Amy Winehouse – At The BBC Review (Vinyl LP, CD, Digital Files, Streaming)

This live album is released on the occasion of the tenth anniversary of Amy Winehouse’s death. It includes Amy Winehouse’s live sessions between 2003 and 2007 at the BBC.
After a first release on CD and DVD in 2012, it is an extended version that is released for the first time on vinyl, with 3 LPs, and also in 3 CD version and streaming.
You can find the measurements of each edition in the different parts and listen to the samples of these albums here.

This album includes 38 tracks : 

  1. Stronger Than Me (Later With Jools Holland / Nov 2003)
  2. Take The Box (Mercury Prize / Sept 2004)
  3. Teach Me Tonight (Hootenanny / Dec 2004)
  4. Rehab (Later With Jools Holland / Oct 2006)
  5. Tenderly (Later With Jools Holland / Oct 2006)
  6. Tears Dry On Their Own (Later With Jools Holland / Oct 2006)
  7. Monkey Man (Hootenanny / Dec 2006)
  8. I Heard It Through The Grapevine (Hootenanny / Dec 2006)
  9. Don’t Go To Strangers (Hootenanny / Dec 2006)
  10. Love Is A Losing Game (Mercury Prize / Sept 2007)
  11. Know You Now (Leicester Summer Sundae / 2004)
  12. Fuck Me Pumps (T In The Park / 2004)
  13. In My Bed (T In The Park / 2004)
  14. October Song (T In The Park / 2004)
  15. Rehab (Pete Mitchell / 2006)
  16. You Know I’m No Good (Jo Whiley Live Lounge / 2007)
  17. Just Friends (Big Band Special / 2009)
  18. Love Is A Losing Game (Jools Holland / 2009)
  19. Tears Dry On Their Own (Jo Whiley Live Lounge / 2007)
  20. Best Friends, Right? (Leicester Summer Sundae / 2004)
  21. I Should Care (The Stables / 2004)
  22. Lullaby Of Birdland (The Stables / 2004)
  23. Valerie (Jo Whiley Live Lounge / 2007)
  24. To Know Him Is To Love Him (Pete Mitchell / 2006)
  25. Know You Now (Live At Porchester Hall / 2007)
  26. Tears Dry On Their Own (Live At Porchester Hall / 2007)
  27. You Know I’m No Good (Live At Porchester Hall / 2007)
  28. Just Friends (Live At Porchester Hall / 2007)
  29. He Can Only Hold Her (Live At Porchester Hall / 2007)
  30. I Heard Love Is Blind (Live At Porchester Hall / 2007)
  31. Rehab (Live At Porchester Hall / 2007)
  32. Take The Box (Live At Porchester Hall / 2007)
  33. Some Unholy War (Live At Porchester Hall / 2007)
  34. Back To Black (Live At Porchester Hall / 2007)
  35. Valerie (Live At Porchester Hall / 2007)
  36. Addicted (Live At Porchester Hall / 2007)
  37. Me & Mr Jones (Live At Porchester Hall / 2007)
  38. Monkey Man (Live At Porchester Hall / 2007)

We will review 4 editions (Vinyl , CD 2021, Streaming Amazon Music Ultra HD, Digital files from vinyl’s code) of this album.

First we will analyze each edition in detail (technical and qualitative analysis) then we will compare the successive editions with their dynamics and assign a final score and you will be able to listen some samples.

Review of the editions:

Part 1: Presentation of the editions

Part 2 : Waveform and dynamique comparaison

Parts 3 : Spectrum comparisons

Part 4 : Spectrogram comparaisons

Part 5 : Summary, scoring and Samples

The streaming versions may evolve over time, those presented here correspond to the version tested at the date of publication, or update of the review.

Part 1: presentation of the editions

Ed1 : Vinyl ref 3541560- 2021
Presentation

This is the superb vinyl edition with 3 LPs with Lacquer Cut at Abbey Road Studios. We find very beautiful photos.

LabelUMG
Reference3541560
Format (speed)3 x Vinyl 33 rpm 180g
TypeTriple Vinyl LP, Gatefold
MasterDigital
Mastering/PressingLacquer Cut at Abbey Road Studios / UK/Europe
Original recordingDigital
StateUK/Europe
Year original2021
Year production2021
Ed2 : CD ref 3541565 – 2021
Presentation

This is the 3 CD release of this album.

