Classic rock: best remasters


For rock fans just curious what remasters, recent or otherwise, were a quantum leap over the original vinyl or compact disc release. On the flip side, any original CD releases that are still competitive? Not interested in imports, SACD, etc. Thanks rockers!
phasecorrect
Recent masters of The Doors catalog.
Generally speaking re-masters suck. Especially if you're talking about an all analogue recording.
The Audio Fidelity (AFZLP 112) vinyl remaster of Ten Year's After's A Space in Time is simply stunning. Looks to be sold out everywhere, but I cannot recommend more highly that you try to find a copy.
For CDs, most of the time I prefer releases from Mobile Fidelity and Audio Fidelity. Many no longer produced, expensive, and sometimes only available used, but worth it to me. Also ones mastered by Bob Irwin or Steve Hoffman.
The Stevie Ray Vaughan box set from Analogue Productions is fantastic.
Also...not interested in premium Mofi, etc releases...standard domestic release that the was an upgrade.For instance, Aqualung 40th remix/remaster.
According to the official dynamic range data base a great deal of the reissues of classic rock recordings are aggressively compressed.
I have been moving from remasters back to originals. I'm referring mostly to the Genesis catalogue. Their "Definitive Edition Remasters" are no where near as good as the originals in my opinion. The questions is, how does one know which release is best? You have Japanese, Canadian, etc., along with different years. Anyone have any thoughts?
Led Zeppelin remaster coming out now
Assuming for a moment that reissues are intended by the record companies to actually make money, not to sell to audiophiles, reissues will be more and more dynamically compressed so they can up the level. This way the sound is more appealing, I.e., louder, to those folks with earphones and iPods, things of that nature.
True, there are some remaster recordings where compression has been overly abused...but the tradeoffs in improved clarity, transparency, and overall fidelity is hard to ignore when done right...I have very few CDs from the 80s for this reason...that being said...it largely rests on the quality of the recording to begin with...
"According to the official dynamic range data base a great deal of the reissues of classic rock recordings are aggressively compressed. "

That may well be the case, but I agree with Phasecorrect. The dynamic range as quantified there is relevant and interesting especially for noting trends in re-issues, etc. over the years but if you actually listen to the recordings listed ON A GOOD SYSTEM, that one metric falls far short from telling the whole story in regards to sound quality of recordings and how various ones differ.

In general, I've found recordings with traditional good dynamic range to be very enjoyable, but for certain kinds of music, like pop/rock in particular, the importance of dynamic range alone is less. There are many other things in a recording that might be emphasized differently as well, for better or for worse. Its like an artist attempting to perform an enjoyable cover of a standard. It might work or not, depending on the skills of the performers, or in teh case of a remaster, the engineers.

I have some of the worst rated CDs most highly compressed CDs in teh Dynamic Range DB, like Metallica's Death Magnetic.

Assuming one might like this recording to start with, I find it a useful test recording. The boundary between delivering the music as recorded well with or without earbleed is a very fine one. For example, I found that changing power cords on my amp and pre-amp alone made the difference. Whereas with many recordings, the cords might sound different, but not enough to make or break the deal. There are some very good tracks on this CD, but an audiophile might not ever be able to discover or enjoy them without having to go that extra mile to get things just right without negatively impacting all the rest. Its a very rewarding feeling for me when there is potential to enjoy almost any recording regardless of how it is recorded. To me thats what its all about, being able to enjoy all "good" music, not just the ones produced the way I might prefer or like.
Mapman, nobody is saying dynamic range is the only audio parameter worth mentionng, but if it ain't dynamic I ain't interested. I can listen to the radio if I want to listen to dynamically compressed music. The last two Stones albums and the last couple Dylan albums are excellent examples, falling way into the RED on the dynamic range data base. As I said, kids love the compressed stuff, it's nice and loud. ;-)
It's true that is where the biggest market is these days but I think it mostly impacts newer pop recordings targeting the mass market.

Still better probably than what I remember hearing coming out of my AM radio which was the closest equivalent back in the day.

Its always a mixed bag, and the nature of the mix changes over time.
I think the Steven Wilson (Porcupine Tree) produced remasters are excellent especially the 40th anniversary edition of Aqualung. He also did the ELP catalog, but I have not heard them. I need to be enticed with extra goodies to buy another edition of a cd I already have. My favorite "deluxe" editions include a second disc of out takes or better yet, a live concert. Clapton has a few, Traffic's "John Barleycorn" is a good one. I am waiting for Supertramps's "Crime of the Century' which was recently released with a 2nd live disc. The original was an excellent recording so I am curious.
Phase: you are limiting the field if we exclude "premium" re-do's (e.g. the SRV set at 45 is just phenomenal). Limited to 'standard' releases, I agree re Steve Wilson's work: his remix of Tull's Benefit is far more coherent than the UK or US first presses (which sound muddy); that Ziggy/Spiders re-do from several years ago is very good compared to the average standard issue (although a UK 6E-4E is still better sounding in my estimation); agree that Space in Time on AF sounds very good, though I didn't have an original pressing to do a direct comparison; there is a Chris Bellman re-cut of Alice Cooper's 'Killer' that was issued in the EU that is very good. Ditto Bellman's re-cut of Harvest- I still prefer the original pressing, but a quiet copy is hard to find and the re-do is a little 'clearer' sounding, compared to the original, which sounds a little congested, though more 'organic.' None of these are particularly expensive. The Zep re-do's are serviceable for those who don't want to spend big money on the right pressings, but they aren't in the same ballpark as the right early pressings. The Beatles Mono releases are great!
I find it oddly amusing there is a resurgence back to first generation CD releases...anybody remember the audiophile community response...in short...not good. Now granted, some of these are youngsters who grew up on MP3, never heard vinyl, and ate being sold on something "uncompressed."However, as others have stated, compression is only one small part of the spectrum.
The first three Led Zep remasters are superior to the original mass produced Atlantic vinyl releases. (LZ IV has just been released).

