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Is the remaster better?


Knuckledragger
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Sonic Youth - Daydream Nation - 1988 Blast First Enigma release:

HWYyM.gif

Sonic Youth - Daydream Nation GDC/Deluxe Edition:x`

OOXKr.gif

I posted these before, but they (painfully) illustrate the my point.

This is a thread idea I've had for ages. In the age of the brick wall, so many remastered releases sonically inferior to previous releases. Such sins are particularly egregious in the world of classic rock, but the phenomenon plagues nearly every genre. The remaster of Aphex Twin's Selected Ambient Works: 85-92 managed to wreck what was already a very lo-fi endeavor to start.

Right now I'm trying to figure out what is the best Led Zeppelin set. I bought the original 4CD boxed set way back in 1990. In fact, it was the first CD purchase I ever made. I never did pickup the following 2CD set that had the remainder of the catalog not on the first set. I have listened to and enjoyed the Led Zep boxed set for two decades now. In that time there have been quite a few remasters that have followed.

10 CD Complete Studio Recordings (1993)

12 CD SHM set (2008)

This insane and semi-official 5LP and 3CD set (2010)

Discounting that last one, it seems for remasters there's a battle between the 1993 and 2008 sets. I did some digging and as one might expect, a number of audio snobs prefer the original 1980s CD versions. Most of the original CD releases were done by Barry Diament, who is very well respected in the industry and a staunch opponent against the loudness war. So.... any head-casers have experience with either the 10 or 12 CD sets, and maybe had a chance to compare them to the Diament versions?

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I think the brickwall thing is mostly over, but I could be wrong

its getting better, i think. Death Magnetic, and the criticism it drew over its mastering, was kind of the peak of the whole loudness wars.

i've been pleased with the sound on a lot of new records. the new pains of being pure at heart is loud but not brick walled loud. the new mmj sounds great, but all their stuff does. a lot of new indie stuff dig on the analog sound, so it might be kind of lo fi, but too me lo fi sounds a hell of a lot better then brick walled.

in terms of remasters that are truly "better", I'd offer up Wilson's 40th anniversary KC remixes/remasters. To my ears they are all absolutely superb. I'd go so far as to call ITCOTKC a revelation. the deluxe edition of the ITCOTKC remaster sets the bar for all rereleases IMO.

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its getting better, i think. Death Magnetic, and the criticism it drew over its mastering, was kind of the peak of the whole loudness wars.

i've been pleased with the sound on a lot of new records. the new pains of being pure at heart is loud but not brick walled loud.

Ya, I've noticed some current metal releases are sounding much better than they did four years ago. Even Blind Guardian's most recent one, while not the last word on dynamic range, at least does not seem to clip (amazing, considering their horrible history in this regard). That probably sums up my recent experience with most new metal albums: they don't clip anymore, but they're still compressed as hell.

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in terms of remasters that are truly "better", I'd offer up Wilson's 40th anniversary KC remixes/remasters. To my ears they are all absolutely superb. I'd go so far as to call ITCOTKC a revelation. the deluxe edition of the ITCOTKC remaster sets the bar for all rereleases IMO.

Man, my Posty-parsing skills have atrophied. I took me longer than I care to admit to figure out what KC and ITCOTKC stood for. Now you've got me thinking. I'm not sure what version I own on CD. I have a 70s gatefold vinyl version which spent most of my college career as a dorm room decoration, but I digress...

After much rummaging, I found my 1980s copy of Physical Graffiti, which is mastered by Barry Diament. Supposedly he did all of the original CDs except for the fourth album. I'm basing that assertion off what I've read online. Led Zep liner notes are notoriously sparse. In a bit, I'm going to wake up my wheezy old Wintel, fire up Exact Audio Copy and rip it to FLAC. It will be interesting to compare the waveforms to the 1990 4CD boxed set and possibly the 1993 and 2008 versions as well.

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Great idea for a thread! And of course steve hoffman has to be the bestest facepalm.png Not that I have extensively listened to his stuff, but the BS meter feeling is strong with this one...

Hmmmmm, let's see .........looking through the collection........

- Aqualung DCC compared with the 25th Anniversary CD - The DCC features the return of recording studio ambience that was reft away from us with the 25th.

- Creedence Clearwater Revival CDs on DCC or Analogue Productions compared with the current remasters - apparently a tough call to remaster between getting the voices right and having a drum kit that is a bit dull, or getting the drum kit right and having overly sibilant vocals. The DCC/APO path was the former, thankfully.

- Bad Company and Straight Shooter on Audio Fidelity - Audio Fidelity better than Barry Diament better than remastered versions.

I try and do a comparison between any version that he has done, and in no case has it turned up inferior to anything before the Steve Hoffman version was released, and in most cases, is superior to anything since. I guess his listening values correspond to mine - boosting the treble and bass is not a good thing unless the original album was seriously deficient. Stay away from noise reduction, find the true original stereo master and make the album's maximum peak level less than 100% modulation. All sensible stuff for great sound.

Deep Purple's "Made In Japan" is close to a line call, with the DCC just winning over the older Warners CD. Compared with the 25th remaster, the DCC and old Warners are far better.

Even Cream's "Wheels Of Fire", whilst no sonic marvel, is still best heard on the DCC set. It was released by DCC in 1992! Call me a fanboy, but I'm happy to justify each comparison. MoFi remasterings are a different call - I still prefer the current Universal USA CD of Bluesbreakers over both the MoFi attempt and the mono Audio Fidelity CD.

Edited by John Buchanan
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Man, my Posty-parsing skills have atrophied. I took me longer than I care to admit to figure out what KC and ITCOTKC stood for. Now you've got me thinking. I'm not sure what version I own on CD. I have a 70s gatefold vinyl version which spent most of my college career as a dorm room decoration, but I digress...

