Led Zeppelin II - 1988 Technidisc CD with Different Mastering

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by Agora Mike, Aug 10, 2018.

  1. Agora Mike

    Agora Mike Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Cleveland USA
    I recently found an unusual copy of Led Zeppelin II with "MADE IN THE U.S.A. BY TECHNIDISC, INC." at six o'clock on the label. The matrix says "WEA/ LED ZEPPELIN LED ZEPPELIN II Technidisc #318-028-007-M 02/21/88F". This was the first time I'd seen a Technidisc CD, apparently a laser disc manufacturer that had a short run of CD production around 1988.

    When I ripped it I was surprised to discover that the EAC values did not match the common Diament master:

    [​IMG]

    It is not simply level adjusted as you can see. Listening to it, it is obviously based on the same digital source and is extremely similar or the same as the common Diament 80s CD mastering. I am not sure, but when I A/B certain tracks there may be slight differences in the stereo separation and high frequencies but I'm not sure I could consistently pick out either one in a blind A/B/X test. Regardless it sounds great and at least equals the common 1980s CD.

    The CD TOC has different start and end times from the common 1980s CD. The length of "Ramble On" is 4:36 instead of 4:35 as on my other copies.

    I searched the forum and found no mention of Led Zeppelin II 1980s pressings with different EAC values. Are there other slightly different masterings out there besides this one? Any ideas why this mastering is different?

    Barry Diament has posted here that he sent digital tapes of his Led Zeppelin masterings to all the CD pressing plants at the time. To me, he seems to indicate that he would expect all the pressings of that era would be digital clones.

    Regardless, this has given me the opportunity to enjoy this great album and really appreciate the fantastic work that Barry did back in the 80s on the Zeppelin catalog. Really fine sounding CD.
     
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  2. c-eling

    c-eling Forum Resident

    I find oddities like interesting as to what causes these minor differences Mike.
    An example of a later manufacture
    Front 242 Evil Off, 1993
    Both US, Both non club
    1A EK 87.8/97.7/97.7/ etc
    DIDP 77.7/100/100/ etc
     
  3. ajawamnet

    ajawamnet Forum Resident

    Location:
    manassas va 20109
    Where did you get it from? I'm looking for various versions of that CD. I'd love to compare Whole Lotta Love to the other releases I have.

    I've been remixing that from the multitrack 8 FLAC dump of the original 1" they did on the Scully at Olympic. Kramer and Page mixed that in the states on an old 12 channel rotary console and every release I've heard suffers from multiple level increases and distortion. By the fade, the cymbals sound like flatulence.

    That distortion is def. NOT in the multitracks - tho the raw drum pair sounds like crap and the pair was off 8ms in relation to each other.
     
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  4. HiFi Guy 008

    HiFi Guy 008 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Connecticut
    Slightly different peak levels, even if not uniform, do not necessarily mean different mastering.
     
  5. c-eling

    c-eling Forum Resident

    That manufacture is pretty rare.
    I only have three US Technidisc's, all cd singles, 91 and 92's
     
  6. ajawamnet

    ajawamnet Forum Resident

    Location:
    manassas va 20109
    I thinking it still is basically the same mix. I've heard the older CD's as well as the 2015 remaster and they all suffer from the same issues.

    Be interesting to get a copy of it tho.
     
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  7. Agora Mike

    Agora Mike Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Cleveland USA
    I found it at a local used CD shop. I'll try to upload a sample for you to compare.

    Yes absolutely the same mix. Just interesting because I've never read about any early Zeppelin CDs that differed digitally in any way from one another. I have collected a lot of other pressings from bands like U2, R.E.M., The Police, Steely Dan, Genesis because there are so many different sources and masterings from the 80s. I just have never heard of a single 80s Led Zeppelin CD that differed at all, no matter where it was produced. They may exist I just don't know.

    Yes I totally understand your point and agree - it just depends on the definition of "mastering" in the context of a CD. I meant that is is not digitally identical (literally), which may be unusual for the band and the period.
     
