Chesky: One of the Worst Audiophile Labels?

Ron Resnick

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This commentator reviewed Chesky's The Power of the Orchestra (RC30) and reported that it sounds "lifeless, compressed and thin-sounding." He concludes: "Chesky is one of the WORST AUDIOPHILE LABELS in the history of the world."


I truly am baffled by his report. His views are the mathematical opposite of my views on the early Chesky classical reissues. RC30 is one of my favorite classical records ever, for both sound quality and performance quality.

What do you make of this article?

What is your opinion of the sound quality of Chesky RC30?
 

bonzo75

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Feb 26, 2014
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He is right that he says it will not compare to a good shaded dogs original “here you will find practically none of the weight andwhomp that turn the best Shaded Dog pressings into the powerful listening experiences we know them to be, because we’ve played them by the hundreds on big speakers at loud levels.”
 

beaur

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God help us all if we start another hot stamper debate! :)

My opinion - Tom has his opinions; the only ones who seem to agree with him are customers! You may not like Chesky's approach to recording but many, if not all, of Chesky's records sound great and are well recorded IMHO.

Beau
 

astrotoy

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Tom has a significant financial motivation for his negative views of reissues, including those by Chesky as well as Classic Records, Acoustic Sounds, Speakers Corners, etc. Simply, these reissues can be purchased (in some cases new) for a small fraction of the price his sells his "hot stampers" of the original pressings (and only specific stampers that he has heard and judged.) Interestingly, the prices he typically charges are about the same as the commercial tapes from Tape Project and Acoustic Sounds, when they have those same albums for sale. For example, Acoustic Sounds released the Power of the Orchestra, using the original master tapes to make their production masters (IIRC 1/2" tape copies at 30ips) used for producing their commercial 15ips 2 track tapes on 1/4" tape. I have that tape. It would be interesting to compare to the Tom Port hot stamper of the original vinyl. The tape has the advantage of not having the variation in father, mother, stamper that the original vinyl albums have, as well as not having the wear - since the records from that era are almost never in pristine condition.

Larry
 

Gregadd

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Being the worst audiophile label is similar to graduating at the bottom of your class at Harvard.
I would require a consens of critics and a larger sample of recordings
 

Alrainbow

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Dec 11, 2013
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Am I to understand hot presses are not a very high quality over all ?
I own many versions of dark side of the moon like 20
new , sealed and the like
The ones some reviewers of vinyl are to me just better why I don’t know other them early pressings before masters were played many times.
we attach our selves to tape but yet it wears as played. Transferred to vinyl a mind boggling process in the min. Yet to me both great tape and great vinyl are fantastic music.
a needle dragging a pointed stone vibrating
tape to me is a far mite simplistic technique.
But it do think lighting or magic can happen on Format transfer.
anyone care to explain this ?
 
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beaur

Fleetwood Sound
Oct 12, 2011
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Am I to understand hot presses are not a very high quality over all ?
I own many versions of dark side of the moon like 20
new , sealed and the like
The ones some reviewers of vinyl are to me just better why I don’t know other them early pressings before masters were played many times.
we attach our selves to tape but yet it wears as played. Transferred to vinyl a mind boggling process in the min. Yet to me both great tape and great vinyl are fantastic music.
a needle dragging a pointed stone vibrating
tape to me is a far mite simplistic technique.
But it do think lighting or magic can happen on Format transfer.
anyone care to explain this ?
Al,

I can't explain hot stampers technically, as there are probably lots of ways they can "happen", especially when so of the runs were in the millions. My issue is that when someone starts curating them and rating them to make money, then dumping all over others who don't have or believe in them etc.

Beau
 
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lordcloud

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My issue with Chesky has always been (for their original recordings) that they record with too much hard left to right, and soundstage coherency suffers because of it.

Their overall sonics are ok, if not a little polite (I get the lifeless opinion).
 

Ron Resnick

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My issue with Chesky has always been (for their original recordings) that they record with too much hard left to right, and soundstage coherency suffers because of it.

