Melody Gardot – Sunset In The Blue Review (LP , Qobuz, Tidal, Amazon)

Sunset In The Blue is Melody Gardot’s 5th studio album. It contains From Paris With Love, a song accompanied by a virtual orchestra in support of the artists during the COVID-19 pandemic. Melody Gardot is also accompanied by Sting for the track Little Something.

We will review 4 editions (Vinyl , Streaming Qobuz, Tidal and Amazon ) of this album.
Below you will find the description of the different editions, as well as the measures of each edition in the different chapters and the samples of them here.

This album includes 12 tracks for the vinyl and 18 tracks for the digital Deluxe releases: 

  1. If You Love Me
  2. C’est Magnifique
  3. There Where He Lives In Me
  4. Love Song
  5. You Won’t Forget Me
  6. Sunset In The Blue
  7. Um Beijo
  8. Ninguém, Ninguém
  9. From Paris With Love
  10. Ave Maria
  11. Moon River
  12. I Fall In Love Too Easily
  13. Little Something
  14. From Paris With Love
  15. Love Song
  16. Trav’lin’ Light
  17. What Is This Thing Called Love
  18. C’est Magnifique

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 60250742562- 2020
Presentation

This is the vinyl edition with two LPs in 33rpm with 12 tracks. We also find the inner sleeves with printed lyrics.

LabelDecca
Reference60250742562
Format (speed)Vinyl 33 rpm 180g
TypeDoubleVinyl LP
MasterDigital 24 bits 96 kHz
Mastering/PressingLacquer Cut by BG, Pressing by GZ Media
Original recordingDigital
StateEurope
Year original2020
Year production2020
Ed2 : Streaming Qobuz Hi-Res Deluxe Version- 2020
Presentation

This is the streaming Qobuz presented in Hi-Res 24 bits 96 kHz. This Deluxe version have 18 tracks.

LabelDecca
ReferenceQobuz Hi-res
Format (speed)Digital 24 bits 96 kHz
TypeDeluxe Version
MasterDigital 24 bits 96 kHz
Mastering/PressingDigital
Original recordingDigital
StateEurope
Year original2020
Year production2020
Ed3 : Streaming Tidal Master Deluxe Version – 2020

Presentation

This is the streaming Tidal presented in Master MQA 24 bits 96 kHz. This Deluxe version have 18 tracks.

LabelDecca
ReferenceTidal Master
Format (speed)Digital 24 bits 96 kHz, decoded in 24 bits 96 kHz by Audirvana
TypeDeluxe Version
MasterDigital 24 bits 96 kHz
Mastering/PressingDigital
Original recordingDigital
StateEurope
Year original2020
Year production2020
Ed4 : Streaming Amazon UltraHD Deluxe Version – 2020

Presentation

This is the streaming Amazon presented in Ultra HD 24 bits 96 kHz. This Deluxe version have 18 tracks.

LabelDecca
ReferenceAmazon UltraHD
Format (speed)Digital 24 bits 96 kHz
TypeDeluxe Version
MasterDigital 24 bits 96 kHz
Mastering/PressingDigital
Original recordingDigital
StateEurope
Year original2020
Year production2020

Part 2 : Waveform and dynamic comparaisons

Waveform

The waveform represents all the tracks of the album (12 for the vinyls and 18 for the digital Deluxe version).

This edition Ed1 vinyl is dynamic, we can see many attacks of the music that gives this dynamic rendering. The graphic below shows the 12 tracks of the vinyl.

Waveform Ed1 : Vinyl 2020

The three streaming versions are similar, with dynamics for the majority of the tracks, however, there are areas of signal compression as shown by the yellow circles..

Waveform Ed2 : Qobuz 2020
Waveform Ed3 Tidal 2020
Waveform Ed4 Amazon 2020

The two graphics below are a zoom of the waveform to see more in detail the signal and shows small clipping present on digital versions (here Tidal) which are not present on the vinyl version.

Zoom of Ed3 Tidal
Zoom of Ed1 Vinyl

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: QobuzEd3: TidalEd4: Amazon
GLOBALDR11DR9DR9DR9
MinDR10DR8DR8DR6
MaxDR12DR11DR11DR12
If You Love MeDR11DR10DR10DR10
C’est MagnifiqueDR10DR8DR8DR8
There Where He Lives In MeDR10DR9DR9DR9
Love SongDR11DR10DR10DR10
You Won’t Forget MeDR11DR10DR10DR10
Sunset In The BlueDR11DR11DR10DR11
Um BeijoDR11DR9DR9DR8
Ninguém, NinguémDR11DR8DR8DR8
From Paris With LoveDR12DR9DR9DR8
Ave MariaDR10DR9DR9DR9
Moon RiverDR11DR10DR10DR10
I Fall In Love Too EasilyDR11DR11DR10DR10
Little Something DR8DR9DR6
From Paris With Love DR8DR8DR8
Love Song DR9DR9DR9
Trav’lin’ Light DR11DR11DR12
What Is This Thing Called Love DR10DR10DR10
C’est Magnifique DR10DR9DR9

The average DR is between DR9 and DR11 for vinyl and digital versions.
The differences in DR between tracks remain moderate (between 0 and 3), except for one track on Amazon which is at DR6.
So we have a similar dynamic for half of the tracks between vinyl and digital, so we have a compression that remains limited.

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 “Ninguém, Ninguém”.

