Deep Purple – Machine Head

17 Dec

Deep Purple - Machine Head DS248p frontAlbum info

Reissue: New decode

Release: DS248p

Source: SQ CD

Process: SQ/Phoenix



33 Responses to “Deep Purple – Machine Head”

  1. John February 29, 2016 at 21:19 #

    I have so many versions of this classic – in stereo, remastered, remixed, LPs, cassettes, SACDs, DVD-As, 4.0s, 4.1s, 5.1s, longer/shorter versions of Lazy, UK and USA mixes, different guitar solos etc. And it is all very confusing! So I just decided to sit down and listen to this without going into comparison mode. And I had myself a great 40 minutes with this wonderful old friend. Here’s the impression – without referring to other versions. A very nice surround sound mix – with Gillian’s wails jumping in from all 4 speakers at the start of Highway, and the rhythm work coming through very clear under the solos all the way through. Boy, Lord and Blackmore don’t sit on the same chord sequences for very long, do they? Nice little filigree pieces behind the solo or the singer – very enjoyable. Maybe the actual solos were a tad less in-my-face than I remember – which, with the great use of the rears, allowed the stellar behind-the-scenes work to show through. And I like the bass too – warbling away under the music, which is where it belongs. And I’ve always felt that Ian Paice is the most under-rated drummer. His work here is great – and nicely spread across the sound field in the appropriate places. If I had to pick a word to describe the overall sound experience, it would be ‘woody’. Weird word choice, I know – but it wasn’t as diamond sharp as I remember – but actually the ‘Woodiness” felt nicely analogue – rather than the bright, sharp, metallic version of my recollection. Perhaps it is time to start comparing, after all… He he – and that way madness lies!

    • Doug March 1, 2016 at 08:17 #

      Yes, this was a wonderful decode. Have you heard the original Warner Brothers Quad reel to reel conversion? Or do you maybe own a copy? I’m wondering how it compares clarity wise to O.D.’s decode

      • oxforddickie March 1, 2016 at 08:44 #

        The WB quad release was a different mix

      • Owen Smith March 1, 2016 at 09:34 #

        The same mix as this SQ decode is available on SACD but with the rear channels swapped left/right (alas). Fortunately you can get it with them swapped back to where they should be on the SACD to DVD-A blog (see links on the right). It’s surprising how much brighter it is, despite being the same mix. Someone EQ’d it for the SACD release I suspect.

        • John March 1, 2016 at 15:19 #

          Hi Owen – is the SQ decode the same as the SACD (Quad version) only with the rear channels swapped? I’m in comparison mode now, and Lazy is 6:54 mins on the decode, but 7:10 mins on the SACD. (Oh and thanks for the pointer to the SACD/DVD-A blog. Oh my – more to enjoy!)

        • Owen Smith March 1, 2016 at 22:17 #

          I wasn’t aware of the difference in track lengths. At one point the SACD to DVD-A site had a Machine Head test disc (now removed) with a small number of tracks with the SQ decode, the SACD, the SACD with rears swapped, and the Q4 release. The Q4 was clearly a different quad mix, though there were some similarities. For the tracks I compared the SQ was clearly the same mix as the SACD except with rears swapped left/right, and the SACD is brighter ie. EQ’d. I think three tracks were compared.

          If you come to any conclusions about why there are track length differences, please post them.

          I’m seeding all the SACD to DVD-A site releases, the chap that does the conversions has terrible broadband so I seed for him.

          • John March 2, 2016 at 22:49 #

            I did double check the difference in Lazy track timings on both versions – but not sure why. Traveling this week and weekend – but will compare again next week, when I get home. And the Roger Glover 1997 remix has the longest version of Lazy. All fascinating stuff, right?

        • Owen Smith March 1, 2016 at 22:27 #

          By the way, I recommend Days Of Future Passed on the SACD to DVD-A site, it’s a stunning album given it was originally recorded in 1967. Way ahead of it’s time. And Dark Side Of The Moon is a perennial favourite, the original quad mix in 24/96 discrete source, what’s not to like?

