Stop the Nonsense! Bob Ludwig On The True Numbers Behind Beck's Morning Phase Album

Here's Bob Ludwig's statement regarding the engineering and mastering of Beck's new album Morning Phase:

"As the mastering engineer for Beck's "Morning Phase" album I can guarantee with 100% certainty that the album was mixed and mastered at 96kHz/24 bit. There were no Mp3 mixes, nor any mixes at any sampling rate other than 96kHz that were used.

When artists create an album, especially over a long period of time as this one was, the original multi-track sessions are often recorded at differing sampling rates, 88.2kHz, 96kHz, 48kHz or 44.1kHz depending on the local studios standards, computer stability issues with high track counts etc. They may be put together as an album and mixed through an analog console at 96kHz to more accurately represent the sounds the artist and mix engineer are hearing from the mixing desk. If one looks at the resulting spectrum analysis of the master, naturally one can still see the brick-wall anti-alias filters from the original sessions, often with some low level spectrum that continues out to 48kHz (the Nyquist frequency of 96kHz) due to the harmonics generated by the analog desk, effects, filters, reverbs, noise etc. This is totally legitimate engineering.

Another thing I can guarantee with 100% certainty is that every note of "Morning Phase" has been carefully auditioned and represents Beck's artistic intention. We spent an enormous amount of time choosing mixes and mastering this album and nothing was left un-examined by myself and Beck. Beck often mentioned to me that he wanted the album to have a certain 'gritty' element to it and indeed I was sent both clean and purposefully distorted mixes on several tracks. The crushed, distorted kick drums, vocals and bass on some tracks are completely intentional and thus it represents how Beck wants this album to sound. This is art, not widgets or FFT displays."

In addition, Bob told me that he used his turntable, Dynavector cartridge and Manley Steelhead phono preamplifier to transfer a Bernie Grundman cut test pressing for the "vinyl experience" MP3 download that is included when you buy the LP. It's a good playback system, Bob told me, but contrary to what's been written online, it does not increase dynamic range! Bob told me that Chris Bellman was supposed to cut it but he was very busy and when Bernie heard the master he liked it so much he asked to cut it.

Paul Boudreau's picture

Looks like RL is fully conversant in digital.  I wish I could say the same for myself - I understood maybe half of what he wrote!

J. Carter's picture

I am tired of arguing with people about this. My assumptions were correct about how/why this album sounds the way it does. I like it personally.

The one thing that I'm sure will come up still from this is whether or not the master they used for the vinyl is more dynamic than the one used for the CD/HDTracks versions. I know it says in the article that the system "does not increase dynamic range" but yet there are people out there that believe the vinyl is more dynamic than the digital versions. 

Thanks for the great info Michael!

Paul Boudreau's picture

"I like it personally."

That's all that matters in the end. 

dobyblue's picture

You're assuming that what Bob meant by that comment is that the vinyl was the same DR as the CD, but there's no guarantee that's what he meant. He could have been saying that a needledrop doesn't increase the dynamic range from what was on the record, meaning the record was more dynamic than the CD. He doesn't state anywhere that the vinyl was cut from the exact same master used for the CD.

Send him an e-mail and ask him to clarify, he's usually very quick and responsive to e-mail. I'd be interested in hearing the clarification too although I'm not going to send the e-mail because I'm not interested in the album.


kenkirk's picture

That was good info... can't wait to spend the extra for the 24/192 download. wink


laservampire's picture

Unfortunately the HDTracks download is just as compressed as the CD version, with only a very subtle difference in EQ. Apart from the extra "musical information" consisting of frequencies beyond the range of the human ear there's absolutely no reason to buy it.

Mistermuse1's picture

I made my own rip, and it sounds fabulous!

dconsmack's picture

Did Bob mention which Dynavector cartridge he used for his needle drop?

Michael Fremer's picture

He didn't say...

thomoz's picture

One of the best sounding new release CDs in recent memory, at least five years, and you guys are complaining about it being too compressed! There is a lot worse sounding stuff out there, let me tell you!. I love this album, can't get enough of it.

J. Carter's picture

The stuff on the forums have been ridiculous on this album. I posted this link and people are calling Bob a liar and how he can't possibly like the sound of this album etc. etc. I mean it's not audiophile quality but I think it sounds good.

