Analog Corner #79

Next time someone tells you that nice guys finish last, tell him or her about Bob Irwin, founder, owner, and president of Sundazed Records. He's one of the nicest guys you'll ever meet, he's currently on top, and odds are he'll finish there—for all the right reasons.

"Analog Corner" regulars are well aware of Sundazed's audiophile-quality AAA reissues on 180gm LPs, which the company sells for $12.98 each. The label's catalog, both deep and wide, includes LPs by Bob Dylan, The Byrds, Otis Redding, The MC5, The Monkees, Iggy Pop, Love, Mike Bloomfield, Gram Parsons, The Butterfield Blues Band, Gene Clark, Booker T. and the MG's, The Beau Brummels, The Young Rascals, and Sweet, as well as dozens of lesser-known but equally interesting artists. You can find all of these at and in the new 80-page print catalog, which includes LPs, CDs, 45s, VHS tapes, is also a fanzine, and is sure to become a collector's item even as it drains your bank account. And be sure to ask for Sundazed's glossy, full-color, vinyl-only catalog.

If I sound like a breathless fan, I am. A latecomer to the Sundazed party, I first became aware of Irwin's work on the CBS Mastersound gold CD of Van Morrison's Blowin' Your Mind!, which blew mine with superb sound I wasn't used to hearing from CD. I reviewed it in The Tracking Angle in 1995, then contacted Irwin to find out more about him and Sundazed. I got back one of the most gratifying letters I've ever received: "I've learned a lot from you over the years," said Irwin. "I've been a fan of your work..."

The feeling is mutual. I visited Sundazed late last summer, to interview Irwin at the company's idyllic Hudson River setting in the sleepy hamlet of Coxsackie, New York. As I prepared for the interview, I remembered one I'd conducted in Los Angeles in 1986 (for The Abso!ute Sound) with Harold Bronson, president and founder of the then up-and-coming Rhino Records. As the industry switched to CD, Rhino mounted a halfhearted attempt to "save the LP." It failed.

But 16 years later, Sundazed has succeeded—LP sales are up more than 30% compared to last year. Rhino has since been bought by AOL Time Warner, which, in a "cost-cutting" move (despite the company's profitability), recently removed Bronson from his position. I'm pulling for Sundazed's continued success and long-term growth; let's hope it's not at the expense of the company's soul.

Irwin started Sundazed in 1989 while he was still a purchaser for Records N Such, a three-store chain in Albany, New York. After completing college, he began working in one of the two satellite stores, within six months was managing the main location, and soon thereafter became the chain's general manager. That was in 1983–84, during the transition from LP to CD. "I'll never forget the week I started working there," he told me. "They had a wall that basically introduced compact discs, and I think there were eight titles."

Today, Irwin's reissue credits include more than 350 CDs for labels like Sony, Arista, and BMG, and boxed sets from Simon and Garfunkel, The Byrds, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Johnny Cash, Carole King, and many others. But back in the '80s, he noted with amazement that the best reissues were coming out of Germany, the UK, and Japan, from companies like Bear Family, Ace, and Charly, which seemed more interested in America's musical heritage than did our own labels.

Bob Irwin: So when Rhino started, I really, really was interested in what they were doing, and started a phone relationship with them pretty early on.

Michael Fremer: "Them" being Richard Foos and Harold Bronson?

Irwin: Yes. As I watched compact disc grow, it was obvious to see what was being missed and how people were already rushing to put together slapdash packages. Rhino tried to hire me away from the store three times. I didn't accept, but maintained my relationship with Richard Foos and would do research and find things for them here on the East Coast. They had a guy working for them named Bob Cahill, who would say to me, "Do you know where the Knickerbockers masters are?" I'd then go home and do detective work and try to find them.

Rhino, in a very short amount of time, became very successful for a few reasons. All of the Monkees albums they had just reissued entered the Billboard charts when MTV started showing The Monkees. They had the Billy Vera single "At This Moment" being played on Family Ties. It became a number one single, so all of a sudden Rhino wasn't so interested in the Knickerbockers catalog! And Richard Foos said to me, "You know, now might be a good time for you to start that label you've been talking about."

