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Kind Of Blue Gets The UHQR Treatment: Exit To Vintage Street

25,000 vinyl reissues already sold? The ‘Kind Of Blue’ UHQR album pressing is already sold out. Our thoughts on the record repress.

Kind of Blue UHQR Album

Back in May of 2021, the announcement came. A new audiophile reissue of Miles Davis’ Kind Of Blue, the top selling jazz album of all time, released by Analogue Productions on Ultra High Quality Record (UHQR) Clarity Vinyl©, pressed at 33 1/3 rpm with a run of 25,000 numbered copies.

Miles Davis Kind of Blue UHQR Album Annoucement
UHQR Announcement: You read it here!

Intrigued, I scoured announcements for more information. Like many, Kind Of Blue was my entry point to Jazz music, and I’m always in search of better pressings. At announcement time I had four copies of the album – a 1981 Japanese pressing, the 2010 stereo pressing (mastered by Kevin Gray), the 2013 mono pressing (mastered by Ryan Smith), and the 2010 Music On Vinyl pressing with bonus tracks (Hi-Res digital source) – and was on the hunt for the MoFi double 45 rpm audiophile release.

Did we need a new KOB release? Look up the title on Discogs and you’ll see there are 452 different versions of the album, with 264 on vinyl. What was so special about this one?

Kind of Blue Versions on Discogs
Versions: Yes, there are 452 versions of Kind Of Blue on Discogs.

First was a timing issue. It’s not 100% clear to me which of the stereo versions have it and which don’t, but it seems the 3-track master recorder speed was off when the first session (Side A) was put to tape, meaning “So What,” “Freddie Freeloader” and “Blue in Green” played back just a touch sharp. Bernie Grundman’s remaster for Classic Records in 1995 rectified the issue, and the Kind Of Blue UHQR is pressed from the same masters.

I made a mental note to track down a Classic Records reissue. 

Second was the pressing. Clarity Vinyl© is formulated without carbon black additives (which contain trace metals that reportedly magnetize during playback and smear the audio). In addition, regular vinyl records have a very slight uphill slant from outer edge to centre, while UHQR pressings are perfectly flat. And the Kind Of Blue UHQR is pressed (on a Finebilt press) and inspected manually. In theory, this pressing should sound much better than others.

Kind of Blue Flat Vinyl
Flat Vinyl: No uphill battles for your cartridge.

I wondered whether I’d be able to hear these differences. Wouldn’t say I have golden ears, but it all sounded impressive.

Third was the packaging. Full-colour, tip-on, Stoughton gatefold jacket inside a textured slip-case and leatherette box with gold-foil stamp numbering. Multiple inserts including a technical spec manual, booklet on the making for the album, and certificate of authenticity. Luxurious is an understatement.

I wasn’t sure all the bells and whistles were necessary. Certainly they added justification for the $100 price tag, and provided lots to play with before, during and after listening, but the record is the important thing to me.

So did I order it right away? I did not.

Kind of Blue at MoFi
MoFi: Tracked one down

Soon after the announcement, I tracked down a MoFi pressing of Kind Of Blue and was impressed. A short time later, I also obtained a 2002 Classic Records repress. Was very happy with the sounds of both, though arrival of the MoFi coincided with a decision that double 45s are not my cup of tea; sure, they sound marginally better, but the constant flipping of records interferes with the listening experience and enjoyment of the music.

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In truth, I also preferred the sound of the Classic Records pressing over the MoFi. A bit more dynamic and engaging in a head-to-head comparison.

Kind of Blue from Classic Records
Classic Records: Best sounding reissue so far, and less flipping!

Then came delays for the Kind of Blue UHQR pressing. Common story during the pandemic. The first round of a few thousand direct Acoustic Sounds orders were filled, and then everything got put on hold. Retailers were told they would have to wait for their orders to arrive. FOMO was setting in, and I was now contemplating purchasing the UHQR. I was really loving the Classic Records reissue, and if the UHQR was better…

I’m a marketer’s wet dream.

To be safe I ordered the UHQR from two different places, just to have placeholders if I did decide to pull the trigger on this release (on top of my now six different versions) and knowing I had time to decide.

Six Kind of Blue Album Reissues
Six reissues and counting: Let’s go for lucky number seven?

December came and I received notification that deliveries would soon be coming. Reviews from folks who received copies earlier in the year were extremely positive – best pressing by far – and I decided to go in on both orders (play copy and spare). Paid my money and…

Last week, arrival of copy one. Monday copy two.

Miles Davis Kind of Blue UHQR Album
Open Sesame: Let’s have a look at what’s inside!

As expected, the packaging and contents are extremely well done. Everything looks and feels just right. Very impressive. If I had a complaint it’s that the presentation box is too big and bulky, but that would be nitpicking. I’m going to store the album in its Stoughton gatefold jacket, and keep the box and add-on literature separately on a bookshelf.

Miles Davis Kind of Blue Album Contents
All the goodies: That should keep listeners occupied.

On the turntable, my play copy (#019730) is dead silent; no pops or crackles anywhere (I’ve heard some of the low-number early pressings had noise issues). Throw around all the audiophile words like dynamics, detail, clarity, imaging, separation, and everything is there in spades.

Bass is full and sound of the instruments is spot on, especially the brass. You really do feel like you’re in the recording studio with the band; the realism of the room is that stark. I’ve heard the UHQR called the “apex release,” and can confirm this to be true. It is, simply put, a stunning record.

Clarity Vinyl
Clarity Vinyl©: No trace metals in there.

