Kevin Gray Cuts AAA Series For Speakers Corner

At his Masters of Vinyl seminar at LAAS 2017 mastering engineer Kevin Gray mentioned that he'd cut a series of records for Speakers Corner using original master tapes.

This was news to me so I contacted Speakers Corner's Kai Seeman who sent along a PDF with many of the titles though more are coming. As you can see the titles from the WEA and Sony/BMG catalog include Charles Lloyd's Forest Flower, Charles Mingus's The Clown, Ray Charles The Genius After Hours and Sonny Stitt Plays Bird among others.

Here are more:

Many readers ask how they can tell if a reissue is cut from tape. It's often difficult to know but in this case you know! An easy recommendation is Forest Flower. Mr. Seeman adds that all 500+ titles in the Speakers Corner catalog were cut from tape and all are AAA.

Corsair's picture

Very useful info for me esp. as a lover of classical music.

tparker14's picture

I can recommend this pressing of Mingus' "The Clown" - nice mono sound from a quality pressing. I'd like to see them reissue "Oh Yeah", which needs a sympathetic mastering and pressing.

isaacrivera's picture

I got this album about a year ago, not knowing Mr. Gray was involved, but because it was recorded at Muscle Schoals' Fame studio before The Swampers split. The sound of this album is unbelievable with extended FR, depth, weight, and scary 3-dimensionality. The raw power of Mr. Pickett's voice slaps you across the face and punches you in the stomach copiously throughout.

Mister Tim's picture


madfloyd's picture

From tape doesn't automatically mean 'master'. I believe Decca titles from Speaker Corners were not cut from master tapes and the sonics would back that up.

isaacrivera's picture

But you are right, the sonics do back it up. I have about a dozen of them and the quality is impressive and as good, or better, as any of the other good labels such as Analog Productions, Music Matters, Classic Records, Pure Pleasure MoFi, etc.

Most of the titles on their website have the following statement:

"This Speakers Corner LP was remastered using pure analogue components only, from the master tapes through to the cutting head. All royalties and mechanical rights have been paid."

And the proof is in the pudding.

RR's picture

Thank You.

madfloyd's picture

Sonics (and music) are great on this one. Highly recommended.

jpvisual's picture

I have the Ry Cooder record, it sounds great.

jpvisual's picture

Anyway have this? I have an original Mono/Promo Copy. It sounds good, but I'm thinking this version might sound even better. You can't beat the music on this record, a classic.

Rudy's picture

I only own two Speakers Corner LPs, and they are two of the worst 180 gram LPs I've ever owned in my life. I don't know what they used for masters, but they are very compressed, and completely unlike any other existing version of these records. I have thought about posting the comparisons on YouTube...they are very noticeable.

Hopefully with Kevin Gray cutting these, the upcoming batches will sound a lot better. Those, I would buy. Otherwise, I won't touch any older Speakers Corner releases having been burned twice already.

isaacrivera's picture

I have about a dozen Speakers Corner, and only 1, perhaps 2, were mastered by KG, yet all of them are among the best sounding LPs in my collection. No compression audible whatsoever, great dynamics and extension and the 3-dimensionality is impressive in all of them.

Rudy's picture

If I can find a way to post the comparisons soon, I'll do it. (I'm not at my desk to do it at the moment.) For one of them (Shorty Rogers), I'll be comparing it to the Living Stereo LP, and a CD from BMG Spain. For the other (Jobim's "Stone Flower"), I'll compare it to the CD, since at the time, I did not yet have the Bernie-cut ORG 45 RPM version (which sounds like the CD in terms of tonal balance).

In both cases, there is no mistaking the bad sound. On "Stone Flower," it should remind the listener of how a really dynamic single might sound on a highly compressed Top 40 FM radio station.

The Shorty Rogers "Wizard of Oz and Other Harold Arlen Songs" suffers from being in mono (despite saying "Living Stereo" on the jacket), sounding as though it were folded down to mono on a poorly aligned reel deck. I have owned both the mono and stereo vinyl of this record, and I can assure you that even the mono had impressive clarity. This SC version just sounds "off."

I know...I heard a lot of hype about how good Speakers Corner pressings were, and was looking forward to hearing them. And the only two I buy end up being sonic turds.