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Ridiculously awesomely mastered albums?

post #1 of 132
Thread Starter 

London Calling - The Clash.

 

This is probably one of my favorite albums period. The music is good but that plus the mastering is simply amazing. 

 

Anyone else have any suggestions?

post #2 of 132
I never noticed anything remarkable out the engineering of London Calling. The thing that stands out in that album is the spontaneity of the performance.

The most consistently best engineered albums I can think of are the Beatles (of course) and Steely Dan. But I've recently had to rethink the Beatles in light of the mono box set. I had always thought Sgt Pepper and Magical Mystery Tour were a muddled mess of too much overdubbing, but hearing the mono mixes, I've discovered that up to the White Album, the stereo mixes of the Beatles must have been rushed. There's an overall mushy opacity to the stereo Sgt Pepper, but in mono it sounds much more like the brilliantly engineered albums that came before it.... namely Revolver, Rubber Soul and Help. The later Beatles albums had more transparent stereo mixes, but the complexity of the mixes made it difficult to match the perfect frequency response balances of them at their peak. Some songs in the last albums do match that quality (Sun King) but most don't as much. I know they left Abbey Road at some point to record at another studio that had an 8 track recording capability. Maybe that had something to do with that.

I know a lot of people cite Pink Floyd and Alan Parsons as having good engineering, but to my ears, that's the same overworked mush as the worst of the Beatles stereo mixes. I prefer to hear natural sounding acoustics, not dense synthetic ones.

As for Steely Dan, I can't think of another band that had such a long string of brilliantly engineered albums. And each one was a little better than the one that came before. Donald Fagan's Nightfly is drop dead perfection. I don't know how they got such a great sound onto a recording.
Edited by bigshot - 12/12/10 at 1:55pm
post #3 of 132

Seriously, Alan Parson Project's Eye in the Sky is amazingly well mastered. I don't know anyone else that would debate that.

 

Other than that, Pretty much any Dead can Dance, especially the MoFi remasters (released under the 4AD label, not under MoFi's own), Tom Waits: Mule Variations, Rush: Moving Pictures, and most classical.

 

I'm a sucker for MoFi: most of their stuff surpasses the original content by a substantial margin (IMHO, YMMV, etc.)

I thought London Calling was a well mastered but not mind blowing production (the music is great though.)


Edited by revolink24 - 12/12/10 at 1:59pm
post #4 of 132
Alan Parsons was very skilled at creating extremely complex mixes that were clearer than other extremely complex mixes, but they don't stand up when compared to mixes built efficiently from a minimum of layers preserving as much of the natural room ambience as possible. This is the reason that many classical and popular recordings from the early days of stereo have more life and presence than recordings done decades later with more advanced technology. The ear and brain is tolerant of synthesized ambiences and close miked sound layered on top of wide miked spreads, but when we hear 100% natural ambiences captured and presented in a perfectly balanced way, it makes the hair on the back our neck stand up. That's why binaural recordings, which are the most bare bones style of engineering possible, smoke most multitrack recordings.

Digital recording technology has eliminated generation loss and allowed for an almost infinite number of tracks to be stacked up, but it hasn't replaced the virtues of simple, well planned out miking and restraint in creating a soundstage.

If you value good sound from complex mixes, Alan Parsons is a master. But if you value lifelike sound, he doesn't rate very high. That's why the Alan Parsons Project was a studio band and not a live band. Without all the studio tricks, they weren't able to create the sound.
Edited by bigshot - 12/12/10 at 2:28pm
post #5 of 132
Quote:
Originally Posted by bigshot View Post

Alan Parsons was very skilled at creating extremely complex mixes that were clearer than other extremely complex mixes, but they don't stand up when compared to mixes built efficiently from a minimum of layers preserving as much of the natural room ambience as possible. This is the reason that many classical and popular recordings from the early days of stereo have more life and presence than recordings done decades later with more advanced technology. The ear and brain is tolerant of synthesized ambiences and close miked sound layered on top of wide miked spreads, but when we hear 100% natural ambiences captured and presented in a perfectly balanced way, it makes the hair on the back our neck stand up. That's why binaural recordings, which are the most bare bones style of engineering possible, smoke most multitrack recordings.

Digital recording technology has eliminated generation loss and allowed for an almost infinite number of tracks to be stacked up, but it hasn't replaced the virtues of simple, well planned out miking and restraint in creating a soundstage.

If you value good sound from complex mixes, Alan Parsons is a master. But if you value lifelike sound, he doesn't rate very high. That's why the Alan Parsons Project was a studio band and not a live band. Without all the studio tricks, they weren't able to create the sound.