Fremer: Did you need to get investors to do this?

Irwin: Nope, everything was done by Mary [Bob's wife] and myself. It involved taking every penny we had ever saved—we were always good savers—re-mortgaging our house, and so on, because the most important thing was, we wanted this to be seen as a real entity. I didn't want to be looked upon as a boutique label, I didn't want to be a "mom and pop" label. I wanted to be a player right from the get-go.

Fremer: When you say, "I want to start a label," what do you do?

Irwin: I had a friend, Dave Hall, who was a salesman for JEM importers. He also had two labels: Sky Clad Records and Grand Slam Records. He was calling every week from JEM, and each time we spoke I'd open the notebook and ask him five more questions. Eventually, he said to me, "Irwin, what are you up to?" And I [told him]. He said, "Well, stop doing this to me on the phone. I tell you what: Next Wednesday, meet me at Pennyfeathers [in Greenwich] Village]. Bring a notebook." I met him for lunch. He came in with his phone book, he opened it up, and said, "What do you want to know?"

Basically, one-stop shopping. [He's the] guy that's most responsible for the genesis of Sundazed. He said, "Talk to this guy as your entertainment attorney—I'll make a phone call for you. Talk to this guy to get your records mastered. Talk to this guy to get this done."

Fremer: So you have your label, but you're still working in that record store. How did you connect with Sony to start doing their reissues?

Irwin: Our first few releases received great reviews in places like the New York Times, Stereo Review. At this point in time, the label was run out of my house. It was very obvious early on that we had to move to a larger location—business was great! Sony at that time was still known as CBS Records. There was no [Columbia/]Legacy yet, there wasn't a catalog division per se. There was a guy and a couple of people who worked for him who read consumer letters and looked through the catalog and said, "This might be nice to put out," and that's pretty much the way it worked.

The main catalog guy at that time was Jon Birge—wonderful guy, went on to work with several other labels, and is still active in the industry. Jon rang me up and basically said, "We don't know who you are, but we're reading about you, so why don't you come down and talk with us?" This was around 1989. My initial role was to say to them, "You guys own this or that, you ought to put that out." Legacy was then in the formation stages, so Jon said to me, "Why don't you go down the hall and meet these guys? They're going to be running it." This was Jerry Schulman and Gary Pacheco.

Fremer: I knew them. They were responsible for the first gold-CD reissue debacle. They should have spoken to me about that.

Irwin: So we talked, and I began doing projects for them for very little money. That grew, a year or two later, into my first freelance contract with the company, and I've been [working with them as a compilation producer] since 1991. It helps me to keep a foot in that other world—you meet a lot of wonderful folks, and hopefully build your reputation and r;aesum;ae, and you try to find those artists or catalogs who respect that musical approach. I have wonderful relationships in place with, naturally, The Byrds and Roger McGuinn, the Joplin estate and Janis' sister, Laura. Jimmy Vaughan, Stevie Ray's brother, and I are very good friends. Jimmy doesn't want anyone touching Stevie's catalog but me, and I have developed that same type of trusting relationship with Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel. I think that it ultimately makes me more valuable to Sony Music, but more importantly, the label appreciates someone doing the right thing with that least, that's what I try to do.

Fremer: What were your first Sundazed releases?

Irwin: The first were the projects I'd been investigating for Rhino that they passed on: the Knickerbockers catalog, the Five Americans catalog. One thing I was told early on is that when you blaze a path to an untapped tape library or catalog of music, when you go in to do your licensing deal, you'd best go after and license everything you want right away, because now that you've blazed a path, everyone else will be there shortly.

Fremer: So you get the tapes...

Irwin: ...which, we realized early on, was going to be 99% of the battle. We weren't going to settle for having someone send dupes from Nashville of the Knickerbockers stuff. It was fluky the way it happened, but we quickly realized we had to be dig for the masters. We all looked at each other and said, "Road trip," got in the car, drove to Nashville, and myself and a friend went through the entire tape vault on our stomachs to find the proper masters and multitracks.

Fremer: Which is tough because of mislabeling. The box will say, "Use this one."

