Vinyl’s here

October 8, 2021
 by Paul McGowan

It’s been a long slog getting here but, at Octave, we’re finally launching vinyl. I am over the top excited.

As some of you may know, there are only a couple of excellent vinyl pressing plants in the world and of the one or two of the best, they are back-ordered beyond anything I would have imagined. Lead times of 6 months or more are commonplace.

We waited for the best.

Being patient is not one of my few virtues despite the sage words: “Patience is bitter, but its fruit is sweet”.

Part of the deal with vinyl is we’re running a single groove-coated stamper so the run will all be identical (though small). These high-performance 180-gram virgin vinyl stampers are limited to about 500 pressings so that’s what we’ve limited them to. They are also individually numbered so you know where in the batch your copy comes from. If you’re interested in reading about the whole vinyl process, go to either of the two releases and click on the vinyl details page just below the samples of the music.

We sent an announcement out the day before yesterday and nearly half of the run was spoken for, another hundred or so are gone as of yesterday.

The vinyl sound so magical….I mean…wow.

The two we have still available are Gabriel Mervine’s Say Somethin’ and Don Grusin’s Out of Thin Air.

These collector’s item gems won’t be around long.

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51 comments on “Vinyl’s here”

  1. “Good things come to those who wait.”
    Fed-Ex will make sure of that 😉

    Only 500 copies, & half of them already gone?
    Well, I guess tomorrow’s ‘Paul’s Posts’ will be ‘Vinyl’s gone’.

    I wonder if pressing #500 will sound as good as pressing #001 🙂

  2. Paul’s being coy here but if you go to the individual pages the pressing plant is Gotta Groove Records in Cincinnati, Ohio.

    Online reviews have complained the company’s pressings have been noisier than those from QRP or RTI, but I readily admit I haven’t heard either of these.

    1. Oh, yes, sorry about that. Gotta Groove is correct, though interestingly Grusin’s vinyl is QRP while Mervione’s vinyl is Gotta Groove.

      It’s super hard to make sweeping judgements between companies because there are so many variables. Like whether or not the stamper’s been coated with their GrooveGlide material. Most people using them don’t want to pay the extra for that service, but of course we do. That makes it quieter than even QRP which doesn’t have that service available. Both are excellent houses and I wouldn’t hesitate to use either.

  3. Congratulations, we really cant get enough really great sounding vinyl.
    Btw if Foxfeather ‘The Nature of Things’ comes out in vinyl my order would be in to you at lightspeed.

  4. According to their website, pressing 2,000 sounds as good as pressing 1. The idea of this system is to double the number of pressings from each stamper before suffering any high frequency loss. Which leaves me confused, it seems better for long runs rather than very limited ones of 500.

    1. Yes, but while that appears to be what their pitch is, upon some close conversations with the team we’ve determined 500 is really the answer when crazy over obsessive audiophiles like us are involved. As with everything, someone’s opinion of what “no loss” is is relative to their level of resolution and tolerance for differences.

      Obviously, if 2,000 is the official limit from the stamper, unit number 2,000 will be somewhat different than number one.

      It’s a matter of degree.

  5. I am so happy I put my vinyl phase long behind me.
    I can only imagine how nerve wracking it must be for vinyl aficionados who ordered one and then all they can do is wait and hope not all copies of the desired disc are sold out. Bummer.
    But let’s be honest : only 500 copies, that won’t give a boost to the vinyl industry and interest in this “black gold” worldwide.
    For me Octave Records is nothing more than a niche within a niche (vinyl) within a niche (audio).
    I mean this in a neither positive nor negative way. It’s just a fact.
    But of course, for the lucky ones who are still into this and ordered their copy in time, happy listening.

  6. My pet peeve rears its ugly head again. In Paul’s commentary and the comments the word “music” comes up once. “The vinyl sound so magical”, says Paul. It seems “sound quality”, as important as it is, is more important to some than music quality. I want both at the same time!

    1. I am with you hrboucher, but maybe to calm your peeves, consider that we may all not agree on the music, we can all agree on the sonic qualities we are hoping for.

