Katie Melua- Acoustic Album No. 8 – Review (CD, Streaming Qobuz, Tidal)

Katie Melua is back with the acoustic version of his album No. 8 released in 2020. Unlike Album N°8, the orchestration is reduced to a guitar sometimes accompanied by keyboards played by Mark Edwards, an intimate recording.

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

This album includes 11 tracks : 

  1. Joy
  2. English Manner
  3. Leaving The Mountain
  4. Voices In The Night
  5. Maybe I Dreamt It
  6. Heading Home
  7. Your Longing Is Gone
  8. Airtime
  9. Remind Me To Forget
  10. No Better Magic
  11. A Love Like That

We will review 4 editions (CD, Streaming Qobuz, Streaming Tidal and Streaming Amazon) 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 : CD ref 538751522 – 2021
Presentation

It is a very nice CD proposed with 12 page booklet.

LabelBMG
Reference538751522
Format (speed)CD
TypeCD 16 bits 44.1 kHz with 12 pages booklet
MasterDigital
Mastering/PressingMixed by Zurab Melua
Mastered by Matt Colton at Metropolis
Original recordingDigital 24-96kHz
StateAustria
Year original2021
Year production2021
Ed2 : Streaming Qobuz Hi-Res – 2021
Presentation

This is the Streaming Qobuz proposed in Hi-Res (24 bits 96kHz).

LabelBMG
ReferenceStreaming Qobuz Hi-Res
Format (speed)Streaming Digital
Type24 bits 96 kHz
MasterDigital
Mastering/PressingMixed by Zurab Melua
Mastered by Matt Colton at Metropolis
Original recordingDigital 24-96kHz
StateAustria
Year original2021
Year production2021
Ed3 : Streaming Tidal Master – 2021
Presentation

This is the Streaming Tidal proposed in MASTER MQA (24 bits 96kHz).

LabelBMG
ReferenceStreaming Tidal Master
Format (speed)Streaming Digital MQA
TypeMQA 24 bits 96 kHz (decoded in PCM)
MasterDigital
Mastering/PressingMixed by Zurab Melua
Mastered by Matt Colton at Metropolis
Original recordingDigital 24-96kHz
StateAustria
Year original2021
Year production2021
Ed4 : Streaming Amazon UltraHD- 2021
Presentation

The Streaming Amazon is proposed in UltraHD (24 bits 96kHz).

LabelBMG
ReferenceStreaming Amazon UltraHD
Format (speed)Streaming Digital
Type24 bits 96 kHz
MasterDigital
Mastering/PressingMixed by Zurab Melua
Mastered by Matt Colton at Metropolis
Original recordingDigital 24-96kHz
StateAustria
Year original2021
Year production2021

Part 2 : Waveform and dynamic comparaisons

Waveform

The waveform represents all the tracks of the album.

The comparison of the waveforms is quite simple for the 4 releases, we have the same curves, very dynamic with big variations of levels.

Waveform Ed1 : CD 2021
Waveform Ed2 : Qobuz 2021
Waveform Ed3 : Tidal 2021
Waveform Ed4 : Amazon 2021

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: CDEd2: QobuzEd3: TidalEd4: Amazon
GLOBALDR14DR14DR14DR14
MinDR12DR12DR12DR12
MaxDR15DR15DR15DR15
JoyDR12DR12DR12DR12
English MannerDR15DR15DR15DR15
Leaving The MountainDR14DR14DR14DR14
Voices In The NightDR14DR14DR14DR14
Maybe I Dreamt ItDR13DR13DR13DR13
Heading HomeDR13DR13DR13DR13
Your Longing Is GoneDR12DR12DR12DR12
AirtimeDR14DR14DR14DR14
Remind Me To ForgetDR15DR15DR15DR15
No Better MagicDR15DR15DR15DR15
A Love Like ThatDR14DR14DR14DR14

With a DR14 on average, and a variation between DR12 and DR15, the album is very dynamic for the 4 versions. The next measure will confirm it, but these 4 releases are from the same master.

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 “Joy”.

The We find the cut-off at 22 kHz of the CD version which is normal and due to the sampling frequency of the CD at 44.1 kHz.

Spectrum Ed1 CD(white) vs Ed2 Streaming Qobuz (blue)

The curves of the Ed2 Qobuz, the Ed3 Tidal and the Ed4 Amazon are identical, which with the other measurements confirms the use of the same master.

Spectrum Ed3 Streaming Tidal (white) vs Ed2 Streaming Qobuz (blue)
Spectrum Ed4 Streaming Amazon(white) vs Ed2 Streaming Qobuz (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 CD, the yellow arrow shows the limit is below 22 kHz (the sampling frequency of the CD). The white arrow shows the black area indicating that there is no signal above 22 kHz.

Spectrogram Ed1 : CD 2021

The spectrogram of the Ed2 Qobuz, Ed3 Tidal and the Ed4 Amazon are almost identical. We find frequencies (white arrow) which go up well above 22 kHz (yellow arrow). It is well a recording in high resolution.

Spectrogram Ed2 : Qobuz 2021
Spectrogram Ed3 : Tidal 2021
Spectrogram Ed4 : Amazon2021

Part 5 : Summary, scoring and Samples

Ed1 : CD ref 538751522 – 2021

Very nice rendering of the CD which has a very good dynamic, which was not common for the last reviews of recent editions.

  • Rating:
    • Dynamic: ●●●●● (5/5)
    • Bandwidth: ●●●●o (4/5)
    • Restitution: ●●●●o (4.5/5)
  • Sample : “Joy” CD 16 bits 44.1 kHz :
Sample “Joy” CD
Ed2 : Streaming Qobuz Hi-Res – 2021

The rendering is finer and more detailed in the treble than the CD, as shown by the guitar in the music samples. The high resolution recording is superior to the CD version with more transparency.

  • Rating:
    • Dynamic: ●●●●● (5/5)
    • Bandwidth: ●●●●● (5/5)
    • Restitution: ●●●●● (5/5)
  • Sample : “Joy” Streaming Qobuz 24 bits 96 kHz :
Sample “Joy” Streaming Qobuz
Ed3 : Streaming Tidal – 2021

The Tidal version is also in 24 bits 96 kHz, the rendering is also more detailed than the CD. It is difficult to distinguish the difference with the other versions in high resolution despite the compression of the MQA format.

  • Rating:
    • Dynamic: ●●●●● (5/5)
    • Bandwidth: ●●●●● (5/5)
    • Restitution: ●●●●● (5/5)
  • Sample : “Joy” Streaming Tidal decoded in PCM 24 bits 96 kHz :
Sample “Joy” Streaming Tidal
Ed4 : Streaming Amazon- 2021

The Amazon version, like the two previous versions (ED2 and Ed3) is more precise and natural than the CD version.

  • Rating:
    • Dynamic: ●●●●● (5/5)
    • Bandwidth: ●●●●● (5/5)
    • Restitution: ●●●●● (5/5)
  • Sample : “Joy” Streaming Amazon in 24 bits 96 kHz :
Sample “Joy” Streaming Amazon

Very nice acoustic album that is very natural and dynamic. For those who want a physical support, the CD did not endure the loudness war, it is thus very dynamic with DR14. The streaming versions in high resolution, bring more detail, transparency to the sound rendering compared to the CD. They are thus to be favoured. The three streaming versions are of good quality.

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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