The "Casino Royale" soundtrack is an audiophile's delight

beatcomber

Member
Thread Starter
I've read much about how the "Casino Royale" soundtrack is a favorite of audiophiles for its unusually good sound, so I finally decided to track down a copy of the coveted RCA Indianapolis pressing on Colgems with a 3S suffix in the deadwax. My hifi is better than average (my speakers are worth more than many pay for their entire systems), and the involvement of Dusty, Herb and Burt made it irresistible. Fortunately prices have gone down from 30 years ago, when hifi nuts were shelling out hundreds for a copy, and scored on eBay a VG+ copy still in the shrink for about $20.

I gotta say, all of the audiophile buzz is justified. The dynamics are extraordinary (apparently little or no compression or limiting was utilized), the frequency extension is unusually broad for a 1967 vinyl-cutting, and the imaging is absolutely holographic, particularly Dusty's vocal (as often noted).

I know that the album has been re-released on CD, and while I haven't heard it, my understanding is that the sonics are not on par with the 1967 LP.

On top of all that, for an A&M fan, the music is a lot of fun!
 

GDB2LV

Well-Known Member
It’s a great and very collectible soundtrack album. The sound is just as you claim. It did sell for big money before EBay came along and ruined the market for many collectible records and cd’s. Most want cd’s, but vinyl sounds so much warmer, sans the pops and ticks included. Quality speakers,amp, and turntable help. My Ortofon cartridge cost as much as my turntable. Thanks Rudy. Lol
Welcome to the Forum beatcomer.
 

Harry

Charter A&M Corner Member
Staff member
Moderator
Congrats on the Colgems soundtrack.

Way back in the dark ages of the 1960's, I'd of course bought the ...SOUNDS LIKE... album from Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass and really loved the "Casino Royale" track a lot. And one day, a buddy of mine brought over his copy of the CASINO ROYALE soundtrack for me to hear. I couldn't imagine that there'd be any difference - they were both stereo, and after all, the A&M album *should* have the best version, right?

Now my setup at the time wasn't all that great. I had a couple of BSR turntables hooked into a Lafayette tuner-amp and everything played through some modest speakers. And while I didn't have the knowledge or prescience to check runout matrix numbers or stampers or anything like that, I certainly DID notice that the Colgems record somehow sounded better. Audiophiles often talk about "air" around instruments, and that's a great way to describe what I heard from that Colgems pressing, whatever it was.

I've never managed to own any Colgems LPs of CASINO ROYALE, and it all seemed pointless to me once CDs came along. And yet I always remembered that "airiness" of that Colgems record. When I first saw the CASINO ROYALE soundtrack on CD from Varese Sarabande, I snapped it up figuring it would be the ultimate. But it wasn't . In fact, it has annoying droupout at about 2:07 into the track.

Today, I must have somewhere upwards of 25 different CD pressings of the song "Casino Royale" on various albums and compilations, and you know which one sounds best to me? It's the Shout! Factory CD of ...SOUNDS LIKE... The very first time I hear that, I was amazed at how good it sounded to me - and keep in mind that my preferences are for good strong highs - and in that pressing, I can hear more emphasis on Julius' marimba do to the emphasis on highs. The latest HAP Presents version is pretty good too, but I have to give the edge to the Shout! version.

How does it compare to the old Colgems? I couldn't say, since I haven't heard that in years.
 

Rudy

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I never bought this album on vinyl, although I still may at some point in the future. I remember decades ago, even as far back as the 80s, the LP being mentioned as demo quality in the pages of Stereophile. The CD isn't too bad though--not the ultimate version of course but you can get a sense of how the better LPs must sound. My favorite track on the entire album is Dusty Springfield's version of "The Look of Love." She's the only one I've ever heard who performs it correctly. (It's supposed to be slow and sultry, not some brassed-up pop song like others who have covered it.) Per what I've read, the title track was recorded with a full orchestra (led by Burt) in London, with Herb overdubbing his trumpet back here in the states.

