Van der Graaf Generator: Godbluff

Van der Graaf Generator: Godbluff

Universal (Japan)  UIGY-9680

Stereo Single Layer


Van der Graaf Generator

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8 of 8 recommend this, would you recommend it?  yes | no

Analogue recording
1. The Undercover Man
2. Scorched Earth
3. Arrow
4. The Sleepwalkers
5. Forsaken Gardens (Live, Ex-Bootleg) [Bonus Track]
6. A Louse Is Not A Home (Live, Ex-Bootleg) [Bonus Track]
Comments (5)

Comment by Stephen Bieth - June 11, 2017 (1 of 5)

Is it me or do most people not care for Flat transfers. My own experience has not been good. I had to replace my Amp so I didn't have one for about six weeks (it was back ordered and it took that long to get it) so during that time I bought a lot of these 2.0 Flat Transfer SACD's from Japan. I found in the case of Jazz they sounded very good. However I do not feel the same about most of the rock titles. Van Der Graff's SACD's weren't horrible but in a few of the cases they did not sound as good as the red book versions, same with Queen. Camel's albums sounded really good and Tangerine Dream were in the middle. Surprising enough Cream sounded very good as well. Most of the Stones SACD were not very impressive but for some reason "Love You Live" (yea I know most Stones fans don't like that album but I love that period of the Stones) sounds much better. Some Girls, It's Only Rock n Roll, Tatoo You and Goat's Head Soup do not. Other titles I would love to return Traffic - John Barley Corn, The Who's - Who's Next, the list could go on but you get my point.
If you have bought any of these and don't agree with me please make a comment here about how you have your system set up. I am very knowledgeable about setting up home systems but who knows, maybe there is something I missed. Enjoy Your Day!

Comment by Kveld-Úlfr - June 14, 2017 (2 of 5)

Hi Stephen,

Such experiences are subjective in nature. Some people will love flat transfers just for the principle of it, some will dismiss them because they think by the automatism of tampering with the original master "otherwise it will mandatorilly sound bad", and finally, some just love the authenticity of it.
I own a little more than 110 of these SHM SA-CDs by Universal Japan. Some of them are the titles you mention (check my Library here : Some titles are missing because this is on the former site, but the essential of it is there anyway). Only the Queen titles are not flat-transfered as they come from the 2011 96/24 PCM remasters by Bob Ludwig, originally created for the RBCD market. For the rest of it, rock, jazz, classical, pop or prog, I like them all, with a few exceptions.
Each title, I believe, has to be considered individually. These SHM SA-CDs are nothing less than a faithfull HD reflection of the original work, and due to the variety of sources and sound techniques involved in recording these original works, not all SHM SA-CD sound the same, so not all of them sound excellent, though the titles elected to enter the collection are generally chosen according to the criterion of a good recording. However exceptions have been made... provided the album was a lengendary one.
This is the case with the Velvet Underground and Nico album : recorded in a so-called "studio" that was falling apart, probably with cheap headphones as microphones (just considered with a little bit of humorous exageration), one wonders why such a brittle and rotten-sounding album ended up in this illustrious collection. Some say the sound artifacts of this album appear much better in this flat-transfered SHM SA-CD, so they tend to prefer this more faithfull version -- that would be my judgement as well.

In the end, it all comes down to the quality of the original recording. This can be quite a good strategy to discharge the transfer engineer of any fault : "This is copied as is. Don't blame me, blame the engineer that recorded it".
Some Rolling Stones albums sound totally great, some don't. Some Queen titles rock the place like hell, and some are dull (A Kind of Magic for instance, which was one of the first rock albums recorded with a then badly controled full-digital technology).
I own all the VDGG discs from the SHM collection, that is this Godbluff included, and I must say I love all of them.

But the way the album was recorded is not all : your own equipment is equally important. Usually "colorful" equipment is a problem with remasters as they emphasize even more a sound that already was re-equalized, ending up in a sometimes extremely harsh sound, overly agressive. But on the other hand such equipment should blossom with flat-transfers... provided the original masters are not too harsh themselves, of course.
I use very neutral equipment : Cambridge Audio as player (Azur 651BD) and integrated amplifier (Azur 350A), Monitor Audio RX6 as speakers, the integrated DAC of the player is used so all my connections are analog (Audioquest McKenzie RCA), and I use the "direct" function of the amp in order to bypass equalization. In this particular setting I must say I am absolutely delighted with these japanease discs.
Otherwise these SHM SA-CDs prove to be quite popular. Many audiophiles here like them a lot, praising their sonic richness and warmth. You should look at some user reviews on the old website, there are lots of them that are quite eulogistic and instructive about SHM SA-CDs (the user Analogic wrote a respectable part of all these reviews).



