Rocky Mountain Audio Fest 2011 • Sounds & Sights

The Audio Beat sponsored an interesting and provocative seminar during the RMAF on the importance of using proper EQ curves for analog playback. Analog mavens Roy Gregory (standing) and Dennis Davis (adjusting the tonearm) compiled a group of recordings whose sonic virtues changed with the EQ curve used -- often in dead-obvious fashion. The LPs represented a cross-section of labels whose non-RIAA EQ curves were documented or completely unknown. The Audio Research Reference Phono 2 used for the seminar made playback of Decca and Columbia LPs -- for which it has built-in curves -- easy. However, it was the way in which those same curves improved certain LPs on other labels that was most fascinating.

In one back-to-back sequence, an English Apple pressing of John Lennon's Imagine was played, followed by the American pressing, which clearly lacked the natural tonality and musical flow of the Apple pressing. The Columbia curve improved things for the American pressing. This didn't prove that the American pressing was mastered with the Columbia curve, but it did indicate that a mere switch from the RIAA curve could improve some less-than-stellar records.

The most interesting A/B was between an English Decca pressing, which sounded outstanding, and its American London "equivalent," which was so far inferior as to be nearly unlistenable. The Decca curve cured some of its ills, but the difference between the two was still obvious.

The Audio Beat • Nothing on this site may be reprinted or reused without permission.