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Should we remaster everything?
Old 10th August 2006
  #1
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Should we remaster everything?

I hate to admit it, but sometimes when I listen to older albums. I find myself wishing they were a bit more squashed so I could hear them in more of a modern context.

For example, I was listening to Dennis Wilson's "Pacific Ocean Blue" tonight and I love the production, but it is not that useful of an reference because it is so damn dynamic I feel like I can't tell what the heck is going on sometimes.

There is a serious lack of depth and dynamics with most of today's commercial mastering, but there is something about that 'everything pressed against a windowpane' kind of sound that really lets you pick apart a production. I honestly don't know anymore. I think I have become desensitized to the emotional content of music by all this sound flying in my face.

Does anyone else have this thought in their darkest un-audiofile moments?
Old 10th August 2006
  #2
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Mikey MTC's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
I virtually never want to hear anything more compressed, but definitely when listening to some classic 60's or 70's stuff I know that today's quality mastering (the stuff that people aren't actually allowed to do!) could really improve things.

I usually get this feeling if I'm bouncing around stuff on the iPod and hear some old classic thing that you just know some quality esoteric EQ would really bring to life. Of course if you've just heard some smashed and over-bright pop track and suddenly your ears are presented with an old Frank Sinatra track .... well you can't always trust your instincts in these situations! <g>
Old 10th August 2006
  #3
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Jerry Tubb's Avatar
 
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🎧 15 years
Nah... why mess with perfection?

Would one want to slam Sgt. Pepper thru an L2 to a level of -8dB RMS?

I hope not.

Would one want to "colorize" all the classic black & white movies?

They tried it, and it bombed.

Would one want to demolish a 19th century victorian mansion, like the Bishops' Palace in Galveston, and put up a glossy high rise penthouse? ...Nope.

But I suppose, in the music biz, if there's commercial potential for remastering the classic recordings to sound at current loudness, it'll probably happen.

I'll be listening to my "mono" version of Sgt. Pepper on vinyl... call me a ludite :~)

JT
Old 10th August 2006 | Show parent
  #4
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XSergeantD's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Blasphemy. The problem is more the opposite, we need to remaster all the new stuff and get some dymnamics back. If you really want to kill a classic album..I mean remaster it, do it yourself


then retire or get back on the proper side of the loudness war
Old 10th August 2006 | Show parent
  #5
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[QUOTE=

Would one want to slam Sgt. Pepper thru an L2 to a level of -8dB RMS?


JT[/QUOTE]

Sure, I'm not advocating crapping on a masterpiece, and I'm not nessesarily talking about slamming the hell out of everything so it sounds like the new Green Day. BUT, don't you think there are some older records that have really benefitted from being remastered in the last ten years or so?
Old 10th August 2006 | Show parent
  #6
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I guess what I'm really curious about is at what point does our changing perspective alter how we hear all these 'classics' in a detrimental way?

I think many younger music fans hear slight changes in the compression and limiting (rather than actual volume) and interpret that the same as they would actual dynamics because it is understood that what is happening in the song is different than what is happening in the playback signal.

-You know, when the mellow breakdown verse is louder sounding than the rocked out chorus, but we know what is supposed to be happening...

I'm not saying that's a good thing. Just a very common thing. People are growing up with it.
Old 10th August 2006 | Show parent
  #7
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🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by lobsterinn ➡️
I guess what I'm really curious about is at what point does our changing perspective alter how we hear all these 'classics' in a detrimental way?
I'm not going to make a real comment here since it's 3AM and I just finished a project...but, I listened to a "remastered" version of a bob dylan album (that I unfortunately bought) and it was possibly the worst thing I'd ever heard. the harmonica sounded like a saw cutting into my stomach and pulling at my guts around the speakers. They boosted the highs to sound "modern" or "bad" or something. Idiots. I hope it wasn't someone that posts here. If so, sorry.

Anyways, it really made me hate the album eventhough I know it's a good album on vinyl or un-re-re-pre-mastered or whatever they did. Maybe they used a tube EQ...or a special TUBE KNIFE THAT KILLS MUSIC.

