Upstairs At Eric’s, the debut album by Yazoo has now been released in a noble edition by Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab. Does it really sound better?
Some background on Yazoo – Upstairs At Eric’s
After leaving Depeche Mode, Vince Clarke remembered his school friend Alison Moyet. Clake had already written most of the songs for Depeche Mode. Only You, for example, is said to have been rejected by his former bandmates – for Yazoo it was the first big hit. The combination of Clake’s cool synth sounds and Moyet’s soulful voice was still quite unheard of in 1982. Yazoo’s debut album is full of pop gems that are still fun to listen to almost forty years later. Yazoo unfortunately only lasted for two albums. Clake continued the concept with Erasure, this time with the male voice of Andy Bell. Alison Moyet still had some success as a solo artist. For my taste, neither Clarke nor Moyet ever reached the class of Upstairs At Eric’s again.
What else stands out about Upstairs At Eric’s by Yazoo?
For the US market, Yazoo was renamed “Yaz”, which was also retained on the cover of MoFi. Situation on side two – released in Europe only as the B-side of the single Only You – was a hit single in the US. Therefore, Situation unceremoniously replaced the track Tuesday in the US version of the album, which follows Goodbye 70s on side two in the European version.
How is Yazoo – Upstairs At Eric’s equipped?
As always with Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab, the vinyl from Yazoo comes in a high-quality inner sleeve made of rice paper and an additional cardboard sleeve. While the song lyrics were included on the designed inner sleeve in 1982, MoFi buyers have to do without them today.
How good does Yazoo – Upstairs At Eric’s by MoFi sound compared to the original?
The Yazoo pressing from 1982 is quite hot mastered. It has a very good width and depth gradation. Again, an Italian pressing that is better than its reputation.
In contrast, the MoFi shows its audiophile qualities a little less loudly, but seems a little livelier than the comparative pressing when the level is adjusted.
How do the level and frequency response of the MoFi and Mute pressings differ?
As in the listening test, the waveform for Don’t Go does not show any serious differences. The Italian pressing of Upstairs At Eric’s is slightly more compressed and limited, which can be seen from the fact that more level peaks hit an imaginary straight line and therefore create a denser pattern. This picture is created when a compressor/limiter is used, which cuts off the level peaks and thus enables a slightly higher loudness. In comparison, MoFi cuts off fewer peaks. Fine volume differences are therefore reproduced faithfully to the recording. From an audiophile point of view, this is an advantage. In addition, the intro (arrows) was distorted louder for the Italian mute.
The waveform for Only You looks similar. Here, the higher level of the mute is especially noticeable in the first third of the song or shortly before the final chorus (arrows).
The waveform for Midnight again shows the stronger compression of the Mute. The level peaks in the upper diagram create a line as if drawn with a ruler. In contrast, the peaks of the MoFi are of different lengths. They reflect the natural differences in volume. Heard in the background, the Mute will come through better. Audiophiles appreciate these nuances, which only play a role during concentrated listening.
How does the loudness of the pressings differ between Mute and Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab?
The loudness measurement with the Youlean Loudness Meter showed a value of -22.5 LUFS integrated for side 1 of the Mute, the MoFi is at -24.7 LUFS integrated. Both values are not bad from an audiophile point of view. The dynamic range of the Mofi is somewhat larger than that of the Mute, especially with the last two songs on side 1, i.e. Midnight and In My Room. This can be seen in the larger green areas.
The difference in the loudness measurement on side 2 is more pronounced. For the Mute we measured a loudness of -22.3 LUFS integrated, for the MoFi – 25.4 LUFS integrated. This means that the Mute is on average 3.1 dB louder. In the diagram for the MoFi (below), the green areas with the wide dynamic corridor predominate, while the dynamics of this corridor are much narrower for the Mute.
How do the frequency spectra of the two pressings of Upstairs at Eric’s differ?
The spectrogram also shows differences, albeit manageable ones. We had to look closely to see that the MoFi’s excursions in the high frequencies above about 14,000 Hertz are somewhat longer and stronger than those of the Mute.
This does not change with other titles. As a representative example, we show the spectrogram for Midnight and again we see somewhat stronger fluctuations in the highs with the MoFi.
Spectrograms with a linear scaling fan out the high frequency ranges, differences in the bass range, on the other hand, are rather difficult to see. These show up with a logarithmic scaling as in this spectrogram for Midnight. Here we see larger purple areas in the diagram for the mute. In principle, this indicates a stronger bass component. But since the Mute is more compressed and louder than the MoFi, the difference in level must also be taken into account. We can’t prove it, but in the listening test at the same level, the MoFi didn’t seem weak in the bass at all. We just had to turn it up a bit.
Which version of Yazoo – Upstairs At Eric’s is better?
The original master tape of Upstairs At Eric’s was apparently not available, so MoFi released his Yazoo reissue on the Silver Label. MoFi did not use additional sum compression for his pressing when the lacquer was cut. Most likely, we hear the master tape exactly as it came out of the recording studio after the mix. With a little more natural dynamics, a slightly lower average level, a few more highs and less loudness.
The Mute is far from being over-compressed. But the MoFi conveys exactly what one expects from an audiophile reissue. Daniel Delfitto only intervened very cautiously in the original material. The differences remain manageable, but are good for the whole thing. From an audiophile point of view, the MoFi wins the race.
- Don’t Go
- Too Pieces
- Bad Connection
- I Before E Except After C
- In My Room
- Only You
- Goodbye 70s
- Situation (bzw. Tuesday)
- Winter Kills
- Bring Your Love Down (Didn’t I)
|Title||Upstairs At Eric‘s|
|Label||Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab||MUTE|
|Catalogue number||MOFI 1-020||MUT 20326|
|Revolutions/Minute||33 1/3||33 1/3|
|Cover||Single Sleeve||Single Sleeve|
|Add-ons||Stiffener||Gestaltete Innenhülle mit Lyrics|
|Mastered by||not specified||Daniel Delfitto|
|Matrix-Runout||MOFI 1-020-A4 20377.1(3).. PS@MOFI MOFI 1-020-B3 20319.2(3).. PS@MOFI||71 MUT 20326 -1 L [CGD logo] DD 10-9-82 71 MUT 20326 -2 L [CGD logo] DD 10-9-82|