Remasters

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rooster
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Remasters

Post by rooster » Tue May 08, 2018 8:10 pm

I wonder if any of you have any strong opinions about remastered recordings.

For me, most of the remasters that I have heard either sound terrible (the great majority) or have little or no appreciable difference when compared to an original mastering job (which leaves me wondering what exactly it is I've paid for). Sometimes I notice (and I know this will sound strange) that the sound is "too clean". This seems especially true on any recording I've heard that makes use of a "wall of sound" type of production. The whole idea of the wall of sound is the layering of guitars and drums and keyboards and violins or what have you and the blending and intermingling of those instruments to create a cohesive whole from disparate parts. Remasters of these kinds of recordings always leave me quite disappointed. It always feels as all those layers have some sort separation that wasn't originally there. I've heard lots of remasters where the only difference seems to be the "loudness" of a recording.

Another thing that I'm just not getting is why is a recording that has been reissued by several labels in succession over the course of, say, the last ten years or so remastered by each new label that releases it. What was wrong with the previous remaster? Or the one before that? Or for that matter the original master.

I have taken into consideration that maybe it's just my aging and lifelong music damaged ears or that I'm just so used to the original vinyl recordings that anything new doesn't sound "right". What mainly is keeping me from accepting the foregoing is that there are a multitude, of what I consider, bad sounding remasters. I don't consider myself an unreasonable man and I would think I would find a greater percentage of "good" sounding remasters than I do.

What do you think? Am I crazy? Is it just me?

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Re: Remasters

Post by B_big. » Wed May 09, 2018 8:03 am

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  • Curt! This is an interesting topic, indeed. The main intention for me to buy remastered albums is to fill a gap in my existing collection, or to replace a worn recording. That means, that I keep the original too, so in the end I have at least two copies of the same album.

    I experienced the same you described, the majority of those remastered records doesn't sound really different, if you're lucky! But I also own some new releases, which are sounding really terrible, flat without any dynamic or even worse, dull, without any power at all. Therefor I decided to buy remastered albums only, if I haven't the original release, mostly because of exorbitant pricing.

    I do have several reissues (remastered) albums that I doesn't play any more, instead I chose the original releases, 'cause they sound better by far! To name just a few examples, 'For Your Pleasure' by Roxy Music, 'My One and Only Thrill' by Melody Gardot, that is a really miserable pressing, with more or less constant hiss, and it wasn't one of the cheap reissues!
    To me it seams, that, with the increasing sales of vinyl recordings, there's a lack of quality control or it becomes less important! How did one of my favorite American songwriter once sang:

    • "It's Money That Matters"!

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Re: Remasters

Post by RidinTheWind » Wed May 09, 2018 5:54 pm

I have the original 2 CD set of the best of The Doors. This sounds good.

About a year ago, I picked up a recently remastered single CD copy. Some songs sound good, but there are a few that sound awful!

Also, I find that a song that I burned to CD from vinyl sometimes sounds better than the retail CD copy.
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Re: Remasters

Post by CaptainVague » Wed May 09, 2018 7:33 pm

I was given a Beach Boys CD box set some years ago. Everything was remastered and I was quite disappointed. The vocals could clearly be heard separate. I mean you could hear what each Beach Boy was singing. It ruined the harmonies. Without the harmony the Beach Boys don't have a lot to offer. :(
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Re: Remasters - a really fantastic one!

Post by B_big. » Thu May 10, 2018 5:56 pm

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  • I wanna contribute something positive to this topic! I bought a re-release of a 'Joe Walsh' album:

    • 'The Smoker You Drink, The Player You Get'
      (US Analogue Productions ‎– APP 108, Universal Music Special Markets ‎– B0024537-01, Dunhill ‎– B0024537-01 , 2017)
      Limited edition, remastered, 200 gram


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      This one delivers an unbelievable quality of sound, the pressing is absolutely top notch, without any flaws, simply terrific! If you ever have the chance to grab a copy, don't hesitate, it's absolutely worth the financial effort. . Image . Image
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Re: Remasters

Post by rooster » Fri May 11, 2018 6:55 pm

It would seem that we all have had somewhat mixed results when buying and listening to remastered recordings. Captainvague's experience with the Beachboys set seems to agree with my observations when listening to, what I call, "Wall Of Sound" production aesthetics. A specific example is the remastered copy of Bruce Springsteen's "Born To Run" that I bought that, to my ears, sounds terrible because of that separation that didn't exist in the original.

I've also had the same complaint as ridin's about a remastered recording on which some songs sound good and others sound bad. I have no idea how that happens.

As for Falk's experience with the Joe Walsh album, I wonder if the company that produced the remaster just does it right? Does anyone have another of the "Analogue Productions" releases? I hadn't thought about remasters by labels that produced them, previously. That may be an avenue to research. To see if any individual company has more success, overall, than another as a remasters label.

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Re: Remasters

Post by The Curator » Sun May 13, 2018 1:29 pm

This is a very real scientific issue, not simply old folks going on about how things were better in the past. Mastering and remastering these days reflect how most music is listened to and hence marketed. For this reason many remasters often don’t sound as good to people who are serious listeners or listening on hi-fi systems.

Remastering now goes far beyond merely transferring the finished recording to the format and fixing the odd click. It has effectively become a further remixing process. To appeal to mobile listeners in ambient background noise, remastering has tended to do two things. Firstly, using dynamic compression so that the volume level remains virtually constant in spite of peaks and troughs in the actual performance, and therefore through an iPod on a noisy train you don’t have to keep adjusting the volume. Secondly, increasing the inherent loudness of a recording to the maximum so that it superficially appears better than previous versions since it’s louder at the same setting on the equipment (the so-called “loudness wars”).

The problem with dynamic compression is that it sucks the life out of the music, so that when a crescendo comes in after a subtle section it has no impact since it's at pretty much the same volume - in fact you can usually hear the sound being pulled down for a split second just as the crescendo is supposedly kicking in. The problem with loudness is that it’s often overcooked so that clipping distortion arises, but the listener in the car on the motorway won't notice that.

Unless the vinyl remaster is done differently or is a separate reissue programme it will share these flaws. During the resurgence of vinyl some back catalogue records were even mastered from CDs. Classical music suffers less from all of this since its market often has a different (more critical) listening environment. I may have mentioned this database before which is a useful guide to which version of a release is likely to sound better http://dr.loudness-war.info/

As a result even though many remastering programmes are marketed on the basis of returning to an earlier generation source, many remasters sound one dimensional and unengaging, which is the “flat” character that we talk about i.e. dull sameness, lacking colour and punch. Those remasters which aren't subject to these treatments might sound little or no different to predecessors unless you're listening very critically through a high end rig.

Yet there are some release programmes which buck the trend. The 2015-17 Bowie remasters such as "Hunky Dory" are excellent. The recent Led Zep and Porcupine Tree remasters are too - each overseen by band members, which I'm sure makes the difference.

Overall I feel remasters are split 80/20 between worse than before and better than before.

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Re: Remasters

Post by mackdaddyg » Tue May 15, 2018 6:13 pm

The Who remasters from the 90s are something to behold. Lots of nuanced differences and good gravy, they are LOUD!!!

I like 'em fine, but there is something to be said for the original mixes as well.

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