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. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Your host Your Host Thread Starter


    We are in total agreement. A case by case basis at all times. One of the best uses of this Forum.
    TimB likes this.
  2. Ian

    Ian Active Member

    Milford, Maine
    Ozzy - "Blizzard Of Ozz" and "Diary Of A Madman" both have had new bass and drum tracks over dubbed. Keep an eye out for the '95 Bob Ludwig remasters. They are very good.

    Bowie - The latest remasters use No Noise very heavily (which leaves some funky yet subtle artifacts) and have had the EQ tweaked. I haven't heard any AU20's but I have heard the standard Ryco's and those aren't all that bad, but many here prefer the RCA issues from the 80's. I want to check some out for myself but those are very hard to find up here.

    Miles - I have a few. "Kind Of Blue" and "ESP" are very good. "Sketches Of Spain" is ok if a bit shrill. "Porgy And Bess" and "Miles Ahead" are very shrill and virtually unlistenable. Unless those two have secretly been redone within the past 5 years, I would avoid them.

    Judas Priest - Jon Astley did the remastering chores. NR'd, compressed, and nearly bass free. Definitely avoid.

    This is as much as I can tell (as little as I know). There are others here who can tell you much more than I.
  3. rontokyo

    rontokyo Senior Member

    Tokyo, Japan
    Hmmm. Maybe juuuuust a little over the top. One dandy mastering engineer, that's for sure.
    dav-here likes this.
  4. audio

    audio New Member

    Okay, you're right. Perhaps I got a little carried away. I'm a fan, what can I say.
  5. Claus

    Claus Senior Member

    heavy metal...

    By the way... BMG's Accept remasters sound very good... I'd like to say fantastic in comparison against the Ozzy or Priest remasters.
  6. Mal

    Mal Phorum Physicist

    Re: CD mastering: 1980's vs. "newly remastered"

    As you may know :p, I would go as far as to say that digital processing has no place in the mastering chain (click here for my and others views on this!).

    What is sad is that the most digitally compressed/NR'd remasters probably do sound good in the car, on your midi system while doing the housework etc...

    I know I've been enjoying Stevie's "Songs In The Key Of Life" remaster LOUD in the car lately.

    If everyone cared about audio the way we on the forum do then we wouldn't be in this situation. The fact of the matter is that the general public are getting an improved version as far as they're concerned.......
  7. Uncle Al

    Uncle Al Senior Member

    Long Island, NY
    In the good old days (which apparently never existed) we had to turn to radio for that maxed-out overcompressed sound. These days, there isn't as much radio exposure for classic rock/folk/soul/funk acts, or more current cutting edge "college audience" type acts either (I don't care for the word "alternative"). With digital technology it is so easy to program your own selections that the artists feel they have to be in competition with the music already in your home. It seems to me that many of the current CD's sound like radio used to from the mid seventies to the mid eighties.

    Yesterday I heard Springsteen's "The Rising" on the radio. They took out a maxed out over compressed song and compressed it even more. The song sounded like a buzzzzzzzz. I couldn't even listen to the whole thing.
  8. KeithH

    KeithH Success With Honor...then and now

    Beaver Stadium
    Great thread. Thanks, Steve. I started collecting first pressings on CD (targets and others) a few months ago due to the challenge of finding them, but also because many of them sound great.

    It's a crapshoot, though. I like the sound of many current remasters, as they are very dynamic and "open". However, along with that openness, some sound harsh. I love the remastered version of Stevie Ray Vaughan Couldn't Stand the Weather, as I feel it's much cleaner than the old version. Then there are the ABBA Atlantic discs, which are outstanding relative to later compilations. ABBA Gold is harsh when compared to the Atlantic discs. We all know about Astley's Definitive Collection.


    Thanks for providing a link to that thread on good CDs pressed in the '80s. I don't recall that thread, as I was not as active here back then. I'll have to check that out. On page one, I noticed the following information from cbolson:

    I'm not a big Glenn Miller fan, but I just saw this CD at a used shop the other day. I passed on it since Glenn Miller is not my favorite, but also because it wasn't a first pressing. The disc I found was made in the US and has black text, not blue. Still, I may go back and grab it for $6. I'm intrigued.
  9. KeithH

    KeithH Success With Honor...then and now

    Beaver Stadium
    Regarding Bowie, I have a number of the RCA CDs, and they all sound great in my opinion. The only Ryko Bowie CD I have is CHANGESBOWIE and when compared to the RCA discs, I am in no hurry to buy other Ryko versions.
  10. John Carsell

    John Carsell Forum Resident

    Northwest Illinois
    The Bowie Ryko releases may not be the best in the world, but I think they're not god-awful either.