After much rummaging, I found my 1980s copy of Physical Graffiti, which is mastered by Barry Diament. Supposedly he did all of the original CDs except for the fourth album. I'm basing that assertion off what I've read online. Led Zep liner notes are notoriously sparse. In a bit, I'm going to wake up my wheezy old Wintel, fire up Exact Audio Copy and rip it to FLAC. It will be interesting to compare the waveforms to the 1990 4CD boxed set and possibly the 1993 and 2008 versions as well.

The Led Zeppelin CDs are all essentially either the original masters (Barry Diament except for Led Zeppelin IV which was done by Joe Sidore) or the George Marino remasters.

The earlier masterings are all good as well as the remasters.

King Crimson - avoid the so called Definitive Edition CDs made before the 30th Anniversary Editions. The best I can say about those previous editions is that they were done from inferior tapes with lots of noise reduction. The 40th Anniversary Editions have remixed as well as a remastered version on most of the sets. They are very good.

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Hmmmmm, let's see .........looking through the collection........

- Aqualung DCC compared with the 25th Anniversary CD - The DCC features the return of recording studio ambience that was reft away from us with the 25th.

- Creedence Clearwater Revival CDs on DCC or Analogue Productions compared with the current remasters - apparently a tough call to remaster between getting the voices right and having a drum kit that is a bit dull, or getting the drum kit right and having overly sibilant vocals. The DCC/APO path was the former, thankfully.

- Bad Company and Straight Shooter on Audio Fidelity - Audio Fidelity better than Barry Diament better than remastered versions.

I try and do a comparison between any version that he has done, and in no case has it turned up inferior to anything before the Steve Hoffman version was released, and in most cases, is superior to anything since. I guess his listening values correspond to mine - boosting the treble and bass is not a good thing unless the original album was seriously deficient. Stay away from noise reduction, find the true original stereo master and make the album's maximum peak level less than 100% modulation. All sensible stuff for great sound.

Deep Purple's "Made In Japan" is close to a line call, with the DCC just winning over the older Warners CD. Compared with the 25th remaster, the DCC and old Warners are far better.

Even Cream's "Wheels Of Fire", whilst no sonic marvel, is still best heard on the DCC set. It was released by DCC in 1992! Call me a fanboy, but I'm happy to justify each comparison. MoFi remasterings are a different call - I still prefer the current Universal USA CD remastering over both the MoFi attempt and the mono Audio Fidelity CD.

Alright, like I said, I haven't listened to much (any?) of his stuff. BTW, I grew up during the '70s, and I don't really listen to ANY '70s music anymore. Wheels of Fire and Aqualung I might consider. The rest? Heh.

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Phew. I now have clean digital copies of 3 versions of the Led Zep catalog. I've spent much of the evening banging my head against Adobe's SoundBooth. In spite of the fact that I'm deeply familiar with Photoshop, and Adobe's UI is supposed to be similar between Creative Suite apps, I can officially say I fucking hate SoundBooth. I'm really missing Cool Edit Pro at this point. Now THERE was an app for quick and dirty audio editing and analysis.

In spite of Adobe's best efforts, I now have waveforms of three different versions of Achilles Last Stand. Brace yourself form some large images ahead:

Achilles Last Stand:

Barry Diament's CD Mastering:

w4PnU.jpg

1990 Boxed set:

mJoMN.jpg

2008 SMH:

2mvbW.jpg

I'm working on No Quarter and Kashmir. I'm going to have to do this over several posts as it's taking me a bit to process the files. Moar shortly.

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No Quarter:

Barry Diament's CD Mastering:

TyFtp.jpg

1990 Boxed Set:

tzFgk.jpg

2008 SMH:

p7oV6.jpg

I don't have the 1993 10CD set, but it is my understanding that it is the same remaster job as the 2008 SMH set. Maybe Dusty can provide us some waveforms for comparison.

I haven't done any serious critical listening to the Barry Diament and SMH versions yet. I know the 1990 set like the back of my hand. To me, it has sounded awesome on every piece of audio kit I've owned since 1990.

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Yep, the 1990 seems the less compressed of all, though none of them seems to be clipped. I see no clipping artifacts on the spectrograms either. It's possible the SHM sounds better to some people for having the "low level" detail a bit enhanced, as a result of the apparently overall gain applied.

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  • 2 weeks later...

The loudness war continues.....

The new RHCP album:

RHCP-FacOfFaith-Retail.jpg

what it should look like:

RHCP-FacOfFaith-FullDynamics.jpg

If you guys want any screen shots of albums I might have...let me know. I love this stuff!

EDIT:

For the Diament Zeppelin CD's....don't forget that he did NOT use the original master tapes for his CD's.

Edited by LFF
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The new RHCP album:

RHCP-FacOfFaith-Retail.jpg

mother-of-god-super-troopers.jpg

My ears hurt just from looking at that. It's bad enough to make actual brick walls blush.

If you guys want any screen shots of albums I might have...let me know. I love this stuff!

Yes, please. There are so many bad remasters out there that finding and identifying the few good ones is worthy effort.

I've got a number of remasters/originals to compare, time allowing:

Rolling Stones - Tattoo You (original CD and 2009 UMG remaster)

Stevie Wonder - Talking Book (original CD and 2000 remaster)

Between Interval - Radio Silence (2004 original and 2007 remaster)

That last one is an obscure but absolutely wonderful ambient album. The original release was on CDR, distributed in very small quantities mostly in Sweden. The remaster actually got released in the US (a bleeding miracle.) I haven't had time to critically listen to any of the above yet, but I am hopeful that the Radio Silence remaster might be a (shock) improvement.

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