"Electric Ladyland" Box Set Panic! Calm Down, Please!

During last fall's "Blues Masters at the Crossroads" concert weekend at Chad Kassem's Blue Heaven studios, attendees were invited to tour Quality Record Pressings where workers were busy assembling the just-released Electric Ladyland box set containing a Bernie Grundman all-analog remastering from the original analog tapes of the double LP set, a double LP of early takes, a double LP of Jimi Hendrix Experience Live at the Hollywood Bowl, a Blu-ray disc containing a 96/24 high resolution version of the original double LP, a 5.1 channel Eddie Kramer mix at 96/24 resolution and an expanded documentary including interviews with the late Chas Chandler, Mitch Mitchell and Noel Redding and in-the-studio footage. There's also a full-sized 46 page booklet in the box. I'm working my way through the box for a review.

In the meantime more than a few emails have arrived with readers complaining about a "terrible pressing defect" that has led more than one buyer to go through multiple replacements only to find the same defect on every side 4 in the space between "House Burning Down" and "All Along the Watchtower". I'd not yet gotten to that side so I hadn't encountered the problem but when I pulled out the record and held it in "just so" light there it was! You can see a part of it in the photo at the top. There are two of these 'ridges' in between the tracks, one longer than the other.

So I played the end of "Houses Burning" and listened for the expected awful defect that has led to "forum panic" and outraged buyers demanding a replacement second disc.

Here's what it looks like on Audacity:

See that one tiny spike between the tracks? That's what's set off the panic.

Now, listen to what it sounds like:

PANIC ATTACK!

In my opinion this is a big nothing, that had it occurred somewhere else on the side and not visible to the eye, everyone would ignore it and listen to the excellent mastering job but because it can be seen (and probably has something to do with a plating issue, since it's apparently on every pressing), the boards are lit up about it.

If you want "perfection" get the CD version. It won't sound nearly as good but it also will not have this tiny "blip" of a defect. That's my take on this "nothingburger" of a "vinyl scandal" and I'm sticking to it!

COMMENTS
vinylrules's picture

I could be wrong but usually I am not as I am highly perceptive to pitch but the tempo on “All Along the Watchtower” seems a hair slow Mikey. Can you throw a strobe on your turntable to confirm? If you don’t agree and/or don’t hear it then please skip my humble suggestion. But I won’t lie, I am terribly curious ;-)

About the business of the blemish in between the tracks, yeah, I’d call it a “nothingburger” as well. Having said that, if there is enough of a backlash and Analog Productions ends up offering a replacement on a future repress for the one disc, I’d accept a replacement if offered. Why wouldn’t I want a disc without the pressing flaw?

Michael Fremer's picture
Funny you mention that! I had the identical reaction and I did check speed. Since this was played on the Technics SP10R it was easy to see the speed was EXACTLY 33.3. As for Bernie’s playback deck... but remember: this was approved by Experience Hendrix... still needs further examination...
vinylrules's picture

And I totally agree with you this warrants further examination! If it turns out there is/was an issue with Bernie's playback deck then what a masive boo boo, huh? But for sure pitch is off. Glad you agree. Keep us posted would you?

All my best,

Oz

ramseurrecords's picture

Could it be that the original was sped up like they did with Dylan's "Blood On The Tracks"? I am a massive Jimi fan and have never heard where things were sped up with his recordings. So I doubt this is the case.

Bob D.'s picture

Non issue.

J. Carter's picture

There are actually 2 or 3 visual issues on that side in and around All Along The Watchtower as an Amazon reviewer observed. He claimed it made it skip or something to that effect so it concerned me. I have since listened to that side twice and have heard no such ill effects. I made sure to add a comment to that review on Amazon since if that person was having those types of issues it wasn’t the record but probably the man’s turntable.

longlivevinyl's picture

There is no defect on the EU pressing. Neither visual nor audible.

gbougard's picture

Who presses the EU release?

Jim Tavegia's picture

We all have LPs where the quality is all over the place, some a 5 and some close to a 10. I remember the issues with the Steely Dan pressing of 2VNature where jitter was a problem with the first test CD pressings and it came down to a defect in the master run where the clock was messed up. ON a $5,000 CD player that rechecked the stream it sounded fine, but on a portable player it was murky. You can find the story on late Roger Nichol's site and worth a read. QC IS everything and why the quality of the vinyl material critical. Buying parts from the lowest bidder and posed big problems for the auto industry and those who buy cars. Of course profits are high and that is what rules these days. Sorry to hear about this, but at the prices of vinyl these days no one should accept less than the best. Science reigns.

Ciceroslim's picture

At these prices? Yes, that's what we want. What makes it worse is, you can't go back to the store, with your receipt in hand, and deal with it with an actual human being. Buying new vinyl is a financial and psychological commitment these days.