Michael Fremer's picture

By trolls. There are some cretins there criticizing me for listening with my glasses on. Some say my room "can't possibly sound good" but of course they've never been....don't worry about them. No the record is not "audiophile quality" but it's quality an audiophile can appreciate. I think it sounds great. 

Prancing Horse's picture

Really? It sounds "great"? Serious credibility issue if you really think so.

John G's picture

I love the album and it sounds great on my system.  

Paul Boudreau's picture

That's one of the funniest things I've ever heard.  Assuming you're near-sighted, as I am.  Make sure you don't interlace your fingers behind your head while listening!  It changes everything! 

Prancing Horse's picture


Michael Fremer's picture

I sat down, played the record, enjoyed the sound, and the production, was not expecting "the sound of acoustic instruments in a space" and didn't get it. I was expecting a "produced" album with studio gimmickry intended to create a mood and a feel. I expected a production that was no haphazard or 'accidental', but purposeful and that's what I got... It was immersive and I enjoyed it. Period.

Prancing Horse's picture

Please reveal if you have an affiliation with HDTracks. I sniff a paid shill.

Michael Fremer's picture

If you mean do I have an "affiliation" with HDTracks, the answer is no. However since I do not have the HDTracks version, have not heard the HDTracks version and did not even mention the HDTracks version, I think what you are sniffing is glue!

Prancing Horse's picture

Sorry,  I was addressing my post to J.Carter, who appears on multiple forums shilling for HDTracks. It was not meant for you, apologies.

J. Carter's picture

I just buy lots of music from them and enjoy it and them immensely and am disgusted by people like you thinking everything they listen to sucks. I find it interesting that you hide behind a made up name on here and I'm guessing in the other places you have seen me BTW.

sennj's picture

I thought it (the CD) sounded pretty good too but the DR Database says it has a very low dynamic range, so I must be wrong...smiley

Michael Fremer's picture

Who is complaining?

Jim Tavegia's picture

The artist has every right to put out the album the way he wants it to sound. Bob at least gave Beck a choice and he made it, and it is not a right or wrong choice, just HIS choice. If his fans like it, that is all that matters. 

Michael Fremer's picture


John Atkinson's picture

Here's Bob Ludwig's statement regarding the engineering and mastering of Beck's new album Morning Phase:

"As the mastering engineer for Beck's "Morning Phase" album I can guarantee with 100% certainty that the album was mixed and mastered at 96kHz/24 bit. There were no Mp3 mixes, nor any mixes at any sampling rate other than 96kHz that were used.

I bought this album, which is musically great, from HDTracks as 24/96 files. While I have enormous respect for Bob, something is not adding up. The 24/96 files I downloaded were clearly transcoded from 44.1kHz-sampled masters and two tracks appeared to be mastered from MP3 versions. See, for example, my spectrogram of Track 11 at There is a clearly defined brickwall filter at 16kHz, from the MP3 codec, and another at 22kHz, from the CD master.

Yes, of course some of the individual samples or signals used in the mix may well have been taken from limited bandwidth originals. I agree with Bob that there is nothing wrong with that. But the effects I show in the linked spectrogram apply to the final master, not to some of the multitrack stems. Perhaps this degradation ocurred upstream from Bob's work and that the 24/96 files he received had already been corrupted.

John Atkinson

Editor, Stereophile

Bennyboy's picture

Just drop it.  Why so hung up on this stuff?  Ever wonder if you're missing the woods for the trees?

Jim Tavegia's picture

The problem of which master and what format is being used IS important as in "truth in advertising" is necessary in this new age of expensive, high bit rate (?) audio. People should not be paying premium money for a repackaged MP3. I don't know if the Norah Jones" CD to SACD transfer started this mess, but it is still a mess and it takes someone with JA's expertise to alert some of us that feel that this matters.

A 2496 file of an MP3 means little to me, is still mp3 quality,  and no reason to pay a premium for it. 

Prancing Horse's picture

No, it should not be dropped. This album needs a public beatdown so that horrible engineering and pathetic pro tools slop gets shamed.

J. Carter's picture

I found information above 30kHz on some songs myself. The one I remember specifically is the first track. I know some of the tracks aren't a full 24/96 resolution but HDtracks does warn of this on their site.

Prancing Horse's picture

John, thanks for your post. 

Aside from your technical findings, subjectively, the album sounds like pure and utter dreck. Bob Ludwig should be ashamed to have his name associated with it.

The downward spiral continues.