Okay, lets please leave the classics alone.

Goodnight.
Old 10th August 2006
  #8
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🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by lobsterinn ➡️
Does anyone else have this thought in their darkest un-audiofile moments?
even worse, i imagine how it would have sounded on a transistor radio... that could even imply some "echo" added like i think many radio stations of that era did to more than just the announcer's voice. is this true? or just the effects of a.m. radio? it does strike me that hearing the music the way most people would have experienced it is valid too if one is studying the history of pop.

jeff dinces
Old 10th August 2006 | Show parent
  #9
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🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by lobsterinn ➡️
Sure, I'm not advocating crapping on a masterpiece, and I'm not nessesarily talking about slamming the hell out of everything so it sounds like the new Green Day. BUT, don't you think there are some older records that have really benefitted from being remastered in the last ten years or so?
It was nice to hear Pet Sounds in "Stereo".
Old 10th August 2006 | Show parent
  #10
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Hysteria's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
I think many records have benefited from remastering...the Rush back catalogue immediately springs to mind.

As I said on another similar thread, I can't recall any remaster that I have heard that has sounded worse to me. I'll issue the same caveat - I'm not saying they don't exist.

In fact the worst I can remember was TOTO IV where I couldn't work out if they had done anything and felt that they could have done something as it sounds a bit thin to me.

Obviously there are some CDs where it arguable wasn't necessary and that all was seemingly acheived was an increase in volume (and I'm not saying that the increase was bad), Dire Straits' Brothers In Arms and Yes' 90125 spring to mind for this category (obviously care was taken in the original transfer).

I always think that the major opportunity for a remaster is to find the original master tapes and transfer them as lovingly as possible using the best converters and tape machines and maybe adding a few gentle tweaks as necessary.

In fact I was listening to a recent remaster of Deacon Blue's Raintown last night as imho is sounds absolutely fantastic, not too loud, not squashed, just open, clear, wide, deep, punchy...amazing.
Old 10th August 2006
  #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lobsterinn ➡️
there is something about that 'everything pressed against a windowpane' kind of sound that really lets you pick apart a production.
i think the opposite is true. i find i can't really pick apart a production with the super squashed stuff because it's hard to listen past the distortion, and its so fatiguing that i turn it off after three songs. plus if it was a reasonably dynamic record that was squashed flat in mastering i feel like i'm not hearing what the mixer was trying to get across. i'm hearing the mastering guys compressor doing 4:1 @ -20 and the L2 taking off another 8db. not that we have any way of really knowing where the smash came from, but you know what i mean. i think its safe to assume that most old records that would be up for a remaster were not mixed to a steady -6 RMS.

i would love to hear lots of old records remastered with todays SOTA converters, etc. unfortunately it seems everything gets smashed in the process as well, so i just stick with the crackly old vinyl or crummy cds from the 80s...
Old 11th August 2006 | Show parent
  #12
arf
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arf's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by lobsterinn ➡️
I guess what I'm really curious about is at what point does our changing perspective alter how we hear all these 'classics' in a detrimental way?

I think many younger music fans hear slight changes in the compression and limiting (rather than actual volume) and interpret that the same as they would actual dynamics because it is understood that what is happening in the song is different than what is happening in the playback signal.

-You know, when the mellow breakdown verse is louder sounding than the rocked out chorus, but we know what is supposed to be happening...

I'm not saying that's a good thing. Just a very common thing. People are growing up with it.
You raise a very important point, IMO. The smash and burn audio environment we all live in now has affected not only how we hear music, but how it is composed and performed. Artists adapt to their surroundings. This is one of the most serious unintended consequences of what I feel is a derelection of duty on the part of the gatekeepers of recorded music. After a steady diet of smashed distorted recordings, clean dynamic stuff can sound totally wrong. But give yourself a steady diet of clean and dynamic sound for a week or so, and when you return to the current reality, it's quite a shocker. Almost unfathomable that we can get used to horrendous audio and all the musical damage it does.
Old 11th August 2006 | Show parent
  #13
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🎧 15 years
I'll make no friends with this, but the Beach Boys stuff that's come out in the last few years sounds like ****. All compressed within an inch of it's life, pressed right up against that limit.

