Sade – Diamond Life

Sade’s debut was all the rage in 1985, grabbing major MTV airplay as well as time on popular and jazz radio stations. Lead singer Sade Adu combined a soulful sound and sexy demeanor to the tune of six-times platinum.

Kevin Gray at Cohearent Mastering took the helm here, and eliminated about half of the original’s top-end crunchiness.  Fortunately, this Audio Fidelity reissue possesses a considerably wider soundstage. The original keeps percussion bits and keyboard fills tightly wrapped towards the center of the speakers, while the presentation here is more relaxed, with low-level details more ethereal. The intro to “Why Can’t We Live Together” is the best cut on the record, with bongos bouncing back and forth beyond the speaker boundaries, and the bass line locked in place as Adu’s voice wafts up from the silence.

Interestingly, there’s a much greater sense of vertical dimensionality in the new pressing. The original rendition of Adu’s voice is more diffuse; here, her voice feels right at microphone height. And the remaining audiophile boxes are properly ticked. My pressing is free of clicks and pops, has a much lower noise floor, and features an exquisitely printed gatefold cover.  A very worthwhile addition to any record collection.  —Jeff Dorgay

Audio Fidelity, 180g LP