Jefferson Airplane – The Worst Of

16 Jul

Jefferson Airplane - The Worst of Jefferson Airplane CB022 frontLink

Album info

I’m sure that RCA had a difficult time understanding the title of this first compilation album from the Airplane. Can’t you see the bean counters sitting round scratching their little pointed heads saying ‘worst of ?’. This Stereotape reel proved most difficult to transfer due to problems with the synthetic binder used back in the early 70’s. You will notice an undesirable artifact here and there but after all it is free so smile. Thank you rockyofpittsburgh for this Q4 tape and thank you OD for posting this to your blog. Enjoy  CB

Release: CB022

Source: Q4




30 Responses to “Jefferson Airplane – The Worst Of”

  1. rayc2 July 25, 2014 at 01:03 #

    Thanks CB & OD. I enjoyed this.

  2. Owen Smith July 19, 2014 at 12:34 #

    I’m most of the way through listening to this now. Musically the mix is a bit varied, some of the early tracks have the vocals and a lot of other stuff in the rears and sound a bit back to front. I have an Army of Quad Q4 conversion of Spitfire and it’s been a while since I listened to that but I think musically Spitfire is better, but then it is a later album.

    Audio quality is not the finest, indeed it’s one of the poorer Q4s I’ve heard. Top end is definitely restricted and more reminiscent of some Q8s, but then as people have said this was recorded in the late 1960s on 4 track or less gear, so we may be hearing mastertape limitations. Some tracks seem better than others in this regard, eg. track 13 playing now seems a bit more open at the high end.

    I’m not having sailorpaul’s problem at all. I’m listening to this 2db higher on the volume than I usually start at for transfers on this blog, but that’s nothing. Tape hiss is present but very minor and is only obvious between some tracks where it fades up and down (something the Captain may have done?). Between other tracks tape hiss is inaudible. I cannot explain sailorpaul’s problems.

    A good conversion and definitely worth having. I’ll take rockyofpittsburgh’s word for it that the tape always sounded like this, so we really can’t ask for anything better from a transfer.

    Thankyou CB, another oldie preserved.

  3. bigheadrascal July 18, 2014 at 08:52 #

    I stumbled on a Q4 transfer of this elsewhere. As near as I can tell it lacks the “artifacts” mentioned above, (Granted I’m hearing it via a Philips HTS3564 “HTIB” and not the OPPO I wish Santa would bring me some Christmas while I’m still living.) If memory serves, the earliest tracks were recorded in a 3 track studio which would no doubt leave a lot of hard work and creativity left to those put in charge of creating a quad version. Certainly not the best quad I’ve ever heard. Maybe if I was a bigger JA fan…Still better to have this than to not have it.

    • Owen Smith July 18, 2014 at 11:42 #

      Maybe the Q4 tape used for the other transfer you found was in better condition? It could have been stored better, or have been a better tape to start with by random variation.

      • rockyofpittsburgh July 18, 2014 at 16:04 #

        The only “artifact” I noticed was a thump noise between a couple of the tracks. I don’t notice it if I have the air conditioner on in the other room. Other than that, that is the way the tape sounded when I bought it around 1975. I had it stored in a cool, dry place, but it hasn’t been played in about 30 years. I’m happy it was preserved this way. I always thought it could sound better but, hey, it’s free.

  4. sailorpaul July 17, 2014 at 18:48 #

    I gave this one a spin today. I wish I was as exuberant about it now as I was when I first saw it offered . Understand, I’m only familiar with the better known material via FM radio and the rest I’ve never heard before at all. But there seems to be a general lack of upper end energy. I’m not sure if its the nature of the source material or the condition of the source Q4, or both. Like I said I’ve never owned this music in any media form. Some of the rock produced in that time period was recorded that way. Tape hiss is very noticeable during the quieter passages, louder than most of the Q8 conversions I have.

    The mix itself is nothing spectacular but it is enjoyable enough. Its probably even good considering the limited number of tracks they had to work with.

    I guess my biggest issue for me is with the overall volume level on the conversion. It has happened with a few other releases as well, so maybe its a function of my equipment. Any opinions would be welcome, especially if you experience the same thing.

    I use B&K equipment driven by an Oppo 83SE. I have for years. The preamp offers a gain range of -15 to +15 dB. With this release I was listening at +15 and still wanting more volume. During pauses between songs the hiss was excessive and was further exasperated by the noise of the system being pushed to its limit.

