True Mono AAA Way Out West  From ERC Limited to 300 Copies Just Announced and Not Yet Sold Out! (Updated)

The Electric Recording Company just announced a limited to 300 copies edition of Sonny Rollins Way Out West (ERC 053M).

This 1957 recording featuring Ray Brown and Shelly Manne was first issued in mono. The "stereo" came later. It was "stereo" in the same way early Beatles albums were "stereo". Really recorded in two track mono for a post production mix down that allowed the producer and engineer to better blend the lead instrument with the rhythm track, which in this case was minus a piano, at the time a radical idea.

Another Contemporary Records issue with a similar "left-right" balance was Art Pepper Meets the Rhythm Section. On the "stereo" version Art never really gets to meet the rhythm section. In any case, whether or not you prefer the "stereo" or mono version, the Craft Records stereo reissue cut from a digital file was problematic in that the producers clearly did not know about engineer Roy DuNann's +6dB wide high frequency boost during the recording that needed to be reversed during mastering. ERC REPORTS THEY APPLIED THE PROPER ATTENUATION, so this release should be outstanding

azmoon's picture


pessoist's picture

I'd rather continue to chew on it.

wkjeffers's picture

$390 and we hope the EQ is reversed?........I think this is a very bad idea. why not make 1000 at $150 each? I know "too expensive" is a relative term but wow!

Michael Fremer's picture
so it's going to be awesome
WesHeadley's picture

Why not press more? Seems like a kind of bad, play-it-safe decision to make it more exclusive and limit it to pretty much only the more affluent buyers. But thanks for mentioning the EQ thing-- given your review of the last deluxe WOW box set that got it wrong that was the first question that jumped to mind when I read your post on this new one.

Besides finding a NM quality original, are there any reissues that you know of that you think kick-ass?

MalachiLui's picture

oftentimes these super limited qualities at very high prices are because the label (in this case, concord) will only license out so much and can't have a licensed reissue compete with their reissue for the general public (in this case, the deluxe box and the OJC pressings). analogue productions was set to reissue these titles a few years ago but the license was pulled because concord wants to cash in themselves. $35 for super high quality vs $22 for medium/average quality is a lot more competitive than $400+ for the ultimate top of the line (that only the elite can afford) vs that normal $22 record. it's the same reason why audiophile labels often do $50+ double 45 reissues rather than a $35 single 33 reissue, the major doesn't want the audiophile labels' 33 to compete with theirs.

MalachiLui's picture

i can't seem to type properly rn

MalachiLui's picture


there, i triple checked it. it's correct.

WesHeadley's picture

Yes, I can see that logic-- fairly simple business logic. But would doing say a run of 1500 or so damage that perception enough to make them deny a project like this one? Perhaps. Perhaps they tried and this was the limit. Too bad because the real game to me is to get the highest quality records into the hands of as many audiophiles as possible. I accept that 300 may have been that number here. When you buy as many records as I do per year I do have to pause on certain ones. like this one, and wonder about how much I love that recording. Same with the MoFi One Steps-- although those are a pretty decent value, I could get three of them for one of these!

Anton D's picture

I find this an interesting topic.

I got an email this morning about the 99 copy run of Michèle Auclair & Jacqueline Bonneau playing Sonates Pour Violon Et Piano by Debussy and Ravel...sold out by the time I could check it out. It was a run of 99 copies.

I then got the pre-order for this and...

...took the bait!

I really did it because it's the first true mono run in 61 years and ERC makes some crazy clean and sonically spectacular pressings. I wanted to hear this in the original true mono via a trustworthy curator, al a ERC!

I do not rationalize it by saying "Well, original pressings go for..." because that's creating 'manufactured rarity.' I like to let the value of the records stand on their own merits.

So, I am 'guilty' for jumping on this, while at the same time agree that a run in higher numbers at lower price would be desirable.

I bet they make only one of whatever it is you press the LPs from, hence the low numbers.

What is the number of pressings a plate can do before quality starts to drop?

Hey, good thing they didn't store these tapes at that damned Universal Studios wareheouse, eh!

It also seems that the number of buyers for these is somewhere between 99 and 300, as several prior releases in the 300 range are still available. (You can see which ones at their website.)

Supply/demand, fascinating balance.

