Original vs. Remastered Albums?
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Il Mostro

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I have found remaster quality to be all over the place.  I have had overall positive experiences with Mo-Fi and Japanese pressings and CD's, so I generally stick with these.  But, certainly, it is a mistake to universally jump on the word "remastered" assuming it represents an improvement in sound quality.
 
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JefferyK

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Can someone confirm that my understanding of "AAD" and "ADD" is correct? My understanding is that "AAD" means that a copy of the master tape EQ'd for vinyl playback was used as the source of the CD mastering and that "ADD" means the master tape was used. So, if a remaster means a change from "AAD" to "ADD," the remaster might be worth checking out?
 
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Jaywalk3r

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Can someone confirm that my understanding of "AAD" and "ADD" is correct? My understanding is that "AAD" means that a copy of the master tape EQ'd for vinyl playback was used as the source of the CD mastering and that "ADD" means the master tape was used. So, if a remaster means a change from "AAD" to "ADD," the remaster might be worth checking out?

Perhaps over-simplified:

AAD: Analog recording, Analog mixing, and Digital mastering.

ADD: Analog recording, Digital mixing, and Digital mastering

DDD: Digital recording, Digital mixing, and Digital mastering.

See: SPARS code for more information.

 
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pigmode

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I value my Doc Ebbetts Revolver. There may be a better disc out there, but I'd rather wait for a heads up than experiment.
 
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gimmedynamics

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In general I find most remasters previous to about 1995 are good, after that most have been made over bright and compressed to make them seem good on cheap gear and iPods.
There are of course exceptions to this general guideline.
 
The up shot is you can pickup used original CDs that sound better than remasters for a fraction of the cost.
Most Mobile Fidelity CDs and LPs are very good too.
 
I notice someone recommended Japanese CDs. Some are good, some are bad so it is a case by case issue with them.
For example I have the original Dire Straits - self titled and the Japanese SHM SACD.
The Japanese one is awesome!
 
On the other hand I got Eagles - One Of These Nights on Japanese SHM and it is very bright and compressed, but has nice packaging. Same goes for David Bowie - Diamond Dogs Japanese SHM, very shrill and compressed. Awful in fact!
 
With the Japanese versions it just depends on what master or remaster they use to produce the CD.
 
I've also compared Eagles - Their Greatest Hits 1971-1975 original vs remaster. Original has a more natural sound.
 
I have the original B52s - Cosmic Thing on CD and compared it to the 2010 Gold Audio Fidelity CD. For my money the original is fine and it was not worth buying the AF version.
 
The worst and first offender I found was Dire Straits - Brothers in Arms.
I own the original CD and the 2005 SACD remaster.
The 2005 version is absolute crap, clipped, over bright and heavily compressed dynamics.
So it just sounds sharper (to some listeners this will seem to be clearer at first) but after longer listening the sound is fatiguing and lacks punch.
 
The 2011 remixed/remastered Jethro Tull - Aqualung has been done extremely well.
This is a very good example of how a reworking of a great album should be done.
 
 
 
 
 
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kmj2587

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I'm curious what the folks here think about the 2011 remasters of Pink Floyd's discography.  The remasters were all done by James Guthrie, the original engineer for The Wall.  I have a couple of them and I like them, but I've never really heard Pink Floyd on the original vinyl, just older CDs and mp3s.
 
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daveDerek

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in the early 1980s when tapes that had been used to make lps were first being used for cd production, and folks didn't have experience with digital sound reproduction, there were many awful sounding cds put out. so many of those that got remastered were improved.
 
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bigshot

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That was a very short period of time- a matter of a few months. They realized quick that they needed to use the master and not the submaster that had the RIAA precut.
 
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daveDerek

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i didn't realize that the gross error you mentioned had even occurred. how could they possibly make that sort of mistake?- wow!
i think there were lousy cds being released for years (still are...), and that there were better versions  of many of them subsequently released. some of the earlier crummy releases were related to unfamiliarity with working within (love alliteration!) the digital realm.
 
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gimmedynamics

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Quote:
i didn't realize that the gross error you mentioned had even occurred. how could they possibly make that sort of mistake?- wow!
i think there were lousy cds being released for years (still are...), and that there were better versions  of many of them subsequently released. some of the earlier crummy releases were related to unfamiliarity with working within (love alliteration!) the digital realm.