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  8. HiFi Guy 008

    HiFi Guy 008 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Connecticut
    Not sure what you mean by "digitally identical."
    You mean the digital file doesn't sound like the analog tape or lp?
    Welcome to the Hoffman Forums!
    There is a no digitally identical digital release that is "digitally identical" to the original analog recording.
    But there are some that are close or identical to digital recordings.

    And am I correct assuming that you're referring to bands that did not record digitally? It wasn't unusual for Zep to record to analog, nor R.E.M, Steely Dan, etc. That was the norm.
     
  9. Agora Mike

    Agora Mike Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Cleveland USA
    When you rip a CD using a program like EAC or XLD, it generates a signature that is often used here to identify specific digital releases. If your Led Zeppelin II CD that you bought in 1987 came from the US, West Germany or Japan, this signature would be the same regardless. I'm saying this CD has a different digital signature than those discs, which makes it interesting. Nothing more and nothing less than that.
     
  10. HiFi Guy 008

    HiFi Guy 008 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Connecticut
    Yes I got that and it IS interesting.
    Some cd's, using the same mastering sound different.
    What's your take after your subsequent listenings?
     
  11. Agora Mike

    Agora Mike Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Cleveland USA
    Cool! I didn't realize they produced CDs that long. My impression was that they were only creating CDs in 1987 and 1988. Thanks for the info! Their matrix codes are bizarre compared to other pressing plants, aren't they? I guess you can't really call it a matrix "code" if it includes the complete name of the label, artist and album name! :D More like a matrix description.
     
    Last edited: Aug 10, 2018
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  12. Agora Mike

    Agora Mike Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Cleveland USA
    They are at least very close, and the logical side of my brain says they have to be essentially identical because I can't imagine a scenario where Technidisc, Inc would have access to anything besides the digital masters from Diament like everyone else at that time. But they obviously did some kind of digital pre-processing that the other plants did not do at the time, which is unusual. Maybe as simple as setting the track marks which caused the changes in the peak levels, but I really don't think that's the only explanation because every track is different and there is silence between tracks anyway. Not sure. I guess to answer your question I sometimes think I can hear slight differences that often favor the Technidisc but I can't really explain it. Could just be confirmation bias.
     
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  13. c-eling

    c-eling Forum Resident

    Your's isn't a club issue is it?
    When Wax Trax! stopped using Canada and US PDO's I think they started using whoever had the least expensive manufacturing. KMFDM's Money, 1992 I have a Rainbo manufacture, and no, no warping issues :D
    Here's the hub of the 1992 single-
    [​IMG]
     
  14. Agora Mike

    Agora Mike Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Cleveland USA
    Yeah I've spent some today doing critical listening with headphones and there are definitely some issues with the source! But honestly I really like that because it feels genuine and I doubt we'll ever get closer to the original tapes than those early CDs.
     
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  15. Agora Mike

    Agora Mike Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Cleveland USA
    No I don't think so - it has the regular release number and no "A2" or anything.

    Do you think Technidisc, Inc was different in certain ways in the late 80s because they were working in video as well? Would they have a different workflow or unusual equipment that audio-centric pressing plants wouldn't have used?
     
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  16. HiFi Guy 008

    HiFi Guy 008 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Connecticut
    You have a multitrack flac of the original 1" (you mean vinyl or tape)?

    Please tell more.
     
  17. Agora Mike

    Agora Mike Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Cleveland USA
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2018
  18. Agora Mike

    Agora Mike Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Cleveland USA
  19. ajawamnet

    ajawamnet Forum Resident

    Location:
    manassas va 20109
    Ok here's the whole story

    From a FLAC dump of the original 1" Scully multitrack. And this is not a rap or dance remix - I tried to stay true to the intent Page and Kramer had back then.

    My remix has no fade at the end. Interesting how they ended it, with a spoken farewell from Plant at the very end.

