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Beatles/Neil Young/Prince/U2/Kraftwerk remasters

Discussion in 'Music & Music Streaming Services' started by Gorshin, Jun 17, 2004.

  1. Gorshin

    Gorshin
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    I find it totally ridiculous when the above artists have had their back catalogue released on poor quality cds in the late 80s, but then not remastered at all since then.

    Does anyone know anything about any these important matters? I mean, just releasing the Beatles albums remastered would make EMI an absolute mint. They're fools IMO for not doing this :laugh:

    I saw Q reviewed the Kraftwerk remasters recently, but they're not available, according to Amazon.co.uk at least. I'm absolutely gagging to buy all albums by all of these artists. What the F is going on? :lease:
     
  2. Gorshin

    Gorshin
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    Forgot to add Springsteen to the list
     
  3. Gorshin

    Gorshin
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    Sorry to get anyone's hopes up with the thread title ;-)
     
  4. the_pauley

    the_pauley
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    Too late - you did! Damn your eyes!!!

    ;)

    But yes, what are the companies playing at, especially with The Beatles? Come on EMI. I have all the original CDs and these were a lot better than most CDs released in the 80s as George Martin had remastered them for CD, as opposed to using tapes EQ'd for vinyl, but thse would really benefit from current remastering technology.

    EMI have done this already with HDCD re-masters of The Beach Boys back catalogue which are a sonic revelation, even on non-HDCD equpped machines.

    Sony seem to be remastering (superbly too) every artist in sight incuding many minor cult artists, but no Springsteen, one of their biggest ever acts!

    :confused: :confused: :confused:
     
  5. SOUNDSTYLE

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    Has anyone actually got the remastered Kraftwerk albums.
    I'm thinking of getting them, but can you really hear that much of a difference?
     
  6. tom_nieto

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    I'd like to get the Kraftwerk remasters. I saw them live and their sound is so much better than the CDs! They sound less wierd and more like a dance act. I own Autobahn, Man Machine and Computer World... but remasters would be excellent. Luckily I've got a live recording of them to enjoy ;)
     
  7. SOUNDSTYLE

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    I saw them live in Manchester. They were bloody great. A live DVD of one of their concerts from this years tour is supposed to be released in 5.1
    That will be worth getting.
     
  8. the_pauley

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    Current CD re-mastering is STUNNING. Differences between re-masters and their original CD releases is like day and night in many instances. And we aren't talking subtle only-appreciated-by-the-trained-ear type differences. We're talking major differences - like upgrading your equipment.

    Buy with confidence.
     
  9. tom_nieto

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    I shall be on the lookout for them. I keep meaning to buy music DVDs, that's just added another to my list. I've got to buy Led Zeppelin, DJ Shadow Live @ Brixton and Kraftwerk now :p
     
  10. Gorshin

    Gorshin
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    Like to know how you've heard them, considering they're not released until September :smoke:
     
  11. the_pauley

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    Where did I say I'd heard them mate?

    I'm talking about current CD mastering technology in general. Every single re-master I have bought - and it runs well into four figures - has been a dramatic improvement over the earlier CD versions.

    Don't see any reason why the Kraftwerk reissues should be any exception, do you?
     
  12. clived

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    If they are going to do it, I'd rather have SACD remasters...
     
  13. the_pauley

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    Not worried either way. My CD and 2 channel amplifier have proven more than a match for the multi channel SACD / DVD-A kit I purchased. As long as it's a good re-master from the original studio multi-tracks I'll be happy.

    Don't see why all re-mastered stuff doesn't come out on SACD hybrids anyway. Can still sell to CD buyers and satisfies the SACD punter at the same time. Also unlike DVD-A the format is portable, i.e. it can be played in your car, walkman, bedroom, kitchen, etc. And you don't have to turn on your telly to navigate the disc.

    Also if the format doesn't take off you aren't left with unplayable discs.
     