I think this issue of CDs being released with RIAA EQ might be an urban myth.
Or at best an exaggeration of an isolated incident.
You know how Chinese whispers work.
I did a fair amount of Googling and could not find any facts to support CDs had been released with RIAA EQ.
 
As for lousy CDs being released, I disagree.
During the 80s and 90s most CDs sounded brilliant, provided the mastering was done right.
Many of my 80s and 90s CDs sound soooooo much better than most remasters and are better than most new releases since the late 90s.
This is a generalisation and obviously there are exceptions. (IE Jethro Tull - Aqualung 2011)
 
The trend of maximising the volume of everything (brickwalling, compression) is killing the musicality.
The CDs are just not crankable because there is no dynamic range and the EQ is way too bright.
 
Black Country Communion 2 is a great album but is killed by the poor mastering and heavy compression.
If I play this CD on my good listening system it sounds weak and flat. I just cannot listen to it there.
If I play the CD in my car it sounds passable in small doses.
It is such a same about this CD because the songs and performance is fantastic, but is let down by the production.
 
Instead of buying remasters I source used originals because they have not been messed with to make them sound bright and modern on iPods.
 
 
 
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necropimp

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I think this issue of CDs being released with RIAA EQ might be an urban myth.
Or at best an exaggeration of an isolated incident.
You know how Chinese whispers work.
I did a fair amount of Googling and could not find any facts to support CDs had been released with RIAA EQ.

i think the biggest thing on this is maybe people are thinking of pre-emphasis discs played back on gear that might not have the ability to handle such discs properly (say for example... playing the disc directly in a PC or ripping to [format here] without the proper processing)

of course this is nowhere near what an RIAA EQed track would sound like without proper compensation but i think many people would jump to such a conclusion not knowing just how horribly shrill an RIAA EQed track would be


but yeah with original vs remaster it REALLY does need to be taken on a case by case basis... i could go on and list examples but that could take all night...

one label i like for remasters is Audio Fidelity... have yet to hear a release from them i didn't like
 
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JefferyK

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This article claims that some early CDs were taken from LP production masters:
 
http://www.allmusic.com/explore/essay/remastered-cds-why-care-and-why-buy-them-t2211
 
I don't know enough about recording to know if there is a difference between an "LP production master" and a "tape with RIAA EQ."
 
Anyway, the article specifically states that the US CD version of Kate Bush's "Hounds of Love" was taken from an LP production master, and I believe it, having heard the CD: "flat and indistinct" is a good description of the sound.
 
No sources cited, though.
 
 
 
 
 
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JefferyK

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This article states that CBS and other labels mastered CDs from the production dubs used to make LPs.
 
This one actually quotes a music executive about the practice:
 
''In the early days,'' explains Bill Levenson, Polygram's director of catalogue development, ''many labels naively thought they could make CD's from the LP production masters."
 
http://www.nytimes.com/1987/07/05/arts/the-perils-of-putting-old-disks-on-cd.html?pagewanted=all&src=pm
 
Also, it defines LP production masters as "second or third generation dubs, compressed and equalized with vinyl in mind."
 
My question is: Do the "AAD" and "DAD" SPARS codes indicate that the LP production master was used? Seems to me any CD master cut from an original master tape would be "ADD" or "DDD," but I could be wrong. Don't know why an audio engineer would use analog mixing (the second "A") to make a digital copy of an analog master tape. To me, "AAD" likely indicates that the digital master is a direct copy of an existing analog mix of the master tape (i.e., an LP production master), but I don't know for sure.
 
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I just ordered Steely Dan Aja remastered in Nov 23, 1999. Anyone have experience with that one? I hope it is good. I must admit to automatically assuming that the remasters were typically improved upon vs. original versions. Maybe I should start another thread for people's opinions on specific CD's/Albums remastered releases. I was looking at The Doors remastered releases too.  
 
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J0nny

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I love listening to older, unmastered music. If it's grainy or not particularly well recorded, I think it adds a certain character to the music. Plus, it's nice to hear the leading and trailing edge of each fuzz and crackle with such fidelity. 

 
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