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Audiophile Frank Sinatra suggestions

post #1 of 30
Thread Starter 

After hearing a couple of reviewers rave about the supremacy of Frank Sinatra's vocal style, I thought it was about time I investigate this legend. I've become familiar with the different periods of Sinatra career but have yet to find an album that bests illuminates--in all it's hi-fi glory--the best of Frank Sinatra. Lo be if from me to buy a CD without turning to head-fi's music lovers for advice first. Looking through the threads, something like "Songs For Swingin Lovers" or "Sings For Only The Lonely" look intriguing. Any suggestions? 

post #2 of 30
Capitol Records Sinatra releases all sounded great, and every one of them is worth hearing. Unfortunately, the CDs that are currently available were remastered using intrusive digital manipulation. The frequency response isn't anywhere near flat, and a harmonizer has been used to extend the bass notes down an octave, making acoustic basses sound like electronic basses. Blechhh!

Your best bet is to find used copies of the first CD releases of the Sinatra catalog or Japanese imports. The best of all would be to find original LP pressings, but early pressings in good shape aren't inexpensive. Neither are the later MFSL ones.
Edited by bigshot - 6/22/11 at 10:36am
post #3 of 30
Thread Starter 

Well that's an unfortunate insight.  Thanks for the input.  :)

post #4 of 30

[scratch that]

 

 

post #5 of 30

Big shot is right....unfortunately.

 

The Capitol Era Sinatra catalog is in shambles and every release following the original LP releases has failed to capture the sonic qualities inherent on 60 year old vinyl pressings. How sad is that!?

 

Here is the break down:

 

The Original Gray Label pressings:

 

These are the ones you want! However, even between the original pressings, you still have to wise and careful. You preferably want low stamper numbers with a D prefix. The D prefix means that it is an original west coast pressing by Capitol Records and is from the master stampers and from the master tape. An N prefix means it was made in New York from an original copy of the master tape.

 

You also want to make sure that if you shelling out anything over $10, that the copy has been play graded! A lot of these vinyl copies were played to death (can you blame them?) and were played to death on non-optimized systems from the 1950's and 1960's causing a lot of groove damage. Often times the vinyl will look pristine and will sound like it was run through a gravel pit. Be careful!

 

The Rainbow Pressings:

When Capitol introduced stereo, they introduced the stereo rainbow labels. If you are looking for the great sounding Sinatra releases from this era, you want to look for the labels that have the Capitol logo on the nine o'clock side of the label. Rainbow labels that have the Capitol logo at 12 o'clock sound bad and were usually subject to post processing decisions and mayhem. As always, a D pressing is better than an N.

 

 

The Yellow Labels/Other Reissues:

In general, I would avoid all the domestic reissues released after 1962 by Capitol records.

 

Alan Dell UK Vinyl Re-Issues:

This series has very good sound and is a great place to get all the albums in one shot, with great sound.

 

MFSL Silver Sinatra Box Set:

This set is usually sold for big bucks! Don't worry as you don't need it. Many of the albums released on this set were mastered from the wrong master tapes and do not sound good. Songs For Swingin' Lovers, for example, was mastered from the fake stereo echo master tape.

 

THE CD ERA

 

Rare Original Releases

There were some rare releases on CD in Japan that sound great and sound as if they were taken from the correct master tapes. However, they are rare and hard to find.

 

Larry Walsh Releases

The mono albums all have fake echo added to them and all the stereo albums are remixes with added echo. In general they are well regarded but far from ideal. I would buy them only if you can get them for under $5 each.

 

Songs For Swingin' Lovers MFSL Gold CD

Mastered from the wrong tape...again...best avoided.

 

Norberg Releases

Avoid like the plague! These have so much tweaking that Sinatra sounds lifeless.

 

Alan Dell UK Box Set

IMHO, this is the set to get if you want a nice collection on CD. The mono CD's sound nice except for a small missing excerpt on one CD and fake stereo on Songs For Swingin' Lovers. The stereo releases are all from the original stereo mixes and sound very nice.

 

Recent MFSL Gold CD's

The recent gold CD's from MFSL sound decent. Nice N Easy is mastered from the original stereo mix master tape and sounds very good. Possibly the best stereo release of this album thus far.

 

Sings For Only The Lonely is mastered from the mono master tape and sounds great as well. Because this release is from the mono mix, I consider it an essential buy and one that is a keeper both due to the mix used and the great sound.

 

Questionable Euro Releases

A lot of Sinatra's releases are no longer under copyright in the EU and this has spurred the release of many of his albums in questionable packages. I have purchased a few and have found the quality to be sub-par to abysmal. Some have heavy filtering and others just sound horrid. Avoid like the Norbergs.

