Impressions of the Stones SACDs

I bought the Hot Rocks compilation just to dip my big toe in the remastered waters. I don't have an SACD player, so the purchase was based on good reviews of the Red Book sound.

So far, I'm far from sold on it. The recordings do sound open and detailed and crisp in ways that I haven't heard before, but overall they sound too bright and very, very hard. Songs like Honky Tonk woman have a thin and glaring vocal quality that makes me run for cover. The guitars are edgy too.

Has anyone else experienced this? I'm trying to tell if this is just weekness of my system right now (It can sound bright and hard with bad recordings, but is usually pretty good sounding with good recordings).

I purchased four of the titles (Let It Bleed; Beggar's Banquet; Satanic Majesties; Aftermath) and I have enjoyed them all in both SACD and Redbook CD modes. Let It Bleed, in particular, has a depth, clarity, and enjoyability to it ... just about the way that I remember first hearing the album in 1973 ... the sound just seems to emerge out of the darkness. The SACD hybrid version sounds much better to me than the original CD version, which always sounded one dimensional to me. ... "Honky Tonk Woman," was a singles release, never on a US album, if I remember correctly. "Country Honk" ... a fiddle version of the song was on the LP, Let It Bleed. There may be a song version situation here. Regards, Rich
Hello Paul

Purchased Beggars,Aftermath,Now!,Decembers Children and Satanic and to be honest with you I'm extremely impressed.
Artwork could be more "true" to the original packaging but I have no complaints re: the sound.
In fact,imho, this is one remastering package that even exceeds the hype-it's that good.
My sorce is a Cary 303/100-haven't heard them in SACD format.
Hello Paul,

I believe the problem lies in your system synergy. Do recordings with a lot if high frequency energy generally sound harsh? If so, might I suggest that you list you system on A'gon with this info and request possible solutions. I have found this to be quite helpful myself.

Happy Listening,


I have all of them, LOVE them overall, especially Let It Bleed, Beggar's Banquet and Their Satanic Majesties Request live record....

BUT......the "Hot Rocks" compilation sucks, sonically. I think it must've sucked to begin with, and now it's just a much better grade of "suckitude"...

I was first alerted to this when, after I'd raved about the remasters to an audiophile friend, he subsequently told me how underwhelmed he was. Once I picked myself up off the floor in shock, he'd told me that he purchased "Hot Rocks", and that was what he was basing his disdain upon.

So, I then went and purchased "Hot Rocks" for myself, and, whaddya know? He was absolutely right.

So, all that being said, don't let the suck factor of "Hot Rocks" prejudice you or keep you from the awesome sound of the other albums in the series....and enjoy!!

Thanks - Jeff
Jeffj, thanks for clarifying. I, too, was underwhelmed with the SACD of Hot Rocks. I'll have to try a few of the others now.
Hi Paul,
I have purchased Beggar's Banquet and Let It Bleed. I've listened to the Red Book CD versions on my Classe and Vandersteen system and was overwhelmed with what I heard.
I am anxiously awaiting my SACD player (not up to the same class as other components) this week to listen to the SACD versions. Heard them on my brother-in-laws modest system over Christmas and sounded great. I'll have to hang on to the Hot Rocks SACD I bought him and compare the sound quality of common tracks.
I tend to agree with Damon on possibly some minor system changes or tweaks that may help in the sound quality. I have not heard or read any negative reviews of these great discs.
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So strange that the production on Hot Rocks would be different from the others. Can you actually hear a difference between the same songs on Hot Rocks and on the individual albums? Especially curious about Beggar's Banquet.
I have the London Years and Let It Bleed-clearly the production is different on the same songs.
I think there is a clear reason why-they've went back to the original tapes and the compilations were obviously produced different at the time (YCAGWYW is noticeably inferior on the single version on the London Years)-it states clearly in the notes they've tried to stick to the original mastering as closely as possible.
I think Let It Bleed is magnificient and The London Years is clearly a marked improvement on the original CD release.
I don't however notice a marked difference between the SACD/CD layer except to say I probably prefer the CD layer!
What surprises me is that some people are saying the remastaered production is different on the individual albums than it is on the Hot Rocks compilation ... that Sympathy for the Devil, for instance, would sound different on the Beggar's Banquet CD/SACD than on the Hot Rocks CD/SACD.
Paul read my post-the compilations were released at different times from the original albums and probably the mastering or mix were different(perhaps compressed for a more mainstream market?)-these new remasters will only show the differences that already existed-as they probably regarded the compilations as releases in their own right so they haven't changed the mix or I stated You Can't... is miles worse on the London years.


I am in the music business, and that is what's done, usually (and unfortunately).

I'm betting that the original masters for "Hot Rocks" were compressed like CRAZY to fit 'em onto two LPs, and I am ALSO guessing that the "Hot Rocks" compilation featured radio single versions of the songs, as opposed to original album tracks.

That being the case, radio mixes were compressed even FURTHER (to make 'em sound louder on the radio -- to "cut through", if you will), and the Hot Rocks masters are/were aso surely COPIES of the original masters, removing even ANOTHER generation (or two, or three) from the original sound.

Believe me, if you ever saw what we in the music biz do to recordings, you'd give up high end (unless you're crazy, like me -- and if you're even ON this site, then.....well, welcome!)

Thanks - Jeff
SACd or not...a recording is only as good as the master tape...SACD will not perform miracles in this regard....
The 12/02 issue of Mix magazine carries a story about the remastering of the Stone's catalog. The article points out that the master tapes for the albums were quite scattered around the globe. They even resorted to e-bay auctions to secure some. The process involved transfering the masters to work copies. They used three systems - a 30ips Ampex ATR102 for analog, a Sonic Solutions workstation using Mytek converters for 24/96 PCM digital and a Sony Sonoma workstation for DSD/SACD. They corrected the speed on albums that had been originally released at incorrect speeds ("Beggar's Banquet" and "Let It Bleed"). The work copies were then given to Bob Ludwig (Gateway Mastering) who then compared every song to the original releases, both singles and album versions. Ludwig made the decision to use the single versions as the reference standard, even though he acknowledges that some of them were over EQed for AM radio play. He consciously chose to make the work copies sound as close as possible to the single versions, the thinking being that it's the Stone's sound that people grew up with. The 16/44.1 version was downsampled from the DSD/SACD version using Sony's Super Bit Mapping process.

This is a link to the full article:

Here's a link to the Gateway website:


this is an excellent set from 2002. Us Beatles fans wished that they would have followed The Stones lead-in on this one.
The SHM-SACD's from CDJapan sound much betterĀ than the Abkco releases. The Hot Rocks SACD sounds terrible to me too.