Remastered albums aren't always for the better


#1

A couple years back, I got on a pre-order list for a box set of Phil Collins albums that were in the process of being remastered. A couple of them were released at one time, others were released as they became available. One of them didn’t come until about 5 months later.

I only opened and played a few of the new albums this entire time, one of which being “Hello, I Must Be Going”.

Today I popped this remastered album on my table and gave it a spin. The first thing that stood out is that Phil’s voice has this kind of constant etched, gritty sound, sort of like inner groove distortion (IGD). It was like that throughout the entire album, on both sides. Other than that, it sounded pretty decent I thought.

Then curiosity got the best of me and I pulled out my original pressing of the album which was released back in Nov 1982. The first thing I noticed on this older album is that it was quite a bit louder, with me diving for the remote to turn it down to roughly the same level as the new 'remastered" album. I went from “38” on the volume down to “33”!

After this, I noticed that that etchy, gritty sound was no longer on Phil’s voice. Upon further listening, I also noticed that this old, original album has more meat, more punch in the bass, more dynamic range throughout, and sounds smoother and cleaner. In short, it’s a MUCH better sounding record than the new remastered one.

In other words, the compressed the life right out of the new album. It’s somewhat flat in comparison. And for further proof, you can actually see the compression on the vinyl itself as a result of a larger run-off groove.

I’m glad I have the box set, but kind of feel ripped off because of the lesser quality mastering.

Original on the left, new on the right…

Original Side 1

Remastered Side 1

Original Side 2

Remastered Side 2


#2

In my limited experience and opinion, remasters, regardless of medium are rarely better than the original.


#3

One exception is the the remastered Mercury Living Presence CD recordings supervised by Wilma Cozart Fine. These are superb.

Given the remarkable performances and the wonderful sound, every audiophile should have the Mercury Living Presence recordings.


#4

Much of the modern application of compression is ruining an entire generation of music (IMHO). I posted a modern alt country CD by Brent Cobb this weekend. So compressed it sounds like it was recorded in a sealed mason jar. My brother loves the sound…listens mostly in his 5 series with a decent system.

The other problem with general statements, and Elk has corrected me a few times, there are no rules that apply to everything. Daft Punk Random Access Memories is a DR of 7 or so and sounds great.


#5

I recall reading somewhere that a lot of these mass produced remastered LP’s essentially use digital files meant for mp3 playback on iPod’s and such where they compress dynamics and “normalize” the entire recording so these small battery powered devices can power small cheap ear buds and headphones without taxing out the tiny built-in amplifiers.


#6

Based on the album jacket, they remastered his face, too. By about +20 years! Maybe that’s what happened.


#7

34 years to be exact.


#8

They’re still better than the Genesis remixes. I knew those songs to the note and the box set re-releases changed them, and not in small ways. I’m so glad I got a complete set of the “Definitve Edition Remasters” they put out in the 90s. Those were legitimate improvements over most of the originals that were released in the early CD days.


#9

There may be truth to this, the modern equivalent of adding compression to make one’s song play louder on the radio. The dark side to mastered for iTunes.

I am impressed you noticed the wider space for the lead-out groove on the new LPs.


#10

This topic makes my blood boil so I am not going to elaborate knowing that I would embarrass myself.


#11

It’s quite obvious. You’d have to be blind not to notice, especially on the “B” side. LOL

Go ahead, we’re all friends here. :wink:

Trust me, things like this piss me off as well. They don’t care about quality, only quantity and the bottom dollar.


#12

It’s more complicated than simply “money.” My brother has a good ear. He grew up listening to my music on decent systems. He can pick well recorded stuff out easily. He just doesn’t hate compressed recordings like I do. It just doesn’t matter that much to him, and the rest of my, in general, music loving family. Loud gets their attention. My wife on the other hand, hears music constantly in our house, gets it. You have to live with a quality system to appreciate the issue. Very few do!


#13

It pays to wait and Google to get other’s opinions of any remaster or hi-res re-issue of any recording prior to purchase. I mean, it’s been pretty much common knowledge forever that remastered doesn’t equal better.


#14

I know that, but this gave me the opportunity to purchase all of Phil Collins’ albums. Something I didn’t have before. So to me, it’s not a total loss.


#15

They vary. The Dire Straits remasters are superb, as as the Beetles. All for good reasons. The Graceland 25th Anniversary edition screwed up a superb CD.

My friend Tony has a nice Phil Collins story. In 1977, the Queen’s Silver Jubilee, lots of people arranged street parties to celebrate the event. Tony’s mum got the job for their street in Ealing. So this guy called Phil comes round and knocks on her door and says he has a band and he would be happy to look after the music, but she says not to worry as she’s already arranged a disco. Oh well.

Personally, I can only bear Phil Collins with his mouth shut, drumming. I saw him with Genesis in the 1970s a few times. I have most of the good Genesis albums up to Wind & Wuthering, after which Steve Hackett left and they went pop.


#16

The original by Hugh Padgham using his ATC speakers was phenomenal. Remasters are often victims of loudness wars! Hugh Padgham also worked on The Police most successful albums like a Ghost in the Machine and Synchronicity. He worked on Peter Gabriel, XTC and Genesis too. One of the greats!

BTW I found a good digital CD version of Duran Duran Rio from the same year - sounds like vinyl did! It took me ages. Most digital versions are way too hot.

As for vinyl, Back in the day I would only buy Japanese imports - those with the OBI and that is my vinyl reference version of Rio!


#17

Booooooo!!! I’ll listen to Phil reading the phone book. My third son is named after him. My second son after Peter Timmons from Cowboy Junkies. And my first for my college roommate. All of whom happened to be excellent drummers.

Had I one more boy, he’d have been David, for Dave Grohl, the nicest guy in rock and roll.


#18

What No Chad ?

Chad Smith has got to be the nicest drummer I know!


#19

No Chad. I had to like the name too and my bride has veto power. I knew a Chad in HS and didn’t much care for him.

Nobody is as cool as Dave Grohl.


#20

Some people like Phil’s voice, others don’t. My father used to always pinch his nose closed and makes annoying sounds to imitate Phil’s voice.

I for one like his voice and enjoy all of his albums, all of Genesis, both new and old, as well as Brand X