I recently received a package from Winston Ma at First Impression Music. Inside the box was six new FIM releases including one that is somewhat special to me (details below). Readers familiar with Winston and FIM are well aware that FIM releases are world-renowned for sonic quality, musical content, and physical packaging. Opening the six individual compact discs was like opening six special presents. Nobody packages discs like First Impression Music. The feel of the high quality, high gloss CD holder is the first thing one notices when opening an FIM disc. Inside, the liner notes are impeccable. A preface from Winston himself, short biographies of the artists, reprinted original liner notes, writings from industry scholars, and album production data are all included. Plus, the fact that each CD is held in a sleeve with a cloth backing is a true sign that nothing is overlooked on an FIM release. As I mentioned above one of the six albums is somewhat special to me. This specific release of Getz/Gilberto (LIM K2HD 036) not only sounds spectacular, but Winston's words in the liner notes ring very close to home. Read more to find out why.
The Getz/Gilberto album is a favorite of many music aficionados, myself included. This First Impression Music release means much more to me than my previous version of this album. Readers of Computer Audiophile may remember back in December 2008 I visited Winston Ma at his home just outside Seattle, WA. I wrote an article about the visit and posted a video from Winston's listening room [Link]. In that article I said the following.
"... Winston graciously invited me to his home and into his amazing listening room. Even though he has an incredible stereo system Winston was all about the music. He played some unreleased music soon to be available on the FIM label. After each track Winston asked for an honest opinion about sound quality and the musical content ..."
As you may have guessed, one of the albums Winston played back in December 2008 was Getz/Gilberto. The story would be just OK if it stopped here. However, after listening to the album Winston asked for opinions about the sound quality. A very experienced industry veteran who was also listening to the album with me said there was something not quite right about the sound and described some differences from what he thought it should've sounded like. The term nasally was mentioned when speaking about the vocals on the album. Winston humbly agreed that the album was not up to his standards and that he was going to talk to the engineers in Japan about improving the sound quality. Winston, ever the perfectionist, had the album re-mastered twice by Flair Studios, JVC in Tokyo and worked with engineer Takeshi Hakkaman to bring the quality up to FIM levels. Perhaps the neatest part about this story for me is what Winston said in the preface to the liner notes included in this Getz/Gilberto release.
Quoted From Getz/Gilberto (LIM K2HD 036):
"... We tried to minimize the nasal quality and chattiness of the male voice, and the wiry elements of the female. At the conclusion of our first attempt, we thought we had succeeded. However, when I afterwards listened to the CDR at home, I felt we needed still further improvement. I asked Takeshi to return to the task. The version on this album is thus, finally, re-mastered to the best sound we could achieve."
To some readers this experience may be nothing to write home (or an article) about. However, having heard the nasal quality to the vocals at Winston's home prior to the released version, reading about this specific sound quality mentioned in the liner notes of the album, and finally hearing the magic that Winston and Takeshi have extracted from this album is special to me and I want to share the experience with all the Computer Audiophile readers. It's almost like part II to the original article.
The final released version of Getz/Gilberto by FIM is my new reference of this album. I am very impressed by the sound quality and of course the music is wonderful. Not only do I have this album in heavy rotation on my music servers, but I have copies of it on my iPhone, iPod, and new MacBook Pro. When it comes to good music I have a hard time believing there can be too much of a good thing.
Along with the Getz/Gilberto release FIM recently released some other great titles. Readers following the Computer Audiophile Twitter posts know that I traveled to Chicago by automobile for the weekend. I spent 12 hours (round trip) listening to music through my highly customized aftermarket car stereo. During the trip I listened to several of the new FIM releases. I could not get enough of The Oscar Peterson Trio's We Get Requests (LIM K2HD 032), partly because this Jazz is right up my alley and partly because it sounds so good. One of the new albums I listened to was David Darling's 8-String religion. This album originated as a DXD 24/352.8 recording and has been highly regarded by many in the audio press. Unfortunately this album pushed the limits of my car stereo and it don't think it was able to resolve the finest details. I can't wait to get into my listening room this week and play the album via the dCS Paganini and Ayre QB-9 DACs in for review.
Here are the six new releases from FIM that were freshly ripped to my music servers.
Ariel Ramirez: Misa Criolla (LIM K2HD 040)
Salena Jones: Ballad With LUV (LIM K2HD 042)
Georg Solti: Romantic Russia (LIM K2HD 043)
Stan Getz & Joao Gilberto: Getz/Gilberto (LIM K2HD 036)
The Oscar Peterson Trio: We Get Requests (LIM K2HD 032)
David Darling: 8-String Religion (LIM DXD 041)
All six releases, and many other great FIM titles are available directly from FIM or a number of outlets world-wide.
Website: First Impression Music.