Their overall sonics are ok, if not a little polite (I get the lifeless opinion).

I had in my mind with this thread referring only to Chesky's re-issues. I don't know anything about their original recordings.
 
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ScottB

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I concur with Tom’s opinion of the Chesky Power of the Orchestra – its dull and lifeless. I have the Chesky and three RCA pressings two of which are 1s/7s and the third 7s/8s. Which is better? I don’t know nor do I care enough to make the effort to sit through multiple listens of this to figure it out. I do think the record is over-rated.

Somewhere I acquired an Acoustic Sound 45 of the Power and don’t think its very good either. From what I’ve heard of the Acoustic Sounds reissues of the RCA’s is not good. Not sure if they were poorly done or the tapes where shot by the time they started doing their reissues. Either way, I have three of them and don’t want any more.

The real gems of the Chesky catalogue are the reissues they did from the Readers Digest sets. The two that stand out are the Sibelius 2nd with Barbirolli and the Stravinsky Petrouchka. In the Readers Digest sets, the originals, these where compressed on to one side of an LP and don’t sound very good. Chesky let these breath over two sides which produced great sound for already great performances. Highly recommended.
 

astrotoy

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The original recordings of the Chesky Readers Digest albums were engineered by Decca, many (most) by the great Kenneth "Wilkie" Wilkinson. Chuck Gerhardt produced almost all of the recordings. They were able to get many great conductors (including Munch, Reiner, Gibson, Leibowitz, and others and typically used the Royal Philharmonic and sometimes some of the other top London orchestras. Kingsway Hall was one of the popular recording venue. When I interviewed Decca engineer Mike Mailes, he talked to me about working with Gerhardt and engineering several of the recordings. The Oscar Danon conducted Petrouchka is considered one of the top recordings. I also really like the Sibelius 2 with Barbirolli which I have on 15ips 2 track tape (this is not to be confused with the Sibelius 2 that Barbirolli did in his complete series of Sibelius symphonies with EMI. Looking at the session data, one thing I saw was that the sessions were scheduled very tightly and lots of music was recorded during every session for Readers Digest. Also often, orchestras, particularly those which had recording contracts with other major labels would be credited with a fake name. The London Festival Orchestra was one that was used by several different London orchestras.

Larry
 
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adrianywu

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202303261552257950.jpeg

I am currently putting these up for sale, since I have the tapes of all of them except the Adrian Boult, which I don't like. No interest so far, and so I will take a listen this weekend to compare the LPs with the tapes.
 
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astrotoy

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View attachment 106885

I am currently putting these up for sale, since I have the tapes of all of them except the Adrian Boult, which I don't like. No interest so far, and so I will take a listen this weekend to compare the LPs with the tapes.
Adrian, I think I have the same tapes, most of them from Acoustic Sounds. Except for the Boult the rest are all RCA originals, I think all done by Layton and Mohr except Power of the Orchestra which was done by Gerhardt and Wilkinson in Feb 1962 at Walthamstow (Decca engineered sessions which also produced several Reader's Digest albums.) The Boult was another Gerhardt Wilkinson production recorded in Kingsway Hall in July 1960. Looking at my data base, it looks like Decca booked the New Symphony of London from the 12th of July to the 22nd and had recording sessions with both Boult and Alexander Gibson, which resulted in a ton of Reader's Digest recordings of which Chesky reissued five CDs including CD53 the Concert Favorites. Larry
 

