The most disappointing album I have in terms of sound quality is Jimi Hendrix's First Rays Of The New Rising Sun. For those who don't know, this was released (very) posthumously in 1997 but is what Hendrix was working on when he died in 1970. All the tracks on it had already appeared on different posthumous compilations but finally we were going to get, as close as possible, what the artist actually intended.
But it sounds worse than anything Jimi Hendrix put his name to in his lifetime. His performances are brilliant but the remaster is so bad it beggars belief.
Example: the first track "Freedom"
Here's the Audacity waveform from the album The Cry of Love, an album released in 1971 and very nicely produced. This is from a Japanese Polydor CD from 1989. The 80s Japanese CDs were remastered for CD from original masters.
and the exact same performance remastered, from the CD First Rays..
Red means clipping is detected. It isn't always audible clipping, so a barrage of red isn't necessarily a showstopper.
Unfortunately that clipping is not some inaudible artefact or an aberration that only shows in measurements or graphs. It's horribly audible. At about second 7.5 your right speaker/'phone spits out a burst of distortion that was never present in the performance or earlier LPs or CDs. The entire album is mastered the same way, as are most (maybe all?) of the Experience Hendrix LLC remasters (Experience Hendrix LLC are the owners of most of Jimi Hendrix's legacy).
These are not ripping or encoding artefacts (I wish they were). The above waveforms are from flacs from the CDs. When I play the CDs in a normal home CD player it's the same. The 1997 remastered tracks are STUPIDLYLOUD and the sound distorts.
There are several tragedies here:
I spent my own good money on this bad experience. Ouch.
The work of a truly brilliant performer and innovator, widely held to be a genius, is being butchered and misrepresented. By the time Experience Hendrix have finished their mission to monetize ..err..remaster the entire Jimi Hendrix catalogue it will be impossible to buy new any official Jimi Hendrix album that doesn't sound like this. It will all be much worse than the LPs you could buy in Hendrix's lifetime or the Polydor CDs from the late 80s (especially the Japanese market remasters).
One depressing result of this is already apparent: I coudn't find even one professional reviewer or music journalist who identified that the ugly distortion is not part of the music! There are a handful of customer reviewers on amazon and similar who notice (because they also have the originals) but they are in a minority. Most people who buy Hendrix's albums don't know how they ought to sound and what is worse is that they may never get the chance to find out.
s_h1t != shinola
and that's why I made this album my contribution to "Worst recorded/Mastered Albums"