I can agree with you there. I wouldn't call APP production a masterful attempt at recreating live music. It was just well recorded, detailed, and clean sounding without being fatiguing. I appreciate both types of master. (I would say that Mule Variations is a good example of an album that does sound very natural. It captures room ambiance very well.)


Edited by revolink24 - 12/12/10 at 2:38pm
post #6 of 132
It helps when you have musicians of the calibre of Tom Waits who can perform flawlessly in single takes without the need to punch in constantly to fix bloopers. His early albums weren't as well recorded, but after Bone Machine, it's been getting a lot better (with the occasional dalliance into the realm of vocals though a bullhorn and masses of interesting sounding distortion.)
post #7 of 132

Old school Funk, R&B and Soul albums are very well mastered. Those artists and bands had good company.

 

Rage Against The Machine's "Rage Against The Machine" is a prime example. Try Mike Oldfield's "Tubular Bells" from 1973, it is a favourite of mine for its rare presentation of music...

 

Last one, two words: Dire Straits... 

post #8 of 132
Dire Straights definitely. I bought several different versions of Tubular Bells back in the day... Domestic vinyl, UK vinyl, CD.... it never sounded as good as I thought it would sound. I think the problem is the reverberation. Back then, they used wire reverbs that were all jangly and distorted. The sound suited the Rolling Stones, but with Tubular Bells it just sounded like music filtered through a chain link fence.

One of the best MFSL releases I ever heard was Little Feat's Waiting for Columbus. That has to be the best sounding live album ever. The bass is full yet completely contained, and all of the elements in the mix are clear and separated so you can focus on each one.
post #9 of 132

90% of Dire Straits is fantastic. 10% is just okay. Knopfler definitely knows what he's doing though.


Edited by revolink24 - 12/12/10 at 3:16pm
post #10 of 132

Interesting comments since only a few weeks ago I had the first chance in 25 years, to unsleeve my original London mono release of Revolver. The sound quality was surprisingly nice, giving validity to my favored Doc Ebbots' needle-drop CDR of the same LP.

 

 

Other titles:

Boston - Boston

Allison Krauss - New Favorite

Patricia Barber - Night Club

Sonny Rollins - Way Out West (hybrid SACD)

Norah Jones - Come Away With Me

Dire Straits - Brothers In Arms

Steely Dan - Aja


Edited by pigmode - 12/12/10 at 3:19pm
post #11 of 132
Gaucho is the best sounding Steely Dan album. Sonny Rollins is great choice. The RCA Shorty Rogers and his Giants albums are spectacular too. Too bad they're only available on cd in Spain.
post #12 of 132
Thread Starter 

I meant the London Calling is a awesomely mastered album in the sense that all instruments have a perfect emphasis (i.e. the bass guitar of The Guns of Brixton and the transition in Wrong 'Em Boyo) that makes my jaw drop. 

The only Clash album I've listened to is London Calling, what is another good one?

post #13 of 132

Telarc Big Band Hit Parade #CD-80177 for some great sounding older Jazz.Great bunch of musicians on this.Yeah,it's before my time too,but my Dad had a bunch of these kind of records when I was growing up and played them loud on his old tube stuff.Good memories...

post #14 of 132

Quote:

Originally Posted by bigshot View Post

Dire Straights definitely. I bought several different versions of Tubular Bells back in the day... Domestic vinyl, UK vinyl, CD.... it never sounded as good as I thought it would sound. I think the problem is the reverberation. Back then, they used wire reverbs that were all jangly and distorted. The sound suited the Rolling Stones, but with Tubular Bells it just sounded like music filtered through a chain link fence.

Bigshot, which CD-version of "Tubular Bells" do you have? I have the 2000 HDCD remaster apparently. 

 

For the OP, right now Charles Mingus' album "Ah Um/Charles Mingus" is playing while I am listening with my CD900 ST connected to my CD690. I have the 1998 remaster on CD and if I am correct there is a special edition/remaster of this album. Back to my bliss in stereo...
 

post #15 of 132
I have the first CD release. I gave up after that. Maybe it got better later. After buying it several times I've lost interest in trying again. I don't know if I'd have the patience for it anymore since I've grown out of getting stoned and listening to loops.

This is a different subject but today I was listening to Mehta's Ring of the Nibelung and it struck me how much better some blurays sound than CDs. It isn't easy to get a 5:1 system balanced properly, but once you do, it has the ability to blow two channel out of the water. There are a lot of duds in the DVD and bluray world though.
Edited by bigshot - 12/13/10 at 1:13am
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