SH Spotlight VINYL record collecting: Question to Steve: sound quality, original pressing vs. reissue pressing?

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by Christer, Feb 1, 2019.

  1. steviebee

    steviebee Always playing Ese and The Vooduu People

    London, England
    Yes, I find the same with some remasters: an increase in bass, detail etc but there's a loss of a certain something... 'air' is a good description. I'm not audiophile-trained enough to describe it better.
    I usually try to seek out original pressings nowadays. Unless it's a bank vault job and my existing original is shot...
    mozz and c-eling like this.
  2. AnalogJ

    AnalogJ CMO (Chief Musical Officer)

    Salem, MA
    Yes. And it's great if a company has left an indicator in the dead wax.
  3. Gary7704

    Gary7704 Jesus saves, Esposito scores on the rebound.

    Estero Florida
    Trying to find the best sounding pressing is made less maddening because of this forum.
    Many times when I searched the web for best sounding pressing of XXXX, Steve's Forum was the first search result to appear. Thanks to all for that.
  4. Stone Turntable

    Stone Turntable Dedicated Listener

    New Mexico USA
    I love this forum's mania for hunting the best-sounding versions of a recording, however neurotic it sometimes seems, but I often wish people relaxed a little about the difference in quality and eased up on the hyperbole.

    Not every improvement is "night and day," not every best pressing "kills" other good pressings, not every rare and expensive UK first pressing (or whatever) is worth the time and expense required to buy it when other excellent audiophile-quality versions are accessible and affordable.
  5. c-eling

    c-eling Love has no date of expiration...

  6. Christer

    Christer Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Stockholm Sweden
    Yes, and even if you should find a copy of ”the best sounding pressing” the record may very well be worn.
    Vinyl records do get worn!
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  7. c-eling

    c-eling Love has no date of expiration...

    Especially old rock titles that have been puked on, frisbee'd and trashed at party's :laugh:
    Finding good clean, silent players can be work :)
    patient_ot and Christer like this.
  8. Raunchnroll

    Raunchnroll Forum Resident

    Given that so much popular music is now 40 to 60 years old, the 'original pressing' facet is getting more and more expensive and correspondingly, more difficult with regards to condition. So even if the original or first pressing is the better sounding of all, you have to figure in finances and the labor.

    I bought a rock rarity for almost $200 (with shipping) that was described as barely played / near mint. It was more like a true VG+. Couple minor non-sounding handle or play marks. No biggie... I'm happy given its scarcity, but I think there are some folks who would not be happy. But whatcha gonna do?

    If you like a particular title well enough why not get an original and a reissue? They're usually a little different sounding. My experience is the 'original' (in 95% of cases) sounds the best but some reissues are great in their own way too. If an original is too pricey buy a cheap copy -- just for comparison. You can still ascertain how its sounds compared to a reissue. Who knows it may spark you to say the original is worth the money and effort.
  9. Bill Hart

    Bill Hart Forum Resident

    I don't think there is any 'rule'- it's case by case in my experience. The Speakers Corner re-do of Herbie Hancock's Crossings (a spiritual jazz record before Head Hunters) done by Kevin Gray has more sparkle and punch than a time capsule Warner green that I bought sealed. Yesterday, I put on the MoFi re-do of Superfly and while the surfaces are very nice and the record is dead quiet, it didn't seem to have the liveliness of an old clean Curtom that was mastered by Sam Feldman. (I need to listen more, but that was my initial reaction).
    Some of records are so pricey now that you can't buy multiple copies without spending a fortune. I had to buy three copies of the first May Blitz album to get a decent player; ditto on the first Cressida album on Vertigo Swirl. Even a nasty, noisy copy of the latter today is 500 hundred bucks for a UK VG+, "plays with crackles".
    It's easy enough if it is a common record to buy a bunch of copies. I do pay attention to deadwax and mastering, and country of origin, but there are always flukes- who knows why? There's a copy of Skynyrd's "Pronounced" from around 1980- a nothing special MCA copy that beats the pants off the other copies here, including a SOS, a 33 MoFi and a couple other copies.
    I'll buy the reissue if the original is too costly. Some of the records I chase have not been reissued by all analog houses and I've become more sanguine about that. If it sounds good, I'm happy.
    Yesterday, this record came in: a sealed promo of something that probably was not pressed in any great quantity. It is on the thinnest vinyl I have ever encountered. Thing sounds staggering.

