Yesterday I picked up Dire Strats’ self titled album on vinyl from Half Priced Books. I took it for a spin today and thought I would share, mostly for the /r/vinyl folks that might like this sort of thing.
The album itself
It’s not my favorite Dire Straits album actually. It has a few good songs I really like, such as Down To the Waterline and, of course, Sultans of Swing. I actually prefer the version of Sultans of Swing off the Alchemy Live Tour but it’s still pretty good. Down To the Waterline is very catchy and is now among maybe my top 4 favorite Dire Straits songs. The album has a folkey sound to it and is a bit raw, but very smooth. The overall sound is, in a way, calming. Sort of something one would listen after a hard days work, maybe with a glass of wine. I will say, also, that it is neat to see how the band has progressed through the years by comparing this album to, say, Brothers In Arms.
How does it sound
Give it a listen! That is a recording I made using Ableton Live and a high sampling rate (24-bit/96kHz). Because of that some computers may not be able to play it well but I wanted to provide the highest quality possible to at least provide an idea of what it sounds like on vinyl. Those who worship the Vinyl Gods will call it blasphemy for approximating vinyl with a digital sample, but it’s the best I could do and it is at the highest quality I can record audio at.
Using words, it sounds great, if a bit flat. The vocals sound fantastic and the guitars really sing and sound super life-like. The flatness I am referring to is in the EQ. I found the bass to be a bit under-emphasized compared to how I typically like it, although the highs were pretty decent unaltered. I tend to push them up just slightly, though. It sounds quite pleasing to the ear and generally smooth. I don’t hear overt levels of dynamic range compression as is common with modern digital releases. Not surprising since this album pre-dates the loudness war that plagues modern music and that makes me very happy indeed.
To put it another way, it simply sounds natural – properly mastered and produced. It’s almost a no-contest compared to modern rock. Dare it say modern rock sounds hideous by comparison, mostly due to it being overtly and obnoxiously loud and sterile.
My copy is from 1978. Here is the Discogs entry for the curious. I noticed that the record is a bit lighter than some of my others. It’s not the flimsiest I have but it’s definitely not the 180gram vinyl stuff. I haven’t made up my mind on those though because, although it’s a bit more flimsy, I don’t see any abnormal warping. In fact, it looks surprisingly flat and I can’t hear any audio abnormalities that would result from warping.
My copy isn’t new obviously but has aged rather well. There’s no scuffs on the vinyl and while it does have more pops than my brand new vinyl, it isn’t distracting and, hey, part of the reason for spinning vinyl is because it’s analog so you gotta take the good with the bad. The previous owner appears to have taken good care of the record for sure.
I’m more about the music than art myself but I do appreciate it more so now that I know the relative costs of how much it costs to print cover art and things. They did a decent job providing some nice things. Front cover is an abstract picture of what looks like an apartment and the back has the band-member mugshots on it. The inner sleeve has a nice black and white of the band on one side and the song lyrics on the other. The inner sleeve is glossy paper as opposed to a poly-sleeve.