Positive Feedback Logo


08-03-2015 | By Wojciech Pacuła | Issue 80

Tangerine_Dream_Platinum_SHM-CD (5)

The Tangerine Dream is considered either a co-creator of krautrock, or of electronic music in general, and new age in particular. In fact both ascertainments are true. The first four records released between 1970 and1973, during so called "pink period" (these were released by Ohr label that had a pink logo), were recorded with drummer and composer, master of keyboard, Klaus Schulze. And these were one of the first that belong to  krautrock genre. On the other hand next 4 records, released by Virgin over next 2 years (so called "Virgin Years"), gave start to a new wave in music called new age.

These first four album have been re-issued by Belle in SHM-CD format. Let me remind you that Japanese Belle is currently one of the most important sources of progressive music. They released, among many other albums, also for of Polish group SBB.

The next 4 Virgin albums for years were available only in one form—as CD with remaster from 1995! My own copy I bought in 2005 and this version looks exactly as the first Japanese LP releases. These collector's issue was released as a Union Disk Phaedra box, that included 7 albums—apart from Phaedra, Rubycon, Ricochet and Stratosfear, there were also Encore, Cyclone and Force Majeure included. These CDs were released by EMI Music Japan.

2015 finally brought fan a completely new remaster. It was prepared using original, analogue master tapes. Using  A/D DSD converter material was converted to DSD. Producer claims that they used so called "flat transfer", meaning that when material was transferred to digital domain no tone correction was used. Mr Junichi Yamada was the person who search Abbey Road Studios for proper tapes. The material prepared in this way was used for three versions of a new release: Platinum SHM-SACD, Platinum SHM-CD and SHM-CD.

Mastering was conducted on DSD material by Manabu Matsumura in Universal Music Studios in Tokyo. In this way material for Platinum SHM-SACD (without CD layer CD!) was ready. For Platinum SHM-CD the DSD material was converted  to 24/176,4 PCM. The glass matrix is cut with this signal, thus the name of patented process - HR Cutting. It is used for Platinum SHM-CD, SHM-CD (sometimes also for CD!). Conversion to PCM was conducted by Mr Yumetoki Suzuki, in Japanese branch of Universal Music Studios. Discs were made in  JVCKenwood Creative Media. They can be bought separately or as a set inside Union Disk Rubycon box.

It's not easy to assess recordings with electronic music—there is no firm reference. It is much easier when it comes to voices or acoustic instruments as one can compare what one hears to what one knows from live concerts. But electronic music sounds differently during each and every concert.

And yet… Electronic music has a certain structure, the way that it is constructed. Compering different recordings of different performers it is still possible to point out some elements that make one recording sound "better" than the other. It should be even easier when comparing to versions of the same recording.

In this particular case differences are quite significant. Listening to Platinum SHM-CD I sometimes thought that it was a completely different recording. Sound was deeper, more three-dimensional, more palpable. The older version, in comparison, seemed missing most information. And it was not just about details, but about basic information and depth of sound, soundstage, tonality. The new version delivers much more depth and more openness to the sound which also seems softer. The older remaster seems to homogenize soundstage, shrinking it. Without direct comparison older version seemed acceptable, although not particularly good. Listening to  Platinum SHM-CD I knew that I would never, ever go back to the older version—life's too short for boring hi-fi… Sound quality of Platinum SHM-CD is simply remarkable.

Phaedra, Virgin Records/Universal Music Japan UICY-40130 (1974/2015)

Rubycon, Virgin Records/Universal Music Japan UICY-40131 (1975/2015)

Ricochet, Virgin Records/Universal Music Japan UICY-40132 (1975/2015)

Stratosfear, Virgin Records/Universal Music Japan UICY-40133 (1976/2015)

+ Promo Box Rubycon

Sound quality: 7-9/10

Remaster quality: REFERENCE

Visit High Fidelity