Irwin: I guess the most common one that people still fall victim to is that many of the major labels would take the original mono or stereo mixdown master and write "DNU"—Do Not Use—all over it. That would, in turn, steer engineers to use the more foolproof but second-generation "cutting master," which is a copy that would have most of the processing, like EQ and compression, already applied. In most cases these days, the reels marked "DNU" are the mother ship. That's the one you want!

Fremer: Who did your mastering at first?

Irwin: Early on, I went into some local studios in Albany to audition the tapes and see what we had. The equipment was pretty much pasted together. Fortunately, I had a friend in Albany who had a beautiful vintage half-inch four-track machine. It was obvious early on that doing this properly was going to be more work than I might originally have envisioned. After mastering the first two records we ever put out, I realized that the only way the company was going to fly, the way I could keep my finger on the pulse and keep the quality where I wanted it to be, was to bring everything in-house.

Fremer: When you started hearing digitized masters—especially in those days—was it very disappointing?

Irwin: Listen, I'm an analog guy. I love analog. Our mission statement is to try and capture on a compact disc what a great-sounding record might sound like.

Fremer: At what point did you say to yourself, "I want to take the plunge into vinyl"?

Irwin: We did from day one. We never did not make vinyl. I've always had a love affair with vinyl. I've always been the stupid, sick record-collector guy—still to this day. Live for it, love it. If I couldn't make vinyl I wouldn't be in this business. Period. Back then, 1989, 1990, we sold a lot of vinyl. Actually, we've always sold a lot of vinyl, because for many vinyl titles we were able to acquire distribution rights for the worldwide territory. So while maybe you could only get a CD release of such and such for the United States, if you were seeking vinyl rights, for a few bucks more there was the possibility you could have it for the world. So we're still selling it in those pockets.

Fremer: Which are pretty deep in some places.

Irwin: Oh, you betcha! The vinyl culture embraces you and in turn feeds off itself. But, that said, there was certainly a time, six or seven years ago, when we called a meeting and decided that we were going to have to be more selective about our vinyl releases. This has never been a bottom-line company, never a marketing-driven company. We've always been an A&R- [artists and repertoire] driven company. Music comes first. If we fall in love with a certain recording, we're immediately convinced that others will as well. That is, until you start wondering if you're getting your ass kicked financially. You do have to be smart about it. You have to know not just the record-collector mentality, but you have to know the music world in general. You have to be aware of things—like you haven't been able to buy a Bob Dylan mono album since it was in print 30 years ago, that they're distinctly different from the stereo counterparts, and in most cases, with the early albums, they're far superior. Then you have to be able to find the tape to properly create that record.

Fremer: You said that your vinyl business was up something like 30%.

Irwin: More so now.

Fremer: Why is that at this point in time? Titles?

Irwin: A combination of everything, going back to our dedication to the format—that we refused to let it go. When we noticed sales not necessarily tailing off, but us having to be far more selective about what we were putting out on vinyl, my response was, "I'm starting a vinyl-only label." That's when we launched our BeatRocket subsidiary. At first it was to be a haven for all these wonderful, obscure '60s bands that didn't have enough material to make a quality CD, to fill up 40 or 50 minutes, but had 10 or 12 incredibly fucking great songs that had to be heard. And I said, "Okay, here's the perfect marriage. I get to have my little love affair with the record, and here's what we're going to do to make it fly: We're going to make sure we can license the titles at a reasonable rate, we're going to press them on 180gm vinyl, cut from analog tapes, and sell them for $11.98."

Fremer: It's amazing you can do that.

Irwin: And that's the whole genesis of the rebirth of vinyl here at Sundazed. That was hugely successful, because not only was it embraced by vinyl lovers, but by the whole '60s garage record-collector family around the world. So from there...

Fremer: Do you have an idea of the age group that buys your records?

Irwin: Yes. The core marketing bullseye for us is certainly 18-to-35-year-olds. I'm not selling all of these records to the typical oldies buyer. I don't mean to be disparaging—I'm naturally very grateful and happy when our sales spill over to that more mainstream market, which happens with the Nancy Sinatra catalog, the Buck Owens catalog, the Young Rascals, things like that. But I have always said that we'll always stay true to our roots, because I consider our core market resilient and nearly recession-proof. These are people who will buy music before they buy food or hotdogs, and as long as I stay rooted in that world, which is where my heart is, we'll be in good shape.

