Bruce Springsteen BORN TO RUN, final comparison of 3 CBS/Columbia CD versions by SH..

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by Steve Hoffman, Dec 23, 2011.

  1. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Audiophile Mastering Your Host

    Location:
    Los Angeles
    A continuation of this thread:

    http://www.stevehoffman.tv/forums/showthread.php?t=271015
    ------------------------------------------

    'Twas the night before the night before Christmas and all through the house, Bruce Springsteen was playing, disturbing my spouse.


    So I apologize for not getting back to you in the old threads but shopping and work and kids and barfing all came up (heh, pun) at the same time and I was sidetracked but tonight, I spent an hour & 1/2 listening to all three original CBS & Columbia masterings of BORN TO RUN. I listened very intently, on my best system (I will list the gear if you wish) and here are my conclusions. Take them as JUST MY OPINION.

    Some of you won't like what I have to say, some of you will scratch your head but at least you will have it in writing.

    First of all, let's be real clear here.

    I have MASTERING NUMBER ONE:
    CBS Made In Japan 35DP-21.

    I have MASTERING NUMBER TWO:
    CBS Made In USA Digital Audio Disc Corp. DIDP 50021. Upside down triangle on right side of label.

    I have MASTERING NUMBER THREE:
    Columbia Made In USA GMU 1A CK33 795 10.

    Forgive if I got a number wrong, it's late and I'm squinting more than usual tonight.

    However, if we agree that these are the three, let's move on, this won't take long.

    If you have these three versions you too can try this at home. Just keep in mind the following:

    No, you cannot remix the album. It is what it is. Accept that and move on. I don't want to hear about what a crappy mix it is, why did they do it this way, and so on. I don't care. It's been like this since most of you were born. GET OVER IT.

    If you want to do my test at home, be sure you make all versions the same in volume level. Do not deceive yourself. Make sure they match exactly.

    If you do this at home, IGNORE THE ARTWORK, THE BOOKLET and TRAY CARD. I don't care where it sez it was made, the paper and the actual disk don't always match. So, like all boring anal collectors (in other words, us), go by matrix number on the disk and the teeny tiny writing on the disk.

    I care about Bruce. I care about his voice. I do not care about the drums. They will never sound good on this album. Don't blame me, I didn't record it or mix it. I would never hire the people who did but that's not important now.:)

    The one thing the original technicians did well was capture Bruce's voice. Let's concentrate on the opening song, THUNDER ROAD and also TENTH AVENUE FREEZE OUT and you pretty much have the critique in a nutshell.

    Worst news: The "Mastering #3" pretty much bites for me. I have no use for it. Bruce doesn't sound like a real person. He sounds like a jacked up recording of a real person. Poof, illusion of life gone in the first 10 seconds of the song. Therefore Mastering #3 is eliminated as a contender.

    So, between the MADE IN JAPAN Mastering #1 and the MADE IN USA Mastering #2..

    The winner is:


    MASTERING #2, MADE IN USA. DIDP 50021


    No question about it. This version has the magic, such as it is. Bruce's voice sounds the best on this version. Don't tell me about the guitar, don't care, the sax, don't care, drums, don't care. Bruce's voice is the only true test here, the only instrument that is essentially unprocessed.

    This one wins. You will notice that his voice quality changes throughout the album. This is normal for a recording like this. If he sounds the same to you on every song, your gear is lying to you.

    Now, I like MADE IN JAPAN, MASTERING #1. It's fine but it has a slight midrange suck-out that makes the top too toppy. I feel that the crucial change here was the A/D converter. On the MASTERING #2 DIDP 50021, the A/D converter is much better and picks up the crucial midband in a more involving, lifelike way. Thiis is an essential difference between Mastering #1 and #2 which will become more apparent as your equipment improves.

    So, Mastering #2 is my go-to version, Mastering #1 is the second.

    Does this help you? You can probably find these for a few bucks everywhere. Make sure you avoid the jacked up COLUMBIA MASTERING #3. Why bother with it when MASTERING NUMBER 2 (or even NUMBER 1) is out there for not much money? If you don't like the sound on some songs, use your bass/treble controls to muck with it. But you don't want a treble boost built in to the disk, you can't get rid of it when you upgrade your system.

    Thanks for reading.