miniguy

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The original recordings of the Chesky Readers Digest albums were engineered by Decca, many (most) by the great Kenneth "Wilkie" Wilkinson. Chuck Gerhardt produced almost all of the recordings. They were able to get many great conductors (including Munch, Reiner, Gibson, Leibowitz, and others and typically used the Royal Philharmonic and sometimes some of the other top London orchestras. Kingsway Hall was one of the popular recording venue. When I interviewed Decca engineer Mike Mailes, he talked to me about working with Gerhardt and engineering several of the recordings. The Oscar Danon conducted Petrouchka is considered one of the top recordings. I also really like the Sibelius 2 with Barbirolli which I have on 15ips 2 track tape (this is not to be confused with the Sibelius 2 that Barbirolli did in his complete series of Sibelius symphonies with EMI. Looking at the session data, one thing I saw was that the sessions were scheduled very tightly and lots of music was recorded during every session for Readers Digest. Also often, orchestras, particularly those which had recording contracts with other major labels would be credited with a fake name. The London Festival Orchestra was one that was used by several different London orchestras.

Larry
Nice article on some of the many recordings done by Kenneth Wilkinson.
 
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astrotoy

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Wilkinson came to Decca in 1937 when Decca bought the company Wilkie was working for, along with Arthur Haddy, who became the long time chief engineer for Decca and Arthur Lilley, one of the other great Decca engineers. He retired (as did Lilley) from Decca when it was sold to Polygram and moved into digital recording. According to the Decca database, Wilkie has over 1000 listings as engineer from the early 1940's to his retirement in 1980. He focused on classical recordings and developed the Decca Tree microphone system to the standard system that Decca used for decades, well after his retirement. His protegy, John Dunkerley told me many stories about Wilkie and doing recordings with him in John's early years at Decca. During the early days of stereo recording, before stereo records were even released (1954-early 1958) Wilkie would often be assigned the role of mono engineer, while a second "B" team did the stereo recording. Wilkie's recording was considered the more important, since that was the one that was going to be released and make money for the company, while the stereo tapes were put into the library awaiting the time when the cutting techniques had improved enough to actually press and release stereo recordings (mid-1958). After that Wilkie moved to recording in stereo.

Larry
 
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mtemur

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Wilkinson came to Decca in 1937 when Decca bought the company Wilkie was working for, along with Arthur Haddy, who became the long time chief engineer for Decca and Arthur Lilley, one of the other great Decca engineers. He retired (as did Lilley) from Decca when it was sold to Polygram and moved into digital recording. According to the Decca database, Wilkie has over 1000 listings as engineer from the early 1940's to his retirement in 1980. He focused on classical recordings and developed the Decca Tree microphone system to the standard system that Decca used for decades, well after his retirement. His protegy, John Dunkerley told me many stories about Wilkie and doing recordings with him in John's early years at Decca. During the early days of stereo recording, before stereo records were even released (1954-early 1958) Wilkie would often be assigned the role of mono engineer, while a second "B" team did the stereo recording. Wilkie's recording was considered the more important, since that was the one that was going to be released and make money for the company, while the stereo tapes were put into the library awaiting the time when the cutting techniques had improved enough to actually press and release stereo recordings (mid-1958). After that Wilkie moved to recording in stereo.

Larry
I didn’t know that Wilkinson developed Decca Three miking. Thanks for sharing a very insightful story.
 

astrotoy

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I didn’t know that Wilkinson developed Decca Three miking. Thanks for sharing a very insightful story.
Actually Roy Wallace invented the Decca Tree, but it was Wilkie's implementation and development, with a different set of mics and outrigger mics that became the Decca standard. Wallace stopped engineering fairly early in his career at Decca and ended up inventing new mixers for Decca. While he was still engineering, Wallace would stick with his version of the Decca Tree. Larry
 
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adrianywu

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Actually Roy Wallace invented the Decca Tree, but it was Wilkie's implementation and development, with a different set of mics and outrigger mics that became the Decca standard. Wallace stopped engineering fairly early in his career at Decca and ended up inventing new mixers for Decca. While he was still engineering, Wallace would stick with his version of the Decca Tree. Larry
I think Roy Wallace did most of the Ansermet/OSR recordings at Victoria Hall, Geneva. Those are excellent recordings.
 
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KeithR

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How could anyone forget the audiophile Chesky album by Rebecca Pidgeon “The Raven” - sure to bring out the crowds
 

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