Prism is Katy Perry’s fourth solo release and her third within the mainstream popular music genre. Following the success of Teenage Dream it would have been easy to assume that Perry would have peaked creatively, especially considering Teenage Dream was the only other album in history, besides Michael Jackson’s Bad, to achieve five number one singles off a single album. In classic superstardom, Perry didn’t sit on her laurels, instead deciding to head to back into the studio for an album that is arguably a little more serious and one that represents artistic growth. Whatever her motives were, the album is an exceptional addition to not only her catalogue, but the world of popular music.
Before we progress any further with my own thoughts, my daughter who is 9 years old asked if she could write her subjective thoughts about Katy Perry and the Prism album as Perry is one of her favourite musicians. The following is in her own words, with no help or editing.
Hi! I'm Natalia Greentree I'm 9 years old.
I'm the daughter of the Subjective Sounds blogger, Daddy Greentree.
My feelings about KP short for Katy Perry her music makes me feel her inner beauty like she's right there with me and that feeling is in all of us.
What I like is that I feel her emotion though the album. You might think I'm insane but I really feel her happy, loving, caring and her care her songs though her.
I have all her songs from Teenage Dream, Prism and One Of The Boys.
Today my dad and me are going to talk about Katy Perry Prism cd.
My Favourite Songs List
- Roar: because of the feeling of the beat
- Birthday: because of makes me like I'm the birthday girl
- Dark Horse: because of the mysterious song
- This Is How We Do: because it's a land of no big deals
- International Smile: because it teaches me the country's names.
Thx for reading my thinking of Katy Perry prism. You will here maybe more about me Natalia Greentree 😄
While I have always enjoyed Katy Perry’s vocal delivery, my first recollection of paying real attention to her was when I saw Katy Perry The Movie: Part of Me. There was just a level of honesty and transparency that she portrayed in this autobiographical film. You can’t view someone at their most vulnerable and not be emotionally impacted. After watching the film, I had an incredible level of respect for the artist that we know as Katy Perry and the woman behind the name who was born Katheryn Elizabeth Hudson.
Over the last couple of years, I have been buying Perry’s CD collection for my daughter. She had the CD copy of Prism well before I had the limited edition vinyl picture disc. As good as Perry’s performance is across the album, I was always disappointed in the CD mastering. IT IS LOUD! So loud that I would have to turn the stereo down every time we would go to play the album. The problem is this album should be played loud, but when an album is brickwalled, you simply become fatigued and want to turn the album off, or listen at such low levels that all emphasis is removed and you might as well consider it background music.
Some of you may think that I have lost my mind, but the CD is mastered to a poor dynamic range of 05, whereas the vinyl record is mastered to a 10. These numbers are out of 20, with higher numbers representing a more dynamic soundstage. Seriously, check it out yourself at the Dynamic Range Database.
For those unaware, the dynamic range is representative of sonic separation whereby the difference between the lowest and loudest volumes are measured. What the above numbers prove is that the CD and TIDAL Hi-Fi editions are sonically compromised, despite being lossless sources. I have no idea what the dynamic range of the Mastered for iTunes edition is, but I can honestly say that it is sonically inferior to not only the vinyl edition, but the CD/TIDAL Hi-Fi edition as well.
This process of brickwalling is ridiculous. In my testing, I’m essentially listening to two completely different albums. It is an insult to consumers and it has absolutely nothing to with the music format as CD is technically superior to vinyl and can more than adequately handle a very high dynamic range. Vinyl mastering arguably has less tolerance and is therefore a more stringent process that generally results in a superior product.
Interestingly, the limited edition vinyl picture disc is mastered by the same mastering engineer that worked on the CD, yet it is sonically beautiful. The soundstage is there. The dynamic range, while still not the greatest, is present. I am enveloped by music, not noise. It is incredible.
Now, vinyl collectors reading this will also be wondering how I can praise this release so highly when it is on the picture disc format. Yes, the additional noise of picture discs is there, but I only really notice it at the beginning, end, and in-between the tracks on the album. As the music is playing, it drifts into the background and diminishes itself, even when my main system is playing at a 70% volume level. In-fact, at 70% maximum volume, the vinyl blows me away. I can’t even listen comfortably to the CD, or TIDAL Hi-Fi version of the album, at 40%.
You will likely hear some people saying that picture disc vinyl isn’t for playing, but for displaying. I’m sorry, but I don’t agree. I don’t keep my vinyl on a pedestal. I collect it to enjoy the playing process. Similarly, I’ve never understood the allure of sealed copies either. You can’t take it with you, so you might as well enjoy it while you’re here.
Now, it is important to note that all picture discs are not created equally. I have some, such as this one, that are sonically beautiful. All of Rob Zombie’s picture disc albums are exceptional. Whereas, Iron Maiden’s Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son is one example of how not to make a picture disc. While the mastering of that album has always been up for debate, it is nearly unlistenable on the picture disc vinyl.
As usual, I digress, but only to let you know that all picture discs aren’t bad and in most cases they are just as playable as their traditional non-pictured counterparts.
All that said, if you can find the standard black edition vinyl, then you will be thoroughly pleased with the sonic performance. If you don’t mind the pops and clicks of vinyl, then you will likely be able to tolerate the whooshing sound of picture discs and will be equally happy.
The Prism limited edition picture disc was released for Record Store Day in 2014, and is limited to 5,000 copies, despite not being individually numbered. Regardless of the vinyl edition you decide to pick up, you will be presented with the additional tracks Spiritual, It Takes Two, and Choose Your Battles. The standard edition CD omits these tracks, but despite not being A-side tracks, they do feel like they belong on the album and thus all three are enjoyable to listen to.
In all honesty, there isn’t a bad track on the album. Yes, I have my preferences such as Roar, Legendary Lovers, Walking On Air, This Is How We Do, and Dark Horse, but these are merely the standout songs for me.
Honestly, if you have a turntable, pick up Prism on the standard or picture disc vinyl. The CD is adequate for the car or small stereo system, but for the main stereo and listening room, it is simply too compromised for me to recommend with a clear conscience. My recommendation for digital delivery would be to listen via TIDAL Hi-Fi as it at least matches the CD. Despite the iTunes Store and Apple Music versions being Mastered for iTunes, I find they are not enjoyable to listen to as I feel they are overly compressed, especially in comparison to the non-lossy sources. Add the low dynamic range to the mix and it is just a disappointing experience. If you’ve never heard the vinyl edition then you don’t know what you missing out on, but is it truly like listening to two different albums.
An audiophile-grade edition is also available via HD Tracks in 44.1kHz/24bit. I’ve not heard it, but this is likely an exact digital copy of the master recording that was used to make the vinyl edition.
Let’s hope Katy Perry’s next album is mastered to a higher standard as she is an exceptional artist that deserves to be heard in her natural dynamic range.