Let me rephrase that:
It's very likely it's worse but since I don't own it I don't know.
What's the point of 24 bit depth if you're going to brickwall the recording?
I think to qualify for true "HD" a recording should adhere to regulations beyond bit depth and sampling rate. Stuff that actually matters, like dynamic range.
LFF, set up an online store selling lossless 16/44.1 recordings remastered to sound good. I'd shop there over HDTracks any day.
You'd figure HD and such would entail minimal compression or none at all :P. Its like taking a 128 bit mp3 file and turning into WAV...
This is the compression that kills dynamic range, not frequency range. Both types of compression are bad though.
I have two albums from HDtracks, Alison Krauss's "Paper Airplane" and Metallica's Black Album. I chose these because I also have the CD versions and conducted an A/B comparison of both. I found the differences between the two versions of Paper Airplane to be subtle, but the differences on the Black Album were quite significant.
More to the point, I wanted to show the wave form of some of the HD tracks, from HDtracks for review:
They do not appear to be brickwalled to me. So, I don't know that the Nevermind album is necessarily representative of the quality one can expect from HDtracks.
That's exactly the problem. You have no idea what you're getting into with HDTracks. All depends on the master and they do zero to sort the wheat from the chaff or to indicate anything of the like to the prospective buyer.
These are all pretty consistent. There isn't really a hirez service with expansive contemporary artists that self-moderates like they should though. Searches on places like SH or bugging the heck out of LFF often help whittle the choices down for albums that have seen many releases.
When DR is the main consideration, the simplest solution is usually to find the first release (especially if it was before the mid 80's), before any remaster had the chance to mess with it.
DR is far from the only consideration in a "good master", but while good DR may not mean the master is perfect, poor DR is certainly a red flag that the engineer was either incompetent and making more "punchy" sound to make up for it or (probably more prevalent) forced to do things against his better judgement by the rec execs as its a sound they think the public prefers.