I finally got my new Bluray/CD copy of Moving Pictures and had a lazy Saturday afternoon to do an informal 'digital death duel' of the CD copies I have.
This is for the 2-channel CD version - not the hirez or multichannel versions.
1) New CD
2) Original Mercury release CD
3) Mobile Fidelity CD
I listened to each disc and took some notes, kept the volume control at the same setting when I switched disc, and sat in the same spot. The volume was set for 'room filling' sound - not reference level, but getting there.
Analog path only from source to my integrated amp - no AVR, no bass management, no AVR with additional D/A, A/D, or DSP alterations.
The new CD is the 'loudest' - easily noticable. Next would be the original Mercury release, with the Mobile Fidelity being last as far as volume/gain in overall sound level.
The new CD is also the 'brightest' - guitar mix and overall treble mix is emphasized. At the volume I set, the new CD mix got to be a tad fatiguing, and on some passages the upper midrange and treble got 'congested'.
The original Mercury CD, when compared to the new CD, had a 'rolled off' sound to the treble, not as fatiguing.
The MF CD had an overall sound feeling that I would describe as 'cooler', but still retained detail. It also had a more integrated feel to all the tracks - as if all were in equal balance.
I then listened to all at soft and 'reference' levels.
I did not like the new CD at reference levels - too fatiguing.
The MF was the most 'crankable' - it kept its sonic balance the best from lows to highs.
Comparing the original Mercury to the MF, the original CD is brighter, but not nearly as bright as the new CD.
I will say that the new CD at lower volumes does reveal tonal 'nuances' that neither the original Mercury or MF CD do -esp on the guitar and synthesizer tracks. If you want to hear every string plucked and how - then the new CD gives you that in spades - but I found that at higher volumes this works against the new CD.
The MF is the most musical when you want to crank it up - I would call it the most equitable mix for the band between bass, drums, and guitars - all tracks are presented well and you can hear/feel the notes.
The new CD in a home rig is very good for lower volumes or if you want to hear buried detail that is there in the original and MF CD but...just...not quite...distinct...enough.
Well - that's my take. Time for a beer!