    All other level controls are either being run wide open or have been disabled. I have no such problem with commercial DVD-As, SACDs, CDs Blu rays, or LPs. I also do not have a problem with most conversions, though in general, they sometimes do seem to be “cut” at a lower volume. Typical volume settings for these other sources is usually -3 to +5 dB.

    Am I doing something wrong? Anyone else have this issue?

    • oxforddickie July 17, 2014 at 19:26 #

      Although not directly related to this release, you have to remember that there’s a lot of difference between ‘official’ releases and the type of conversions we do.

      Official releases normally compress the audio to make it ‘sound’ louder, whereas our conversions are more ‘audiophile’ with no compression, so are at a lower level.

    • rockyofpittsburgh July 17, 2014 at 20:38 #

      I am not hearing excessive tape hiss on this. The original Q4 tape was dolby-encoded. i am using Bose speakers and a Sony receiver with bass and treble set at flat. CB’s transfer sounds exactly like the original tape to me. That is how Stereotape released it.

    • Owen Smith July 17, 2014 at 20:56 #

      You mention setting your pre-amp level to +15db. But that’s not a volume control, you should have one of those as well. Do you?

      An old friend of mine (moved away 10 years ago) had an Audiolab pre/power system, and while his Audiolab 8000Q preamp had an input gain level in 3db steps it also had a volume control.

      I remember you having these problems before, and no-one else having an issue. I wonder if you have a restriction in your equipment which is expecting quite a narrow range of levels which these release don’t always fit? My Arcam AVR350 amp volume control is in db, and I use anything from 38 to 70 depending on the source material. You may simply not have enough range (but then there’s the issue of you finding the tape hiss loud, which is odd).

      I’ll comment again when I have listened to this release.

    • birdycat19 July 17, 2014 at 21:46 #

      Can’t explain your experience, sorry. For me last night, volume levels required to hear this comfortably were commensurate with other releases offered here. Of course, tape has hiss and its presence to me only means that no additional noise reduction was applied (a good thing). I’m a warts-and-all kind of guy and believe me the recorded quality of most JA material was packed with warts 😉 “It is what it is”. Also, don’t discount your unfamiliarity with a lot this material as being a major contributing factor to your not-so-optimal listening experience.

      • sailorpaul July 18, 2014 at 03:28 #

        Just to clarify a few things..
        Owen: the -15dB to +15 dB range is the indexing for the volume control. There is no other master gain control in the system. And I haven’t written about any other previous problems here. I did mention a rather large difference in volume I noticed between a recent Focus release on Q8 and the Burton Cummings SQ release but I think that was more a case of the Focus conversion being very loudly recorded.

        Keep in mind my comments regarding hiss were based on the system being run wide open while listening. I’m sure part of that hiss was system noise. At lower volumes the hiss was negligible.

        I realize that compression could be an issue, but isn’t the material on a source Q4, Q8, or LP also compressed to a fair degree to begin with?

        My guess is that the rest of you are using equipment with more gain at the preamp stage than I am. Like I said, I’ve only noticed it on a couple of conversions, this being one of them. But thanks for the replies and guidance.

      • Owen Smith July 18, 2014 at 11:39 #

        Given the range I use, a 30db volume control range (-15 to +15) would be insufficient for me. I use at least 40db of range over the course of an average month.

        • sailorpaul July 18, 2014 at 14:50 #

          I’m afraid I misspoke. The volume range actually goes from -96dB to +15dB on my B&K. Still the same 15dB of gain above unity though . I guess I just never have the control anywhere near the low end.

        • Owen Smith July 19, 2014 at 01:29 #

          That makes more sense. Do you get to calibrate the 0db level, since it is going to depend on the sensitivity and positioning of your speakers?

          My AV amp goes from 1 to 100db in 1db steps. 75db is supposed to be a film reference level, but if I run the calibration tones at 75db and watch films that loud it virtually rattles the fillings in my teeth. I have a Radio Shack digital sound pressure level meter, I calibrate at 65db instead and that’s about the level I watch films at. I think the people that mix films are trying to make us all go deaf.

          • sailorpaul July 19, 2014 at 11:37 #

            I cannot calibrate the 0dB level. As far as I know it pertains to the preamp only and is not dependent on any other components in the system. The idea is 0dB represents unity gain… meaning the level going in from the source is the same as the level coming out of the preamp. So +5 dB means 5 dB gain over source level while -5dB means a 5 dB cut in source level.