    First a comparison:
    http://www.ajawamnet.com/ajawam2/lzcompare_0006.mp4

    And one with VU meters driven by my remix:
    http://www.ajawamnet.com/ajawam2/lz-wll-vu1.mp4

    Listen to these on some good speakers.

    This took well over 100 hours to do. I do a lot of mixing; this was tough to get to match the original; especially the middle fluff part.

    I just wanted it cleaner and a bit more modern sounding.

    I initially sent it to the webmaster at the official site - he said he couldn't here the difference. Cool... what I wanted. But to anyone that ever played WLL back on decent system might appreciate what I labored over. Not fun. And my poor wife - she hates Led Zep.


    The story of my WLL remix:

    About a year and a half ago I was asked by a guy on one of my day-job forums (EDA tools for PCB design) to remix something. He'd heard what I did on the remix of Twisted Tower Dire for Remedy Records and wanted to know if I could fix up a tune.

    So he sends me a link to some rar file archive.

    When I first got it and imported it into my DAW of choice (Reaper - Justin from Winamp wrote it - only 10MBytes total installer - that's some coding!) I thought it was his kid's band doing a cover of Whole Lotta Love. - Only 8 tracks... The stereo pair of drums sounded so bad (see links later) I fig'd OK, what the hell; make his kid happy...

    I come to realize it's the actual multitracks from a failed Guitar Hero release. Turns out it was done at Olympic only on 8 tracks - see the WSJ article:

    The Making of Led Zeppelin's 'Whole Lotta Love'

    Since wsj might require you to have an account - here's the same article reprinted at biz insider:
    How one of Led Zeppelin's greatest hits was made

    So I remixed it... I had noticed years earlier that the original release - as well as later releases like the 2015 "mothership" remaster - sounded like crap; after reading the WSJ article I now know why...

    So during my remix, I took the original 8 - here's a screenshot:
    [​IMG]

    and split it up to get it to mix as clean as possible:
    [​IMG]
    and added VU meters to try and mimic what it looked like to George (engineer - see the WSJ article) and crew...

    There was no way to use the original 8 FLAC's for the VU's... on the original 8 tracks screenshot, note the extended space where the cursor is - this is what Kramer and Page must have razor bladed back then. The "yooouu neeeed... Ta Da" is off as compared to what you're used to hearing. The Ta Da is actually about 3 beats from where it lives in the released version since it was for the alternate vocal that was not used.

    If you do the ol' Bill Fleming trick (Bill was the original "Mr Yuk" - - he'd look between the tracks) take a Fleming look at tracks 1-2 and track 4 (bass)

    Look at how tight they play; esp on the verses... - nutz dead on...
    All on just 8 tracks...

    And regardless of what Kramer states in that WSJ article, the "pre-echo" is actually bleed into the guitar amp mic of a deleted vox guide track. It matches neither of the vocal tracks. You can see it on track 6 ( the lead guit/fluff/dive tracks).

    And when I mention the drums sounding like poo - here's a link to some of that where you can hear Bonham groaning on almost every roll down the toms:
    http://www.ajawamnet.com/ajawam2/groaningbonzo1.mp3
    http://www.ajawamnet.com/ajawam2/groaningbonzo2.mp3+

    And as I mentioned - the pair is actually 8ms off - see if you can hear it in those groaning examples. You'll see what I mean if you bring it into something like Audacity and zoom in.

    When i first got the files I thought that the 2 drum tracks were Mid/Side, where one track is a mono L+R and the other is L-R (this is how stereo FM broadcast works). Nope, just ****ed up stereo.

    For what Page and Kramer did back on an old broadcast 12 channel (prob Gates) rotary stepped attenuator console (they didn't usually have pots) "Hats off to them..."

    When I initially remixed it Bob Lefsetz (the pundit that Taylor Swift wrote the song "Mean" about) published a mailbag where I responded to his column about meeting Geoff Emerick and his opinion on Sir George Martin's kid remixing Sgt Peppers. He published a link to the comparison.