Michaels's defense of this recording is puzzling.

J. Carter's picture

is people like you saying it sounds like pure and utter dreck. No it isn't the best recording ever but it is very far from utter dreck.

Prancing Horse's picture

yes it is. i had it on in the bedroom system at a medium low wife yells from the other room asking why it sounds like utter crap. She rarely if EVER comments about recording quality.

J. Carter's picture

to your system or she just didn't like the music. This album doesn't sound that bad period.

Michael Fremer's picture

I find your strong negative reaction to the album equally puzzling....

o0OBillO0o's picture

Facility: Gateway Mastering Mastering Engineer: Bob Ludwig Project: Remastering 22 Rolling Stones Albums Record Label: ABKCO Tape Transfer: ATR Ampex 350 1/4" with Dave Hill Aria Electronics Phono Reference: Well-Tempered Labs Turntable, Grado Cartridge (see MF's comment) ,Manley Steelhead Preamp Dynamics: Millennia Media Origin STT-1, Manley Vari-MU, NTP 179-120 Equalization: Manley Massive Passive, GML 9500 Mastering EQ, Neumann OE Duo Noise Processing: Cube-Tec Audio Cube Workstation, CEDAR DH-2 dehisser, Weiss Engineering DS1 Dynamics Processor Converters: EMM Labs Analog to DSD Converter, dCS 974 Digital to Digital Converter (DSD - PCM - DSD) DSD Workstation: Sony Sonoma source: Pro Audio review

tresaino's picture

Thank you John for sharing your insights. Mixing and mastering lower resolutions at 96 is not the solution for high quality sound.

I love the album but Beck's voice is equalised in the high frequency domain. The vinyl sounds good but, to my ears, is boosted at frequency extremes. I had the same issue with Beck's Sea Change, and actually sent Bob Ludwig the CD that I had bought, asking if he could notice anything wrong. He didn't. We left it at that. Artist's choice, or hearing damage?

J. Carter's picture

does have the final say in how they want the album to sound. My guess is the CD you sent him sounded exactly how Beck had intended it. He is known for unusual sounds and effects in his music. It is just what Beck prefers.

firedog55's picture

Many, even most, times the record company, producer, and engineer(s) have more say than the artist. Doubt that is the case here, but it often is the situation.

dconsmack's picture

I'm a musician and I have seen respected enginners that like to roll off an entire mix at 16kHz. Could this be what John Atkinson is seeing? 

Prancing Horse's picture

From his NPR interview:

After being played back a track..his reaction was extremely interesting, and he was

clearly disappointed in what he heard.

Beck: It's funny after listening to it, the vocal got so loud after mixing and mastering. The vocal was always tucked in this ... huge orchestra.

mem916's picture

I can't comment on the CD version, but the LP sounds wonderful on my system!

Yes it is "pop" music and a bit processed.  So what?  It's very good music and the sound is certainly above average for pop.  Now you want a bad sounding Beck LP?  Try "Modern Guilt"  I couldn't listen to that one more than once it was so bad.  The music didn't grab me either or I would have suffered through the sound.  Compressed?  How about the Black Keys??   (Great music though, so I suffer through the compression.)

I made a 24/192 transcription but haven't checked the dynamic range.  What does the DR Meter included with Pure Music say about the CD's dynamic range?

mem916's picture

Well I'm playing my transcription now through Pure Music on my Mac Mini and it is showing 17 to 19 on side 1.  Will post a link to a .flac of the 24/192 file tomorrow for people to analyze and play for themselves.

DLKG's picture

MEM916, I was thinking exactly what you said about Modern Guilt.  The sound and music just doesn't sound like Beck.  Musically there's nothing for me to grasp and the sound is very flat.  Now if this new one has a sound simiilar to Sea Change as somone else on this forum said I would welcome that.  I love the sound and music of Sea Change.



multiformous's picture

So wait, just to be clear, am I to understand from these comments that the vinyl was cut using the compressed (with respect to dynamic range, of course) digital master, which is DR6 according to my foobar dynamic range plugin? "The Vinyl Experience" MP3s are DR9.

tnargs's picture

Really. It doesn't. In fact if it only gave the vinyl 3 extra points, the odds are that the vinyl master is less dynamic than the digital. That's how useless TTDR is.