    If you have any questions or comments, feel free to post! If you agree with me, feel free to post. If you don't agree with me, feel free to post. It's all to help you find the best sounding version of this quirky sounding (but classic) album. I do not like the Gold "Mastersound" CD version, don't bother me about it.

    Have a great Christmas weekend!
    Vidiot, monoboy, rxcory and 3 others like this.
  2. dirtymac

    dirtymac Forum Resident

    Location:
    Exile, MN
    :)

    Thanks for the review.
  3. Vocalpoint

    Vocalpoint Well-Known Member

    Yay! This is the mastering on my late 80's Canadian version. And I always thought it sounded great. Thanks Steve for taking some time to do the comparison and post your notes.

    Merry Christmas!!

    VP
  4. evad

    evad Well-Known Member

    Location:
    .
    I will have to see if I have the preferred version you mention. I like the Mastersound.
  5. J.A.W.

    J.A.W. Music Addict

    I have CBS CK 33795 / DIDP 50021, "Made in Japan" at the very bottom of the disc, with "CSR COMPACT DISC" around the hub. No idea which mastering it is.
  6. Gregory Earl

    Gregory Earl Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Kantucki
    Steve, I do enjoy your thoughts on those recordings. I only have that album on vinyl......like 6 times. I do agree that the most important element of that recording is Bruce's voice.

    It's amazing how a really crappy sounding album can be so great. btw..it took me 10 minutes to type that last statement.
  7. Ramos Pinto

    Ramos Pinto New Member

    Location:
    Southeast US
    Is the Mastersound not drastically re-equed? It seems that most of them are (I love the Mastersound 'Bridge Over Troubled Water', it's still my favorite digital version).
  8. Thesmellofvinyl

    Thesmellofvinyl Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Cohoes, NY USA
    If anyone has Steve's #2 (as above) and the one I have (Made In U.S.A., CK33795 DIDP 50021 - and showing CMU P 36 stamped on the clear inner ring) would you pleae post about how they compare? Mine has markings from Steve's #2 and #3.
  9. Director

    Director Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Los Angeles, CA
    You have mastering #3. "DIDP" is printed on mastering 3 as well. The difference is the DADC, I think.
  10. George P

    George P Forum Pianophile

    Location:
    NYC
    I have these and I enjoy the sound of both. For a few years, I only had number two and had no complaints about the sound. None. But recently, I came across a cheap copy of the 35DP and couldn't resist. when I compared the two, on my main stereo, through my speakers, it was close. In fact, I think anyone would be happy with either of these CDs. Like you said in the earlier thread, Bruce's voice sounds eerily realistic on both masterings. But to me, on mastering number one it sounds a bit more realistic, more open on top. I hear more hiss on the 35DP-21 as well. I used "Meeting Across the River" to do my comparisons. I listened to number two first and was amazed at how great it sounded. My first thought was, yeah, this one can't be beat. It sounded like Bruce was right there between my speakers. Then I switched to the 35DP-21 and immediately noticed some more high frequency info (and hiss) and the piano sounded a bit clearer as well. When Bruce entered this time, he was clearer and more realistic sounding as well. Rather than sounding like he was there, he actually was there. Freaky. The best way I can explain it is that he sounds a bit closer to the mic than he does on the second mastering.
  11. Thesmellofvinyl

    Thesmellofvinyl Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Cohoes, NY USA
    You must be right, Director, thanks. No DADC anywhere on mine.
  12. Adam9

    Adam9 Formerly jbohdan

    Location:
    Toronto, Canada
    My disc is made in Japan with 35DP-21 (like Mastering #1) on the inner ring. However, it also says CK 33795 and DIDP 50021 (like #2) close to the edge of the disc so I'm kind of confused as to what mastering this is. I'll have to hunt down a "Made In U.S.A." pressing with the latter matrix numbers and compare the two to see if they are the same.
  13. mark f.

    mark f. Forum Resident

    No it's not. I have mastering 2 and 3. Both look the same on the hub.

    There are probably distinguishing characteristics on the CDs but so far the only way I can tell the mastering differences is using EAC. Oh and on my CDs the main difference is the Now Made in the USA on the tray liner for mastering #3.
  14. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Audiophile Mastering Your Host

    Location:
    Los Angeles
    I am hearing what you are saying and I hear what you are hearing. The difference is you like it and I don't, but please read what I wrote again:

  15. George P

    George P Forum Pianophile

    Location:
    NYC
    As with all other titles that I have multiple masterings for, I plan to hold onto both #1 and #2. I won't likely ever have the money to buy better gear, but if that day comes I will be able to see if my preference changes as a result.