Fremer: In terms of numbers, what's a "successful" vinyl title?

Irwin: That's dependent upon what it takes to license the title, but I can tell you in broad terms. We have vinyl titles that sell 3000 copies worldwide and we have titles that sell 10,000 copies or more. We have some that sell 20,000 copies, and we're very happy. And they're not always the titles you might expect.

Fremer: So the middle period of your company is more process.

Irwin: It's process, but it's interesting. I was sitting at home in our old house on our patio with a beer in my hand, and Mary comes out the back door, saying, "Nancy Sinatra's on the phone for you." On the back porch, with a Corona in my hand, I had this conversation with Nancy Sinatra, who said, "My father always taught me that you give your music catalog to people that love it and will do a great job."

Fremer: How did she find out about you?

Irwin: She was recommended to us by Harold Bronson. Had the conversation with her, and within two weeks we had the whole deal inked. The Buck Owens catalog was another example. Everyone said to me, "Don't bother, he's not going to license anything out. He's not going to give you whole albums." I called Buck Owen's office and I spoke with Jim Shaw, Buckaroo keyboardist and a main manager of the Owens complex. Jim said to me, "Buck knows who you are. We just put a new CD changer in his Cherokee, and the first disc we put in there was the Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys set you did for Sony. He'll talk to you." Within two weeks, we had the Buck Owens catalog.

Then Quentin Tarantino puts out Pulp Fiction, which has six Sundazed artists featured in the soundtrack. So you have those type of things...and actually, they were much more traceable then than the growth spurts are now. You realize the growth spurts now when you've been granted the rights to the Bob Dylan vinyl catalog.

Fremer: That was through your Sony connection?

Irwin: I've known Bob's manager, Jeff Rosen, for quite a while through my work at Sony. I've always tried to walk a fine line and never let there be a conflict of interest with my work at Sony and my work here, but I have such a good relationship with the people at Legacy. We'll have a meeting between [Legacy's] Steve Berkowitz, Jeff Jones, Adam Block, and myself sitting down, going, "Hey, are you guys going to put out the Kenny Burrell material? Can I have it?" And sometimes they'll say, "We're not going to get to that, Bobby. You can do it."

With the Bob Dylan vinyl catalog, the first thing I did was drop a friendly letter to Jeff Rosen, and I put a couple of promos in there for him and for Bob, things I thought they would like: a couple of Sir Douglas Quintet albums, I think a couple of Booker T. and Otis Redding albums...

Fremer: On vinyl?

Irwin: Yeah, because they're vinyl guys. Jeff Rosen is definitely a vinyl guy.

The following week Jeff calls, and once we get done talking about baseball and this and that, and music in general, he says to me, "Let me ask you something. You do a lot of vinyl, right?" I say, "Right, more and more all the time." He says, "How come you don't have any of Bob's albums out?"

I said, "Jeff, did you get the package I sent out?" He said, "No, I just got a note that you'd called." I said, "Where's all your mail?" He says, "Behind my desk." I hear him rummaging, then he goes, "I got it right here." He opens the package while he's on the phone, he's oohing and aahing over the records and reading my letter, and he says, "I don't see any problem with [issuing some Dylan titles on vinyl] at all." He faxes my letter back to me and it says, "Sounds absolutely great, go!"

I went to Sony and locked down a couple of the albums. A few months later, I was in the office working late, and the phone rings. It's Jeff Rosen. He says, "I'm sitting here in my office with T Bone Burnett and we just came off your website. T Bone is a huge Sundazed fan, and I have a proposition for you. You've asked for a couple of things, but would you consider doing all of Bob's catalog on vinyl?"

I said, "Well...let me think about...YES!"

Fremer: What's going to happen with Dylan's Blonde on Blonde, where the stereo mix was apparently lost and they had to remix it twice?

Irwin: It wasn't lost, it was just the same scenario that plays out sometimes at major labels. When you have a successful record, the original master is basically used to death, and at some point the safety is used to death. You don't see people making a mixdown tape and then making cutting copies from that until you get to the latter part of the '60s.

