Red Hot Chili Peppers – Unlimited Love – Review (LP , Qobuz, Amazon, Tidal)

After 12 years of absence, the Californian band is back with a new album Unlimited Love. Anthony Kiedis, Flea, John Frusciante and Chad Smith offer us 17 new tracks ( one bonus track for the Japan CD).

The review includes 4 editions (Vinyl , Streaming Qobuz, Amazon and Tidal) of this album.

Below you will find the description of the different editions, as well as the measurements of each edition in the following chapters.
The synthesis of the review and the samples are available here.

This album includes 17 tracks reviewed:

  1. Black Summer
  2. Here Ever After
  3. Aquatic Mouth Dance
  4. Not The One
  5. Poster Child
  6. The Great Apes
  7. It’s Only Natural
  8. She’s A Lover
  9. These Are The Ways
  10. Whatchu Thinkin’
  11. Bastards Of Light
  12. White Braids & Pillow Chair
  13. One Way Traffic
  14. Veronica
  15. Let ‘Em Cry
  16. The Heavy Wing
  17. Tangelo

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.

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.

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 Deluxe ref 093624874720 – 2022
Presentation

This is the vinyl of this album in a gatefold sleeve with a poster.

LabelWarner Records
Reference093624874720
Format (speed)Double Vinyl deluxe lp 33rpm with poster
TypeDouble LP 140g
MasterDigital 24/96
Mastering/PressingRecoded at Shangri-La (Malibu)
Mixed at Eastwest Studios by Ryan Hewitt
Cutting at Bernie Grundman Mastering
Original recordingDigital
StateEurope
Year original2022
Year production2022
Ed2 : Qobuz Hi-Res – 2022
Presentation

This is the streaming Qobuz presented in Hi-Res 24 bits 96 kHz (17 tracks).

LabelWarner Records
ReferenceQobuz Hi-Res
Format (speed)Streaming 24 bits 96 kHz
Type24 bits 96 kHz
MasterDigital 24/96
Mastering/PressingRecoded at Shangri-La (Malibu)
Mixed at Eastwest Studios by Ryan Hewitt
Original recordingDigital
StateEurope
Year original2022
Year production2022
Ed3 : Amazon UltraHD – 2022
Presentation

This is the streaming Amazon presented in Hi-Res 24 bits 96 kHz (17 tracks).

LabelWarner Records
ReferenceAmazon UltraHD
Format (speed)Streaming 24 bits 96 kHz
Type24 bits 96 kHz
MasterDigital 24/96
Mastering/PressingRecoded at Shangri-La (Malibu)
Mixed at Eastwest Studios by Ryan Hewitt
Original recordingDigital
StateEurope
Year original2022
Year production2022
Ed4 : Tidal Master – 2022
Presentation

This is the streaming Tidal presented encoded in Master MQA 24 bits 96 kHz (17 tracks).

LabelWarner Records
ReferenceQobuz Hi-Res
Format (speed)Streaming MQA 24 bits 96 kHz
TypeMQA 24 bits 96 kHz decoded by Audirvana in 24 bits 96 kHz
MasterDigital 24 bits 96 kHz
Mastering/PressingRecoded at Shangri-La (Malibu)
Mixed at Eastwest Studios by Ryan Hewitt
Original recordingDigital
StateEurope
Year original2022
Year production2022

Part 2 : Waveform and dynamic comparaisons

Waveform

The waveform represents all the 17 tracks of the album.

The graphics below represents the album in vinyl version and shows no signs of limiting and has a nice dynamic.

Waveform Ed1 : Vinyl

The 3 graphics below represent the Qobuz (Ed2), Amazon (Ed3), Tidal (Ed4) version with a high level of compression (yellow area). Only the last track (17) is less compressed.

Waveform Ed2 : Qobuz
Ed3 : Amazon
Ed4 : Tidal

To get a better idea of the impact of the compression, the graph below represents the vinyl version at the top and the digital version at the bottom of the “Here Ever After” sample, with both adjusted to the same level of -17.2 LUFS. You can clearly see the peaks that have been compressed and that are no longer present at the bottom of the digital version.

Sample Vinyl (top) vd Digital (Down)

Dynamic

Dynamic represents the ability to reproduce a wide range of sounds from the softest to the loudest. The target is to compare the dynamics of the music and not of the media (CD, digital files or vinyl).

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

 Ed1: VinylEd2: QobuzEd3: AmazonEd4: Tidal
GLOBALDR13DR7DR7DR7
MinDR12DR5DR5DR5
MaxDR15DR11DR11DR11
Black SummerDR14DR6DR6DR6
Here Ever AfterDR14DR5DR5DR5
Aquatic Mouth DanceDR14DR7DR7DR7
Not The OneDR13DR8DR8DR8
Poster ChildDR15DR8DR8DR8
The Great ApesDR12DR5DR5DR5
It’s Only NaturalDR15DR7DR7DR7
She’s A LoverDR14DR7DR7DR7
These Are The WaysDR12DR6DR6DR6
Whatchu Thinkin’DR13DR5DR5DR5
Bastards Of LightDR13DR7DR7DR7
White Braids & Pillow ChairDR13DR7DR7DR7
One Way TrafficDR13DR7DR7DR7
VeronicaDR14DR7DR7DR7
Let ‘Em CryDR14DR8DR8DR8
The Heavy WingDR13DR6DR6DR6
TangeloDR12DR11DR11DR11

As the waveform curves show, we have two categories for the stereo versions. The vinyl with a DR13 and the other stereo version with a DR7 (Qobuz, Tidal, Amazon).

