Digital Abbey Road fails for me

Thus far I've been really enjoying my system, which is now rarely spinning CDs, except to copy them to the Mac Mini. I've had fun trying Hi-res with the Rega DAC and the system synergy has been rewarding.

I ordered the 2009 Abbey Road remastered CD, which is one of my favorite albums of all time.

Yikes! It sounds LOUDER, almost as if the midbands have been pushed too far. Gone is the articulation of bass I recall and the layering is hard to hear when things sound so harsh! And I mean VERY harsh. My system is Manley Stingray running Merlin TSM-MXr's, which is a very sweet sounding rig.
I was so worried I re-biased the amp, but it was within range and Abbey Road did not sound very good. So I went upstairs and tried Abbey Road on my little Martin Logan motion 4's with the Dynamo sub and Denon amp. It sounded thinner, but still pretty bad. I recall Abbey Road sounding better on my Creek amp and Wharfdale Diamonds!

I threw on Stompin at the Savoy with Ella and Armstrong and all was well, smooth, balanced and just terrific sounding. In fact everything else sounds great including my Beatles Love CD, but Abbey Road is terrible. I called up a buddy and he confirms that his boxed set was sold off because it was terrible sounding (He's running Revel M20's with Parasound power).

So what's with so many great reviews of these CD's and the digital remaster? I did find VERY detailed reviews agreeing with what I heard (not many), but I am clearly in the minority. So what's up with that???


There will always be good reviews of bad remastering jobs. Many of these folks are writers not audiophiles, they wouldn't know the difference. Stick to the guys you know and the ones that have good reputations. If the disc sounds bad in two fairly neutral system's then one must think there is a problem.
That puts me in mind of a Santana disc that was released a bunch of years ago ( Supernatural ) It had great reviews and became one of the top ten selling albums in the world. A few years later it became well known by philes and music lovers as one of the worst sounding albums around, I felt it was only a little worse than average of CD quality at the time, a time when CD's generally sounded pretty bad.
Um, totally disagree. I think Abbey Road sounds great. It is less compressed than many re-masters but more than the mono versions of the Beatle re-masters (though Abby never came out on mono). The Beatle re-masters are among the best and used the original analogue master tapes. Sounds like you mostly listen to LP's which might explain why you think it sounds harsh, or the fact that most Beatles music is a little on the bright side. It is very detailed and sounds more live than the LP to me.
I would agree with Wildoats. Robbob, if you're comparing the original or even subsequent reissues of the American LP's there is going to be differences.

Some years ago I purchased a German copy of the White Album and I was stunned by just how poorly the American version was produced. I'm told the English version is different still.

My remastered CD is packed away and with it is the production information which may shed some light.
I checked out my father's CD of Abbey Road. He no longer had the jewel case, but I think it's from the mid 90's. I compared it to the new version on his system, which is Canton Ergo speakers with a Yamaha integrated (old stuff) and it was quite easy to hear that the midrange was pushed and the CD louder.
But the older CD is more balanced and there is more detail to be heard. Not only that, but vocals on the older CD have more weight and sound better, while the remaster's vocals are thin. Still, the midrange is the real culprit. The remaster sounds almost distorted by comparison. My friend, who agrees with me on this, says "louder isn't better, but it can create that perception." He's also gone back to older recordings and his LP blows away this so-called remaster.
I've now heard the remaster on three different systems. It doesn't sound good in the car either! If I hadn't had some confirmation from others I might have though the CD was flawed.
After checking around I did find folks on Amazon and elsewhere who are hearing the same flaws, so I feel a "little" less crazy now!

Thanks for the comments.

I think Abbey Road may be the best sounding album among that series. The 24 bit version from the USB is stunning.