Tom L's picture

We'll all drop by to give it a listen!

Anton D's picture

I'd be honored to have a listening party.

I'll pop some corks and cook some vittles!

Anton D's picture


ArcAudio's picture

One of my favorite albums as well.

Anton D's picture

At this point, it's in our DNA!

PeterPani's picture

I pre-ordered. It is one of the top ten jazz albums, isn’t it? And one record takes less space than 20 records...

Michael Fremer's picture
They do
Anton D's picture

Thanks for that link!

I had not seen that article before!

ArcAudio's picture

Once you receive it, please report back. Do you have any version to compare it too? I know Mono versions are not as plentyful

Anton D's picture

VG-VG+ pressings in mono go for about 250 bucks.

I will try to remember to post a comparison.

PeterPani's picture

So you will have to wait for my review and by then it will be sold out anyway.
I own a fantastic sounding stereo copy in a blank sleeve without labels and only the A-side. I bought that 30 years back in Taipei and have no idea who did it and when. All I can see is a mark in the vinyl outrun saying "MJ-S002". We were joking it was a special pressing for Michael Jackson at that time.

Jack Gilvey's picture


gMRfk6LMHn's picture

Just curious if the 1988 OJC reissue on Fantasy label has the Roy DuNann's +6dB wide high frequency boost attenuated?

James, Dublin, Ireland

darthlaker's picture

Worth buying it if one only has a stereo cartridge?

MalachiLui's picture

some stereo cartridges do mono lps better than others. and if your stereo cartridge does mono well, and this album is worth $400+ to you, then it'll be worth buying.

despite the fact that i love this album, have a great setup, and know that this will be the best "way out west" likely to come ever, i still can't fathom spending $435 on a single record, and if i were to do so, it'd have to be like a super special audiophile edition of a record that's already rare ('blond' would be a good example). other than that, i'd rather spend my $435 on more records/sneakers/clothes/hifi upgrades.

darthlaker's picture

Thanks. Can't wait for Mikey to review it! :)

samman's picture

I have the stereo AP reissue mastered by Doug Sax from years back. Sounds great to my ears, but I never compared it to anything else. I'm hoping that was EQ'd correctly. It sure sounds ok.

gMRfk6LMHn's picture

As I recall the Grundman session, we compared the tape with treble attenuation applied to the original pressing and it was clear that the original had been further rolled off on top compared to the “adjusted” tape. The Grundman 2015 cut is with the roll-off applied.

Both Analogue Productions' earlier reissues (Sax at 33 1/3, Gray at 45rpm) have the top end attenuation applied. This new reissue was cut from high resolution digital files instead of from tape for reasons I can’t imagine. The tape is in good enough condition so it’s either that the producer felt digitizing makes it “better” or it was a matter of cost cutting.

James, Dublin, Ireland.

saxman73's picture

I also have the AP Doug Sax version and I think it’s great. I can’t be sure about the EQ but I imagine Doug Sax would get it right. He seemed the meticulous type. For what it’s worth, I heard an original mono and liked the AP stereo Doug Sax version better. The separation doesn’t bother me, the imaging is great and there is plenty of air and sense of room around the instruments. The drums sound particularly good. Of course, it’s a great recording to start with and the music is fantastic. I’d like to hear this new version but it’s too expensive for me!

Jerome Sabbagh

capri345's picture

Ordered, very thrilled. And just realized ERC is now pressing jazz. Interesting. Thanks Mike for the thread!

JR465's picture

Hi Michael- Thanks for bringing this to my attention. I haven't been on the ERC site in a few months and would have missed this. I ordered one.


Pretzel Logic's picture

How does a true mono pressing compare to a stereo pressing played back in mono? Is it not possible to "fake" a mono listening experience with an album featuring the kind of sparse instrumentation Way Out West has? (I know it's "possible" of course, but what is being sacrificed?)

adrianywu's picture

This costs more than the Tape Project Saxophone Collosus tape I bought. For such a small production run, the cost of doing tape copies would be lower than pressing vinyl, and it makes more sense since the quality from a 1:1 tape transfer will always be higher.

PeterPani's picture

If ERC spends the same energy in tubed tape copy machines they could in fact ask for still higher prices, too.

ilbiffo's picture

But at the end this ERC Way Out West is all analog form the original master tape?

