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Beatles remasters soon available on vinyl
2Bdecided
post Sep 28 2012, 11:35
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Stereo 12th / 13th November...
http://thebeatles.com/#/news/Vinyl

Mono coming in 2013.


I'm just waiting for the first claim of how much better they sound than the CDs.

For me, the only vaguely interesting thing is whether these will be cut without peak limiting. Given that they applied the same peak limiting to the 24-bit ultra-expensive USB apple release, I doubt we'll escape it here.


However, it'll (hopefully!) be a much cheaper way of owning and playing Beatles vinyl than tracking down originals, and they'll sound better than most of the 1988 vinyl remasters. (Though for Help and Rubber Soul, they'll be the same masters!). The Beatles website is mostly selling the "experience" of playing vinyl, rather than any actual sonic superiority. How strange for a vinyl press release to be TOS 8 compliant!

Cheers,
David.

P.S. and so it starts...
QUOTE
linuxglobe on 27th Sep 12: “I just want to own Sgt. Pepper and Abbey Road on audiophile 180 gram vinyl; I have a usb turntable, easily import into my iPhone! I *HEART* Los Beatles!!! biggrin.gif @MarkusMcLaughln
Yeah, 'cause obviously...
digital file > vinyl stamper > vinyl > USB turntable(!!!!) > iTunes > iPhone
will sound better than
digital file > CD > iTunes > iPhone!

This post has been edited by 2Bdecided: Sep 28 2012, 11:35
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hlloyge
post Sep 28 2012, 12:22
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Aren't the original masters bad sounding, full of hiss and noise?
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LordWarlock
post Sep 28 2012, 12:30
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Hiss and noise? That's still better than compressed to death, at least for my ears.
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markanini
post Sep 28 2012, 15:44
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QUOTE (hlloyge @ Sep 28 2012, 13:22) *
Aren't the original masters bad sounding, full of hiss and noise?

About the same as other recordings from that period.
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derty2
post Sep 28 2012, 18:35
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Official technical info on this release...
QUOTE
Manufactured on 180-gram, audiophile quality vinyl with replicated artwork, the 14 albums return to their original glory with details including the poster in The Beatles (The White Album), the Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart Club Band’s cut-outs, and special inner bags for some of the titles. Each album will be available individually, and accompanied by a stunning, elegantly designed 252-page hardbound book in a lavish boxed edition which is limited to 50,000 copies worldwide.

The book, exclusive to the boxed edition, is authored by award-winning radio producer Kevin Howlett and features a dedicated chapter for each of the albums, as well as insight into the creation of the remasters and how the vinyl albums were prepared. The 12”x12” book showcases a wealth of photographs spanning The Beatles’ recording career, including many images which were not included in the 2009 CD booklets.

The titles include The Beatles’ 12 original UK albums, first released between 1963 and 1970, the US-originated Magical Mystery Tour, now part of the group’s core catalogue, and Past Masters, Volumes One & Two, featuring non-album A-sides and B-sides, EP tracks and rarities.

Since it was recorded, The Beatles’ music has been heard on a variety of formats – from chunky reel-to-reel tapes and eight-track cartridges to invisible computer files. But there has never been a more romantic or thrilling medium for music than a long-playing twelve-inch disc. We ‘play’ records. The process of carefully slipping the disc out of the sleeve, cleaning it and lowering the stylus provides a personal involvement in the reproduction of the music.

In September, 2009, The Beatles’ remastered albums on CD graced charts around the world. Seventeen million album sales within seven months was resounding evidence of the timeless relevance of their legacy. Through five decades, the music of The Beatles has captivated generation upon generation.

For producer Rick Rubin, surveying The Beatles’ recorded achievements is akin to witnessing a miracle. “If we look at it by today’s standards, whoever the most popular bands in the world are, they will typically put out an album every four years,” Rubin said in a 2009 radio series interview. “So, let’s say two albums as an eight year cycle. And think of the growth or change between those two albums. The idea that The Beatles made thirteen albums in seven years and went through that arc of change… it can’t be done. Truthfully, I think of it as proof of God, because it’s beyond man’s ability.”

