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  1. #1

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    Default Are newer CDs better than old ones?

    I know that they're making REMASTERED versions of a lot of old CDs, but are the older CDs of the same quality - in terms of sound quality - as the newer CDs we get today?

    I mean take a Dire Straits CD purchased 10 years ago compared to a brand new Dire Straits CD purchased today - are they of the same sound quality?

    For one, newer CDs seem to sound a lot louder compared to lot of the older CDs I have. Of course this is no indication of the sound quality of the CD or the mastering process.

    And, do REMASTERED CDs sound better?

    I wonder if anyone has an CD purchased several years ago and the same album purchased recently - it would be great if they could share their thoughts on any difference in sound quality.
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  2. #2

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    I've wondered that too and I'm interested in what people have to say about this.

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    You are spot on with the louder calling. I read an article in wired not too long ago talking about how they are digitally making the albums louder and thus everything starts to mesh together to form a "mush" for music. Definantly the opposite of what I want

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    I think on some CD's, depending on label, studio, and who did the remastering, there is a significant difference. The Led Zepplin remastered CD's are ones where I hear a very nice difference. The Bruce Springsteen remastered Born to Run CD still sucks after being remastered, the MasterSound CD is the only good one of this CD. The Rhino label remasters are on average pretty nice improvements. I'm currently listening to a remastered release of a Chicago CD (the 2nd album I believe, I loose track!) on the Rhino label and it is excellent. I have a remastered import CD of Golden Earring's Grab it for a Second that is also excellent. I find a lot of cool remastered CD's while I am in the UK on business! So I don't think it is a definite rule that the remasters are better, however more times than not I have found them to be better. The thing I like about my Jolida CDP is that it tends to make even crappy CD's at least listenable :D
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    It's all a crap shoot. Many of the very early cd's were marched out to market without proper mastering and taken from other than original masters. The demand was very high to get the product out. I honestly can't say anything more than generally speaking.

    I've heard many remasters that were different but not nec better. I've also heard some remasters that are phenominal compared to the originals. AC/DC and Van Halen come to mind. Most of the original Zeppelin cd's weren't even mastered from the original masters they were mastered from 2nd and 3rd generation (copies). When Jimmy went back and remastered them 3 different times :D he got it done right. He wasn't even involved with the original transfers to cd that came out.

    I've also heard and somewhat agree many of the original German Polydor Jimi Hendrix cd's released in the late 80's before the Hendrix estate got the rights to his catalog are much better sounding than the Experience Hendrix releases

    A very loose rule of thumb is generally the remaster is going to be better, but perhaps not completely better.

    I've heard a startling improvement in cd's like Frampton Comes Alive, UFO-Strangers in the Night, AC/DC and Van Halen. These are just off the top of my head.

    H9
    "Appreciation of audio is a completely subjective human experience. Measurements can provide a measure of insight, but are no substitute for human judgment. Why are we looking to reduce a subjective experience to objective criteria anyway? The subtleties of music and audio reproduction are for those who appreciate it. Differentiation by numbers is for those who do not".--Nelson Pass

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    Quote Originally Posted by crazy
    but are the older CDs of the same quality - in terms of sound quality - as the newer CDs we get today?
    NO.....the music business as a whole don't care about quality, just how loud they make the cd. There are always exceptions and it takes work, like trial and error, to get the ones that sound still sound good.

    So many cd's now days are crap when it comes to recording technique and mastering.
    "Appreciation of audio is a completely subjective human experience. Measurements can provide a measure of insight, but are no substitute for human judgment. Why are we looking to reduce a subjective experience to objective criteria anyway? The subtleties of music and audio reproduction are for those who appreciate it. Differentiation by numbers is for those who do not".--Nelson Pass

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    I know a lot of the stuff I got back in 1985 was crap. Selection was poor, and many were unretouched for cd format, meaning you got a lot of resolution where you didn't want it. Every bit of master tape noise came through loud and clear.
    Some of my older cd's WILL NOT play properly on some cd players. Pioneer Elite stuff would get about 2 tracks in on Robin Trower's Bridge of Sighs or Elton John's Yellow Brick Road and start skipping around. These are scratch free, and play on most other equipment other than Pioneer. Newer cd's had no problems with the Pioneers.

