issue version, so the new Phase III CD's don't show such a stunning improvement in comparison.

Of the Phase III discs I have, I would rate them in order of desirability (assuming you have the earlier version)...Wild Beast, Cover Girl, Bad Girl, Evil Girl, With, Red Lips, and Red Anita.

Hopefully there will be a new pressing of these discs, or they might be offered as high-resolution downloads, and there might be more coming, like "Larger then Life".

----------HAPPY BIRTHDAY------------

Re: Review----New Limited Edition SACDs

Wow!! FB: Thank you so much for the detailed review.

Very impressive.
Thanks for taking the time to do these comparisons. Much appreciated.


Re: Review----New Limited Edition SACDs

Good News! I just looked at YesAsia and Wild Beast Street is back in stock!

Get yours now!


Re: Review----New Limited Edition SACDs

"Lake Reflects Flowers and Moon" and "Daughter of Song" have just appeared for sale in Limited Edition SACD.


Re: Review----New Limited Edition SACDs

WOW! That's great news.
THANK YOU FB for the links.

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