There has always been demand for The Beatles’ albums on vinyl. Indeed, 2011’s best-selling vinyl LP in the United States was Abbey Road. Following the success of The Beatles’ acclaimed, GRAMMY Award-winning 2009 CD remasters, it was decided that the sound experts at EMI’s Abbey Road Studios should create new versions of The Beatles’ vinyl LPs. The project demanded the same meticulous approach taken for the CD releases, and the brief was a simple one: cut the digital remasters to vinyl with an absolute minimum of compromise to the sound. However, the process involved to do that was far from simple.

The first stage in transferring the sound of a master recording to vinyl is the creation of a disc to be used during vinyl manufacture. There were two options to consider. A Direct Metal Master (DMM), developed in the late seventies, allows sound to be cut directly into a stainless steel disc coated with a hard copper alloy. The older, alternative method is to cut the sound into the soft lacquer coating on a nickel disc – the first of several steps leading to the production of a stamper to press the vinyl.

A ‘blind’ listening test was arranged to choose between a ‘lacquer’ or ‘copper’ cut. Using both methods, A Hard Day’s Night was pressed with ten seconds of silence at the beginning and end of each side. This allowed not only the reproduction of the music to be assessed, but also the noise made by the vinyl itself. After much discussion, two factors swung the decision towards using the lacquer process. First, it was judged to create a warmer sound than a DMM. Secondly, there was a practical advantage of having ‘blank’ discs of a consistent quality when cutting lacquers.

The next step was to use the Neumann VMS80 cutting lathe at Abbey Road. Following thorough mechanical and electrical tests to ensure it was operating in peak condition, engineer Sean Magee cut the LPs in chronological release order. He used the original 24-bit remasters rather than the 16-bit versions that were required for CD production. It was also decided to use the remasters that had not undergone ‘limiting’ – a procedure to increase the sound level, which is deemed necessary for most current pop CDs.

Having made initial test cuts, Magee pinpointed any sound problems that can occur during playback of vinyl records. To rectify them, changes were made to the remasters with a Digital Audio Workstation. For example, each vinyl album was listened to for any ‘sibilant episodes’ – vocal distortion that can occur on consonant sounds such as S and T. These were corrected by reducing the level in the very small portion of sound causing the undesired effect. Similarly, any likelihood of ‘inner-groove distortion’ was addressed. As the stylus approaches the centre of the record, it is liable to track the groove less accurately. This can affect the high-middle frequencies, producing a ‘mushy’ sound particularly noticeable on vocals. Using what Magee has described as ‘surgical EQ,’ problem frequencies were identified and reduced in level to compensate for this.

The last phase of the vinyl mastering process began with the arrival of the first batches of test pressings made from master lacquers that had been sent to the two pressing plant factories. Stringent quality tests identified any noise or click appearing on more than one test pressing in the same place. If this happened, it was clear that the undesired sounds had been introduced either during the cutting or the pressing stage and so the test records were rejected. In the quest to achieve the highest quality possible, the Abbey Road team worked closely with the pressing factories and the manufacturers of the lacquer and cutting styli.

An additional and unusual challenge was to ensure the proper playback of the sounds embedded in the ‘lock-groove’ at the end of side two of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. Requiring a combination of good timing and luck, it had always been a lengthy and costly process to make it work properly. In fact, it was so tricky, it had never been attempted for American pressings of the LP. Naturally, Sean Magee and the team perfected this and the garbled message is heard as originally intended on the remastered Sgt. Pepper LP.
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Blueshirt
post Sep 28 2012, 23:57
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QUOTE (derty2 @ Sep 28 2012, 18:35) *
Official technical info on this release...

After reading all that official info, all I can say is... wow! I didn't expect them to put in that much work on them. They sound like interesting releases.
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shakey_snake
post Sep 29 2012, 03:57
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QUOTE (hlloyge @ Sep 28 2012, 07:22) *
Aren't the original masters bad sounding, full of hiss and noise?

You mean "sounds like vinyl?" laugh.gif


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mzil
post Sep 29 2012, 04:08
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Notice the goal was not a nearly indistinguishable copy of the master tape, ie transparency, but rather a "desirable" coloration they call "warmth":

QUOTE
After much discussion, two factors swung the decision towards using the lacquer process. First, it was judged to create a warmer sound than a DMM.