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    H9 - +1 on UFO Strangers in the Night - very nice job on that one! Depending on your taste in music, you can also look for labels that are doing a good job. Alligator Records generally have very good mastering, at least to my ears. Rhino as previously mentioned seems to be on the ball. The Dire Straits remasters are very good, and Mark Knopler's CD's tend to be well mastered, however we come to his latest one and I didn't think it was done well at all! I guess that's what the used CD stores are for, so I can dump the CD's I don't like or the mastering sounds like crap!
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    Quote Originally Posted by sucks2beme
    I know a lot of the stuff I got back in 1985 was crap. Selection was poor, and many were unretouched for cd format, meaning you got a lot of resolution where you didn't want it. Every bit of master tape noise came through loud and clear.
    Ditto that! With the exception of the original Dire Straits BIA. That disc was great from the go! It was the best selling CD release at the time because of the great sound when compared to some of the rush to market CDs. The early ones were not mastered for the CD source. A lot of the new release have done much better in the mastering. Studios are mindful of what there prodcut can sound like in a bad digital domain. New mastering can be quite good. As for some of the music out there, yuk!
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    The older tape masters were really great but the first few generations of digital masters sucked. Recently they seem to be getting much better. As far as getting it on cd, I'm guessing it mostly depends on technique of the transfer and the master quality.
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    Generally, the CDs with mass market appeal (R&B, rock, pop, etc.) are not well mastered, no matter when they were made. IMO, if you wanna hear well mastered CDs, you gotta listen to classical or jazz.

    When I first got into audio, I ditched most of my popular music because it didn't sound very well and I got into jazz (I used to dislike jazz) because the better my gear got, the worse those highly commercial CDs sounded.

    I will say, however, that a lot depends on the skill of the guy who does the remastering. I have a jazz CD that I use as my reference; it was recorded in the early 1960's, but it sounds better than nearly all of my other CDs.

  12. #12

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    I find the effects used on a lot of modern music to be exceptionally poor quality and annoying. Many of my CD's which I used to like when I had a lesser system now sound like crap because instead of an effect actually sounding as it should I can hear what it really is. Often times I hear it switched in, noise around it and then hear it switched off. Sooooo anoying...
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    As another example, I have 2 cd's by a female singer songwriter that I first heard on NPR (National Public Radio) her name is Erin Mckeown. She is a young very talented musician whose style is hard to define. She has sort of a folksy pop and quirky folk sound. Rather than being of derivative of roots music, bluegrass, country blues, and folk, McKeown distills these genres. She melted down these styles, incorporated the spirit of them, and came up with her own voice. They reach back into remote, rustic regions for sounds and ideas. McKeown is a mirror that reflects it all in new form. The Virginia native comes up with a sound that is part gypsy jazz, part blues, part folk-pop.

    Point being her music is best when recorded and mastered properly, it really enhances the experience. Her last cd We Will Become Like Birds retains her melting pot style but the recording/mastering leaves a lot to be desired compared to her previous release Grand. Grand was exquisetly recorded and sounds absolutely, well............grand. One of my favorite recordings.

    So my point to this long rambling post is even theough the music style is the same and for the most part the players are the same the 2 cd's couldn't sound more different. They really eff'd up her last release. These cd's are not marketed as mass-market releases. Who knows maybe they ran out of money to do it right.

    H9
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  14. #14

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    Some of my best recordings are from starving artists who went to their local recording studio (i.e., somebody's basement -- OK maybe that's a slight exaggeration) and pumped out a CD. Surprisingly, these CDs sound at least as good, but mostly better than nearly all of my CDs that have been produced by the big music conglomerates.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Early B.
    Some of my best recordings are from starving artists who went to their local recording studio (i.e., somebody's basement -- OK maybe that's a slight exaggeration) and pumped out a CD. Surprisingly, these CDs sound at least as good, but mostly better than nearly all of my CDs that have been produced by the big music conglomerates.
    Agreed. They don't have big name labels and producers in there trying to 'eff up the sound. That's why I was so suprised with Erin Mckeown's latest cd.
    "Appreciation of audio is a completely subjective human experience. Measurements can provide a measure of insight, but are no substitute for human judgment. Why are we looking to reduce a subjective experience to objective criteria anyway? The subtleties of music and audio reproduction are for those who appreciate it. Differentiation by numbers is for those who do not".--Nelson Pass

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  16. #16

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    It's still mixed up. Some are outstanding while other sucks ass. I have a few excellent recordings from the mid 90's.

