Wednesday, 2 May 2007

Old really is better than New when it comes to CD's.

Ever been out to the record store, checking out cds by your favourite artists and met fresh copies with 'New: digitally re-mastered" on them and were curious about how they sounded?

Many music fans are beginning to realize that these newer issues don't sound the same as the earlier editions and more to the point, are inferior in terms of sound quality.

A while back members of the Steve Hoffman Forums were discussing the catalogue of Duran Duran, one of England's leading New Romantic groups of the 80's.
A number of people noticed that the recent 2001/3 re-masters were noticeable poor sounding compared to their original issues which came out in the early years of the Compact Disc.

For instance, throughout the first album there is considerable clipping evident on cymbals, compression and heavy handed noise reduction employed on the current re-master that has no parallel with the original 1985 issue.

Similar issues affect Rio, Seven and The Ragged Tiger and Arena albums.

Nor would it appear Duran Duran are the only artists whose current CD's are so afflicted.

I recently compared other albums tackled by the re-mastering team at EMI's prestigious Abbey Road studio team and found similar artifacts in the Pet Shop Boys 2 CD series, the Talk Talk re-masters and the Paul McCartney collection.

On Band On The Run the combination of compression and bass 'bloat' takes away the impact of the song when you compare this to either the original 1986 UK release or the versions of this track on the All The Best! and the original Wings Greatest compilations.

You really would be better off holding on to your earlier CD's or tracking them down on Ebay instead.

Another group whose work has suffered is the heavy rock group Rainbow.
On the album Rainbow Rising, famed for track Stargazer, the mastering enginner has added a false gloss to the high frequencies.
It makes listening to this album tiresome. Arguably the best way to hear most of the tracks from this album is from the 2 CD compilation Catch The Rainbow, whose mastering is first class.

I find it ironic that many of us are buying up the older CD issues of these titles at the same time the record companies are reporting lower sales.
Could it be we're fed up with the standard of recordings we are presented with?

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