Is there any "good" sounding Devo cd at all?

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by mikaal, Oct 15, 2013.

  1. mikaal

    mikaal Forum Resident Thread Starter

    I am referring to their past catalog.
    I have "Hits" and it is all over the place sound quality wise.
    I have the remastered "Are We Not Men"....shrrriiiillllll.
    Is it too much to ask for something uncompressed but warm and clear from this group?
    Any pointers appreciated.
    JRM likes this.

    DOUBTINGTHOMAS29 Forum Resident

    Portland, OR
    Have you heard the original pressings?
    Dave likes this.
  3. mikaal

    mikaal Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Yeah I had the WB original cd of "Men" but when I was seduced by the word "remastered" I was thinking ok it will be great and sound beefed up a bit. It didn't.
    I am more interested in a compilation of the earlier stuff...still I know what they say about sows ears and all.
  4. Jimmy Agates

    Jimmy Agates The Demon Of Screamin'

    It seems like nobody except me likes the Japanese remasters from a few years ago....oh well :hide:
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  5. drasil

    drasil Former Resident

    I think Thomas may have been referring to original vinyl pressings of the albums--I have are we not men (BSK 3239 with LW4/LW1 in the wax) and it is indeed bright, thin, and punchy as Mark, Eno, and Conny intended.

    my 1988 CD sounds very much like the LP. I haven't heard the remaster (2009?), but I'm happy that it isn't 'beefed up' any!
    Last edited: Oct 15, 2013
  6. kwadguy

    kwadguy Forum Resident

    Cambridge, MA
    Those are my recollections, too. Thin, DEFINITELY. And bright and punchy. And my copy of the vinyl is a first pressing, promo stamp, sent to me direct from Warner's Burbank offices a few days before it was released. So it's assuredly as god intended.
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  7. Jimmy Agates

    Jimmy Agates The Demon Of Screamin'

  8. SpudOz

    SpudOz Forum Resident

    Since I wrote the first review of the This is the Devo Box on Amazon I will certainly agree that they sound as punchy as hell but they have also been brickwalled and compressed. See a comparison of a number of issues of Wiggly World (from Duty Now For The Future) on CD here: You can see from the image that the 2008 Japanese remaster has been brickwalled. I must say though that the 2008 Japanese remasters do not suffer from some of the tape print through issues of the 2009 US remasters of Q?A! and FOC. These Japanese releases also have a slightly more forward mid-range than the 2009/10 US remasters.

    In terms of sonic quality, as Devo recorded in a different studio and with a different producer for pretty much all of their albums, the sound tends to be all over the place. My summary of the first five albums:

    Q?A! is thin & punchy but does suffer from a lot of tape hiss.

    DNFTF is a much better recording technically but is very dry, draining a lot of the songs of their energy. Pretty much any song from this album that Devo performs live has much more urgency and energy to it than what's on the album.

    FOC is a very good recording though still a little dry.

    Nutra. Well, this one does sound muddy and bass heavy after the multi-track started falling to bits during the mixdown process for the album.

    ONID is bright, punchy and in your face. My favourite Devo album but does suffer from excessive tape hiss. It sounds like it was recorded with Dolby but cut with no Dolby applied. I don't know why so many people praise the 1995 Infinite Zero reissue of this as it sounds nothing like the original album. It sounds dull when compared to the original vinyl.

    So it is no surprise that to the OP that "Hits" is all over the place sonically. The recordings are all so different.

    Sonically, the CD's that are the closest to the original vinyl are probably the (very) hard to find 1991 Japanese releases. They have full dynamic range and are sonically truthful to the vinyl. Unfortunately I never did get or have heard Q?A! and FOC as no one could import these into the country (Australia) given that WEA at the time were dynamite on grey imports of locally available titles. If anyone bought the Australian only 3for1 box set that had Q?A!, FOC and Nutra that was released in the late 90's, you might actually have a 1991 Japanese pressing of Q?A! as the disc has a totally unique catalogue number. Nutra used the 91 Japanese pressing for this set and I am guessing that Q?A! might indeed be the same. I do have the box set but it is still sealed.

    I would dearly love for Devo to get the AF or MFSL treatment but I don't think that I should hold my breath waiting for that to happen.
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  9. Scott Davies

    Scott Davies Forum Resident

    I thought the remasters of Men, Duty and Freedom were all surprisingly good, though a little bit loud. Not too bad though. I was puzzled why 'Turn Around' did not make it on Freedom, as it's one of the best session tracks. NewTrads actually sounds pretty good on the Collectibles release, and I like it better than the Infinite Zero, though keep that one as well for the bonus material. The best Oh No is Infinite Zero. It sounds worlds better than Collectibles. I also like Collectibles Shout release, as Infinite Zero has terrible distortion at the start of the first track, and little distortion spikes throughout the whole transfer. I keep it because it's the only place for the excellent B side 'Growing Pains'. I have never heard the Japanese box set, but did have a batch of the original early 90's Japanese CD's, though disposed of them long before I compared differences between versions. By the way, their 2010 album was as good as any of their earlier albums.
  10. Obtuse1

    Obtuse1 Forum Resident

    I've settled on these Devo CD's as my go-to versions:

    Q?A! - Original Warner CD
    Duty Now - Infinite Zero
    Freedom Of Choice - WB Remaster
    New Traditionalists- Infinite Zero
    Oh No! - Infinite Zero
    Something For Everybody-Japan Version (for the bonus material, otherwise the U.S. mastering is the same AFAIK).

    Can't really comment on anything between Oh No! and Something For Everybody (as I have a catalog gap there). Avoid the Virgin two-fers, unless you really want the bonus tracks (dropout/tape issues, especially on Duty Now....). The Collectibles issues were not bad, but I found Duty Now to be a bit veiled compared to the Infinite Zero.
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  11. danner

    danner Forum Resident

    Birmingham, AL
    Seconded. In the late 90s, the Virgin two-fer was the only version of Duty I could find. When I finally got my hands on a vinyl copy a few years later, I couldn't believe how much better it sounded.
  12. Agent57

    Agent57 Marshall will buoy, but Fender control

    That is a head-scratcher indeed. Is that song available anywhere else on CD besides the UK "Oh No!/FOC" 2-fer? I own one of those but can't find the damn thing. And my "Whip It" 45 is trashed. TIA

    (Listening to "Secret Agent Man" from DNFTF right now...I do love that cover)
  13. Scott Davies

    Scott Davies Forum Resident

    Turn Around is available on iTunes as part of a Whip It single remaster. But as far as a CD release goes, the twofer is the only one I'm familiar with. When I bought the Whip It 45 back in 1980, I found myself playing Turn Around on the B side much more often. It's one of their best tracks, IMO.
    JimC likes this.
  14. Agent57

    Agent57 Marshall will buoy, but Fender control

    Same here and I agree.
  15. goodiesguy

    goodiesguy Boulful Sallad

    New Zealand

    I find this one sounds decent, a wee bit compressed, but overall decent sound IMO. I'd love for AF or MFSL to do some DEVO though.
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  16. I have the remasters of: Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo!; Duty Now for the Future; Freedom of Choice; and New Traditionalists. I am happy with them. I have The Anthology and that's decent too.

    I have the original Warner Bros CDs of Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo! and Freedom of Choice. And I always thought they sounded a bit anemic. Freedom sounds particularly flat and lifeless to me.
  17. jkauff

    jkauff Putin-funded Forum Troll

    Doylestown, PA
    The "target" CD of Freedom of Choice sounds very good.
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  18. So, I've been collecting a lot of Devo CDs, so I thought I'd give my scatterbrained thoughts on the matter and the production on each album:

    Production: Bright, thin, full of tape hiss. Captures their energy pretty well at the time.
    Mastering: The 88 CD sounds good enough IMO, but there's some dropouts in there (nothing too nasty), the 2010 remaster sounds somewhat better, but has been compressed to give it a DR of about ~9 which isn't awful, but isn't too great. The 08 remaster is similar to the 2010 remaster, but sounds like someone turned up the bass too much
    Winner: 2010 Remaster, but the 88 CD is serviceable

    Duty Now:
    Production: A little muddy, but overall pretty good. Like SpudOz said, the material on this album was better performed live, with more energy. Booji's Red Eye is one of the best things Devo has done IMO, but the Studio version seems lethargic in comparison.
    Mastering: 91 Pressing sounds good to my ears, and it has it's dynamics intact. I don't have the 94 Remaster, but I've heard it sounds good, but it's compressed. The 2010 remaster sounds pretty good, but it's been limited and compressed a bit. There's some tracks that have a bit more clarity on the 91 pressing, and some on the 2010 remaster, so take that as you will.
    Winner: 91 Pressing, but the 2010 Remaster is similar

    Production: I've heard people say it sounds like it was recorded in someone's closet. Pretty good analogy.
    Mastering: 80's pressing is terrible. 2008 remaster is good, but very clipped. 2009 remaster is good but compressed.
    Winner: 09 Remaster

