AAA 100% Analogue This LP was Remastered using Pure Analogue Components Only from the Master Tapes through to the Cutting Head
Speakers Corner / RCA LSP-2362 - 180 Gram Virgin Vinyl - AAA 100% Analogue
Limited Edition - Pure Analogue Audiophile Mastering - Pressed at Pallas Germany
Speakers Corner 25 Years Pure Analogue This LP is an Entirely Analogue Production
Featured in Michael Fremer's Heavy Rotation in the May 2012 Issue of Stereophile!
After hearing Henry Mancini’s The Pink Panther soundtrack, I had to buy Breakfast, which has been reissued by Speakers Corner. It is a gem! Perhaps I’m partial to it because the soundtrack includes two versions of a song I used to perform frequently as a youth, the popular “Moon River,” but there’s much more than that tune to enjoy. The big band tracks, ensemble work, solo performances, and background vocals are all excellent, reproduced with extended and well-defined bass, airy highs, an expansive soundstage, and natural timbres. The Absolute Sound
Long nights, dizzy parties, a variety of men-friends, and breakfast standing before the window display of the famed jewelry company govern the life of the dazzling Holly Golightly, who has in reality a very ordinary name and poverty-stricken background.
All the more rich is the musical carpet that Henry Mancini lays beneath the feet of the exotic, wealthy-husband-seeking socialite. The tender, plaintive worldwide hit "Moon River" apart, Mancini and his Hollywood musicians mix a sugar-sweet sound with enough acrid elements to glaze over the capricious lady’s character.
The cool big band sound is spiced with a bold trumpet solo ("The Big Blow Out") and mellow violins with a suspiciously tame male choir ("Breakfast At Tiffany’s"). As is well known, there is a great deal of dancing in the film, including a number with a Latin-American rhythm ("Latin Golightly"), and a grooving mambo ("Loose Caboose").
At the end of the film even the "Moon River" swells to become a bubbling cha-cha, as though to say that a 'happy end' must in no way sound sentimental.
There is no bad choice to be made between original and reissue here. - TheAudioBeat
Taking these two wonderful LPs chronologically, Tiffany’s has long been known in audiophile circles for its luscious, rich sound and massively wide and deep stage. Engineered by Al Schmitt -- best known today as the engineer of Diana Krall’s recordings and much other fine jazz -- it may be just a tad dark, but glamour is very much to the forefront on my original "Black Dog" pressing from 1961. The chorus on the wistful "Moon River" floats center-left behind whipped-cream plush strings, each voice defined with individuality but without any overly etched boundaries. Ah, the magic of Golden Age tube mastering. The bold and brassy “Something for Cat” has bite and bounce, the acoustic bass well defined and solidly located. The bongos that flash across the soundfield have the unmistakable sound of flesh hitting a drumhead. The air surrounding the banjo and xylophone on "Mr. Yunioshi" is nearly breathtaking in its lifelike quality. The chorus, wordless this time, solo trumpet and trombone of "Sally’s Tomato" throw an immense soundstage that one could seemingly walk or fall into. Ensemble brass also takes the lead on "The Big Blow Out" and "Hub Caps and Tail Lights" with big dynamics, spot-on tonalities and a stage that seems miles deep I could go on, but suffice it to say that the original LP is something very special indeed and the ultimate in JFK-era cool.
Speakers Corner has done this nearly magical original more than justice. Edges are a bit more crisply defined, bass has a tad more definition and there’s just a jot more air on top. Strings are not quite as lush as the original’s, but they remain very sweet. Presentation of the stage is ever so slightly more forward. While the reissue may not be quite the posh, overstuffed marshmallow that the original is, this is a lovely sounding LP. What tradeoffs there are balance out, and given the quiet of Speakers Corner pressings, may even weigh in favor of the new LP. Even the bewitching cover photo of Audrey Hepburn is nicely reproduced. There is no bad choice to be made between original and reissue here.
Henry Mancini and His Orchestra Selections:
1. Moon River
2. Something For Cat
3. Sally's Tomato
4. Mr. Yunioshi
5. The Big Blow Out
6. Hub Caps and Tail Lights
1. Breakfast At Tiffany's
2. Latin Golightly
4. Loose Caboose
5. The Big Heist
6. Moon River Cha Cha
25 Years pure Analogue
Are your records completely analogue?
Yes! This we guarantee!
As a matter of principle, only analogue masters are used, and the necessary cutting delay is also analogue. All our cutting engineers use only Neumann cutting consoles, and these too are analogue. The only exception is where a recording has been made – either partly or entirely – using digital technology, but we do not have such items in our catalogue at the present time
Are your records cut from the original masters?
In our re-releases it is our aim to faithfully reproduce the original intentions of the musicians and recording engineers which, however, could not be realised at the time due to technical limitations. Faithfulness to the original is our top priority, not the interpretation of the original: there is no such thing as a “Speakers Corner Sound”. Naturally, the best results are obtained when the original master is used. Therefore we always try to locate these and use them for cutting. Should this not be possible, – because the original tape is defective or has disappeared, for example – we do accept a first-generation copy. But this remains an absolute exception for us.
Who cuts the records?
In order to obtain the most faithful reproduction of the original, we have the lacquers cut on the spot, by engineers who, on the whole, have been dealing with such tapes for many years. Some are even cut by the very same engineer who cut the original lacquers of the first release. Over the years the following engineers have been and still are working for us: Tony Hawkins, Willem Makkee, Kevin Gray, Maarten de Boer, Scott Hull, and Ray Staff, to name but a few.
At the beginning of the ‘90s, in the early days of audiophile vinyl re-releases, the reissue policy was fairly straightforward. Companies such as DCC Compact Classics, Mobile Fidelity, Classic Records and others, including of course Speakers Corner, all maintained a mutual, unwritten code of ethics: we would manufacture records sourced only from analogue tapes.
Vinyl’s newfound popularity has led many other companies to jump on the bandwagon in the hope of securing a corner of the market. Very often they are not so ethical and use every imaginable source from which to master: CDs, LPs, digital files and even MP3s.
Even some who do use an analogue tape source employ a digital delay line, a misguided ’80s and ‘90s digital technology that replaces the analogue preview head originally used to “tell” the cutter head in advance what was about to happen musically, so it could adjust the groove “pitch” (the distance between the grooves) to make room for wide dynamic swings and large low frequency excursions. Over time analogue preview heads became more rare and thus expensive.
So while the low bit rate (less resolution than a 16 bit CD) digital delay line is less expensive and easier to use than an analogue “preview head”, its use, ironically, results in lacquers cut from the low bit rate digital signal instead of from the analogue source!
Speakers Corner wishes to make clear that it produces lacquers using only original master tapes and an entirely analogue cutting system. New metal stampers used to press records are produced from that lacquer. The only exceptions are when existing metal parts are superior to new ones that might be cut, which includes our release of “Elvis is Back”, which was cut by Stan Ricker or several titles from our Philips Classics series, where were cut in the 1990s using original master tapes by Willem Makkee at the Emil Berliner Studios. In those cases we used only the original “mother” to produce new stampers.
In addition, we admit to having one digital recording in our catalogue: Alan Parsons’ “Eye in the Sky”, which was recorded digitally but mixed to analogue tape that we used to cut lacquers.
In closing, we want to insure our loyal customers that, with but a few exceptions as noted, our releases are “AAA”— analogue tape, an all analogue cutting system, and newly cut lacquers.