Sunfire Classic Tube Preamplifier
Tara Labs RSC Air 1 Interconnects
Kimber Kable Select KS-3035 Speaker Cables
MIT Z-Cord III Power Cord
Virtual Dynamics Nite Power Cords
Manley Labs Mahi Monoblock Tube Amplifiers
Red Rose Rosebud MKII Speakers
06/23/2003 8:20p ET
Brett Rudolph - Reviewer
I have to admit that when I got the mail, I was both surprised and elated to find my evaluation copy of Aimee Mann’s Lost In Space SACD from Mobile Fidelity Sound Labs sitting there patiently waiting for me. It is one release since their reemergence as a notable audiophile label that I couldn’t wait to hear. You see, even reviewers aren’t exempt from hearing rumors and stories of just how good or bad things are, and in this case, I couldn’t believe all the good things could possibly be true.
I remember picking up a copy of Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon, that had been remastered by MSFL. In those days my system wasn’t quite what it is today, but even then I could hear the difference between that disc and the one that all my friends had. It was like night and day, or more importantly it sounded like what it was supposed to sound like.
Since those days, my system has improved and so has the technology used by MSFL to create remastered works of art from new and old recordings alike. While it’s true that Aimee Mann and Pink Floyd are from different eras and their songs are different, the inherent quality of the mastering is similar in that the love blended into the remasters are compelling on both discs.
So here I am with this hybrid stereo SACD sitting in my hands, begging my attention, which I promptly gave it. The beauty of hybrid stereo SACD discs, I have to mention, is they contain two separate versions of the album’s contents. The first is called the red-book layer or in layman’s terms, the CD layer. It provides backwards compatibility with virtually any piece of equipment able to reproduce music from the standard CD format. The second is the SACD layer. This is a newer higher definition format which allows for the capture and reproduction of substantially more musical information and increased dynamic range. In fact, many times while the album is the same, the quality of the reproduction is vastly different. MSFL is very good at creating the highest calibre hi-rez disc known to man. In addition, their ability to produce an outstanding CD layer is quite impressive.
From the moment I started listening to the CD version I knew that it was something different, something special in one of those ways you can’t quite put your finger on. It could have been that the imaging was effectively captured to such a detail that you could hear the slightest sounds. And that's important when an artist plans out every note. They add to the cohesiveness of the songs. It could also have been that while the CD contains a fair amount of bass and treble extension, neither is seemingly constrained to my fairly critical listening.
“Lost In Space”, the title track of the album and also the song on track 3 are wonderful examples. All the images and sounds that seem to float endlessly through the nearly holographic soundstage become almost physical. Aimee Mann’s beautiful voice is the substance that create the mood for the set. There is a feel of weightlessness drifting through an infinite world of unending strife and meaningless nonexistence. Which is what she is trying to convey.
“Real Bad News", the song found on track seven is an enjoyable composition. Reading the liner notes and finding that there was an attempt to use some of the same types of overtones Pink Floyd is famous for sent me back to listen. I had to listen again and again to hear them all. The truth is, not only are they there, but they are good, damn good. Although what makes this difference is the haunting beauty of Aimee Mann’s voice. The timbre is amazing, and only serves to increase the song’s overall ability to draw you into the somewhat bittersweet aspects of the lyrics.
“Invisible Ink” , is perhaps one of the the best tracks on this album. It not only has all the components that the other songs possess but the rhythm seems to be even more readily apparent. This coupled with the laid back soundstaging made me feel as though I was intimately involved with the recording, almost as invisible as the ink the song talks about, yet experiencing a physical realm just borders on startling.
I would have bought this disc just for the CD version without a second thought. Though, like some of the Pink Floyd albums, I also wish I had the same album on vinyl. Oh, I know there are all sorts of theories and thoughts from die hard people out there who support or reject the format, but personally I've always loved the feel the music had when you played it on vinyl. It seems to be far more dynamic, especially when you are listening to songs or bands that have music within music or analogue information that somehow gets lost in the translation to digital. Luckily, since there is no vinyl release, there is SACD.
This disc's overall ambience possesses a strong analog feel. When I first switched to the SACD version, I felt as though I was hearing it on my trusty turntable. The most subtle of detail became more evident and enhanced my enjoyment in such as way that it became an even more intense experience the more I listened.
“Real Bad News” provides a touchstone that showcases how much you can experience and hear. The effect brings back to mind the quality and awe of the superior remastered Pink Floyd vinyl albums or even the MFSL gold discs. It isn’t as though you didn’t hear it in the CD version, you did. It just doesn't make a digital transition as accurately as it sounds on the vinyl release or the gold disc. In this case, the same is infinitely true with the SACD version.
I would be surprised if you don’t become awestruck from the moment you first play the disc til the moment you realize hours have passed. I can honestly say of all the releases I have heard from MFSL both in the old days and now, this is by far and away the best one yet. I can only suggest that you pick up a copy of this superior work and enjoy not only the enchanting world of Aimee Mann but also the extraordinary love that MFSL have instilled into this disc.
Copyright © 2002-2003 Matthew Rowe. All rights reserved.
Lost in Space
Released: July 08, 2003