Vinyl Records

Regarding some of the content included here.


Doug Bell was kind enough to allow use of his "Enhancement" essay, see below, and Renwick McNeill has allowed use of his diligent work on song lyrics which appear elsewhere on this site.  Renwick has paid a little more attention to detail than I find anywhere else. All lyric translations posted here unless stated are from Ren.





Enhancement:


 
When Track and Polydor released "Are You Experienced" (AYE) in May 1967, it was released in mono (612-001) by Track, and in other parts of Europe by Polydor (184-085).  Although the Polydor release was labeled as "stereo", it turns out that the mono mix was used for this pressing.  What was done is that stereo was simulated by EQing the two channels differently.  One channel was EQed high, with low frequencies attenuated, and the other channel was EQed low by attenuating high frequencies.  This gave a kind of separation, with the vocals and guitar mostly to one side and the bass to the other.  It was a heavy-handed use of this treatment, as can be shown by listening to the channels separately.  This can be called "type 1" simulated stereo.  When the Reprise release appeared 3 months later, they re-mixed to produce a true stereo mix.  However, it was several years before true stereo tracks were released in most of Europe.

This was on the UK Track release "Backtrack 10", containing mostly true stereo mixes, but with a few odd exceptions.  Can You See Me and Red House not surprisingly were mono, but 3rd Stone From the Sun was also mono, and Remember was inexplicably in simulated stereo.  The Polydor double of AYE with Axis (2683-031) was a reissue of Backtrack 10 (AYE) and Backtrack 11 (the German master of Axis).

True mono mixes appeared from Track (612-001), Barclay (0820-143), Polydor Japan (SLPM-1391), and Reprise (R-6261).  Barclay didn't release a stereo or simulated stereo version at all that I know of, and continued to use the mono through the mid-70's.  Polydor Japan also continued to release the mono.

Axis appeared in true mono and stereo on both Track and Reprise, and also in true stereo on the German Polydor (184-110).  The German stereo mix had some differences however, and later appeared as Backtrack 11 on the English Track label (2407-011) and also on the 2-for-1 UK release with AYE (Polydor 2683-031).  I've also found it on Karussell.  There are surely other releases of this mix around, which has already been covered in detail.  Polydor Japan also used this German mix for their original release SLPM-1398.  It's likely that this was the common mix originally used by Polydor, while the "normal" stereo mix was used by Track, Barclay, and Reprise.

Smash Hits appeared nearly a year after AYE, in April 1968.  It was issued by Track in England (613-004) and by Polydor in the rest of Europe (184-138).  Track also released a mono version (612-004).  Axis had been released months before, but the material included on this LP was limited to 4 AYE tracks and 8 non-LP tracks from the first 4 mono singles.  Although all releases (except the Track mono) were labelled as "stereo", here again simulated stereo was used, and once again the German Polydor and Track releases were different.  German Polydor used a new simulated stereo process ("type 2") which was more listenable than their previous attempt on AYE.  The EQ was a little more restrained, and while it gave essentially no separation, it did give an open ambience that straight mono did not provide.  In contrast, although the type 1 gives some separation, the sound is still flat in comparison to type 2 simulation.

The Track release (and later the Polydor English release 2310-268, which is identical) used a type 1 simulation that was closer to the German Polydor AYE, with strong EQ and some artificial separation.  The effect however was still less than on the German Polydor AYE, primarily because the strong EQ was applied only to the treble frequencies rather than to both treble and bass.  Polydor Japan released SH (SMP-1413) in simulated stereo, which was the Track master, with only small separation of the lower frequencies but with treble swung strongly to the right.

Bear in mind that there is no fundamental difference between these two types of simulation; both describe different EQ being applied to the two channels.  I use the two types to distinguish between the degree of EQ applied.  If the EQ is very strong, it can swing bass or treble far away from center.  If it is lighter, it will provide little separation, but still gives an openness to the sound that is quite different from mono.  If the EQ is strong enough to cause large separation, I call it type 1; otherwise, it's type 2.  Generally, a boost greater than about 10 dB in one channel, in a given frequency range, will merit a type 1 label.

These different masters all seem to originate from the same final mono mix, so there is no difference in relative instrument/vocal levels, apart from those produced by EQ and other effects such as reverb/echo.  However, those effects can be severe.  So it is important to distinguish between an alteration in sound produced by the simulated stereo, and that produced by an overall EQ, which will persist even after the tracks are mixed back to mono.

ARE YOU EXPERIENCED?