Miner42's picture

Would a Sweet Vinyl Sugar Cube be able to 'fix' this issue?

Michael Fremer's picture
An easy fix for Sweet Vinyl Sugar Cube
Anton D's picture

I don't mind the bump, but it seems a bit low in frequency and long in impulse duration for me to want a Sugar Cube to 'erase' it.

Does it strike you that way?

This is very interesting. Do you have a Sugar Cube to try it?

Anton D's picture

I have many records that I can identify purely by hearing the lead-in groove noise before the music starts on a record or by groove noise between tracks....put this down as a vinyl nothing burger from me, as well.

Anton D's picture

....Should get rid of the dam terrier.

Terrier hair is like foxtails for record grooves.

Anathema.

Michael Fremer's picture
You can be sure the dogs stay (two Cardigans) and that the record would have been cleaned before serious play!
Anton D's picture

:-D

As a "true" audiophile, I have acquired non-shedding breeds. I obviously love Hi Fi more.

(Disclaimer: this is only goofy vinyl-head chat, not really being serious.)

Tom L's picture

...little Lucy. She's a Havanese, rescued from a breeder where she spent four years in a cage. Fantastic dog, she is the light of our lives, and no extra clicks and pops!

DavidC's picture

premium QC? That seems to be what you've wrote. If, as you proffer, this is/was a plating issue, shouldn't that have been picked up in test pressings and corrected? Instead, your column on this intimates us lowly consumers who pay AP a premium for their product should move along as there is nothing to see here? I'm not surprised by the shilling for AP, but it does disappoint me to not back the customer over an obvious flaw in the pressings, regardless of how small or large.

Michael Fremer's picture
Seriously? Yes it should have been picked up by someone, obviously but I am not "shilling for AP". If I'm "shilling" for anything it's COMMON SENSE. It's one tiny "tick" between tracks. The solution would be to recut the second record and send copies to all who purchased the box OVER ONE TINY TICK IN BETWEEN TRACKS! I think that's excessive.
moviefan's picture

At this point yes, its excessive to re-press and send replacements.

But what if it was indeed discovered early on. This is QRP after all. And because of the costs, and more importantly the time it would take to recut the plate, it was decided to go ahead and press, package and market this visibly and audibly defective product (the defect capable of being felt) in time for the holiday season - the public be damned. To me that's a bit more callous.

I'm just speculating, I can live with it the way it is.

imbetterthenu's picture

MF ... it seems you "protect" anything that is debated when it comes to something or someone you know. it is a major issue is w/o question a huge concern.

go back to your playground you irrational short little man.

OldschoolE's picture

I stick with original pressings myself, but this sort of thing is found there as well. A single tick is a nothingburger. Hell, if you have a single tick on a whole record then you have the holy grail! I feel the same that this is much ado about nothing. We need to remember that forums are nothing but battlefields. We should also remember the Amazon reviews should be taken with much scrutiny and a salt lick.That is not saying the defect doesn't exist or anything like that. It is just saying "making mountains out of mole hills".

I agree though that if one is paying $30+ for a new record, it better be near perfect as possible, but again we are talking vinyl records here. (I never buy new records myself, partly because much of the music I listen to has never been repressed and with original pressings I can at least get some clue as to provenance). CDs are not perfect either. No media is perfect. Perfect simply does not exist in audio. I say of you can't hear it or it is nearly a non-event, live with it and enjoy the music or forget it.

moviefan's picture

The defect is multiple ridges you can easily feel. When played it isn't a "tic" on my system, more of a significant "thump". I returned my copy.

longlivevinyl said above that there is no defect on the EU pressing. Does AP have European presses/plates? I would pay an additional $30 to Amazon.co.uk to get a defect free copy of this release.

Michael Fremer's picture
In between tracks? If so, you could end up with a pressing with a tick or a "thump" in the music...
Roy Martin's picture

..."Don't trade a headache for an upset stomach." This is a beautifully pressed, quiet, set.

And this market is so screwy that the set with the visible "bump" will become a "collectible first edition."

soulsfred's picture

I live in France. I was waiting for the US pressing of the box set, because I knew it was pressed at QRP.
I paid 109.99€ and now I too have these obvious flaws on my brand new lps...
Now I'm gonna have to return the box and buy the EU pressing!
Very disappointed by Analogue Productions quality control.

