Mixing on Gabriel Mervine's Say Somethin' release

There have been so many positive reviews of Gabriel Mervine’s Say Somethin’ release I wonder if I should even post this. I downloaded a copy today and while I’m quite satisfied with the overall quality of the recording, I found the left channel emphasis on tracks, 1, 2, & 6 to be extreme and highly distracting. I got up twice to see if there was something wrong with my right speaker. While people can mix a recording any way they want, I can’t for the life of me understand why these tracks were mixed this way. Thoughts?

Download, SACD/CD or LP?

The SACD and the various files on the data disk did not present with such an imbalance, IIRC.

Now I will have to go back and listen with a new purpose! :wink:

The download was a 44.1 kHz file as I’m still using my beloved EAD DSP-700 DAC and that’s the highest resolution available. The imbalance of these three tracks was bad enough that had I known beforehand, I wouldn’t have purchased it. I’m just curious, as it’s ultimately no big deal. It just seemed really odd to me.

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Octave’s presentation of Say Somethin’ showcases truly great musicianship.

Trumpet in particular is supreme. The arrangements are fantastic. The drum set shines. I was a little worried about the bass until I slightly bumped up my subwoofer. Before this, it sounded like the bassist was muting his notes. More subwoofer opened things up nicely. A little more stage depth and bassist finger sounds would further enhance the album (I always pay extra attention to bass; it was the instrument I played most).

Would be great, probably speaking as a musician, to have a full video of the performances.

I should/might get the vinyl because the album is so good (I purchased the DSD).

Octave would do well to follow this band and issue more releases of their talent.

I’d be interested in the new DSD256 mix of that album, Paul announced some time ago, but I’m not sure if what’s offered now is the old or the new mastering. I have the LP, like the music and like the sound in terms of tonality (didn’t notice left/right imbalance so far), but find it relatively closed/veiled sounding compared to how open it possibly could (but I don’t know any other Octave recording except the Grusin). A comparison of the DSD64/analog processing to the DSD256 Pyramix processing would be interesting.

it’s interesting that you use the word ‘open’

when I listen to the DSD file of this album or any other for that matter and then switch to non-DSD song/album, OPENness/relaxed becomes operative for well-produced non-DSD content, like someone took the lid off the mix

you raise a good question about old vs new mastering, and direct comparison of the DSD with the vinyl in the same sitting (I would do this but I have mothballed my TT package)

Regarding DSD vs. vinyl, Paul already said the vinyl sounds better, but that was both the old DSD 64/analog mix.

Regarding non DSD more open than DSD generally I can’t confirm. I connect my observations to the recording quality and I’m just interested what’s the difference the new DSD256 mix would bring to the table (if I knew how to be sure to get it, in case it was done already at all).

What’s on offer right now is the original master. Working on a new master using the Pyramix system and it is a serious upgrade over the original Sonoma/Studer mix.

We also have a couple of bonus tracks to include.

Just got back from a trip to Egypt and the pyramids. Can now get back to work.

Oh, what a great trip! So welcome back, and I look forward to the special release with outtakes!

I have to be totally honest and say I’ve had problems with mixing in a few Octave releases. I even contacted Paul McGowan directly about a couple jazz tracks on the Art of Hi-Fi: Bass recording where it sounds like the drummer was in the isolation booth and they forgot to put microphones in there. Overall the Octave releases have been mixed well, some creatively well, but I wonder sometimes whether they are so concerned about things like 256 this and Blumlein that, they forget that this has to compete musically with the rest of the world.


I think the problem with new audiophile labels sometimes is, they want or need to impress, especially when announced as better than anything out there. If this “impressing” isn’t possible by really making everything better than those few great ones with years or decades more experience, it needs “effects”, which are not always natural and optimal sounding. I just remember the Grusin piano recording.

But I personally welcome every attempt and new endeavor of labels to produce something better than average.

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Yeah, please don’t get me wrong - I’m nit-picking and being a snob because I was once IN the recording biz. What concerns did you have with the Grusin recording?

Here a few of my historic comments which are still valid.

I also agree with this one from ELK:

Here mine on the topic:

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Thanks much for repeating those posts. I concur that it’s not realistic, but it “feels” realistic in some strange way. The interesting thing is that back in my recording days - a lot of which was for classical music and jazz - I spent a lot of time with piano. It taught me what an incredible instrument it is, but you’re right that it loses so much even 10 feet away. But I really crave that close relationship to the piano and wish I could get more of that live. The one thing I do prefer about hearing recorded piano is that it can bring that fullness I crave, then pull it back to where it gives the impression it’s in the same room or on stage. Remember that with the exception of a few situations - like single-mic and binaural, it’s all psychological illusion to make up for what we miss by not being physically present. As with many other arts, recordists have to emphasize to fool us into believing we’re there. It’s counter-intuitive for those who call ourselves “purists,” but when do you listen to a sax with your ear in the bell?




What a good recording does (combine “in the room” sound and “stage” illusion with close mic’ed details and dynamics) is very different from live and if well done, better. The better my stereo got and the more I listened to great recordings in relation to visiting live concerts, the more I was spoiled. Not easy sometimes to step back to the pure sound quality component of a live concert, even if the rest of the characteristics of a live concert usually more than compensates. A single mic recording equals the live event much more, but has the same downsides.

Regarding the Grusin recording, “in the room” sound is there, the closed mic’ed details and dynamics are there, but not the “stage” illusion…that makes it kind of artificial sounding (which might have been the goal or not).

sitting at the piano chair playing a concert Steinway excelled to me any hifi setup

at concert and dozens to hundreds of feet away amidst junk speakers, however, recording is better

Yes, playing an instrument or standing besides one playing or conducting an orchestra (I know the former and guess the latter) is best. No mic can capture all of it.

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To be honest, with the way they’re usually miked, unless you were able to suspend yourself in mid-air and stick your head under the lid of the piano, not even sitting on the bench could you hear entirely what a piano can do. But I fully agree with you that we get mighty spoiled listening to high-end recordings crafted to put us inside the music.

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Yes, mic’ing is an approximation. But as I mentioned, compared to a live concert experience in the 5th to 10th row (or worse), it at least combines the room sound with (nearly) the energy and detail, a player or conductor hears.

The main limitation of recordings (even when close sound and room sound are covered), imo is the missing ability of mics and recording scenarios to be optimized for every instrument in a combo at the same time. Live, our ears are (assumed sitting close to a small jazz combo in a small club)

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