Pink Floyd 2011 CD remasters; "DSOTM", "Animals", "WYWH" are far superior to the original releases.

Siouxsie & the Banshees 2014 CD remasters are superior to originals.

King Crimson "In the Court," "Red," "Thrak" CDs.

These are cases where a band member was involved in the project.
++ on Lowriders mentions.
"Mapman, nobody is saying dynamic range is the only audio parameter worth mentionng, but if it ain't dynamic I ain't interested."

To each their own. Many probably feel that way.

The problem is that a single dynamic range metric per track or album really only tells part of the story about even the dynamics, ie the overall range.

I find the dynamic range measure useful but not sufficient to tell me what recordings I will find enjoyable or not. It is definitely deficient as an acid test.

That's like saying the only mountains worth climbing are the tallest. They may offer certain thrills not found elsewhere, especially to a professional mountain climber, but there is much more to it than just that in many cases for most folks to enjoy.
Mapman, see what happens when you don't do your homework? The official dynamic range data base provides three (3) dynamic range numbers per album (which are relative numbers for purposes of the data base) - lowest number, average number and highest number. Besides that information it's the overall undeniable conclusion one scan easily see in the data - that the life has been slowly squeezed out of the music going back to at least twenty years ago. Hel-loo!
Mapman, I can agree with you in this way...
The DR Database on some of these new remasters may measure lower DR (or increased compression if you prefer) than their older counterparts.
BUT the new release has been remixed and "opened up" with more air in the recording. There is less noise, better imaging and the advantage of using inline compression to tighten up the drums, for example. Then a new master is made using today's digital specs.

So these disks sound much better overall and dynamic to me. The DR scale is not telling the whole story on a remaster. Of course this only applies when remastering is being done to improve the sound quality, and not when a disk is compressed louder for your Sony earbuds.
it's the overall undeniable conclusion one scan easily see in the data - that the life has been slowly squeezed out of the music going back to at least twenty years ago.

Yes, all recordings today are using more compression when mastering, but there are two subsets of the remasters being released. All of the Pop/Rock/Hip-Hop are going to be measured way into the Red (bad) area of the DR Scale. That's the result of the Loudness Wars.

The 2nd Group of remasters is what the OP asked about; are there better quality CDs/vinyl than the original releases?
The originals will most likely measure in the Green area (Good); but do they sound good? They might have more dynamic range, but original CD SQ sucked (since we are talking about Rock music).

It's only in recent years, the remaster SQ has increased, partly due to new vinyl, also due to the premium Artists knowing they have the tools to release a better product to their fans.
These recordings will also have more compression than the early releases, but they will still not measure as Bad.

As I stated earlier, the studio remix can open up the sound and make it sound dynamic. These albums are in the minority, and great care is taken during the mastering process. Notice that the Mastering Engineer's name is now prominently written into the credits.
On Zep releases early...agree they sound very good...I feel the debut is the most improved...and IV...shall see with upcoming P.Graffiti release...my vinyl copy always impresses me...makes me happy happy! Zep rules!
on new zep releases it seems that sound has been re-processed. still they're not as good as first issue RL sterling ones.
GEoff,

No objections to what anyone looks for in their recordings.

Yes, you are right they give the min, max and mean as I recall. Those are meaningful standard statistics but it cannot be argued that they only tell a very small part of the story and that there is more to what makes a recording enjoyable or not than its overall dynamic range.

For example, it tells you nothing about what to expect in terms of frequency range, transients and detail, just a few of teh other things in the recipe for a good recording.

Czarivey...As much as i'm enjoying the LZ's, lower noise,
better imaging, there is something i notice as well; the
album doesn't sound as organic as original.
RL sterlings carry a premium even in sub standard condition...for those wanting to complete their Zep collection reissues serve purpose...Classic records another option.
There are only two RL Zep records among the original studio albums as far as I know- LZII and HOTH; the latter is not an expensive record, II is tres cher. The Piros re-do's from the 70's are very good, and don't command much of a premium, though condition is always an issue with any old record.
I like some of the UK Deep Purple remasters; especially 'Machine Head.' The original US CD is garbage.
lz IV porky is great too
+1 Czarivey re Porky/Pecko.
Zep II and HOTH are two of the better sounding Zep releases...so I have never persuaded RL pressings...its Zep...it ain't Opera
I have the machine head anniversary ed that the bassist did...including a remix version... Sounds good 2 me...I have orig UK vinyl...never heard WB domestic...tho some like it.
Never encountered a good copy of zep iv...going try remaster
I have the machine head anniversary ed that the bassist did...including a remix version... Sounds good 2 me...I have orig UK vinyl...never heard WB domestic...tho some like it.