Michael Fremer's picture
It's one tiny "tick" in between tracks. Chances are you could end up with a record with "ticks" in the music. It happens!
OldschoolE's picture

As I said earlier, this type of thing can happen with original pressings even from the best plants of the day. I just acquired an original pressing copy of Led Zeppelin's Physical Graffiti for $15 after 5 years of hunting. For some reason copies of this record even in trashed condition go for around $40! On first look at time of purchase, the records looked to be in very good shape. Upon second inspection I noted a series (about 3) of very tiny bumps (could be undulations) in one of the tracks just after the dead space preceding it. This could be trouble or could be a non-issue. I won't know until I play it, which will not happen until it is properly cleaned.

alucas's picture

if AP offered a replacement, 90% would take it. that in it self kills the argument on letting it go, besides seeing and feeling it really sucks on the QC issue. Chad have you ever heard of,"once bitten, twice shy"? That would kill any business. i try and always buy first nm pressings, for this reason, plus it saves 2/3rd the price and sounds the best.

StonedBeatles1's picture

Rabbi Mickey:
This scratch is causing me to reevaluate my purchasing of new vinyl as well as renewing my Xanax prescription!

tlat.com's picture

Mikey I agree not gonna force me to go nuts...lets be real this is a fantastic pressing and overall well designed box set. A tick here or there not a problem for me. 99% of the time Analogue Productions do a super job and in this case still a super job. I do understand the complaints though. One question, do we know the range of #'s that are in question. I have a mid 5k. I also have one sealed that in the 700's. Thanks and Chad, if your reading, keep up the good work and good talking to you at the NYC Audio Show last month....

Michael Fremer's picture
That however this problem “fell through the cracks” will never again happen!
Marty65's picture
Marty65's picture

What I wanted to ask Michael is when will the review be posted?
Hopefully the all analogue process will make this the best sounding version of this LP aside from the small blip on the AP pressing.

gbougard's picture

SACD
or super hi resolution lossless files, preferably the files used to cut the vinyl

hi-fivinyljunkie's picture

It's not a tick but a sort of thunk / plop. How annoying will depend how system deals with vinyl flaws (headroom). Personally I would not be returning it. So often I get records with several small flaws or a series of repeating ticks and pops. However AP should get a kicking because I'm sure if this is plating it likely was spotted but passed QC due to cost of a repress. Anyhow I will not be buying this set as I have the previous excellent (2010) pressing and no desire for the extras in this box.

tshandy's picture

When humans are involved, there will be imperfections.

Slammintone's picture

I bought the CD box set and on the red book CD for the album there’s a big flaw about halfway through “And The Gods Made Love”. Here the sounds get real choppy like they crinkles up the master tape or something. I returned the set and exchanged for another to find the same issue o. That sets red book cd. The high resolution blue ray disc sounds perfect however.

theboogeydown's picture

I went through 3 pressings of the latest that Ben Harper did with Charlie Musslewhite (No Mercy In This Land) pressed at QRP and couldn't get a copy that wasn't trash. You can hear all of the issues when compared to a streamed version. I wrote them about it to politely share my discovery...crickets. Bummed, love their music.

dmgrant1's picture

Yes I have bought a lot of QRP issues. But, for the money, I will pass on this one. Thanks to Mickey for saving me some bucks!

dmgrant1's picture

Yes I have bought a lot of QRP issues. But, for the money, I will pass on this one. Thanks to Mickey for saving me some bucks!

vogelzang's picture

Amazon currently offering the LP set for $66.31, down from $93 just a week ago. That's a great deal IMO.

vogelzang's picture

Meanwhile Analogue Productions/Acoustic Sounds is listing it at $110

applecorp's picture

If you are paying full price you should get the product without flaws. If the flaw won;t be corrected then the price should be reduced accordingly and people notified BEFORE purchasing of the potential issue.

That's what a company with integrity would do.

cher143's picture

Bought the box, if only to hear Jimi Live at the Hollywood Bowl. If they reissue, this could be a collector's item! LOL. Now, if they could just release Jimi Live in San Diego, that would really be something.

Chipmanholmes's picture

At least you didn't get a large piece of extra vinyl cupped over a record like I did on Tom Petty's "An American Treasure" which rendered disc 3's 1st songs (both sides) unplayable. Excellent album set otherwise and I am looking into seeing if they will send me another #3 instead of having to return this massive 6 record set...

vogelzang's picture

IMO this is the best sounding Electric Ladyland I've heard to date including recent remasters by Eddie Kramer and original British and US pressings.

Marty65's picture
Marty65's picture
kronning's picture

... flat and quiet except for one little pop. Holding it up to a bright light to see if it was something my brush missed, I was disappointed to see the defect. Upon a second play, the volume of the pop seemed to lessen and didn't bother me as much. Six sides with no other problems. This one's a keeper. The best Electric Ladyland I've heard on vinyl. I even like the soft touch album covers.
Then from reading the forums, I saw the problem was pressing wide. Oh well, we may never get another AAA of this title again. I think I'll buy another box if the price comes down a little more. It's worth it for the 5.1 mix alone.

kronning's picture

Correction for my last post. That should read six records not six sides.

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