Elvis Costello Early CD Masterings

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by strippies, Mar 30, 2019.

  1. nikosvault

    nikosvault Forum Resident

    Location:
    Denmark
    I only have the Imp Records version of TYM.

    Would love to hear thoughts on the 1st Columbia pressing (DIDP 20325 11A6).
     
  2. InStepWithTheStars

    InStepWithTheStars It's a miracle, let it alter you

    Location:
    North Carolina
    I'm glad this thread got bumped back up. This is more in-depth than I ever expected! Oof. Costello is always one of the first sections I bolt for in a record store (usually after Church and Waterboys), and I've seen lots of pre-Ryko CD pressings but have never invested in them. Actually, I think I have a Columbia Trust somewhere, I'll have to compare and see what it is.

    I was considering for a long time jumping on the IMP FIEND CDs, but I had read somewhere that the series was inconsistent (I believe the person said Trust sounded noticeably worse than the others, which would explain why I bought my Columbia disc - but I'm going on memory based on one person's comment several years ago, so don't take it as gospel, please!). This thread was started, I figured I'd stick around and see what people thought, and then I forgot all about it. This is going straight to my watch list, and as soon as I'm allowed to return to the record stores I'm going to raid their Costello section once again and snap up all those early pressings as well!

    One thing I want to point out - while the Hip-O/Rhino masterings are compressed and heavily EQ'ed, This Year's Model is the only full album which is totally brickwalled. There are occasional songs on other CDs which are mastered very hot ("Luxembourg" comes to mind), but most have macrodynamics intact with only shaved peaks on the drums. This Year's Model is significantly louder, more compressed, and less pleasant to listen to than the rest of the series (as a whole). Not that the rest of the series is a sonic marvel by any stretch of the imagination, but using Model as, well, a model for the entire series is misleading. According to the DR database, This Year's Model hovers in the DR 5-7 range, while other titles in the series usually run the 8-10 range. (The original CDs, as posted before in this thread, are usually between 11 and 15, thus indicating the compression and EQ evident in the Rhino/Edsel remasters.)

    The 2001 Very Best Of Elvis Costello on Rhino uses the same mastering as the Rhino editions of some of the tracks, but not the same as others. Some have said the mastering is duplicated from a previous Ryko compilation, but at the very least the My Aim Is True tracks cancel out perfectly when inverted, between the Rhino Very Best Of and the Rhino My Aim Is True. My guess is that they had the first two or three reissues mastered at that point and used that mastering but recycled the previous mastering for the others. Haven't done any extensive comparisons.
     
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  3. InStepWithTheStars

    InStepWithTheStars It's a miracle, let it alter you

    Location:
    North Carolina
    This is the same as my copy of Trust. My matrix is DIDP (no hyphen) 70208 (large gap) 11 and on the inner plastic ring "Made In USA - Digital Audio Disc Corp." Straight copy of my DR rip just in case I overlooked something:
    Code:
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
     Analyzed folder: Elvis Costello And The Attractions - Trust
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
     DR          Peak            RMS           Filename
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    
     DR11      -2.54 dB     -15.20 dB     01 Clubland.wav
     DR11      -1.97 dB     -15.24 dB     02 Lovers Walk.wav
     DR12      -1.85 dB     -16.45 dB     03 You'll Never Be A Man.wav
     DR11      -2.61 dB     -15.58 dB     04 Pretty Words.wav
     DR12      -2.01 dB     -15.80 dB     05 Strict Time.wav
     DR10      -2.42 dB     -14.06 dB     06 Luxembourg.wav
     DR12      -3.00 dB     -17.23 dB     07 Watch Your Step.wav
     DR12      -4.00 dB     -18.17 dB     08 New Lace Sleeves.wav
     DR11      -3.19 dB     -15.29 dB     09 From A Whisper To A Scream.wav
     DR13      -3.17 dB     -17.32 dB     10 Different Finger.wav
     DR11      -3.04 dB     -15.78 dB     11 White Knuckles.wav
     DR12      -3.36 dB     -18.85 dB     12 Shot With His Own Gun.wav
     DR12      -2.21 dB     -15.79 dB     13 Fish 'N' Chip Paper.wav
     DR11      -4.77 dB     -17.71 dB     14 Big Sister's Clothes.wav
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    
     Number of files:    14
     Official DR value:  DR11
    
    ==============================================================================================
    
     
  4. strippies

    strippies Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Netherlands
    This is the first Columbia digital master of 'Trust'. The second digital master is a very weird one: most tracks are hard limited to -2.60 or -2.20 dB but if you boost all the tracks to max you'll notice that there are massive amounts of shaved peaks.
     
  5. InStepWithTheStars

    InStepWithTheStars It's a miracle, let it alter you

    Location:
    North Carolina
    Just based on the sound, I actually would have guessed that this was the second. It's not really compressed, but it does have much more bass than most early CDs. (I'm new to the audiophile game - I used to defend the audio quality of the Rhinos!) It sounds a little bit muddy, but that might just be the album.

