Acoustic Sounds

Crosby, Stills & Nash

Crosby, Stills & Nash



Label: Analogue Productions/Atlantic

Produced By: Stephen Stills, David Crosby, Graham Nash

Engineered By: Bill Halverson

Mastered By: Bernie Grundman at Bernie Grundman Mastering

Lacquers Cut By: Bernie Grundman

By: Michael Fremer

February 13th, 2024



"Crosby, Stills & Nash" is a Sonic Tabula Rasa

but this edition by far sounds best

Let's go directly to the sound because to wring something new from the music, especially to this audience, is a time waster. Play a half-dozen editions of Crosby, Stills & Nash and you'll hear six wildly different sonic presentations. Which is "correct"? There's no "artists intent" on this one, there are just different takes depending upon who's doing the mastering and pressing—and even then there are wild variations. Discogs lists 267 versions, worldwide, multiple formats.

I compared this double 45rpm Atlantic 75th anniversary pressing to an original Atlantic -B Rob Grenell cut Presswell pressing, a later Atlantic -F Monarch pressing, an original "plum label" U.K. original, the Classic Records 33 1/3 BG pressing and the recent Electric Recording Company pressing. I did not have the 2022 Mobile Fidelity "One Step" DSD sourced 45rpm pressing but I heard from a few trusted readers and will get one to borrow and follow up. I also didn't have the Nautilus 1/2 speed edition.

Whew! First off, the U.K. Polydor pressed "plum label" Atlantic has Stephen Stills' bass summed so it appears centered on the stage. That's not right! Otherwise it sounds ok, but somewhat dynamically compressed.

On the -B OG, Grenell didn't sum the bass, but he super attenuated it and accentuated the very top. It's not a particularly attractive sounding OG. Someone years ago sent me the -F and he was correct! I think George Piros mastered it. This one has Stephen Stills' bass really popping as I think it should. The rest is pretty good, if just a big bright on top, but no wonder this pressing with a non-textured jacket is preferable to the original!

Let me move forward to the ERC cut using the original master tape. It's a "flat cut". ERC's game plan is to give its customers "documentation" of the tape without equalization or compression of any kind (other than on its Way Out West to apply the Roy DuNann inverse curve). This approach works really well for classical releases and most jazz, but less so for rock. But ERC's customers want the doc and the doc is what they get!

And what the ERC proves is that when left alone, the tape is not all that great. There's more bottom end than on the Grenell cut but not nearly as much as on the -F cut or any of the others. The all tube cut does deliver luxurious midrange and vocal verisimilitude without short changing the steel string strumming.

This new Atlantic 75th anniversary release is from metal parts produced from Bernie Grundman's "back in the day" Classic Records masterings, for which as is usually the case, he cut both 33 1/3 and 45rpm parts. Classic did release a double 45 limited edition release in its twilight years, but I never got one, probably because I figured the double 45 would not sound all that different from the 33 1/3. That was a wrong assumption.

The comparison between the 33 1/3 Classic Records release and this double 45 is pretty shocking. The 33 1/3 Classic is somewhat hard sounding overall because the bass isn't all that prominent. I was surprised and glad I got the 45rpm edition because had I not, I'd have extrapolated from the 33 1/3, which would have been wrong. I'll never do that again!

Given the room to "stretch out", Bernie delivers a bass bomb similar to the -F pressing but even better: cleaner articulation and control, better textures and greater extension. If it sounds "blobby" or out of control, it's your set up, not the cut. The bass is stunning as is the rest. What's supposed to be bright—heavy guitar strumming for instance—is, but the vocals whether massed together center channel on "Suite: Judy Blue Eyes" or nicely separated elsewhere have rich midrange textures and fine detail.

The soundstage is enormous, percussive transients are very well-articulated and honestly, this is by far the best rendering of this recording that I've yet heard and by a very wide margin. If you love it, love David Crosby's voice, love the blend of the three, love those purple berries as much as Chuck Berry, and melt every time from the "Helplessly Hoping" harmonies, you'll be glad you bought this.

I've not heard great things about the One-Step compared to this, but I have to listen for myself because there probably are listeners with turntables incapable of handling the bottom end energy this cut produces and will report it's "muddy sounding". It isn't. If you're on the fence about dropping $60 for this and you love it, best to hop off!

Music Specifications

Catalog No: APA018-45

Pressing Plant: QRP


Speed/RPM: 45

Weight: 180 grams

Size: 12"

Channels: Stereo

Source: original master tapes

Presentation: Multi LP


  • 2024-02-14 03:44:23 AM

    Josquin des Prez wrote:

    I have the One-Step. I think it sounds thin, anemic and too analytical by comparison. It's OK, and better than anything I had before, but it doesn't have the presence and natural realism of the Atlantic 75. And as you mentioned, the bass sounds right...great. Not blobby, or out of control.

    Wish I had known about the 75th coming out. I hate the One-Steps and after a few overpriced titles with their cheesy, cheap, overboard packaging I'm done spening my money on them. The AP Atlantic 75 titles are a much better value and don't take up so much space for one title as the complete Bruckner symphonies. [roll-eyes]

  • 2024-02-14 06:56:49 AM

    Sam Casanzio wrote:

    Hi Mike. I have the Classic Records 45 rpm “One Sided” version. This was not produced as a Red box special that I am aware of. Sonically it’s to die for, and I wonder if Chad used those BG metal parts to press this Atlantic 75 version.

    • 2024-02-14 04:35:52 PM

      Michael Fremer wrote:

      Chad did use those parts. I could swear I wrote that in the review....

  • 2024-02-14 06:56:53 AM

    Sam Casanzio wrote:

    Hi Mike. I have the Classic Records 45 rpm “One Sided” version. This was not produced as a Red box special that I am aware of. Sonically it’s to die for, and I wonder if Chad used those BG metal parts to press this Atlantic 75 version.

    • 2024-02-14 07:02:17 AM

      Sam Casanzio wrote:

      My bad, I see you did state that this version was indeed taken from the old 45 rpm BG metal parts. Yes, everything Mike said about he sound is spot on. I’ll just keep my original 45 rpm pressing as it’s the same cut. Run and get this people, you won’t be disappointed.

  • 2024-02-14 01:06:26 PM

    Steve Edwards wrote:

    I have the Audio Fidelity Gold cd that Hoffman remastered back in 2011. It sounds better than the three vinyl versions I own (none are the Classic or the One Step), by no small margin; much more clarity. I would like to hear a comparison with the Atlantic 75th.

  • 2024-02-14 01:14:02 PM

    George white wrote:

    Great reporting, now I "need" to buy it!

  • 2024-02-14 07:09:25 PM

    bwb wrote:

    What about the 33 1/3 Atlantic 75 offerings on the Atlantic web site? How do they compare?

    • 2024-03-05 01:21:35 PM

      AnalogJ wrote:

      My understanding is those are digitally remastered.

  • 2024-02-15 02:09:28 AM

    Jeff 'Glotz' Glotzer wrote:

    I saw the blurb from Acoustic Sounds and snapped it up along with Howling Wolf - Rockin Chair. I have the One Step from Mofi and it sounds quite good, much better than any previous pressing I've heard, less the Classic of which I haven't heard either of the two. I'll respond as the difference between the Mofi and the Atlantic should have some obvious differences.

    • 2024-02-15 02:19:26 AM

      Jeff 'Glotz' Glotzer wrote:

      One thing I don't like is AS/QRP not releasing pre-order dates in a timely fashion. They are relying upon people to fear the Buy Now or Cry Later meme which may be effective, but unethical, imo. There are many releases hitting all the time and I need to be able to forecast effectively. I do appreciate them reducing their shipping costs under $100 orders (to my address at least).

      • 2024-02-22 12:17:32 AM

        Jeff 'Glotz' Glotzer wrote:

        See my next response below.

  • 2024-02-15 08:27:38 AM

    tim davis wrote:

    Thanks for such an informative post. It solves a memory mystery for me going back to 1979. To date I have never heard S.J.B.E. sound as sastifying as it did on my preferred album rock radio station back then WROQ 95.7 fm. At least now I know why. They had my preferred pressing & I've never found one. Too bad that I'll never have any idea which edition they used to play. LOL! Similar thing occurred with The Inmates cover of "Dirty Water" the "Q" had a promo version with local NC landmarks inserted in place of the London references The Inmates used on the main edition. Talks with folk from the industry of that era have left me convinced that the regional promo editions were never pressed but were most likely distributed to various radio stations around the country via reel to reel. Its absolutely nostalgia that makes me wish I could hear the localized version again...sigh...

  • 2024-02-15 11:34:43 PM

    Rashers wrote:

    Thanks Michael - when I saw this released I immediately clicked to order it until I saw that BG had done the mastering. Unfortunately his 2009 cut for Rhino/Atlantic is one of the most disappointing records that I have every bought - sonically very similar to the disastrous UHQR version of Pretzel Logic (I have hundreds of other BG cuts most of which sound amazing) and the cover is an awful cheap looking scan (it actually looks worse than a bootleg). So, I'm going to take a €100 punt on this version based on your review (I'm glad I didn't go all in for the ERC version but was tempted!).

  • 2024-02-16 11:51:58 PM

    It’s a trap wrote:

    Okay, to ask myself the question “which one is correct?”, well I dunno, but if I had to guess, it’s this one! Dear lord, I can’t find a fault on this, and I’ve listened for something amiss here, and it’s about as good as you’re going to find without having a first gen copy of the master tape. I’m just lucky enough in the roll of the cosmic dice to be able to listen and enjoy this particular work of art, with a nice system, in the confines of my home. What amazing timing we have found ourselves in where this renaissance of classics is finally getting the attention due. I have a few versions of this I picked up over the years, and those are going in the bin for friends to pick over. 45, small price to pay for getting me arse off the sofa every few songs. It arrived earlier this week but Friday afternoon sure seemed like a nice time to do an initial spin. Flat, dead quiet, and has that ‘swing’. Call it done.

  • 2024-02-17 11:08:02 PM

    John Roberts wrote:

    Some years ago, can't recall exactly when, I picked up a reissue with the Rhino Vinyl sticker on the outer sleeve. The first thing I noticed when listening was that the bass was very pronounced compared to my original copy from 1969. Although I wouldn't say it pops. After reading Michael's review I got it out and took a close look at it. This version was mastered by Bernie and pressed at Pallas. Another interesting feature, at least to me, is that it has "For Cass" etched in the dead wax on side one. Mark Roberts

  • 2024-02-22 12:57:39 AM

    Jeff 'Glotz' Glotzer wrote:

    AP Atlantic 75 vs. MoFi?? One song comparison- Wooden Ships. From completely matched-volume comparisons, side by side within 20 seconds of each other from MoFi to AP. The biggest most obvious differences, both in the right channel organ and cymbals throughout the song to the massed voices in the middle of the stage during the bridges, is the over-emphasis of treble and upper midrange content. The MoFi absolutely has waaaaay too much energy going on, resulting in center channel bleed and downright bright and screechy massed vocals. The massed vocals of the OneStep were seriously unlistenable-ly offensive on the ears. By the 2nd bridge I was literally thinking, something is very wrong here and the AP better show the same effects if I'm not out of my mind. The cymbal is hyped and a bit bright as is the very pitch of the slightly warmish organ. The two couldn't be more different. Sure enough, there was NONE of the brightness that the OneStep had- Zero. On AP, the slightly canned nature of the massed vocals never got outside of their lane for one iota of time. They sounded natural without any glassiness and each voice was self-effacingly beautiful. In fact, I was pretty low-key pissed off at this time and yet when the solo, center-channel Crosby's vocals kicked in at the end of the song, it was so good in its analog beauty I had total body frissons! Really that good. The main guitar figure in the center channel throughout the song is the anchor to the tune and the AP absolutely propelled the song along, while even trying to ignore it, it remained round, stronger and bouncier (of warm guitar tones). The fuller, physical, dimensional and more visceral guitar was totally missing in action with the MoFi, even though the volumes in room were effectively the same. In the MoFi, you had to listen harder for the the most obvious rhythm element that was always gently calling attention to itself in the AP. The bass as well was utterly natural and more apparent, while still totally connected to the instruments' elements as well with the AP. The drum on the left was together and still never sounded too big or fat. Despite a ton of ink about MoFi using 'smile curves' for their various products, in this case there was none of that whatsoever. The bass was so anemic and cardboardy that I again assumed it was the recording- until I put on the AP seconds later.

    • 2024-02-22 01:06:37 AM

      Jeff 'Glotz' Glotzer wrote:

      And just to set the 'bias' record straight, I have 50+ MoFi recordings and they range from great to really meh. This is a really meh one, especially for the price, here is one case where too much treble balance has ruined a great and expensive album. Perhaps the rest of the album sounds great in spots- I need more listening time on it. Perhaps the cutting was off, as Wooden Ships sounds like absolute crap.

      I just bought Bob Dylan's 'As Good As I Been To You" and I really like it. It's natural despite digital processing. So it's a crapshoot when it shouldn't be, and really don't find it that way with AP. PS- the pressing was concentric, absolutely noise-free and a bit of dish warp on the AP. The MoFi was flat, concentric and noise-free as well. Nonetheless, that stuff doesn't matter unless the source is right and treated well thereafter.