March 2012 Issue - page 4

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It was Tony Bolton’s remarks in September about the quality of vinyl reissues that motivated me to sit down and write this epistle. I hope you can find a few minutes to read through the story and perhaps Tony can reply.

My two friends and I were recently well elated to see that Warner had re-issued Eric Clapton’s “Unplugged” on a double album. We all bought copies and agreed that we’d have a group listening session to play the new LPs and have fun comparing them with the original LP and the CD.  While playing side 2 of the new LP re-issue we happened upon a couple of sonic anomalies which sounded as though four or five guitar notes were being skipped over at one place during each of the two songs “Lonely Stranger” and “Layla”.

There was nobody actually singing at those points in time on either of those tracks so we weren’t quite sure what we were hearing. This album has always been one of our absolute favorites and we know every bar that’s played so we did know immediately that something was amiss. We investigated further by playing the CD and the new LP in parallel through an amp with fast A/B switch-over between two sources. Our turntables have speed controls so we got both sources nicely synchronised on exactly the same notes and listened attentively.

The result of this comparison left us in absolutely no doubt. During “Lonely Stranger” at precisely 4 minutes and 44 seconds (timing as read from the CD player display) the LP sound track suddenly and audibly skips forward by just under two seconds and remains ahead of the CD by exactly this amount until the last note is played. During “Layla” the same thing happens at 3 minutes and 20 seconds. It’s especially easy to monitor the time shift that occurs during “Layla”. Continue listening to the LP track until you hear the background girls return towards the end using the words “begging darling please” and on the word “please” switch over to the CD – you’ll be just in time to hear “begging darling please” being sung again. These three words/five notes take just under two seconds to sing/play. These “missing bits” are pretty much coincident with one revolution of the LP groove. It’s almost as if two neigbouring grooves have merged together during the master-cutting process – but we don’t have a microscope so we can’t verify if that is the case. Needless to say, we repeated all the same tests with all three new copies of the double album available to us and using different turntable/arm/pickup combinations – all our tests produced identical results. All three copies of LP side 2 are flawed in exactly the same way. Sides 1, 3 and 4 are OK at least in that respect.

Subsequent emails to Warner and to Eric Clapton’s website have all remained unanswered. Seemingly a total lack of interest.

I cannot agree more with Tony Bolton: if possible, steer clear of reissues. If the industry doesn’t want to take sufficient care with their reissues and ignores constructive feedback from customers about defects that have crept in they really don’t deserve the revenue that reissues generate. It’s a pity that the QC seems to have failed somewhere in the process. Admittedly the anomalies occur in places where nobody is actually singing so somebody who test-listened to the master (or the test pressings) and happened to have cloth ears or doesn’t know the music might not notice the skipped notes. I and my friends did notice and frankly it has spoiled our enjoyment of what could have been a really significant vinyl release. What can one do in such a case?

For your additional info  the “matrix “ serial numbers on all the three copies we’ve listened to are: 1-468412-B and BB31540-01 B1.

If you’ve got access to a review copy of the new double album (and the CD or the older LP for comparison) perhaps you could take a listen in the same way we did. If your vinyl copy doesn’t exhibit the described anomalies we’d appreciate knowing the “matrix” numbers stamped on your copy and where it was sourced but we’re hoping you can help to shed some additional light on this and advise how we might proceed.

There’s always the possibility that we are imagining things and/or going off our collective rockers with overdoses of vinyl but we are convinced there are problems with these LPs but we haven’t managed to succeed in bringing it to the attention of the manufacturer. Not for want of trying though.

Thanks for taking the time to read this – we’re looking forward to your opinions/responses/advice.

Kind regards,

Christopher Warrender,






Eric Clapton's Unplugged album. The re-issue has missing notes, says Christopher Warrender.




Hi Christopher. That's a great bit of detective work and other readers may want to comment. We don't have the particular recordings and pressings you mention, so are unable to comment ourselves. NK


I’m a big reader of your magazine since years, and I’m trust so much in your reviews, and opinion. I live in Hungary, so I’m very glad to see your magazine is available in electronic form too.

I have a pair of Elac 310 CE speakers and a Denon PMA-1510 AE amplifier at home. I usually listen to music from my Mac Mini through an HRT Music Streamer 2+ DAC, so I’m on “digital”. I listen to every kind of music from classical to rock. I’d like to ask you, what amplifier do you suggest to this system? I like the Denon’s sound, but I find it a bit strong to my 70W 4ohm speakers. So I’d like to try something else with less power, but more musicality at a price around 1000-1500 GBP. I thinking about a Hungarian constructor's product called Heed Audio Obelis SI. Do you ever heard it?

Thank you.

Yours sincerely,

Tom Talicska,





Combining network player and amplifier, the Naim UnitiQute is a neat all-in-one for modern times.




Hi Tom. We do not know Obelis Si I am sorry to say. I suggest you consider a Naim Nait as an alternative to the Denon. It has a stronger sound and will bring more vigour to your music. An interesting alternative is the new UnitiQute, with its on-board network player and 30W power amplifiers. NK

Comments (1)
Got a cj61
1Thursday, 19 July 2012 20:05
Paul brown
Just done the mods you advise. It does work on both alignment and the tape slightly shifts the balance. Super suggestion

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