Changes in the treble level on the vinyl can affect the DR, see the changes in the spectrum analysis section (Part 3).

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 “Here Ever After”.

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

  1. The two curves are superimposed from 200 Hz to 8 kHz.
  2. The green arrow shows small variations below 200 Hz with a 5 dB higher vinyl level at 50 Hz.
  3. The yellow area shows the treble boost with more than 6 dB at 14 kHz. This will impact the rendering and the tonal balance.
  4. The purple arrows show variations of the equalizer with an attenuation at 17 kHz and an increase at 20 kHz.
  5. The red arrow indicates the interfering frequency clearly visible on the digital version.
Spectrum Ed1 Vinyl (White) vs Ed2 Qobuz (Blue)

The graph below shows the silence between two pieces. You can clearly see the corrections applied (colored arrows). Normally, the corrections are intended to linearize the response curve during engraving, not to cause a variation in the frequency response above 10 kHz. It is far from the quality expected for a pressing nowadays, especially with the use of a 24/96 master. When I saw the results, I checked my cartridge to make sure that there was no reading problem.

Surface Noise Ed1 Vinyl

The graph below shows that the curves of the Amazon (Ed3) and Qobuz (Ed2) versions almost match. We find the same frequency peaks at 30 kHz (red arrow).

Spectrum Ed3 Amazon (White) vs Ed2 Qobuz (Blue)

The graph below shows that the curves of the Tidal (Ed4) and Qobuz (Ed2) versions almost match. We find the same frequency peaks at 30 kHz (red arrow).

Spectrum Ed4 Tidal (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 spectrum beloow représente the vinyl version (Ed1). The signal rises above 20kHz (yellow arrow), with the signal rising above 30kHz (white arrow) which is composed of music and also distortion due to the reading principle of vinyl. The horizontal lines (black arrow) represent the variation of levels above 10 kHz due to equalization.

Spectrogram Ed1 : Vinyl

For Qobuz (Ed2), Amazon (Ed3) and Tidal (Ed4), we find the same representation with a maximum frequency of 48 kHz (white arrow), much higher than 20 kHz (yellow arrow) because of the sampling frequency of 96 kHz. The black arrow shows the parasite frequency at 30 kHz as on the spectrum.

Spectrogram Ed2 : Qobuz Hi-Res
Spectrogram Ed3 : Amazon UltraHD
Spectrogram Ed4 : Tidal Master

Part 5 : Summary, scoring and Samples

Ed1 : Vinyl Deluxe ref 093624874720 – 2022

The vinyl benefits from a very nice pressing with a reduced surface noise. The listening is very dynamic with a beautiful rendering more clear and better spatialized than the digital versions. The correction brought above 10 kHz brings an accentuation of definition compared to the digital versions. But when listening, the vinyl version is more pleasant and lively. Beware of the vinyl cartridge accentuating the highs, it could be a bit a little aggressive.

  • Rating:
    • Dynamic: ●●●●o (4.5/5)
    • Bandwidth: ●●●oo (3/5)
    • Surface noise: ●●●●o (4.5/5)
    • Restitution: ●●●●o (4/5)
  • Sample : “Here Ever After” 24 bits 88.2 kHz:
Sample Ed1 Vinyl
Ed2 : Qobuz Hi-Res – 2022

No surprise with the compression, except for track 17. The sound lacks dynamics and precision compared to the vinyl, which is all the more unfortunate since the recording and mixing are in 24 bits 96 kHz. When will we have a Mix Studio version that respects the dynamics present before the mastering that generates the loudness war?

  • Rating:
    • Dynamic: ●●ooo (2/5)
    • Bandwidth: ●●●●● (5/5)
    • Restitution: ●●●oo (2.5/5)
  • Sample : “Here Ever After” 24 bits 96kHz:
Sample Ed2 Qobuz
Ed3 : Amazon UltraHD – 2022

The sound is similar to the Qobuz version.

  • Rating:
    • Dynamic: ●●ooo (2/5)
    • Bandwidth: ●●●●● (5/5)
    • Restitution: ●●●oo (2.5/5)
  • Sample : “Here Ever After” 24 bits 96kHz:
Sample Ed3 Amazon UltraHD
Ed4 : Tidal Master – 2022

The sound is similar to the Qobuz version.

  • Rating:
    • Dynamic: ●●ooo (2/5)
    • Bandwidth: ●●●●● (5/5)
    • Restitution: ●●●oo (2.5/5)
  • Sample : “Here Ever After” 24 bits 96kHz:
Sample Ed4 Tidal Master

We are still in the loudness war, as shown by the 3 digital versions with their DR7. It is thus the vinyl version which gives the best sound rendering in term of dynamics, spatialization. The pressing is of very good quality with a reduced surface noise. Too bad for the equalization above 10 kHz because otherwise, the vinyl would have been almost perfect.

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)
  • 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.

5 thoughts on “Red Hot Chili Peppers – Unlimited Love – Review (LP , Qobuz, Amazon, Tidal)

  1. I’m glad you included the fifth image under heading 2. That always illustrates the damage best, since turning it down does not restore the shaved off peaks.

    Like

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