 

What we really need for audiophile Sinatra:

We need an audiophile company to go into the Capitol vault, find the working parts and do proper stereo remixes for the stereo albums with no added echo and flat transfers of the mono mixes. They need to master this well while avoiding noise reduction and release them in a high resolution medium like SACD. Since SACD fits a lot of information, it would be nice for them to include the mono mix, original stereo mix and a stereo remix of the albums where applicable.

 

Until then, I believe the UK Alan Dell CD box set is the best choice for the money.


Edited by LFF - 6/27/11 at 12:02am
post #6 of 30
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the detailed info. Read every word of it and liked it as you can see. I guess my one questions is how you like mono verses stereo mixes on our fancy headphone rigs? How do you feel toward the mono mixes just out of curiosity?  

post #7 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by wower View Post

Thanks for the detailed info. Read every word of it and liked it as you can see. I guess my one questions is how you like mono verses stereo mixes on our fancy headphone rigs? How do you feel toward the mono mixes just out of curiosity?  


Thanks!

 

As with all things...it depends. Some albums are only available in mono mixes and those are superb if you manage to get a good pressing.

 

Then there are the albums with TWO different mixes.

 

The best example I can think of is "Come Fly With Me".

 

The stereo version has very evident distortion on three songs. This distortion is actually on the stereo master tapes and the three track work parts. Despite this, the stereo version, when properly mastered, sounds fantastic.

 

The mono version has no distortion. Moreover, because it was multi-mic'd, on the mono version you can hear more instruments. The string plucks of the harp are very evident on the first song. The marimba, which is almost non-existent on the stereo version of Brazil, is clearly heard on the mono version. Well mastered, the mono version also sounds fantastic.

 

So...back to your original questions:

 

1. "How do you like mono verses stereo mixes on our fancy headphone rigs?"

 

I'll answer this on the following question...

 

2. "How do you feel toward the mono mixes just out of curiosity? "

 

The mono mixes as well as the stereo mixes are all worth tracking down. You can learn a lot about recording and mixing just by listening to the different versions of this album. On some, I clearly prefer the stereo, on others, I prefer the mono and on some, I don't really have a preference. Here is what my Frank Sinatra album list looks like as well as the sources. Keep in mind that it has taken me years to find mint pressings and good chunk of change as well:

 

 1. Frank Sinatra - Songs For Young Lovers (Original Mono Version)

 2. Frank Sinatra - Songs For Young Lovers (12 Inch Mono Version - UK Vinyl)

 3. Frank Sinatra - Swing Easy! (Original Mono version)

 4. Frank Sinatra - Swing Easy! (12 Inch Mono version - UK vinyl)

 5. Frank Sinatra - In The Wee Small Hours (Mono Gray Label D pressing)

 6. Frank Sinatra - Songs For Swingin' Lovers! (Mono Gray Label early D Pressing w Original Artwork)

 7. Frank Sinatra - This Is Sinatra! (Mono Gray Label)

 8. Frank Sinatra - Close To You (Mono Gray Label D Pressing)

 9. Frank Sinatra - A Swingin' Affair! (Mono Gray Label D Pressing)

10. Frank Sinatra - Where Are You? (Mono Gray Label D Pressing)

11. Frank Sinatra - Where Are You? (Stereo Capitol 9 o'clock Rainbow Pressing)

12. Frank Sinatra - A Jolly Christmas (Mono MFSL pressing)

13. Frank Sinatra - Come Fly With Me (Mono 2010 Capitol From The Vaults Pressing)

14. Frank Sinatra - Come Fly With Me (Stereo Capitol Rainbow Pressing)

15. Frank Sinatra - This Is Sinatra! Vol. 2 (Mono Gray Label pressing)

16. Frank Sinatra - This Is Sinatra! Vol. 2 (Stereo version compiled from various sources)

17. Frank Sinatra - Only The Lonely (Mono MFSL CD version)

18. Frank Sinatra - Only The Lonely (Stereo Capitol 9 o'clock Rainbow Pressing)

19. Frank Sinatra - Come Dance With Me (Stereo UK Vinyl)

20. Frank Sinatra - Look To Your Heart (Mono Capitol 9 o'clock Rainbow Pressing)

21. Frank Sinatra - No One Cares (Stereo Capitol 9 o'clock Rainbow Pressing)

22. Frank Sinatra - Nice 'N' Easy (Stereo MFSL CD version)

23. Frank Sinatra - All The Way (Stereo Capitol 9 o'clock Rainbow Pressing)

24. Frank Sinatra - Sinatra's Swingin' Session!!! (Mono Capitol 9 o'clock Rainbow Pressing)

25. Frank Sinatra - Sinatra's Swingin' Session!!! (Stereo Capitol 9 o'clock Rainbow Pressing)

26. Frank Sinatra - Come Swing With Me! (Stereo Capitol 9 o'clock Rainbow Pressing))

27. Frank Sinatra - Point Of No Return (Stereo Capitol 9 o'clock Rainbow Pressing - German pressing)

28. Frank Sinatra - Sings of Love Things (Mono & Stereo - Capitol 12 o'clock Rainbow Pressing)

29. Frank Sinatra - Duets (Stereo DCC Gold CD)

30. Frank Sinatra - Duets II (Stereo DCC Gold CD)

31. Frank Sinatra - The Classic Duets (DVD Audio)

32. Frank Sinatra -  Rare Stuff (compiled from Rare Sinatra UK CD & vinyl single pressings)

 