    [​IMG]IMG_0870 by bill hart, on Flickr
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  10. mahanusafa02

    mahanusafa02 Forum Resident

    Maybe not your taste, but Belafonte At Carnegie Hall is another example of the 1S having the “magic.”
    Spadeygrove and yasujiro like this.
  11. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Mastering Engineer Your Host

    More magic than the actual stereo master tape. And I've heard them both. Scully/Westrex valve cutting system. To die for..
  12. Marc Perman

    Marc Perman Forum Resident

    East of the Hudson
    On a related note, the owner of Joe’s Pizza once explained to me that his ability to have the pizza crust of his W. Hollywood branch closely match the original Bleecker St. location was due to getting the pH balance of the water in LA to closely match that of NYC’s.
  13. Christer

    Christer Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Stockholm Sweden
    Many thanks for your answers.

    When we discuss best sounding version we can mean different things.

    I remember an an old story from the late 1960s when you mainly bought 45 rpm 7” singles. A friend borrowed a bunch of singles from my brother and recorded them on a small cassette recorder (the first very small recorder made by Philips that came around some time after compact cassettes were introduced). When he returned the records he claimed that the cassette recordings he had made sounded better than the original singles. I who used to be a ”hi-fi freak” thought that that could not be true. His recordings were one more generation away from the original recordings. But later on I realised that probably the limitations of the cassette recorder and the cassette tapes made the sound of the recordings somewhat brighter (and maybe more compressed) than the sound of the original singles played on a record player. What my friend preferred was in an objective way not better sound, but it was different!
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2019
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  14. Lemon Curry

    Lemon Curry (A) Face In The Crowd

    Mahwah, NJ
    I agree with the statements saying the dead wax can only take you so far to locate extraordinary pressings.

    After becoming "woke" about deadwax etchings and how to interpret them, (thanks to this forum), I searched my collection to see how many first pressings I had. It was a small bunch. They all sounded great, but most not greater than reissues I owned. Except for one: a US Peter Gabriel "So". It's a first pressing, and it has special magical powers. Many complain about this pressing, but not I. What makes it that good?

    It really does come down to listening to the individual record. There are no shortcuts.

    The opposite, identfying pressings to avoid, can be better served by deadwax info.
  15. steve phillips

    steve phillips Forum Resident

    I have 3 original pressings of Sgt. Pepper that sound great, but my purple label reissue is my #1 go-to.
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  16. Marc Perman

    Marc Perman Forum Resident

    East of the Hudson
    I have almost all of the Beatles purple labels except Sgt. Pepper, but my go-to is a German HorZu.
    steve phillips likes this.
  17. Curious, would you want to make a new LP with that system? Or is it too “wrong” in other regards (noise, distortion, frequency response)?
  18. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Mastering Engineer Your Host

    Yes, I would, in a flash.
    AlienRendel and Pinknik like this.
  19. Christer

    Christer Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Stockholm Sweden
    I found this on another discussion thread where Steve Hoffman describes the making of a remastered SACD version of ”Billion Dollar Babies” by Alice Cooper:

    ”None of the songs sounded tone-wise like any other songs on there, each had a different and nicely subtle but unique sound. obvious on our top notch modern gear, probably not so obvious on monitors back in the day.. Now on the old LP they made all of them sound similar by filtering and compressing but that was not our goal. I personally don't care what the old LP sounded like unless it had amazing sound (and this one didn't compared to the actual master mixes, the vinyl was too compressed and compromised, a long album on two vinyl sides). I want YOU to hear what the band and producer got to hear back at the Record Plant in 1973 so I left the tonal changes intact for the most part from song to song but at the same time I made sure each one sounded the best it could in the context of "what they were obviously going for" back then, same as I've done on almost every project I've worked on since 1982. The intent of the original artist/producer/engineer is always the main goal.”