  14. clived

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    Have you tried listening to stereo SACD against CD on a hybrid disc (assuming your CD player isn't in a different league to your SACD player of course!). I personally REALLY prefer the sound of SACD over CD and DVD-A. Must be that mathematically imperfect DSD encoding or something! :)
     
  15. the_pauley

    the_pauley
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    But the DSD encoding is not the sole domain of SACD. Both the CD and SACD layer use the DSD process.

    And yes I have conducted a lot of testing over the past couple of weeks, using 2 channel as the main test criteria for A-B comparisons.

    I should say straight off that every demo I have had of DVD-A and SACD, before I got my own player, has left me decidedly underwhelmed. I have heard several universal players and several dedicated audio players, including Marantz's new dedicated player, a brand that I rate very highly for digital reproduction.

    However I decided I would not draw any conclusions till I could listen through my kit and do direct A-B comparisons with my CD player. Finally, a few weeks ago I took the plunge and bought a Pioneer 757i Universal player and a Pioneer AX5i AV amp. These were bought for home cinema purposes, but of course the hi-def audio capability was definitely anticipated.

    I have a fair collection of SACDs that I had bought for the re-mastered CD layers, all of which sounded superb. On playing these in the Pioneer deck (connected via the i-link) I was still underwhelmed. Very sweet and clear and smooth, but no more so than on my CD player.

    Listened to a wide range of two and multi channel discs, new and old from Miles Davis and the Stones, through to Nora Jones and The Snow Patrol. Played Diana Krall and Bob Dylan discs with subtle, mainly ambient, 5.1 mixes. The odd discreet tinkling from the rears apart, there was no more of a nice tangible 3D soundstage than one would get with a quality CD player. For the full bells and whistles surround experience I tried "Dark Side of the Moon". Much more obvious surround effects, but in terms of detail and resolution, no more impressive than the CD.

    My Audiolab amplifier was having a new bank of phono sockets fitted at the time, so I decided to reserve judgement until I got it back and could plug the 757i directly into it and do a direct A/B stereo comparison with my Marantz CD player, a Ken Ishiwata customised edition.

    When I got the amp back, myself and two fellow hi-fi anoraks armed with a huge pile of discs, sat down to a few afternoons and evenings of anorakish behaviour. I connected the analogue L-R outputs of the Marantz and the Pioneer into the Audiolab using Audioquest Topaz interconnects, a highly open and revealing cable in my experience.

    Was also able to conduct A-B-C-D comparisons in several cases. Played Bob Dylan's "Blood on the Tracks" and The Stones "Let it Bleed" in original vinyl pressings, original CD versions, remastered CD layers and SACD layers. Between vinyl and original CD it was swings and roundabouts as it always has been, both having their strengths and weaknesses. The big difference came with the next comparison, the remastered CD sound. A revelation, putting both the original CD and vinyl firmly in the shade.

    Vinyl purists can howl all they want in disagreement over this, but the reason is simple. The record companies are, in the main, making these new masters from the original multi track studio master tapes. These tapes contain the pure studio sound. A sound that is inevitably compromised by undergoing several levels of degradation by the very processes of equalization and compression required to make a vinyl disc. Digital discs do not need to go through these stages, so for the first time ever we are able to re-produce this "first generation" sound in the home environment. Even from master tapes over thirty years old!

    However in the next stage, comparing the re-mastered CD layer to the SACD layer, the differences were barely, if at all, noticeable, but every time all three of us listening gave the edge to the CD player in terms of slightly more solidity and a sense of "architecture" to the soundstage. The much touted "sense of involvement" or immersiveness in the sound, attributed to SACD by many contributors to the forums, is nothing new to anyone who has been listening to a well configured CD system of even the most modest audiophile components.

    Bought two DVD Audios specifically for demo purposes, "Yoshimi..." by The Flaming Lips, as it was recorded specifically with the format in mind, and "Pet Sounds" a marvellouslly produced album which I was eager to hear in a 5.1 mix. Both were albums I have on CD and know thoroughly, particularly "Pet Sounds" (original vinyl pressing, DMM vinyl, CD, HDCD re-master, 4 disc box set and now DVD-A - boy do I know that album!).

