The New York Times Covers The Electric Recording Company

The print edition of today's New York Times includes an article titled "The Vinyl? It's Pricey. The Sound? Otherworldly", written about The Electric Recording Company and its founder Pete Hutchison, by music critic Ben Sisario. To prep for the article he visited me, bringing with him an ERC mastered Johanna Martzy Bach Violin Sonatas recording and a newly mastered CD version produced by Warner Music Korea. He wanted to compare on the kind of system ERC buyers might own. He also visited The Electric Recording Company in London.

You should read the article. You'll surely enjoy it as well as the news contained therein about an upcoming ERC reissue! As I write this there are 278 comments. You might not enjoy those so much, but you will my responses to some. I've given up commenting on individual posts, so left with this one:

"I have enjoyed reading the responses to Ben Sisario's story, in which I'm referenced, though it saddens me that this story about musical enjoyment so angers some. Stereophile readers own stereos costing from very little money to a whole lot. They are all music lovers who appreciate good sound. I've never met one who owns equipment for its own sake. The ones with more money or who devote more of their limited resources to it, have better systems from which they derive a great deal of pleasure. Does anyone think "all cars drive alike"? Or that you have to be an "autofool" to drive a Maserati when a KIA will get you to the grocery store and back? Or that you'd better do a double blind shock absorber test before choosing one over another? Beyond some anger in the comments is a curious level of resentment. And over what? Someone else's preferred music source? What's that about? The digital lectures, anger and resentment began when I dared say in the early 1980s that compact discs sounded terrible. They did! When Mr. Sisario visited I wasn't there to sell him anything. He just wanted to hear on a quality audio system what exactly The Electric Recording Company was selling. When we compared the ERC pressing on vinyl to the newly mastered CD version, his comment wasn't about frequency response, or anything technical. It was that one sounded as if a person was sitting in front of him playing a cello and one didn't. You can't measure that but you sure can hear it.

marmaduke's picture

is a complete and total surprise. What a hoot!

Anton D's picture

Can you just spill on the upcoming release?




billsf's picture

Ms. Martzy was a violinist.

Anton D's picture

Thank you for the hint!

Michael Fremer's picture
I meant Violin Sonatas... DOH! I had on my mind the Starker Bach Cello Suites that will soon be reviewed....
Montpier's picture

Wow, I responded to someone wondering if ERC was using digital masters around 11AM and there were only 3 comments.

Clearly this response confirms the NY Times belief that its readers would be "uninterested" in the topic of music reproduction and recording quality as it appeals to only a niche audience -- as opposed to Italian supercars or $100K+ watches that are obviously much more mainstream. (FYI - recent review of a $287K Lamborghini garnered only 86 comments and remarkably few were about the cost)

So, if in the (very) unlikely event the NYAS does happen in Sept, my suggestion is that MF hosts a room playing ERC recordings vs. CD's or whatever, and Sisario writes a follow-up to invite others to judge for themselves.

BTW - the upcoming ERC title mentioned was Love's 'Forever Changes' (no mention if stereo or mono).

vogelzang's picture

I emailed them--they will be releasing the album in mono and stereo

PeterPani's picture

I bought the Way Out West Mono from ERC. I was disappointed, because it sounds fantastic, but there is a soft crackling listenable all over the two sides. I think, I will not play it again, it is somehow frustrating. I contacted ERC and Phil Vernol was very friendly and offered me to send me a new pressing. You can put the blame on me. I am simply to lazy (or maybe I own to less spare time) to send the record back. I cannot really imagine that with a pressing number of 300 another copy will sound different. I bought many of their reissues. But really satisfying may have been the half of it. But those are epic. I am still thinking about the Mozart Box...

culturcide's picture

Mine was so noisy. I was in total shock that something so special could be so bad. The noise was louder than the quiet passages. Took it to my local record shop who cleaned it on their Clear Audio Sonic Double Matrix cleaner for $2. It now sounds perfect. There’s a drum solo on Wagon Wheels that starts at 7.16 that is spine tingling.

PeterPani's picture

I am so silly! I own a high quality washing machine! And yes, after reading your comment I heard it in my head that this noise must be dirt. I know this sound from hundreds of used records I bought in the past. But only after reading your post it got into my mind. I cleaned it now. And it plays perfect now. Thank you!!

Anton D's picture

Nice to hear that!!!

TommyTunes's picture

A mono reissue, count me in. I have an original but this I want.

John from Toronto's picture

It was a spirited debate indeed! I must say Michael more than held his own. I suspect many of the negative comments had to due with the high prices of the ERC products. $3400 for a boxed set is hard for people to wrap their heads around. There were also many comments by people who are passionate about music and audio. I loved the comment by a fellow who saw Willie Dixon and other Blues players in a club in Chicago. Even though the sound system was poor, he will never forget it. Another fellow will never forget a song he heard on his car's am radio. Whenever I hear "The Weight" by The Band, it stops me in my tracks! That is the power of music.

Jay's picture

Shame about the comments! Reading through them I could’t help noticing how often the supposed perishability of vinyl was used as an argument against the LP. I wonder what the reaction of those making this point would be to the suggestion that because you can now download a copy of Great Expectations or The Adventures of Tom Sawyer to your smartphone it negates the value and the importance of an American or British first edition of Dickens or Twain. After all paper is much more likely to degrade over time than vinyl. Most likely they’d look at you like you were a fool or a lunatic, yet they just don’t see the parallel between literature and music. Perhaps they see the artistic value of the former and not the latter?

Ultimately in my opinion anyway, any market for an item of substance that has no room for a craftsman is incapable of producing a product of intrinsic value and that’s what the guys at ERC and many others involved in our hobby are, craftsmen who produce a fine product and make no apologies for it. I say long May they prosper. The fact that some people who most likely never have or never will experience these products for themselves nonetheless feel qualified and entitled to pour their uninformed contempt over them, those who make them and those who purchase and enjoy them says a lot about the empty cynicism that has rotted through their thinking processes. To live a life where another person’s joy affects you so must be a hard, hard slog.

AnalogJ's picture

I read the article. Well done.

I have to add, though Chad Kassem has good intentions, his reply to the question, "What's the difference between a $500 LP and a $35 one?" His reply? "Thirty-five dollars." That's a bit disingenuous, and perhaps hypocritical given that he produces single LPs that cost $125 and single album reel-to-reel tapes that cost $450.

Anyway, the Steve Hoffman forum is alive and well with people offering up opinions on whether it's worth it or not, in spite of not having heard one.

Mile High Music's picture


Anton D's picture

If this were the real wild west, I'd be headed for Boot Hill!


Anton D's picture

They are releasing a stereo pressing of Sonny Rollins' Way Out West.

I have heard the mono pressing and it was superb.

If you happened to be considering investigating their product, this would be a good place to start.

celinedion's picture

ERC are often sought after by vinyl enthusiasts and collectors due to their exceptional sound quality according to mapquest driving directions reviews and limited availability.