Also, how much do you want to bet the "blind" test wasn't level matched (to a small fraction of a dB using instrumentation). They simply picked the one that was a tad louder! [Tiny level differences are notoriously misinterpreted as a change in quality, not quantity.]

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punkrockdude
post Sep 29 2012, 10:34
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I would like to hear the inner groove distortion technique since inner groove distortion is in my opinion maybe vinyl's biggest flaw.
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derty2
post Sep 29 2012, 15:22
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Recent excerpts from Steve Hoffman forums

     --------------------------------------
     Email exchange between an Inquisitive Fan and Abbey Road Studios about this release.

           From Inquisitive Fan:
           "...were these mastered using the 24/192 digital masters..."

           Reply from Abbey Road Studios:
           "...The original tapes were copied to digital at 24/192k. The tracks were then remastered at 24/96 and the vinyl was cut from these 24/96K masters..."


     --------------------------------------
     User comment:

           "...Heard from a contact in the record industry that the vinyl versions will be made by Pallas/Germany..."
 
 
 
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hlloyge
post Sep 29 2012, 16:38
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QUOTE (shakey_snake @ Sep 29 2012, 04:57) *
QUOTE (hlloyge @ Sep 28 2012, 07:22) *
Aren't the original masters bad sounding, full of hiss and noise?

You mean "sounds like vinyl?" laugh.gif


I don't see the point. Originals are for sure hissy and lost it's original quality, and they are making masters out of them?
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derty2
post Sep 29 2012, 17:44
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The original tapes were 'raw' copied to digital 24/192 in the year 2009 and have already been mastered for CD and and released as a box set back then.
For this vinyl release --three years later-- the engineers have made a new mastering from the digital 24/192 'raw' copy.
They decided not to use limiting/compression as was used on the CD release, and downsampled the files to 24/96 for use by the vinyl cutting plant.

The vinyl is being pressed from 24/96 sources...
Considering the extreme attention to detail that has gone into making this, and considering that the vast majority of people buying this set will be "Hi-Res Is Nirvana, Fuck Logic" audiophiles, I do not understand why the engineers didn't just hand over the 24/192 mastering to the cutting plant. Why did they downsample to 24/96 before cutting?
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lvqcl
post Sep 29 2012, 18:10
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QUOTE
I do not understand why the engineers didn't just hand over the 24/192 mastering to the cutting plant. Why did they downsample to 24/96 before cutting?

IMHO "The tracks were then remastered at 24/96 and the vinyl was cut from these 24/96K masters" means that the tracks were downsampled before mastering, not just before cutting.
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hlloyge
post Sep 29 2012, 19:24
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I am not into that. Sell these files, rather than pressing vinyls out of them. Hell, you could do SACD, DVD-A, or regular audio CD, I seriously doubt that there is anything useful above 15 kHz on master tapes... smile.gif
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derty2
post Sep 29 2012, 19:45
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Your 'comment' was addressed in 2009, the year of the CD release.

This release --3 years later-- is for the "Hi-Res Is Nirvana, Fuck Logic" audiophile community.

The upper atmosphere of the audiophile world and old men who run the music business still have power
and this is their their time, their game, their status symbol, their toy, their thing to own; logic is only part of the picture.
I can see an old cuban-cigar-chomping music biz executive clad in an Armani suit pulling out one of these discs
and placing it on his hundred thousand dollar turntable then sitting back on his Italian leather couch.
I can see many old non-music biz executives doing this too.

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_if
post Sep 30 2012, 04:28
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QUOTE
Having made initial test cuts, Magee pinpointed any sound problems that can occur during playback of vinyl records. To rectify them, changes were made to the remasters with a Digital Audio Workstation. For example, each vinyl album was listened to for any ‘sibilant episodes’ – vocal distortion that can occur on consonant sounds such as S and T. These were corrected by reducing the level in the very small portion of sound causing the undesired effect. Similarly, any likelihood of ‘inner-groove distortion’ was addressed. As the stylus approaches the centre of the record, it is liable to track the groove less accurately. This can affect the high-middle frequencies, producing a ‘mushy’ sound particularly noticeable on vocals. Using what Magee has described as ‘surgical EQ,’ problem frequencies were identified and reduced in level to compensate for this.