    I guess we'll have to live with them for the time being, unless you can track down the RCA original CD's.

    Love to see what you and Kevin could do with that Bowie catalogue, Steve.
  11. Roland Stone

    Roland Stone Offending Member

    Unfortunately, the Sony/Columbia engineers that brought us some of the finest pop catalog overhauls of recent years (Simon & Garfunkel, Janis Joplin, The Byrds) are not involved with the jazz remasters. But while we may not like the tonal balance of these particular sessions, overall the jazz reissues have been very conscientiously performed.

    I agree that the Miles Davis/Gil Evans albums are too sharp-sounding; I'm considering buying a high-end tone control to take the edge off these sessions. However, I don't think anyone should be dissuaded from buying these classic records: they err on the treble end of the spectrum, but they are not, to my ears, distorted, compressed or strangely mixed.
  12. KeithH

    KeithH Success With Honor...then and now

    Beaver Stadium

    Thanks for the comments on the Bowie Ryko CDs. I have passed up a Ryko version of Station to Station several times at a local shop over the past couple months. Maybe I'll pick it up since I don't have the RCA version. It was cheap enough.


    I have a number of the Columbia/Legacy Miles Davis remasters and am very pleased with them. They beat the handful of Columbia Jazz Masterpieces discs I have. Of course, the SACDs are better yet. :)
  13. lucifer-chops

    lucifer-chops Senior Member

    London England
    Re: Re: CD mastering: 1980's vs. "newly remastered"

    Spot on Malc S. Unless you have a decent system you are unlikely to be able to hear the subtle nuances anyway and the extra punch of the remasters will make them sound better. Certainly my original CD set up in the 80's could not have been considered 'high end' and I found most CD's lacked treble and punch - so I would have been a sucker for the new remasters. Fortunately I am now in a position to be able to afford some half decent equipment. What I notice now is that well mastered CDs can sound musical and realistic. However, most newly remastered CDs have lost their subtlety and musicality, even if they have gained some volume. To me, that is not a good trade!

    If anyone tells me they prefer the remastered Bowie to the original RCA CDs I make a mental note - either this person has a cheap system or they do not have a musical ear. Harsh, but this is my belief.
  14. paulg61

    paulg61 Senior Member

    You tell him Steve! ...also - everyone should remember to keep mindful of an old SH quote -"BUT:
    These old CD's must be taken on a case by case basis! "
  15. stereoptic

    stereoptic Anaglyphic GORT Staff

    To quote the Beau Brummels: :laugh: :laugh:

    Steve, don't let any label excutives read that, they might just take your advice!! It seems to be what sells now-a-days.

    How about "Sounds Better than .mp3!!" That will help eliminate Internet swapping! ;)

    Actually, there is a "warning label" on some of those 1980's CDs. We were led to believe that if a CD was mastered "ADD", then it was better than the crummy old analog remixing. Fortunately, most of the buying public just looks at the Artist, the title, and the price tag and had no idea the difference between "AAD", "ADD", and "DDD" .

    (It reminds me of a very old MAD magazine article where they listed several marketing tricks that convince the consumer that their product is better than the competitor. For ESSO gas the slogun was "Contains no Molasses")

    My situation right now is that I do not have any kind of High Fidelity system to listen to my CDs. So I don't hear all of the differences that you can easily discern on a proper system. I rely on this forum to know what to avoid so that I am not stuck with a library full of digital artifact laden, take-away-the-hiss-and-the top-end-as-well,bass-boosted, etc....

