Post image for Vinyl Review: Miles Davis – Miles in the Sky (Mobile Fidelity 180g, 45RPM)

Vinyl Review: Miles Davis – Miles in the Sky (Mobile Fidelity 180g, 45RPM)

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Sound: 8.3
Pressing/Packaging: 9.4
Value: 9.3

Original released by Columbia Records in 1968. Catalog Number: CS 9628. Engineers: Arthur Kendy, Frank Laico. Producer: Teo Macero.

Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab reissue released in 2015. 180g, 45RPM, 2LP. Catalog Number: MFSL2-437. Numbered, Limited Edition. UPC: 821797243711. MSRP: $50. Buy on

Miles Davis (trumpet), Wayne Shorter (saxophone), Herbie Hancock (piano, electric piano), Ron Carter (bass, electric bass), Tony Williams (drums), George Benson (guitar).


There are many insightful reviews of the music on this disc elsewhere, so I’m not going to cover that here (as per my review philosophy). Bottom line: There is some blistering and influential music in these grooves. Tony Williams’ drumming alone produces several jaw dropping moments.

Sound: 8.3

Sound-wise, this record is somewhat inconsistent but supremely interesting and important. Drums sound exceptional, especially on the first and last tracks. Super clear with terrific immediateness. Crisp and snappy. No distortion. Electric piano on first track is also extremely nice. Coherent, tonally balanced, and surrounded by a pillow of believable air. Trumpet and saxophone are good most of the time. Saxophone has extra rich tone on the second track. I think the 45RPM cutting gets every ounce of life from the (aging) tape.

However, there are problems. Trumpet has some distracting, phasey sizzle in loud parts. Muted trumpet at the beginning of the last track is thin and screechy (admittedly, I’m not a fan of the mute). Bass quantity is uneven, with some low and upper bass notes sounding anemic.

But the main issue has to do with the varying “sizes” of each instrument–especially acoustic piano. When not soloing, piano, bass, saxophone, and even drums sometimes sound “smaller” as opposed to “quieter.” This unnatural shrinking and expanding of the instruments can be unnerving (the hard panning of drums and piano doesn’t help).

Real instruments in a real environment never sound like this. Of course, sounding “real” wasn’t necessarily the intent when this was recorded. From this record onward, Miles made greater and greater use of electric instruments and studio experimentation.

(See reference system for context on sound evaluation.)

Pressing/Packaging: 9.4

Pressing quality is excellent. My copy is fantastically flat and centered. There is a touch of vinyl noise, but well above average in this regard. Packaging is nearly as good as it gets. A heavy gatefold cover with sharp images and crisp text houses this 2LP gem.

Value: 9.3

As for value, at $50 it ain’t cheap. However, run-of-the-mill reissues cost $30 on average. And those are single LPs–not double. I’m not sure what an original sounds like, or what it would cost to get a nice copy (check eBay). Considering the quality on offer here, value is very high indeed.

Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab reissue LP on