Thomas Schirmann – After The Rain – review of the vinyl test pressing (Audiophile approach)

After having tested the CD, Master Studio (32 bits 88.2 kHz) and Qobuz versions, then assisted to the cutting of the lacquer from the Master Studio files, AKELSON sent me a test pressing to analyze and compare it to the master used for the cutting. AKKELSON’s objective is to be as transparent as possible in the manufacturing of vinyl records and to propose in addition to the record the master that was used to make it with an audiophile requirement.

When preparing the master files for cutting, no changes were made, so the master files that are delivered with the purchase of the vinyl are exactly those that were used. This is a rare thing, because there are often small modifications for the vinyl.

It is therefore particularly interesting to compare the vinyl version and the Master version.
To begin with, the analysis of the waveforms below shows that the vinyl and the Studio Master are almost totally identical. There is no dynamic range compression applied on the Master, so on the vinyl.

The measurement of the DR confirms that the two versions are almost identical, we find almost systematically the same DR for all the pieces.

 MASTER STUDIOVinyl Test pressing
GLOBALDR13DR13
MinDR12DR11
MaxDR14DR14
DelirioDR13DR13
HomeDR12DR12
Too Yong To DieDR12DR12
SolitudeDR13DR13
Love LetterDR13DR14
Les Paradis PerdusDR14DR14
Memories Of ParisDR13DR13
L’île aux CygnesDR12DR11
The PrayerDR13DR14
Lord I Give Myself To YouDR12DR12
PeaceDR13DR13
Começar de NovoDR13DR13
After The RainDR13DR13
When Summer ComesDR13DR12

The spectrum analysis on the sample “Too Young To Die” shows a perfect superposition between the master and the vinyl up to 8 kHz (yellow arrow), beyond that, the level of the master is very low (recording of a piano alone) and goes below the background noise of the vinyl. It is important to put the curves into perspective, because taking the master at -135 dB as a reference, the vinyl is between -105 dB and -115 dB, proof of a good pressing and a silent preamp. This superposition of the curves indicates that we will find the same tonal balance between the vinyl and Master Studio versions.

To finish the measurements, the spectrograms below represent the Vinyl and the Master Studio. We find for the vinyl the zone of noise above 8 kHz which is not visible on the Master Studio as in the analysis of the spectrum.

Listening:

The rendering of the vinyl is very close to the rendering of the Master Studio. We find a similar sound balance and dynamics, but with a little more precision in the MASTER Studio files. The vinyl and the Studio Master edition are a real test for its audio system. Indeed, we must find the same sound balance, the same dynamics whether we are in digital or on vinyl. If differences occur when listening to these two media, it is because there is a difference in the sound reproduction system of the media.
This vinyl is not only a success for the reproduction of Thomas Schirmann’s album After The Rain, it is also a great tool to test your system between digital and vinyl reproduction.

Test pressing, vinyl – 2022

Rating:

  • Dynamic: ●●●●o (4)
  • Bandwidth: ●●●●● (5)
  • Surface noise: ●●●●o (4)
  • Listening: ●●●●o (4)

Sample : ”Too Young To Die” 24 bits 88.2 kHz:

Master Studio – 2022

Rating:

  • Dynamic: ●●●●o (4)
  • Bandwidth: ●●●●● (5)
  • Listening: ●●●●o (4.5)

Sample : ”Too Young To Die” floating 32bits 88.2 kHz:

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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.

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