Written by 6:00 am Audiophile Music

Zero 7’s When It Falls On Vinyl, Tidal MQA and CD

Mark Smotroff likes this vinyl reissue pretty much but…

I was super happy to find a copy of Zero7‘s second album — When It Falls —  reissued on vinyl. Amazon says it was reissued in 2017 but I have only begun to see it in stores this past year out here on the West Coast. 

AR-Zero7WhenItFalls450.jpgIt has been a bit more than four years since I “discovered” this group when their first album, Simple Things, was reissued on vinyl — I heard it for the first time in a store in Orlando, Florida of all places. Click here for my review and experience of discovery back then. 

In the interim I’ve picked up most of their other albums on CD but the LP pressings have proven elusive (and original copies still command some serious coin on Discogs). So this reissue of When It Falls is a welcome thing for fans of the band and vinyl.  

First lets talk about the good stuff. Generally the vinyl pressing of When It Falls sounds pretty terrific, definitely warmer and richer than my original CD copy. This group’s organic twist on moody electronic-tinged pop is a welcome listen on LP, especially on what appears to be 180-gram vinyl (dark black, well centered). All the vocals sound round, warm and inviting. 

AR-Zero7WhenItFallsArtcloseup450.jpgI was pleased to read that Jeremy Stacey is featured on Drums for this album — he is a featured player in the current incarnation of no less than King Crimson! Spread over two LPs, the tracks are given plenty of space to breath and it sounds basically really nice when you turn it up.  I like the sound better than my original CD, which skews bit brighter, digital-crispy. Not bad necessarily, but a flavor of fidelity which I don’t think showcases this music in its best light.

Some of you might have noticed that I said When It Falls sounds “generally… pretty terrific” a couple paragraphs back and “basically really nice” in the last. This is a good time to lead into the less great part of the review: while the pressing I picked up is indeed generally quiet, well centered and clean sounding, there were at least a couple instances of significant surface noises. It wasn’t a deal breaker for me as I still prefer the overall sound and feel of this album on vinyl over the CD and streaming versions, but… for a nearly $30 price point… this album should play perfectly. Of course, your experience may vary, but do keep an ear out for anomalies. 

AR-Zero7WhenItFallsTIDAL450.jpgThe only other question I have with regards to this release is why the MQA version on Tidal only streams at 16-bits, 44.1 kHz? I checked all my settings and even switched albums to a high resolution MQA-encoded Stevie Wonder album, so I saw it switch back and forth on the display to my Brooklyn Mytek DAC. When It Falls is too nice to be limited to a CD quality stream but I don’t even mind that the album is streaming in CD fidelity as its a deluxe edition reissue with bonus tracks and such. I found it curious and even confusing that it was encoded as an MQA stream.

When It Falls doesn’t appear to be on Qobuz so I couldn’t compare for you. 

Anyhow, Zero7’s When It Falls is a fine album, a solid follow up to its debut and a keeper for my collection now on a two LP vinyl set.

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