J. Carter's picture

Lots of people don't want to admit it but most new release records are cut from the same exact digital master that is used for the CD. It maybe a higher resolution but everything else about it is the same. This should still make the record sound better than the CD howerver. As said previously the TT meter is a way over used and way over rated way to figure out how something sounds. I have found the only way to truly tell what something sounds like is to listen. Like I always say you can't listen with your eyes but many people try to. 

Michael Fremer's picture

Yes, some LPs are cut from CDs, which in this day and rage is absolutely idiotic. BUT more and more are cut from high resolution files that sound far superior to the CDs and even if cut from CD, if the studio's converter betters yours and your turntable is set up correctly it can sound better than the CD. AND there's that "something" that LPs do, even if it's additive, that makes it sound more "live". It's all signal processing in the end. It's signal processing on whatever format you buy, and then you signal process it again, either through your DAC or your turntable....

mem916's picture

Here is the transcription I made from the LP on my system.   Perhaps someone would like to compare it to the CD and HD Tracks version.

jlstrat's picture

I have to admit to liking Beck anyway and, yes, he does manipulate sound to make his point. Pretty common with pop recordings. This is a great pressing and I think it sounds terrific. Mr. F nailed this, although I'd give the music a "10." I'd be surprised if everyone who posted negative comments here actually heard it on vinyl, since they don't seem to be fans of Beck's. So a whole bunch of people who we usually trust to do right by us--Blb Ludwig, Bernie Grundman--make a good record and it just doesn't make the grade for some of the posters here. Makes me wonder.

Michael Fremer's picture


Vhiner's picture

It's got to be a conspiracy. Bob Ludwig, Bernie Grundman and Beck all got together with HDtracks to screw the public. Yup. That's the ticket.

Or it could be that graphs and charts don't reveal EVERYTHING or tell the whole story. 

I wrote a review of Beck's latest CD last week.

None of the complaining here changes what I heard on my (apparently) crappy $50K audio system. The music, in all of its forms and presenations, moved my audiophile soul. I never think once about my equipment when Morning Phase is playing.

Hey Mikey! Who knew we were all so deaf?

J. Carter's picture

I'm not sure why I let all the naysayers get to me so much. It is a great album and the sound quality is very good also. Not sure what these people saying it sounds like utter dreck are listening to but it certainly isn't the same album I'm listening to. I think they may be listening with their eyes not their ears on this one.

Prancing Horse's picture

blah blah blah blah...


There IS no conspiracy and not a single post here or anywhere else has made that accusation.

What is at issue is a total and utter lack of any skill sets to present an album by a major artist in a listenable and presentable format.

You can post all the positive "reviews" you like, Michael Lavorgna and John Atkinson think it stinks and so do many of us.

Michael Fremer's picture

Type louder I can't hear you!

doublea71's picture

After a bit of consternation, my only beef is that the high-res version doesn't sound any better than the CD. I wish HDTracks would price it accordingly. 

atomlow's picture

What have you done lately that is so great to trash this record? I'm sure you have skills to back up your comments. What kind of system do you have and what format were you listening to? I'm sure Beck is sorry that the record was so bad even your wife thought it sounded like crap. You are just trying to get everyone's goat on here and it's working. The Beck quote you posted is interesting because I thought Beck's vocals were set back in the mix. I'm sure Beck hates the record and all the ProTools gimicky crap that pollutes the record...blush He's still a loser.

I keep hearing people say things like it sounds good but it isn't an audiophile release. So then, what does make an "audiophile" release? Isn't audiophile just another word like Hifi that gets abused?

Who knew Beck still had it in him to create such a stir over a pretty mellow record. I'm going to turn it up and drown out all this nonsense.

Prancing Horse's picture

Having seen a few posters vehemently defend the recording (there is no debate about the quality of the music and songs) I decided to put on in my reference system which is north of $40,000 in an acoustically treated room. Listened all the way through once, then hafl way through again, no distractions, no interuptions.


While not as desultory as previous listenings sessions, it is still a bit of an abomination. The dynamic range is basically nil, I had to turn down the volume at most peaks, where just about every other album I listen to is right there in the sweetspot.

