The format of choice is 45 rpm audiophile vinyl. While 45′s certainly inspire happy-days thoughts of the 1960s, these are different animals. Each album is pressed onto two discs of 200-gram vinyl. The obsessive remastering was done with tube technology.
Update of Oct. 15: The Hybrid SACDs were delayed. “The Doors” “Strange Days” are now due Dec. 4; “Waiting for the Sun” and “The Soft Parade” on Jan. 15 and “Morrison Hotel,” “L.A. Woman” on Feb. 12. The 45 rpm vinyl records of the Doors albums already are shipping. /update
Long-player 45′s of “L.A. Woman” and “Morrison Hotel” go on sale Sept. 3.
The Doors series SACDs retail for $30 and the 45′s go for $50. No telling how long the 45′s will stay in print, so that $50 might qualify as an investment. No doubt this one will: A $400 numbered box set of the 45′a limited to 2,500 copies.
These audiophile recordings come from audiophile label Analogue Productions, the highly respected reissue label of Acoustics Sounds.
People who aren’t audiophiles or retro loyalists can get in on the action: These hybrid SACDs work on conventional CD players (at CD specs). Some midpriced Blu-ray players handle the higher-fidelity SACD signals as well (check the manual). SACDs are sometimes billed as having audio four times as good as CDs.
While 45 RPM records certainly inspire happy-days thoughts of the 1960s, these are different animals. Why 45′s? The higher the speed the better the sound, basically. The albums come on 200-gram vinyl, the heavier weight allowing for ace sound quality. (Good quality albums weigh 180 grams these days.) There are two discs to each Doors album and the packaging is said to be first class.
Audio wizard Doug Sax (“Who’s Next”) used the original analog masters for the Doors project, with the exception of “The Doors,” which was made from the (best available) source, a tape copy. The revived albums are in two-channel stereo — the way most people heard them in the 1960s. The SACDs include a bonus 5.1 audio track, but that mix dates back a few years.
Analogue Productions says old-school audio tubes were used to transfer and cut the recordings. (Making-of video below.)
“Digital was just a word,” says Doors audio engineer Bruce Botnik, who “oversaw” the Analogue Productions releases. “The tubes were glowing and lit up the control room.”
Botnik says that with one exception, all sounds heard on the Doors’ recordings were made by the Doors. Effects of time time such as fuzz boxes weren’t employed. The Doors “created the sounds organically.” (Read more about Botnik and the Doors in the studio.)
My Vinyl Review critiqued the 45 RPMs of the first two Doors albums. It found the speedy version of “Strange Days” “as good as an audiophile reissue can get.” There was a “quiet, ultra-dynamic pressing” with “nary a pop or tic.” The reviewer went back to the original Monarch pressings of the albums for A-B testing, and the 45′s held their own. (Monarch records are highly regarded, and these sourced the original masters.)
Apparently these are the first Hybrid Multichannel SACDs of the classic Doors albums to be issued in the U.S. (A lowly regarded hybrid of “The Doors” came out in Japan last year.)
Acoustic Sounds’ sales charts show the newly released 45′s of “The Doors” and “Strange Days” as its top two selling titles in any audio format. (If you’ve read this far and are unfamiliar with Analog/Acoustic Sounds, check out their massive audiophile records site, which includes a jaw-dropping number of vintage jazz titles.)
Three of the five bestsellers on Analogue’s SACD sale chart are psychedelic titles (as of Aug. 6): Pink Floyd’s “Wish You Were Here” continues to pace Analogue’s SACD sales, currently No. 2 in the format (No. 5) overall. An older 5.1 version of “The Dark Side of the Moon” holds steady at No. 3. The Doors “Infinity” box set ranks fourth as a preorder ($280)
While this appears to be the most ambitious overhaul, the Doors catalog hasn’t hurt for attention in the CD era. Rhino rereleased the six studio titles on 12-inch vinyl in fall 2012 (180 gram).
A 40th anniversary six-disc box set, “Perception,” came out in 2006. It is out of print and goes for about $200 on Amazon.
Related content: L.A. theater group to mash up the Doors and Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.