Roland's favorite CD versions of Queen albums

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by rjstauber, Feb 23, 2008.

  1. rjstauber

    rjstauber Forum Resident Thread Starter

    O.k., it's been a long time coming, and it took me a while to track down the various CD versions I wanted to include in this comparison.

    You won't find any recommendations for the remastered CD's by me, because I simply don't like them. I don't think the Hollywood or EMI remasters sound that great, and most of them have noise reduction applied.

    1. Queen I
    My favorite digital version is the early EMI mastering without noise reduction. This mastering can be found on various CD versions. I currently own the CP32 first Japanese pressing and the CDP 7 46204 2 EMI CD which was manufactued by Sonopress in Germany (this is considered a WG CD by most, even though there is no country of manufacturing stated on my CD, and I have not yet seen the Sonopress CD of this album with "Manufactured in W. Germany" on it). I tried really hard, but I couldn't really make out a sonic difference between the CP32 and the Sonopress CDP version. It's possible that there is a minor difference (depending on the system), but I wouldn't worry about it, both sound great.
    I think the same mastering can also be found on some other versions, and supposedly even some of the Parlophone CD's have the same mastering.

    2. Queen II
    Just like with the previous album, my favorite digital version is the early EMI mastering without noise reduction. This mastering can be found on various CD versions. I currently own the CP32 first Japanese pressing and the CDP 7 46205 2 EMI CD which was manufactued by Sonopress in Germany (this is considered a WG CD by most, even though there is no country of manufacturing stated on my CD, and I have not yet seen the Sonopress CD of this album with "Manufactured in W. Germany" on it). I tried really hard, but I couldn't really make out a sonic difference between the CP32 and the Sonopress CDP version. It's possible that there is a minor difference (depending on the system), but I wouldn't worry about it, both sound great.
    I think the same mastering can also be found on some other versions, but I once had a Parlophone CD and it clearly had noise reduction applied. So to be safe, I would only get the CD which has EMI on the CD itself and not Parlophone.

    3. Sheer Heart Attack
    My favorite version is the first Japanese pressing (CP32). I once owned also a Made in Holland and a Made in W. Germany version, and at the time I thought that the Made in Holland version didn't sound quite as good as the others, and the CP32 sounded best. Maybe I just got tricked, but I am really happy with my CP32 version, and it is actually not all that hard to find. The EMI Sonopress version will also be fine.

    4. A Night At The Opera
    This one is interesting, we also have the DCC to choose from, and also the early EMI pressings, especially the first Japanese pressing (CP32). While I think the DCC is really good (as expected), I also feel that the CP32 is really great. I am not 100% certain which version I prefer, but at the moment I am leaning slightly towards the CP32 for a very natural and laid back sound.
    I also once owned the MFSL, which is also quite good, but I sold it in the meantime since I slightly preferred the DCC and the CP32.
    I haven’t heard the latest remastering.

    5. A Day At The Races
    This is a tough choice for me. I do have the CP32 first Japanese pressing, which is very good, and I also have the MFSL, which I also like a lot. I haven't really made up my mind completely which version I prefer (there are things I like better about the CP32 and there are things I like better about the MFSL). Either one will be a good choice in my opinion. I will have to do some more comparisons before I come to a final conclusion.

