Saturday, 13 September 2008

Ludwig's re-masters

Robert Ludwig was one of finest mastering engineers of the vinyl era but without wishing to appear as if if I'm personally attacking him, I have to say I find his more recent CD work in the re-mastering field less than impressive.
One can't fault him for finding good clean sounding tapes but there appears to be something almost automated about what happens next.
His processing of the recordings seem to leave them with a harsh frozen edginess.
This is very evident in his current Roxy Music and Bryan Ferry re-mastering for Virgin Records.
He also seems to favour limiting the dynamics to make these re-masters sound louder compared to what is actually on the masters.
I personally find it hard to listen to Sister Morphine by the Rolling Stones where the track just fails to expand as Charlie's drums kick in. It is a very strange state of affairs when even my ancient pre-recorded 8 track has a bigger difference between the quiet and loud portions of this track.
Another is the introduction to the first track on Roxy Music's Manifesto which starts at too high a level.
He compounds this by adding extra low and high frequencies to this track resulting in earache as you trying listening to this at a loudish level. Many of us have been replacing these titles on cd lately. For the Rolling Stones generally the 1987 CBS issues made in the States and Europe sound much more like the lp's. With Roxy Music you can get either the 1984 EG/Polydor issues or the otherwise perfectly fine 1988/1991 EG/Virgins issued in the UK that sound more natural (the catalogue numbers have EGCD** on the spines).
For Avalon, you can't beat the Polydor/EG issue catalogue number 800 032-2.

See the next entry for my collection.

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