For all intents and purposes, when they mixed down Blonde on Blonde, you'll find a mix reel or a series of mix reels for every single song. You'll look at "Sad Eyed Lady of the Lowlands" and you'll see they mixed that five times, and they chose No.4 as their master mix. So they clip that out of the reel and that went to the master reel, which comprised the actual cutting copy. It wasn't until later on, with 8- and 16-track recordings, that the mixes were becoming so involved and cumbersome that they couldn't nail it all at once. When they got the mix they liked, they'd go back and say, "It's a great mix, but it can use a bit more upper mids."

That was when somebody went, "I know! Let's apply the EQ and compression it needs, and we'll make a cutting copy so this is foolproof." Before that, in the case of Blonde on Blonde, the mixdown they'd love was the one that went into the master reel that they were cutting from. And what would happen with a huge runaway album like that, or Simon and Garfunkel's catalog, they'd burn the masters right out and then safety them, and then burn the safety out, and on and on.

Fremer: That's why the later pressings were just horrible.

Irwin: You bet. Usually right off the cliff.

Fremer: Are you going to do Blonde on Blonde in mono? And are you going to get Claudia Cardinale's permission to put that picture back in? [An unauthorized picture of the actress in the gatefold of the original edition was removed shortly after the first pressing to prevent a lawsuit.)

Irwin: Yes, in mono. As for the picture, gone forever. It's the most-often-asked question about the reissue of that record, and we were told, "Absolutely not." It involved too much litigation.

When it comes to The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan, there's the original censored version [of which a few copies leaked out and are now worth thousands of dollars] and the one everyone knows. I said to Jeff Rosen, "It would be tremendously cool to do that first version of the record." Jeff said, "You know, that story has kind of morphed over the years. It wasn't necessarily censorship that took off 'Talking John Birch Society Blues'; actually, it was Bob thinking that he had better songs. It was Bob's decision to make that change, not Columbia's. You know, frankly, the record that they ended up with, which everyone knows and loves, is a better record." I went back and listened, and I had to agree with him.

Fremer: When you ask for a Dylan tape, where does it come from? Do you go and get it?

Irwin: Aside from being contracted to Legacy, for eight years I've been under contract to the Sony archive system as well, in a separate agreement. I was the first person—I'm happy to say this out loud—the first guy who ever demanded to have a field trip to Iron Mountain, where Sony stores its masters. So myself, Dylan producer and person extraordinaire Don DeVito, and Amy Herot, who's no longer at Sony, got in a car and drove there. It's outside of Kingston, New York.

Fremer: Is it really a mountain?

Irwin: It's quite an amazing facility. It's like going into a James Bond movie. It's well camouflaged—you pull up to a garage door at the side of the mountain, you show your ID, a golf cart takes you down to an underground village, and you're in another world. It's a massive archive system of which Sony is merely one player. There are things tucked away down there they won't divulge! Film, bank records, and on and on. How great it was to go there back before the archiving system was in place. You'd crawl around, get filthy, and find absolutely unbelievable things.

Fremer: How was it all arranged?

Irwin: The filing process is called "The Chaotic System," and that's literally the name—things are randomly assigned shelf numbers. It's not like everything is in numerical order. But back then, you had to go fishing for things by looking through half a million tapes. I'm not exaggerating—you want it, you go looking! That's where all the "Do Not Use" master tapes were filed. It was thrilling to go and find unexpected things. Now Sony's got in place the premier archiving system of any label.

Fremer: You don't do the cutting here, but usually send it out [to be cut by Joe Palmaccio on Sony's newly acquired lathe, or by George Marino at Sterling]. How do you deal with complex cutting issues?

Irwin: I have almost an identical playback setup in my room here as [in] the studios I use. That's why I'm using the Sontec 532 EQ, a mastering studio standard, and other gear. But I don't want to make it seem that it's extreme rocket science. When you find the original master tape, 99% of the battle is done. You're in the home stretch.

Fremer: You're having trouble with Love's Forever Changes tape. [These issues have since been resolved.]

Irwin: That's probably one of the most involved two-tracks I've ever worked on.