    The Lips disc was initially the most obvious "wow" inducer, but only for the heavy reliance on surrounds. Again listening in 2 channel, fidelity wise it didn't seem any more revealing or impressive than the CD. Ultimately I grew tired of the constant and distracting sounds whizzing around the room, which seemed gimmicky and ultimately pointless and irritating. The 2 channel mix alowed one to concentrate better on the performance.

    "Pet Sounds" was disappointing as I was expecting to get an insight into the dense production, akin to the revelation of the first stereo mix of the album, but the 5.1 track was mainly subtle ambience and was no more impressive than the superb HDCD remaster.

    So I was left with mixed feelings. Pleased that I could still listen to my CD collection and I wouldn't be dissatisfied in comparison to hi-def, but disappointed in that I was expecting to be wowed by the new formats and wasn't.

    I really wanted to be lifted to the next level in audio. I'm afraid I am the music industry's dream punter. Replaced the bulk of a huge vinyl collection on CD, then replaced a good 1,000+ of those same CDs over the past few years with the current generation of superbly remastered re-issues. so I was quite prepared to be seduced by new sonic heights and start upgrading everything to SACD.

    No need to ...

    :) and at the same time :(
     
  16. clived

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    Just a couple of comments:

    Erm, not really. I think you'll find that the CD layer is using good old PCM still (but you know this already right?). The "DSD process" is end to end - the whole point is that it never get converted to PCM on its way to SACD. Obviously the CD layer does.

    Ok, so in reality your CD player is in a different league to your SACD replay equipment, by which I mean (like most of us I suspect, so I'm not saying your test is invalid) you haven't spent as much on your dedicated SACD playback as you have on your CD playback (once you take out the cost of the DVD, DVD-A, playback from the player)? (I'm assuming here that when you say "customised" you have a CD63KI DP, which is the only production "customised" KI player I'm aware of (with the £1000 of factory copper plating and tube applifaction customisation), rather than "just" a non-customised higher volume "KI SE" machine. Or I guess you might mean you've had whatever the player is clocked or internally modded in some other way - either way round, if you've customised it, you're clearly serious about your CD replay and we're not comparing eggs with eggs).

    Ok, now I'm really curious - which Marantz CD player do you have with HDCD decoding - I only ask as it throws my CD63 KI DP theory out of the window! :)

    And of course, nothing I've said above invalidates anything you've said :) You've clearly gone to a LOT of effort to establish for yourself what differences you can hear in your room with your equipment and I would not presume to argue with that! I'd be genuinely interested to get more details of your system - which Marantz player (is it 16x4 or bitstream), which Audiolab amp, what speakers etc. as on the surface we've done similar tests (although I'd put my hand up and say mine have not been as exhaustive as yours!) and got different results. I still love my recently fully seviced (but un-modded) Marantz CD94 - it's still a fantastically musical player - but it clearly does not have the same level of detail or resolution as even my DVD-2900 on SACD and I find SACD less fatiguing to listen to for long periods. I've used both the Denon AVC-A1SR / B&W combo and my fairly ancient Audiolab 8000A / Monitor Audio 852MD (a magical combination IMHO!) to compare in stereo and I've found the same with each. I'm not saying here that the Denon mulit-player on SACD blows away CD on the Marantz in every department, just that on balance it's my preference.

    And boy, isn't it great to have a decent discussion :)

    On a slightly different note:

    What vinyl were you using for this comparison? I'm by no means a vinyl junkie (I don't even have my Linn plugged in at the moment for domestic reasons!), but again I think it's important to understand what you were comparing here. What was the deck and just importantly, why not try remastered vinyl. I recently bought my father a couple of the Classic Records 200gm "Quinex SV-P" discs (see http://www.classicrecords.com/frame...wsletter/newsletter/newsletter.cfm?Article=84 for more info) - Basie's "Chairman of the Board" and Parson's "I Robot", both of which sound stunning. My point is just that again, we need to be comparing the best that vinyl has to offer if you're using the best the CD has to offer.