    We've been going over numbers and scientific comparisons, but apart from the incredible post from @princesskiki regarding My Aim Is True, there doesn't seem to be much in the way of sound quality reviews, so to speak. Would you have any comments about specific pressings in that respect? Which ones to get, which ones to avoid, which ones sound good, which ones don't?
     
  6. strippies

    strippies Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Netherlands
    Yeah, nobody submitted a sound review in this thread. Even @princesskiki's review was posted in another thread. Maybe people are indeed put off by the numbers and charts.
    Personally, I have a non audiophile stance when listening to music. For example, my favourite mastering of 'Get Happy!!' is the IMP Fiend, but I think lots of people would consider that a rather horrible one. It's muddy and has no high end but I seem to like it that way.
     
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  7. InStepWithTheStars

    InStepWithTheStars It's a miracle, let it alter you

    Location:
    North Carolina
    I like a lot of masterings that this forum considers horrible. It's probably because they were my introduction to those albums. The 1999 David Bowie remasters are brighter than the sun and no-noised like crazy, but I think they sound better than all the other editions I've heard. (I don't actually remember if I've heard the Ryko editions.) It's all a matter of taste. The Rhino This Year's Model on the other hand... I think we can all agree that one doesn't sound very good! :agree:

    This thread is making me hungry not only for the music, but it's been so long since I've visited the record stores and I know they have a bunch of early EC discs in the bins. Now who knows when I'll be able to go back. :(
     
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  8. princesskiki

    princesskiki Kiki's Mom

    I have several early UK, US and WG Costello CD's. If you want, I can run an EAC test on them. (For example, I do have a Japan for US Punch the Clock.) Please let me know.
     
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  9. nikosvault

    nikosvault Forum Resident

    Location:
    Denmark
    Thanks to Strippies, I have compared the two Columbia versions of TYM to my UK Imp CD.

    The UK disc and the 2nd Columbia mastering are essentially identical. Although they don't quite line up with simple level shifting or with a waveform comparison, they are pretty much the same soundwise.

    The sound on the first Columbia disc is less hot, but flat and dull. Think it might be an inferior source.

    So I guess the only comparison left (maybe) is the 1991 JP P-Vine reissue?
     
    Last edited: Mar 29, 2020
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  10. strippies

    strippies Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Netherlands
    Thank you, much appreciated.

    Missing from the list are the first Columbia non leading zero 'Get Happy' and the three F-Beat/RCA releases. It would be very interesting to find out if the WGs differ from the Japanese and their later IMP counterparts.

    EAC peak files are nice, even better would be DR log files. With those it's easier to see if there's only level shifting going on. I'm using the plugin for foobar2000 but there's also a standalone program:
    http://dr.loudness-war.info/downloads/DR-Meter-1_4a.zip
    http://dr.loudness-war.info/downloads/DR-Offline-Meter-for-MAC.zip
    http://dr.loudness-war.info/downloads/foo_dynamic_range_1.1.1.zip
     
  11. strippies

    strippies Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Netherlands
    I'm 99 percent sure that this is the IMP Fiend distributed in Japan.
     
  12. strippies

    strippies Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Netherlands
    Yes, in post #45 I concluded that the Columbia secret remasters are essentially the same as the IMP's. However, since they don't line up in an audio editor, I'm now concluding that they must be new AD transfers from the same analog tape.
    Anybody else hear a difference?
     
  13. strippies

    strippies Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Netherlands
    I took a quick peek at the second Columbia and the IMP 'Get Happy!!". They are definitely not the same. The IMP has Costello's voice right in the middle but the Columbia has one channel a little quieter, thereby shifting the stereo image a little bit...
     
  14. InStepWithTheStars

    InStepWithTheStars It's a miracle, let it alter you

    Location:
    North Carolina
    Do you have a list of which Columbia secret remaster titles are virtually the same as the Fiend discs and which aren't? We established that Trust is very different and IIRC Get Happy on Fiend has shaved peaks that the Columbia pressings don't have.
     
  15. strippies

    strippies Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Netherlands
    Check post #45.
    @lukpac and @Plan9 explained to me that out of sync drifting usually means that a new AD transfer has been done.

    The second Columbia Trust looks different in a sound editor but the sound is very similar to the IMP. How similar exactly I'll leave up to your ears. I wonder why on earth an engineer would make these strange changes.
    I now know that, since Audacity only shows clipped peaks when they exceed 0 dB, no red warnings shown doesn't mean that there are no clipped peaks. When I zoom in to the clipped peaks from the IMP Happy they look mostly the same as the peaks of the second Columbia, though these don't reach 0 dB...
     
  16. InStepWithTheStars

    InStepWithTheStars It's a miracle, let it alter you

    Location:
    North Carolina
    Yes, that's 100% true. I've been listening to my CD of the Jam's Compact Snap, which to my ears sounds great, but when the volume is boosted it's evident that there's actually some compression in there. I'd never noticed before. (To be fair, the original Polydor discs are the only Jam releases that aren't noticeably compressed, and despite the compression, Compact Snap is still the best source for a lot of those tracks.)

