Monday, 18 March 2013

Yes - Close To The Edge SACD

It's heartening to see that the SACD format is not dead and buried yet. The Audio Fidelity label has started to release SACD titles, the first of which has been "Counterparts" by Rush and "Close To The Edge" by Yes. This latter title has been remastered by venerable mastering engineer Steve Hoffman. I have a number of versions of this title. The first being the Joe Gastwirt edition from the 90's, the Bill Inglot remaster, released on the Rhino label from around 2003. But until now my favourite version was the Japanese SHM papersleeve edition edition which was based on the Rhino remaster but sounded much better.

However this SACD edition knocks the spots off all these. It sounds really crisp and clear. There is no distortion at all during Rick Wakeman's organ solo during the title track which has always been a pain in earlier editions and the clarity and detail on Steve Howe's acoustic guitar intro to "And You and I" is amazing.

The one gripe I have about this new edition is the packaging. I know it comes in the standard Audio Fidelity style jewel box with slip case, but who puts discs in jewel boxes with black trays nowadays. These audiophile discs are not cheap so they should come in deluxe packaging. Something like the Super Jewel Case would be preferred. Even the booklet is not brilliant. Just lyrics and a reproduction of Roger Deans painting. Even the printing could be sharper. I would have liked some notes by Hoffman on the process he used to master the disc. That would have been quite interesting. Never mind, this issue is all about the sound quality which is exceptional.

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