Lana Del Rey – Blue Banisters – Review (Vinyl, Streaming Amazon Music, Qobuz)

8th album of Lana Del Rey, Blue Banisters is also the second album released in 2021 after Chemtrails over the Country.
It is an album prepared during the lockdown. The pop singer dives into her childhood memories and her love separations in a very romantic way.

You can find the measurements of each edition in the different parts and listen to the samples of these albums here.

This album includes 15 tracks : 

  1. Text Book
  2. Blue Banisters
  3. Arcadia
  4. Interlude – The Trio
  5. Black Bathing Suit
  6. If You Lie Down With Me
  7. Beautiful
  8. Violets For Roses
  9. Dealer
  10. Thunder
  11. Wildflower Wildfire
  12. Nectar Of The Gods
  13. Living Legend
  14. Cherry Blossom
  15. Sweet Carolina

We will review 3 editions (Vinyl, Streaming Amazon Music and Qobuz) 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 Sample

Part 1: presentation of the editions

Ed1 : Vinyl ref 3859014 – 2021
Presentation

It is a very nice vinyl proposed here in its double black LP version.

LabelPolydor, Universal Music
Reference3859014
Format (speed)Double LP 33.3 RPM
TypeDouble LP
MasterDigital
Mastering/PressingMastered By – Adam Ayan, Mike Dean
Original recordingDigital 24-44.1kHz
StateEU
Year original2021
Year production2021
Ed2 : Streaming Amazon Music UltraHD – 2021
Presentation

This is the Streaming Amazon Music proposed in UltraHD (24 bits 44.1kHz).

LabelAmazon Music, Univeral Music
ReferenceAmazon Ultra HD
Format (speed)Streaming Ultra HD
Type24 bits 44.1 kHz
MasterDigital 24 bits 44.1 kHz
Mastering/PressingMastered By – Adam Ayan, Mike Dean
Original recordingDigital
StateEU
Year original2021
Year production2021
Ed3 : Streaming Qobuz Hi-Res – 2021
Presentation

This is the Streaming Qobuz proposed in Hi-Res (24 bits 44.1kHz).

LabelQobuz, Univeral Music
ReferenceQobuz Hi-Res
Format (speed)Streaming Hi-Res
Type24 bits 44.1 kHz
MasterDigital 24 bits 44.1 kHz
Mastering/PressingMastered By – Adam Ayan, Mike Dean
Original recordingDigital
StateEU
Year original2021
Year production2021

Part 2 : Waveform and dynamic comparaisons

Waveform

The waveform represents all the tracks of the album.

The Ed1 vinyl differs from the digital versions (Ed2 and Ed3) by a much more dynamic signal without compression of the maximum levels.

Waveform Ed1 : Vinyl 2021

The wafeforms of Ed2 Amazon Music and Ed3 Qobuz versions are here very compressed with, as in the yellow zone, flat areas of maximum sound levels.

Waveform Ed2 : Amazon Music 2021
Waveform Ed3 : Qobuz 2021

Dynamic

Dynamic represents the ability to reproduce a wide range of sounds from the softest to the loudest.

For our 3 editions we have obtained the following Dynamic Range (DR):

 Ed1: VinylEd2: Amazon MusicEd3: Qobuz
GLOBALDR10DR7DR7
MinDR8DR5DR5
MaxDR12DR10DR10
Text BookDR10DR5DR5
Blue BanistersDR12DR10DR10
ArcadiaDR10DR8DR8
Interlude – The TrioDR10DR7DR7
Black Bathing SuitDR10DR6DR6
If You Lie Down With MeDR10DR6DR6
BeautifulDR8DR7DR6
Violets Of RosesDR9DR6DR6
DealerDR11DR6DR6
ThunderDR9DR5DR5
Wildflower WildfireDR11DR5DR5
Nectar Of The GodsDR9DR8DR7
Living LegendDR9DR7DR7
Cherry BlossomDR9DR8DR8
Sweet CarolinaDR8DR6DR6

As the waveforms show, the vinyl is the most dynamic with an average DR10, against a DR7 for the Ed2 Amazon and Ed3 Qobuz.

