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A Love Affair: Craft Records/Prestige Records Coltrane '58 Eight LP Collection and the Mag-Lev ML1, Latest Edition

08-02-2019 | By Robert H. Levi | Issue 104

The Software

The 60th anniversary of jazz king John Coltrane's banner year with Prestige Records, with all cuts produced by legendary Rudy Van Gelder and released on vinyl 4/26/19, has arrived. The eight LPs are from 24/192 tracks produced from the master tapes. The 37 cuts, presented in chronological order, were pressed at RTI in California, one of the best pressing plants in the world, on very low noise, high output black 180-gram vinyl. A 76 page lavishly produced linen bound book chock full of outstanding material and rare photographs is included in the elegant portfolio bound presentation. Top jazz historians and photographs were engaged to enhance the presentation including Ashley Kahn, Francis Wolff. Esmond Edwards. This compilation in the hard bop style, describes most of Coltrane's compelling jazz performances that year.


8-LP Set Disc One

Side A
1. Lush Life
2. Come Rain or Come Shine

Side B
1. The Believer
2. Nakatini Serenade

Disc Two

Side A
1. Lover
2. Russian Lullaby
3. Theme for Ernie
4. You Say You Care

Side B
1. Good Bait
2. I Want to Talk About You

Disc Three

Side A
1. Lyresto
2. Why Was I Born
3. Freight Trane
4. I Never Knew

Side B
1. Big Paul
2. I See Your Face Before Me

Disc Four

Side A
1. Rise and Shine
2. Little Melonae

Side B
1. If There Is Someone Lovelier Than You
2. By the Numbers

Disc Five

Side A
1. Black Pearls
2. Lover Come Back to Me

Side B
1. Sweet Sapphire Blues

Disc Six

Side A
1. Spring Is Here
2. Invitation

Side B
1. I’m a Dreamer (Aren’t We All)
2. Love Thy Neighbor

Disc Seven

Side A
1. Don’t Take Your Love From Me
2. Stardust

Side B
1. My Ideal
2. I’ll Get By (As Long as I Have You)
3. Do I Love You Because You Are Beautiful

Disc Eight

Side A
1. Then I’ll Be Tired of You
2. Something I Dreamed Last Night

Side B
1. Bahia
2. Goldsboro Express
3. Time After Time

A product description is available at https://craftrecordings.com/coltrane58-prestige-boxset/. The Amazon price is $212. 

The Hardware

The current release Mag-Lev ML1 has finally reached these shores and is being distributed by:


11101 Condor Avenue

Fountain Valley, CA  92708



[email protected]

Priced from $3599 to $4199, based on your choice of three finishes, all are complete and ready to set up and play. I have the current model in black, and it works as advertised. The current turntable turns with an inaudible, extremely low wobble, zero noise of any kind in play, extreme resistance to feedback, and high reliability. A display mode allows for the platter to float but not turn. The arm, once placed over the outer grooves of the LP, will not drop until the platter achieves selected speed. It lifts at the end of the LP in about 15 seconds after the music ends for user convenience. The operator has to replace the arm in the cradle.

An elegant Plexiglas dust cover is available for $300 and is recommended. It is delivered with an Ortofon OM10 MM cartridge set up at the factory and satisfactory shielded phono interconnects. No added speed control is needed beyond the supplied version. A new, less-expensive model is coming to dealers this fall, estimated to sell for $2500, and sporting a platter which will rise a minimal amount versus the 2.5-inch height of the ML1. The silent Mag-Lev drive technology will be the same. Other features have not yet been announced.

My ML1 has been modded by me to use an Ortofon 2M Black MM cartridge, a Stein Signature Carbon Record Mat, and Jorma Interconnects terminated with RCA plugs. I replaced the supplied power cord with an UIT Audio filtered power cord, though I cannot say this made an audible difference.

The Playback 

Though produced from high-resolution 192kHz/24-bit PCM digital sources, the LP's are extremely analog-like, natural, and magnificently musical. Playing more like performances than recordings, these are the most live-sounding LP's produced from digital I have ever heard. Warm, luscious, and holistically natural, they are better than the digital recordings from both Tidal in MQA and Qobuz in 24/192. Obviously, Craft Records used the A-Team on this project. This Coltrane set becomes one of those rare LP reissues from digital sources that do not have any of the really obvious digital tells. Plus—a big bonus—the wonderfully pressed LP's are quiet as outer space and almost totally clear of any ticks. Hearing these on the Mag-Lev brought out the amazing silence in the grooves and between the cuts as well. If I had the tape masters on 15IPS on a tube Sonorus Tape deck, I would easily expect them to sound like these LPs! 

Yes, you can have high resolution from Tidal and Qobuz, but neither close the digital/analog gap. Qobuz gets closest, by the way, on my EAR Acute 4 Tube DAC. The Qobuz version sounds less digital, richer, more detailed and more than acceptable overall. If I did not have the LPs, I would be happy with Qobuz. You never know what you are missing!

While listening to Coltrane, hear contemporaries including pianist Red Garland, guitarist Kenny Burrell, trumpeters Donald Byrd, Freddie Hubbard and Wilbur Harden, bassist Paul Chambers and drummers Art Taylor, Jimmy Cobb, and Louis Hayes. Hear top versions of "Lush Life," "Lover Come Back to Me," "Stardust," "Good Bait" and "Little Melonie." Enjoy the premieres of "Nakatini Serenade," "The Believer," "Black Pearls" and the smooth "Theme for Ernie." Plus, be enthralled by awesome tenor saxophone solos in "Russian Lullaby," "Sweet Sapphire Blues" and "I Want to Talk About You." They all come to life with the only turntable that eliminates vibration coming from the plinth in this price range.


I am enamored by this new Coltrane '58 LP set from Craft Records that is so exceedingly mellifluous. And I am fascinated and mightily entertained by the Mag-Lev ML1 Turntable, which overcomes major turntable vibration and noise. This pairing is one of the great happenings an audiophile dreams about and searches for endlessly. When this happens, it must be reported and recommended.

I have done just that. 

My highest recommendation for this seminal LP reissue and futuristic playback system. What a combo!

All photographs by Bob Levi.