Are 80s Led Zeppelin CDs really better?

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by SOONERFAN, Jan 9, 2010.


    SOONERFAN Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Norman, Oklahoma
    Please excuse my lack of knowledge as I am brand new to the forum. I am confused about all the praise I am reading about the 1980's mastered Led Zeppelin CD's and how they are better then the remasters done in the early 1990's. I specifically read that the Barry Diament (I think that is his name) masters were not even made from the original master tapes. I understand the masters from the early 1990's were done from the original master tapes. So, how can the 80's CD's be better? Furthermore, I understand that the whole loudness war/compression thing did not start in earnest or get out of hand until the mid to late 90's. The Zeppelin remasters obviously came before this period. Now I understand the Mothership release which came later is an example of a loud/overly compressed and poor remaster. I had previously read the original Zep CD's were flat, lifeless, and tinny sounding. I have ordered a copy of the original 80's Led Zeppelin I CD and plan to decide for myself I suppose. I currently listen to the Japan SHM version of the Zep stuff (early 1990's masters I think) and really like it for what that's worth.
    Thanks, and glad to be a part of the forum
  2. agentalbert

    agentalbert Forum Resident

    San Antonio, TX
    Welcome to the forum. Use the search engine to search for "led zeppelin" as there are LOTS of threads discussing the very questions you are asking. Good to see you're getting one of the original Zep cd's to do a comparison yourself. Not everyone here prefers the original 80's Zep CD's, but probably more than half do.
  3. Deuce66

    Deuce66 Forum Resident

    my fave Zep CD's are the recent Japanese SHM's, bought the box, some claim that they are louder (they are) but they are nowhere near compressed and squashed as some like to claim (no doubt w/o hearing them first), a quick comparison with the Page remasters of a few tracks on Goldwave showed a minimal increase in average RMS volume and they are not even close to a typical 2000 and later rock release (Metallica Death Magnetic holds that record in my collection), they are more like 1994 in terms of how the file actually looks, the peaks are intact. Whatever sounds best for the individual is the most important criteria and the only one that really matters imo.
    Paulo Alm, fuse999 and sennj like this.
  4. They have WAY more dynamic range.
    BluesOvertookMe and bru87tr like this.

  5. I think that they are to compressed for my tastes. But to each their own.
    joshm2286 likes this.
  6. Andreas

    Andreas Senior Member

    Frankfurt, Germany
    "Flat" usually means flat frequency response, i.e. there were no equalization changes compared to the tapes. I don' think that is true at all, since Barry has posted many times on this board that he did not master "flat". What is probably true though is that the 1980s CDs have less equalization applied during the mastering than the 1990s CDs, and I actually think that this is to their advantage.

    "Lifeless" has no objective meaning at all. Some people use it as a description for the result of noise reduction which obvious does not apply here.

    "Tinny" usually means a lack of bass. If you think the 1980s CDs lack bass, you should revise your system. If you think the 1980s CDs have less bass then the 1990s CD, your hearing deceives you or you haven't really listened.
    onm3rcur7 and Klassik like this.
  7. Andreas

    Andreas Senior Member

    Frankfurt, Germany
    Compared to the 1990s CDs, they have about the same dynamic range.
    RangerXT, JediJoker and mooseman like this.
  8. +1 on both.
  9. SteveS1

    SteveS1 Forum Resident

    Weald, England, UK
    +2 on both.

  10. street legal

    street legal Forum Resident

    west milford, nj
    I'd say maybe the mid 90's for the MOST part. But there are certainly remastered catalogs out there from 1992 & 1993, nevermind 1994, that are compressed & too "loud" for my tastes.
    driverdrummer and mooseman like this.
  11. vinyl diehard

    vinyl diehard Two-Channel Forever

    The Japanese Forever Young series, which are still fairly easy to come by and manufactured in the early 90's, sound fantastic, IMHO. I don't need to look any further.:righton:
    danielbravo, marcfeld69 and ShawnX like this.
  12. Gems-A-Bems

    Gems-A-Bems Forum Resident

    The Duke City
    So do the older CDs have "about the same dynamic range" or "WAY more"?
  13. slunky

    slunky Forum Resident

    MA, US
    Yes they are better. The 80s Zep CDs have a warm analog sound. The remasters don't.

