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SH Spotlight Compact Disc mastering: 1980's vs. "newly remastered"--Steve's thoughts in 2003 and 2018

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by Steve Hoffman, Mar 13, 2003.

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  1. Carlox

    Carlox Forum Resident

    +1 :righton:
  2. Tim Lookingbill

    Tim Lookingbill Alfalfa Male

    New Braunfels, TX
    Being a fairly new member here I went searching for examples of Mr. Hoffman's work and stumbled upon a YouTube "Loudness War" A/B comparison.

    I have yet to come across a CD that sounds that bad meaning the louder version but at least I know what this is all about.
  3. Joy-of-radio

    Joy-of-radio Forum Resident

    Central ME
    I recently got a Various Artists compact disc with "Tijuana Taxi" on it, and noticed it was mono. I was a bit disappointed at first until I noticed the extra horn honks. All of the tracks on the release are original single mixes. That mix of "Tijuana Taxi" is compressed in typical '60s singles fashion and is loud. I'm glad to have it!

    On the subject of remastering, one thing I've noticed again and again in Steve Hoffman's masterings even with my silly LO-FI equipment, is that acoustic elements in otherwise very busy recordings are rendered very clean sounding and clearly audible. Just one example is the song "Saturday Night" by the band "The Bay City rollers". The SH mastered recording exhibits detail the likes of which are startlingly faithful! The acoustic guitar, yes there is an acoustic guitar in the recording, resonates beautifully! I have a Best Of compilation issued in 2000 by Arista where the same song sounds overly loud and compressed such that there is no timbre and all of the instruments are forced to the forefront. it has a DR of 9 whereas the SH mastering is DR 12. For the fun of it, I converted the SH mastering to MP3 at 192Kbps, and it still had more detail and was more pleasant than the other mastering heard direct from the CD. It really is all about the mastering folks.

    REMASTERANTER Ahhhhhh...

    I find some early CD's sound awful to my ears, sort of musty and sucked dry... the early Combat Venom- At War With Satan is one example I can recall, I've heard the early hoo-jahs that did the transfers to digital weren't particularly amazing?

    Then you've got those un-tweaked LP masters that sound so brittle on CD (Black Sabbath Vol. 4....)

    Check out pretty much anything by Overkill post 1995, somehow even with modern slammed mastering they still seem easy on my ears... :confused:

    REMASTERANTER Ahhhhhh...

    You simply MUST subject yourse... I mean hear the Judas Priest Defenders 30th anniversary disc...
    Anonamemouse likes this.
  6. Tim Lookingbill

    Tim Lookingbill Alfalfa Male

    New Braunfels, TX
    I've already bought too many versions of the same albums lately so I'll take your word for it.

    My last A/B comparison purchase was Gastwirt's mastering of ELO's Out Of The Blue album on Jet Label vs the newer Sony label 30th Anniversary edition mastered by Joe Palmaccio which is much louder than Gastwirt's.

    What I don't like about louder versions made louder by software is that the character of sound does not mimic the linear behavior you'ld hear just raising the analog volume knob on a listening device. Even though the louder version has more bass and clarity and separation in quieter sections, in other louder parts the timbre somewhere in the 1KHz region takes on a blaring horn type of loudness where the separation of instruments and vocals just sounds like one big BLAAAAAH!

    I gave the Palmaccio remaster to my brother as a gift. He wouldn't know the difference anyway.
    Front 242 Addict and hodgo like this.
  7. partially agree and partially disagree.

    The 1985 Cars Greatest Hits CD is very thin/tinny sounding.

    However, the mid 1980's master of "If You Leave Me Now" by Chicago may be the warmest CD in my collection, sounds great cranked or quiet!
    Former Lee Warmer likes this.
  8. Former Lee Warmer

    Former Lee Warmer Emotional Rescue

    That I by and large messed up in the late 90s by discarding original CD pressings for 'digitally remastered" crap-ola, and wound up replacing what I had already replaced, whether it be SACD, original CD, or LP.
    Sax-son likes this.
  9. Former Lee Warmer

    Former Lee Warmer Emotional Rescue

    It is absolutely a case-by-case basis. Let you ears be the judge!
    ian christopher likes this.
  10. Rad Dudeski

    Rad Dudeski Why are these words under my name?

    One thing I noticed about 80's CDs is that they were almost always dynamic and didn't sound bad. There are a few that I own that sound really distorted in the midbass and midrange part of the audio, it looks like somebody ran a compressor over the song's multitrack and a few of the songs on the album ended up sounding bad. <--- I'm not sure if thats really what happened with the compressor or multitrack, just taking a educated guess. Did some sort of makeshift limiter exist in the 80s? Take these 2 albums for example James Ingram - Never Felt So Good & Top Gun Soundtrack, these are CD pressings from 1986 but yet the loudness is staggering for that year.
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2018
  11. Gill-man

    Gill-man Forum Resident

    I think that is that is what should have been learned in the past 15 years.
  12. auralden

    auralden Forum Resident

    Perhaps resolution is the wrong word to use here... density of sound is what I am referring to... it is a trait that gold plated CDs have over standard aluminium ones. Although the Japan version is less 'dense' than the Gold CD, as I mentioned I prefer it over the Gold CD because it is more holographic.
    Dave likes this.
  13. Kristofa

    Kristofa Car Scratch Melt Repeat

    Pacific Northwest
    Me too! I get really excited when I see an earlier pressing of something and pick it up. Sometimes I will even take a chance on something if it comes in a smooth-edged case! It is even better if it sounds great!
    Front 242 Addict and andrewskyDE like this.
  14. The Revealer

    The Revealer What is within remains a mystery.