    On the subject of the "Classic Records" label, have you heard any of their "HDAD" 24bit / 192khz recordings (basically highest definition DVD-A, but without strictly speaking being a DVD-A disc)? I currently have I Robot and Townshend's "Who came first". The former sounds absolutely sweet as a nut and the latter really shows up the lack of dynamic range of CD / highlights the wide dynamic range of 24bit recording depending on your point of view. If you get a chance to try a HDAD disc, do so!

    Cheers, Clive
     
  17. the_pauley

    the_pauley
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    Yes Clive, of course I am aware that the CD layer ends up as a standard 16-bit, 44.1 kHz (off the top of my head!) PCM layer, but even this, the standard CD layer, still benefits from the DSD re-mastering process.

    To quote the Phillips/Phonogram bumph for the Stones Hybrid releases:

    “The disc actually has two layers. One is a normal CD layer and the other layer is Super Audio CD (SACD) of the same repertoire. Both layers benefit from Direct Stream Digital (DSD) encoding which captures every nuance of the original master tapes.”

    Nowhere did I state that I was playing the “Pet Sounds” CD on a HDCD capable machine. I simply stated that I was impressed by the first stereo mix of the album (only ever available on a HDCD re-mastered disc). As you no doubt know, these discs still sound mighty impressive on non-HDCD capable machines, and blow the earlier CD versions clear out of the water.

    Incidentally I am still searching for that “elusive” HDCD capable Marantz disc spinner. Well anyway according to the HDCD website Marantz make one. Only problem is Marantz's dealers (and Marantz's catalogue) seem to disagree ;)

    The vinyl discs as I stated were original pressings. A 1975 orange-and-black CBS pressing of “Blood On The Tracks” and a 1969 blue Decca pressing (cut out sleeve, poster and all!) of “Let It Bleed”. And yes, they got a fair crack of the whip, on a fairly tasty Michell/Linn/Audio Technica turntable/arm/cartridge combo. But then despite being a hi-fi enthusiast since the days of ye olde big black discs, I was very easily persuaded to the merits of CD over vinyl, even in the dark ages of digital mastering.

    For many years I worked as a musician during which time I did a fair amount of studio work, and my first impression on exposure to early incarnations of CD (with all its flaws) was that it was much closer to what I heard on a studio master tape than what I heard with vinyl. An opinion that many musicians and producers (with the exception of Neil Young!) have expressed, more so with the quality of digital mastering / re-mastering available in the past five years or so.

    The very process of compressing and equalizing a tape for the vinyl stamping master, the process of cutting that master, the characteristics of the cutting lathe and the very medium used to make the master, the manufacturing of a metal stamping “mother”, often used merely to produce copy “mothers” that are then used to stamp the records, and finally the vinyl medium itself, all serve to take the sound of the finished product many leagues away from the sound of the original studio master tapes.

    The resulting veil over the original sound that is produced from this process has become an integral part of the listening experience for the vinyl aficionado (the much touted vinyl “warmth”) so much so that when that veil is stripped away be it by CD, SACD or DVD-A, it can be a disconcerting experience. Music in the raw so to speak. But it wasn’t a big adjustment for me. All I thought was “Ooh! That sounds like a master tape!”

    So as I say, I always was a willing convert that was very easily swayed toward the virtues of digital over analogue.

    Anyway I digress, back to the silver discs…

    My CD player is a Ken Ishiwata Signature version of the Marantz CD6000SE. This is a customised / modified / upgraded / whatever version of a standard CD6000SE, using higher specification components and chassis and coming in at twice the price of the standard model. That’s what I term “customised”. Profuse apologies if I’ve clouded the waters by using inapt terminology.

    This being the case I believe I am comparing “eggs with eggs” as you put it. A £500 CD player and an £800 universal player (allowing the £300 difference for the extra functions) are pretty much in the same ball park. And this is the crux of the matter.