LabelIsland Records
Reference3541565
Format (speed)3 x CD
TypeCD 16 bits/44.1 kHz
MasterDigital
Mastering/PressingUK/Europe
Original recordingDigital
StateUK/Europe
Year original2021
Year production2021
Ed3 : Streaming ref Amazon Music Ultra HD – 2021

Presentation

This is streaming release in Ultra HD from Amazon Music HD.

Label
ReferenceAmazon Music Ultra HD
Format (speed)Streaming 24 bits 44.1 kHz
TypeUltra HD
MasterDigital
Mastering/PressingUK/Europe
Original recordingDigital
StateUK/Europe
Year original2021
Year production2021
Ed4 : Digital File ref Vinyl code – 2021

Presentation

The Wav version can be downloaded with the code present with the vinyl.

LabelUMG
Reference3541560 (code for download)
Format (speed)WAV files
TypeWav 16bits 44.1kHz
MasterDigital
Mastering/PressingUK/Europe
Original recordingDigital
StateUK/Europe
Year original2021
Year production2021

Part 2 : Waveform and dynamic comparaisons

Waveform

The waveform represents all the tracks of the album.

This edition is dynamic, we can see many attacks of the music that gives this dynamic rendering. As opposed to the Ed2 CD version which is compressed.

But we also notice a difference in level (green arrow) between the first vinyl (side A and B) and the two other vinyls (yellow arrow). This is explained by the duration of the first disc is shorter than the other two discs, we can then have a higher sound level.

Waveform Ed1 : Vinyl 2021

Compared to the Ed1 vinyl, for the Ed2 CD 2011, all levels are at maximum, with compressed parts that show constant maximum levels (yellow area).

Waveform Ed2 CD 2021

The Ed3 Streaming is similar to the Ed4 Digital File in terme of waveform with compression/limitation of the peak (yellow area).

Waveform Ed3 Streaming Amazon

The Ed4 Digital File obtained with the vinyl code is here an even more compressed version than the Ed2 CD. The maximum level of the tracks is almost constant (yellow area), showing the effect of the compression.

Waveform Ed4 Digital File from Vinyl code

Dynamic

We start this test by measuring the dynamic. Dynamic represents the ability to reproduce a wide range of sounds from the softest to the loudest. 


For our 4 editions we have obtained the following Dynamic Range (DR):

 Ed1: VinylEd2:  CDEd3:  StreamingEd4: Digital file
GLOBALDR11DR9DR8DR8
MinDR9DR7DR7DR6
MaxDR14DR11DR11DR11
Stronger Than Me (Later With Jools Holland / Nov 2003)DR14DR11DR9DR9
Take The Box (Mercury Prize / Sept 2004)DR10DR11DR7DR7
Teach Me Tonight (Hootenanny / Dec 2004)DR13DR9DR10DR10
Rehab (Later With Jools Holland / Oct 2006)DR11DR9DR8DR8
Tenderly (Later With Jools Holland / Oct 2006)DR12DR9DR10DR10
Tears Dry On Their Own (Later With Jools Holland / Oct 2006)DR11DR10DR8DR8
Monkey Man (Hootenanny / Dec 2006)DR12DR8DR8DR8
I Heard It Through The Grapevine (Hootenanny / Dec 2006)DR11DR9DR8DR8
Don’t Go To Strangers (Hootenanny / Dec 2006)DR11DR8DR8DR8
Love Is A Losing Game (Mercury Prize / Sept 2007)DR14DR11DR11DR11
Know You Now (Leicester Summer Sundae / 2004)DR11DR8DR8DR7
Fuck Me Pumps (T In The Park / 2004)DR12DR9DR9DR8
In My Bed (T In The Park / 2004)DR10DR7DR7DR8
October Song (T In The Park / 2004)DR10DR7DR7DR7
Rehab (Pete Mitchell / 2006)DR11DR9DR9DR7
You Know I’m No Good (Jo Whiley Live Lounge / 2007)DR10DR8DR8DR7
Just Friends (Big Band Special / 2009)DR10DR8DR7DR9
Love Is A Losing Game (Jools Holland / 2009)DR10DR7DR7DR7
Tears Dry On Their Own (Jo Whiley Live Lounge / 2007)DR10DR7DR7DR7
Best Friends, Right? (Leicester Summer Sundae / 2004)DR11DR8DR8DR9
I Should Care (The Stables / 2004)DR9DR7DR7DR7
Lullaby Of Birdland (The Stables / 2004)DR9DR7DR7DR8
Valerie (Jo Whiley Live Lounge / 2007)DR10DR9DR9DR7
To Know Him Is To Love Him (Pete Mitchell / 2006)DR11DR8DR8DR6
Know You Now (Live At Porchester Hall / 2007)DR12DR8DR6DR7
Tears Dry On Their Own (Live At Porchester Hall / 2007)DR12DR8DR7DR6
You Know I’m No Good (Live At Porchester Hall / 2007)DR12DR8DR7DR7
Just Friends (Live At Porchester Hall / 2007)DR14DR9DR8DR7
He Can Only Hold Her (Live At Porchester Hall / 2007)DR12DR8DR7DR7
I Heard Love Is Blind (Live At Porchester Hall / 2007)DR12DR8DR7DR8
Rehab (Live At Porchester Hall / 2007)DR12DR7DR6DR7
Take The Box (Live At Porchester Hall / 2007)DR12DR7DR6DR6
Some Unholy War (Live At Porchester Hall / 2007)DR12DR8DR8DR7
Back To Black (Live At Porchester Hall / 2007)DR12DR8DR7DR7
Valerie (Live At Porchester Hall / 2007)DR11DR7DR6DR6
Addicted (Live At Porchester Hall / 2007)DR12DR8DR7DR9
Me & Mr Jones (Live At Porchester Hall / 2007)DR11DR7DR6DR7
Monkey Man (Live At Porchester Hall / 2007)DR12DR8DR7DR8