The German AYE used a very heavy type 1 simulation, with much more treble in the left channel and much more bass in the right channel.  Note that this is opposite from the type 1 simulation used on the UK SH described below.  EQ on this release is very simple, with a single crossover frequency (frequency at which EQ is the same for both channels).  This can be thought of in a similar way to the crossover frequency of a loudspeaker system, where primary response switches from the woofer to the tweeter.  In the case of EQ-simulated stereo, it is the frequency at which the strongest response shifts from one channel to the other  On the German AYE, this crossover frequency varies slightly from track to track, but is always between 1100 and 1400 Hz.  That is, the right channel has more volume for frequencies below the crossover, and the left channel has more volume above the crossover.  EQ is very strong; bass in the right channel is boosted by about 20 dB, and the left channel has a treble boost of between 10 and 15 dB.  All tracks on this release are treated this way.

SMASH HITS

Track/UK Polydor used type 1 simulated stereo, with heavy EQ and some resulting separation.  German Polydor used type 2 simulation with the exception of one track (Fire).

Generally the type 1 stereo simulation on the UK SH puts more bass in the left channel and more treble in the right channel.  The type 2 on the German SH puts only slightly more bass in the left and slightly more treble in the right, although in most cases this is hardly noticeable.  What is most noticeable with type 2 is the "open" sound relative to a simple flat mono.  Unless noted below, all tracks on the English releases use type 1, and all tracks on the German release use type 2.

There is also a substantial difference in overall sound between the UK Track/Polydor and the German Polydor.  The most apparent difference is that most tracks on the German release have much more treble and somewhat more bass, and the Track has more midrange and has a "warmer" sound.  This is not a subtle difference, and in most cases it causes a major change in the sound.  This difference can be heard most easily by mixing the tracks to mono in order to remove effects that are purely due to differential processing in the two channels of a track.

Generally, here is how the stereo simulation was done on these two releases.  On the German Polydor, there is slightly more bass (3-6 dB) in the left channel, and slightly more treble (3-8 dB) in the right channel.  The crossover frequency is about 500 Hz.  On the UK SH, a more complicated scheme was used, with two crossover frequencies at about 250 Hz and 1300 Hz.  The right channel has bass (below 250 Hz) boosted only slightly (2-4 dB) and treble (above 1300 Hz) boosted substantially (10-20 dB).  It is this strong treble boost that causes the audible type 1 behaviour.  The right channel has midrange (between 250 and 1300 Hz) boosted moderately (6-8 dB).  There are a few exceptions to these guidelines which are pointed out below.

Purple Haze
The German Polydor has slightly more treble, and more echo.


 Fire
This track is the only one on the German Polydor that has a type 1 sound.  This is due to the atypically strong EQ present.  This track has a higher than normal crossover frequency of 1230 Hz (500 Hz is normal for this release, as mentioned above).  The left channel also has an unusually large bass boost of about 12 dB, and the right channel has an unusually large treble boost of about 13 dB.

Overall, the German Polydor master also has more treble than the UK.

The Wind Cries Mary

The UK release has this track mastered about 4.4% slow!  The upper crossover frequency is also unusually high, at about 2000 Hz (normally about 1300 Hz for this release).

The German Polydor has much more treble, and the UK has much more midrange.  The German release also has some processing noticeable on vocals, which sound tinny and reverb-ish, like Jimi is singing inside a box.


Can You See Me
The German Polydor has slightly more treble.


 51st Anniversary
The German Polydor has more treble.


Hey Joe
The upper crossover frequency is higher than normal on the UK release, at about 2000 Hz.  The single crossover on the German release is lower than normal at about 350 Hz.  Overall, the German Polydor also has more treble.


 Stone Free
Overall, the German Polydor has more treble and bass, the UK has more midrange.


 STP-LSD
Stereo simulation: The crossover frequency on the German release is unusually high, at about 950 Hz, and there is almost no boost to either channel below this frequency.

Overall: in contrast to most of these tracks, the German Polydor has less treble than the UK, and more bass.


 Manic Depression
The German release has some processing noticeable on vocals.


 Highway Chile
The German release has some processing noticeable on vocals.


 Burning of the Midnight Lamp
The UK release has an unusually high upper crossover frequency of about 2150 Hz.  This makes the type 1 separation less noticeable than usual.

Overall, the German release has some processing noticeable on vocals.


 
Foxy Lady
The German release has some processing noticeable on vocals.

So what about the US Reprise SH?  All tracks there were true stereo except for Stone Free.  That track uses a type 2 simulation, but the master was again different, with more midrange than the German type 2.  For the stereo simulation, the right channel has bass and midrange (<1200 Hz) boosted relative to the left channel, with the treble about the same in both channels.  There is a second crossover at 3200 Hz, and very high treble frequencies above this are boosted in the right channel.

Overall sound is noticeably different than on either the German or UK SH.



