Mastering Quality

Mastering Quality

Postby Dorian » Mon Aug 07, 2017 7:22 pm

My system is dialed in right now and sounding really good. It is more revealing than ever, and I am really noticing the difference in sound quality between excellently mastered albums and those that are not. In fact I put on a new rock record today (Bernard Fanning - Brutal Dawn) and had to turn it off after a few songs as the sound was so grating - blurry and indistinct instruments and vocals and a general harshness to it. I then put on Dire Straits Communique, the excellent Warner pressing from 2009, and just marveled at the superior sound. Another example was an 80s pressing of an Iron Maiden album which I then followed with the new pressing of their recent album Final Frontier. The 80s cut sounded superbly airy and detailed; the new one sounded compressed and lacking in dynamics.

I guess I better just stop buying any new vinyl that isn't analog-sourced or at least excellently mastered from digital?
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Re: Mastering Quality

Postby mreeter » Tue Aug 08, 2017 7:57 am

Mark Knopfler and Company have mastered the art of "Digital Mastering". Brothers in Arms was a Digital Master. But, most others pale in comparison.

Pick up a new copy of Marks "Tracker" an excellent effort with sublime sonics, Knopflers perfection certainly shows.
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Re: Mastering Quality

Postby tom collins » Tue Aug 08, 2017 9:59 am

a couple of observations about reissues. first, the engineer can only work with what is there. many albums were originally recorded in a sloppy manner, particularly rock of that era. second, the tapes may have degraded so that when the reissue is made, the quality is not what it once was. back in the day, many studios did not give much thought to careful storage. in fact, i doubt this vinyl revival never occurred in wildest dreams. third, about the only thing you can guarantee when getting a reissue is a quieter surface. i have heard many originals that sound far better than remasters. usually the biggest difference is in the life and body areas, more vivid, more there in spite of a few pops and clicks. i have an original of the wall that kills. dynamics are off the charts. i have found many reissues to be compressed sounding next to a good original. i am not saying don't try them, just don't assume that because you paid a lot of money, they are automatically going to be better.
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Re: Mastering Quality

Postby TomD » Tue Aug 08, 2017 10:05 am

I usually check out the Steve Hoffman forums before buying vinyl re-issues or new releases. Most titles will have a thread where people discuss quality of pressing, mastering, etc. Other threads will have information on the best quality versions of popular titles from the 60s, 70s and 80s.
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Re: Mastering Quality

Postby Dorian » Tue Aug 08, 2017 10:21 am

TomD wrote:I usually check out the Steve Hoffman forums before buying vinyl re-issues or new releases. Most titles will have a thread where people discuss quality of pressing, mastering, etc. Other threads will have information on the best quality versions of popular titles from the 60s, 70s and 80s.

Yes I do the same. I guess I am just venting, wishing that all albums would sound as good as my best-sounding ones! One can dream...
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Re: Mastering Quality

Postby Dorian » Tue Aug 08, 2017 10:21 am

mreeter wrote:Mark Knopfler and Company have mastered the art of "Digital Mastering". Brothers in Arms was a Digital Master. But, most others pale in comparison.

Pick up a new copy of Marks "Tracker" an excellent effort with sublime sonics, Knopflers perfection certainly shows.

I will, thanks for the tip.
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Re: Mastering Quality

Postby mreeter » Tue Aug 08, 2017 12:08 pm

Dorian wrote:
mreeter wrote:Mark Knopfler and Company have mastered the art of "Digital Mastering". Brothers in Arms was a Digital Master. But, most others pale in comparison.

Pick up a new copy of Marks "Tracker" an excellent effort with sublime sonics, Knopflers perfection certainly shows.

I will, thanks for the tip.


One of the cuts, "Wherever I Go" is special...https://youtu.be/ZV3_BiWnmvU
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Re: Mastering Quality

Postby babybird » Tue Aug 08, 2017 7:34 pm

Agreed Brothers In Arms sounds great. Just bought Tracker too but have not had the time to clean it and listen but understand it is very good. Buying new records can certainly be hit or miss, for one we rarely know if it was an analog or digital recording and while some, probably very few, digital to analog masters can sound great its still a crap shoot. Reference Recordings does a fabulous job, the 45 RPM Half Speed Masters of Doug MaCloud are nothing short of amazing. Still part of me says it doesn't make sense to buy vinyl from original digital recordings. Just bought Alison Krauss's new album Windy City which was a disappointment at least on vinyl. Its ok but nothing special, and just guessing this was a digital to analog transfer without a lot of effort put into it. Might see if its available as a download and compare.

But to the original post, listening on high end audio systems is somewhat of a mixed blessing. For most of us we become music snobs, in part based upon the quality of the sound and recording. Cutting to the chase on my setup it just isn't fun to listen to poor and mediocre recordings, and on more than one occasion friends have brought some of their music over only to discover this brutal truth themselves. This is true of analog or digital music.
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Re: Mastering Quality

Postby SubVet » Tue Aug 08, 2017 9:02 pm

If it doesn't clearly state it was mastered all analog, then I assume it is from a digital source. Generally I avoid such pressings unless reports indicate they are superior to the CD.

The best pressings of the year for me are Jason Isbell's direct to disc EP "Live From Welcome To 1979" and Gillian Welch's "The Harrow And The Harvest" all analog LP.

I still trying to find out about Neil Young's Hitchhiker. Word is it is mastered by Chris Bellman but no word on the source. Obviously it was originally on tape.
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Re: Mastering Quality

Postby Orchids1 » Wed Aug 09, 2017 10:21 am

The MQA algorithms can be applied to an original master recording to infer (my word) what the live studio performance would have sounded like before the original master was created. The inferred live performance is then remastered using state-of-the-art technology. This eliminates many of the shortcomings of a poor original master recording. While, at present, virtually all MQA encoded/decoded music is digitally rendered for streaming or downloads, MQA has recently adapted its algorithms and associated technology to analogue applications, so that MQA can effectively bypass a poor analogue master and then remaster the inferred live performance to produce high-quality LPs. I don't believe there are any MQA records currently available to the public (although there may be a few), but I've read that commercial distribution is planned to begin soon. Rich
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