O.k. Here's one of my biggest disappointments in remaster history. ha.
Days of Future Passed by the Moody Blues.
This is one of my favorite CDs of all time. As such, I have always wanted the best quality version of the CD. I own six versions of this CD (4 stereo mixes and 2 surround mixes).
The original CD is very good in terms of aural quality, but it has problems from tape glitches, weird noises here and there and some arrangement differences. But the main portion of the audio is clean and good. The 1997 remaster is one of the best remasters I've heard. No noise reduction, no compression. They took the original tapes, re-transfered them and got a similar sound to the original CD, but without the noises and whatnot. They even transferred it better (there are may ways to transfer from a master tape) and very slightly improved the overall sound quality as well. The mobile fidelity version of the CD is almost identical to the 1997 remaster, because they also did a raw transfer of the master tape and eliminated the noises, etc. But mobile fidelity used a higher speed transfer, which results in more information per unit of sound put on tape. The results is a very slight (I'm talking very slight) improvement in smoothness and naturalness.
These three CDs are great. Then comes the SACD. The SACD is very "clean" and sounds very good in surround. However, the DTS surround sound mix is better with dynamics. Both the surround sound SACD and the stereo SACD that it comes with are very dynamically compressed. This isn't as bothersome on the SACD surround mix, as it is a different mix all together and interesting to hear. However, the DTS surround mix has a lot more depth and dynamics, but the audio isn't as "clean", noise free, etc. I still prefer the DTS mix personally as it is clean enough and sounds superb.
Anyhow, take a look at the history of this CD. I have omitted the original because the arrangement is different and the waveforms don't match up. But it looks essentially the same as the first two anyway. This is the final track, nights in white satin. The top is the mobile fideilty CD, the middle is the 1997 remaster, the bottom is the stereo layer of the SACD. This is a freaking SACD we're talking about. As I mentioned before in a previous post, the technology is only as good as the master.
Now this CD is very obvious to my ears. The SACD stereo layer is the exact same "audio" from the source and the sound overall is the same in terms of the transfer. But then it is compressed to hell. The song sounds lifeless, nothing stands out nicely in the mix, the sound is fatiguing after a while. It's dog mess. The engineer should be fired.