Vinyl and CD Review: Growing Up In Hollywood Town – Sheffield Lab 13


Vinyl and CD Review: Growing Up In Hollywood Town – Sheffield Lab 13 – Released 1980

 

Vinyl and CD Review: Growing Up In Hollywood Town - Sheffield Lab 13

Lab 13. Lincoln Mayorga and Amanda McBroom – Growing Up In Hollywood Town – 1980 

Vinyl

Vinyl surface noise: 5-    (not pops and clicks)

Dynamic Range: 5-

Stereo Imaging: 5-

Image depth/perspective: 4+

Overall frequency response: 4+

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vinyl and CD Review: Growing Up In Hollywood Town - Sheffield Lab 13

KLH Research and Development Demonstration Version

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vinyl and CD Review: Growing Up In Hollywood Town - Sheffield Lab 13

CD 13. The Audiophile Reference Series. Lincoln Mayorga and Amanda McBroom – Growing Up In Hollywood Town – 1980

Plastic – CD

Surface noise:  N/A

Dynamic Range: 5-

Stereo Imaging: 4+

Image depth/perspective: 4+

Overall frequency response: 4+

 

 

 

 

 

 

Side One

  1. The Portrait
  2. Peter The Hermit
  3. The Rose
  4. You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’
  5. Dusk

Side Two

  1. Hooray For Hollywood/Growing Up In Hollywood Town
  2. Love Letters
  3. Amanda
  4. Silent Lady

Recorded: March 25 -27 1980, on the historical, fifty year old Stage One, at the Sheffield Lab Studios at MGM in Culver City, California. It was nominated for a Grammy award for ENGINEERING EXCELLENCE. This was to be the first album to be recorded, since I’ve Got the Music In Me, Lab 2, in 1975, that, due to the size of the large pop music ensemble, was to use multiple microphones, This was necessary because a single point stereo microphone would not have been capable of producing an acoustically balanced sound.


This is the only album in the Lab series that I also own the special demonstration pressing produced for, and distributed by, KLH, together with the CD version. KLH selected this album to be used to demonstrate the performance of their loudspeakers.

The CD version of this album is from the Audiophile Reference Series, and was created using the original, analog two track, reference master, session backup tape. It was this tape that was directly transferred to the JVC Compact Disc Master.

So which did I prefer? Read on.

Both versions are truly outstanding examples of the musicians, engineers and each mediums capabilities.


The Vinyl

First things first. The official and KLH vinyl releases sound exactly the same, which is not surprising coming from the same session. My KLH version having a little more surface noise, due to what I have to assume is more use. I obtained it second hand.

This was love at first listen. It is a flawless recording, bringing a tear to my eye at the feeling of actually being back in the control room. Every aspect of the recording was perfect. From hearing the board mute to total black silence, to listening to the musicians change pages between tracks and the gentle and so refined tail out of the studios decay. S2T2 and the sax solo is to die for. I thought I had gone to heaven, it was outstanding. Only to be outdone by Amanda’s rendition of, Amanda. I sat there and actually saw her face with the entire orchestra behind her, it just doesn’t get any better than this.

This is an outstanding recording, that despite using multiple microphones still maintained a good stereo image and respectable depth perspective. And although side one has five tracks there is no evidence of any compression. The orchestra is laid out across the entire sound stage and is placed just behind Amanda,  with a fairly aggressive up front drum kit that really punched it out on several tracks, like S2T1, Hooray for Hollywood. Amanda’s vocals were pristine with little sibilance and no hard edges. Her mid-range wasn’t accentuated, and at times, most notably in S1T1, she was set back in the mix as the track opens.  Her vocal dynamic range showing no signs of any compression on any track.

The orchestral image was good, and you could clearly hear the studio acoustics decaying in numerous instances. All orchestral parts were clean, with precise imaging, again being supported by the studios natural acoustics. Lincoln Mayorga’s piano performances were flawless at all times, with a perfect integration with the orchestra and all the other performers. The electric bass lines were all solid and clean and well integrated with the kick drum. The xylophone on S2T1 and S2T4 provided clean, crisp solos, as did the harmonica on S1T2. And there are numerous instances of just the piano, electric bass and kit playing short solos or as a trio.

The Plastic (CD)

In spite of all the processing that this digitized disc has been through, it sounds outstanding, and is exceptionally close to the original vinyl pressing.  It has the added advantage of no surface noise but just lacks a little, and I MEAN a little, of the impact of the vinyl. I am sure that if I was asked to do a double blind test the only real give away would be the vinyl noise.

The detectable differences were Amanda’s vocals having a slightly ‘harder’ mid-range and the kick drum, snare and tom toms having an ever so reduced ‘edge’. All these things could be put down to my ears tiring and, of course, all the additional signal processing.

My only criticism of the CD is that it was recorded at least 10dB below my typical listening level, I assume in order to get the entire dynamic range recreated. This wasn’t a problem, other than I had to increase the volume by +10dB. Not an issue, as I have a huge head room and plenty of gain to spare.

The recording was as open as a book, stereo imaging was absolutely precise, with a respectable depth perspective. Top was very detailed, the mid range well defined and not too forward, and the bass was extended and well integrated with the kick drum that shined on S2T1, Hooray for Hollywood. Just like the vinyl.


Comparing vinyl and CD pressings of the same session often results in notable differences., because the two process  are very different, as are the signal processing chains. The myriad of signal processing applied to the production of a CD compared to that of vinyl is to say the least, massive.  The ADC/DAC and mastering differences can really impact the final listening experience, taking it to shores that are well distant to what was actually created in the studio control room.  Well, I am really happy to say that in at least this case, the transition from vinyl to plastic preserved virtually all of the original intent and studio feel.

Hell! Both releases are outstanding. Reminding me of all the years I worked  in the professional recording and studio environments.


I love them both, yes, really, and would not hesitate to use either to show what direct to disc, and tape/CD, can achieve. Both Vinyl and Plastic versions are outstanding. It is not surprising that this recording received a Grammy nomination for engineering excellence. It deserved it, and should have won it.

If you can’t get a vinyl copy of this outstanding recording the CD is NOT second best. It’s actually ‘better’ due to the lower background noise, that in my opinion, opens up the listening experience just a little, not to mention the convenience of jumping between, and replaying tracks, without leaving your seat! I know, this comment could be considered as heresy by some vinyl aficionados, well that’s life! I suppose it all depends upon just how good your conversion from digital to analog is!!

Listening heaven awaits you.

Purchase vinyl and CDs from Discogs, and CDs from Sheffield Lab.

See my other vinyl reviews here.

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