      So, for example, let’s say you don’t like the jazzy flavor of Mervine’s release. Not your style, you prefer classical. That’s fine.

      I cannot in a general post talk about the qualities I love in Mervine’s music and connect with you in my writing. We won’t connect because we disagree on what we like in music.

      What we can connect with is the quality of the sound.

  7. I disagree with JB4.

    As far as I can see, vinyl is the only thank that makes home audio cool. I have lots of builders, electricians etc. in my house and they all stop to talk about my record player. My elder son and all his mates are into vinyl, and they are beyond cool.

    From their perspective, vinyl is a cheap way of enjoying music, get a basic Rega, Pro-ject or second hand deck and spend their weekends browsing record stores, which are now all over the place. His older records worth say $100 he sells on Discogs and buys 4 or 5 new/used discs with the proceeds.

    I do agree that audiophile vinyl is a completely different market that does not interest me. I’d rather spend the money on a good old disc. The most I’ve ever spent is £75/$100 on a first pressing of the The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady and recently £80 on the BG remaster of Kind of Blue, just out of curiosity. Otherwise, I’m usually down at Alan’s Records looking for a nice bargain and a chat.

    1. Apart from half a dozen 1st Japanese pressings (RCA/Victor) of original David Bowie (44.1/16) CD’s that I sold for between AU$80 – AU$170 on Discogs, there was also my 24k gold MoFi remaster of Pink Floyd’s – ‘The Wall’ that I sold on Discogs for AU$310 nearly three years ago now & last month I sold my original 1st Japanese pressing (44.1/16) of AC/DC’s – ‘Highway To Hell’ (with a misprint) to a guy in Poland for AU$350 & then I went & bought the remaster for AU$22 & the remaster sounds better.
      Who needs vinyl to command top resale prices?

    2. It’s interesting as this is exactly the opposite of where vinyl makes sense for me. I understand the young folks who buy and use vinyl due to the physical aspect and coolness. They don’t care about sound quality too much and don’t use expensive hardware, so the rest is in the foreground.

      But if one buys current non audiophile or non vintage original vinyl, this usually means, you might have interesting and in some cases of unfortunate recordings, pleasing sound if your vinyl chain drenches things in richness, but otherwise it can’t have any advantage over digital, rather disadvantages.

      It’s fine to decide for vinyl for hipness and lifestyle reasons, one just shouldn’t expect more then.

      1. I have some vinyl that sounds horrible and some sound good
        I have CDs that fit the aforementioned as well
        Internet music the same!
        So much depends on recording methods
        If one unfortunately has a revealing system the bad recording are a nightmare!
        Last night I was listening to a favorite internet station and the music was awful; the same station this morning was crystal clear!
        Let’s face it vinyl has a limited dynamic
        Range vs digital-
        I just replaced an amp and I’m wondering if it was the music it was processing or the amp???

        1. Sure there are good and bad of both.

          My topic was, when does vinyl playback (not only but mainly) make sense for other than physical experience and lifestyle reasons. My answer would be:

          – if good analog recorded vinyl is used
          – if different/better masterings than for the final digital media are the basis (may be the case for better normal or especially audiophile productions)
          – some who chose a vinyl rig with different tonality than their digital rig, use the vinyl rig to e.g. play bright recordings more pleasurable.

      2. His Rega RP3 with a fully restored Inca Tech Claymore (which has an excellent MM/MC phono stage) is a high quality system that cost about $1,200. He needs to improve the speakers. He is extremely knowledgable about music, and is very discerning about what he buys, which does not include cheap digital transfers. He listens to a lot digitally, but then again there are things you just would never listen to other than on vinyl.

        A lot of audiophile vinyl is about rarity, not quality. Fremer, who I find very interesting when writing about vinyl (but not audio), often implies this. There is a lot of extremely good vinyl that is cheap, for example the original Dire Straits album on 120g vinyl, that costs about $4 for a clean copy as they made millions of them.

