Originally Posted by prodigy_techus
Apart from the harmonic response of Tube-amp recordings, another plausible reason could be that the bridge between live instrument & sound reproduction was way way way wider than it is now, the common man could identify this difference in lack of sound fidelity far more than they can today, thanks to advances in the commerical audio industry (am not even referring to the Pro industry)
So to compensate this, recordings were made brighter to sound better in the common man's radio or speaker systems - they don't have to do that today for the highs (although they do it for the lows to make bad subwoofers sound loud), thanks to even mid-end PC speakers giving out more high end detail than the top commercial systems of say 20 years ago.
I could be wrong, but if you listened to these *bright* tracks on an old music system - it would probably not sound so harsh & then maybe it would make more sense.
You're closer than you think.
In the old days most speakers couldn't reveal anything past 13kHz, so in general, mastering engineers wouldn't even touch the top end. Most engineers, like Rudy Van Gelder, would try to compensate by adding a bump on the high mids but it was never a huge bump.
If you take these modern remasters, like the Chopin above, and compare them to the original release on vinyl, you'd be extremely surprised to hear the results. Sometimes the vinyl sounds holographic and natural while the CD sounds...welll....bright and harsh. Old vinyl, pre-1970, almost always sounds warm and natural. Rarely have I found an old pressing that sounded as bad as a modern CD remaster.
Most explanations of these bad releases comes down to bad transfers and really bad mastering.
Sad but true.