I know the intent was sonic density, but it just sucks.

My favorite guitar player, Sonny Landreth has the same problem with his albums.
Old 14th August 2006 | Show parent
  #14
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The dman's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
"Digitally remastered" classic albums scare the hell out of me. A couple of years ago I got a "Digitally remastered" version of Kansas Left overture and they killed a brilliant album.
Old 14th August 2006 | Show parent
  #15
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🎧 15 years
Quite possibly the worst idea I've ever heard. :-)
Old 14th August 2006 | Show parent
  #16
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dubhausdisco's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
I would maybe say that many old recordings could benefit from advances in AD conversion, but as far as making them louder, f u c k right off....
Old 14th August 2006 | Show parent
  #17
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🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by XSergeantD ➡️
Blasphemy. The problem is more the opposite, we need to remaster all the new stuff and get some dymnamics back. If you really want to kill a classic album..I mean remaster it, do it yourself


then retire or get back on the proper side of the loudness war
I agree with this statement. PULL BACK ON THE LEVELS GUYS!
Old 15th August 2006 | Show parent
  #18
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MrVelvet's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Yeah, I do think there's some remastered stuff that sounds way worse...

The whole Dire Straits line, except maybe the Love Over Gold and Brothers in Arms albums. On "On Every Street" you can hear digital clipping and a thin, unnatural brightness. Same goes for "Communiqué", which is a fantastic example for a great analogue recording in its original release IMHO.

Also, the 24-Bit-Remaster of Bowie's "Let's Dance" scares me - too bright.

On the other hand, I loved the first Remaster of Lou Reed's "Transformer" as well as what he did to his old recordings on his "NYC Man" Greatest Hits. The VU stuff sounds great, and bad mixing of some of his songs got corrected there.

But that is probably because he was in there, deciding what to do - not some A&R yelling it must be louder no matter how, and because it was that "The Lodge" in NY with all their smooth Avalon gear enganged... They got level, but without going over the top.
Old 15th August 2006 | Show parent
  #19
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🎧 15 years
I think it would be a wrong thing to do even though I'm thumbs up for modern.


the old stuff has it's place in time and hopefully the song remains the same



Jason
Old 16th August 2006
  #20
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lucey's Avatar
 
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🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by lobsterinn ➡️
I think I have become desensitized to the emotional content of music by all this sound flying in my face.
Yep.




Remaster nothing. It's done ...
Old 16th August 2006 | Show parent
  #21
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hourglass's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by lobsterinn ➡️
BUT, don't you think there are some older records that have really benefitted from being remastered in the last ten years or so?

No.

Most of the ones I've bothered to listen to sound like somebody overdubbed a buzzsaw and a masonry drill over the high end.

If you disagree, please name the ones you think are good remasters.
Old 16th August 2006 | Show parent
  #22
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🎧 15 years
Blasphemy indeed.

However, I did run Roger Waters' "The Pros and Cons of Hitch Hiking" thru an L2 and burned a copy so I could listen to it in my car with the windows down for a cross country road trip. *DUCK*

I also wonder if the person who re-mastered all of Bad Religion's early albums even listened to what they were doing to the material before they printed it. Some stuff is clipped so bad it's comical.
Old 16th August 2006 | Show parent
  #23
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The record is

the record that WAS




a remaster is a commercial plot that screws the identity of the work

When Columbia remastered Miles Davis on Vinyl that made sense, as it clarified the work ... modern remastering is 100% a way to make money, nothing more.
Old 16th August 2006 | Show parent
  #24
Mastering
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by lucey ➡️
The record is

the record that WAS




a remaster is a commercial plot that screws the identity of the work

When Columbia remastered Miles Davis on Vinyl that made sense, as it clarified the work ... modern remastering is 100% a way to make money, nothing more.
If you mean by a record company insisting on squashing and overcompressing the remaster at modern (2006) levels, then I agree, it becomes a commercial venture, not a restoration project. Or yet another remaster of Dark Side of the Moon, I would agree with you.

