Tears For Fears 'Songs From The Big Chair' - Best Sounding CD/Digital release

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by AFCBRINGWOOD, Oct 18, 2018.


    AFCBRINGWOOD Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Before anyone asks, I've looked at quite a few of the existing threads on this album but they are either too focused on specific versions or they are outdated (as there are so many versions!).

    I'm looking to buy the best sounding stereo version of this album and would like some opinions. Looking at Discogs, these are the main contenders:

    1985 Mercury CD 824 300-2
    1998 MFSL CD
    1999 Remaster
    2006 Remaster
    2014 SHM-SACD
    2014 Remaster
    2014 Stereo Remix

    I've read that the original CD has the left and right channels swapped. I also understand the 2014 Original Mix is slightly louder in the left channel compared to the right. I'm not sure if this volume imbalance also affects the Steven Wilson Remix. Can anyone confirm?

    If you have a preference, please state which other versions you've heard. Thanks in advance.
    deredordica and negative1 like this.

    AFCBRINGWOOD Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Anybody out there who'd like to share their opinion? Thanks.
  3. c-eling

    c-eling I never dreamed another way.

    After going through those same threads over the years I decided just to stick with my old US PDO 824, I enjoy it's sound regardless of the channels. I can see how they messed up, both are so identical.
  4. ispace likes this.
  5. c-eling

    c-eling I never dreamed another way.

    Yeah I'm sure the 99 Astley sounds fantastic
    danielbravo and Jack_Straw like this.
  6. JAuz

    JAuz Forum Resident

    Some good info on the switched channels is here: EXCLUSIVE: Remixing Tears For Fears and the stereo channel saga | superdeluxeedition

    (relevant part posted below)

    Another issue that I was aware of, before the project even began, was the fact that the stereo image (the left and right channels) were supposedly reversed on the 1999 and 2005 reissues of Songs From The Big Chair when compared to the original UK vinyl. These have long considered to be ‘wrong’ by the uber-fans that concern themselves with the finer details. The 1998 Mobile Fidelity Sound Labs audiophile CD pressing had a reputation for being the only reissue to get the channels ‘right’ by maintaining the stereo image as it was on the original LP. An easy way to tell the difference is that on the original record the percussion (i.e. metallic chimes) at the beginning of Shout go from right to left. On subsequent Universal reissues they go from left to right. Anyway, I mentioned this to Andy Walter who was remastering the CD element of the Songs From The Big Chair reissue and he advised that the master tapes have a hand written note on them pointing out that the channels are reversed on the tape and therefore should be reversed again to get them back to how they should be. Trouble was, the tape played the Shout percussion right to left, which at the time we thought was CORRECT, therefore if we followed the instruction to reverse them, surely they’d be ‘wrong’? Arghh!!!

    Note on the original analogue master (in red) advising of reversed stereo image

    I asked Steven Wilson what he thought and his opinion was that most mixers would have mixed the metal chimes from left to right so he was dubious about the fact that right to left was correct. Thankfully, as he was liaising regularly with Roland [Orzabal] at that point, discussing the new stereo and 5.1 remix, we had an easy way to check with an authority. Roland told us that since Jerry Marotta is right handed, the toms on The Working Hour would have been mixed “low tom on the left and high tom on the right”. Lo and behold the original LP is the reverse of this. If there was any further doubt Steven Wilson also checked with the original producer Chris Hughes who confirmed categorically that the metal chimes should go from left to right. That information effectively proved that the original UK vinyl pressing is incorrect – the stereo image is the wrong way round which is why the master tape has the 1998 Jon Astley note (see above) stating that it should be reversed. That instruction was either not followed for the MFSL CD or as is more likely they used different tape sources (Head Over Heels on the MFSL runs slightly longer than the standard album version which means that cannot have used the same tapes ).

    So the mystery of the stereo image has been solved once and for all. The 2014 remaster and the 2014 stereo mix correctly reverse the channels when compared to the original vinyl release which – incredibly – is incorrect. The MFSL is also incorrect so its reputation for being the only ‘correct’ version now lies in tatters!
  7. c-eling

    c-eling I never dreamed another way.

    So the old cd is correct? I'm confused
    Last edited: Oct 18, 2018
  8. JAuz

    JAuz Forum Resident

    Yeah, after all that, I still don't know! I'll have to check on my original CD.

    At least the article clarifies how it's supposed to sound (the metal chimes at the beginning of "Shout" should go left to right).
    c-eling likes this.
  9. c-eling

    c-eling I never dreamed another way.

    The old US PDO is left to right, US vinyl Right to Left
    Polygram liked to use their German mastering's for the US Plants, so old Euro's should match
    AlanDistro likes this.
  10. scobb

    scobb Forum Resident

    Sydney, Australia
    Forgive my ignorance. The Blu Ray Audio was 2014 so I presume this also has an error?

    AFCBRINGWOOD Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Do you know if that's the same mastering as the Mercury CD 824 300-2?
  12. Bobby Morrow

    Bobby Morrow Forum Resident

    The original stereo mix on the Blu Ray Audio disc sounds good to my ears.

    AFCBRINGWOOD Forum Resident Thread Starter

    From what I read in the 2014 Box Set thread (I haven't heard it), the left channel is louder than the right channel on the original mix, so this would affect the Blu-Ray Audio as well.
  14. c-eling

    c-eling I never dreamed another way.

    Same catalog #, I was just specifying the manufacturer. Not sure if the early Japan is tweaked or not, but it appears one early mastering between US and Germany for Europe at least.
    AFCBRINGWOOD likes this.

    AFCBRINGWOOD Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Have you heard any other versions to compare with?

    AFCBRINGWOOD Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Thanks, that's good to know.

    Surprisingly, I can find very little about the MFSL in the old threads (maybe I'm looking in the wrong place!). Has anyone compared the MFSL to the original disc and/or other masterings?
    Front 242 Addict likes this.
  17. Bobby Morrow

    Bobby Morrow Forum Resident

    I had the original UK CD back in 1985, but can’t really remember how it sounded. I also have the 2014 Japanese SHM-SACD
    AFCBRINGWOOD likes this.
  18. Mal

    Mal Phorum Physicist

  19. ParanoidAndroid

    ParanoidAndroid Forum Resident

    The latest remaster sounds good but I found the channel imbalance to get on my nerves after a while. Once you hear it it's difficult to forget, especially through headphones. The 1985 disc sounds very good as well, I haven't heard the MFSL.
    AFCBRINGWOOD likes this.
  20. canonlon

    canonlon Forum Resident

    Ontario, CANADA
    I like the MFSL CD a lot. If you can get it at a good price then go for it. But it usually sells quite high. An original issue CD can be had for a few bucks and sounds real good.
    audiomixer and AFCBRINGWOOD like this.
  21. The 1998 MFSL CD is the best digital version.
  22. VeeDub

    VeeDub Forum Resident

    Denver, CO
    Right or wrong (channels), the MFSL is the best, IMHO, and that would include comparisons to the original US, Astley ‘99 remaster, and 2006 remaster. The original mastering is no slouch though.

    I love the comprehensive 2014 box but never bothered listening to the remaster after learning of the imbalance issue.

    AFCBRINGWOOD Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Thanks for the comments.

    What about the 2014 stereo remix? Is there also a volume imbalance on it or is this just on the original mix? How does the remix compare to the original?

    AFCBRINGWOOD Forum Resident Thread Starter

    For those who prefer the MFSL over the original CD mastering, can you explain a little bit why you think it's better?
  25. aroney

    aroney Who really gives a...?

    So, is the Silver Series MFSL LP wrong then?

Share This Page