    One can crank the original 80s CDs and it sounds nice and smooth. Try doing that with the remasters. Your ears will be bleeding within seconds.

    The best of the 80s CDs, in my opinion, is Zeppelin II. It has some big, fat bass!
  14. Grant

    Grant Now let that bass fall in! Oh yeah!

    United States
    I don't think they're anything special.
  15. Runt

    Runt Forum Resident

    Motor City
    You'll see lots of "animated" discussions around here on which CDs of any given catalog are "better." That's what makes this place so much fun. :D

    Having said that, the '80s Barry Diament-mastered CDs sound pretty good to my ears. They're (typically) easy to find and inexpensive, which makes it easier to take a chance and check 'em out.
    driverdrummer likes this.
  16. rstamberg

    rstamberg Senior Member

    Riverside, CT
    You know, I've got almost all the Led Zeppelin CD pressings out there. Personally, I'm happy with the Japanese SHM-CDs; I bought the boxed set in '08. Yes, I know they're the same remasters as everywhere right now ... they just sound really good to my ears. I don't think SHM-CDs (or Japanese Blu-spec CDs for that matter) are jive. I really think they sound great.
  17. ricks

    ricks Custom Title:

    Hudson Yards
    Direct compare yourself is best way. Rather than go with opinions of those whose audio quality preferences may be different than yours.

    I think the biggest difference is with Houses Of The Holy, get yourself an original, any pressing, their all the same for the intents and purposes of your test and directly compare track to track with the remaster. From that point you'll have a good idea as to what your tastes are; Natural and Dynamic, or more digital with a lowered ceiling due to noise reduction.


    P.S. for you test, I would not recommend spending big money on SHM, mini-lp's, or other such snakeoil, they merely feature, the same mastering, or in some cases altered (sometimes weirdly) mastering of the remaster. Pick up the currently available stock remaster and save a lot of money.
    joshm2286 likes this.

    SOONERFAN Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Norman, Oklahoma
    What about the fact that the 80's Zep cd's were not mastered from the original source and the 90's masters were? I have not read anyone specifically address this issue.

  19. I think the 80's CDs KILL the remasters. As for source I could not give a *!$#@ as they are highly crankable and the remasters are not. I also read here that the remasters used the same sources and that the claims of using the original masters were false. Personally I think whole original master thing is somewhat over-rated. But people love buzz words...

    As someone I'm sure has or will mention do your own comparisons. Talk is cheap and some posters seem to have hidden agendas in their opinions. Trust only your own ears, at least until you learn who preferences match your own, something I still haven't found.
  20. KeithH

    KeithH Success With Honor...then and now

    Beaver Stadium
    I prefer the '80s Zeppelin CDs to the '94 remasters.
  21. Drexler_McStyles

    Drexler_McStyles Active Member

    Cackalack Country
    The Zeppelin Debate is a mixed bag. Most of the original CD's are very good. Some are not (S/T, III, IV) and have various issues. The '94's are still pretty good, regardless of what the elitists might have you believe...
  22. grizzly

    grizzly New Member

    Hey cuz,welcome abord.
  23. Evan L

    Evan L Beatologist

    The 80s CDs are better except for Zep IV. Only because the original issue used a subpar master....

    Phasecorrect likes this.
  24. eelkiller

    eelkiller Technically right but still wrong reversed channels in some cases.

    I personally have no problems with the Page Marino discs. I also have the originals plus the 3 CD promo limited box set.

    If you want the ultimate quality you may want to go the "vinyl route" but be prepared to load up the credit cards.

    SOONERFAN Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Norman, Oklahoma
    I'm not sure about the vinyl route for me personally. I have read that you need a very good/expensive set up and really know what you are doing to really enjoy the sonic benefits of vinyl. I was buying tapes as a kid at the tail end of the mainstream vinyl era and then transitioned to CD's in the late 80's. Therefore, I don't know much about records. I spend enough money on music so I an not able to "load up the credit cards". Plus, you can really only listen to records in the house. This is an issue also as I listen to music in all sorts of different settings. I think I will stick with trying to get the best sounding CD's regardless if the "Vinyl is the best" idea is true or not.
    Pastafarian, luckybaer and joshm2286 like this.

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