Impex has reissued Friday Night In San Francisco. As an audiophile double LP with 45 RPM and a new cover. How does it sound? We are thrilled!
Some background on Friday Night in San Francisco
The album Friday Night In San Francisco by Al di Meola, John McLaughlin and Paco de Lucia is considered the best-selling acoustic guitar album of all time. This is due to the sheer joy of playing of the three guitar experts, who spur each other on to ever new peak performances. Since all three are stylistically in quite different realms, the result is a mix of styles that surprises again and again. Except for the title “Guardian Angel”, all the recordings were made live at the Warfield Theatre in San Francisco on 5 December 1980. In stereo panorama, the three musicians were positioned far apart from each other: John McLaughlin in the middle, Paco de Lucia on the left, Al Di Meola on the right. Here, the audience is part of the show; again and again there are spontaneous storms of enthusiasm, laughs or heckling, which are loudly audibly emphasised in the mix. This reinforces the impression of being in the middle of the audience.
How good are the pressings from Philips and Impex?
The audiophile Impex is pressed on 180g vinyl. The discs are flat and correctly centred. No streaks are visible. Very similar to the Philips, but on 140g vinyl.
What else stands out in the comparison of the two pressings?
The cover of the Impex, made of thick cardboard with the reflective lettering, immediately appears to be of higher quality at first glance. Unfortunately, the matt black cardboard is prone to visible scratches and fingerprints.
How is Friday Night in San Francisco by Impex equipped?
For the inside of the gatefold cover made of heavy cardboard, the graphic designers have created a completely new design. The writing in metallic silver on the front and back looks extremely noble.
How good do the two pressings of Friday Night In San Francisco sound?
For the Impex: outstanding! In terms of dynamics, the 45s are a step up from my German first edition. Tone colours, stage and separation win in every respect.
And the Philips? I never had any problems with the sound of my original until I heard the Impex record. Note: The 45RPM record is naturally a bit louder. But even with the volume level adjusted, the Impex beats the Philips by a long way.
How do the level and frequency response of the Impex and Philips pressings differ?
As expected, the 45 RPM version of Impex has a noticeably higher level. In terms of dynamics, both versions are excellent. At the points marked with arrows, the Impex is slightly louder. If compression was used here, it was done with great care and without causing any damage. However, when cutting the Impex, the tape ran a tad faster. That’s why the applause starts about two seconds earlier than with the Philips (yellow arrow). On the running time of over 11 minutes, this is not much. Nevertheless, it is surprising that the technicians resorted to this trick.
However, further differences can be seen in the frequency spectrogram, which we therefore show here separately without the red graph for the levels. Here, the energy in the respective frequency range is shown in colours. The frequency can be read to the left of the colour scale: Bass below, treble above and everything else in between. Orange are the loudest frequencies, the darker the green, the quieter the respective frequency.
In the range between 10,000 and 16,000 hertz, the Impex has a little more to offer. This is also the reason why the sound is perceived as more brilliant. The Philips does everything right and sounds as it should. The Impex radiates and sparkles in the treble without neglecting the other frequency ranges.
Which pressing of Friday Night In San Francisco is better?
The Impex double LP is by no means cheap. But only with a few audiophile reissues is the difference in sound as clear as here. A clear recommendation to buy!
1. Mediterranean Sundance/Rio Ancho
Composers: Al Di Meola and Paco DeLucia
Performed by: Paco DeLucia and Al Di Meola
1. Short Tales of the Black Forest
Composer: Chick Corea
Performed by John McLaughlin and Al Di Meola
1. Frevo Rasgado
Composer: Egberto Gismonti
Performed by John McLaughlin and Paco DeLucia
1. Fantasia Suite
Composer: Al Di Meola
Performed by Paco DeLucia, John McLaughlin and Al Di Meola
2. Guardian Angel
Composer: John McLaughlin
Performed by Paco DeLucia, John McLaughlin, and Al Di Meola
|Artist||Al Di Meola, John McLaughlin, Paco De Lucia|
|Title||Friday Night in San Francisco|
|Mastered by||Chris Bellmann & Bob Donnelly at Bernie Grundman Mastering||Not specified|
|Matrix-Runout||IMP6031-45-B 31252.1 (3) IMP6031-45-B 31252.2 (3) IMP6031-45-B 31252.3 (3) IMP6031-45-B 31252.4 (3)||AA 6302 137.1Y|
AA 6302 137.2Y
|Country of manufacture||USA||Germany|