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Re-mastering...Is it really as bad as we think?

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by brainwashed, Oct 19, 2005.

  1. brainwashed

    brainwashed Forum Hall Of Fame Thread Starter

    Location:
    Boston, MA
     
  2. Grant

    Grant Just chillin'!

    Location:
    United States
     
  3. Lawman

    Lawman New Member

    It seems to me that, *usually*, if the CDs were done right in the first place, the new versions tend to be worse. The Can SACDs are pretty bad, IMO.
     
  4. RZangpo2

    RZangpo2 Forum Know-It-All

    Location:
    New York
    My considered opinion is that (within reason) mastering is more important than the source or the transfer. I've heard too many remasters where the original master tape was transferred at 24 bit, but the results were unlistenable due to poor processing choices (especially EQ and NR). If it's unlistenable, what difference does it make what sources were used or at what resolution they were transferred?

    OTOH, a flat (or at least, relatively un-futzed with) transfer, even if from a 2nd-gen dub, can at least be listened to with pleasure (or at the very least, without pain). If music is to be listened to, then give me the version that's listenable!

    There are many examples to illustrate my point, the best-known one probably being the 1983 Toshiba Abbey Road vs. the 1987 EMI version. Steve is on record as saying that the Toshiba is a flat transfer from the Japanese production master, hence a generation down from the original tape. He is also on record as saying that the Toshiba disc is the only way to hear what the master tape sounds like. (All LP versions were heavily futzed with to fit the long sides onto disc.) I have yet to hear anyone say they prefer the 1987 version to the Toshiba.

    IMO, the best version of any title is the best mastered version -- whether it's on LP, original CD, or remastered CD -- regardless of the source used or the resolution of the transfer.

    Of course, in some cases the best mastered version of a title is the original wax cylinder or 78 rpm shellac disc, but let's not make life too complicated... :D

    P.S. Of course there is endless disagreement here about which versions of particular titles are the best mastered. I believe that, aside from individual taste, the most important factor in such disagreements is the variety of listeners' speakers and rooms. These are the most variable elements in any audio reproduction chain. I wonder whether, if we herded all the parties to such a disagreement into a neutral room with neutral speakers, we'd come closer to a consensus.
     
  5. BradOlson

    BradOlson Country/Christian Music Maven

    I love the JSP version of Louis Armstrong's "Hot Fives and Sevens" because it is listenable.
     
  6. BradOlson

    BradOlson Country/Christian Music Maven

    A CD I can't imagine can be improved upon sonically is the currently available CD of "The Mason Williams Phonograph Record" which was done approx. the late 1980s-early 1990s unless Steve H. were to put his touch on it because the CD sounds very clear and lifelike.
     
    billnunan likes this.
  7. Zal

    Zal Recording engineer

    Location:
    Brooklyn, NY, USA
    Firstly, let me say I've only glimpsed the postings here.

    With that said, I would add that we hear through different ears nowadays, with speakers able to project frequencies above those of 30 years ago...at least in theory. I'll leave that to the audiophiles here to bounce around.

    Analog is the way we hear sounds. We may digitize in between, but we will always here the sound ultimately in analog.

    We have the ability to rip our music so fast nowadays. We can project it backwards and forwards and inside out. We are audio gods, each capable of creating any type of ambiance in our computer/audio arsenal.

    Our auditory nerves have been damaged. Just about anyone has most probably had some hearing damage to them. Sadly, many of our favorite artists and their engineers can't quite hear the same as they used to, and so, when it comes to reissues, perhaps they do sign off on what sounds good to them, but they've aged as well, and even without excessive listening strain and abuse, their hearing is just not the same as it used to be. So when a project sounds good to them, it will probably sound strident to those younger listeners, or those that still have decent hearing, or those who have , shall we say, educated hearing, even considering some auditory damage.

    The gear used to "process" audio nowadays is sometimes used surgically vs. musically. It's easy to do...and sometimes abuse the sound.As stated earlier, we can do so much, and sometimes we go too far.

    An interesting question for those who master and companies who release these projects....have you passed this by a number of people to see if the outcome is musically pleasing mastering wise before committing to release??? This might mean going back and doing it afresh to get the release to sound better.

    Or pass it by a board of audio professionals we trust, and have them put their stamp of approval on the label, like the Good Housekeeping seal.

    But this would add cost to the project. And the companies don't want to "hear" this.

    Sooooooo, how do those who care combat this? Write letters. Have one person from the forum buy release X and then critique it here. But we see that some like what others abhor???

    Listeners unite...but how???

    You folks are more expert about this than me.........
     
  8. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Your host Your Host

  9. Rachael Bee

    Rachael Bee Miembra muy loca

    OK, that first sentence flies with me, yeah!

    Now, I've heard two of the Can SA-CD's. I don't know about that. The two I have sound like 70's recordings. They sound rather anna-logue. They don't sound "data-polished" like most new bIG fOUR stuff. This was the SA programs...I haven't played the PCM on the Cans yet, if ever...? I like the way they sound. I wish I liked the albums more. What the world, well, my world, needs right now is a good Brand 'X' SA-CD!

    I did hear Can on vinyl years ago but haven't any lingering impressions, none. When I've listened to the SA-CD's, I've had the feeling that they sounded a lot like the LP's might sound.

    Maybe they're just ruining CD sound to try to drive us to other more expensive formats? I just started thinkin' that the other day when I was comparing the PCM and SA programs of my Cardigans' Long Gone Before Daylight hybrid Sack-Dee. The Sack-Dee program is loud in it's own right but seemingly under control. The PCM track might be the loudest, most distorted thang I've heard yet...? Hmnn, well there was that (EMI) Angela McCluskey, yeah, it's a close contender too.... The difference in the two programs is about the most striking I've come across on a hybrid or comparing a CD to a single-layer SACD.

