Originally Posted by Febs
I've seen you make this point in other threads, and I've read this entire thread, but I still don't understand what you think the relationship is between compression and use of effects. Compression can be used to great effect to make instruments, vocals, or effects stand out in a mix, without making the overall recording "compressed to all hell." As one example, Sgt. Pepper's and the White Album have both been mentioned in this thread. Both of those albums made extensive use of then "new and experimetal effects," and the Beatles used compression/limiting extensively. As another example, some of the guitars on Steely Dan's albums are very compressed, yet the recordings themselves have great dynamics. Could you elaborate on what you perceive as the relationship that you're referring to?
Also, specifically with respect to DSOTM, I don't think I've ever seen you identify which mastering you are using as a reference.
Paul McCartney was recently on PBS talking about the effects on Sgt. Pepper. What he said was he would merge a four-track tape into only one track so that they could fit more sound effects onto one master tape. This is the example of bad compression - it made the guitars sound "shiny and metalic" as he put it. I would agree - all sense of realism was lost due to these effects. You simply can't put that much sound on one track before it starts to cripple itself and the other tracks! Recording equipment., nor playback equipment, could handle it back in the day. And these changes are irreversible. It's not like a "re-mastering" (very few remasters do any good, though, anyway) can fix the problem. No - once you do something like Sgt. Pepper, you're stuck with that compression and that compromise to sound density and realism.
But this should not be surprising. Rock is an accessible category of music - the special effects used were a bigger selling point than the sound quality of the music most of the time, because special effects normally mean much more to the listeners at the time than the actual music did. Not to say that either of these bands hid behind their technology in the recording studio when they released their respective albums, but I'm just showing the relationship to poor sound quality to the overall genre. Rock is not known for its realistic recordings - it's known for its technological, compositional, and marketing innovation.
Just remember this: Just because something sounds "good" doesn't mean it's a "good" recording. A recording strides to be as realistic and life-like as possible, which is definitely not the same as being "cool-sounding". Dark Side of the Moon and Sgt. Pepper are both limited in sound quality due to the overwhelming amount of experimental sound effects used on the master tapes. Even worse is that we really cannot tell if the albums were RECORDED well because all of the sonic detail needed to determine this is covered up by the limited dynamics in each track on the master tapes due to the amount of sounds and effects contained within each individual track. Remember that each track in those days used to be two, three, or four tracks, merged into one.
I have the EMI 30th Aniversary LP, an original pressing LP, and a 1998 CD. The EMI copy sounds the best to me.