Out of curiosity, I checked the Acoustic Sounds website to see if it’s still possible to order the Kind Of Blue UHQR. Release information is still there, but the site lists availability as “Sold Out.” 25,000 is a lot of copies, but demand was obviously high for this one. So what do you do if you missed out?

Kind of Blue UHQR Album Sleeve Stickers
AP Sleeve Stickers: So you know what’s

If you already have a copy of the album in some form, you’re fine. You may want an improved copy, but any release is a good release (other than perhaps a European Public Domain release).

Miles Davis Kind of Blue UHQR Album in Stack of Records
File under brilliant: If it’s not there already, you need this in your life.

If you don’t have a copy of Kind Of Blue yet, you owe it to yourself to get one ASAP; the 2010 stereo and 2013 mono reissues are both readily available and very satisfying listens. The MoFi is a step up sound-wise, and gets periodic repressings, so you can keep your eyes open for a copy of that one.

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Miles Davis Kind of Blue Get Any Album
Just get a copy: Any Kind Of Blue Album release is worth getting.

If you’d like a Classic Records reissue, there are 12 different versions, 5 of them test pressings, listed on Discogs. You have a choice of single 33 1/3 rpm album (on 180 or 200 gram vinyl), double 33 1/3 rpm (with both original- and corrected-speed Session-1, and an alternative take of Flamenco Sketches), or 4-disc single-sided 45 rpm (top quality and flip-heavy). At last check I counted 42 non-test-pressing copies for sale.

Spinning the UHQR Album Kind of Blue
Spinning the UHQR: It’s never sounded better!

If you really must have the UHQR, at time of writing there were 83 copies – mostly mint, some near-mint – of this release available on Discogs at somewhat inflated prices. You can go with one of those, or you can wait as rumor is there is a double 45 rpm UHQR release in the pipeline.

Playing the UHQR Kind of Blue Album
And spin it some more: Never gets tired.

No matter which option you choose, have fun spinning Kind Of Blue. It’s not the best-selling Jazz album in history for nothing!

UHQR Kind of Blue 25,000 Albums Sold
Best Seller: And you can add another 25,000 in sales from this release.

Where to buy: Discogs | Amazon

Read more Exit to Vintage Street columns

Follow Eric @audioloveyyc on Instagram

11 Comments

11 Comments

  1. Chris Baus

    January 17, 2022 at 2:26 pm

    Personally I regret paying the price I did for this one and encouraging insane prices on vinyl. The Acoustic Sounds Series of Love Supreme is like $35 and sounds just as good as this release. I’d rather they simplified the packaging and brought it in under $50

    • Ian White

      January 17, 2022 at 2:37 pm

      Chris,

      I could see paying $100 for a box set with 2-3 albums and all of the extra documentation but $100 for one record is not something I would personally spend.

      I have the MoFi version which sounds good enough to me.

      Ian White

      • Curtis Waterbury

        January 17, 2022 at 4:11 pm

        Yeah, my thoughts exactly. I have the MoFi release and I really can’t believe I would be able to hear much of a difference between that and the UHQR version (though I’m very intrigued).

        • Eric Pye

          January 17, 2022 at 4:36 pm

          Hi Curtis,
          I was surprised at how much difference I did hear. As mentioned in the article, the MoFi is really good, but I prefer the Classic Records and now UHQR releases. That said, if you’re just listening and not comparing head-to-head, the MoFi is also a fantastic pressing.
          Eric

    • Eric Pye

      January 17, 2022 at 4:32 pm

      Hey Chris,
      Yeah, I’d have been happy with just the record, gatefold and booklet at half the price, not just because of the hit on finances but also the hit on environmental footprint. Nonetheless, when I put the UHQR on the turntable, I’m all smiles.
      Eric

      • Steven Denfeld

        January 25, 2022 at 6:15 pm

        The price, while not completely insane, was just enough to keep me from pulling the trigger. I am a sucker for neat packaging but knowing I could find a Classic Records release and have 90-95% of the sound quality keeps me from any hard FOMO feelings. Plus, Qobuz has an awfully nice 192kHz stream for that extra bit of sumptuous tonal purity if I find I am missing it on wax.

        • Ian White

          January 25, 2022 at 6:31 pm

          Steven/Eric,

          I think the $100 asking price is kinda nuts the more that I think about it. I have the MoFi version and it’s good enough for me.

          I paid $100 for a Beastie Boys vinyl box set that was definitely worth it. I listened to it for 4 years and sold it for a profit.

          Used the money to buy 4 Tone Poet albums last year.

          Ian White

          • Steven Denfeld

            January 25, 2022 at 10:01 pm

            There is a pretty wide gulf between us and those who buy copies of this and the One-Steps just to leave them on their shelves, sealed and unlistened to.

          • Ian White

            January 25, 2022 at 10:39 pm

            Steven,

            I know plenty of people like that.

            My wife bristles when I buy new movies but I’ve watched every single film (almost 4,000) at least 2-3 times so far.

            I don’t buy to own and hoard. I buy to listen and to watch.

            Ian White

          • Eric Pye

            March 26, 2022 at 7:03 pm

            Agreed. Whatever I purchase is opened immediately.

            My second copy of the KOB UHQR was to be a back-up, and not to be sold. Then a friend in Calgary offered me a trade as he was desperate for a copy and missed out on retail copies. Reluctantly did the deal, made said friend happy (he also opened his immediately), and all is well with the world.

        • Eric Pye

          March 26, 2022 at 7:01 pm

          Sadly the Classic has gone up in price since the UHQR came out, to the point where there’s not much difference price-wise. It is a very good pressing!

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