Rush: Original Mercury CDs vs. 1997 Remasters

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by Andrew T., Feb 20, 2005.

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  1. Andrew T.

    Andrew T. Out of the Vein Thread Starter

    I enjoy the music of Rush, and I was wondering: Do the 1997 Bob Ludwig remasters of titles from their Mercury catalog sound better or worse than the original CDs from the '80s?

    I bought Permanent Waves, Moving Pictures, and Signals in their 1997 Mercury "Rush Remasters" incarnations before I discovered this forum. I didn't think they sounded bad at all at first, but the more I've listened to them, I've found that they sound rather bright and harsh on my ears (especially Permanent Waves.) Before I buy more of their music, I'd be curious to know what the consensus is.
  2. Dave

    Dave Esoteric Audio Research Specialist™

    Greater Vancouver
    The originals are better to me. Sadly, the best Rush masterings are the Japanese first pressings and only a few are really good. For Moving Pictures get the MFSL and for Signals get the 25·8P-5169 Japanese 1st pressing for the best sounding versions.
  3. hdsemaj

    hdsemaj Active Member

    Ventura, CA, USA
    I have the MFSL's of '2112', 'Signals', and 'Moving Pictures'. All sound great to me. These however are the only versions I have ever had so I haven't been able to do sound quality comparisons.
    I did just a few days ago get the original 80's version of 'Permanent Waves' off ebay. Sounds great IMHO. YMMV of course.
  4. Tim H.

    Tim H. Active Member

    Cottonwood AZ
    If you find the remasters harsh & bright, I think you'll find the originals more-so. The MFSL's are the way to go for MP, Signals & 2112, but compared to the original cds (which I played the hell out of) I prefer the remasters - more bass, more depth, a fuller sound - at least to my ears.
  5. nosticker

    nosticker Forum Resident

    Ringwood, NJ
    Be wary of some original Moving Pictures pressings that have songs upcut(missing the beginning) and downcut(the end). Even the songs that fade up are truncated.

  6. Dave

    Dave Esoteric Audio Research Specialist™

    Greater Vancouver
    In all seriousness Dan, the MFSL is unbeatable so far for Moving Pictures and the N. American releases are very non-impressive on CD from a sound quality/mastering point of view.
  7. HeavyDistortion

    HeavyDistortion Forum Resident

    Baltimore, MD
    I have the original West Germany CDs of several of Rush's early releases, and prefer them over the latest remasters, which sound overly bright to me. Also, I agree that the MFSL of "Moving Pictures" sounds excellent.

    Ed Hurdle
  8. mark renard

    mark renard Forum Resident

    I have a British pressing of the Exit Stage Left 97 remaster. Same catalog number as the American release. It sounds bass heavy. Anyone know if it is identical to the North American pressing?
  9. Dave

    Dave Esoteric Audio Research Specialist™

    Greater Vancouver
    I'm purely speculating, but I would guess they're the same based on the same catalog number. I haven't heard a decent version of Exit Stage Left yet. All versions sound bass and top heavy to me so far.
  10. Alexo

    Alexo New Member

    For what it's worth, I'd like to offer some observations from the point of view of a non-audiophile (myself), who does, however, have somewhat sensitive ears. I compared three original CD's (in one of those cases it was actually an MFSL CD) with the 1997 remasters. The main difference, of course, was volume: the 1997's were always louder. This made it hard to focus on genuine sound-quality differences that were subtle to begin with. But I do think I was able to detect some differences.

    First, I compared by original late 80's Moving Pictures CD as carefully as I could to my copy of the 1997 remaster, and I liked the original better. I've always considered Moving Pictures one of Rush's best-sounding albums because of the sense of space it carries, and that sense of space - the voids between the instruments - comes across better on the original CD than on the 1997 remaster, which has a somewhat more "crowded" sound. However, the difference was very subtle and, I fully admit, may actually have been due to the volume difference.

    Next, I compared my late 80's 2112 to the 1997 2112 remaster. This album was a different story. 2112 was meant to be a thicker sounding, hard-rock effort, so, with 2112, I actually felt the greater power of the 1997 remaster benefited the record, whereas the 80's CD seemed thin and withery by comparison.

    Finally, I compared my MFSL CD of Permanent Waves to the 1997 Remaster. I felt these two CD's had different tonal qualities, which actually made choosing one over the other more difficult, not less. The MFSL seemed softer; in particular, Geddy Lee's vocals were less sharp. On the 1997 remaster, the vocals were grinding, and, in fact, the album as a whole seemed more trebly. I felt that I might possibly want to listen to the MFSL version more (though that could have been the psychological effect of remembering the higher cost of that CD!).

    I happen to have an 80's version of Hemispheres and a 1997 remaster of Hemispheres, and I found that I could not compare them meaningfully. Why? Hemispheres has a very dense, crowded sound to it, so besides the difference in volume between the two versions, I really could not discern any significant tonal, "spacial," or qualitative difference of any kind that would affect my listening experience.

    In fact, I have to say that for all the comparisons I just described, the differences in sound - besides the overall volume level - were *very* subtle, and I wonder if I did such comparisons again in several weeks whether I would hear different differences! The pair that were most different from each other were the MFSL and 1997 Permanent Waves pair, and, as I said, I couldn't say that one was "better" than the other: they had different tonal qualities, and I don't see how I could suggest that one represented "higher fidelity" than the other. I'm also unsure, if I were in the mood to hear any of these albums and simply threw one on the stereo, would I really have a more pleasing experience if I chose one of each pair over the other. I had to focus very intently to discern the differences that I did discern, and any one being "better" than the other was the result of direct comparison and repeated switching back and forth.
    RangerXT likes this.
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