Here's The Problem With "The Full Description"

Ed. note: Kevin Gray, a consummate pro, cannot reveal the source at this time. I have ordered a copy of Face to Face and will compare to an original UK Pye pressing and post the review by this weekend. I am quite certain I will be able to tell if it was cut from a file or a master tape. I'll make my call "blind" and risk being wrong.

Sanctuary Records has just issued four Kinks albums on 180 gram vinyl.

The titles are: Kinks, Kinda Kinks, The Kinks Controversy and the sublime Face to Face.

The UK-based label Sanctuary issued them.

The "full description" on one website selling the records fails to note:

1) Who cut lacquers
2) From what source
3) Where these were pressed

In other words the "full description" is not a description at all. Are you willing to spend $24 on a record for which these critical facts have not been disclosed?

If "yes", why?

In fairness to the site, it's quite possible Sanctuary isn't divulging these facts. I think it's the website's responsibility to inform potential purchasers that it hasn't a clue about the products it is willing to sell to you.

On the other hand, all of the major disc sellers tell me customers buy anyway, and are "happy" with some of the stuff I know to be junk, so they are simply giving the customers what they want.

And don't bother contacting Sanctuary. It's website is currently under construction.

MerckMercuriadis's picture

Is no longer a stand alone label. This is Universal Records catalogue division in the UK.

hi-fivinyljunkie's picture

This label was sold to BMG recently. It is being claimed by some people on the SH forum that the US versions are all analogue. Frankly I doubt this. Konk in the Uk probably made new transfers from the tapes to hi-res digital. This was the case for the RSD Muswell Hillbillies licenced to Sony in US. Hard to tell it's not all analogue.

Puffer Belly's picture

This is POPmarket's special for today and Tuesday morning and this is their description (their price is $80 for all 4):

The Kinks - First Four Albums vinyl bundle

“... the Kinks' early work is among the best British Invasion music...” –

In celebration of the 50th Anniversary of The Kinks, this exclusive vinyl bundle features The Kink’s first four studio albums – Kinks, Kinda Kinks, The Kink Kontroversy, and Face to Face – the band’s 1960’s classics as they were meant to be heard, on vinyl!

• The Kinks' first FOUR classic ‘60s studio albums for ONE great price!

• Standard weight black vinyl LPs with faithfully replicated artwork

• All four LP’s direct analog cuts from the original mono master tapes and pressed at URP

• Long out of print, these reissued landmark albums are FINALLY available again

• 52 tracks including some of The Kinks’ most timeless hits: “You Really Got Me,” “Stop Your Sobbing,” “Tired of Waiting For You,” “Till the End of The Day,” “Where Have All the Good Times Gone,” “Dandy,” “Holiday In Waikiki,” “Sunny Afternoon” and many more!

• These LP’s are part of a series of releases and reissues celebrating the 50th Anniversary of The Kinks

Michael Fremer's picture
From where they got that information. Too often the blurb is 'cut directly from analog masters' and it turns out they were actually cut from 96/24 transfers "cut directly from analog masters' with the word "cut" being incorrectly used. I wonder who cut and where....
audiof001's picture

There are test tracks on this page that vary in quality. I haven’t tried it yet but plan to a bit later. Enjoy.

malco49's picture

got them all at home with audioengine D1 dac and audioengine A2 computer speakers through my macbook pro. tried at work through just computer speakers and could not hear the difference!

audiof001's picture

I identified, thru speakers, 3 of 6 hjgh res files and two 320 other instances... not a perfect score for this 63 year old reviewing guy, but not bad considering. Give 'em another try, turn up the volume, and take your time moving back and forth from the same parts of the rips. Listen for the micro details... You should be able to hear differences. With headphones it should be easier.

Michael Fremer's picture
That site does not have a search function! How lame is that? i couldn't find anything on that site about these Kinks albums. What's the URL?
Puffer Belly's picture

POPmarket provides a direct link while the special is available, in this case Monday noon to Tuesday noon. However, I did have the link in my browser's history.

Check out the $12 vinyl link on their home page. There are some pretty good deals there.

PeterPani's picture

means digital recorded from the master tapes and then processed digitally. It is my experience, always when such phrases are used it is only marketing. Why don't they say: analog chain reproduction without any digital processing or something like that? Because they know that any digital processing will cost them 1000's of unsold records.

mdm08033's picture

This is why I don't by new CDs or vinyl. Marketing + no pedigree = no sale.

elliotdrum's picture

They also don't disclose which source they use.
Only when they have the original source then they
hype that benefit.
Mofi has always been upfront about source.

Michael Fremer's picture
Does disclose sources.... if not original tape, then "best available" source. But they don't make an issue of original tape because that's what they almost always use and when they say "original tape" they USE the original tape, not a copy.... Mo-Fi mostly uses copies made to their souped up Tim De Paravacini recorder, which is quite transparent to the source. Remember: if it's a BMG/Sony tape it does NOT leave the east coast. The only studio that gets them is Sterling Sound. So since Mo-Fi cuts in Sebastopol, when the tape is owned by Sony/BMG they are cutting from a copy they make.....ORG cuts at Bernie Grundman's from copies of Sony/BMG titles made at Battery Sound from the master tapes.
J. Carter's picture

I know for a fact that MoFi did not use a copy but an original tape mixed by Fred Catero in 1969 for Chicago Transit Authority so this isn't always the case for Sony/BMG tape.

