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Digital remasters - do they sound better or ..?

Krunok

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#1
What is your take, when we see a note on CD stating "digitally remastered" do we generally get a better a sound or not? :)
 

Cosmik

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#3
What is your take, when we see a note on CD stating "digitally remastered" do we generally get a better a sound or not? :)
I say often not. It's one of my worries about streaming, where they often replace the albums I love with the so-called remastered version.

What is meant by 'digital' remastering anyway? If they take the analogue tape and re-digitise it, presumably it may have been degrading for a further 20 years since the first digitisation. And then if they decide to mess with it further (EQ, compression etc.), they may simply be making it sound fashionable by today's standards i.e. crap.

If they simply take the old CD without analogue re-digitisation and process it in some glorified Audacity application to add EQ, compression, noise removal etc., then that's no better.
 

Krunok

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#4
I say often not. It's one of my worries about streaming, where they often replace the albums I love with the so-called remastered version.

What is meant by 'digital' remastering anyway? If they take the analogue tape and re-digitise it, presumably it may have been degrading for a further 20 years since the first digitisation. And then if they decide to mess with it further (EQ, compression etc.), they may simply be making it sound fashionable by today's standards i.e. crap.

If they simply take the old CD without analogue re-digitisation and process it in some glorified Audacity application to add EQ, compression, noise removal etc., then that's no better.
Your worry about quality of the tapes being degraded is indeed justified. I would expect these days digitised files made for archiving purposes are being used as a basis for remastering.
 

sergeauckland

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#8
Sadly, many analogue masters degraded and had to be baked in an oven, which allowed a one-off only playback and digitisation. However good the digitisation was then is as good as it'll ever be for that master.

Any subsequent releases, whether on CD or other media will all have originated with that one-off playback, or an earlier digitisation.

In answer to the original question, I try and avoid anything that says 'Remastered', but I accept that some of the very latest remasters may be better than earlier remasters or indeed the original CD. I have all the Dire Straits CDs, bought when first issued, and they are amongst the finest pop/rock recordings I have. Touchingly, they leave about 6dB headroom above peaks, and no flat-topping anywhere.

S.
 

Krunok

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#9
Sadly, many analogue masters degraded and had to be baked in an oven, which allowed a one-off only playback and digitisation. However good the digitisation was then is as good as it'll ever be for that master.

Any subsequent releases, whether on CD or other media will all have originated with that one-off playback, or an earlier digitisation.
Exactly. And in my eyes that leaves a possiblity for a new technology to jump in and enhance what can be enhanced from these recordings.

In answer to the original question, I try and avoid anything that says 'Remastered', but I accept that some of the very latest remasters may be better than earlier remasters or indeed the original CD. I have all the Dire Straits CDs, bought when first issued, and they are amongst the finest pop/rock recordings I have. Touchingly, they leave about 6dB headroom above peaks, and no flat-topping anywhere.
S.
I have some remasters of the Pink Floyd albums that were approved by the band and they really sound good. But to me the original albums, which I also have, also sound good. :)
 

Pluto

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#10
Remastered – just another term that gets used and abused at the marketing execs’ whim. You can never tell what you're getting. Sometimes it's nothing more than an excuse to attempt to make more money from old catalogue... occasionally you get a real gem like the recent Kate Bush remasters that sound truly superb and are a real revelation compared to their predecessors.
 
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Thomas savage

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#11
Why? You think it cannot possibly be done right for technical reasons or ..?
Because they tend to be cynical re-releases that have just been messed about with compressed suffering funky EQ etc often to me at least they've just sounded completely wrong. I tend to find pre-2000 releases to be far superior maybe because they've been designed to sound decent on a CD player with speakers rather than on an iPod etc.

99 times 100 honestly think it's just marketing some poor engineer has sat there messed about to make it sound different and kicked it out the door.
 

Thomas savage

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#12
Remastered - just another term that gets used and abused at the marketing execs. whim. You can never tell what you're getting. Sometimes it's nothing more than an excuse to attempt to make more money from old catalogue... occasionally you get a real gem like the recent Kate Bush remasters that sound truly superb.
Good example I also bought those box sets and yes although I was a bit worried they do sound decent.
 

Thomas savage

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#14
Do you not feel that they are a real step up from the earlier issues?

Perhaps your system isn't sufficiently high resolving?

o_O isn't that what I'm supposed to say at times like this, prior to descending into a tantrum? ;)
Well the originals were kinda crappy , I think (read someplace ) some of the sound effects in her records are crude 8 bit samples etc so I’m not sure we are ever going to get brilliant versions but from the 2 albums I have played these do seem decent.

They certainly aren’t funky EQ compressed beer mats , they seem to of done their best with what were original digital masters ( don’t think any tape was used back then,all digital).
 

Thomas savage

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#15
Exactly. And in my eyes that leaves a possiblity for a new technology to jump in and enhance what can be enhanced from these recordings.



I have some remasters of the Pink Floyd albums that were approved by the band and they really sound good. But to me the original albums, which I also have, also sound good. :)
Iv been told it's often the bands wanting it to sound ‘killer’ that means we end up with shite.
 

Pluto

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#16
they seem to of done their best with what were original digital masters ( don’t think any tape was used back then,all digital)
The first two albums (Kick Inside and Lionheart, both originating in 1978) would have been entirely analogue with the possible exception of some effects boxes which were digital internally with analogue I/O. Abbey Road probably had access to the EMT250 digital reverb by that time (the unit that looks a bit like the monolith in 2001).



The recording would've been entirely analogue, most likely Dolby A encoded at every stage.
 

Soniclife

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#17
I say often not. It's one of my worries about streaming, where they often replace the albums I love with the so-called remastered version.
I don't see the fear around this, streaming services seem to have most versions, and they have an incentive to keep them so they can boast of more tracks on the service, streaming is great for listening to each and making you mind up without having to commit to spend money, and to get the 3 extra CDs of maily filler they come packaged with, for the odd good song.

My experience is most remasters don't sound much better or worse than the original, suggesting cynical marketing at the root more often than not.

I don't know what digital remaster means, but it sounds like going back to the original digital transfer from tape, and re-doing the mastering to a new release, not going back to the original CD, which would have been mastered from the same transfer.
 

Soniclife

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#18
I think Kate also used a Fairlight for some of the effects and processing on some albums, I had always assumed all the pre-hiatus albums were analog recordings.
 

sergeauckland

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#19
Exactly. And in my eyes that leaves a possiblity for a new technology to jump in and enhance what can be enhanced from these recordings.



I have some remasters of the Pink Floyd albums that were approved by the band and they really sound good. But to me the original albums, which I also have, also sound good. :)
Enhancement is a subjective term, and although I can accept that something can be made to sound better (to some), it's not universally true. Whatever the digitisation was possible after baking has set the limit of what there is to work with. It cannot ever be better than that, as the tape has been destroyed in the one-off playing.

As to band-approved remasters, they can be just as cynical as the record company execs.

S.
 

Thomas savage

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#20
The first two albums (Kick Inside and Lionheart, both originating in 1978) would have been entirely analogue with the possible exception of some effects boxes which were digital internally with analogue I/O. Abbey Road probably had access to the EMT250 digital reverb by that time (the unit that looks a bit like the monolith in 2001).



The recording would've been entirely analogue, most likely Dolby A encoded at every stage.
Maybe we can look at them , iv not got the means to analyze them though. Be interesting to see direct comparisons between the original masters and these new expensive box sets.
 

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