The DR vary globally from 8 to 9 for the CD, streaming andDigital Files, below the DR11 of the vinyl. CD, streamig and Digital Files have the lowest dynamic range, due to the compression in the mastering. But the Cd is a little less compressed than the streaming or the download files.

As a reminder, the scale goes from 0 to more 20, but the dynamics are considered good from 12, quite good between 10 and 11, and deteriorate below 10.

Part 3 : spectrum comparisons

Spectrum

The Spectrum allows to check the tonal balance of the music (balance between treble, medium and bass sounds) and to detect process that may have been carried out during the recording, the mixing, mastering or manufacturing phases. It is also possible to detect frequency interference issues.

The curve represents the average frequency distribution over the sample “Rehab (Later With Jools Holland / Oct 2006)”.

The interesting features on this curve Ed1 Vinyl (White) vs Ed3 Streaming are the following:

  1. The two curves are superposed between 800 Hz to 12 kHz.
  2. The treble level (Ed1 Vinyl ) above 12 kHz is louder (yellow area) than on the Ed3 Streaming. We also notice the sudden drop in level above 20 kHz, revealing the use of a digital master in 44.1 or 48 kHz.
  3. The bass level (Ed1 Vinyl ) below 800 Hz is louder (green area) than on the Ed3 Streaming, with a difference of 5 dB around 80 Hz
Spectrum Ed1 Vinyl (White) vs Ed3 Streaming (Blue)

For the 3 digital editions (CD, Streaming and digital file), we notice a superposition of the curves (see the three curves below). This means that we will find a similar sound balance despite the compression.

Spectrum CD (White) vs Streaming (Blue)
Spectrum Streaming (White) vs Download (Blue)
Spectrum Digital files (White) vs CD (Blue)

Part 4 : Spectrogram comparaisons

Spectrogram

Spectrogram is another representation of frequency versus time of a track. For each channel (right and left), horizontal axis represents time, and the vertical axis represents frequency. The amplitude is represented by the intensity (brightness) of the color of each point in the image.

For the spectrogram of the Ed1 Vinyl, the yellow arrow as for the spectrum, reveals the limit around 20 kHz due to the digital mastering. Beyond 20 kHz (white arrow), there is noise or distortion due to the vinyl playback method.

Spectrogram Ed1 : Vinyl 2021

The three digital versions (CD, Streaming and digital file) are very similar (see the three curves below). We find a cut at 22 kHz (yellow arrow) due to the sampling frequency with the presence of the black band (white arrow). The green and black arrows highlight attenuations before 22 kHz that are due to the recording of the songs in different years and locations.

Spectrogram Ed2 CD 2021
Spectrogram Ed3 Streaming Amazon
Spectrogram Ed4 Digital File from Vinyl code

Part 5 : Summary, scoring and Samples

Ed1 : Vinyl ref 3541560- 2021

The vinyl has a pressing with a good dynamic range. The pressing is of good quality without problem of surface noise (Thanks for the Lacquer Cut at Abbey Road Studios). The rendering is more dynamic and detailed than CD and digital Files release.