    6. News Of The World
    This is another interesting album since we have several different versions to choose from. There is the MFSL, the early EMI mastering (found on the CP32 and other versions) and the Elektra target CD. Thanks to a very kind forum member, I was able to find the target CD just today (thanks Owais!). I first had the MFSL CD and was quite happy with it. During the 2006 soccer world championship tournament, after Germany had defeated Argentina, I just had to play "We Are The Champions" really loud, but I had to turn it down, since it really started to sound harsh at louder volumes.
    Some time later I found the CP32 pressing, and I liked it much better than the MFSL. To me personally, the difference is striking and the CP32 sounds much better in my opinion.
    I already had listened to some short clips of the target CD on Elektra, and these sounded quite promising, so I really wanted to get my hands on one of those. I wasn't disappointed when I received the real CD today. It really sounds great, and I prefer it a little over the CP32 (which is still very good). It's just that the target CD sounds a little more natural and laid back, and this is especially noticeable in songs with greater dynamics, such as "We Are The Champions" or "Spread Your Wings". The target CD just sounds more dynamic for some reason, and the EMI sounds a little more upfront and forward.
    My preference is the target CD, then the CP32. I wouldn't really recommend the MFSL anymore, after I heard these other versions.
    By the way, Owais told me that the 32XD pressing of this uses the same mastering also.

    7. Jazz
    Not too many versions to choose from (if you don’t care for the no-noised remasters). The early EMI mastering sounds great in my opinion. I own the CP32 and also had the West Germany CD (just sold it), I couldn’t hear a substantial difference between them. I once also owned the Made in Holland EMI CD, and I noticed that the levels were slightly different (by 0.2 dB), so someone must have done something with the original mastering in the digital domain. When comparing the Holland CD with the West Germany CD, I slightly preferred the latter.

    8. The Game
    Another album with several different choices (MFSL, EMI, Elektra target). I think the MFSL of this album sounds very good, and comparing it to the CP32, I can’t really say that I prefer the latter. I think the MFSL of this is fine. I recently got the target CD of this album, and this one sounds even a little better in my opinion, so it is my preferred version at the moment.
    I haven’t heard the DVD-A yet, but I am not sure if I need to.

    9. Live Killers
    I have the EMI UK 2-CD set and think it sounds fine. There is a CP28 of this also, and I am 99% certain it uses the same mastering as the UK EMI CD. Maybe one day I’ll find the CP28 for a good price, but the EMI UK is just fine with me.

    10. Flash
    Don’t really care about this album, I don’t even own it. I would expect the early EMI mastering to be the best version.

    11. Hot Space
    This album is actually not as bad as many people think (in my opinion). I haven’t done any comparisons for this album, I just own the WG EMI CD. It sounds o.k., but I feel it could sound better.

    12. The Works
    I have the Japan for Europe CD for this album. Catalog number is CDP 7 46016 2 (matrix is: CP35-3117). It sounds o.k., but nothing to write home about. Again, I fell it could sound better.

    13. A Kind Of Magic
    I have the Japan for Europe CD for this album. Catalog number is CDP 7 46267 2 (matrix is: CP32-5152). It sounds fine to me, but it’s not my favourite album.

    My interest in Queen pretty much ends here, I don’t own any of their later albums.

    Of course, we also have the famous compilation:

    Greatest Hits
    I own three different masterings of this compilation, the Japan for Europe redface and the West Germay redface EMI CD’s (these two have clearly a different mastering). The Japan for Europe redface CD has a unique mastering, the WG EMI CD has the same mastering as the CP32 Japan for Japan pressing which is also the same mastering as the more common EMI UK version. I also own the Japan for US Elektra CD (which has only 14 tracks compared to the 17 tracks of the EMI versions). The Elektra CD I have has the same mastering as the target CD.
    My preference for these CD’s is varying from track to track, but for most tracks, I prefer the EMI Greatest Hits over the Elektra Greatest Hits.
    Haven’t completely figured out which is my preferred version for some of the tracks where I have five or six different masterings (for “Another One Bites The Dust”, I have at least seven (!) different masterings, and that excludes any of the later remastered versions.

    O.k., that’s it for my Queen preferences. Feel free to voice your opinions, whether you concur or disagree. Thanks.
     
  2. George P

    George P Notable Member

    Location:
    NYC
    Roland, you ROCK!

