In the old days of vinyl, analogue source tapes were mixed down to a master tape. Duplicates of this master were sent to a pressing plant where the records were manufactured.
Today to reissue an album, a digital file is created from the analogue tape and becomes the new master. But to do this, some digital processing and compression takes place, thus changing some of the characteristics of the analogue signal. This file is used to create both vinyl and CDs, although vinyl which is an analogue medium requires different specs than the digital product.
The new file has the proper specs required by the pressing plant, but the sound is no longer identical to the original master due to digital processing.
The quality of these digital masters are of varying degrees of quality depending on the engineer, producer, and record label.
The file is sent to the record plant
where the pressing process is the same as before.
As roberjerman was eluding to, these reissues which are now digital come from old analogue tapes which may have deteriorated, or even been lost. So whatever tapes they can find are used to release the album on new vinyl.
Of course, the quality of these tapes will never equal the original masters from years gone by.
What they said. Many old records from the golden age of vinyl sound way better than anything recorded now. And many originals sound better than repressings. My feeling is that once any recording is digitized for remastering, the essential essence of the original is gone.
Check out Acoustic Sounds for reissues.
A major focus of Michael Fremer in his LP reissue reviews is the provenance of the tape used as the source for the new mastering of an old album. Seeing that a reissue is made from a digital source automatically disqualifies the LP for me. What's the point of buying a digital LP?!
New album releases on LP is a different matter, in that the corresponding CD in all probability contains far more electronic manipulation, and sounds worse, than the LP. While some contemporary recordings are made on analog multitrack recorders, many are done digitally. Not a desirable situation for music lovers with an audiophile bent who prefer the sound of analog, with it's well-known faults, to most digital, but that's out of their control. It's often a matter much like elections, voting for the lesser of two evils ;-) .
Are we the humans digital or binary? Our ''notional orientation''
always has two sides: old-new; above-below'', ''inside-outside''
etc. etc. Hegel the German philosopher talked about ''opposite
terms'' and the ''opposite of the opposite'' till he got in his own
labyrinth of ''notions'' with no way out. His ''way out'' was '' the
unity of the opposites''. His problem was that he overlooked to
be talking about expressions or language. Besides ''notions''
are not the things which can be true or false. Those are statements
or complete sentences. Those can be true if in correspondence
with reality. This means that language and reality are two different
domains. Besides there are unknown many languages but only
one reality. So ,say, Rauls argument ''in the other side'' will
no do. (grin). .
Digital sounds as good as the mastering. I grew up with vinyl and I am glad it’s hip again. I plan to stay with my vast CD collection because they sound as good as anything I owned on vinyl. Yes there is a more rounding sound where digital is more direct in some ways, but I had cartridge that were even more direct and boosted highs to make them more detailed. Vinyl sound is only a product of the coloration of your table, arm and your choice of cartridges, not to mention arm setup. Digital needs are low noise, the power supply, power cord is very important, and then cleaning each disc before playing. I am happy for anyone who collects music because streaming channels are #1 along with downloading songs and by far in the billions with CD, then vinyl in sales. I never went for the vinyl bashing and I don’t buy this CD bashing either because both can be very good, but none can touch the master tape once heard nor a good reel to reel.
Reissue can be good only if the label sourced original master tape, most of the reissues are indeed made from a digital source. A few lables will tell us what was the source even when they are do a "180g audiophile pressing".
So, in general it make sense to search for the original pressing when it comes to the music recorded in agalog era. Personally i alway prefer the original, buy my favorite music is fron the 70s era.
There are some vintage records recorded bad on tape or badly pressed on original vinyl, remastering and repressing in this case is a cure, but it can be analog remastering or digital remastering.
Here is Bernie Grundman video about the subject.
Situation can be different for people who listen to the modern music recorded originally in digital studios in the digital era. Digital recordings can be good too.