Fremer: I have a first gold-label Elektra pressing. A friend brought over a later butterfly-label pressing, and it had been remastered to sound totally different. It sounds to me like what Bill Inglot was using for the Rhino CD: much heavier bass, and some tracks on the original, like "Alone Again, Or," have purposefully low levels to begin with and then ever-increasing volume. On the butterfly label and on the recent CD, those level changes have been obliterated.

Irwin: You have to be so aware of those nuances on a record like that, and I'll tell you right now, there's 500 of them on that record, just with that two-track master. Things are moving, EQ is changing, compression is changing—everything is changing.

Fremer: What do you see in the short and long term for Sundazed?

Irwin: We are in the enviable position of having many artists and labels bring their catalogs to us, à la the Dylan. Little Feat's management contacted Rhino last week and wants Waiting for Columbus to be out on vinyl. They'd like for it to be on Sundazed.

Fremer: Oh, cool!

Irwin: So we have things being brought to us for the quality reasons we've tried to maintain.

Fremer: Mobile Fidelity's reissue of Columbus was really good; you have your work cut out for you.

Irwin: Okay.

Fremer: But they should do Sailin' Shoes and Dixie Chicken, too.

Irwin: I've asked for more of the catalog. The first album, too. That would be my self-edification album. So we have wonderful titles for 2002. We're looking to finish up this year with 10 home runs, because we were able to unearth all of the Byrds' pre-Columbia World Pacific recordings from the Byrds' original manager, Jim Dickson. That accounts for over 20 hours of music boiled down to an incredible two-CD, two-LP set that will have 40-plus tracks. We have access to the band's and Jim Dickson's entire photo archives. Barry Feinstein, the legendary photographer, gave us access to his Byrds archives. All of these sources account for another 2000 unseen photos, which we're working on now. It will be in a slipcase with a 52-page perfect-bound book.

We've also got The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan, Gram Parsons and the International Submarine Band on 180gm vinyl, and Fred Neil's Bleecker and MacDougal. We are always licensed pretty much in advance, so we can show you roughly what our 2002 release schedule is as we envision it this week. Still very aggressive with vinyl, and still keeping CD going strong, to the point where we're starting to place things in 2003 right now. Still, where we can cut the edge is that since we're a small company and everything is in-house, we're light on our feet. When something comes along that needs to be addressed immediately, we can turn on a dime. When we were able to pull the Byrds project together, we knew it had to be the flagship of our year-end release, and we got the project going immediately.

Fremer: Let's talk about the future. There's DVD-Audio multichannel and SACD. Are you considering any of that?

Irwin: I'm naturally skittish about the formats. Everything has to settle down a bit. I'm very fortunate, because I have the catbird seat when it comes to accessing new technologies and updates, and experiencing the accompanying shortcomings of the technologies. So I'm not ready to jump in with both feet yet. To me, the safe money is still on the vintage technology.

You once said to me—and I've never forgotten this, when we first met, on the phone—that 10,000 years from now, when they're digging the shit out of our lost civilization and they find a CD, they're going to say, "What the fuck is that?" But if they find a record, they're going to be able to play it back with a damn pine needle.

Sidebar: Sundazed in Heavy Rotation

1) Bob Dylan, The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan, 180gm mono LP
2) Gene Clark, Gene Clark with the Gosdin Brothers, 180gm LP
3) The Sir Douglas Quintet, The Best Of, 180gm mono LP
4) The MC5, Kick Out the Jams, 180gm LP
5) Fred Neil, Bleecker & MacDougal, 180gm LP
6) The Beau Brummels, North Beach Legends, 180gm LP
7) Gram Parsons and the International Submarine Band, 180gm LP
8) Love, Forever Changes, 180gm LP (test pressing)
9) Bob Dylan, The Times They Are A-Changin', 180gm mono LP
10) The Remains, The Remains, 180gm LP

xtcfan80's picture

Great label led by a visionary of the industry with a vinyl preference. A great thing for all of us!

azmoon's picture

When was this interview conducted?

mraudioguru's picture

I just went to the website and most LPs are $24.98+. Just the few that are on sale are $12.98.