That's the one. Both the original WB
CD *and* the original WB (green-label) LP are anemic.
I used to have the CD and now I have the LP thinking
that it was so much better than the WB CD. It's not.
Hold on to that UK LP, it's worth some good coin
now, and will probably go up in value.
Nevertheless, that's the best sounding
copy of 'Machine Head,' LP or CD.
Phasecorrect-

I will concur on The Doors, especially in SACD format. Add the Van Halen remasters as well. In a few weeks I will take possession of the newest Beatles SHM-CDs and am stoked!

Happy Listening!
Already have the Doors remaster.The Talking heads as well sound nice. I'm pretty content with Beatles mono releases from 2009...can't justify paying a premium for essentially the same thing. Although if it was XRCd I might bite.
I've sampled the new Zep IV remaster a bit. On "Battle of Evermore" the overall inherent murkiness of the recording persists but I think the remaster helped clean it up overall somewhat. At least that was my initial impression.
Humble Pie remastered 'Smoking' is very good. The Shm CD is even better.
Anybody who has the chance to compare the remasters on KC's "In the Court of the Crimson King, I urge you you to do so. It's the 2 CD version with disk one containing a new mix (2009) drawn from the original analogue tapes.
Disk 2 contains the 2004 remastered original album.

The remaster is a good effort, but spoiled with compression and lacking dynamic range.

I'm blown away by the new production of the album on disk one. Vocals are crystal clear, the imaging and realism between the flute, Fripp's guitar and keyboards is astounding and kick drum and cymbals are so pure. The soundstage is spread across my entire room and and it sounds like I'm in the studio. The DR is so wide and clean and I feel the bass thru my floor, but in a very good way.

The only way we will get remasters of this caliber is if the artist has the integrity of a Robert Fripp and backing of the label (or if he owns it). If only Zappa were alive today.
"If only Zappa were alive..." Actually, a lot of fans were upset with some of the stuff FZ did with his old recordings. He recut bass and drums on "We're Only In It For the Money" and it's my understanding he eventually went back to the original parts. Anyway, even when the work is done by the originator it's not always necessarily better to everyone's ear.
"01-27-15: Phasecorrect
I find it oddly amusing there is a resurgence back to first generation CD releases...anybody remember the audiophile community response...in short...not good. Now granted, some of these are youngsters who grew up on MP3, never heard vinyl, and ate being sold on something "uncompressed."However, as others have stated, compression is only one small part of the spectrum."

I don't think you're comparing the same thing. The first all digital recordings back in the 80's (DDD), were the ones that usually sound bad. CD's from the 80's that were analog recordings (AAD), sound pretty good. I remember the industry pushing DDD. There used to be comparisons and disclosures actually printed in the artwork/covers.
Zd, you have a point. I always use Jeff Beck as an example of good SQ in the CD era. During the 80s and 90s, he recorded in AAD or ADD. Then in the 2000s, his digital releases were as loud and compressed as the rest of the industry. It may have been out of his control by then.
True...DDD were horrid...but even early AAD releases tend to have a rather "washed out" grainy sound with noticeable tape hiss...even so called audiophile releases...Just my thoughts in a highly subjective medium...no right or wrong answers...
I agree, most of those early CDs (up until say 1989) are drink coasters.
Very true, Phasecorrect. And add to that the CDs that were released with the wrong mastering specs.
Eventually corrected and released but i wonder how long the consumer thought this was the new SOTA.
Peter Tosh Equal Rights legacy end ...wow...sounds amazing...Mark Wilder mastering...world class
Lowrider, I have not compared KC's Court or Poseidon to earlier versions, but the 40th Anniversary Series are 2009 and 2010 remasters. As you explained, there great, everything you said is exactly how they are. Disk 2 on both is a dvd 2004 master edition which I do not have the set up to use, yet.

The bonus tracks are also a nice added plus.
This may not be relevant... I just purchased a well worn (lp) copy of Country Joe & the Fish, "Electric Music for the Mind & Body", VSD.79244 at a record show. Visually, it has lots of superficial surface scratches and other issues. (I can just imagine how many parties and "good times" this lp has seen). After a good cleaning it really sounds fantastic. Here's the kicker, it is a 3E/3F copy. I can only imagine how a clean 1A copy sounds? I think Speakers Corner has reissued this but haven't heard it.

I do have a Speakers Corner reissue of Janis Joplin "I Got Dem Ol' Kozmic Blues Again Mama" that sounds better than 97% of the stuff I hear these days..

Here's an interesting note: I have, as part of my security system, some glass break sensors. My listening room has one. This room is so well damped, it really takes a lot to trigger this sensor. On records like this one, it is triggered easily. The dynamics are really superb.