Thursday, January 10, 2008

Spin the Black Circle

I'm home a lot more, so I find myself making more use of my record collection than in years' past. This morning I put on a record and was blown away by how much more muscular and rich, how 'fat' the sound was than of the CD. I like to have music on when I write, and I like it loud enough to obliterate all other background noise but my own voice and the tapping on the keys (I'm a heavy-fingered typist).

Certain CDs really just sound anemic compared to the original records. There's a valid reason for remastering CDs, one that is beyond making a buck off the consumer for a second (or in many cases with me, a third or a fourth)time or acquiring the special bonus tracks that were deleted from the original albums. If you bought CDs of classic albums when the technology was just starting to take hold, or if even if you bought a recent rerelease of a more obscure album, than you quite likely got a vastly inferior sound product than the original records.

I know this is old news for audiophiles, but I was really struck by the difference when listening today.

Sometimes it isn't just the sound quality that stinks. I've a few CDs where the audio mix is actually different that the original, and that is not usually a good thing. Others have tracks out of order, or worse, track deletions. This things can drive an obsessive like myself bonkers.

Some of the remastering packages have been exceptional. I'm a huge Fates Warning fan, and remasters of those albums (which were quite murky on the initial CD releases) were great. The Cure have done an amazing job by their fans with their remasters, which are filled with rarities and alternate takes and the like.

Some great albums have yet to be remastered; if I could pick anyone out there to be remastered, it would be the Smiths. To my knowledge, the Smiths original CD releases have not been updated sonically. I think they had a Greatest Hits collection that had remastered tracks, but I'm not aware of the albums themselves being remastered--probably due to legal wrangling among the members.

Ah, well. I've still got the vinyl.

No comments: