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Digital remasters - do they sound better or ..?

Dogen

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#61
Do remember that this is a re-mix [within the limitations of what can be achieved from an album made using mainly 4 (and some 8) track technology], not merely a re-master of existing final mixes. I thought this release really did bring something new to the party, especially with regard to the bass playing which articulated just how good McCartney really could be at that stage of his career (“Dear Prudence” being a great example).

Whether or not this release is worth the money is, of course, entirely down to the individual.
The “White Album” is, to my ears, exceptional, both in stereo and multichannel. Much better than Sgt. Pepper. But this was a remix, not just a remaster. But definitely superior to the original (at least until someone comes along to say otherwise).

I can’t really think of a remaster right now that was jaw-droppingly better than the original. Not opposed to them, but they just tend to brighten and squash the original.
 
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#62
This issue of remasters is a serious downside of streaming music services. (Which overall are a fantastic value for music lovers.)

Beyond the label “20xx digital remaster” there is no way to control or know what version of a mix you get. As someone mentioned, tracks coming from Greatest Hits packages are very problematic.

The other day I decided to do a quick comparison between Spotify and Tidal on a Deep Purple song. (Stormbringer).

I chose the version in each service that purported to be the “regular” version of the album. No “super-extended-remaster” labels, the same album cover images.

The the versions were astonishingly different sounding, almost to the point of being a remix.

I was trying to do a little reality check on the sound quality difference between Spotify highest quality and Tidal, and was totally moot.

FWIW, overall the Spotify mix was way better. I sometimes feel like the streaming tracks hurt my ears. The Tidal mix maybe sounded less harsh, while also being overall brighter, but sounded like a lot of the low frequencies had been sucked out.
 

maty

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#63
Usually, with commercial music, the remasters sound worse, and has lower DR. Classical, jazz... are other world.

Yesterday I listened to:

Meat Loaf - Bat Out Of Hell (1977), SACD, Sony 2002 Remaster, US
https://www.diyaudio.com/forums/music/6958-playing-listening-post5716571.html

DR Peak RMS Duration Track
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
DR9 -1.64 dB -13.61 dB 9:52 01-Bat Out Of Hell
DR10 -1.64 dB -13.78 dB 5:05 02-You Took The Words Right Out Of My Mouth (Hot Summer Night)
DR12 -1.64 dB -16.31 dB 4:42 03-Heaven Can Wait
DR11 -1.62 dB -13.81 dB 4:21 04-All Revved Up With No Place To Go
DR12 -1.59 dB -15.67 dB 5:27 05-Two Out Of Three Ain't Bad
DR10 -1.51 dB -13.66 dB 8:30 06-Paradise By The Dashboard Light
DR10 -1.59 dB -15.72 dB 8:56 07-For Crying Out Loud
DR7 -4.84 dB -13.46 dB 3:48 08-Great Boleros Of Fire (Live Intro)
DR9 -0.01 dB -11.56 dB 11:09 09-Bat Out Of Hell (Live)
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Number of tracks: 9
Official DR value: DR10

Meat Loaf - Bat Out Of Hell (1977), Vinyl, CBS 1980, Half-Speed Master, US
https://www.diyaudio.com/forums/music/6958-playing-listening-post5717088.html
https://www.discogs.com/Meat-Loaf-Bat-Out-Of-Hell/release/3081447



DR Peak RMS Duration Track
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
DR12 -0.09 dB -15.93 dB 9:50 01-Bat Out Of Hell
DR13 -1.83 dB -17.90 dB 5:06 02-You Took The Words Right Out Of My Mouth (Hot Summer Night)
DR13 -1.96 dB -19.28 dB 4:40 03-Heaven Can Wait
DR13 -0.06 dB -15.46 dB 4:18 04-All Revved Up With No Place To Go
DR14 -0.73 dB -17.39 dB 5:24 05-Two Out Of Three Ain't Bad
DR13 -0.06 dB -15.77 dB 8:28 06-Paradise By The Dashboard Light
DR13 -1.49 dB -20.12 dB 8:44 07-For Crying Out Loud
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Number of tracks: 7
Official DR value: DR13

I wrote:
The best recording is the Audiophile pressing. Much better sound than SACD 2002 Remastered, unbearable.
 
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#64
Can't say that I've heard many remastered records that sound better than the original release. There are exceptions, but rarely.

Here's an example on taking a very well recorded (and now a classic) album by Nirvana. Let's look at the original release.
No inter-sample peaks, dynamics available even though it's a Grunge record.
View attachment 19794

Now let's look at Geffen's 2011 Remastered in hi-res. Let's squeeze all the dynamics out of the music. Why would you need 24-bits to represent the end result when you easily could squeeze the music into 12-bits? They've managed to take all the life out of the song. It's even "expanded" when you look at the stereo indicator top right. Gahh!
View attachment 19795

There's a metric ton of other examples, this was just the first one I thought of.
This over 95% of the time.

I buy "old" original CD's which are usually better than the re-masters or what is streaming. Not 100% but at $2.00 each risk is not too bad. An example of the 5% where remastered is better, Rolling Stones Let it Bleed 2002 SACD. That is the other problem... most of the very limited number of remasters that are "better" are the limited release audiophile version which are very expensive and will never be on the streaming services.
 

MetalheadRich

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#65
Usually, with commercial music, the remasters sound worse, and has lower DR. Classical, jazz... are other world.

Yesterday I listened to:

Meat Loaf - Bat Out Of Hell (1977), SACD, Sony 2002 Remaster, US
https://www.diyaudio.com/forums/music/6958-playing-listening-post5716571.html

DR Peak RMS Duration Track
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
DR9 -1.64 dB -13.61 dB 9:52 01-Bat Out Of Hell
DR10 -1.64 dB -13.78 dB 5:05 02-You Took The Words Right Out Of My Mouth (Hot Summer Night)
DR12 -1.64 dB -16.31 dB 4:42 03-Heaven Can Wait
DR11 -1.62 dB -13.81 dB 4:21 04-All Revved Up With No Place To Go
DR12 -1.59 dB -15.67 dB 5:27 05-Two Out Of Three Ain't Bad
DR10 -1.51 dB -13.66 dB 8:30 06-Paradise By The Dashboard Light
DR10 -1.59 dB -15.72 dB 8:56 07-For Crying Out Loud
DR7 -4.84 dB -13.46 dB 3:48 08-Great Boleros Of Fire (Live Intro)
DR9 -0.01 dB -11.56 dB 11:09 09-Bat Out Of Hell (Live)
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Number of tracks: 9
Official DR value: DR10

Meat Loaf - Bat Out Of Hell (1977), Vinyl, CBS 1980, Half-Speed Master, US
https://www.diyaudio.com/forums/music/6958-playing-listening-post5717088.html
https://www.discogs.com/Meat-Loaf-Bat-Out-Of-Hell/release/3081447



DR Peak RMS Duration Track
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
DR12 -0.09 dB -15.93 dB 9:50 01-Bat Out Of Hell
DR13 -1.83 dB -17.90 dB 5:06 02-You Took The Words Right Out Of My Mouth (Hot Summer Night)
DR13 -1.96 dB -19.28 dB 4:40 03-Heaven Can Wait
DR13 -0.06 dB -15.46 dB 4:18 04-All Revved Up With No Place To Go
DR14 -0.73 dB -17.39 dB 5:24 05-Two Out Of Three Ain't Bad
DR13 -0.06 dB -15.77 dB 8:28 06-Paradise By The Dashboard Light
DR13 -1.49 dB -20.12 dB 8:44 07-For Crying Out Loud
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Number of tracks: 7
Official DR value: DR13

I wrote:
That's not an apples-to-apples comparison. As has been shown using the exact same master, vinyl will show a higher DR than the digital equivalent. The conclusion though is still likely correct.
 

maty

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#66
Unfortunately I have many examples. I listen to music from all kinds of formats except streaming. Vinyl, SACD, CD, digital downloads, cassette and R2R. And Radio Clásica (RNE). I only care about the quality recording/sound and, if possible, that it excites me. I do not care about the original support! And I prefer those that come from good/very analog masters. There are very few (live) recordings made directly in DSD, wich sound very great too.

By the way, the volume war has also reached the new recordings of classical music! For now, in a record company not consecrated.
 
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#67
It's a paradox, a lot of new remasters use a source closer to or near master quality so that is good. Then they apply modern compression and loudness mixing techniques to them and pretty much ruin them.

A newly mastered very low gen remaster that has good dynamic range would probably sound wonderful. Those don't seem to exist much.
 
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#68
What comes into my mind are not remasters but releases from ECM-Records,
sometimes decades after the recording: "Hamburg `72" from Keith Jarrett´s
American Trio with Charlie Haden and Paul Motian is a good example.
Recorded by german public radio NDR in 1972 it was released maybe two years ago,
45 years after the recording? It sounds like it was yesterday and is a good example that
analog broadcast equipment was already top notch half a century ago.
As the concert was also broadcasted on TV back then there are also videos circulating in youtube,
showing that there was no fancy microphones involved
With the CD, probably tape degredation was not an issue or extremely well handled...
Besides maybe a remastered version of Billy Joels "Nylon Curtain" none of the remastered
CDs I own are better to my ears. I avoid remasters as well. Another argument:
The musicians were very likely there to judge the final mix. Thus the original should have their blessing.
What would be really interesting if someone could dig out the early digital recording equipment and measure it.
It would be very interesting to find out what the limitations were back then.
 

jtwrace

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#69
Unfortunately I have many examples. I listen to music from all kinds of formats except streaming. Vinyl, SACD, CD, digital downloads, cassette and R2R. And Radio Clásica (RNE). I only care about the quality recording/sound and, if possible, that it excites me. I do not care about the original support! And I prefer those that come from good/very analog masters. There are very few (live) recordings made directly in DSD, wich sound very great too.

By the way, the volume war has also reached the new recordings of classical music! For now, in a record company not consecrated.
Maybe this will excite you..

https://www.psaudio.com/askpaul/car-chat-the-problem-with-music/

https://www.psaudio.com/askpaul/car-chat-how-the-new-studio-works/
 
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#71
Last night I was listening to Let It Be.... Naked, and it's a huge step up from the original, The Long and Winding Road caused my wife to comment, "That's beautiful".

It never ceases to amaze me how much variation in sound quality of recordings there is, I realize that some were recorded years ago and the equipment may not have been as good as we have today. They could still churn out some brilliant stuff though, some of the best albums I have heard were were recorded in the 70's.
 
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#72
I think the newish Led Zepplin remasters sound pretty good, but I’m not familiar with earlier versions.

A lot of Zepplin recordings are kind of dull, and I felt like some beautiful details were brought out, but it didn’t sound brittle. I think these are the ones Jimmie Page produced.

Has anybody compared any generations of the Zepplin release? Not a band a I listen to a lot, but when I do it’s pretty satisfying.

Those guys were great players and there production style was pretty raw, you can really get a sense of that energy in the albums.
 
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#73
I think the newish Led Zepplin remasters sound pretty good, but I’m not familiar with earlier versions.

A lot of Zepplin recordings are kind of dull, and I felt like some beautiful details were brought out, but it didn’t sound brittle. I think these are the ones Jimmie Page produced.

Has anybody compared any generations of the Zepplin release? Not a band a I listen to a lot, but when I do it’s pretty satisfying.

Those guys were great players and there production style was pretty raw, you can really get a sense of that energy in the albums.
I have original CD's, the remasters via Tidal, and original vinyl. I prefer the original CD's to the remasters but they do sound more laid back so you may prefer the re-masters. For Led Zepplin the original vinyl sounds the best to me. The master tapes were fresh and the mastering was done well. Many people question the EQ choices Jimmy Page made on the remaster. The most famous Led Zepplin vinyl pressing is the Robert Ludwig mastered Led Zepplin II, it was recalled because it was cut so hot it skipped on most record players, to me it is a treat to listen to. There are needle drops on the web that you can sample if you are curious.
 

watchnerd

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#74
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 have many albums that have been remastered multiple times, mostly digitally.

So when you're asking, are you asking about the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, etc time that it is digitally remastered?
 

watchnerd

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#75
Sadly, many analogue masters degraded and had to be baked in an oven
I got caught baking some 1980s master tapes in my home oven.

I tried to do it while my wife was out at yoga, as I knew it would just lead to trouble. Plus the smell.

Well, she came home early.

Try explaining sticky shed syndrome under duress some time.....
 
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#76
I got caught baking some 1980s master tapes in my home oven.

I tried to do it while my wife was out at yoga, as I knew it would just lead to trouble. Plus the smell.

Well, she came home early.

Try explaining sticky shed syndrome under duress some time.....
Food dehydrators will work, and don't smell bad:)
 

svart-hvitt

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#77
I got caught baking some 1980s master tapes in my home oven.

I tried to do it while my wife was out at yoga, as I knew it would just lead to trouble. Plus the smell.

Well, she came home early.

Try explaining sticky shed syndrome under duress some time.....
Burn in?
 
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#78
I have original CD's, the remasters via Tidal, and original vinyl. I prefer the original CD's to the remasters but they do sound more laid back so you may prefer the re-masters. For Led Zepplin the original vinyl sounds the best to me. The master tapes were fresh and the mastering was done well. Many people question the EQ choices Jimmy Page made on the remaster. The most famous Led Zepplin vinyl pressing is the Robert Ludwig mastered Led Zepplin II, it was recalled because it was cut so hot it skipped on most record players, to me it is a treat to listen to. There are needle drops on the web that you can sample if you are curious.
I've mostly moved to streaming from Spotify, which is awesome in many ways, but I have started searching out earlier CD versions in a few cases...once these master files get sucked up into the great jukebox in the sky, there's no telling what is going to happen. I've already had the experience of the earlier, better master become unavailable on Spotify. I think I'm going to have to check out some of the earlier Zep CDs.

One of my favorite bands, the Stranglers, had a mediocre job done on their remasters. I've purchased a few earlier versions, some are better some are worse. But none have the visceral quality and depth of my old vinyl versions. I'm not sure if that is partly a characteristic of vinyl, or degraded master types combined with insensitive transfers and remasters. But my vinyl versions are pretty worn and scratchy, so they have their limits.

Same thing with another of my favorite bands, Cheap Trick, who had some very cool recordings, especially the first album. They did a bunch of remasters, and even though they kind of brightened them up, they sound "flattened". I think the mastering engineer has a tough job...especially if he's working with an imperfect digital transfer from the old days, or degraded analog tape. Recordings from back then (1970s) could have wild variations in the frequency response. Even correctly aligned machines could have boost or roll-off starting at 12khz or so. Never mind the low end.

Couple with noise build of from analog copies of copies, and signal loss from age or tape wear, and you might have a particularly limited signal to start.

I sometimes wonder if the weird qualities I notice in some remasters, especially of bands that aren't as huge and historically important as Zep, are the result of heavy dsp based noise reduction. Or other magic revitalizers. These denoisers do work, but at a very real cost to the signal. If the engineer is trying to get an old recording up to modern levels of high-frequency response, and has a worn or noisy copy, the only way to accomplish it is with noise reduction algorithms. Taking these to the more extreme ends introduces ugly artifacts into the high frequencies. So it's a matter of picking the battle.

I would prefer to hear a less adulterated version, but commercial realities affect the decision makers up and down the tree.
 
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#80
I've mostly moved to streaming from Spotify, which is awesome in many ways, but I have started searching out earlier CD versions in a few cases...once these master files get sucked up into the great jukebox in the sky, there's no telling what is going to happen. I've already had the experience of the earlier, better master become unavailable on Spotify. I think I'm going to have to check out some of the earlier Zep CDs.

One of my favorite bands, the Stranglers, had a mediocre job done on their remasters. I've purchased a few earlier versions, some are better some are worse. But none have the visceral quality and depth of my old vinyl versions. I'm not sure if that is partly a characteristic of vinyl, or degraded master types combined with insensitive transfers and remasters. But my vinyl versions are pretty worn and scratchy, so they have their limits.

Same thing with another of my favorite bands, Cheap Trick, who had some very cool recordings, especially the first album. They did a bunch of remasters, and even though they kind of brightened them up, they sound "flattened". I think the mastering engineer has a tough job...especially if he's working with an imperfect digital transfer from the old days, or degraded analog tape. Recordings from back then (1970s) could have wild variations in the frequency response. Even correctly aligned machines could have boost or roll-off starting at 12khz or so. Never mind the low end.

Couple with noise build of from analog copies of copies, and signal loss from age or tape wear, and you might have a particularly limited signal to start.

I sometimes wonder if the weird qualities I notice in some remasters, especially of bands that aren't as huge and historically important as Zep, are the result of heavy dsp based noise reduction. Or other magic revitalizers. These denoisers do work, but at a very real cost to the signal. If the engineer is trying to get an old recording up to modern levels of high-frequency response, and has a worn or noisy copy, the only way to accomplish it is with noise reduction algorithms. Taking these to the more extreme ends introduces ugly artifacts into the high frequencies. So it's a matter of picking the battle.

I would prefer to hear a less adulterated version, but commercial realities affect the decision makers up and down the tree.
My experiences are similar and problems with trying to make old tapes sound good are well documented. I have been collecting both early CD versions and vinyl of older music that I like as I don't think that as time goes on you are going to be able to rely on the streaming services to provide this. I also enjoy browsing the thrifts and used record stores. Use CD's are very cheap now, used vinyl is a little more expensive but prices are coming down. I am seeing a lot of top quality old vinyl and CD's hitting the market as long time collectors are passing away or moving into nursing homes. I think it is a great time to pick up the original versions of your old favorite music.
 
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