So, I ordered directly from AF and got a numbered edition of #0311. More expensive than other sites 9with shipping) but I received what I ordered and received it quickly! Thanks AF!
I sat down and listened to the whole SACD layer through my recently modified Denon DVD-5910 player to output DSD directly to my DAC. I will first off state that I suggested to Steve Hoffman at the Hoffman Forum site that he "tame" the high end of this master as IMO, the high end is very over-exaggerated along with the middle and upper midrange being somewhat weak and de-emphisized. I assumed it was due to the recording itself. Steve did not take my suggestion and it sounds to me that it was matered without manipulating the EQ at all. In "normal" circumstances I would say "bravo", but in the case of this master, the high end is way too exaggerated and the midrange is still too weak. On a positive note, the low end on this master seems to be extended more than other masterings I've heard. I have a picture below of the different CD masterings I own. That is: 1) The original West German (non-remastered) CD 2) The original remastering done in Japan in 1992 3) The second remastering in Japan or "Mini-LP" version 4) The Rhino remaster done in the USA in 2004 5) and finally this AF hybrid SACD
The AF SACD is definately the best mastering of them all with the soundstage width and depth standing out as the best in the mastering. Unfortuanately, the (as stated before) the high end is too exaggerated and midrange is lacking in this mastering (as a result of the recording itself). This was recorded in Montreaux, Switzerland at "Mountain Air" studios. That's kind of the way the master sounds; kind of airy and exaggerated in the high end. The best sounding song overall is "Awaken" (which arguably is the best song on the album). I did notice the dynamics are better on this mastering compared to other masterings.
I still wouldlike to compare a direct CD to CD comparison on my Theta Jade to get a true mastering comparison. I will do that in the next few days. Overall, this CD/SACD is mastered well, but the recoding itself is somewhat poor for the reasons I stated above. It doesn't sound as good as "Close To The Edge", but it is the best sounding mastering (at least the SACD layer) of the bunch shown in the picture. I'll report back after I do a direct CD to CD comparison.