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Remastered...Rubbish!


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A few years ago, I bought the vinyl reissues of the ABBA catalogue in this boxed set.8196Jz5BSRL._AC_SL1500_.jpg

For some bizarre reason, I’ve only just got around to opening this, and I had great expectations of it.

WHAT A DISAPPOINTMENT! The moment I listened to ‘I let the music speak’ from ‘The Visitors’, I knew that something wasn’t right.

I have the original vinyl issues of their last three albums, and I did a comparison of both ‘Super Trouper’, and ‘The Visitors’. In both cases, the original vinyl issues sounded vastly superior.

What the hell is going on? Surely remastering ‘old’ (digital, in the case of their last few albums) recordings like these should yield improvements?

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The reality is that very many remasters actually make the sound worse, especially for CDs/digital downloads - dynamics are compressed, volume is turned up to 10.

It could well be that your new ABBA vinyl albums were remastered from poor quality digital sources - you never really know until it’s too late and the money’s spent...

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Not sure if you’ve seen this database, but you can see the difference between the 1981 vinyl and some later versions. 

http://dr.loudness-war.info/album/list?artist=ABBA&album=The+visitors

I hope some of the others are better.  I still play some of my original ABBA LPs!

Edited by Nopiano
Mistyped the year
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This is exactly what puts me off vinyl, if I buy a CD for a couple of pounds and it's no good it's not so bad, worth a chance. But vinyl is so expensive and apart from sound quality issues you can have physical problems too. Why do I bother?

Such a shame OP, very disappointing.

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These days it seems that there are never ending high priced releases of digital files that have been copied to vinyl and then placed in expensive bling boxes. One has to be extra careful to make sure whether the original master was used- or a cheap and easy digital file copy. Either way, I am still not quite understanding why folk have no problem buying into an expensive and pretty box that adds nothing to the music, except a larger profit margin for the vendor!! 

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Most likely because 100s of thousands of Master tapes were destroyed in the Universal Studio fire a few years ago and all that’s left is digital copies.

Some artists lost their whole catalogue.

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I’ve bought a lot of vinyl, both new and old, over the last couple of decades.  I’ve found the best quality to be vinyl produced before the mid 80s. It may be thin and flimsy but it usually sounds excellent.  Heavy duty 180 gram vinyl makes absolutely no difference.  If the remastering is crap the weight of the vinyl won’t help.  Remastered and new vinyl has improved a lot over the last few years. A number of single albums are now being re-released as doubles with three songs per side and I’ve found the quality to be very good.  But my experience is that vinyl produced in the early 2000s, whether remastered or original, is mostly hopeless.  For example the vinyl of Raising Sand by Robert Plant and Alison Krause was unlistenable. I have also found that remastered vinyl is very rarely better than the original album.  Recently I replaced a couple of family favourites for sentimental reasons.  I bought the Sound of Music soundtrack, 1965 original from Oxfam, and the Mary Poppins 1963 soundtrack digitally remastered double album heavy vinyl. The Mary Poppins reissue is fantastic, zero noise and high dynamic range. It’s one of the best reissues I’ve heard.  However, although the Sound Of Music has a little surface noise left after cleaning, the sound quality of both albums is nearly identical. So the upshot of all of this is that you should buy the original and if you can’t find that, make sure the remastering is pretty recent.

Edited by Muffin
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No surprise that the record labels keep re-releasing the same albums over again, with us music lovers hoping it will sound better than the original versions. I wonder how many copies of certain albums I bought over and over again hoping for better sound quality?

Although some reissues/remasters are an improvement over earlier versions of reissues, you can’t make an original master tape sound better by running it through digital process to convert  it to 24 bit and then call it high definition.

True 24 bit recordings must be digitally recorded in 24 bit from the beginning. Even then, the recording studios often mess things up by turning the dials up over 10 into the red zone.

I met a record producer visiting here that works for a major recording label in Los Angeles and asked him why the studios don’t provide consumers with the best sound quality. He said that if he were to produce an album that was high sound quality, it would be rejected by the record label. The labels cater to the sound of people playing back music on their smart phones and car stereos

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37 minutes ago, Paulssurround said:

The labels cater to the sound of people playing back music on their smart phones and car stereos

Sad, but true, Paul.  The only consolation is that many ‘classical’ releases, orchestral, instrumental, choral etc., are made with greater care, and less concern for loudness wars.  Of course Linn themselves, and various specialist labels like Hyperion are exemplars in this respect. 

