Download(s) of the Week: Crosby, Stills & Nash

No modern rock library is complete without the CSN catalog and in particular the first album. Arguably the most important CSN records (without Young) are Crosby, Stills & Nash (1969), CSN (1977), and Daylight Again (1982), all of which are now available from HDTracks as high-resolution downloads.

I've compared the new HD Remasters to their CD brothers and in particular the first album to several different issues, audiophile (Steve Hoffman Gold CD) and otherwise. Though Barry Diament and Joe Gastwirt also did a wonderful job mastering the original CDs there is no doubt that the HDTracks versions are the ones to have.

All three HD albums are a bit louder than their CD counterparts, though the implied trade-off in dynamics is not detrimental in my opinion. The sound is overall punchier with richer, tighter bass (the bottom end on "Long Time Gone" will ruffle your skirt or pant legs) and a supple layering of voices and guitars. Added detail is apparent everywhere and the music is more immediate and tactile than on CD. Though the first album may sound a bit rough by today's standards, this is still the clearest and most natural sounding transfer I've heard to date. All together, these are a no-brainer, and will be the versions I listen to from now on.

Jon Iverson

jazz and cocktails's picture

how does the 1st album download compare to the 180g LP:


i've heard the latter, and wasn't particularly impressed, at least on my setup (Rega RP1).

firedog55's picture

Bought it. Regret the purchase. Moderately heavy volume compression added to the master (Why do they do this to hi-res "audiophile" versions?) IMO made the album sound fatiguing after a few tunes.

I also have the Gold CD (Steve Hoffman) that came out last year. No added volume compression, and sounds much better IMO, even though it is standard Redbook. 

deckeda's picture
deckeda's picture

I've listened back-and-forth to several digital versons of their 1969 debut title today. So much so that I'm now wondering if maybe I do have hidden "roaches" somewhere.*

Compared to the '93/'94 CD versions and last year's Audio Fidelity attempt, the better-defined bass in the hi res download is easy to spot. Although not quite as prominent on the original LP *, the vinyl matches it for bass depth and definition however. 

The hi res download is a good release. Nice and smooth like the LP and both let you hear what's happening "into" the music, which none of the CD versions do to the same extent. I'm starting to come around to it, however the dynamic restrictions make it unecessarily flat and lifeless. What modern day labels fail to grasp is that the music's basic details become needlessly and carelessly obscured when the volume of everything is more or less the same.

Of the CDs I strongly prefer the Atlantic '93/'94 (the '93 gold disk is rare/pricey, the '94 silver disk is identical/cheaper) but I've never heard Barry Diament's 1980s original. I do not care for last year's Audio Fidelity. Being somewhat more dynamic they are more lively and engaging compared to the hi res download but you may tire of listening to them. Glass half empty/half full.


* Kids, Just Say No

** I listened to everything above through the same digital chain; the LP I "heard" was a ripped copy I down-sampled to 24/48.