    Let me be first to say thank you! :righton:
     
  3. George P

    George P Notable Member

    Location:
    NYC
    BTW, when you say early EMI mastering, this applies to both CDP and CP32 releases, right? (Even though one may sound slightly better)
     
  4. eelkiller

    eelkiller Technically right but still wrong

    I would be interested in a comparison between the Greatest Hits 14 track Japan for USA disc and the Japan 32XD 14 track disc. I am willing to bet they are the same mastering (identical to the Target).
     
  5. Jamie Tate

    Jamie Tate New Member

    Location:
    Nashville
    Great! Thanks for this thread.
     
  6. dbz

    dbz Bolinhead.

    Location:
    Live At Leeds (UK)
    Roland

    A Night at The Opera CP32 seems to me to have an unusual balance between left & right channel. As a long time player of the UK CDP version (and the original vinyl from 1975), it kind of jumped out at me that the balance may not be 50/50 but more like 60/40 for some reason. This is a lot more pronounced with headphones. it gives the album a bit of a lobsided feel.

    I was wondering if you had also heard this or thought it a little strange.
    Incidentally, there is also the unusual index error where the Track Bohemian Rhapsody is indexed as the last ragtime chord of Good Company..just for those who are interested in this stuff.

    Glad you got this one up on the board Roland and thanks for your efforts.:righton:
     
    sandimascharvel likes this.
  7. LouReed9

    LouReed9 Village Idiot

    Location:
    Philly Burbs
    How do the Japaneese mini LP limited edition versions fair when compared to these others?
     
  8. George P

    George P Notable Member

    Location:
    NYC
    I've heard that they are all remastered versions and therefore inferior.
     
  9. jon9091

    jon9091 Master Of Reality

    Location:
    Midwest
    Those are all terrible as far as I'm concerned. Super loud, compresed dynamics, and smiley-faced.
     
  10. George P

    George P Notable Member

    Location:
    NYC
    Can you speak about the differences between the CDP EMI version and the CP32?
     
  11. LouReed9

    LouReed9 Village Idiot

    Location:
    Philly Burbs
    :hurlleft:
    Thats what I thought!:hurlleft: Paid an arm and a leg too!
     
  12. jon9091

    jon9091 Master Of Reality

    Location:
    Midwest
    At least the covers look cool. That's about it though. :shrug:
     
  13. rjstauber

    rjstauber Forum Resident Thread Starter

    In the cases I have compared (at least 6 albums), the CP32 and the early CDP EMI shared the same mastering, i.e. were digitally identical. Some people have claimed that they can hear a small difference between them still. I also thought I heard a small difference with one or two of the albums, but it was very minor at the most. In other cases I couldn't hear a difference.

    I am not claiming that there isn't a difference, but if there is, it will be rather small. I wouldn't sweat over it, but for piece of mind, you can try to find the CP32's to be on the safe side.
     
  14. rjstauber

    rjstauber Forum Resident Thread Starter

    I have to check again, haven't really noticed yet.
     
  15. George P

    George P Notable Member

    Location:
    NYC
    Thanks Roland. My peace of mind will actually come from buying the cheaper of the two. :righton:
     
  16. rjstauber

    rjstauber Forum Resident Thread Starter

    You are very welcome. Thanks for your comments and appreciation.
     
  17. PaulT

    PaulT Spuzzum

    Thanks for this great thread Roland.

    I was listening to ANATO last night; DCC, CP32 and EMI UK. Also ran some numbers in EAC. Between the EMI/CP32 the numbers are different - maybe a level adjustment but I don't have software to level adjust and diff them to confirm same mastering. I only listened to 2 tracks on the 3 discs: '39 and Love Of My Life.

    On those tracks I prefer the instruments on the DCC (the guitar on '39 and the harp on Love) but I prefer the vocals on the CP32.

    I was not listening for differences left/right, so I'll go back and have a go at that tonight Darren.

    Between the EMI UK/CP32 I am hearing a slight difference on those 2 tracks, with the CP32 sounding a tad clearer.


