Vinyl Review: The Sheffield Drum Record – Sheffield Lab 14 – Released 1981
Vinyl surface noise: 4+ (not pops and clicks)
Dynamic Range: 5+
Stereo Imaging: 5
Image depth/perspective: 4+
Overall frequency response: 5
- Improvisations by Jim Keltner
- Improvisations by Ron Tutt
Recoded February 15 – 17, 1980 at the Sheffield Lab Studios at MGM, Culver City, California.
This recording was performed by Jim Keltner, an original member from Gary Lewis and The Playboys, and Ron Tutt, best known for working as Elvis Presley’s drummer for recordings and concerts. It was created to satisfy the continual requests for Sheffield to create a recording that would provide a ‘tool’ for audio professionals, audiophiles and enthusiasts to really test all of an audio systems components. From the cartridge to the arm, head amp, amplifier and speakers. They certainly succeeded!
The recording was made with a stereo pair of AKG microphones placed two feet above the kit and a third microphone placed on the floor directly in front of the kick drum. Ron Tutt’s kit used a fourth microphone for the snare drum. No artificial reverberation was added to the recording, leaving only the studios ambience to be detected.
The dynamic range is extreme, and I have never heard any lab recording with a dynamic range greater than this one. Kit imaging is pin point and nicely spread between the speakers across the entire stereo image. Image depth is a little shallow but that is not what this recording is about. The kick drum really puts some bottom end out with huge dynamic impact, while the snare drum and toms provide a highly dynamic and impactful sound. Cymbals, triangles and bells etc. are beautifully clean with no hard edges. The studio room decay is also immediately obvious on both album sides as no additional signal processing was added to the signal chain.
There are notable differences between the two drum kits. In particular the kick and snare drums. Ron Tutt’s snare was a little thicker and more resonant while his kick drum had a little more low frequency energy having a little less of the beater sound. Also his cymbals sounded a little more refined with Jim’s sounding more ‘busy’.
This recording is not there to get you to sit back relax and listen. It should make you sit up, be amazed and beg for more. Assuming that is, that your speakers cones don’t land in your lap.
At the high volume that I listened to this recording at, well above my normal levels, the pressure waves were positively palpable, with the kit sounding like it was in the room. I measured some of the kick drum and snare rim shots at almost 110dB!
Played at these realistic levels, this recording rocks! Listener beware, that in order to achieve these realistic levels, given the dynamic range of this recording, requires only the best of cartridges and arms, together with amplifiers and speakers that can handle an enormous dynamic power range.
This is the one and only recording to show off your systems extreme capabilities to all those admiring friends!
Go buy it, NOW.