    Production: Tapes were literally falling apart when making it. Guess it really is the "sound of things falling apart".
    Mastering: 91 Pressing is very good, the best that NuTra is ever going to sound. 97 remaster is similar, and even takes out that annoying clicking in "Through Being Cool", but yet again, DR compression. 08 Remaster is similar to them, but brickwalled. 2010 remaster is shockingly poor sounding, sound way more muddy than it needs to be.
    Winner: 91 Pressing, but the 97 Remaster is a good substitute that's much more widely avalable

    Production: Beautiful sound, high dynamics, those cokeheads knew what they were doing!
    Mastering: 91 Pressing sounds gorgeious, with everything intact. For all the flac that the 93 2-fer discs get, the mastering on the ONID portion of the ONID/FOC disc is pretty similar to the 91 pressing, and doesn't seem to suffer from the major dropouts that plagued the discs. 95 remaster is terrible, despite what everyone says, with the synths sounding extremely muffled and muddy. 2008 remaster is similar to the 91 version, and actually survives with it's DR in the 10's.
    Winner: 91 Pressing

    Production: It's the Fairlight, what do you expect
    Mastering: 91 Pressing sounds good to me, but this album is never going to sound great, considering the Fairlight they were using had less than CD quality sampling.
    Winner: 91 Pressing

    DEV-O Live EP:
    Production: Feels like a live album, sounds like a live album, it's a live album
    Mastering: Now here is what perplexes me, the 91 Pressing and the EP portion of the Rhino Remaster are somewhat different. I've made a post of the Discogs page about it. Could someone with the 12" confirm if the 91 pressing is how it sounds?
    Winner: ?

    Are the 91 Pressings of Q/A and FOC really different from the 80's discs? I would think that they would just be reissues, just the give the Japanese market the whole Warner catalog.

    I'll update this later with overviews of each era of remasters, DR meter info, and FLAC samples
  19. erniebert

    erniebert Shoe-string audiophile

    Toronto area
    I always thought my original Freedom of Choice WB CD sounded pretty good. If I was going to nit-pick, I'd say it's a bit muffled and a bit quiet. However, that makes it non-fatiguing and crankable.
  20. Personally I always thought that the original Freedom of Choice WB CD sounded a bit too flat. For my tastes the remaster (with bonus tracks) gives this album some extra sparkle that makes it a more more engaging listen.
  21. Does anybody know if the valued "Target CD" has the same mastering as the general release?
  22. erniebert

    erniebert Shoe-string audiophile

    Toronto area
    I would call it "flat", also. That flatness goes away the louder you turn it. :)
  23. SpudOz

    SpudOz Forum Resident

    I concur. Beautiful dynamic range but really dull & lifeless. If you really crank it up though it does sound better.

    Thank God someone agrees with me on the 1995 re-issue of ONID. It sounds horrible and nothing like the original album. For me it was the worst of the IZ re-issues with the only redeeming feature being the bonus tracks. The others were pretty good apart from the distortion/artifacts on the beginnings of both Shout and Here to Go from Shout

    I have both the Target FOC as well as a later repressing though it can't be that much later as it is still made in West Germany. Both discs have the same matrix code (7599 03435-2 2893 070 01) and are identical in the mastering. DR value = 14. I don't have an actual US release (with the barcode) but I can verify that there is no dropout in Snowball as there is often mentioned on the US disc.

    For the first six catalogue albums and the Live EP the DR readings are as follows [US = USA, JP = Japan, IZ = Infinite Zero, COL = Collectables, VIR = Virgin, WG = West Germany]. I haven't bothered with all of the Virgin's due to the numerous tape dropouts on the bulk of these.

    88 US: 13
    91 JP: ?
    08 JP: 9
    09 US: 9

    91 JP: 12
    94 IZ: 12
    05 COL:
    08 JP: 9
    10 US: 11

    85 WG: 14
    91 JP: ?
    93 UK: 12
    08 JP: 10
    09 US: 10

    91 JP (6 tracks): 14
    00 US (22 tracks): 10

    91 JP: 12
    97 IZ: 9
    05 COL: 11
    08 JP: 9
    10 US: 10

    91 JP: 15
    93 VIR: 15
    95 IZ: 11
    05 COL: 15
    08 JP: 11

    91 JP: 12
    96 IZ: 11
    02 COL: 12
    08 JP: 9

    As to your Dev-O Live query, sorry I'm not THAT anal listening to them :laugh:. I've never noticed. The one that does get me every time though is when someone goes "err" in What I Must Do (right channel) just before the start of the second verse.
  24. c-eling

    c-eling Forum Resident

    If the old "Total" cd sounds like the US vinyl your in for a winner, yeah I love this album :hide:

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