    I have never denied that there were differences between the two, but they were so subtle as to be negligible. And quite often the CD did some things just that tiny bit better. There was some slightly improved top end sweetness on the SACD, but that didn’t make up for the more noticeable sense of architecture to the sound that the Marantz brought to the table. The point I was making was that I expected so much more from the format given its technical spec. I expected a difference akin to hearing properly re-mastered CDs compared to their earlier incarnations.

    When I first compared the 20 bit re-masters of the Capitol Sinatra catalogue to the original CDs I was gobsmacked. When I heard the most recent Columbia CD re-master of “Kind of Blue” in comparison to two early CD releases I had a grin a mile wide across my face. When I first A-B’d the re-mastered CD layer of the “Let It Bleed” Hybrid disc to the original CD issue, my reaction was “Wow!”.

    But when I compared that same re-mastered CD layer to the SACD layer, my reaction, and the reactions of two people listening with me, were along the lines of “Er, is that it?”

    I suppose the best way to put it would be that in a blind listening test you could play me the original release of “Let It Bleed” and its sonic characteristics would be such that I could tell right away that it was the earlier version. But if you were to play me the re-mastered CD version on the Marantz, then switch to the SACD played on the 757i, I couldn’t say with any certainty which was which, because the differences were minimal.

    All I am reporting on is the results of my A-B testing of these two machines; I can do no more and no less. But that does not mean it’s the end of the game for me, not by a long chalk. I am convinced that a universal machine is not the way to go for a fair comparison. The next stage is to compare a similarly spec’d / priced SACD audio only player, unencumbered by the DVD video and audio circuitry in a universal player that must be a detriment to the signal quality.

    But having said that, I had a similar experience when I auditioned a high end Sony SACD (audio only player) against a similarly priced Meridian CD deck. Again, negligible differences, with one neither better nor worse than the other. Just not significantly different. Go figure…

    Believe me I want to be impressed. I don’t relish the prospect of replacing an entire CD collection with SACD, but if I’m suitably impressed I most certainly will.

    That’s what I meant by " :) and yet at the same time :( "
     
  18. clived

    clived
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    First, thanks for clearing up (my) confusion over the Marantz - we're actually on the same page here - i.e. "where is your HDCD player Marantz?!" :) And "modified" or "customised" - just semantics meaning different things to us.

    Beyond that, I'm not in disagreement with you at all. As I said, I was just curious to get some more information on your experiments as it sounded like we were very close in our thinking, just slightly different sides of the line - we both agree the differences are small, that's for sure!

    And just to reitterate, I'm not pushing the "merits" of vinyl either - I absolutely agree with you here - it can sound "lovely" but I don't think it sounds "like the master tape". Of course, that doesn't mean that it can't be a joy to listen to - all depends what aspect of the reproduction floats your boat.

    Maybe our collective experience is that the real benefit of SACD is that if you want a CD sized disc, that will play on your normal CD player, but that can also deliver mutli-channel music, if that's your thing, here is a disc that can do it whilst sounding at least no worse than a well mastered CD?

    By the way, thanks for that all-so-rare thing on an internet forum - an informed and insult free discussion! Make sure you let us know if you get to do the dedicated SACD player comparison.

    Clive
     
  19. Kenny Glasgow

    Kenny Glasgow
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    The Stones and the Dylan hybrids are great examples of what good mastering of plain old CD can achieve. About 18 months agao I conducted a similar excercise, the results were posted on the old TAG forum. There was a difference on the Stones hybrids but not much.

    The Peter Gabriel hybrids are also worth buying for the CD layer but, in my opinion, the SACD creams it!

    Pet Sounds on DVD-A is a strange one as the mix is unique. If you can be bothered to play around with your speaker settings it can sound wonderful. DVD-A in my experience is not as good as SACd but then it may be different on different systems. Best DVD-A's I have are Porcupine Tree - In Abstentia and Jeff Trott - Dig Up The Astroturf.
     

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