        I have a friend who has a collection of about 150 vinyls, worth on average about $300 each. He hardly ever plays them, some he’s never played. One of the more valuable is a Sex Pistols single, very valuable, but the sound quality is terrible. I get it, but it does nothing for me.

        1. Not sure if Fremer ever implied this (I doubt), but there’s certainly some vinyl where rarity is the main or only merit. And there’s some audiophile vinyl, where the rarity of the initial batch is a matter of investment (like with Octave I guess) or sales strategy unfortunately or carefulness.

          But generally audiophile vinyl is not about rarity, it’s about sounding better than all other releases, mostly including the originals. This can be expensive and can get rare if one doesn’t buy early.

          Btw: I personally consider also Fremer’s HW reviews as better than quite all of the rest.

    3. Much to my chagrin, i am reactive to mold! Last time I was in a pre-owned
      Aka used, record shop the dust and mold got to me! I passed on an album that was signed by VLAD Horowitz dedicated to a friend for $10 UDS!
      I chose breathing over a great buy!-
      Fortunately there are only three such shops within 10 miles from home-

      About three years ago a local university had a day ,where their music lab, which is converting a big LP library into digital,
      Had A give away – they had several hundred LPs for the taking! I was fortunate to
      Take 10 LP recordings of Cantor J Rosenblatt that date back to the 1930s.
      Most of the recordings are spectacular!
      As you know he was approached by the Met in NYC to join , but due to religious
      Dedication he would not perform on Shabbat or other holidays.
      Also I was told that this university was gifted 250,000 LPs !
      BTW no mold from the Rosenblatt LPs- they were blessed!

      1. Now you’re talking! I was very fortunate in that my wife’s family attended the Great Synagogue in Antwerp and for the first 20 years or so of my marriage most years I got to hear Chazan Benjamin Muller sing the Yom Kippur service the whole way from Kol Nidrei to Neilah. He was the finest cantorial singer of his generation and would certainly have given Pavarotti or anyone else a run for his money. I have never heard a singer with such intensity and clarity of tone, huge power when needed, and astonishing concentration. He was offered a fortune to sing secular music. He performed world-wide, but stuck to religious music. They had a fine choir, but he used to sing Avodah with several of his sons and that was quite special. There are a few videos on YouTube.

  8. What SntbcwS, you disagree with me…?!
    And you seemed such a nice man.
    Oh well, I’m not hateful. Keep spinning those black discs, then I’ll keep spinning my silver discs.
    Not cool, I know.

  9. I look forward to the Mervine LP. Would be interesting what you experienced as differences towards the DSD playback. I don’t expect too much difference.

    1. I didn’t expect much of a difference either but was frankly blown away at the difference. Much rounder are the piano notes, much more defined and spacious is the soundstage. It drives me nuts to know that this is a copy of the original master which is what we hear in DSD. Scratching my head still.

      1. There are plenty of us who play vinyl through digital systems with A/D conversion, and do not lose the vinyl magic. That tells me that magic takes place between the stylus and the phono input. It is not necessary to have a completely analogue signal path.

        I’m not against digital sources either. A lot of truly great vinyl was produced in the late 70s and early 1980s by Teldec and others. Teldec also developed DMM, which was a sonic leap ahead. It was used to great effect by groups ranging from The Tallis Scholars to Tangerine Dream.

        1. So you may be onto something Steven. Here’s an idea if these observations become ‘the norm’

          Why not have a device, say a stationary cartridge fed by a DSD digital sourced master analog signal (Piezo based maybe?) This would Bypass the need for the vinyl as the storage medium. You could have as many variations as there are cartridges…. And it could open a whole new market to the audio equipment aficionado.

        2. I don’t doubt there are folks who don’t hear a vinyl magic loss when they play their phono trough an AD converter, but imo this just tells about the limitations of their chain.

          And although I agree that there are some positively surprising early digital recordings (also on Teldec) put on vinyl, the merit of DMM is more than strongly questioned by quite everyone in the professional scene meanwhile.

