Lotus: Complete Edition, Santana (Photo: Sony Music Japan)
Sony Music Japan will be celebrating Santana's upcoming concerts in Japan from April 22 to April 27, 2017 in a big way with the release of a new Complete Edition of the band's legendary Lotus album in DSD 11.2 MHz stereo (also known as DSD 256 or Quad DSD), DSD 2.8 MHz stereo, PCM 24-bit, 96 kHz stereo, and hybrid layer surround sound Super Audio CD (SACD). The new editions of the multi-disc Lotus: Complete Edition concert album will be available from Sony Music Japan on April 19, 2017.
A Little History
For those of you unfamiliar with the Lotus album, a little history is in order. Santana's first tour of Japan was in 1973. During that tour, Sony Music Japan recorded Santana's live concert performances in Osaka on July 3rd and 4th, 1973 to analog tape.
The album was mixed from an analog multitrack tape to 4-channel sound using the "SQ" matrix system (which encodes 4-channel sound to 2-channels and later attempts to recover the original 4-channels with a decoder in the listener's audio system). These 2-channel SQ matrix encoded tracks were then used to release the album in 1974 as a 3-disc LP set which was limited to release in Japan.
In February 1991, Sony Legacy released Lotus as a 2-CD set. This time the album was made available worldwide rather than being limited to Japan. This was followed late last year by a 2-disc hybrid stereo SACD edition of Lotus remastered by Steve Hoffman and Stephen Marsh from Audio Fidelity. As with the earlier 2-channel editions of the album, the Audio Fidelity edition of Lotus: Live In Japan retained its 2-channel SQ matrix encoding enabling music fans with decoders like Involve Audio's Surround Master with SQ to decode the original edition of the album into 4-channel sound.
Lotus by Santana on Audio Fidelity hybrid layer stereo SACD (Photo: Audio Fidelity)
Discovering the Analog Multitrack Master Tapes
As Sony Music Japan planned their reissue of the Lotus album by Santana, they searched their tape libraries. At the end of last year Sony Music Japan discovered the original 16-track analog multi-track master tapes of the Lotus concert were still in the tape library, sitting unused since the album's recording in 1973.
Original 16-track analog master tapes of Santana Lotus at Sony Music Japan Studios (Photo: Sony Music Japan)
The tapes were unsealed and in early 2017, some 44 years after the concert recording, Sony Music Recording Engineer Tomio Suzuki used the tapes to create a newly remastered DSD 11.2 MHz (also known as DSD 256 or Quad DSD) edition of the album. Suzuki also worked on the 1974 release of Lotus as well as the album Live In Japan by Beck, Bogart and Appice.
On this project, Suzuki not only created the new DSD 11.2 MHz master for the album's original tracks but he also was responsible for mixing 7 new tracks from the newly discovered 16-track analog master tapes. The 7 new tracks: "Japan," "Bamble," "Ummu Uum," "Sacred Light," "The Creator Has a Master," "Saver," and "Conga Solo" will add approximately 35 minutes of new music to the Lotus: Complete Edition release in April.
Sony Music Japan described their approach to this very important project:
"It turns out that the original tapes from the Santana Lotus Concert are in good condition. It does not sound like tape from the 1970's. We carefully chose the audio equipment and cables to make the album sound as close as possible to the original sound source. The album was mixed keeping the natural and dynamic sound image of the analog tape. The seven songs that were missing from the original album are included in the new edition. The new songs appear in the order that they were performed at the actual concerts, making this the "complete version" of the album without leaving out anything on the tapes."
Sony Music's First DSD 11.2 MHz Release
Sony Music Japan will release Lotus: Complete Edition in several formats—including music downloads in DSD 11.2 MHz stereo as well as DSD 2.8 MHz stereo and PCM 24-bit, 96kHz stereo—the latter two editions created from the newly remastered DSD 11.2 MHz edition of the album. As far as I know that makes Lotus: Complete Edition the first Sony music download in the DSD 11.2 MHz format.