I listen to classic rock on a set of Klipschorns driven by a McIntosh 275. My problem is that those old recordings were apparently recorded, produced and engineered by people under the influence of every fun chemical the late 60's/early 70's had to offer. I swear I can hear snorting in the background of a few songs, so analog, digital, it doesn't matter when everyone involved was wasted and the mix is off.
They actually sound better on a less accurate setup, like a Kraco jamming 12 watts of digital distortion through a set of 6x9's bought at a gun show and installed in a 77 Camaro with shoe-goo. The flowmasters give the sound a depth and extension of field that.... more chemicals please.
I agree with 1988eldorado on the older less accurate setup. Counterpoint 3.1, Essence amp, Mirage 3si's and a Kyocera 701 TT. Newer decent all tube equipment, audio physics Virgo 3s and a better TT and cartridge upstairs but still prefer the sound of the old stuff in the man cave. The older equipment is more forgiving but it's a combination of the music and the sound for me, if the music moves me I can cut the the sound alot of slack
Ry Cooder- Bop till you Drop-1979 ."The album was the first digitally recorded major-label album in popular music. Bop Till You Drop was recorded on a digital 32-track machine built by 3M." So if your looking for something devoid of any digital type influence, buy something before the issue date of this record. I've bought a few of the so called 'remasters'....DSOTM being one of them. I can certainly tell the difference between the original.... I recall someone saying on some forum that these new 'remasters' lack the 'high end sparkle'....I agree 100%. Even my 64 year old ears can still tell the difference.
Cooder heard about the new recording format, digital, and, being a fanatic about the recorded sound of his incredible guitar tone (he's a master), gave it a try on his Bop Til You Drop album. He hated digital! Back to analog he ran, and eventually heard a Water Lily LP, which prompted him to ask "Why don't my records sound this good?" He ended up making an album on the label (A Meeting By The River), and was very happy with the sound. Water Lily's Kav Alexander is one of the absolute best contemporary recording engineers in the world, and of all time, another master!
That's interesting about Bop till you Drop in '79. But very few rock bands were recording to digital tape until the mid to late 80's. Studios were slow to transition to digital (very expensive) and most bands didn't have the budgets to use the new technology. Some music was being mastered to digital tape, but recording was analogue. The proof is in all the CD's marked ADD.
Classical music producers went all-in with digital recording about 1979 or 80. And artists like Michael Jackson were early adopters of digital.
Cooder heard about the new recording format, digital, and, being a fanatic about the recorded sound of his incredible guitar tone (he's a master), gave it a try on his Bop Til You Drop album. He hated digital! Back to analog he ranThat's too funny. There were many stories like that in the early days.
Only listening to un amplified life music is the real analogue Master but this is a one time event because of location / room characteristics.
When a sound engineer or recording engineer lays his hands on music to put in on tape or store in a digital format it is already a representation of “real” .
The vintage ears from then are not the ears from now. I like vintage sound but do not relate to it as beter but different.
Bad engineering wil kill good sound. Maybe that’s the case?
The vintage ears from then are not the ears from now. I like vintage sound but do not relate to it as beter but different.
Really? Simply compare original pressing of some properly recorded LPs from the 70s to modern reissues of the same albums made today from the digital copy. Sometimes even if the master tape was the OG they can't compete to the good old pressing. Cutting engineer is very important person in the process of vinyl pressing. BTW all the pressing machines, cutting lathes... are all vintage, they can modify it with new parts, but these equipment is no longer made. So you can imagine how good it was back then, when all these machines were brand new, when the vinyl was main media format in the world.
I’m always surprised at how good bop til you drop sounds, given that it’s supposedly the first digital LP. It doesn’t have that shimmery flourescent sound I associate with so much 80s era recording. Maybe a lot of the bad digital sound of the early days really does come down to poor or lazy mastering, or otherwise inadequate implementation
"And artists like Michael Jackson were early adopters of digital."I remember reading an interview with Bruce Swedien, Michael Jakson’s engineer. It was in late 1980s, maybe 1991 the latest. He said he was changing approaches (digital vs. analog) often. I think he even said during same song, but that I am not sure (I read it in previous century, forgive me). He definitely said he was changing microphones and cables during songs, depending on what he had wanted to achieve.