    I can't say that I hear the midrange suck out on #1 on my stereo - and I hate when CDs are mastered that way. In fact, the midrange for #1 sounds better and more present to me. We hear the midrange in the vocals, right? If anything, the vocals sound more recessed on mastering #2.
  16. Campbell Saddler

    Campbell Saddler Forum Resident

    Location:
    Central Valley, CA
    Thanks for comparing masterings #1 and #2, Steve: looks like I have mastering #2 via an old BMG record club copy :thumbsup:
  17. MLutthans

    MLutthans 70mm Gort Staff

    Location:
    Marysville, WA
    I was wondering the same thing. I thought 50021 = 35DP-21. I have several early made-in-Japan CDs that follow this pattern. (EDIT: For instance, Wynton Marsalis's debut LP = 35DP-33 in ring, DIDP 50033 near outer edge, and I could list several others.)

    ?????

    Matt
  18. KeithH

    KeithH Success With Honor...then and now

    Location:
    Beaver Stadium
    And the value of mastering #1 plummets faster than it sky-rocketed last week. :D

    On a more serious note, I have an early U.S. DADC pressing with matrix code "DIDP 50021 31A1". It's early enough that the back insert lacks "Now Made In The U.S.A." I wonder if it's mastering 1 or 2.
  19. KeithH

    KeithH Success With Honor...then and now

    Location:
    Beaver Stadium
    Yes, there's a correlation as to how CBS developed the DIDP numbers early on, but the mastering between the Japan-for-U.S. pressing and the early U.S. pressing is not always identical. Take Wish You Were Here. The Japan-for-U.S. pressing with "35DP-4" in the matrix code is the two-track mastering, while the earliest U.S. DADC pressing with "DIDP 50004" in the matrix code has the five-track mastering.
  20. George P

    George P Forum Pianophile

    Location:
    NYC
    I'd think it was #2, based on what Steve wrote:

    and

    visualj likes this.
  21. MLutthans

    MLutthans 70mm Gort Staff

    Location:
    Marysville, WA
    Thanks for clarifying, Keith.
  22. KeithH

    KeithH Success With Honor...then and now

    Location:
    Beaver Stadium
    No problem!
  23. -Ben

    -Ben Active Member

    Location:
    Washington DC Area



    EAC levels and pictures.
    Note "CBS" on the left and "upside down triangle" on the right for mastering #2.


    1. EAC levels : 60.5, 75.3, 52.2, etc.
    All have 35DP-21 in the matrix and should have pre-emphasis.
    -Original Japanese issue with catalog number 35DP 21.
    -Japan-for-U.S. pressing with catalog number CK 33795, Matrix 35DP-21 41A2
    -Japan-for-Europe pressing with catalog number CDCBS 80959.

    2. EAC levels: 73.4, 89.4, 69.8, etc.
    Made in USA by Digital Audio Corp Matrix: DIDP 50021 21A3


    3. EAC levels: 93.5, 99.9, 86.4, etc.
    Japan 32DP
    Japan 25DP
    Made in Switzerland Matrix 33 795 1124 263 01
    Made in USA Matrix 1A CK33795 15B
    Made in USA Matrix DIDP 050021 4
    Made in USA Matrix DIDP 050021 -05
    Made in USA by Digital Audio Corp Matrix: DIDP 50021 21B1
    Made in USA by Digital Audio Corp Matrix: DIDP 50021 21B10

    Attached Files:

    Billy Infinity and jfeldt like this.
  24. Very interesting information. Only difference in the matrix is the last digits (A or B). Do we know whether the A or B in the matrix is the main factor to distinguish these masterings?

    I don't think I have ever heard this #2 mastering.
  25. P.S.:

    What is the total timing of these 3 difference versions, as shown in EAC?

    I know that mastering #1 (35DP-21) has a total time of 39'35" and that mastering #3 (I have the 25DP) has a total time of 39'28". Enough difference to easily distinguish them.

    I would like to know what the total time of that mastering #2 is. If we are lucky, it is different enough from the other two to be able to go by that.