Michael Fremer's picture
My sources tell me that Sony/BMG has not, for many years, allowed tapes to leave the east coast.
J. Carter's picture

I believe it was done the end of last year. Talk to your sources at Mobile Fidelity, I'm pretty sure they are getting masters from Sony/BMG. They have been doing a lot of stuff they are claiming are "Original Master Recordings" like Miles Davis and Bob Dylan as some other examples.

cdlp4578's picture

A few years ago all of Chicago's Columbia catalog rights transferred to Warner Brothers. It may no longer be the case that the Chicago master tapes are the property of Sony/BMG. MoFi's Chicago releases are SACD-only, Rhino released the first two (and maybe others) on vinyl not long after the rights transferred to WB. I don't recall the cutting source for the Rhino vinyl releases.

cdlp4578's picture

Not all of the MoFi Dylan releases are "Original Master Recording". Nashville Skyline, John Wesley Harding and others are 2-45 editions labelled "Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab." Blonde On Blonde is an "Original Master Recording" release. So it is possible that Sony's policy applies to tapes prior to a certain date, though I am only speculating.

AZ's picture

I'm sure they have kind of a special relationship.

J. Carter's picture

Very possible

Grant M's picture

It shouldn't be so hard to find out the information about the details as it is. I end up spending time searching the web before making purchases, and lots of times there are mistakes or conflicting information, or incomplete information that gives the wrong impression. For example the Rush reissues say "Newly remastered at Abbey Road Studios using the Direct to Metal Mastering (DMM) audiophile copper plating process, all from original analogue masters" What they don't say is that "newly remastered" process was digital. The primary source can be the original tapes, but a lot of manipulation can take place between those tapes and the vinyl pressing! For those who know all the steps, we want to know who/where/when/how those steps were handled.

elliotdrum's picture

I feel that all recordings should have a complete disclosure
in regards to the source. I didn't know that Mofi which says
Original Master Recordings were using copies of the original
mix down master. I have been buying audiophile type records
like Mofis-Nautilists-Century- Sheffields Direct to Disk etc.
since 1977.
That explains how inconsistent sound quality of the Mofis have
been. I also feel paying top dollar for reissues that don't have
the best sound to be a poor business practice.

Michael Fremer's picture
That few "classic" original pressings that people revere were cut from master tapes. Virtually ALL are cut using "cutting masters" prepared from original tapes. Mo-Fi's Tim DeParavicini R2R deck is probably superior to most if not all of the 'stock' decks used "back then". The variable sound quality of Mo-Fi reissues is more likely the result of other issues: sometimes the original tapes are not in great shape. The first run of new Mo-Fi vinyl titles (Little Feat, Allmans) were dull sounding and disappointing. Mo-Fi took note of the criticism and spent a great deal of money to totally re-do their mastering suite and their deck. Tim DeParavicini did all of the upgrading and you can hear it: like Kevin Gray's latest, Mo-Fi's recent output has been sonically excellent....IMO
michaelwcole's picture

...because finding original pressings of early Kinks LPs is difficult and very expensive. Why haven't they had a proper AAA reissue of these classic LPs? I purchased Face To Face, Something Else and Arthur a few years ago when they were reissued on 2x colored vinyl for 2012 Record Store Day. One LP was the mono version and one was the stereo version. I ordered them from an online retailer located in Pennsylvania. I wanted to buy Village Green Preservation Society as well but that was sold out because they only released 500 copies of each album. On Discogs for these releases it says "Remastered" "Limited Edition" "180 gram" but I still have no idea how they were pressed. The only reason I bought them was because I didn't have any Kinks albums on vinyl. They were such an important band and for some reason they don't get proper reissues like their peers do. I don't understand it. I will not buy these new reissues because I've learned my lesson buying vinyl reissues that don't come with any mastering, pressing information. Those 2012 reissues that I have sound ok because I'm in the dark on the source material and my assumption is that they are just digital transfers which is a shame because The Kinks deserve better than ok.

Goochified1's picture

... But when it's impossible to find original copies in even the poorest condition, almost any decent sounding copy is better than nothing. I bought the UK RSD copies of Face to Face, Something Else and Arthur myself and they're not too shabby--plus having both mono and stereo mixes in the same 2LP set is nice.

Summerisle's picture

These records were mastered by Kevin Grey. Perhaps he could confirm they were a analog source or the original tapes. Either way I am reading favorable comments about these pressings. Saw them at my local store and almost bought Kinda Kinks to fill my collection.

orthobiz's picture

I only have the first album, they were easy to buy, and I assume they are not AAA. For the price I can take a chance on the fidelity.

Kent T's picture

If one needs analog mastered UK Kinks, hunt down 1980 era Pye reissues. All analog sourced, good pressings. Cheaper than originals, sounded at least good, and easier to find in well cared for condition.

malco49's picture

being someone old and having great taste in music i have most of the kinks records on vinyl.a couple in mono. ;-)

thomoz's picture

An industry insider who is part of a small audio group I participate in says that Kevin Gray cut these, from tape. Maybe you can our should change your headline. These are "safe to buy".

Michael Fremer's picture
One is coming...
Tullman's picture

We need truthful descriptions of mastering done for new vinyl. They are charging plenty for this vinyl and I don't need to waste money on cd quality vinyl.