          • Owen Smith July 19, 2014 at 12:20 #

            Ah now I understand. So the final volume you get depends on the power amp gain, speaker sensitivies and room acoustics.

            • sailorpaul July 19, 2014 at 12:48 #

              yes, exactly. and I use a full array of NHT super ones (acoustic suspension… not terribly efficient) at 125wpc.

  5. lonky53 July 17, 2014 at 00:10 #

    This is just great.The sound stage is vast and the clarity is almost uniformly right on.
    I was aware of some these alternate versions because they appear in stereo on the
    Jefferson Airplane Loves You box set but to hear them in quad is not something i thought I would ever experience.Thanks captain and thanks OD.
    Fly Jefferson Airplane gets you there on time

    • Owen Smith July 19, 2014 at 12:40 #

      I agree the soundstage is vast on some tracks, track 15 I’m listening now is huge.

  6. jaypfunk July 16, 2014 at 23:07 #

    Thanks for this one CB and OD. Has anyone had a chance to compare this to the Army Of Quad version yet? I haven’t listened to that in a while but I do remember that I thought the mix was not so great.

  7. lenikus July 16, 2014 at 18:34 #

    Thank you for this, Captain, Rocky and OD.
    I’m curious: Why there is no CB018?

  8. Owen Smith July 16, 2014 at 09:10 #

    So did you have to bake this tape, captain? That’s the usual solution with the nasty gunky early 1970s synthetic binder.

    • captainbeyond55 July 16, 2014 at 16:36 #

      Yes as a matter of fact it took multiply trips to the food dehydrator to get this one to play. Also use of silicon on the tape guides and rollers. You know straight away during initial rewinding if the tape slows down or even stops there is going to be trouble. What a sticky mess not to forget the terrible squawk & squeal. Too many cleanings to mention. Got to save these gems before its all gone to goo.

  9. rockyofpittsburgh July 16, 2014 at 02:15 #

    Thank you, CB, for transferring this. I know it wasn’t easy. Thank you, OD, for posting.

    The first “electric folk” band.They were an influence on Donovan, Pentangle, Fairport Convention, and Steeleye Span in England, and Amon Düül in Germany.

    These songs were recorded between 1966 and 1969. They may not have had more than 8 tracks in the studio. If it sounds a little bottom heavy to you, that’s the source tape. For all their quad releases, Jefferson Airplane and Jefferson Starship re-recorded many of the vocals. There are many differences between this release and the original stereo releases. On “Lather”, the piano is turned-up and the squealing guitar turned down. There also are some different lyrics on “Volunteers.” The vocal on that track sounds completely re-recorded.

    For we few JA fanatics who are still around, it is a treat to hear these different versions of familiar songs..

    • rockyofpittsburgh July 16, 2014 at 08:19 #

      I ran into a recording-musician friend at the local bar last night, and he told me that the first album that was recorded with an 8-track tape recorder in the studio was “Sgt. Pepper’s” in 1967. Abbey Road could afford the latest technology. They were state-of-the-art.

      • quadsome July 16, 2014 at 15:23 #

        Peppers was actually recorded using only Studer J37 4-track machines, not 8-track (which did not arrive in London studios until late 1967). Multiple Studers were used for reduction mixing to acquire additional recording tracks. You can find an excellent article and even picture of the actual Studer used on the Wikipedia page for Sgt. Peppers. The fact that such an album was done on a 4-track machine has inspired producers and engineers for decades since!

        • rockyofpittsburgh July 17, 2014 at 20:28 #

          Yes, my musician friend misled me. The White Album was the first Beatles recording to use an 8-track recorder, but they were being used earlier in America..
          I know for sure that the Volunteers album in 1969 was recorded to 8 tracks because there is a picture of one on the back cover. The Crown of Creation album in 1968 won an award from Stereo Review for best sound quality.
          Thanks to CB for the correct info.

  10. lupineassassin July 16, 2014 at 01:08 #

    Great post! I’m having trouble getting the torrent link, though.

    • oxforddickie July 16, 2014 at 05:46 #

      It appears to be working ok, what’s the problem your having

      • lupineassassin August 28, 2014 at 16:05 #

        I waited a little bit, but I was able to get it. Thanks. 🙂

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