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1 hour ago, Paulssurround said:

True 24 bit recordings must be digitally recorded in 24 bit from the beginning. Even then, the recording studios often mess things up by turning the dials up over 10 into the red zone.

That would probably be the best way, but then the question is how good the technology of the studio is. It is sometimes adventurous how people work in studios.
But if what is reported here about song recorders in combination with an LP12 is true, you will get better digital music out of it than the same CD.
Imagine a recording from a master tape via the Klimax Hub.

Linn could have revolutionized the studio technology with the LK1 if they had wanted to.

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I've been disappointed many times by remastered vinyl albums. A friend of mine has gone the digital route and bought himself a La Voce D-A converter and uses Tidal streaming. I'm a little envious as he doesn't have to worry about crackles, poor pressings, dodgy remasters or misplaced holes! There is normally many different 24 bit recordings available of the same album to choose from. This is all good but I would miss the tweaking and secondhand bargains!

I also feel that the older flimsier vinyl is just as good as 180 gram. I have come to the conclusion that if the original recording was analogue then a remaster 180g copy probably won't improve it as it will probably be digitalised. Buying an old copy from a secondhand record shop or eBay can be pot luck but that's part of the fun.

It always surprises me how good a forty or fifty year old record can sound and with a decent cartridge, it can sound almost new.

Just listening to an original vinyl of Abba Super Trouper whilst typing this and it sounds amazing 😊

Edited by AndyS
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Most of my originals sound better than later reissues.  Genesis, Led Zep, etc etc

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1 hour ago, AndyS said:

I've been disappointed many times by remastered vinyl albums. A friend of mine has gone the digital route and bought himself a La Voce D-A converter and uses Tidal streaming. I'm a little envious as he doesn't have to worry about crackles, poor pressings, dodgy remasters or misplaced holes! There is normally many different 24 bit recordings available of the same album to choose from. This is all good but I would miss the tweaking and secondhand bargains!

I also feel that the older flimsier vinyl is just as good as 180 gram. I have come to the conclusion that if the original recording was analogue then a remaster 180g copy probably won't improve it as it will probably be digitalised. Buying an old copy from a secondhand record shop or eBay can be pot luck but that's part of the fun.

It always surprises me how good a forty or fifty year old record can sound and with a decent cartridge, it can sound almost new.

Just listening to an original vinyl of Abba Super Trouper whilst typing this and it sounds amazing 😊

Plenty of bad digital remasters and you don’t always get a choice and quite few are not on Tidal. Not seen many 24 bits versions of any albums but I’m on Qobuz, Tidal has that MQA stuff which my DAC is not compatible with.  

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3 hours ago, Paulssurround said:

No surprise that the record labels keep re-releasing the same albums over again, with us music lovers hoping it will sound better than the original versions. I wonder how many copies of certain albums I bought over and over again hoping for better sound quality?

Although some reissues/remasters are an improvement over earlier versions of reissues, you can’t make an original master tape sound better by running it through digital process to convert  it to 24 bit and then call it high definition.

True 24 bit recordings must be digitally recorded in 24 bit from the beginning. Even then, the recording studios often mess things up by turning the dials up over 10 into the red zone.

I met a record producer visiting here that works for a major recording label in Los Angeles and asked him why the studios don’t provide consumers with the best sound quality. He said that if he were to produce an album that was high sound quality, it would be rejected by the record label. The labels cater to the sound of people playing back music on their smart phones and car stereos

But most, probably well over 90% play music  not on a HiFi system, so why cater for such a small proportion?

i would like to see a choice such as 24 bit high quality and then the usually mastered stuff, with digital downloads I think this would be easy to do.

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10 hours ago, Nopiano said:

Sad, but true, Paul.  The only consolation is that many ‘classical’ releases, orchestral, instrumental, choral etc., are made with greater care, and less concern for loudness wars.  Of course Linn themselves, and various specialist labels like Hyperion are exemplars in this respect. 

Hyperion, Harmonia Mundi, Myrios, Erato, Mirare  - all European labels with wonderful, rich, clear sounding recordings, especially of string quartets.   I also think DG did a very nice job with recordings of the Hagen Quartet throughout their time at that label.   Their recording of the Bach/Mozart Adagio and Fugue K.546- on their disc of the Beethoven Op.130 - is amazing with a rosiny bass sound that sounds like you are there.  

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