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.

  1. Dynamic Ranger

    Dynamic Ranger Forum Resident

    Old Town, Maine
    Well, that's mostly because 85% of modern society has had their hearing destroyed by crappy earbuds, or those God-awful "Beats" headphones. "Ugh!" And they also could care less about using high quality home gear when listening. :shake: So they wouldn't even have a clue what "true audio fidelity" means! Oh well, sucks to be them! Because if you ask ME, 80's CDs are where it's at! :D
  2. old45s

    old45s MP3 FREE ZONE

    It shouldn't worry the radio stations, their processors/compressors would make it loud anyway.
  3. Andreas

    Andreas Senior Member

    Frankfurt, Germany
    The RIAA curve is not present on tape copies, it is applied at the LP cutting ( = mastering) stage. As for compression, bass reduction and other eq, it is a case-by-case situation.
    Grant, The FRiNgE and Victor Martell like this.
  4. tenor1

    tenor1 Forum Resident

    I don't think that's quite correct. My understanding is that mid-late 80s A/D's often were 12 or 14 bit resolution masquerading as 16-bit. If you had an honest-to-goodness 16-bit ADC, fine, but that wasn't so common back then. To my ears it sounds like many 80s CDs were made from suboptimal tape sources transferred with not-really-16-bit ADCs. I think that's a heck of a lot more than a 1/4 db resolution increase.

    It seems a matter of personal taste as to how much you like the increase in fidelity from improved ADCs and improved tape sources vs the decrease in quality from compression and EQ decisions. I know I have a lot more tolerance for compression and less tolerance for vinyl analog distortion than many forum members, though there are still many contemporary CDs that are too compressed for me. That's fine, it's boring if we all like the same things, but let's not disparage the real audible gains that have happened from improvements in A/D technology.
    REMASTERANTER likes this.

    REMASTERANTER Ahhhhhh...

    I think that's what I'm hearing when I hear "dry and musty" sounding early discs.
  6. mikaal

    mikaal Sociopathic Nice Guy

    Poor me in the same boat.
  7. Massproductions

    Massproductions Forum Resident

    Boston, MA, USA
    especially with 44.1/16, it still has it's same limits, what more can you get with a newer A/D converter
    That's true! However the engineers often don't want to squash the recordings, but the record companies insist on it because of current trends. Since the record company writes the checks, the engineers often get forced to do things they don't like. So if anyone is to blame, it's record company executives with no ear, and only care about profits.
    hodgo, qwerty and Shak Cohen like this.
  8. Victor Martell

    Victor Martell Forum Resident


    Thanks for the reply - I was wondering why my original CD of Phaedra sounds so good for an AAD CD !

  9. Massproductions

    Massproductions Forum Resident

    Boston, MA, USA
    Incorrect. The first commercial PCM encoder used for CD mastering, the PCM 1600 was 16 bit. Later models were 1610 and 1630. All of them used Umatic videotape as the carrier for the PCM data.

    You might be thinking of the pro-sumer SONY PCM F1 system that used Betamax videotape as a carrier. It had a sample rate of 44.056, 14 bit. Believe it or not, it only had one A/D, D/A converter, and it switched back and forth to encode the left and right channel! So the left and right channels are actually offset by one sample! I transfer these tapes frequently and they do sound very harsh! Because the sample rate is non-standard, I have to pass it through a sample rate converter to bump it up to 44.1/16 before I can bring it into my DAW via AES/EBU. SONY only made one PCM Decoder for the F1 system that had an SPDIF out, and that is the 601 model. Otherwise you have to recapture via analog and I prefer to keep my signal chain all digital from digital sources.
  10. Massproductions

    Massproductions Forum Resident

    Boston, MA, USA
    Yes, they make heavy use of limiters and compressors to keep everything at the same volume. They don't want any quiet audio, as someone scanning through stations might not know they are there.
    Grant likes this.
  11. Massproductions

    Massproductions Forum Resident

    Boston, MA, USA
    I couldn't agree more! Then there are those awful sounding bluetooth speakers, etc. I see a lot of far better sounding stereo equipment being thrown away, or dropped off at good will just because it's older or takes up more space. Which is their stupidity and my gain, I need a storage lockup for all the good stuff that comes my way :)
    WMTC, Front 242 Addict, hodgo and 5 others like this.
  12. Dave

    Dave Esoteric Audio Research Specialist™

    Greater Vancouver
    Not entirely untrue regarding production master copy tapes as a source, but it's what they started to do with running through digital audio work stations after 1985-86 that really made sound quality take a nose dive. They ruined a lot of great sounding albums with digital artifacts left by their new technology. Even increasing production run time speed started to hamper sound quality around this time.

    Agreed, and my taste is for a relaxed and open presentation with appropriate imaging that includes detailed life-like side to side and back to front presence something these modern presentations lack a lot of. Yet with Steve and MFSL using modern technologies they seem to capture a lot better presentations a lot of the time. Unfortunately a vast majority of larger labels seem unable to do what they can do.

    It is possible but what are exactly listening on to arrive at this conclusion because it is certainly not what I hear a majority of the time with pre 1987-1989 CD releases?
    Musical Maxis and alexpop like this.
  13. LeBon Bush

    LeBon Bush Hound of Love

    Exactly! Listening on a halfway decent setup will immediately show how dynamic and just amazing those 'dull and undefined' CDs sound most of the time.

    REMASTERANTER Ahhhhhh...


    These days WAV rips thru Sherwood receiver and K.44s, so yeah... OK, perhaps I should keep my opinions more to myself, hehe.