PeterPani's picture

it is done with vintage mastering and cutting, too. A picture of the master tapes you can see on the News-section of the ERC site.

ArcAudio's picture

I'm willing to bet this edition will sound fantastic. Even better than an original pressing since vinyl mastering was more limited back in the day due to concerns with consumer player needle skipping, etc. So this edition may have a wider (floabt) dynamic range with stronger low end.

ilbiffo's picture

I see that ERC use Record Industry as pressing plant ,is good as Pallas?

ArcAudio's picture

Maybe Waxtime or one of the other cheapo-crap EU public domain labels will invest $400 and make mono editions based on this pressing LOL.

mraudioguru's picture

It is now Sold Out!

cundare's picture

Guess I'll have to make due with the MQA stereo version on Tidal, which has the advantage of costing a lot less -- uh, free, actually, since I already have a subscription.

I've never been anything but a vinyl fan since the 1970s, I love well-recorded mono, I own a decent middle-of-the-road system (Harbeths, Parasound, Audeze, Ortofon Black, etc.), and think I have a decent ear. Still, guys like Mike Fremer live in the stratosphere compared to me & for them this AAA mono release must be a no-brainer. But the MQA version is pretty exciting, at least to my ears, and in the past I've found that, on my system, even the MoFi 1-Steps just barely justify a 3-digit price tag. So I guess this is an issue upon reasonable minds can differ.

Then again, see my next message.

cundare's picture

Like a lot of old-timers here, I've built up a music collection that rivals the weight of my car. Several years ago, I realized that I owned hundreds of records that I hadn't played in years -- or decades -- and so I began cycling through my entire collection. Still barely through the second shelf, I'm enjoying the rediscovery of all this terrific content immensely. And it may take the rest of my life to get through it all, considering how many previously forgotten titles now wind up back in heavy rotation for weeks.

So although I listen at least 10-20 hours/week, I have little desire to buy anything new. I do enjoy Tidal hirez & MQA for late-night, single-doobie, headphone sessions before going to bed (we can't escape our roots), but my most important use for Tidal is to sample interesting releases reviewed in Stereophile -- resulting in the 2 or 3 new titles I buy each year.

I once bought a few hundred jazz LPs from Harvey Pekar. He told me that his wife forces him to sell off most of his collection every few years, whenever it threatens to force them out of their house. This is a guy who bought at least 3-5 albums a week his whole life, and got to the point where he never had time to play his purchases. Maybe there's a little of that in all of us -- it's as much fun finding & buying as it is listenning -- but when you step back and decide to make listening the priority, it may not make sense to spend $400 for a single LP, no matter how terrific it sounds -- when you have hundreds or thousands of hours of nearly-as-great-sounding content sitting on your shelf just begging to be played.

PeterPani's picture

Audiophilness is an addiction. Like with all drugs you have to find the right balance between ecstasy and money wallet. I changed my buying habbits. Better to buy one ERC pressing than 30 records of less quality. Needs less space, and holds its value. I cannot agree regarding listening to digital music. I tried all formats and DACs. It works for listening with half an ear. But the joy of serous listening needs analog.

mraudioguru's picture

...I was just stating the fact that it was sold out.

Eskisi's picture

If this company really produced 41 titles of 300 copies each over almost a decade, that is less than $500K per annum in total sales, before retail commissions, royalties, salaries, materials, etc. Wonder how they keep the lights on?

Nice album BTW. Sounds great on Spotify.

ArcAudio's picture
The Owl Eyed Man's picture

I have never heard a record sound this good rhythmically or tonally and in terms of clarity the communication is instantaneous. It is breathlessly clear. The percussion is alive and tangible. A wonderful achievement. Having seen Sonny live many years ago at the Royal Albert Hall this makes him present in the room in a way that there are not words for.

This is how I dreamed a record would sound on my turntable. It makes you realise the extent to which the record determines the listening experience.

ilbiffo's picture

You play it with a mono or stereo cartridge?

About the pressing I see that ERC use Record Industry as pressing plant ,is good as Pallas or RTI?

Strawberry1973's picture

I can't say I am not interested. This album is right up my alley but the price is breathtaking and in the wrong way. How can I justify purchasing it? Convince me! :)

This is what I work with: