Two LPs from MA Recordings that I Brought Home from the LA Audio Show

I promised myself and Becky that I could go to one audio show and not leave with a suitcase full of LPs. Good news, I pulled it off. I only brought home two LPs from the LA Audio Show.

Both of these LPs are from MA Recordings, a company that is well known in the audiophile world for their high-quality digital recordings. I know some people often ask why one would purchase a digital recording on vinyl. For me, it’s simple.  My vinyl rig is vastly superior to my digital system. Still, while here I’m reviewing the LPs, they are also available from MA Recordings as the wonderful-sounding digital recordings that I listened to at the LA show.

Sera una Noche

45rpm 180gm EP
24Bit/96kHz WAV file


I’ve been looking for this tango music on vinyl for a while, and this new version is a 45rpm, 180 gm disc that presents three of the best tracks from the first 96kHz recording of Sera una Noche. It was cut to lacquer by Len Horowitz on a 1950 Scully cutting lathe with a Westrex cutting head. On side A, the LP contains on two versions of Gardel’s “Malena,” the first version is with Pedro Aznar performing the vocal parts, and the second is a haunting original instrumental track. Side B presents a mesmerizing performance of “Nublado”.

This was MA’s first release of a tango album, and Será Una Noche was a great choice, though it is more than a normal tango record. This album was conceived by Argentine percussionist, Santiago Vazquez, and MA producer, Todd Garfinkle, It was recorded in a small church about 150 kilometers from Buenos Aires in June of 1998. According to information on MA’s site, the thought process for the album began with Santiago hearing MA’s Luz Destino. “Santiago first thought to do something similar with tango, using harpsichord, etc, but later developed his concept to be more contemporary improvisation-oriented, but with a strong emphasis on Argentine folkloric elements as well.” The results are this LP with famous pop artist Pedro Aznar singing some of the most famous Tangos ever.

I first heard this LP (I don’t know what issue it was) a few years ago when David Cope played it for me in the Audio Note Room at a show. I took a picture of the album and forgot it. Then, at this year’s LA Audio Show I saw it and thought, “Oh, I’ve got to get that.” Well, I’m so glad I did; my only regret is that MA didn’t make it a double LP and put the whole recording out. The music and the sound are both remarkable. The LP is dead quiet, and the sound is so realistic. I have lots of good sounding LPs, what sets this one apart is the combination of great music and a great performance that is full of soul and emotions. Come on MA Recordings, give us the whole thing on LP!

Ito Ema

Anniversary Edition 180gm EP
Hi-Rex 24bit/176 kHz
WAV file DVD

The other MA Recording LP I picked up at the show I was not previously aware of, but when I listened to the high-rez recording over headphones, I knew I had to buy it. The engineer for this recording was Todd Garfinkle, and it was mastered by Bernie Grundman. It was pressed on HQ-180 virgin vinyl from a half-inch analog tape recording made with two B&K 4006 omnidirectional microphones.

I’m not an expert on classical music, but I love Bach. I have Gould’s recordings of this beautiful music, but they come across as more technically correct compared to the pure beauty of this recording. The pianist is Ito Ema, and she brings us a masterfully, beautiful performance and interpretation on her own 1903 Steinway D concert grand piano recorded at Harmony Hall in Matsumoto, Japan. There is an elegance to the performance that is beguiling. I have listened to it for a couple of days each week since the show, and I just don’t seem to be able to get enough of it.

This is about as good as a recording of a piano gets. It sounds as if I am sitting near it in a hall, not as if it is being squeezed into my room. I very much appreciate that they recorded it both digitally using custom titanium capsule microphones, and they also recorded it onto 1/2-inch analog tape with the B&K 4006 omnidirectional microphones. So, there is a CD version from the digital recording and also a high-rez version available as a 24bit/176.4kHz transfer off the analog tape. This is a recording I highly recommend!