  2. Doug January 5, 2016 at 07:29 #

    Stupendous job on this one, O.D.! I was foolishly going to ditch this version for a DTS CD version. I’m glad I didn’t. After reading all of the comments on here, I’m confused as to what was the original quadraphonic mix.

    I had always heard that it had the alternate guitar solo by Blackmore on “Maybe I’m A Leo”. This has that. Plus, Jon Lord’s Hammond B-3 sounds epic

  3. Owen Smith January 10, 2015 at 13:16 #

    I’m really enjoying this. The decode is clear and produces a very nice soundfield. Phoenix has worked its magic again, there’s no bleed from the rears into the fronts. Detail seems better than the SQ/II version, though it’s been a while since I listened to that. There’s just nothing out of place or that sounds wrong.

    Musically great as ever, the energy of the band and the urgency of the short time for the recording sessions (after the fire) shows through. I’d be tempted to try a bit of head banging and moshing if it weren’t for my bad back.

    • Owen Smith January 10, 2015 at 15:06 #

      I should add, it’s the last three tracks of this album I particularly like, the ones after Smoke On The Water. The snarl of Lord’s keyboards in the swirling keyboards opening of one track is exceptional.

      • oxforddickie January 10, 2015 at 15:22 #

        Yea, makes you think it’s going to jump out of the speaker at you,at least in my studio

  4. sullis02 January 1, 2015 at 21:49 #

    One distinguisher for all the various surround mixes of this, for me, has been ‘Lazy’, where the final guitar solo exists in different edits on different mixes.

  5. sacdtodvda December 19, 2014 at 08:59 #

    Thanks for this OD. It will make a very interesting comparison with the quad mix on the SACD for which I have recently created a new conversion.

    I intend to make a “test” disc that compares this version, the SACD version, the SACD version with the rears reversed (because it is rumoured the SACD is the SQ with the rears reversed) and the US QR/Q8 version (to eliminate that as a possibility).

    I hope to have that ready shortly and it would be good to get others opinions in order to put the rumours to bed.

  6. birdycat19 December 18, 2014 at 17:27 #

    I have the DVD-A version of MH. Is it the same mix as the SACD?

    • Owen Smith December 18, 2014 at 21:57 #

      I believe the DVD-A is a new 5.1 remix, nothing to do with quad.

    • sacdtodvda December 19, 2014 at 08:55 #

      The commercial DVD-Audio disc is a new (but front heavy) 5.1 mix. This is the original UK SQ quad mix. Quite different.

      There is also a very different US quad mix on QR and Q8 as well as a quad on the SACD issue which has been discussed below and I will discuss again above.

      • birdycat19 December 19, 2014 at 16:18 #

        Ah. So, an SACD with no 5.1 (even faux) mix…that’s unusual.

      • Owen Smith December 19, 2014 at 18:33 #

        I have several SACDs which the player says are 5.0 but on which the Centre channel is completely silent. Tubular Bells is one such. Maybe SACD can’t do an actual 4.0 disc and has to have a Centre even if it is silent?

  7. Owen Smith April 20, 2013 at 20:56 #

    On a related topic, I saw Deep Purple live at Return to the Knebworth Fayre in 1985. That had a surround sound PA system, there was the normal sterero PA around the stage and then two PA towers rear left and rear right firing from diagonally behind into the audience. They weren’t used for all tracks but there were some great effects when they were used. The Smoke on the Water opening guitar riff had each note coming out of a different speaker, which was great fun despite the mud and rain on that day. I have the Deep Purple CD of that concert and when I got it I was so disappointed that there was no trace within the stereo image of the Smoke on the Water guitar riff moving between speakers, they didn’t even bounce it between left and right. I’d love a quad recording of that concert as heard live at Kebworth. The CD does at least mention the mud and the rain, showing Ian Gillan in his wellies and mentioning the acres of plastic sheeting over John Lord’s keyboards.

  8. jaypfunk April 15, 2013 at 18:03 #

    So what’s the background on this one?