    Early,
    I agree. Very good point.
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    Quote Originally Posted by schwarcw
    Ditto that! With the exception of the original Dire Straits BIA. That disc was great from the go! It was the best selling CD release at the time because of the great sound when compared to some of the rush to market CDs. The early ones were not mastered for the CD source. A lot of the new release have done much better in the mastering. Studios are mindful of what there prodcut can sound like in a bad digital domain. New mastering can be quite good. As for some of the music out there, yuk!

    I definitely agree with Brothers In Arms. I always remember it as being one of the best sounding discs that I ever purchased way back then, especially for "popular" music. Im still trying to get my sda2as to sound as good as I remember they did when I first played that album on them. Unfortunately due to room acoustics after 2 moves, I dont think it will happen for quite sometime. I doubt my neighbors (livin in a large house converted into a duplex) would want me to anyway.
    Last edited by Sweeeezle; 06-10-2006 at 06:17 AM.

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    Sounds perfect for the iPod generation which doesnt care about sound quality...just quantity. ;) Was that harsh? lol

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    I think they've gotten better except for the high levels which crush dynamic range. Some are still bad, but it's happening less often. Kelly Clarkson's latest is all over the map; the first song sounds like it was recorded from a.m. radio to a cassette tape recorder and then burnt on a CD, but others sound much better...wierd

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    Quote Originally Posted by avguytx
    Sounds perfect for the iPod generation which doesnt care about sound quality...just quantity. ;) Was that harsh? lol
    Maybe in 10 years, the iPod will be hated by audiophiles as much as bose;).
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    Quote Originally Posted by organ
    Maybe in 10 years, the iPod will be hated by audiophiles as much as bose;).
    Uhhhh.....most if not all audiophiles already hate the iPod and the compression associated with Mp3's. They have their place, but not in a sentence using the word Audiophile. ;)

    H9
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    With the exception of the original Dire Straits BIA. That disc was great from the go!
    I always thought BIA was one of the better recordings released on redbook until I heard it on SACD. Now, I know it really is a great recording.



    Many of my CD's which I used to like when I had a lesser system now sound like crap because instead of an effect actually sounding as it should I can hear what it really is. Often times I hear it switched in, noise around it and then hear it switched off. Sooooo anoying...
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    what about the sacd remasterd version of war of the worlds. i am guessing that they had the origonal tapes? has aneyone heard the SACD version i might get one, i have heard its good but ??????
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    Great info on recording methods. Thanks!

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    i like listening to pink floyd and dark side of the moon i think that that is well masterd and recordrd. wasnt most or all of the origonal made at abby road studios
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    Quote Originally Posted by heiney9
    Uhhhh.....most if not all audiophiles already hate the iPod and the compression associated with Mp3's. They have their place, but not in a sentence using the word Audiophile. ;)

    H9
    True that.
    The thought of our future audio software is kinda gloomy for me when I think about it. I want cd's to stay. Don't want compressed music stored in a chip.
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    Well, my most recent music purchases have been great so far. Got a whole bunch of classical stuff and even black metal and the recordings are superb.

    It seems, the major labels are the ones with compression fetish. The smaller labels usually have great sound.
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    I just received a remastered version of Ten Years After's "A Space In Time" and it sounds fantastic. I also recently acquired remastered copies of AC/DC's "Powerage" and "Got Blood If You Want It" and both recordings sound considerably better than previous releases.

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    I think it's safe to say that a lot (mind you, not all) of new CDs are utilizing the amazing technology to come up with better quality recording and mastering.
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    Quote Originally Posted by crazy
    I think it's safe to say that a lot (mind you, not all) of new CDs are utilizing the amazing technology to come up with better quality recording and mastering.
    Uhmmm no. New cd's are not using new technology. Most if not all cd's mentioned in this thread are over 15 years old (recording). Most newer cd's sound like ass.
    "Appreciation of audio is a completely subjective human experience. Measurements can provide a measure of insight, but are no substitute for human judgment. Why are we looking to reduce a subjective experience to objective criteria anyway? The subtleties of music and audio reproduction are for those who appreciate it. Differentiation by numbers is for those who do not".--Nelson Pass

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