    After reading your OP, sounds like I might have to pick up the CP32 Day and News to compare as well to my MFSL's....

    I guess I should add what I have for these Queen discs>

    Queen I: EMI UK
    Queen II: EMI (no listing, maybe Holland)
    Sheer Heart Attack: EMI WG
    ANATO: DCC, CP32, EMI UK, DVD Audio
    ADATR: MFSL
    NOTW: MFSL
    Jazz: EMI UK
    The Gane: lost interest, maybe get the CP32 and MFSL??
     
  18. eelkiller

    eelkiller Technically right but still wrong

    Glad that you have done a comparison between the CP32 and EMI WG versions of the first 2 albums. If there is little or no difference in mastering then the search is over for me. The EMI discs sound good enough for me.
     
  19. Dave

    Dave Esoteric Audio Research Specialist™

    Location:
    Greater Vancouver
    :wave: Hi Roland, nice work my friend. :cheers:

    My impressions so far have been a little different on some of the albums. When I compared them, I & II, it sounds like a veil was removed from the CP32's compared to the CDP EMI's.

    ANATO I was suprised how close the MFSL was to the DCC, but still not quite as detailed. I prefer the CP32 because of the way Freddie sounds.

    The MFSL's of ADATR, NOTW and The Game are very detailed, but they didn't hold up against the CP32's with increased volume for me. I've got to hear those 32XD's sometime. ;)

    I :love: my CP28 of Live Killers, but I haven't heard any other pressings.

    Flash and Hot Space just don't sound that good to me in any pressing I've heard so far. I may change my mind on Hot Space as I have a copy I haven't listened to yet. Yes, it's the CP32.

    I have The Works CP35-3117, but honestly I believe the CP32 albums are better for these tracks by just a hair.

    The Greatest Hits 32XD Target is the best I've heard so far. YMMV
     
    Freezerburn and marco Roma like this.
  20. SimonSaysCake

    SimonSaysCake Forum Resident

    This thread R.O.C.K.S! Thanks so much, this will make building up my Queen CD much easier. :) :)

    Really interesting take on Night at the Opera, a surprise to many I'll bet.

    -s1m0n-
     
  21. rjstauber

    rjstauber Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Well, Dave's system is certainly more revealing than mine, and his ears are probably also trained better.

    If I can't really make out a difference on my system, that doesn't mean there isn't one. I also did not try too hard to find/hear a difference, they sounded so close to me on my system that I would be happy with either version.

    Everyone has to find out for themselves how important these small differences between the various pressings are, and whether you can hear a difference.

    In this thread, I tried to concentrate on mainly the different mastering groups and which of these I tend to prefer. That sometimes is already quite hard for me.
     
  22. Dave

    Dave Esoteric Audio Research Specialist™

    Location:
    Greater Vancouver
    :agree:

    Welcome to the madness. :winkgrin: YMMV and who knows, perhaps I've only heard the not so great sounding EMI's, MFSL's. Maybe you have more defined/better sounding pressings of those than I've heard so far? Trust me, it happens.

    Oops, I've just been informed the 32XD of GH's is not a Target pressing. The one I've heard is not mine. :hide:
     
  23. yesstiles

    yesstiles Senior Member

    I recently tested the Japan CP32 and the EMI Holland disc of News of the World and they have the exact same mastering.
     
  24. rjstauber

    rjstauber Forum Resident Thread Starter

    I jut did some more listening for ANATO.

    The instruments (acoustic guitar, piano, etc.) sound really great on the DCC. On some tracks, Freddie's voice sounds a little better on the CP32. Both are really good, but I think my preference maybe just slightly shifted towards the DCC (could be different tomorrow again).

    I haven't really noticed any off-balance on the CP32. It seems to be similar to the DCC as far as balance goes.
     
  25. :wave:
    Roland,
    great thread - am I glad I already got the DCC and MFSLs but now might have to get some of the CP32s based on this review. :righton:
     

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