However, careful remastering of a musically-significant original analog tape (that's in good condition) through the highest-quality A/D converters and tape recorder electronics, destined for SACD, DVD-A or even DVD release, or even CD release, done by musicologically-schooled engineer/producers--- I would call that ART or at the least "artful". Of course there are always commercial interests behind any release, even an original release of any work... people do this to make money, but you can marry art with commercial interests.

Mark Wilder at Sony with the SACD remastering of, for example, "Kind of Blue", takes the definition of the art of preservation and restoration to the highest level. And that's the same degree of care that I and several other restoration engineers take to restoring and preserving musically-significant original analog tapes for future generations. In 1980 through 1990, Fania records issued on CD for the first time their classic Salsa releases in the Latin field. The technology and skills at that time were simply not as developed as they are today. I feel that Emusica records (the new Fania), while commercially-motivated, is putting their hearts and souls into the restoration and remastering of these works, and I'm proud to be a participant.
Old 16th August 2006 | Show parent
  #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bob katz ➡️

Mark Wilder at Sony with the SACD remastering of, for example, "Kind of Blue", takes the definition of the art of preservation and restoration to the highest level. And that's the same degree of care that I and several other restoration engineers take to restoring and preserving musically-significant original analog tapes for future generations. In 1980 through 1990, Fania records issued on CD for the first time their classic Salsa releases in the Latin field. The technology and skills at that time were simply not as developed as they are today. I feel that Emusica records (the new Fania), while commercially-motivated, is putting their hearts and souls into the restoration and remastering of these works, and I'm proud to be a participant.
My view is that a CD once produced is no longer the mix and master ... it's THAT master. It then has it's own identity in the world. It's done.

It is legally but not ethically the right of anyone to change that identity.




Jimi Hendrix Axis Bold as Love could be technically better ... as could all of Led Zeppelin ... but it IS what it WAS. Same for Synchronicity and all the 80s pop.



Remastering is a way to make money or satisfy the ego of the artists that screws with the identity of a completed work ... done with love or not, done with great care or not. It's not necessary and it does mess with the integrity of the work, ultimately adding to the culture of disrespect for music, by lowering the bar for the sanctity of each release.

Remastering is as much to blame for the culture of downloading as records full of one good single. It cheapens the integrity of the process into one of constant manipulation, not respect.


Yes, you can say that bad 80s converters need a re-look ... but then again, those records are what they are just like 78s are what they are.

Old 16th August 2006 | Show parent
  #26
Mastering
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by lucey ➡️
My view is that a CD once produced is no longer the mix and master ... it's THAT master.

SNIP

It's not necessary and it does mess with the integrity of the work, ultimately adding to the culture of disrespect for music, by lowering the bar for the sanctity of each release.
You're entitled to your opinion. I feel in each case it's a judgment call. There have been many travesties, some discussed in this thread. But I can cite some incredible exceptions:

The 2006 re-release of Ruben Blades classic "Siembra", which I remastered in an extremely transparent way, removing layers of veils from the original CD release to rival or beat the original vinyl in my opinion, is being released for the first time with full liner notes. At the time these discs were first released the record company did not apply the care which this major artist deserved. And currently they (EMusica) are releasing (and remastering) some obscure but significant Latin-Jazz recordings which never saw CD release and may have only been available on vinyl, by such as Joe Bataan (boogaloo artist from the 70's).

Traffic "Low Spark of High Heeled Boys" on my honor roll at digido.com, remastered by Jeff Willens, also rivals or beats the original vinyl. This is the first CD release of this work of such high quality, in my opinion.