          1. I use A/D conversion and don’t think it limits anything. Linn’s Klimax Exakt is another good example.

            Gimell’s first part of the Tallis Scholars Josquin cycle was digitally recorded in 1986, released on vinyl and was Gramophone’s Record of the Year, the first by an independent label. Gimell’s final recording in the cycle just won the 2021 Gramophone Early Music recording of the year.

      2. Paul,
        Blown away by the sound quality difference! Not sure I wanted to read those words. So the same master, recorded in DSD and then played back in its original format doesn’t blow you away as much as the DSD master cut to vinyl? I guess a needle drop DSD recording of the vinyl will have to be done to see if the vinyl characteristics remain. If they do then there’s a lot of head scratching to do on the sonic validity of digital playback. I’m guessing there’s a lot of smug smiles out there right now. ✌️ 😀

      3. More defined and spacious soundstage and instrument tones less flat and in a bigger aura (maybe what you mean by „much rounder“) is indeed also observed to a high degree when comparing analog recordings/masterings on vinyl to their SACD version. With digitally sourced recordings that’s less extreme usually. If it happens with this recording, that speaks for its potential.

        One explanation for this would be, that all that happens from vinyl is based on its artifacts.

        Another explanation would be, that a digital DSD recording has more potential, than the digital playback equipment can deliver today (respectively it has to be much more expensive to cover this, too).

        An experience that drives me nuts in this context is, how good digital recordings can sound (played back on a DAC or turntable) but how much inferior a digital transfer of an analog recording to SACD (under same conditions/mastering) sounds compared to the vinyl.

  10. For me vinyl and digital exist together in my system. I have many early vinyl albums that don’t exist in a digital format. For example I was looking yesterday for a digital album of Tony Christie’s ‘It’s Good to be Me’ but it only exists on vinyl. Lets them live together in harmony please.

    1. The only (vinyl) album I have that sadly is not available in CD or download is the original Philips recording of the Misa Criolla by Ariel Ramirez, Los Chalchaleros and the Choir of the Church of El Socorro. I think from the 60s, late 60s likely. Incredible sound, unbelievable music. Any other version of the Misa Criolla pales in comparison.

      I don’t know why Philips never reissued this milestone album.

  11. For the record, I spin both black and silver discs ( although my silver ones are SACD ). Thus by jb4’s count I am a triple niche. 😀

    Sometimes there is a trade off between preserving high frequencies in vinyl and quiet vinyl pressings. The original MFSL pressings on the semitransparent JVC super vinyl came with advice to play the disc one or two times to get the vinyl quiet. Back then they did not “de-horn” the plated stamper to preserve the high frequencies and thus your stylus did the “de-horning” as it played the disc!

  12. “Thus by jb4’s count…”
    It’s not my count. I did not count anything. At all.
    I just read the numbers of cd players and turntables that are sold, compared to the numbers of streaming devices.
    Not my opinion. Just facts.
    If what “they” write is not correct, then don’t blame me.
    Maybe it’s one big conspiracy from the streaming manufacturers and in reality hardly anyone is streaming but instead playing vinyl.

      1. tonyplachy, no need to apologize.
        We’re all in the same niche hobby, but what a wonderful hobby it is.
        50 years for me (I started young…haha), and it still fascinates me.
        But looking at the “young ones”, my children and their friends, I think we’re probably the last generation to buy “physical music”, be it cd or lp, or both.
        Time will tell.

            1. I did not intend it to come across as flippant. I mean it when I say that some people prefer different encoding to the signal. My choice is to limit the changes to the “final” version from the musicians.

              By the way, every time my son comes to visit and plays with our systems I learn about new music and new musicians. Some have been around a while, but others are newer. I am not totally convinced of some of the DJ type produced electronica, but some are great.

              Then you have something gorgeous like Postmodern Jukebox. Especially when Morgan James sings.

  13. Thank you Paul for pushing this eclectic obsession of ours forward. Can’t wait to get my copy.
    As to the age old vinyl debate, all I have to do is play same track on CD and Vinyl back to back (usually The Wall by Pink Floyd or Tin Pan Alley) to my non audiophile visitors to see their mouths agape at the chasm of the enriched experience of the analog. The rest is colloquy.

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