    What I like about this is that Steve shows that you can sometimes do things to get an even better sounding version than the original LP. The first release may not always be the best!
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2019
  20. jon9091

    jon9091 Master Of Reality

    Of course. Everyone’s opinion’s are valid on here. Just try to find a few people who’s tastes align with your own for solid recommendations. Personally, I find the more they muck around with things...the worse it tends to sound. Things like no-noise, and limiting are real non starters for me. Other people don’t mind as much as they may like a more pumped up sound, and any hint of tape hiss drives them crazy. Other than that, it’s a case by case basis. Every mastering engineer is like a chef, and they all season things differently. Some are masters, some aren’t. And it’s easy driving yourself nuts (and broke) trying to find the very best version.

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  21. ChipV

    ChipV Active Member

    San Francisco
    I was a major LP wholesaler to Asia from around 2000-2010. I shipped 100's of thousands of lp's overseas - but FIRST, I listened to all the interesting ones - keeping the cream of those for my own collection :) And if similars came in to something important I already had, I'd A/B them to decide which to keep. So I have some experience in this. Classical is the easiest to generalize... like Classic Records vs. RCA originals - I'd say that I prefer the Classic reissues on about 80% of them. I love to play people the original 1A Witches Brew, and say "sounds pretty good eh?" Then I play them a Classic version of it - and watch their jaws drop. But as an aside - my "go to" Pink Panther Soundtrack is on the incredibly thin and floppy pink RCA label - despite that I have a mint 1st press. Original Mercury seems tougher to beat - Piros was great. (Im lucky to have a few of Piros' personal copies of test pressings / lacquers that are out of this world...) The Mercury reissued CD's are bad IMHO. I had the Starker Bach suites on CD for a few years and couldn't understand why the vinyl set was so expensive, until I got one - I sat there and listened to all 3 discs nonstop, straight through - really irritating my wife. London/Decca were great recordings, but they are often improved in later remasters/pressings - especially the Japanese. ALL of the Deutsche Grammophon from the late 60's onward (post the early Tulips label era) benefit in reissue. The originals were dreadful. Jazz/RVG - it's the same thing isn't it? :) brings up another interesting issue. Our age - I'm older and my hearing from about 1.5 khz+, is way down now - so "hot" mixed mids will sound much better to me than to a 30 year old. It's an elephant in the room in many discussions that nobody seems to notice. Our opinions of mixes/masters will be GREATLY affected by age if we are not consciously correcting for that. Personally - I run an EQ calibrated to my hearing tests. But back to Jazz, and Rock is similar but even more so - It's hard to generalize at all. Some of the late 50's/early 60's jazz pressings are fantastic - and that sets a high bar for a reissue to beat. Rock, not so much - many of the 60's and 70's lp's are a disappointingly low bar (hence the demand from people like us for new versions), but of course if the original engineering was at fault, there may not be enough there to revive. So in rock, I'd say most of the reissues done by the acknowledged masters of remastering (our host being one :), Steve Wilson, etc., better the originals, though. Bottom line IMHO - record collecting is fun - but it's different than record listening. For listening, most remasters will better or at least adequately match the originals. And frankly, for listening - Hi-Res downloads or streaming make a lot of sense. One last thing on this rant... If you want the master closer to the way you'd like - Do it Yourself! I often load a piece into Izotope at 32 bit 192khz and "fix" it. You'd be amazed how much you can improve much of your collection.
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  22. DK Pete

    DK Pete Forum Resident

    Levittown. NY
    Purple from the late 70's or late 80's (large dome or small)?
  23. ChipV

    ChipV Active Member

    San Francisco
    I haven't yet found a copy of SPLHCB that I'm really happy with - including RtR. I just always feel like there should be more "there" there - but I'll keep trying :).
  24. JamesD1957

    JamesD1957 Forum Resident

    Cypress, Texas
    This, to me, is what makes it such a crapshoot. Unless you can hear the actual copy you're buying, you're taking a chance, but yes, your luck is probably better with a "known" good pressing.
  25. steve phillips

    steve phillips Forum Resident

    1978- I bought it brand new. I'm almost positive that it's this exact one. If not, I'll get back to you, when I can re-examine it.

    The Beatles - Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
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