I have 85 Jimi Hendrix CDs, all legitimate Polydors, Warner Brothers and MCAs. I started collecting Hendrix CDs the day after Sept. 11th, 2001, the day of the now infamous terrorist attacks on the US. I decided to collect Hendrix CDs because I felt that our country was in jeopaardy and I wanted to preserve a unique part of our cultural heritage. I chose to collect Hendrix because I felt that his body of work uniquely represented my generation, and I wanted to collect his CDs to peserve that unique part of Americana. (I know how silly that sounds now.)
At first I bought every sngle current release of Hendrix's catalog that Experience Hendrix had Eddie Kramer remaster for MCA. This was very easy and cheap, there are only about 16 titles plus The Purple Box. After that I had read that the Joe Gastwirt remasters were superior sonically, so I bought the entire Mankowitz collection on the MCA label from 1993. After that I was fortunate enough to meet a girl that had over 650 Hendrix CDs, and all of them were legit Polydors etc. So she schooled me as to the various differences and variations of Hendrix on Polydor and Warner, and I started buying some old Polydors and Warners. I got over 120 Hendrix CDs before I decided to sell off a few.
Well I can safely say that my Hendrix collection has taught me a little about the sonic differences between the different releases of his catalog. Here is a short list of the best to worse releases of Hendrix material on CD.
1. Japanese Polydor P20P series. Any Hendrix CD on this series will sound phenomenal, with a great detail and clean un-distorted sound stage.
2. Japanese Polydor P33P series. This series of CDs is all most identical to the P20P series except it is not audiophile grade, it is consumer grade.
3. West German Polydor. Excellent sonics and clean detail, second only to a good Japanese Polydor.
4. US Warner Brothers. These generally used the same master tapes as the Polydors, but the manufacturing quality was not as high.
5. The 1993 MCA remasters. These are a little warm and less detailed than the older Warner Brothers, but these are quite good sounding. These feature odd cover artwork done by Mankowitz, and are thus commonly referred to as the Mankowitz remasters even though the engineer was Joe Gastwirt.
6. The new Experience Hendrix remasters. These are by far the worse sounding release of Hendrix material ever on CD. These CDs feature an all new remaster done by Eddie Kramer which is maximized and compressed, with too much digital processing of the trebel frequencies. I would avoid these at all cost if I had to listen to a Hendrix album.
So there you go. The opinions expressed in this evaluation are not just mine but are shared by the serious Hendrix collecting community, (which oddly enough is populated with many females that collect as if Hendrix was some kind of Guitar God).
Please feel free to post your thoughts about Hendrix or questions regarding Hendrix on CD.