Ok, here goes. My observations of the Americas. First off, I'd like to say that I am not a professional reviewer so please do not expect this to be what you may have come to expect in a review. I'm simply stating the observations I had during the last two full listening sessions. For full disclosure, I have the Americas
in CD form and you can check out my profile for my gear used to offer my observations. I have listened to this recording now both at low listening levels [slightly above normal talking levels] and at loud levels [proper reproductive performance levels, as if the musicians were actually performing in my room, unamplified].
I really don't know where to begin, so I'll just begin with the two things that stuck out and immediately impressed me. First thing I noticed was depth perception and information that was not expected. I can't place a measuring tape on an image but I can say that the drums were easily portrayed as being what I would estimate as in between 9' to 14' back from the front plane of the speakers, with all other instruments placed closer to the listener but each with their own specific locational cues.
The second thing that immediately impressed me was during the playback of all of the cymbals. The naturalness, realism, impact, shimmer and natural decay were such a refreshment to listen too compared to a recording made with today's normal recording technology, compression and apparent microphone placement techniques. It was rather easy to locate the various locations of all of the different drums, cymbals and other instruments the drummer was using. From the larger cymbals down to the high hat, the shimmer just kept going and I noticed that unless they just rolled off naturally, the only way they stopped was if the drummer wanted them to stop. Much like one would experience in a live performance and not the all too familiar "tst, tst, tst" found in many of today's recordings.
Last night, I summed this recording up as dynamic, quiet, revealing and refreshing. Now that I have bit more time, I'll clarify a bit more on these. The entire recording can be set at one level and enjoyed throughout the performances. The dynamics are well done and you can still hear all of the information at low volume passages as well as when the passages get a little busy with no sign of congestion, loss or change of sound stage or a blending of the instruments.
When I had mentioned that it was quiet, I wasn't kidding. Now, granted, it's been hot in the Carolinas the past two days and my A/C was running during both listening sessions. Please keep this in mind when I say this. In between the songs, you normally hear a tape hiss when the music begins or ends. I did not hear anything of this nature with the exception of maybe once at the end of a song. For example, the introduction into song #8 [which begins with the piano] had absolutely no detectable hiss or noise whatsoever. It just lead from straight silence into music being played from the piano.
There are many aspects of this recording that are revealing. The bass, though un-amplified, was full and consistent throughout the frequency spectrum and Barry had mentioned this earlier on in the thread...
Originally Posted by bdiament
...well, he achieved it. I was also clearly able to tell when the strings were pulled hard enough to make a particular sound that isn't quite musical [to me] but may well have been intended by the artists. Who am I to say? I'm not a musician. The point is that I could easily pick up on the crystal clear reproduction of this sound and quite honestly, it sounded more like a real instrument because you could pick out things like this. Another thing that was a pleasant surprise was the reproductive end result of the drummer hitting the rim of the tom drum [or similar type drum]. It was as if you could hear the impact of the rim along with the associated sounds the drum makes after the initial strike of the rim.
Basically, this recording is one of those recordings made me very proud of the performance my rig *can* have. Yes, I do have other recordings that are around the same level of recording as this album but admittedly, they are far and few between when collectively looking at my music library. One thing that I thought of while listening last night was that the recording quality reminded me of my XRCD of "Jazz at the Pawnshop". I thought the same thing today as I was listening and instead of relying on aural memory, I decided to go get it and play it immediately after my second session with this recording. It appears that my aural memory is still spot on because if you lose the crowd, waitresses, clanging glasses and all of the other activity, the recording quality is eerily similar. Very refreshing, to say the least.
Alright, enough of my observations. On to my preferences. I really dig song 5 and 8. Song 5 reminds me of something that you would hear in a comedy type movie as this is playing along to the scenes, adding to the moment of the movie. Song 8, I just really like that song. Part of what I like most about it [besides the music itself] is that beautiful piano. Again, this is just a preference but in this song [along with the rest of the album] the piano is as an actual instrument taking up physical space on the sound stage, along with the other instruments and not like it was an effect or an added instrument added in or recorded inside the instrument.