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Are the Bowie RCA CD's worth getting?

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by LadyGrinningSoul, Oct 10, 2015.

  1. LadyGrinningSoul

    LadyGrinningSoul Forum Resident Thread Starter

    I know they go for quite some money online, but is the sound really that good?
    deredordica likes this.
  2. skisdlimit

    skisdlimit Forum Resident

    Bellevue, WA
    Ah, this question again. My take on it is that Bowie's RCA CD's have long been the "least bad" of his digital offerings available, which may now have been superseded by the most recent issues (not sure about this as I haven't heard the new box set), but none of them have apparently ever matched let alone beaten the sound of the original vinyl, so if you have the hardware capability, it might actually make more sense to invest in those LPs and do needle drops rather than spend big money on discs that were never all that great sonically to begin with, unless of course you want the RCA's as collectibles.

    The only RCA title I currently own is the coveted "CSR" pressing of Aladdin Sane, which I purchased out of sheer curiosity based on favorable reviews at this forum, and the fact that it was the only album from the early 90's series of reissues that didn't contain any bonus tracks (those are primarily why I've held on to my Rykodiscs all these years). When I A/B'd the RCA with the Ryko, there was no question that the RCA featured a fuller sound with mainly a more pronounced bass response that pretty much all the Rykos were oddly lacking, but which I've mostly been able to adequately compensate for on my system with a few judicious EQ moves courtesy of our host's recommendations, so in retrospect I probably wouldn't have spent $60 on that RCA disc (you might be able to find it for less than that but don't hold your breath).

    In short, I think the choice comes down to what you're willing to spend, the kind of system setup you have for tweaking purposes, and how important owning the "best" digital version is to you. If I were starting to build a Bowie collection today, I would try to sample those new CD's first to see whether they're to my liking as the reports I've read so far are mostly positive.

    Hope this helps! :wave:
  3. ShallowMemory

    ShallowMemory Classical Princess

    If you can do vinyl, even the RCA International re-issues from the early 80's will better those cds and until the day we see a complete new set would serve you better.
    If you can't then you're joining the 'pick your poison' club as the RCA's are generally the least bad but no where no perfect series even though I like my (WG JN for Europe) Pin Ups and WG Aladdin Sane a lot with some titles being less satisfactory.
    I like my HD downloads and have so far four of the six albums in the series in cd form feeling most would be well served by the issues of David Bowie (aka Space Oddity), The Man Who Sold The World, Hunky Dory and Pin Ups. I've less issues with the DR on Ziggy Stardust and generally play the 2012 finding it 'cleaner' but the 2013 Aladdin Sane's restrictions in that regard show on the title track-there is limiting-but is otherwise fine and could live with it in isolation. Other folks may feel different.
  4. Plan9

    Plan9 Mastering Engineer

    Toulouse, France
    Actually to my ears the Low and Lodger West-German RCA CDs beat the 1st UK (and others) LP pressings.
  5. LadyGrinningSoul

    LadyGrinningSoul Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Thank you! Just what i was looking for. :agree::wave:
  6. Plan9

    Plan9 Mastering Engineer

    Toulouse, France
    Some of the RCA CDs sound amazing:

    both Aladdin Sane,
    the JPN for EUR Pin-Ups,
    the JPN for US Young Americans (best digital version by far)
    the WG Stationtostation
    the WG Low to Lodger (best digital versions by far)
    both Scary Monsters
    canonlon likes this.
  7. LadyGrinningSoul

    LadyGrinningSoul Forum Resident Thread Starter

    What about the RCA Ziggy Stardust, does that sound good? (CD)
    Sebastich likes this.
  8. Plan9

    Plan9 Mastering Engineer

    Toulouse, France
    There are 3 different RCA CD pressings, all with different sound. The prefered one is the JPN for JPN. I think it is the best of a bad lot.

    I don't absolutely love any Ziggy on digital, but I could live with any of them. My favorites are the 2003 SACD for surround and the JPN for JPN RCA for stereo.
    The 2012 remaster isn't awful, just a bit harsh and somewhat compressed, but it is widely available, contrary to the others.
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2015
  9. Monosterio

    Monosterio Forum Resident

    South Florida
    Not to me. But then I haven't heard the RCAs, and maybe I'd change my mind if I did.
  10. Plan9

    Plan9 Mastering Engineer

    Toulouse, France
    If you are interested by the RCA CDs, make sure to read some of that PDF.

    Not all RCA CDs are created equal, some pressings sound bad while some sound amazing.
  11. brimuchmuze

    brimuchmuze Forum Resident

    I would suggest buying the new Five Years box, and then wait for the next forthcoming box.

    Ziggy and Aladdin Sane you might consider 'upgrading' to RCA versions if you don't like the box mastering for those.

    The new ones are pretty cheap individually as well.
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2015
  12. alexpop

    alexpop Power pop + other bad habits....

    You don't see many Bowie RCA Japan ..or Germamy CDs in b & m stores any more. Got most of them anyway. Just saying. :)
    Sebastich likes this.
  13. Daniel Plainview

    Daniel Plainview God's Lonely Man


    And coincidentally I have several for sale on eBay right now! Best offers accepted!

