For the most part, I'm in agreement.
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I guess it depends if you're interested in better sound or authenticity. Preference comes into play as well.
I think if you are lucky enough to have a good clean copy of a first pressing, they sound better in general. But those can be hard to come by, and in that case a remastered release will sound better than a badly worn original.
More to the point, I think first pressings are a better document of the artist's original intention at the time of creation because the people who made the music had to approve that version. That doesn't mean it can't sound better. And I have heard some reissues and remasters that do. But that's me and the other people involved in the remastering deciding what sounds good/right years decades after the original recording.
George Lucas thinks his digitally altered and remastered Star Wars trilogy is better than the original releases. I say F-you, Han shot first, but that's me deciding what's right.
I think it is hit and miss. I find alot of the problems with some of remasters especially the non-audiophile pressings of remasters,is that they tend to lack the quality that you would expect from a remaster. For example I purchased reamasters of PInk Floyd in the last year or so and have found the quality of the vinyl they have been pressed on very poor. Slight warps, noisy background noises, pops etc etc. On the other hand I have remasters that have been far better than the original for example many of the releases on the SPEAKERS CORNER label.(eg Joni Mitchell - Hissing of Summer Lawns) This particular label, I do consider to be an audiophile pressing. So I think it depends on the company that is reissuing the represses and who is actually doing the remastering. I have some cheaper 180G remasters released by a company called Rhino and have found them to be rather inconsistent. I have noticed troughs or small indentations on the surface that are quite audible. Early pressings if they are in top notch shape are great to have. Almost never warped, pressed with 180g to 200g vinyl and are comparable to a vintage wine.
Thanks for the responses. I've noticed lately as I've compared what I thought were excellent remasters head to head with early pressings of the same albums of 30 to 50 year old vintage, there is a presence to the original recordings that the remasters can't seem to capture even if the remasters sound great absent that comparison. Sometimes certain aspects of the recording are actually better in the remasters due to adjustments in the process----but as to the overall sound, I very often prefer the early issue. Also, as Ralph says, it's usually best to obtain an early pressing from the country in which the record was recorded. Makes for much time spent at the used record shop.
When you find a reissue which sounds really great, you can bet your house, the original one will be first rate, too. On the other side, when the first mastering was done average, you will have problems to find a remaster which is really top.
Bob Dylan [Freewheelin', Oh Mercy], Cat Stevens, Muddy Waters are some examples for Remaster Hype but when you go for the Original, you will be impressed, too.
When you compare, don't go for the obvious like more Bass or boosted voice, try to find out what happened with the overall - tonal - Balance, the Originals got the ok from the Artist, it was done the way he wanted it.
See MFSL Muddy Waters and the same from Classic Records. Here the MFSL is simply like a fist in your face.
Remasters make sense when the original is hard to get or super expensive, but in general it is business only. All you can do, is to ask yourself, which remaster labels really care (Classic Records, Chad Kassem, Japanese labels) and which ones do remaster without any (more or less) authentic standard compared to the original (Speakers Corner, Simply Vinyl...).
There aren't so many behind the mixing desk today who really know what to do. Most lost their jobs in the 90's (or retired) and this kind of "Art" can't be learned again. A lot of knowledge is buried now. Storage of Tapes is also a special chapter, the loss of information (mainly in the higher frequencies) is fact.
But, money makes the world go round and that's it. Each his own.
Of course as Syntax stated, there is a cost factor involved here. If you happen to inherit a bunch of older pressings such as i have than you are lucky. Original Stereo releases from the 60's are hard to come by and the cost, wow....if in good playing condition you will be looking to spend easily over $100 for an original pressing. Especially old blues or Jazz recordings. I recently picked a copy of a 1965 stereo BLUE NOTE pressing of Herbie Hancock's "Empyrean Isles" for an even $100.00 in very good playing shape. To digreess a bit, this record was actually used by CBC radio in Vancouver. A vendor in town had purchased a huge CBC collection in the past year. Anyways the sound is very laid back and neutral compared to the brighter crisper sound of the 2 record 45/180 g which brings out greater detail. To many be a bit over bearing. And like what has been said over and over, what do you prefer?
An unfortunate fact of life is that early stereo recordings, such as those from the 1960s, were miked so as to accentuate the stereo effect - that which people were paying so much extra money for. That lead to lots of ping-pong effects, vocalists in one speaker and orchestra in another, and other recording horrors. Rudy Van Gelder was certainly not immune to recording some odd balances and breaking the ensembles into the two channels in a strange way. Not that there aren't exceptions.
I almost universally prefer mono pressings when listening to 1960s vintage material, UMMV.
A few technical notes (I was an active recording engineer from the mid 1970's to the mid 2000's):
"There aren't so many behind the mixing desk today who really know what to do." --- This comes up a lot these days in online discussions; comments about balances and mixing in mastering. Mixing is not a part of the vinyl mastering process.
"More to the po int, I think first pressings are a better document of the artist's original intention at the time of creation because the people who made the music had to approve that version." ... "the Originals got the ok from the Artist, it was done the way he wanted it." --- BUT: big labels like Columbia had in-house mastering and artists had little flexibility and not nearly as much power as you might think regarding mastering issues. There's a lot of 70's, 80's Columbia material, for example, that you can tell could sound a lot better if mastered differently.
"Storage of Tapes is also a special chapter, the loss of information (mainly in the higher frequencies) is fact. --- Definitely true.
"this record was actually used by CBC radio in Vancouver." --- Not necessarily a good thing, in that radio stations generally used tracking forces in the several grams range so as to minimize skips.
Finally, I will say that I've been absolutely stunned by what a good line contact stylus can do to extract good sound from used, older pressings. The contact area is different from elliptical, and often all but untouched on these older records. I have a Soundsmith level II retip on a Shelter 501 II, and am really enjoying listening to my well-used 60's-era records these days.