And many others. So I wouldn't make a blanket statement that "remastering is bad" or that the original release of a work is the definitive version. If anything for technological reasons, 80's and early 90's converters and unskilled mastering engineers can be revisited for technological reasons. I participated in some excellent remasters of classical works originally only available on vinyl for Chesky Records one of which received Stereophile's judgment of "the best-engineered orchestral CD". Most of this is Ken Wilkinson's incredible miking and the original recording, but some I have to give to the A/D converter which I custom built and the rebuilt tube reproducer I used to help capture every iota from the master tape.

Do you feel the same way about Criterion releases on Laserdisc and DVD of classic films? Sure, it's video... soon to be high def, and it doesn't have the contrast and depth of the full theatre screen, but when mastered with care, it becomes a beautiful medium.
Old 16th August 2006 | Show parent
  #27
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🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by lucey ➡️
it does mess with the integrity of the work, ultimately adding to the culture of disrespect for music, by lowering the bar for the sanctity of each release.
Thanks to remastering, I get a LOT more enjoyment out of the most recent CD iterations of Who by Numbers (which may be a remix, now that I think about it; I don't have it handy), Who's Next, and Marquee Moon. I don't see how a pressing that sounds better (presumably doing a better job of capturing the nuances of the original recording) negatively impacts the integrity of the release.

Having said that, I think it's POSSIBLE to affect the integrity of a release by doing a crap job on the remater and then sending it out into the world as the "defintiive' version.

I've released a few records whose integrity was compromised by heavy-handed mastering; in the years since those records came out, I've learned a lot and look forward to remastering them in order to reclaim their integrity. HOWEVER, among those records are a couple that I'd like to remix, but I realize that to do so would really turn them into something else, so I'll leave them alone in order to respect the integrity of what we were doing at the time.

Do those distinctions make any sense? -E
Old 16th August 2006 | Show parent
  #28
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🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by hurricaneE ➡️
Thanks to remastering, I get a LOT more enjoyment out of the most recent CD iterations of Who by Numbers (which may be a remix, now that I think about it; I don't have it handy), Who's Next, and Marquee Moon. I don't see how a pressing that sounds better (presumably doing a better job of capturing the nuances of the original recording) negatively impacts the integrity of the release.

Having said that, I think it's POSSIBLE to affect the integrity of a release by doing a crap job on the remater and then sending it out into the world as the "defintiive' version.

I've released a few records whose integrity was compromised by heavy-handed mastering; in the years since those records came out, I've learned a lot and look forward to remastering them in order to reclaim their integrity. HOWEVER, among those records are a couple that I'd like to remix, but I realize that to do so would really turn them into something else, so I'll leave them alone in order to respect the integrity of what we were doing at the time.

Do those distinctions make any sense? -E


Audiophile concerns are valid, but not here. A record by defintion is a moment in time, a "record". Remastering brings in technology energy ... good (better gear) and bad (copying). Where we lead the people do follow.

Remastering established pop work is all about technology, not the integrity of music.

Of course there is remastering of material to bring it up and to a wider audience ... that's fine. I do that myself. I'm really talking about the remastering of established classics in pop and rock.
Old 16th August 2006 | Show parent
  #29
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🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by lucey ➡️
Remastering established pop work is all about technology, not the integrity of music.

But if a "good" remaster improves the translation of the recording, how is that not about the integrity of the music? How is leaving the ****ty '80-whatever versions of the orginal Who CDs in print better than taking the time to make a new master that better represents the original efforts? -E
Old 16th August 2006 | Show parent
  #30
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🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by hurricaneE ➡️
But if a "good" remaster improves the translation of the recording, how is that not about the integrity of the music? How is leaving the ****ty '80-whatever versions of the orginal Who CDs in print better than taking the time to make a new master that better represents the original efforts? -E

Quote:
Originally Posted by lucey ➡️
A record by defintion is a moment in time, a "record".



What artist or engineer does not want a second shot at a record? Perfecting is not the point ... once it's released and well known, it's identity is owned BY THE CONSUMER just as much as by the label or artist.

It becomes something more than the notes.


This is when the integrity is damaged by remastering. Music is not just notes, it's the INTERACTION with culture.
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