Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Gold Standard Duran Duran cds?

This piece is here because of a blazing row on Amazon between folk over the recent box sets and discussion at Imwan about what the participants were using as their reference aka a "gold standard".
I intend to set out my store as an ancient Duranie here on what I feel is the Gold Standard of Duran Durans Cds.:
In my opinion there is not one single cd of this title that ticks all the boxes for completeness best sources or mastering.
This album has a lot of high frequency energy that needs to mastered with care to keep the detail while avoiding shrillness at high volumes.
The original cd issues of this came out in 1985 and used the US tracklisting that removed To The Shore and added Is There Something I Should Know. Also most of these were pressed in Japan.
It has a very wide dynamic range and sounds very clear however Is There something I Should Know is mastered at a higher level (about 1/1/2 db higher) than the reminder of the program so you do need to turn down the volume slightly or if you using digital distribution of your music modify the setting of replay gain to equalize it..
It's a good mastering and being prepared to use the volume control I'm very happy with that disc as I don't miss To The Shore that much.

There was 1995 issue pressed in the EU - most of which were Dutch - that takes the previous 9 track selection but restores To The Shore at the End (Track 10).
This is still available from Amazon.UK as a cd and also as a download.
The high frequencies are slightly toned down on this release and the level difference I referred to in the original issues was removed.
If gold standard means to you a disc that sounds really good as is together with having the whole of the UK track order on it then I would say it's as close as it is. It is the one I'd take on a desert island with me.

2003 Digipak remaster. This one has had it's peaks chopped off resulting in clear distortion on Girls On Film (if you examine the waveforms visually you can see it!) and suffers from a nasally vocal sound. Not recommended.

2010 box.
Having listened to it several times I would say it does sound better than the 2003 but remains in the 'acceptable' camp for the main album and yes it has a false start on Girls On Film. It doesn't equal the sound of either of the earlier cds (the 1995 being the best all round alternative) however I'd get this is is for the bonus tracks like the Air and Manchester Square studio sessions which are worth having and the DVD.

Two versions:
The first was pressed with some mastering differences in 1985 in Japan, West Germany and later on around the world using a set of mixes that Duran Duran approved (The Rio sessions have numerous mixes!!) that do depart from the original UK lp. The US lp was very different too.
To be honest I feel this version remains the cleanest sounding of the lot and it is worth picking up a copy of you didn't get a copy at the time.
It's my Gold Standard.
There was a remaster of this mix done in 2001 with 2 videos for playing on your PC that I found had a reduced dynamic range and some messing to the original equalization.
I wouldn't bother with that issue at all.
2009 re-master: This one uses the UK album master so restores all the original mixes and added the US Rio album mixes and a bonus disc.
Done by Steve Rooke it does sound really good equalling the UK lp's sound which wasn't quite as open as the first cd.
I'd recommend this for the original mixes and bonus material or for someone who just wants to done with a good sounding cd of Rio such as a casual fan.

Seven and The Ragged Tiger:
This was a very early cd and like most was initially made in Japan for the UK and North America.
I have not heard a cd of this album sound any better, period as this sounds the same as the lp and XDR tape issues so that is my gold standard
It was re-mastered twice. first in 2003 that added a Digipak gatefold sleeve but suffers from lumpy bass, grainy vocals and obvious limiting. Not good.
The second sadly is the 2010 box set which is very screechy - see the main review (March 2010 Daytime Office Girl Crisis) - and cannot be recommended at all for the music although you may well love as I did the DVD portion.

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