The interesting features on this curve Ed1 Vinyl (white) vs Ed2 Qobuz (blue) are the following:

  1. The two curves are superposed up to 7 kHz.
  2. Between 10 and 15 kHz, there is a treble boost of up to +5 dB for the vinyl (yellow arrow)
  3. At 16 kHz, there is a drop of 25 dB for the vinyl (green arrow), which suggests filtering at 16 kHz, this cut-off at 16 kHz is present on all the tracks.
  4. At 20 kHz, there is a strong disturbance of the signal for the vinyl (orange arrow)
  5. The red arrows show the similarity of the interference frequencies between the vinyl and the digital version. The interference frequency is more attenuated on vinyl above 30 kHz.

These important differences between these two versions will result in a clearer and more detailed rendering of the treble for the vinyl.

Spectrum Ed1 Vinyl (White) vs Ed2 Qobuz (Blue)

The two graphs below show the comparisons between the three digital versions (Qobuz, Tidal and Amazon) which are perfectly identical for this track. We find the 2 interference frequency peaks represented by the red arrows. The yellow arrow shows a very slight difference in the noise attenuation above 40 kHz without any impact on the listening.

Spectrum Ed3 Tidal (White) vs Ed2 Qobuz (Blue)
Spectrum Ed4 Amazon (White) vs Ed2 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.

The spectrograms of the Ed1 Vinyl, shows the disturbance of the signal above 16 kHz (yellow arrow). The black arrows show the interference frequency peaks also present on the spectrum (red arrow).

Spectrogram Ed1 : Vinyl 2020

The Ed2 Qobuz and Ed3 Tidal are very similar, the bandwidth is above 20 kHz (represented by the yellow arrow), except for the tracks pointed by the green arrow.
The black arrows represent the interference frequencies that are around 30 kHz (red arrows on the spectrum).

Spectrogram Ed2 Qobuz 2020
Spectrogram Ed3 Tidal 2020

The Amazon version (Ed4) differs a bit from the other two digital versions with more tracks limited to 20 kHz (green arrows), especially for the complementary tracks of the Deluxe version.
Otherwise, we still find the same interference frequencies (black arrows).

Spectrogram Ed4 Amazon 2020

Part 5 : Summary, scoring and Samples

Ed1 : Vinyl ref 60250742562 – 2020

The rendering of vinyl is strongly linked to the accentuation of the treble above 10 kHz. With an increase of 5 dB at 15 kHz, we have a different balance from the digital versions giving more clarity and detail, but with less support for the voice. We could have expected a better treble management above 10 kHz, similar to what is proposed by the digital versions. The stereo separation is slightly less important than on the digital versions. Beware of the cartridge that already accentuates the treble, it may unbalance the overall sound balance.

  • Rating:
    • Dynamic: ●●●oo (3/5)
    • Bandwidth: ●●●oo (3/5)
    • Surface noise: ●●●●o (4.5/5)
    • Restitution: ●●●●o (4/5)
  • Sample : “Ninguém, Ninguém” 24 bits 88.2 kHz:
Sample Ed1 Vinyl 2020
  • Sample : “If You Love Me” 24 bits 88.2 kHz:
Sample 2 Ed1 Vinyl 2020
Ed2 : Streaming Qobuz Hi-res Deluxe Version – 2020

The digital version has a different balance than the vinyl version, with a more presence voice. The dynamics and the rendering are good on a great part of the tracks, and a little less good on those a little more compressed. Here no problem on the signal above 16 kHz compared to the vinyl.

  • Rating:
    • Dynamic:  ●●●oo (2.5/5)
    • Bandwidth: ●●●●● (5/5)
    • Restitution: ●●●●o (4/5)
  • Sample : “Ninguém, Ninguém” 24 bits 96 kHz:
Sample Ed2 Qobyz 2020
  • Sample : “If You Love Me” 24 bits 96 kHz:
Sample 2 Ed2 Qobyz 2020
Ed3 : Streaming Tidal Master Deluxe Version – 2020

The Tidal version is similar to the Qobuz version in terms of rendering and measurement.

  • Rating:
    • Dynamic: ●●●oo (2.5/5)
    • Bandwidth: ●●●●● (5/5)
    • Restitution: ●●●●o (4/5)
  • Sample : “Ninguém, Ninguém” 24 bits 96 kHz:
Sample Ed3 Tidal 2020
  • Sample : “If You Love Me” 24 bits 96 kHz:
Sample 2 Ed3 Tidal 2020
Ed4 : Streaming Amazon UltraHD Deluxe Version – 2020

We could have expected to have the same characteristics between the three digital versions, but we notice differences in terms of bandwidth for some tracks, in terms of dynamics for one track. Otherwise, overall, the version is near the two other digital versions.

  • Rating:
    • Dynamic: ●●●oo (2.5/5)
    • Bandwidth: ●●●●● (5/5)
    • Restitution: ●●●●o (4/5)
  • Sample : “Ninguém, Ninguém” 24 bits 96 kHz:
Sample Ed4 Amazon 2020
  • Sample : “If You Love Me” 24 bits 96 kHz:
Sample 2 Ed4 Amazon 2020

The vinyl and digital versions differ in rendering because of the difference in treble control. The vinyl version is clearer than the digital versions which give more presence to the voice. We are accustomed to the reverse between vinyl and digital, with vinyl normally having the warmest sound.

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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