This isn't a total surprise since Sony Electronics recently launched their first three Signature Series High Resolution Audio products with stereo Native DSD 11.2 MHz playback at the Rocky Mountain Audio Fest in Denver last October to rave reviews. This included the TA-ZH1ES headphone amplifier + DAC ($2199) and two Signature Series Walkman digital players—the NW-WM1Z ($3199) and the NW-WM1A ($1199).
Sony TA-ZH1ES headphone amplifier and DAC with DSD 11.2 MHz (Photo: Sony Electronics)
It will be interesting to see what Sony Music—and Sony Electronics—have in store for DSD 11.2 MHz music and high resolution audio products in the future.
Hybrid Layer Surround Sound SACD
Super Audio CD fans aren't left out of the excitement of this special release. There will be a hybrid layer surround sound SACD edition of Lotus: Complete Edition. This SACD will feature both a standard Stereo CD layer (for compatibility and playback on traditional CD players) as well as a Super Audio CD layer with both stereo SACD and 4-channel SACD surround sound audio.
I highlight the Hybrid Layer feature of this SACD since some of the recent SACD album reissues from record labels in the Japan and Hong Kong markets are single layer SACDs that omit the Stereo CD layer. That is not the case here.
Surround Sound fans will be especially interested in the 4-channel Surround Sound mix on the SACD layer of the disc. It will be the first time that the original discrete 4-channel mix of the concert is heard without the compromises inherent in the 4-channel to 2-channel SQ matrix encoding process.
A Host of Special Features
As you would expect with a Special Edition like this, the SACD edition of the album will also include a host of special features. This includes a 7-inch album jacket that Sony Music Japan says is "faithful to the original LP" along with liner notes from the original album, a brochure from Santana's first tour in Japan, a reprint of the tickets from the 1973 concert, Legend of Lotus—thoughts from Carlos Santana on the newly remastered edition of the album, new photos of the concert and new liner notes. This is shaping up to be a very special edition of the album indeed.
Lotus: Complete Edition – jacket view (Photo: Sony Music Japan)
Sony Music Japan shared some of Carlos Santana's thoughts on the upcoming release of the Lotus: Complete Edition:
"The new Lotus album brings the music of our first concerts in Japan to you. As I listened to the new edition of the album captured by Sony Music Japan, I was sincerely proud of what one can experience at home from our concerts in 1973. This includes the talented Japanese artists who worked on the album and these wonderful performances. I feel the joy and dig my Sony friends and the bonus tracks on this new edition. It is an honor to be able to share this "Lotus Legend" with more brothers and sisters and share with them the joy and fun that music can bring."
Availability, Pricing and Shipping
The surround sound SACD edition of Lotus: Complete Edition by Santana (Sony Music Japan International SICP 10116-8), due for release on April 19th, will sell for 8640 yen in Japan. The SACD is available for pre-ordering from Import CDs and Bull Moose in the United States as well as CD Japan and Amazon.co.jp in Japan at prices that range from around $70 to $99 for the 3-disc SACD set. In May, it will be available from Acoustic Sounds in the United States.
April 19th will also be the date for the music download editions of Lotus: Complete Edition by Santana. These will include downloads in DSD 11.2 MHz (9600 yen in Japan), DSD 2.8 MHz (7400 yen in Japan) and PCM 24-bit, 96 kHz (6200 yen in Japan) formats.
The Lotus: Complete Edition downloads will be available from eOnkyo Music and Mora.Jp in Japan in DSD 2.8 MHz and PCM 24-bit, 96 kHz on the April 19 release date. The DSD 11.2 MHz download edition of the album will exclusively available from eOnkyo Music in Japan until July 2017 when Mora.Jp will also have it for download.
Sony Music Japan
Sony Signature Series Walkman NW-WM1Z
Sony Signature Series Walkman NW-WM1Z
Sony TA-ZH1ES Headphone Amplifier + DAC
Discoveries at Rocky Mountain Audio Fest 2016
Surround Master Involve Decoder with SQ Option
Santana Lotus – Hybrid Stereo SACD from Audio Fidelity