    Metro Chicago, IL
    In almost all cases on this forum, I try to read an entire thread before posting. Here, though, I have to say simply that it's a post like this that I'll probably read from time to time and go through it slowly. My first reaction is that I am still working on identifying some of these warm vs. cold sounding differences. Posts like this are reference points for how much my ears have picked up as I have gotten back into serious listening after years of not really focusing on sound quality in music.

    I don't particularly embrace or avoid remasters. I'm very much 'catch as catch can.' Kate Bush Hounds of Love 2011 remaster is here in front of me? Buy it. Sounds good to my ears. A little too clear, perhaps? Beatles '87 George Martin transfer of Beatles for Sale at Goodwill. Sweet! Then I find out its flat. If I can find info on the forum before I buy, I'm grateful. Almost always, though, I catch up with the truth of the quality of my purchases after the fact. But, I learn to listen more closely.

    And then there's my system which has only recently become revealing enough to make better comparisons likely for me. It's a constant process of growth. I love that I can come here and get an education that makes a real difference in my enjoyment of music.

    Thanks, Steve and thanks to all.
  15. Stas

    Stas Forum Resident

    With a classic CD player there are two things to make impact on the sonic result - digital mastering and CD pressing. I found CD pressing to make more impact on the sonic results with older CD players, even more than digital mastering.
    I do read this forum for a long time and as a result I've got nice collection of early CD's. But with time I've switched to computer setup using RME soundcard feeding through SPDIF my vintage Sony DAC with Genesis Digital Lens in the middle. After this, I'm telling you - new mastering is generally much better than early 80's mastering, no doubt about it.
    For example, all the 2009 Beatle CD's are nice... but 2017 SPLHCB just blew up my mind! However, listening to new CD on older classic CD player is a pain because of poor pressing and I'd rather listen to old 87 CD this case.
    The theory tells you new AD converters are better and this is 100% true. One can do poor job with any equipment, this is also true. But I found mostly people who work for major companies are good in what they do. And lower DR value doesn't really tell you anything about SQ. I do like Bob Ludwig's Dire Straits SACD BIA better than MFSL!
    So - new mastering is generally much better, new pressing is generally very poor, even with Japanese CD's. What sounds better - it depends very much on your equipment. But new CD's should sound much better if you've got right equipment.
  16. Paul King

    Paul King Spy In The Wires

    Massillon, Ohio
    I know it may get me kicked off this board, but there are some remasters that I really like.

    The Depeche Mode CD/DVD remasters.
    The Midge Ure definitive versions of his two 80's albums.
    The remasters of Nik Kershaw's first two albums.
    The Cabaret Voltaire remasters.
    Front 242's remasters from the mid-ninties.
    Peter Gabriel's remasters by Tony Cousins.
    Sounds From The Ground remasters.

    I don't like squashed to death CD's but there have been some great remasters that are, to me, a marked improvement from their 80's/early 90's CD issues.

    I just can't disregard all remasters whole cloth because there have been some really worthwhile ones.
    mdm08033, andrewskyDE and moops like this.
  17. 9la

    9la Forum Resident

    What a coincidence that I just saw this thread. I had been thinking about starting a thread about how many times I have replaced a newer remaster with an earlier (better sounding) 1985-1994 CD. Some examples:

    ABBA: Definitive Collection 2001 > Gold 1992 and More Gold 1993
    It's a Beautiful Day: s/t: 1999 UK > 1989? Netherlands
    Rolling Stones: Exile on Main Street: 2009 Universal > 1994 Virgin
    Steppenwolf: Legends of Rock 2009 and All Time Greatest Hits 1999 > 16 Greatest Hits 1985
    Yardbirds: Roger the Engineer: 1996 Warner > 1986 Edsel

    I noticed that many newer "best of" compilations have somewhat less (but acceptable) dynamic range, but I kept them because I wanted the expanded track listings:

    Cars: Complete Greatest Hits 2002
    Doors: Legacy The Absolute Best 2003
  18. yasujiro

    yasujiro Forum Resident

    Oh, you have compared the CDs and preferred the older one. I have the Dutch CD and am satisfied with it. And many forum members said that the UK CD is superb, though I have never heard it.
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2018
  19. Kristofa

    Kristofa Car Scratch Melt Repeat

    Pacific Northwest
    Great post, and I can relate so much to it regarding access and system ability. And “catch as catch can”? That is me as well. Thankfully most of my catches are at thrift stores, so comparison exercises are cheap, easy, and fun.
    The Revealer likes this.
  20. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Your host Your Host Thread Starter

    The good thing about collectors in the year 2018 is that most people are dumping their CD's by the carload now. Easier to find the good stuff. Like The Great LP Dump of the late 1980s! Heaven for collectors.
  21. RSteven

    RSteven Forum Resident

    Brookings, Oregon
    So well said, Steve. It is a buyers market headed right in the collector's direction.
    Front 242 Addict and The FRiNgE like this.
  22. Kristofa

    Kristofa Car Scratch Melt Repeat

    Pacific Northwest
  23. MichaelXX2

    MichaelXX2 Forum Resident

    United States
    It sounds absolutely fantastic, and it's my favorite way to hear the album. I don't hear any hindrance at all...

    There's also the fact that the old 80s US Dire Straits CD is easily one of the best-sounding albums in my collection, among many others. I also love the old 80s Hotel California CD, and the old AC/DC CDs...
  24. Take most highly regarded "forum favorites" with a grain of salt and always do your own comparisons.
  25. Victor Martell

    Victor Martell Forum Resident

    Pardon, pardon and one more time, pardon the ignorance - could someone explain? because I would think that is pretty bad - given that the have to be not only be compressed (which is not necessarily lethal) but also bass reduced to avoid the famous needle jumps in cheapie turntables, not to mention the RIAA curve - or have I misunderstood all my life?

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