I agree great label. I have quite a few.

mraudioguru's picture

...this interview had to have been like 2001 or 2002, so my comments are withdrawn. Although still being able to get a few LPs at half-off is kinda cool!

davip's picture

Having no interest in purchasing digitised analogue vinyl, I asked Sundazed about the analogue / digital provenance of their 'Believe your Eyes and Ears' release, a reasonable question after they supposedly found the mono master tape (also see Michael's items on this release [ and the levels of disclosure of various labels regarding provenance [ This was Sundazed's response to my enquiry:

"...We always work from the best available sources and take pride in the fact that no one can tell which of our releases are all analog and which required a digital step. The biggest thing with our secrecy though is that due to Bob¹s history working with the majors for decades, including time working for Sony directly, we enjoy certain privileges that other labels don¹t and we don¹t want to jeopardize those privileges to appease those who can¹t simply enjoy how great they sound. With a lot of our relationships, if we disclosed our sources we would likely no longer have the access we do now and I¹m pretty sure no one wants that. Sorry we¹d rather not risk our access, hopefully you just ³Believe your Ears² as they say".

What superficially sounds like proprietary access for all of our benefits is entirely specious BS. What analogue master ever "...required a digital step" to turn it into an analogue record? What company regards answering questions from those who support them as "...appeasing those who can¹t simply enjoy"? I asked if the processing was analogue end-to-end, and this 'Jay' wrapped n-100 words around his not-so-politely declining to respond. I'm happy to believe my ears, but not if I'm asked to gamble my money first on such asinine words.

Speaker's Corner can manage transparency, but Sundazed apparently cannot and their patronising obfuscation takes them forever off my radar.

Its all pretty disgusting, really. First the record companies took away quality audio from us all by dropping vinyl in favour of a cardboardy, digital pastiche of the real thing. Then they sold us "digitally remastered" and "high-res" versions of the same that were nothing more than processed and dynamically compressed copies of what we'd already bought, and now that so many have given up with digital and returned to vinyl to try to recapture what was lost these entites, from the record companies down to the likes of Sundazed, give us the same digital junk on vinyl and flip us off when we try to ask about what we're getting.

The only succor I get from the way the record companies have treated the music lover is in the way that digital has backfired on them -- in turning quality audio into a byte-sized commodity of no fidelity, they made it easy for the vast number of people who have no interest in such quality to collect and re-distribute it for free. Had Quality remained these companies' byword, the latest generation would have bought into it. When everything sounds like an mp3, only a fool pays for it. My girlfriend's teenage son listens to his 1000s of mp3s blue-toothed from his iPhone to his JBL(?) mono plastic bass-boosted speaker and is happy-as-Larry; to my knowledge he has never paid for a song in his life, and he is far from alone. At his age I had bought 200 LP records and 12" singles, and yet I'm the one who the companies treat with disdain as I try to rebuild that collection. It wasn't Home-Taping that Killed Music, but modern digital mastering methods -- methods that even the vinyl buyer must waste time trying to avoid...

Dave P.

azmoon's picture

It is disappointing that Sundazed is now drinking the digital vinyl cool aid. Mobile Fidelity lives on - all analog! Also Speakers Corner.

my new username's picture

I'd missed it the first time around.

But I could tell it was vintage, as most mentions of Sundazed since then involve some sort of disclaimer that we can't know what the provenance is.

Wow, how far we've come from "crawling on our bellies" looking for DNU tapes and the majors taking reissues largely in-house (inevitable) and using digital masters (also inevitable.)

The ONE thing (apart from sound of course, yet highly dependent upon it of course ... ) music lovers value is knowing truthful provenance. And it's the last thing labels wish to divulge. And that often extends to reissues (by nearly anyone).

Trevor_Bartram's picture

I have a few Sundazed CDs, so I read with interest. From my experience some of the titles Sundazed bring out on LP only are very obscure. In most cases you can hear them on Youtube and you'll understand why there isn't a big enough market for CD. But the fact that the LP is made available is a godsend to a few collectors.

Superfuzz's picture

Mike, are you and Bob still friends? I remember reading you guys had a falling out (over a review of one of his records?).