That's the main album list. Aside from that, I have digitally remixed the stereo albums to my liking. If you can ever make it to a CanJam event or local Southern California meet, I always bring along my entire Sinatra collection so that people can listen to my work. The reactions seem positive for the most part. wink_face.gif

post #8 of 30
post #9 of 30

Or this:

 

51dIJECHBML._SS400_.jpg

post #10 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by wower View Post

After hearing a couple of reviewers rave about the supremacy of Frank Sinatra's vocal style, I thought it was about time I investigate this legend. I've become familiar with the different periods of Sinatra career but have yet to find an album that bests illuminates--in all it's hi-fi glory--the best of Frank Sinatra. Lo be if from me to buy a CD without turning to head-fi's music lovers for advice first. Looking through the threads, something like "Songs For Swingin Lovers" or "Sings For Only The Lonely" look intriguing. Any suggestions? 



A must have Sinatra album is Live at the sands. That will give you everything your looking for and more. *i have almost everything Sinatra recorded and thts my desert island record.

post #11 of 30

41gRxfXVuFL._SL500_AA300_.jpg

 

Get the Japanese SHM-CD Import. It's amazing how well stuff was recorded back then. Makes you wonder how in the world the Beatles stuff sounds like s#!7.


Edited by purrin - 7/26/11 at 7:24pm
post #12 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by giedrys View Post

Or this:

 

51dIJECHBML._SS400_.jpg


Too much processing on this one. Some songs differ from their original album cuts and most of it has no-noise applied. I would avoid it.

 



Quote:
Originally Posted by Frank I View Post





A must have Sinatra album is Live at the sands. That will give you everything your looking for and more. *i have almost everything Sinatra recorded and thts my desert island record.


Live at the Sands is a great album. Seek out the original reprise CD pressing and you should be good. Not the best mastering...but far from being bad. I have the complete show (as far as I was able to piece together) and it's fantastic.

 


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by purrin View Post

41gRxfXVuFL._SL500_AA300_.jpg

 

Get the Japanese SHM-CD Import. It's amazing how well stuff was recorded back then. Makes you wonder how in the world the Beatles stuff sounds like s#!7.


Also avoid it. The SHM-CD is mastered a bit too hot. The original reprise CD is rather good. It won't sound like Sinatra has been resurrected from the dead but it will sound decent enough.

 

post #13 of 30

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by LFF View Post

Also avoid it. The SHM-CD is mastered a bit too hot. The original reprise CD is rather good. It won't sound like Sinatra has been resurrected from the dead but it will sound decent enough.

 


I actually like it because it is a bit hot - gives the brass some bite. I haven't heard the Reprise CD though - are you referring to the 1999 release?

 

 


Originally Posted by LFF View Post


That's the main album list. Aside from that, I have digitally remixed the stereo albums to my liking. If you can ever make it to a CanJam event or local Southern California meet, I always bring along my entire Sinatra collection so that people can listen to my work. The reactions seem positive for the most part. wink_face.gif


Are you going to be at the Anaheim meet this August? L3000.gif
 

 


Edited by purrin - 7/26/11 at 7:56pm
post #14 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by purrin View Post

 


I actually like it because it is a bit hot - gives the brass some bite. I haven't heard the Reprise CD though - are you referring to the 1999 release?

 

 



Are you going to be at the Anaheim meet this August? L3000.gif
 

 


The brass is definitely missing some bite but that is a mastering, or better yet...an eq/mic problem. You're still hearing the same crap sounding brass...just louder. Yes, I was referring to the 1990's release. The complete Reprise set actually sounds very good IMHO. It's a very dynamic recording you really need to turn up the volume.

 

There is a meet in Anaheim coming up?!?! I didn't even know. I guess I will be there. Since you're in Irvine...you're not that far from me either. I live close to Anaheim Hills. If you are free on a Friday night, then perhaps we could have a mini-meet and you can listen to most of my stuff.

 


Edited by LFF - 7/26/11 at 8:36pm
post #15 of 30

Definitely. I would absolutely love to listen to your stuff. It's not often most of use get to sit in and understand the other aspects of the recording / mastering process. I'm actually downloading your Disneyland Binaural recordings now. I'll send you a PM sooner or later. I guess I'll see you at the meet!

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