CES 2017 • TABlog

by Marc Mickelson | January 31, 2017

he feeling of "deja vu all over again," to quote Yogi Berra, was strong as I sat in the Mobile Fidelity room during CES and waited for the presentation -- and the music -- to begin. Almost a year ago to the day, I was sitting and waiting in the Mobile Fidelity room, at that time to find out more about the label's newly announced One-Step process and to hear a test pressing of the first One-Step release, Santana's Abraxas.

This time, I was early by design -- I wanted to get a good seat and take the measure of the system, which featured products I didn't know at all. I chatted with Rob LoVerde, one of Mobile Fidelity's mastering engineers, about the label and the recording to be played: Bill Evans' Sunday at the Village Vanguard, the second One-Step release, which will be available sometime during the first half of 2017. Rob let me know that the recording was made "direct to two-track" and the source material used the LP was "the tape that was on the machine at the Village Vanguard." He also let me know that no EQ was used while cutting the lacquers. "It was straight from the tape machine to the lathe."

As he did last year, Shawn Britton, the mastering engineer of record for the release, spoke briefly about One-Step and then played a cut, in this case side one, track one, "Gloria's Step." I have several copies of the recording -- on CD, XRCD, SACD and LP -- but none of them has sounded like this. The speed and immediacy were immediately apparent, but what made Sunday at the Village Vanguard come eerily alive was the bass -- its pitch definition, density and dynamics. Each note was distinct, not running into the others, yet displayed newfound weight and power. A recording that had always sounded very good was much more forceful and vivid.

After the cut finished and I was moving toward the door, a guy who was sitting behind me said, "Where did that bass come from?" Like me, he also knew the recording well and thought it had never sounded like what we had just heard.

Rob LoVerde let me know that half of the 3000 copies of Sunday at the Village Vanguard were already pre-sold. Needless to say, if you want this record, buy now or be sorry later.

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