Discussion in 'Music & Music Streaming Services' started by cbeckerson, Dec 25, 2011.
What is remastering?
At a minimum it means taking the maters of separate tracks and remixing them and I suspect it often involves a lot more, e.g. bringing out detail in old recordings before mixing. I'm not in the music business so there is probably a lot more that I don't know about.
Wikipedia - Audio Mastering
Wikipedia - Remaster
Should give the OP some background to what it is all about
Remastering often means a very different thing these days, particularly with re-releases of 'classics'. See "the loudness war" video on YouTube which succinctly explains it all
Re-mastering originally meant taking either a) the original master tapes and mastering them in a different (hopefully better) way, often 'cleaning up' the sound, improving areas where the original production was supposed to have fallen down, or b) taking an available master and sprinkling some mastering fairy dust on it to hopefully improve on the original.
Problems that remastering looked to redress were: over-bright recordings (more common in the 80's), not enough high frequency detail, murky recordings (poor everything!) recessed treble (murky, but still clear bass and midband), poor separation, poor stereo image, recessed midband (poor vocal), indistinct high frequency detail (the motorcycle effect on Bat out of Hell is a prime example of this) etc.
Sadly, remastering has now become a byword for simply 'adding loudness' to original recordings resulting in hideously compressed re-masters that while sounding initially 'impressive', due in no small part to HF distortion, are in fact dismal even when compared to original CD pressings.
Bear in mind not all remasters, even when done by the 'established experts' such as Mobile Fidelity, Audio Fidelity (usually remastered by Steve Hoffman), Nimbus, Nautilus are as good as they are cracked up to be. However, in particular Nimbus and Mobile Fidelity, if they get it right, it often really is the best you can get.
There are many other remastering 'houses' such as Rhino, Friday Music, Analogue Productions, Simply Vinyl, Quiex (their Classic records series are generally acknowledged as the best copies of the albums you can get), DCC (their CD version of Joni Mitchell's Blue is superb, their vinyl version of the Doors, S/T is probably the best there is), Speakers Corner and so on.
Finally, as above the idea of remastering 'was' to try and do a 'better' version of the original production(s). This however, is highly subjective. Not everyone thinks a remaster is always better than the original, from personal listening, they often aren't, and that's without taking the modern compressed re-masters into account. That doesn't mean (an uncompressed) remaster is 'bad', although MF's hideous butchering of Don Mclean's American Pie certainly is, it just means the engineers idea of what sounds 'better' is not necessarily yours.
Finally, finally, an engineer who remasters is up against several factors, including the above, in trying to produce a decent remaster, and the worst of these is the condition and engineered quality of the original master. If the Master Tape (or disc today) is in poor condition it takes a stroke of genius to repair that sonic damage, not least because that means tampering with the sound. With a poor recording there is literally nothing you can do, and this in particular makes me laugh when people claim they can hear things they 'didn't hear before' from 5.1 re-masters done from known crap Masters. Sorry, if it's not there on the original master, it's not there - period. Your ears are lying to you.
A happy Xmas and New Year to you too Cbeckerson!
That's an informative post overkill. As you say though before we even get into the territory of modern fads (for want of a better phrase), the personal preference and competence of the original sound engineer and mixer is a whole topic unto itself
Just to play 's advocate
Indeed it is Steven. Over at the 'hoffers' site they have spent many threads discussing to death that very issue in much more depth than I, or I suspect many here could be bothered with.
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