  9. Owen Smith April 15, 2013 at 17:52 #

    This should be good for SQ/II decoding comparisons as the multi channel SACD used the original quad mix.

    • oxforddickie April 15, 2013 at 18:03 #

      true.This release actually came about because of that very issue, there are those who believe the SACD mix is not the same as used for the SQ release. Sigh…..

      This WILL finally put that one to bed…….

      • Owen Smith April 20, 2013 at 13:27 #

        Track 5 Smoke on the Water opening gives similar results. Opening guitar riff rear right on SQ, rear left on SACD with a bit of echo in the other 3 speakers on both and some gain pumping I think on both discs. Third time round the guitar goes to all 4 speakers on SQ, but just both rears on SACD with echo in the fronts. Rights on SQ (rear left on SACD) is original guitar sound, lefts on SQ (rear right on SACD) guitar is distorted through an effects pedal. It’s so clearly guitar in just the rear right on SQ for the opening riff (plus echo in other speakers) and then fronts and rears with equal volume when it is repeated that this must have been what was intended, and yet the repeat of the guitar riff has only echo in the fronts on the SACD.

        High hat is mostly front right on SQ, but both fronts on SACD whereas snare drum is in both fronts on both discs, I don’t see how that can be produced by encoding mistakes or decoding algorithms.

        The bass guitar when it comes in has a lot more punch on the SACD and is more strongly in the fronts I think.

        Again this feels like it is a re-mix or re-master for the SACD which was intended to sound very similar and might have done so if the rears had not been swapped left/right at some point.

        • oxforddickie April 20, 2013 at 13:55 #

          Hmmm, thanks for going into so much detail, it does back up the view that the mix used for the SACD is not the same as that used originally for the SQ release.

          What i can say about the decoding process is that it is 100% accurate to the encoding equations, so i guess the truth is out there somewhere.

          Again, thanks

          As an add on, i’ll re-decode ‘Smoke..’, just in case i made a bo-bo

        • oxforddickie April 20, 2013 at 15:07 #

          OK, have done a quick decode of “Smoke On The Water” just to check i hadn’t made a bo-bo, and thankfully, i haven’t (phew!)

          The opening guitar is firmly on the right rear, organ left rear.

          Now to throw something into the mix, it transpires that Warner used a different mix for their CD-4 release of the album in the USA. Could it be this that was used on the SACD?

    • Owen Smith April 20, 2013 at 12:53 #

      This is a bit tricky to compare versus the SACD, because one thing is sure: the rears are swapped left/right on the SACD compared to this SQ/II decode.

      I concentrated on track 1 Highway Star, it has some quite discrete placement of the keyboards all through and vocals in the opening 30 seconds. Also the constant back and forth every 30 seconds would be very tiring for an entire album.

      I do think there’s more to it than just rear left/right swapped. The SACD sounds massively clearer and much more discrete. I know what you’re thinking, that’s SACD hi res and discrete multichannel, but I’ve done this comparison before with the SQ*Final decode of Tubular Bells CD vs. the SACD of the same thing which is known to use the identical quad master tape and the differences there were surprisingly modest.

      There are effects and instruments very clear and loud in the SACD which are barely audible on the SQ/II version, yet there are other instruments where if anything the SACD is quieter and harder to pick them out. There is also a very percussive stacatto effect to the keyboards in the rears from 2 to 3 minutes in on the SACD which I can only tell is even there on the SQ/II having listened for it because I heard it on the SACD.

      I’d say this has been remastered or remixed for the SACD. They may have been attempting to recreate the same mix, or they may have worked from the 4 channel quad master and simply remastered that boosting various intruments and lifting the levels of the rears. Or perhaps some mistake was made when doing the SQ encode, I don’t know what results that could cause.

      So I can see why there is active debate about whether the SACD is the same as the quad mix or not. If you correct the left/right rear swap there is a lot that is the same. But there are things in the SACD in just right rear which appear equally in front left and rear left on the SQ/II. That could be the matrixing, but I thought SQ/II was better than that.

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