The vinyl sounds different from the streaming edition which has a similar dynamic. The vinyl has a more present bass (5db more), and a higher extreme treble. The rendering is warmer than the Streaming version, with high frequencies that remain detailed. This first complete edition on 3 LP is very beautiful, both graphically and musically.

  • Rating:
    • Dynamic: ●●●oo (3.5/5)
    • Bandwidth: ●●●●o (4/5)
    • Surface noise: ●●●●o (4/5)
    • Restitution: ●●●●o (4/5)
  • Sample : “Rehab (Later With Jools Holland / Oct 2006)” 24 bits 88.2 kHz:
Sample Ed1 Vinyl 2021
Ed2 : CD ref 3541565 – 2021

With its DR9 compared to the DR11 of the vinyl, the CD is always in the loudness war. The rendering is less dynamic and less precise than the vinyl.

  • Rating:
    • Dynamic: ●●ooo (2/5)
    • Bandwidth: ●●●●o (4/5)
    • Restitution: ●●●oo (3/5)
  • Sample : “Rehab (Later With Jools Holland / Oct 2006)” 16 bits 44.1 kHz:
Sample Ed2 CD 2021
Ed3 : Streaming ref Amazon Music Ultra HD – 2021

The streaming version is les dynamic (DR8) than the CD (DR9). The audio rendering is less open and precise than the CD version

  • Rating:
    • Dynamic: ●●ooo (2/5)
    • Bandwidth: ●●●●o (4/5)
    • Restitution: ●●ooo (2.5/5)
  • Sample : “Rehab (Later With Jools Holland / Oct 2006)” 24 bits 44.1 kHz:
Sample Ed3 Streaming Amazon
Ed4 : Digital File ref Vinyl code – 2021

With its DR8 compared to the DR11 of vinyl, the Digital files are always in the loudness war. The rendering is less dynamic and less precise than the ED1 Vinyl and Ed2 CD.

  • Rating:
    • Dynamic: ●●ooo (2/5)
    • Bandwidth: ●●●●o (4/5)
    • Restitution: ●●ooo (2.5/5)
  • Sample : “Rehab (Later With Jools Holland / Oct 2006)” 16 bits 44.1 kHz :
Sample Ed4 MP3

One version emerges from the lot, the vinyl version is dynamic and with a warmer rendering than the digital version. Afterwards, it’s a question of preference between vinyl and digital, the samples will show you the difference. Concerning the CD, Streaming and the Digital Files, they are in retreat because of their high level of compression.

Detail of the ratings :

  • Dynamic :
    1. Significant dynamic compression, DR less than 7
    2. Compression of the present dynamics, DR between 7 and 9.
    3. Correct piece DR >=10
    4. No dynamic compression (DR >12), dynamic rendering
    5. No dynamic compression, high DR and very dynamic sound rendering
  • Spectrum :
    1. Spectrum cut and less than 15 khz
    2. Spectrum cut at 15 khz
    3. Spectrum not conforming to the original and cut (not HD) or original but limited bandwidth (but less than 20 kHz)
    4. Spectrum conforming to the original (but not HD)
    5. Spectrum conforming to the original with HD resolution (higher than 24kHz)
  • Surface noise (only for vinyl):
    • Continuous audible noise
    • Audible surface noise except on passages with a high level of noise
    • Reduced surface noise, barely audible on low level crossings
    • Low surface noise, very good quality
    • Very low surface noise, no defects, almost inaudible on the quiet passages (exceptional disc)
  • Spatialization :
    • Between 0 and 5 for 5.1 or 7.1 channels configuration
    • Between 0 and 10 for Atmos configuration (7.1.4)
    • For more information on spatialization, you can read the article describing this parameter here.
  • Restitution :
    1. Low quality of the restitution mixing dynamics, clarity, separation of voices and instruments.
    2. Average quality of the restitution mixing dynamics, clarity, separation of voices and instruments.
    3. Quality of the restitution mixing dynamics, clarity, separation of voices and instruments. Good record.
    4. High quality of the restitution mixing dynamics, clarity, separation of voices and instruments. Very high level disc.
    5. Maximum quality of the restitution mixing dynamics, clarity, separation of voices and instruments. Exceptional disc.

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