It sounds plastic, sibilant, digital, and like an iPod file. (No, I am not referring to the whole mp3 accusations, Ludwig set the record straight)

In a word, those defending it as sound "great" are absolutely full of it.

atomlow's picture

$50,000 to get the full resolution out of this recording. I bet you have a blown speaker. My wife always hears when the speakers are blown, everything sounds like The Kinks You Really Got Me. (insert guitar riff here)

Prancing Horse's picture

That could be it. An exra 5 or 8 grand would have solved the issue. I am sure a $2000 power cord would make Morning Phase sound glorious, as good as a the most classic Blue Note title.

atomlow's picture

buy the record for $25 and save the hassle with the power cords. This album doesn't sound like a Blue Note recording and that's maybe why you are dissappointed... but it all makes more sense to me now. You can always come over and listen to the vinyl record on my $1500 system, it might just blow your mind.

Michael Fremer's picture

Can't you find a way to express an opinion that differs from that of others without calling them "full of it"? Please try.

Michael Fremer's picture

At all. And there is either one tube or no tubes depending on what phono preamp I use, so I'm not sure what's going on with your system!

Budget Audiophile's picture

I find this debate fascinating as I will always prefer recordings that are minimally compressed and/or dynamic; however, it all starts with the music for me .  There are many recordings that are heavily compressed, or have low DNR values, where the music is still emotionally engaging to me across all formats.  On the flip side, I've heard many audiiophile quality recordings that sound fanastic but fail to move me to the point that I would ever want to hear it again!

Now for Beck's Morning Phase, I purchased the CD for $9.99 with the expectation of picking up the vinyl later.  This CD has been in heavy rotation in my car, at the office and on the HI-Fi since the day of release and I can say with utmost certainty that the music is very engaging and emotionally satisfying!  Honestly, I didn't think about the quality of the recording (until stumbling across this debate) because it wasn't an issue.  I was completely taken in by the quality of the music.  This will always be my top priority!  If the recording is what the artist intended and it grabs me like this one did, then I say mission accomplished!

For anyone that has not heard this music yet, pick your prefered format and listen to the music.  You be the judge!  Highest Recommendation!

J. Carter's picture

Your post puts into words what I'm feeling better than enyone elses I've seen on here including my own. I can't tell you how many forum posts I have read that say the music is great but the sound quality is terrible so I will pass. Really? Are you really listening to listen to the music or for the sound quality. Anyway, thanks again I agree with you in every point made here. 

Michael Fremer's picture

Thanks for contributing.

mem916's picture

Did you play the CD, LP, or HDTracks version?

atomlow's picture

doesn't want to answer this question... sad If it is the vinyl maybe he could sell it on ebay, they are going for around $40 now since it's waiting to be repressed. They went fast, though I believe they are still available at

J. Carter's picture

I just bought the record on yesterday and it shipped and is on its way. I have a sneaking suspicion it will be from the same exact master as the HDtracks version however. But we shall see.

PS: thanks for the extra voice of reason in this thread!

Prancing Horse's picture

CD and HDTracks versions.

atomlow's picture

I was all excited about the experience vinyl rip that came with the record. I haven't really sat down and compared it against the vinyl but I didn't care for the sound of it. Maybe you should buy the record from and see if it fits Fremer's review a little closer. He was reviewing the vinyl ya know. The vinyl sounds awesome.

mem916's picture


I bought mine from Amazon as a pre-order. Perhaps it is an early pressing and thus more dynamic, but I doubt an early pressing would make that much difference.  What standalone program do people use to analyze files for dynamic range?  I downloaded DR-Meter-1.4a from but it says "44.1kHz/16Bit only" and the transcription I made from the LP is 192kHz/24Bit (see my post above for the link if you want download it). 

benza108's picture

If anyone's keeping score, I'll add my +1 to the "great album, good-as-far-as-modern-pop-vinyl-pressings-go" camp.

my new username's picture

No, the LP wasn't cut from anything less than a hires master. Not from any kind of 16-bit master.

Also, the LP has been shown elsewhere (, of all places, I think?) to have a very respectible DR of like 9. The MP3 code that comes with it, aka "The Vinyl Experience" is like DR8, even.

Everything else, the "regular" MP3 from Amazon, etc, the CD, the 24/96 version ... more like DR6 at best.

So ... unless you bought the LP, you probably ain't really heard Morning Phase yet.

Regarding Ludwig's comments (and then JA's) ... yep, Bob only commented on how the mix and master was done, which was never in question!

A missed journalistic opportunity by our intrepid reporter here, but then again Ludwig likely doesn't spend his days second-guessing source material's provenance. Even though we can still sometimes detect it at the end!