    So it would seem that the second Columbia Trust is the same as the Demon Trust, but with a limiter applied at -2.6 dB-ish? The difference in DR readings is much too high to be just a level shift of the same or a similar digital transfer; those two discs are mastered differently, even if they sound similar. And, as for Get Happy, I'm not 100% sure based on your post: are you saying that the secret remaster is a level-shifted version of the clipped Demon CD, or a different transfer without that clipping? (You said "I now know..." so I'm not sure if you mean you thought it was different before but found out it was the same mastering, just with the level adjusted.)
     
  17. strippies

    strippies Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Netherlands
    On the first four albums, first I thought that the Columbia secret remasters were digitally edited versions of the IMP Fiends. Now, because they don't stay in sync, I'm thinking that maybe they are new AD transfers. However I'm not sure because, like @nikosvault mentions above on TYM, they sound very similar with almost the same EQ. This would mean that both the remasters and the IMP Fiends are flat transfers of the same tapes which would be very strange.

    The mastering engineer did strange things with the Columbia Trust secret remaster. Although the DR values of the tracks do indeed differ the RMS values are very similar. The -2.60 dB tracks are slightly louder on the IMP and the -2.20 dB tracks are slightly louder on the Columbia. Also, the EQ is very similar. I've made an EQ graph of the track 'Clubland' from both. Notice that the dotted line, which portrays the difference in EQ is almost flat until about 13 kHz, meaning similar EQ...
    [​IMG]
     
  18. InStepWithTheStars

    InStepWithTheStars It's a miracle, let it alter you

    Location:
    North Carolina
    Analog is a tricky medium, and you can never get the exact same result twice with it. (You can get very close, but never identical.) It's entirely possible that they are two different transfers of the same tape with the same setting, and it just resulted in ever-so-slightly different audio like the graph you've just posted. As for why there was a limiter put on the Columbia disc? No idea. To my understanding, it was definitely done after the transfer - this wasn't a case of the engineer doing the transfer too hot and then dropping the volume after the fact. I'd imagine the differences in EQ would be much more noticeable that way due to the signal being clipped to begin with.

    I am curious about your comments with Get Happy though. Does "Opportunity" on the later Columbia have the same shaved peaks as the Fiend but at a lower level, or does it have those dynamics intact?
     
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2020
  19. popscene

    popscene Forum Resident

    Location:
    San Marcos, CA
    This thread reminds me that one of my biggest music collecting regrets is selling some of my Elvis Columbia discs when the Rykos came out. I kept the first three (so I could have them on the shelves with the rest, aside from the 2 1/2 Years box), Taking Liberties, and The Best Of. I was young and dumb in the '90s, but I look at those Columbia discs with great nostalgic fondness now. That was how I got into Elvis.

    Now one could argue that I have enough, between the Rykos, Rhinos, a handful of Demons, the US vinyl, most of the UK vinyl, half of the MFSL vinyl...but I miss those Columbia CDs.
     
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  20. InStepWithTheStars

    InStepWithTheStars It's a miracle, let it alter you

    Location:
    North Carolina
    There is no such thing as enough Elvis CDs.
     
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  21. strippies

    strippies Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Netherlands
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  22. InStepWithTheStars

    InStepWithTheStars It's a miracle, let it alter you

    Location:
    North Carolina
    Okay, so that's definitely the same mastering, just level-adjusted, for Get Happy. Harder to tell for Trust just based on the waveform, but based on your comments, it seems to be the same mastering with a limiter thrown on it.

    The DR readings would suggest that the Demon Trust is the way to go, and likewise the original Get Happy (pre-secret remaster) on Columbia. But DR numbers don't tell the whole story, and neither do waveforms. The EQ could be much better on the less dynamic mastering for some of these. The ears must make the final decision.

    That said... you can probably skip the secret remaster of Trust!
     
  23. strippies

    strippies Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Netherlands
    So you're absolutely positive that this likeness of waveforms couldn't have been achieved with a new AD transfer? I can't understand how circa 1989 level-adjusting in a digital workstation could have resulted in out of sync drifting of the samples.
     
  24. strippies

    strippies Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Netherlands
    [​IMG]
     
  25. InStepWithTheStars

    InStepWithTheStars It's a miracle, let it alter you

    Location:
    North Carolina
    Hard to tell. Seems very unlikely to me that there would be clipping on the tape, hence my comment about being a level adjustment. It's possible they did a second transfer at the same too-hot level, then dropped it down however many dB.

    For Trust, I worded my post badly. What I meant was that based on the waveform, we can't conclude if it's the same master with a limiter or another transfer, with the same settings and a limiter. Or the scenario I suggested with Get Happy. I don't know enough about the A/D transfer process, these are just guesses.
     

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