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 track “Text Book”.

The curve of the Ed1 vinyl is identical to the Ed2 Amazon Music up to 7 kHz, beyond that, the vinyl version attenuates by a few dB.

Spectrum Ed1 Vinyl (white) vs Ed2 Streaming Amazon Music (blue)

We have here a total superposition between the curves of the Ed2 Amazon and the Ed3 Qobuz which shows the use of the same master.

Spectrum Ed2 Streaming Amazon Music (white) vs Ed3 Streaming Qobuz (blue)

As can also be seen in the spectrograms below, tracks 12, 13 and 14 have a cutoff frequency of about 16 kHz (white arrow). This cutoff is abrupt, suggesting the use of a 32 kHz sampling frequency or a hard filter beyond 16 kHz.

Spectrum of tracks cuted at 16 kHz

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 shows the limit is below 20 kHz (the sampling frequency of the master). The white arrow shows the harmonics created by the vinyl playback method. The green arrow shows the 3 tracks that are cut at 16 kHz.

Spectrogram Ed1 : Vinyl 2021

The streaming Amazon Music and Qobuz show the frequency limit at 22kHz (yellow arrow) . The black area (white arrow) shows that there is no signal above 22 kHz, which is normal for a 44.1 kHz sampling rate. The green arrow shows the 3 tracks that are cut at 16 kHz.

Spectrogram Ed2 : Amazon Music 2021
Spectrogram Ed3 : Qobuz 2021

Part 5 : Summary, scoring and Samples

Ed1 : VinyEd1 : Vinyl ref 3859014 – 2021

The vinyl pressing is good without too much surface noise.
The vinyl version is much more open and detailed than the digital versions. The voices are more natural, more dynamic and enveloping, as you can hear by comparing the excerpts, especially in the second half where there is much more openness with voices.

  • Rating:
    • Dynamic: ●●●oo (3/5)
    • Bandwidth: ●●●●o (4/5)*
    • Surface Noise: ●●●●o (4/5)
    • Restitution: ●●●●o (4/5)
  • Sample : “Wildflower Wildfire” vinyl 24 bits 96 kHz :
Sample “Wildflower Wildfire” vinyl
Ed2 : Streaming Amazon Music UltraHD – 2021

The Streaming version is really very compressed. This can be seen on the curves but especially when listening, where this version lacks finesse and openness. The sample shows the difference with the vinyl.

  • Rating:
    • Dynamic: ●●ooo (2/5)
    • Bandwidth: ●●●●o (4/5)*
    • Restitution: ●●●oo (3/5)
  • Sample : “Wildflower Wildfire” Streaming Amazon Music 24 bits 44.1 kHz :
Sample “Wildflower Wildfire” Streaming Amazon Music
Ed3 : Streaming Qobuz Hi-Res – 2021

The Qobuz streaming version is similar to the Amazon Music streaming version.

  • Rating:
    • Dynamic: ●●ooo (2/5)
    • Bandwidth: ●●●●o (4/5)*
    • Restitution: ●●●oo (3/5)
  • Sample : “Wildflower Wildfire” Streaming Qobuz 24 bits 44.1 kHz :
Sample “Wildflower Wildfire” Streaming Qobuz

*The tracks with a bandwidth limited to 16 kHz are not included in the overall score.

Very beautiful album in vinyl version which gives a more alive and natural rendering. It is the version to prefer compared to the compressed digital version.

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):
    1. Continuous audible noise
    2. Audible surface noise except on passages with a high level of noise
    3. Reduced surface noise, barely audible on low level crossings
    4. Low surface noise, very good quality
    5. Very low surface noise, no defects, almost inaudible on the quiet passages (exceptional disc)
  • 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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