    :laugh: :tiphat: :whistle: :tsk: :shh: :D ;)

    I'm pretty happy with the new remasters, personally.
    mdm08033 likes this.
  14. onlyconnect

    onlyconnect The prose and the passion

    Winchester, UK
    they are all very listenable but with a few glitches, poor packaging, historically interesting as first cd releases.

    Sebastich and mdm08033 like this.
  15. rstamberg

    rstamberg Senior Member

    Riverside, CT
    I only own two RCA Bowie CDs (I think), PIN-UPS and my beloved DIAMOND DOGS. Yes, both sound great. I have all the Rykodisc CDs and day-of-release CDs on each one's respective record label for everything starting with, ahem, NEVER LET ME DOWN. A whole bunch of Japanese reissues through the years, all the boxed sets and more.

    But what I'm really glad to have are all my original Bowie LPs, which I bought as they were released, starting with PIN-UPS. I've got all his 45s from '73-onward, too. I really started taking excellent care of my records and the record sleeves starting in 1974, so I'd imagine my vinyl collection still sounds pretty good.
    LadyGrinningSoul likes this.
  16. Pavol Stromcek

    Pavol Stromcek Forum Resident

    SF Bay Area
    I think the RCA CDs sound great - you just have to make sure you have the "right" ones, i.e. West German for the European market vs. Japan for the US market (and in some cases Japan for the Japan market), because in several cases the "wrong" ones are pretty flawed. If you choose to go down this road, really make sure to study the PDF that Plan9 linked to.

    I a/b'd the ones I have against the LPs and the CDs more than held their own. Some sounded very similar to my old LPs (WG Station to Station and even moreso the Japan for US Scary Monsters), while others were different but still sounded incredibly good ("CSR" Aladdin Sane, WG Low, Japan for US Heroes). Basically, I came away feeling that even when they didn't sound identical to the LP, they still had tonal characteristics that gave them kind of an LP sounding vibe, if that makes sense, especially when compared to later masterings.
  17. LonesomeDayBlues

    LonesomeDayBlues Forum Resident

    Long Beach, CA
    Ive said this before but that PDF is beautiful and makes me want to own them all!
  18. HiFi Guy 008

    HiFi Guy 008 Forum Resident

    New England
    The sound of many are really very good.
    No, it's not the vinyl, but in many cases the vinyl you'll find will sound poor compared to the RCA cd because the vinyl is so darn worn out!

    Read the thread on Bowie on cd and you'll get the gist of what to look for.
    Patience, and you'll find what you want at a decent price.
    paulg61 likes this.
  19. drasil

    drasil Former Resident

    this question has been discussed quite a bit around here. here is a great thread in which karmaman kindly made a bunch of clips for A/Bing some of the various available options, including the RCAs and the ryko AU20s. I don't know if they're still in his dropbox, though.

    I really love the rykodiscs, but this is not a popular opinion.
  20. fredblue

    fredblue Surrounded by Music

    London, England
    I'm nearly there, I just need an RCA of Stage and ideally to upgrade my Japanese RCA of Station To Station to a West German version, then I think I'm sorted.

    I haven't heard the latest remasters in the Five Years box, I'm enjoying these enough for now (there is something weirdly collectible about them, beyond all the hoopla about their sound etc) I will probably pick up the new remasters in time still.. gotta get 'em all and all that, donchya know! :D



  21. rjp

    rjp Senior Member

    i'll take the opposite view.

    while the RCA CD's might have a little better sound, the additional bonus tracks on the ryko CD's make them the much better purchase IMHO. each one has an abundant amount of extra,s and as far as i know, some of those extras have never shown up anywhere else.
    ranasakawa, Sebastich, Dodoz and 7 others like this.
  22. carrolls

    carrolls Forum Resident

    I have the all of 70's Bowie on original UK First pressing vinyl. Most are NM.
    I also have all of the RCA European CDs.
    The RCA CD's blow away the vinyl in every way possible.
    Y'all need to get over this misguided vinyl fixation.
    Sorry, but if a CD is mastered directly from the master copy and done well, It is not scientifically possible for the resulting vinyl to sound better than the resulting CD.
  23. mdm08033

    mdm08033 Forum Resident

    If money or time are no object I would buy the RCA CDs. Money is an issue for me so I have been haunting the bins for the past six, count 'em, six years and have acquired all of the compilations and still need TMWSTH, Low, Stage and Scary Monsters. If money or time are an issue I would buy the new Five Years box, budget for the nest round or two and be done with it.
    Sebastich, jfeldt and fredblue like this.
  24. NightGoatToCairo

    NightGoatToCairo Sheik Madeir

    Hampshire, UK
    thanks to karmaman
  25. Plan9

    Plan9 Mastering Engineer

    Toulouse, France
    Huh, no, you're thinking of the JPN for US (PCD1-1327 and RPCD13), it peaks at -7dB.

    The WG for EUR was the one they cloned in the STS Deluxe boxset, it peaks at -0.18dB.
    no.nine, fredblue, Echo and 2 others like this.

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