This is nice and all and it's too bad it couldn't have been done as the norm back when vinyl was the best sounding format available, but man, this sure makes a good case for how much better digital is.

I wonder if they'll ever release the non-limited masters digitally. Paul McCartney has been very kind in making them available for his remastered albums, but the company seems either to have a plan for making as much money out of these Beatles albums as possible by spacing out releases on different formats, or they don't want people to have a perfect version so they don't take away all reasons to buy the albums again later. Really, I doubt the compression and limiting made much of an audible difference if you were to match levels since it wasn't done to an extreme, there's just a wave of anti-compression sentiment amongst audiophiles due to the loudness wars. What I'd ideally like to see is remixes, whether stereo or surround, from the multi-tracks like they did with the Yellow Submarine Songtrack, which would remove a tape generation and (hopefully) be mixed better than they were in the '60s. That would be a legitimate reason to shell out for them again after the remasters. Of course, there's also a purist, "original is best! All changes are bad!" mentality to be overcome there too, unfortunately.
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Batman321
post Sep 30 2012, 09:25
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QUOTE (_if @ Sep 29 2012, 22:28) *
QUOTE
Having made initial test cuts, Magee pinpointed any sound problems that can occur during playback of vinyl records. To rectify them, changes were made to the remasters with a Digital Audio Workstation. For example, each vinyl album was listened to for any ‘sibilant episodes’ – vocal distortion that can occur on consonant sounds such as S and T. These were corrected by reducing the level in the very small portion of sound causing the undesired effect. Similarly, any likelihood of ‘inner-groove distortion’ was addressed. As the stylus approaches the centre of the record, it is liable to track the groove less accurately. This can affect the high-middle frequencies, producing a ‘mushy’ sound particularly noticeable on vocals. Using what Magee has described as ‘surgical EQ,’ problem frequencies were identified and reduced in level to compensate for this.


This is nice and all and it's too bad it couldn't have been done as the norm back when vinyl was the best sounding format available, but man, this sure makes a good case for how much better digital is.

I wonder if they'll ever release the non-limited masters digitally. Paul McCartney has been very kind in making them available for his remastered albums, but the company seems either to have a plan for making as much money out of these Beatles albums as possible by spacing out releases on different formats, or they don't want people to have a perfect version so they don't take away all reasons to buy the albums again later. Really, I doubt the compression and limiting made much of an audible difference if you were to match levels since it wasn't done to an extreme, there's just a wave of anti-compression sentiment amongst audiophiles due to the loudness wars. What I'd ideally like to see is remixes, whether stereo or surround, from the multi-tracks like they did with the Yellow Submarine Songtrack, which would remove a tape generation and (hopefully) be mixed better than they were in the '60s. That would be a legitimate reason to shell out for them again after the remasters. Of course, there's also a purist, "original is best! All changes are bad!" mentality to be overcome there too, unfortunately.



Remixes!!

That would be a very good reason to buy more Beatles albums.

I'm one of those few herectics who love the 80s digital remixes of Help! and Rubber Soul.

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LithosZA
post Sep 30 2012, 10:26
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Arghh, just release an un-limited/uncompressed version in 44.1Khz/16bit and I would be very happy. All this 'HD audio' crap is getting on my nerves. In my opinion SD <= 44.1Khz and HD is 44.1Khz.

It is a complete waste to go and make vinyls out of the new masters. It doesn't make any sense...
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2Bdecided
post Oct 1 2012, 10:46
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It's nice they aren't including the peak limiting, it's irrelevant (IMO) that it's cut from 24-bits, and it just proves what a nasty format vinyl is that they have to selectively butcher the tracks with EQ to make them play nicely. It's worse than you might think, because they already removed what they considered "excessive" sibilance in 2009, so it sounds like they're having to go further to make nice sounding vinyl.

They did play around with EQ lots in vinyl's heyday to make cutting and tracking easier - but not using DAWs to spot-"correct" difficult moments.