    BUT... I hear what I hear, it's not like every disc second old disc sounds "musty" to me, just the odd one.

    Here's a particular disc that just grated against my ears, couldn't stand it, this back when I had made an attempt to a acquire a reasonable player and amp:

    Black Sabbath - Heaven And Hell

    Some CDs just sound like crap to some people, I suppose... :confused:

    REMASTERANTER Ahhhhhh...

  16. Grant

    Grant Hmmmm....

    United States
    True. And, I understand that radio got non-brickwalled because of that. But, if you try to play a brickwalled file on the radio, the volume will be lower than intended.
    WMTC likes this.

    REMASTERANTER Ahhhhhh...

    Statistics for: 08 Stone Hard Agony.wav
    Number of Samples: 17637648

    left right

    Peak value: -0.50 dB --- -0.50 dB
    Avg RMS: -5.03 dB --- -4.96 dB
    DR channel: 3.45 dB --- 3.38 dB

    Official DR value: DR3

    :yikes: :laughup:
  18. Grant

    Grant Hmmmm....

    United States
    I think there is plenty of blame to go around:

    Record label who is convinced that a louder CD/file will sell more units

    The artist/management who is worried that no one will pay attention if their music isn't competitive with everyone else

    The engineer who is either ordered to compress the hell out of the music, or the ones given control who are scared that they will lose work, if they don't compress

    The non-audiophile consumer who is accustomed to compressed loud music, and expects it so they can hear the music in all environments, and doesn't have to adjust the volume when playing in shuffle mode or between CDs

    The question is, with so many people at fault, where do you begin to end it?
  19. Grant

    Grant Hmmmm....

    United States
    What are you going on about?o_O
  20. Grant

    Grant Hmmmm....

    United States
    I believe the nosedive started in the 90s with the popularity of those AV systems, you know, the kind you could buy for a couple hundred dollars at Walmart or Best Buy. Cheap Sony or Pioneer AV receiver, 4 5"-7" speakers, a cheapo sub, and a center channel speaker to sit on top of your TV! You play your VHS copy of Reservoir Dogs with Hyper Movie Theatre Dolby Surround sound enabled! Woo-hoo! Then you play your latest brickwalled Filter CD through all that. Who cared about quality sound as long as it was loud and boomy?
  21. Joy-of-radio

    Joy-of-radio Forum Resident

    Skowhegan, ME
    In most cases with modern masters and remasters these days, one can bank on amped up bass or otherwise wonky EQ, compression resulting in poor dynamic range making it seem that all instruments are fighting to be loudest, lack of detail and timbre, and a generally unpleasant and fatiguing listening experience.

    As if plastering "REMASTERED" on CD packaging weren't enough to suck gullible people into repurchasing their favorite music and often abandoning their sonically superior versions, now there are web sites selling so-called HI-REZ downloads. The trouble is that many of these are sourced from the same lousy masterings as their modern CD counterparts. I was tempted to buy some HDTracks offerings of "The Archies" that are being advertised with bit rate of 192/24. I thought I had found the holy grail of best-sounding material by my favorite bubblegum outfit! Thankfully I felt suspicious and asked about it here first. Everyone advised me to steer clear of them because they are sourced from the same bad-sounding masters used for the recent albums box set. What's the point of issuing HI-REZ files sourced from low quality masters other than a cash-grab?
  22. McLover

    McLover Forum Resident

    East TN
    Give the broadcasters and the listening public good quality, reasonably dynamic, well mastered content. Let broadcast engineers, programmers, and general managers handle getting it to your noisy car, or other environment where you listen, the best we can do, and stay in business. I advocate backing off on excessive audio processing on my end of the role. Garbage in (meaning horribly compressed/limited modern music) leads to Garbage out. Nothing I can really do about it when the labels send the stations overprocessed, over limited garbage to air. It's heaven for oldies formats, when I can usually have some good options for decent material to air, and the music can live and breath, and be listenable.
    WMTC and g.z. like this.
  23. All Down The Line

    All Down The Line Forum Resident

    I always assumed from the mid 90's on that these new ever louder cd's were just done that way to sound initially more impressive on current systems, especially bass volume wise.

    My original Hendrix Smash Hits cd is quiet but iam glad i never sold it as to my ears it betrays more dymamics.

    That said early cd's of Band Of Gypsys & Layla for example were just not good.
    For example the bass on Band Of Gypsys was overbearing and no amount of eq could make it enjoyable for me.
    Mickey2 likes this.
  24. drbryant

    drbryant Forum Resident

    Los Angeles, CA
    I have a couple thousand CD’s and SACD’s purchased since the early 90’s, including many “remastered” versions of earlier releases. I bought a couple hundred at a massive Tokyo HMV store closing over 10 years ago - entire catalogues: Jackson Browne remasters, Led Zeppelin Marino/Page, Stevie Wonder Motown remasters, Joni Mitchell HDCD, Roxy Music HDCD, etc., etc. It didn’t take me long to realize that I had made a mistake and my original 80’s discs sounded better. I don’t think I’ve even opened 1/2 of them. It was an expensive lesson (although being able to buy complete sets of Police and Peter Gabriel SACD’s and a few other rare titles at discount prices in retrospect lessens some of the pain).

    Thankfully, I never got rid of all my 80’s Japan CD’s.
  25. BradOlson

    BradOlson Country/Christian Music Maven

    Good for you for listening to us. Are you enjoying your Sony CD of the Archies?
    McLover likes this.

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