Comment by fausto kantiano - June 14, 2017 (3 of 5)

the SACDs of the VDGG Godbluff and Still Life albums are extremely well done, IMO, certainly compared to the redbook remasters. I once owned the superior original 80s CDs, stupidly replaced them with the remasters, only to find out how loud these latter are. But I'm glad I now have these Japanese flat DSD transfers. It really depends on your system, and indeed the more neutral, the better. Also important is, I believe, that your SACD player doesn't first convert to PCM before outputting the audio signal. Mine (SONY XA5400ES and soon the new Marantz SA10!) doesn't, and I use a completely analogue Audio Analogue amplifier and neutral Opera floorstanders; these Japanese SACDs of VDGG will get you as close an "analogue" to the pumping progpunk that they intended

also check the dr comparison between the 2005 remaster of Godbluff and the Japanese SHM-CD (which, like the SHM-SACD, is also based on a DSD flat transfer, but down converted for CD--but even here you can see the DR is much better than on the redbook remaster, which you can definitely hear, when you increase the volume!)

Comment by Downunderman - June 23, 2017 (4 of 5)

My starting observation is that old paintings, buildings and such that have enduring artistic/cultural merit are restored.

So the flat transfer argument misses the point to some extent.

For mine the starting point should be a flat transfer of the best source available. Then the real work should begin to provide the best possible representation of the work on current HiFi equipment.

The latest remix of Sgt Peppers being an illustration of this.

There are many flat transfer dogs out there that should have been subject to more active restoration. A case in point are some of the Roxy Music SACD's. The other thing for me are flat transfer's of road ready mix's. Heartbeat City should have been remixed for lounge room use. And all means leave the CD layer with the road mix.

......I could grumble on for aeons, but I won't :)

PS Except to also note that it would be great if this site provided a more appropriate place for discussions such as this.

Comment by Kveld-Úlfr - June 26, 2017 (5 of 5)

I agree with Downunderman on some level. IMHO restoration or remastering of old albums must not be some "mandatory" or "automatic" procedure (call it as you see fit), though this can have lots of appeal (multichannel is a great example of this, see Dire Straits or Mike Oldfiel or Pink Floyd).
Let us remember that some original tapes are extremely well preserved and the passing of time does not necessarilly mean you have to add any process on it. If a car works well, why add some horse power in it ? And if it's a small old car, why believe putting a new gigantic motor in it will make it work better instead of exploding ?
As I often say, bringing a touch of modernity to an old work can have it blooming and shining, as long as you don't exagerate in this. Let us keep in mind that the recent Beattles Sgt Pepper remaster is quite an exercice in exception with the discovery of individual sound tracks reassembled from scratch with modern equipment. The result is great for sure, but it is also sometimes harsh, and the bass guitar now sounds like hip-hop music. No, this bass sound is not something wrong with my system, and I don't use EQ (but in this case I might use it to DECREASE the volume of bass frequencies...). Sometimes we should have the humility to accept the age of some works and not blind ourselves in adding some shiny oil on it just to make it look like it was recorded last month. Modern equipment allows indeed a point of treatment so extreme where you loose the original sound and substitute it with a new one. I will allow myself using the previous metaphor with buildings and paintings : in Versailles palace you don't paint a new layer to cover the old paintings ; you just protect them. In any case restoration of old works is not made with replacements, it is made with treatments. This is why I am not convinced applying modern sound reproduction techniques on old works to replace the former ones is not always a good way, even though it can be fun and entertaining. The restoration of a work should respect its intended original dimensions, not go beyond them.
The VDGG albums sound good enough not to require any remastering process IMO. The only thing I would groan about when it comes to old albums are the early CD releases who had bad PCM technology and not enough volume during transfer-conversion. Their dynamics were great, but the SQ was not this good and volume was poor (regardless of the dynamics, volume never reached zero dB because the converters were at the end of a sound chain that was set for tape or vinyl).
Choose between this and brickwalled modern editions, and be content with what you get ! Ah ah ah !
At least with these SHM flat transfers the remastering engineer had enough decency to push the volume so that, even without endangering the dynamics, listeners with only 45 watts amplifiers (such as myself) won't have to turn the knob up to 11 before hearing something...

P.S. : I agree the forum on the former site was a great idea, even though the silly bickering in it was sometimes (often) tiresome.