The RCA stamper numbers are indicative of how many times the "mother" was used to create each stamper--the lowest-numbered stampers were made from a fresh mother, whereas much later stampers would have been made when the mother was more worn. The most coveted would be a 1S stamper--in all my RCA titles, I only own one record that has 1S stampers on both sides that I know of. A 3S would have been the third stamper made from the mother, so it's still very "fresh" in terms of stampers. It's not uncommon for RCA's pressings to have different stamper numbers on each side. There is one copy of this soundtrack on Discogs with a 3S stamper on one side and 5S on the other.

The only recent LP pressing was a 4-LP, 45 RPM set from 2002 by the now-defunct Classic Records--that is back towards the end of their days when they started to get a bit crazy with their pressings. These LPs were single-sided, which is why there were four records in the set. They also had a 1999 pressing at 33⅓. I'd love to see Analogue Productions do this as a 2-LP, 45 RPM set. (I'll have to ask Chad the next time I see him at one of the audio shows--that is a title he may have tried for, and he would know of any licensing issues. FYI--the legendary mastering studio The Mastering Lab was purchased by Analogue Productions and relocated to Kansas.) There are later LP reissues but they are not on labels that I trust. I'll hold out for one of the known good audiophile labels before grabbing this one. If the tapes are still in good condition, a 45 RPM cut would improve on the original pressing, although a well-mastered 33⅓ would still be welcomed.

Classic Records also released it on a DVD using the HDAD format (a precursor to DVD-Audio) in hi-res, with the same mastering as their 4 LP set, so that would be the digital version to own.
 
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beatcomber

Member
Thread Starter
How does it compare to the old Colgems? I couldn't say, since I haven't heard that in years.
I don't know if this kosher or not, but I would be happy to provide you with a hi rez needledrop of the Colgems LP, if you like.
 

Harry

Charter A&M Corner Member
Staff member
Moderator
Thanks, but I'm not as big a fan of the soundtrack as I am with most of Bacharach's pop stuff, and I certainly have enough copies of Herb's "Casino Royale" track to last a lifetime. Oh, and come to think of it, another one will be on it's way in October...
 

Rudy

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I've finally sorted out the various Classic Records reissues.

Classic Records had a few different versions of this title. The first vinyl version was a single-LP 33⅓ reissue on 180g vinyl. They later mastered the album to their Clarity Vinyl series at 45 RPM, single-sided, so the set includes four discs on a whitish-clear vinyl. To demonstrate the difference between 33⅓ and 45, they cut a 12 inch single of Dusty Springfield's "The Look of Love."

Digitally, there were two DVD-based options. There was a rarely used DVD format called HDAD, which featured uncompressed 24-bit/96kHz tracks that could be delivered within a DVD video container--anyone with a DVD player could play this back, in other words. (Audiophiles typically would use a DVD player's digital output to feed it to an outboard DAC.) When DVD-Audio came shortly thereafter, this was reissued as a dual-sided HDAD disc with the original DVD-Video-based version on one side, and a DVD-Audio 24-bit/192kHz version on the other, readable only by players that were DVD-Audio capable.

I think that Bernie Grundman may have mastered this for Classic. (He did a lot of their titles.)

I just got ahold of the second HDAD version (borrowed it from a pal locally who had a copy) and have ripped the 24/192 files to the server.

I haven't had a chance to hear it on the big system yet (I'm at the desk with the KEF LS50s and an EL34-based tube amp), but two things I noted right away. On the main title, Herb's double-tracked trumpet is about as pure as you'll ever hear it, dead center. And Dusty? Jeesh...she's right here on my desk giving goosebumps. (Anything beyond this and we're gonna need to get a room! 😁) One interesting thing that stands out is that edit at the coda of "The Look of Love" (3:41) where the orchestral version is tacked onto the end to fade it out--it's a bit jarring. The mix of this tune and the main title puts all of Bacharach's instrumentation and small combo on the left and right, with Dusty dead center. Other tracks are typical 3-track recordings--everything is mainly left/center/right.

I'll say the Varese Sarabande CD is competent, but not all that noteworthy. Given that this version was done by Classic Records, it's no surprise that it's the best digital version I've heard of the album.
 