Whether it's the EQ or the peak limiting or the restoration or the tape degradation, the 2009 CD issues don't sound as natural as the original UK vinyl IMO. Take a listen to various comparisons here...
http://beatledrops.com/
(HA TOS compliant - they're only short samples)
...and it seems (to my ears) that (overlooking the obvious vinyl flaws on some of those samples) the modern CDs, and the "highly regarded" MFSL issues have a "processed/EQ'd" sound that is absent from the originals. Though I think the 2009 CDs sound nice, and the new vinyl may sound slightly better or worse. Apart from the tapes ageing, it may sound better than the original vinyl - though will never be worth as much wink.gif Finding original vinyl that plays well is as much of a challenge as affording it - though early 1970s pressings are much cheaper and sound about as good to my ears.


What you can clearly hear on the 2009 CDs (and on the original vinyl, but to a lesser extent) is that this is pop music and is recorded as pop music. George Martin was quite capable of producing exquisite "audiophile" style recordings at Abbey Road in the 1960s - before, during and after the time he was working with The Beatles. But when recording The Beatles, he took a different approach - he and his engineers were trying to produce loud punchy recordings, and a sound that tried to compete with the pop productions that came out of America. He was also having to do a lot of "processing" (overdubbing, tape loops, etc etc) on primitive equipment. The result is (intentionally?) grungy - and would have been far more so on typical 1960s replay equipment. Sometimes it sounds distorted or distant, like a badly copied tape. Whereas listen to the flip side of Yellow Submarine - recorded as "classical" music - very few tape faults there.

He and his team did keep very high engineering standards, except on the last two albums, where his absence (LIB) and new equipment (AR) means they're even further away from "audiophile" quality.

IMO the "hissy" nature of 50 year old audio tape isn't really a block to enjoying audiophile-level sound reproduction - it's how well the original recordings were made, how well they've survived, and how well they're remastered that determines whether they still sound great today.
Earliest "stunning" stereo recording I have...
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Jump-For-Joy-Peggy.../dp/B002BEXED8/
...plenty of tape hiss in some tracks, and some strange microphone positioning on others, but still quite amazing.

Other George Martin recordings show none of the "grunginess" that plagues some Beatles tracks - when he was recording Jazz or Comedy he created recordings that sound about as good as they could. In the same years that he recorded "lo-fi" Beatles, tracks, he gave a very "Hi-Fi" treatment to The Temperance Seven and Peter Sellers etc.

In short, I don't accept that old recording have to sound bad, and I suspect some of the "badness" of the Beatles recordings is intentional.

Cheers,
David.

P.S. Yes, remixes please. Before the tapes have rotted further (though I believe they have 24/96 digital copies of all the multitracks), and before I'm too old to appreciate them. It's very strange that we have 1988 mixes of Help and Rubber Soul, but 1960s mixes of everything else as the "official" versions - H + RS weren't the worst mixes, and aren't really better in their 1988 incarnation.
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derty2
post Oct 1 2012, 20:01
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To remix or not to remix classic albums - An interview with Steven Wilson (audio engineer and musician):
QUOTE
What’s been particularly noteworthy about Wilson’s solo career is its synergy with his remix work on the King Crimson catalog . . . “I don’t understand people who make these rules for themselves,” Wilson concludes. “I’ve had people come up to me and say, ‘You shouldn’t remix albums; you shouldn’t tamper.’ ‘Uh, okay, why exactly?’ The answer: ‘Because that was the way they [the artists] intended it.’ No, actually; if you talk to Robert Fripp, you’ll see that a lot of those [King Crimson] records were mixed under duress, under time constraints and under financial constraints, with all kinds of inter-band politics going on. So they were never mixed the way they wanted, and now they are. People said that about [Jethro Tull's] Aqualung (Chrysalis, 1971), and I found that what was on the tapes sounded very good. I think that one of the great things about that particular mix is that it proves that what they recorded in the studio was very good, it was just the mix that had gone wrong. And you can do a lot now; you can do so much with modern technology to make things sparkle. I’d love to do Soft Machine’s Third (Columbia, 1970).”


Read the full article here (allaboutjazz.com)
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RonaldDumsfeld
post Oct 1 2012, 23:13
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Looking forward to hearing the mono versions when they become available.

Although I suspect they will be priced outside my range unfortunately.
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_if
post Oct 2 2012, 06:37
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QUOTE (RonaldDumsfeld @ Oct 1 2012, 18:13) *
Looking forward to hearing the mono versions when they become available.