In a nutshell: buy the dang LP. Good music, presented in the best-available way.

J. Carter's picture

are not reliable for comparing between a recorded vinyl and a CD/download. They are almost always 2-4db higher even when the same master is used for the vinyl which I strongly believe is what happened here. A DR8 or DR9 is a very low rating for vinyl through the TT meter. I'm pretty confident that the same master was used for the vinyl that was used for the HDtracks download. They may have made some very minor EQ changes to acomidate cutting it to vinyl but on this album that's probably not all that likely.

That's not to say you may not like the sound of the record more especially if you have a nice turntable setup since it is very likely the D/A converter used to convert the digital master at the cutting lab is better than the D/A you are using at home.

thirtycenturyman's picture

Not to change the subject, but did anyone own Arcade Fire The Suburbs on vinyl? I can't imagine this album sounding worse than that one. It was seriously unlistenable.

atomlow's picture

I do have Arcade Fire The Suburbs on vinyl. You made me pull it back out to give it a listen. You're right it doesn't sound very good, I always wondered why I never pull it out to listen to. I always had it on doing things around the house, never much serious listening. Here's some information I found about the process they used during mastering. I'm not sure what happened along the way.

Because we were doing stems for a possible second mix, mixing to tape wasn't very practical. We did want to have the ethos of a very physical analogue recording, so together with George Marino, the mastering engineer, we came up with the idea of printing all mixes to vinyl and then going straight to CD. In fact, each song had its own 12‑inch, 45rpm acetate, so we could get all the frequency information on them, while the acetate was played back only once, straight back into the computer, so the CD is based on the highest possible quality vinyl recording in mastering. Obviously, it was not cheap — we burned through a lot of acetate! But we had mastered 'The Suburbs' digitally as well, just like you would do for a CD, and when we compared the file that had gone via the acetate with the Pro Tools‑only file, the difference was enormous. Everybody was like 'Oh my god, this is amazing!' and so we decided to master the whole album like that.

Michael Fremer's picture

I agree. Given all of the analog hoopla surrounding its production, the sound was awful.... just goes to show you...

thirtycenturyman's picture

The vinyl mix was pretty awful; however, the music was top notch. Hopefully they'll take another crack at out one of these days. So much potential!

tresaino's picture

After repeated listening I correct my earlier judgement: the LP actually sounds very good, and to my ears was sourced from a high resolution digital master. 

It seems to me Bob Ludwig made a mistake by not checking the source material. Bernie Grundman got it right. 

Superfuzz's picture

Bernie cut this from files that he got from Bob Ludwig... Bob "pre-mastered" the files for Bernie to cut... the source Bernie used came from Bob... unless you know something that hasn't been revealed yet.


It is interesting, how people bend over backwards, jump through hoops, with all sorts of speculation about this, that, and the other thing, instead of just listening, and posting about what they think of the record. Also interesting is the vitriol some people feel the need to post about how it sounds, and then belittle others who hear it differently (apparently some people really don't know what the word 'subjective' means). As for me, I've heard the Cd and HDtracks version, and think the record sounds OK. Not great, but not terrible. I prefer Beck's more quirky, upbeat stuff like Guero, Odelay, etc, but to each his own.

tresaino's picture

You are right I'm only guessing. I would kindly ask Michael or John to get in touch with Bob and Bernie and get their version. You may have already done that by now. Thank you. 

J. Carter's picture

I'm not sure what you need Michael or John to ask Bob and Bernie. Bob made the master then it is given to Bernie to cut the vinyl.

Wade's picture

I purchased vinyl and cd after reading all of the above comments. I wanted to make sure I got the best sound (vinyl) and wanted to hear what all the fuss was about. Well----to my ears the vinyl was slightly better, more dimensional and slightly more natural, but the presentation, much to my surprise, was fairly close. Not audiophile quality in either format, but more than competent. Very nice album. My system is vinyl based with ARC reference electronics, Wilson Sashas and VPI HRX tt w Dynavector XV1-s cartridge.

iramack's picture

Wade, that system is enviable!  I purchased this LP locally yesterday. Have not even unwrapped it yet, but now I'm scared that my perception/enjoyment will be clouded by all this "ANALysis".  :-)

My purchase was inspired by MF's glowing review................

I have no doubt that it will be a great listen!!


Enjoy the music!!