Rudy

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Incidentally, the original copy to own is supposedly the Indianapolis pressing. I believe that's the one that all the audiophile magazines raved about, although the others sound quite good. (I guess the Indy pressing has that little extra "something.")

Burt Bacharach - Casino Royale (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)

If the stamper number is "3S" and there is an "I" stamped in the vinyl, then it is an Indianapolis pressing.

1600450533063.png

I did finally get to hear the hi-res version on my main system...Dusty's tune is goosebump-inducing. With the rest of it, the tonal balance is on point. Despite the brightness inherent to UK recordings at the time, it tends to sound very natural with nothing overly exaggerated.

From Discogs on the Indy pressing:

Similar to Burt Bacharach - Casino Royale (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack), but this is a RCA Records Pressing Plant, Indianapolis pressing as indicated by the stamped "Ⅰ" in the matrix / runout groove.
UZRS = (U)1967, (Z)RCA Source, (R)Classical, (S)Stereo
3S = 3rd Lacquer or stamping
Very specific pressing 3S as opposed to 1S, 2S etc.
Matrix / Runout (Side A [Stamped], variant 1): Ⅰ UZRS - - 4046 - - 3S C4
Matrix / Runout (Side B [Stamped], variant 1): Ⅰ UZRS - - 4047 - - 3S A2
Matrix / Runout (Side A [Stamped], variant 2): Ⅰ UZRS - - 4046 - - 3S D1
Matrix / Runout (Side B [Stamped], variant 2): Ⅰ UZRS - - 4047 - - 3S A2
Matrix / Runout (Side A Label): UZRS-4046
Matrix / Runout (Side B Label): UZRS-4047
 

beatcomber

Member
Thread Starter
Incidentally, the original copy to own is supposedly the Indianapolis pressing. I believe that's the one that all the audiophile magazines raved about, although the others sound quite good. (I guess the Indy pressing has that little extra "something.")

Burt Bacharach - Casino Royale (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)

If the stamper number is "3S" and there is an "I" stamped in the vinyl, then it is an Indianapolis pressing.

View attachment 5853

I did finally get to hear the hi-res version on my main system...Dusty's tune is goosebump-inducing. With the rest of it, the tonal balance is on point. Despite the brightness inherent to UK recordings at the time, it tends to sound very natural with nothing overly exaggerated.

From Discogs on the Indy pressing:

Similar to Burt Bacharach - Casino Royale (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack), but this is a RCA Records Pressing Plant, Indianapolis pressing as indicated by the stamped "Ⅰ" in the matrix / runout groove.
UZRS = (U)1967, (Z)RCA Source, (R)Classical, (S)Stereo
3S = 3rd Lacquer or stamping
Very specific pressing 3S as opposed to 1S, 2S etc.
Matrix / Runout (Side A [Stamped], variant 1): Ⅰ UZRS - - 4046 - - 3S C4
Matrix / Runout (Side B [Stamped], variant 1): Ⅰ UZRS - - 4047 - - 3S A2
Matrix / Runout (Side A [Stamped], variant 2): Ⅰ UZRS - - 4046 - - 3S D1
Matrix / Runout (Side B [Stamped], variant 2): Ⅰ UZRS - - 4047 - - 3S A2
Matrix / Runout (Side A Label): UZRS-4046
Matrix / Runout (Side B Label): UZRS-4047

I would have thought that an "H" pressing (= RCA Hollywood mastering) would be best, since presumably that's the one that would have been cut from the 1st gen tapes, but Indianapolis is the one to get, I'm told.

My 3S "I" does sounds pretty amazing.
 

GroovinGarrett

New Member
I would have thought that an "H" pressing (= RCA Hollywood mastering) would be best, since presumably that's the one that would have been cut from the 1st gen tapes, but Indianapolis is the one to get, I'm told.

My 3S "I" does sounds pretty amazing.
Depends on if the album was mastered at Hollywood (6363 Sunset), Chicago (445 North Lake Shore), or New York (24th Street). Most likely the former. Hollywood, Indianapolis, and Rockaway would have all received lacquers from one mastering studio.
 
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