    The cynic in me wants to suggest that they will make CD's worse and worse to undermine the format so that we'll beg to buy another, more costly, format. That's sort'a how they ended regular vinyl years ago. They made the records so bad to make you wanna give up on vinyl flying objects!

    Remastered means to me, lately, proably sounds even worse. Especially, if it being done to the CD format yet, again or yet again-again or yet again-again-again-spam or yet again eggs-again-again-again-again-spam, or however many times so far! DSD CD's is sort'a like lite beer is to w-regular beer is to SA-CD, after you've bloody had Sack-Dee and DVD-A too! I'm sorry if that doesn't make brew-ha-ha sense but I don't drink much beer! :winkgrin:
     
  10. Rachael Bee

    Rachael Bee Miembra muy loca

    No camino, mi compadre! :p
     
  11. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Your host Your Host

    Actually what I meant was that we could all use the same terminology to avoid too much confusion.. :)
     
  12. Rachael Bee

    Rachael Bee Miembra muy loca

    Mi comprendo! But that's something completely different. :)
     
  13. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Your host Your Host

    Most modern masterings (of old material) add this "crunch" to the guitars to make everything sound more immediate or whatever. That's a bummer because, once you REALLY listen, you will discover that the crunch that sounds so good on the electric guitar is also on every other instrument including the vocals. Crunched vocals, ecch.

    One has to accept the fact that a song like YOU REALLY GOT ME by the Kinks was recorded in a little studio in 1965 is not going to have that modern crunch that is in every current recording. It just AIN'T.

    Once that can be accepted, the rest falls in to place. The best sounding version of the AUTHENTIC SOUND OF THE RECORDING is what we are looking for. That "ugly pink cover Kinks album" talked about with such disdain in an above thread has the best AUTHENTIC version of that song. Why dick around with any other? Don't you want to hear the real deal? If you don't, you are just a casual listener. That's fine but this probably ain't the place for you to hang... :)
     
  14. brainwashed

    brainwashed Forum Hall Of Fame Thread Starter

    Location:
    Boston, MA
     
  15. Chris M

    Chris M Senior Member

    Location:
    Baton Rouge, LA
     
  16. brainwashed

    brainwashed Forum Hall Of Fame Thread Starter

    Location:
    Boston, MA
    I thought I was expressing myself clearly...I said why does that "ugly pink cover Cd" sound so damn GOOD? My problem is if that CD is so authentic, and awesome-sounding, why do subsequent attemps pale in comparison. :( Ron
     
  17. Lawman

    Lawman New Member

    I should have been more specific. What I meant to say is that compared to the old vinyl and the old CDs, the Can remasters sound pretty bad. I'm glad that you think they sound good to you, but you admit that you have no real basis for comparison. Do a careful comparison between the old Can CDs and these new ones. I'll really be amazed if you would still prefer the new versions. Unless of course you like NoNoise and diminished sound. :laugh:
     
  18. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Your host Your Host

    Ron,

    You were expressing yourself. I read your quote in someone else's thread out of context. Sorry.

    Why does it sound so good? Well, in this case they obviously:

    1. PICKED THE CORRECT MASTER TAPE.
    2. MASTERED IT WITHOUT DAMAGING THE FRAGILE VINTAGE SOUND QUALITY.

    That's about it.

    Actually, they didn't master it correctly. It's a little soft, needs about 1 db at 3k and one at 6k. BUT, it's good to go just like it is if you want to hear what the tape really sounds like..
     
  19. antonkk

    antonkk Senior Member

    Location:
    moscow
    Right on. Can SACDs SUCK. Period. Jacked up, bright, antimusical mess. :hurl:
     
  20. Lawman

    Lawman New Member

    Thank god someone here knows what I mean! Every time I read a review of the Can SACDs and the reviewer goes on about how great they sound, I want to scream. There are no maybes about it, these remasters are TERRIBLE. Don't waste your money on them.
     
  21. Andreas

    Andreas Senior Member

    Location:
    Frankfurt, Germany
    I disagree. The original CDs are far more listenable. (I am not trying to start an argument. Just offering a different pont of view.)
     
  22. Andreas

    Andreas Senior Member

    Location:
    Frankfurt, Germany
    :righton:
     
  23. BradOlson

    BradOlson Country/Christian Music Maven

    Even some remasters of fairly recently released catalog recordings sound worse than the original CDs ala Amy Grant's late 1980s-early 1990s material on the Greatest Hits 1986-2004 CD vs. the earliest of the original CD masterings from 1986-1994.
     
  24. brainwashed

    brainwashed Forum Hall Of Fame Thread Starter

    Location:
    Boston, MA
    I added a bit of Eq at 6k on my "car copy", good to know my ears are still working. Your answer brings up another major issue I have. I agree totally that the correct master tape was used for this compilation; however, why wouldn't this very tape be marked as THE master for all subsequent remastering or re-pressing efforts? If it was, why then use alternative masters on newer compilations?

    Which brings my follow-up question. How are master tapes labeled? I mean I have reel-to-reel masters from my own band and home demos, some things close to 30 years old...and I labeled the tape boxes with dates, recording speed and other essential information. Do the major labels even bother to do this? When you mastered the Who, were the tape boxes labeled definitively as the actual master tpaes and not copies? Same with McCartney, The Zombies, Buddy Holly...and the other CD's you were involved with? Thanks, Ron
     
  25. Grant

    Grant Just chillin'!

    Location:
    United States
    Steve and other mastering engineers have said that many times the tape to use is the one marked "Do Not Use".
     
    Derek Gee likes this.

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