PS: All my turntables are vintage 80's models such as HK-T60C/Denon DL-304, Yamaha PX-3/Denon DL103r, and Technics SL-10/310MC. With Musical Fidelity M1-ViNL and Luxman phono pre's.  I'll try them all to see which sounds the best......................

milt99's picture

So this was natively cut at 24/96, with all due respect to this site's mantra, why no hi-res physical release?

Trust me I'm well aware of Internet paranoia and piranha mentality, but there are a lot of people many whom I know and respect that are saying that there is something not right about the HD Tracks download. This a real shame as Beck is a truly talented artist and the samples I've heard of this album are great but I cannot spend money on this. Even though I love Arcade Fire, their recordings are, to me, everything recordings should not be. Far be it from to ever criticize audio pros but I do think it is very possbile even probable that something went sideways between the mastering and the transfer.

J. Carter's picture

What makes you think that a hi-res physical release would be any different than the HDTracks version?

There is nothing wrong with the HDTracks version it is just they way Beck wanted it to sound. I think it sounds good. There are elements that are gritty sounding but that is intentional.

If there was actually something wrong with the HDTracks version it would have been pulled and replaced. 

doublea71's picture

Well, the fact that the album does sound better than the HDTracks version (which sounds no different from 16/44.1) suggests it is possible. I don't buy the claim that these "gritty-sounding elements" were intentional - the whole record has liquid, ethereal quality to its sound, so that doesn't jive with me imho. I know those words came from Ludwig himself, but he's human like the rest of us and maybe didn't do his best work on this. There. I said it. 

HDTracks doesn't vet the recordings - as long as the bit depth measures up, they'll sell it...that's my impression of the position they took when MP was put under some scrutiny. I do hope that this gets the MFSL treatment asap. 

J. Carter's picture

I have the record and the HDTracks version (wanted a physical copy) and there really is very little difference between the two of them. Most of the differences are because of the inherent euphonic colorizations vinyl brings to any album not because it's a different master (which I don't believe it is).

mattruben's picture

On the "mp3 sourced" issue: Two tracks show the telltale 16kHz cutoff.

One is track 10, the one-minute instrumental "Phase." Along with the opening track "Cycle," this is one of two orchestral-style interludes composed by Beck's father. "Phase" consisting solely of a (synthesized/sampled?) stringed instrument.

The second one follows immediately - it's track 11, "Turn Away" (the one John Atkinson linked to). It's not entirely cut off above 16kHz, but most of it is - there are occasional little spikes above 16kHz, all the way beyond 20kHz.

I can only assume that Beck generated and/or recorded the main instrumentation for these two tracks using a lossy codec, or else he asked the producer to cut them off at 16kHz for some intentional reason.

At any rate, it's a gorgeous album and I'm very happy with it.

(BTW, the waveforms I looked at come from the CD - but as we know from the above discussion, the HDTracks version has the same issues.)

NightFlight's picture

HDTracks Disclaimer - We can't help it if the Artist is F*^&%# DEAF!

Recorded as intended. Its a shame really, because there was dynamic room for where crushed and capped choices should have actually kicked ass. The Beck album would have been better with drums you feel and make you blink. The heart is swayed by dynamic range and this album sold it short.

But sometimes the tools are all there. The artists ignore it. That's fine. I like the musicality of the Beck album anyhow.

If you hate the Beck album - You'd REALLY hate Clams Casino. I think the track from Rainforest - Waterfalls can really shine on high end equipment. Distorted all to hell, but still conveys the message.

... and in the end, that's what its all about.

J. Carter's picture

Now that this album has won Grammys for best Album and best Engineered Album non classical the shitstorm from the numbers guys is starting again.

rexp's picture

Posters like Wade say there's not much difference between the vinyl and CD version whereas doublea71 says the vinyl is fundamentally better. Have you done the comparison MF? And any chance of two posters mentioned listing their CD players? Cheers!

hkrabye's picture

I think this album is great musically, but the mix (and/or mastering) is using too much compression/limiting. Of course it's possible to let some drum sounds etc. be distorted and get a gritty feeling and still maintain a more dynamic mix! I ripped one of the songs "Say Goodbye" from the CD release and measured the integrated average level LUFS -9.2 which I think is too much. And also, the top peak level is +0.1 dbFS (true peak level), which is dangerous because such high levels will create digital distortion when the audio is converted to mp3. I can't figure out why this was allowed in the mastering process!