LEGACY

There have been scores of Jimi compilations released by Polydor in dozens of countries, and many of these almost certainly have some simulated stereo mixes of the AYE tracks.  One of the most interesting of these compilations is Legacy, due to the over-the-top processing applied to some of the tracks.  As it turns out, all the tracks on Sides 1 and 2 are simulated stereo, derived from the mono mix of these AYE tracks.  Since this compilation has received a good deal of attention, here are some details of those mixes.

All tracks on Sides 1 and 2 are type 2 simulation with the exception of Foxy Lady, which has a large EQ boost (10-20 dB) to the right channel, applied to the midrange and bass below 1350 Hz.  There are other overall differences in some of these mixes compared with AYE, as detailed in Ben Franklin.  But as for the stereo simulation, generally Legacy places a little more bass in the right channel, and a little more treble in the left channel.  The crossover frequency varies between 500 Hz and 1000 Hz on all but a couple of tracks (Foxy Lady and Can You See Me) where it is higher.  On 8 of the 12 tracks, there is a second crossover at very high frequencies (varying between 5000 and 8000 Hz).  On those tracks the very high frequencies above this second crossover are boosted a little bit in the right channel.  This is hardly noticeable.

The most noticeable overall differences in these mixes are mentioned in Ben Franklin.  Here are a few additional comments:

Purple Haze (3)  Note that this is an alternate mix of the original mono (1), not the stereo (2)

Hey Joe (3)  Note that this is an alternate mix of the original mono (1), not the stereo (2).

Foxy Lady  Type 1 simulation with bass thrown to the right channel.

Can You See Me (3)  Note this is a variant of (1), mono with original vocal, not (2)


 LATER RELEASES


Highway Chile (1) on War Heroes:  This track is true mono

Red House (1) on :Blues:  This track is true mono.


 Finally, what transpires with those 3 B-sides that had never been mixed into true stereo: Stone Free, 51st Anniversary, Highway Chile?  The current EH releases of AYE have those tracks.  Here is what is found:

Stone Free:  the US SH master was used for the EH release of this track, with only minor differences due to compression and other production manipulations.  This is a type 2 track, with sound nearly identical to the US SH master.  The track was true mono on the Polydor (Germany) CD release 825-255-2.

51st Anniversary:  This is true mono on the EH release.  Also true mono on the Polydor (Germany) CD release 825-255-2.

Highway Chile:  This is true mono on the EH release.  Also true mono on the Polydor (Germany) CD release 825-255-2.

Red House:  The European EH release has (1) in true mono.

Highway Chile received a stereo mix on the recent MCA box set, although it was narrow stereo compared with the wide stereo that characterized the Reprise AYE.


 Here is a summary of all the different simulated stereo mixes i've found:

Purple Haze
E SH: type 1

G SH: type 2, more treble, more echo

Legacy: type 2

Fire
G AYE: severe type 1

E SH: type 1

G SH: type 1, more treble

Legacy: type 2


The Wind Cries Mary
E SH: type 1, mastered 4.38% slow

G SH: type 2, much more treble, processing noticeable on vocals

Legacy: type 2


Can You See Me

G AYE: severe type 1

E SH: type 1

G SH: type 2, slightly more treble

Legacy: type 2


51st Anniversary

E SH: type 1

G SH: type 2, more treble


Hey Joe

E SH: type 1

G SH: type 2, more treble

Legacy: type 2


Stone Free

E SH: type 1

G SH: type 2, more treble and bass

US SH: type 2, more midrange than German SH

EH AYE: type 2, virtually identical to US SH

Legacy: type 2, sharply enhanced treble


STP-LSD

E SH: type 1

G SH: type 2, LESS treble, more bass

Legacy: type 2



Manic Depression

G AYE: severe type 1

E SH: type 1

G SH: type 2, processing noticeable on vocals

Legacy: type 2



Highway Chile

E SH: type 1

G SH: type 2, processing noticeable on vocals

Legacy: type 2



Burning of the Midnight Lamp

E SH: type 1

G SH: type 2, processing noticeable on vocals


Foxy Lady

G AYE: severe type 1

E SH: type 1 with large EQ on treble

G SH: type 2, processing noticeable on vocals

Legacy: type 1 with large EQ on midrange and bass


Red House

G AYE: severe type 1

Legacy: type 2



Love or Confusion

G AYE: severe type 1

Legacy: type 2

 
I Don't Live Today


G AYE: severe type 1


May This Be Love

G AYE: severe type 1


3rd Stone from the Sun


G AYE: severe type 1



Remember

G AYE: severe type 1

E AYE: type 1


Are You Experienced?

G AYE: severe type 1



     Doug Bell.