    So, I seek out any DCCs that Ican get my hands on. I've been satisfied with the recent Costello, Ramones, Stones, EmmyLou Harris remasters so far.
  16. reb

    reb Money Beats Soul

    Long Island
    If only there was not the jitter problem found on so many 80's discs. The engineers for the most part were doing nice work, but the converters had too much jitter. Around 95, good sounding low jitter converters came out. Engineers were not yet heavily into destroying the sound. Now, it just a big mess. But, there are still some fine sounding disc that are released. Jormah's Quah is a perfect example. You just have to be selective. But even if a disc is not "hacked "- I still can't enjoy the loud ones. (That was why i did not like the AC/DC remasters) I like the source to be low (cartridges included) so I can crank the volume and be enthralled with the dynamics/bloom/ambience. I think I'll listen to DCC Wheels of Fire and endulge myself this mourning in the sound.
  17. GabeG

    GabeG New Member


    I agree completely!!!! This is something of a pet peeve of mine - loudness of compression aren't the same thing.

    - Gabe
  18. davef

    davef Senior Member

    Vienna, VA
    Interesting thread and I'm now using the forum to seek out opinions on some remasters before I blindly buy. One that I probably would have bought, but not now, is the T. Rex remaster...
  19. BradOlson

    BradOlson Country/Christian Music Maven

    Pick it up. I have the US black text copy as well and it does use the 1985 mastering. Even if you aren't a huge Glenn Miller fan, this does have 16 of his biggest hits including the signature songs. The best you will ever hear Glenn Miller's music on CD and many people here agree.
  20. Ken_McAlinden

    Ken_McAlinden MichiGort Staff

    Livonia, MI
    Or they weren't until recently [ba-dump-cha!]

    I do find it frustrating to hear about how engineers painstakingly scoured vaults throughout the globe for the best tape sources, meticulously speed corrected the tape to match the original released single or LP, and then digitally blew the dynamics to holy H-E-double hockey sticks.

    Speaking of the coining of phrases like "From the Original Master Tape" or "Digitally Remastered from the OMT". I noticed that the recent release of The Essential Sly & the Family Stone upped the ante to "Spectacularly Remastered!" (with an exclamation point no-less!) I got a kick out of that. There's something strangely honest about good-old fashioned marketing hyperbole without the pretense of sounding technical like "24-bit digitally remastered". :) To be fair, it is a pretty good sounding release.

  21. BradOlson

    BradOlson Country/Christian Music Maven

    Every CD is digitally remastered from whatever source they used.
  22. BradOlson

    BradOlson Country/Christian Music Maven

    The 1980s Aqualung CD does sound horrible. I played it on one of my better players. You are all right about this disc, but it will do until I can afford the DCC version or a VG or better LP of an original LP pressing. I had to adjust the sound on the DJ mixer and turn up the volume every so often and that's how poorly it was mastered. It is still better than these loud remasters often put out these days.
  23. Grant

    Grant Life is a rock, but the radio rolled me!

    This is the rule I follow. Back in the mid-80s, before my ears opened up, I also had remasteritis. Now, I keep my old CDs to compare them to the new one first. I don't judge by how much limiting/compression they used to make my decision, I ask myself if I am happy with the sound of the new one, and decide which mastering gives me that emotional impact, which one gets me back to that place in time. Then, If I choose the new remaster, I critique the old one to determine if there is anything I want to keep it for, like unique mixes, song selection, even packaging. If it's just a song or two, I may decide to back it up to CD-R and sell it. If not, I place it in a stack and let time do it's thing. If I don't like the new CD, well, you know, it's gone!

    The new Sly & Family Stone takes me back to the late 60s and early 70s, for the most part. But I have to hang on to the old anthology CD because of some of the original mixes. But that's just me. No matter what, I always want the hit mixes.

    In some cases, I am happier with my own LP-to-CD-R transfer of a song than with a CD remaster of any stripe.

    Thanks to Steve, I have been trying to spread the word at every opportunity. Yes, most people give me that WTF look, but I try to explain. If they still don't understand, oh well...I tried...
    GerryO and CDFanatic like this.
  24. BradOlson

    BradOlson Country/Christian Music Maven

    The Jon Astley Them remasters do not sound very good at all and I have to pick up the 80s disc that you recommend and the good news is that it is still in print. (you=Steve)
  25. mjb

    mjb Senior Member

    Michigan, USA
    MrPeabody, that's gotta be one of the best posts I've read on this forum...
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