    A reprint of the mailbag is here -
    Music Industry News: Mailbag
    My comments are about half way down the page...


    BTW - there's a theremin part at the end after the accapella "You Need..." I didn't include it since it was not on the original mix Kramer and Page did.
     
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2018
  20. Agora Mike

    Agora Mike Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Cleveland USA
    Wow! That's a really cool project. Great job on the remix! The link with the VU meters is really interesting. And I had no idea about the groaning Bonzo - I always assumed that was Plant until now. Very cool.
     
  21. George P

    George P Yes, I can hear you, Clem Fandango

    Location:
    NYC
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  22. ajawamnet

    ajawamnet Forum Resident

    Location:
    manassas va 20109
    Thanks... I hope some people out there appreciate the work I put into that.
    I really was hesitant to do that once I realized what it actually was. But I recall hearing one of the original CD masterings on my mid field JBL's (4412A's) back when I got some new plugins years ago.

    So I figured hey what the heck... give it the good old college try (tho I'm a high school dropout). I really didn't think I'd get it any better than what they did - esp after hearing the raw drums tracks.

    As to the 8ms diff between the left and right of the drums - I just recently found that out.
    Here's a zoomed in screenshot of it before adjusted it:
    [​IMG]
    Made a big difference in imaging the drums.

    Then notice the TA - DA bing way off and it matching the other vox track. I can see why Page and Kramer selected what they did. Not sure who razor bladed it but it seems to me it would have had to have been the 1" multitrack. I recall reading about how Eddie Offord had to do that with the Yes stuff - they'd record it all in sections with just scratch guitar, bass, and drums, then he'd assemble the 2" 16 or 24 track. Then add keys, more guitar, percussion. Poor Jon Anderson would come in and be a bit flabbergastedas to what to do vocally - it grew way beyond what it was.

    One thing to note - really listen to Bonham after the guitar solo and after the accapella part. Just amazing. And you can hear talking in the background.

    But all that groaning - all the effort and emotion he was putting into that. There's a few times he's following the da-dah, ta-da, dah where he does this amazing syncopated kick snare thing.

    You can't hear it so well on the original mix - on mine you can. I approached getting those drum tracks to have that power and emotion that got lost in the original mixes.

    He deserves it as does actually hearing PLant. And Jones bass doesn't fold up at the end of the second chorus before the fluff.

    Speaking of the fluff/theremin thing - that's what's actually there - a lot more mass to it than what they did with (I'm guessing) a ring mod or whatever they used. Me finding a plugin (actually about 5 ) to do that was not easy. When I saw 100 hours to mix this that's an understatement.

    I really wish someone at the label would put that much effort into it. I'm sure they could get someone a lot better than me to do it.
     
  23. Agora Mike

    Agora Mike Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Cleveland USA
    Yes I noticed the same thing. If you plot the spectrum in Audacity they look identical. Have you tried actually importing both stereo tracks into Audacity and comparing them side-by-side using the "solo" button (in simple mode) on each track? They should be lined up closely enough to be able to switch back and forth almost seamlessly. If you do, let me know if you hear any differences at all.
     
  24. Agora Mike

    Agora Mike Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Cleveland USA
    Every time I've heard a Bonham track isolated from the rest of the mix I've been amazed. He was really incredible and a huge part of their sound signature. I really think behind almost every great band is a great drummer.
     
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  25. George P

    George P Yes, I can hear you, Clem Fandango

    Location:
    NYC
    Hi Mike,

    I have compared masterings of numerous albums this way over the years using Audacity to compare EQ and compression. I feel like I have done this enough times (and then compared using my ears) so that I have decided if the EQ appears to be the same and the levels/waveforms appear to be the same, then they are close enough so that I consider the mastering the same.

    I have pressing preferences, as does Barry Diament, who reported here a number of times that the SRC pressings of his work sounded the best to him, but that is something different altogether.
     
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