Patti Smith – Horses (Speakers Corner vs. Arista)

Patti Smith’s debut album Horses from 1975 is considered by many critics to be one of the best albums of all time. We compared two 180g reissues from Speakers Corner and Arista.

Patti Smith - Horses, Speakers Corner, 2018
Patti Smith – Horses, Speakers Corner, 2018
Patti Smith - Horses, Arista, 2007
Patti Smith – Horses, Arista, 2007

Some background information on Patti Smith – Horses

When I discovered Patti Smith and her debut album Horses at the end of the 70s, I was immediately fascinated and that hasn’t changed until today. Horses from 1975 is rightly considered one of the best debut albums of all time. Rolling Stone, NME, Guardian and Time magazines all list Horses among the top 100 albums of all time. Certainly Horses was an extremely influential album. Generations of indie bands took their cue from the sound of the later Patti Smith Group. The mixture of ambitious lyricism accompanied by hard, no-frills rock music paved the way for singers like Chrissie Hynde (Pretenders), Courtney Love (Hole) or PJ Harvey.

How good are the pressings for Horses from Speaker’s Corner and Arista?

For both: flat, no streaks, 180g vinyl. No pressing defects visible.

What else stands out when comparing the two editions of Patti Smith – Horses?

The iconic cover photo by Robert Mapplethorpe is printed sharply on the cover of Speaker’s Corner, but the contrast is a bit poor. Arista shows how it can be done better: more contrast is good for the black and white image on the cover. The hands and the face are clearly visible.

How does the equipment of the two editions of Patti Smith – Horses differ?

Speaker’s Corner uses medium-weight cardboard for the cover, Arista leaves it at normal cardboard. Both pressings come in the original single sleeve.

How well do the Speaker’s Corner and Arista pressings sound in comparison?

The Arista is characterised by a low background noise and good dynamics in the quiet passages. The only criticism: Patti’s voice sounds too nasal and slightly annoying in places, but worse are the sibilants on page 2 (e.g. Kimberly or Land).

In contrast, the Speaker’s Corner does not show any weakness in audiophile terms: no background noise, powerful, great dynamics. The voice is not annoying. Minimal more bass. The improvements compared to the 2007 version are subtle but successful. Very similar to the Speaker’s Corner version of Transformer – Lou Reed, for example.

How do the levels and frequency response of the Speaker’s Corner and Arista pressings differ?

Frequency spectrogram (background) and waveform diagram (red graph) for Gloria
Frequency spectrogram (background) and waveform diagram (red graph) for Gloria

The waveform (red) of the two versions is like two peas in a pod. Differences in dynamics or level have to be searched for with a magnifying glass. The frequency spectrogram (coloured areas in the background) also gives no indication of fundamental differences. The increasing intensity of the piece is nicely recognisable in both.

Which pressing of Patti Smith – Horses is better?

The differences between the 2018 and the 2007 reissue are not very big on side 1. On side 2, however, there is a lot of sibilance. The Arista version only has the higher-contrast photo on the plus side. In terms of sound, the audiophile Speakers Corner is clearly ahead, at least on side 2, and is therefore worth every penny.

Patti Smith - Horses: The cover photo of Robert Mapplethorpe is a little pale in the Speakers Corner version.
The cover photo of Robert Mapplethorpe is a little pale in the Speakers Corner version.
In comparison to the cover, the difference is not as noticeable on the back.
In comparison to the cover, the difference is not as noticeable on the back.
The groove profile hardly differs on side 1...
The groove profile hardly differs on side 1…
On side 2, Speakers Corner has a much larger deadwax section.
On side 2, Speakers Corner has a much larger deadwax section.
Patti Smith - Horses: Especially on the hands or the face, you can clearly see how much more contrast the Arista cover offers.
Especially on the hands or the face, you can clearly see how much more contrast the Arista cover offers.
Nevertheless, it lacks depth and contrast. By the way: 2007 and no barcode.
Nevertheless, it lacks depth and contrast. By the way: 2007 and no barcode.
... both use the space about the same..
… both use the space about the same..
Although the Arista leaves more space between the grooves and thus would have more headroom, there are disturbing sibilants on side 2.
Although the Arista leaves more space between the grooves and thus would have more headroom, there are disturbing sibilants on side 2.
ArtistPatti Smith
TitleHorses
LabelSpeakers CornerArista
Released20182007
Catalogue numberAL 4066201 112
Format12“12“
Revolutions/minute33 1/333 1/3
TypeAlbumAlbum
CoverSingle SleeveSingle Sleeve
Add-onsLabel Folderkeine
Mastered by  Not specifiedNot specified
Pressing plantPallasNot specified
Matrix-RunoutAL 4066-A -13076- AL 4066-B -13076-B797464-01 A1 886971597219 B797464-01 B1 886971597219
Edition/Limitation
Consecutive number
Country of manufactureEuropeEurope

2 comments

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