I hate feeling like I'm wasting my money on new remasters, so I decided to do a little investigative reporting.
I'm coming to the opinion that analyzing the differences between masters just like A-B listening to HP's and gear is extremely subjective.
I've found looking recently at popular DACs as an example-Arcam and Music Fidelity have two that were compared in some reviews. Given two reviews online, they both liked both DACs. But, One review claimed that the Arcam was clearly superior and more "musical" another thought the reverse and much preferred the Music Fidelity. Yeah-I know....how do you know the folks conducting the reviews weren't incentivized by from Arcam or MF to sell one company's product over the other? You don't.
I guess my point, like religion and politics, people come out w/ strong opinions as if they were undisputed facts.....we're not talking about the authenticity of global warming here. I think people's biases and preconceived notions, placebo etc. strongly influence opinions.
I've heard the 2014 remasters have sparked debate on both sides. I decided to do a google search. FWIW,I found in my search overwhelmingly favorable response.
Here's what Stephen Guttenberg of CNET writes:
Then, I found this on a blog called The Morton Report:
So should you take the bait? As with most reissues of this sort—such as the recent deluxe editions of the Who’s Tommy, Van Morrison’s Moondance and the Velvet Underground’s White Light/White Heat—it all comes down to the extent of your fandom. If you’re a casual admirer who already owns the original CD versions of these albums—or such earlier repackagings as Led Zeppelin Boxed Set, Let Zeppelin Remasters, The Complete Studio Recordings or Mothership—you may understandably see little need for this newest upgrade. But if you love the band, as I do, one listen should be enough to justify the price of at least the deluxe CD editions.
As the titles above suggest, this is hardly the first (or even second) remastering of the three albums, but Jimmy Page’s latest effort—which involved transfer of the original analog tapes to a higher-resolution digital format—does result in a notably fuller and warmer sound than on prior releases. Moreover, the bonus tracks on the group’s debut—a recording of a widely bootlegged October 1969 Paris concert—are terrific.
But my own ears are the best test. I may be completely affected by placebo. Given my old 80's CD's of Pink Floyd and The Beatles, I found the 2009 Beatles remaster and the 2009 Floyd remaster a noticeable improvement over my original CDs. I have heard the argument that newer remasters are just louder and that sounds better, but dynamics are lost. That could be true. I'm not married to my opinions as set in stone. I don't claim to have golden ears. I'm not a musician. But, I know what I think sounds good to me.
So, here I go. I've got the condensed double disc LZ remaster from 1990. The 1990 version has been largely criticized as being pretty mediocre. I'm going to sit down right now and listen to a few songs from my 1990 LZ remaster and then listen to the new 2014 LZ I. I will listen first thru my speakers (Monitor Audio RX1 shelf speakers) and then thru LD1+-RS1i:
1. Babe I'm going to Leave you. To my ears, the 1990 version is Grainier and the 2014 remaster has a fuller sound. Like a veil was lifted. After the acoustic entro, when the faster rhythm guitar kicks in, the 1990 feels a little strained. There is less distortion in the 2014 version. Plant's refrain: "Babe, babe, babe, I'm going to leave you"....With HP's I could hear a definite difference in soundstage. 2014 sounds bigger, fuller.
2. Communication Breakdown. So how about something with a little more kick? The explosive beginning should be a good test. The 2014 blows my 1990 out of the water IMO. Much more clear and opened sounding. W/ HP's...wow. The bass is much tighter, there is almost a background hiss (grain?) in the 1990 version. Slam dunk IMO.
3. Good Times Bad Times. If you wear glasses, do you know the feeling when you get a new prescription and you think you can see OK w/ your old glasses. Then you see the difference. Everything is more clear, the colors are more alive. That's what this sound like to me. The guitar has more punch. There is more air or separation around the instruments. My 1990 version-the sounds blur or blend.
4. Dazed and Confused. Same-bass is tighter and more defined. Greater soundstage and clarity.
Overall,a little like my perceptions of going from a 225 to RS1.Subtle at first, then I notice greater clarity, separation of instruments, larger soundstage. The Beatles remasters were more obvious. Maybe even Floyd. This required closer scrutiny. But for this listener-the 2014 remaster on CD-not HD- is an improvement from the 1990 remaster series.
Some may like the charm of the older sound. But, I do opt for clarity over fuzz. I notice the improvements in the louder, more aggressive parts where the older version just blurred together and sounded congested, restrained. The slower, quitter moments such as the acoustic entro to Babe I'm Going to Leave You were there-but less obvious at first.
Edited by markm1 - 6/28/14 at 6:37am