But the mono CDs had no compression or limiting done to them. Any record release made from those remasters as a starting point is going to just be trying to sound like they already do on CD.

QUOTE (2Bdecided @ Oct 1 2012, 05:46) *
...and it seems (to my ears) that (overlooking the obvious vinyl flaws on some of those samples) the modern CDs, and the "highly regarded" MFSL issues have a "processed/EQ'd" sound that is absent from the originals.

Don't you think though since both the MFSL and 2009 remasters were done from the original tapes that it's the original releases that are actually the inaccurate ones? You may think they sound better, but that doesn't mean they're more faithful.

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greynol
post Oct 2 2012, 07:13
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Are you suggesting that MSFL doesn't apply EQ to the titles they remaster? I make no claims about being an authority on the subject, but if your answer is yes then reading this sentiment would be a first for me. My general experience with their releases is that the midrange has been sucked out of them.

This post has been edited by greynol: Oct 2 2012, 07:23


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_if
post Oct 2 2012, 08:27
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I trust the new remasters weren't batch-processed with EQ applied to entire tracks. If 2Bdecided thinks both sets sound wrong, that might be an indication it's the original issues, which likely had less quality control and possibly an extra tape generation, are the less accurate ones. I didn't invest much time in comparing on Beatledrops, but I checked "With a Little Help From My Friends" and thought the 2009 CD sounded pretty similar to the original UK, with the MFSL indeed sounding like the treble was enhanced. But we can't be sure he has a completely tonally neutral signal path that isn't brightening up all recordings. I have read others say MFSL releases are brighter though.

But I have noticed people tend to give MFSL a worse rap than they deserve. I have no conclusive knowledge of whether or not how much they process their releases, but specifically, I was reading on the Steve Hoffman forums people's opinions of the best-sounding releases of Pink Floyd albums on CD. In the case of Dark Side of the Moon and The Wall, the general consensus was that their original CD issues sounded the best and the MFSLs were inferior to the 1982 Japanese "Black Triangle" DSOTM and whoever put out The Wall first before the remasters, I don't remember. I tracked down all four of these to A/B compare and my ears' findings were that the supposed Holy Grail that is the original Japanese sounded a bit duller (not that you'd really notice without listening back-to-back). That may be because MFSL equalized it, or it could because the Japanese one was taken from a copy instead of the original master. The difference wasn't huge so my bet is on option B. People said MFSL compressed DSOTM, which inspection and comparison of the waveform showed fairly surely they had not. Basically the same situation with The Wall too, so I'm guessing these kind of statements originate from before it was easy to rip two CDs and compare them without the delay of switching discs and find out how they really sound next to each other. Not to lump 2Bdecided or you, greynol, in with the Steve Hoffman people, but as I said, if both the MFSL issue and the new masters seem to sound unnatural and we pretty much know this latest remastering didn't make any radical changes, I can't feel totally confident but it's fairly reasonable to assume the original release is inaccurate, even if it is aurally pleasing inaccuracy.

Sorry if that's too off-topic. I contemplated deleting that paragraph before deciding maybe someone would have something useful to add.
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2Bdecided
post Oct 2 2012, 09:27
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I'm only judging from the Beetledrops website - I don't own any Beatles MFSL vinyl myself. What I hear is bass and treble boosted - and that's compared to virtually every other release.

You could argue various UK vinyl issues were a little bass light for modern tastes, and some later ones had the treble boosted. But there's no release anywhere that has the same EQ as the MFSL vinyl.

I know it's the job of a mastering engineer to make the final result sound good - few mastering engineers make a flat transfer of the studio tape - if they did, they would be out of a job. It just sounds to me like MFSL is out on its own in its approach.

I don't have any axe to grind. I'm quite happy listening to the 2009 CDs - it's lovely to not have to listen to vinyl faults - I was just indulging.

EDIT: but since you mentioned SHF...
http://www.stevehoffman.tv/forums/showthre...ht=#post8116030

...I love the vitriol over there that they dared to use 24/192 digital sampling in the mastering rather than an all analogue mastering chain.

Cheers,
David.

This post has been edited by 2Bdecided: Oct 2 2012, 10:07
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