He might have been really finicky, but he was not joking with his work.
Just last week, I pulled out a copy of The Rolling Stones Exile On Main St. bought on July 3, 1982, German pressing. It is a well-used but also well-cared for record(s). Looking at it, you might be fooled to believe it is close to never-played. I had not heard it in at least 10, but more likely 25 years. I compared it to a recent CD.
In any review in audio magazines, CD would wipe the floor with that record. "More dynamic", "less muddy", "clearer highs", "tighter lows", all those things and then some. Hey, even the words are clearer. It is simply better presentation of everything.
In my review, the record sounded "better". It is a joke of a recording/pressing/whatever else, but it is just more pleasant to me.
The only reason I can think of why I prefer clearly inferior item is that I grew up with it. In my mind, it is the way it should sound. Everything else is fake. To me, not for real.
So what did I do with that marvel of analog technology? I digitized it (DSD) and may never play the record again. It sounds close enough to avoid the trouble of dealing with the record. In fact, it sounds the same to me and to a friend of mine also very familiar with the album, but I will not claim it would to everyone.
Well, I may play it again, I probably will. Not for the sound. I love watching that yellow label rotating. Nostalgia, or whatever you call it. You know, analog love. The things I think I love.
A few points to consider. 1)Others have pointed out that most current reissues/remasters/repressings are sourced from a digital file. 2)Original pressings may be compromised in a few ways. Both points are related.
1) Moving to a digital master file is ultimately cheaper for a record label. Tape deteriorates over time, and each pass through a deck accelerates deterioration. Better to create a new master that will not change and can become a new baseline. Keep the tape in a climate controlled vault, then use the digital copy for all future reissues, without any deterioration of the baseline. And a digital file can be sent virtually if needed.
The problem is the nature of the digital copy. From carefully reading reviews, and keeping my ears open, it has become obvious that very few digital masters are high-rez. It seems counterintuitive that one would not use the best possible resolution to create a new master file, but most labels are content to use 16/44 or 24/48 resolution. Very few use 24/96, and fewer still use 24/128 or higher. Digital will always be the parabolic curve that approaches but never quite touches the horizontal line of analogue. However, high-rez digital comes very very close, and in some applications may be virtually indistinguishable from analogue. But 16/44 or 24/48 ? You CAN hear the difference on a system of at least medium quality.
2) Back in the day LPs were pressed to ensure playback by the maximum number of people. Do you press to accurately reproduce the master tape, understanding that very few people owned a TT system that could actually play the LP ? Or do you press to ensure that a teenager with an all-in-one system, or someone's hand me down from 1955 can play the LP ? Labels want to sell LPs, so you know the answer to the above question. For this reason, it is possible for a reissue to sound better, in some cases much better than a regular pressing. Original Mobile Fidelity, Half Speed Masters, many Japanese pressings are proof that the master tapes contained much better sonics than what a commercial LP offered. So the expectation is that a new "premium" reissue should sound better- the potential is there. But see point 1 for the reason why this is often not the case. Yes, you get a darker background and tighter bass. But the tighter bass also sounds more mechanical. Treble response may be cleaner, but you lose extreme overtones and some sense of air and space around the musicians. Shoddy 16/44 transfers can make cymbals sounds like rustled tin foil rather than carefully tuned brass discs.
I'd love to find the article from a UK hifi mag (few years ago) where a great case was made about digital sourced vinyl sounding better than CD or other digital versions of the same thing. It made sense although it shouldn't, and I can't remember why...I have the LP of the Cooder "Bop" album and it sounds fine...it could have something to do with the fact that it's a great album...
I myself was never too bothered by the sound of "Bop" wolf, but it DOES sound kinda antiseptic. It's worth it for the music! The New West record label puts the following sticker on the shrink wrap of the front cover of their LP's: "Audio mastered for Vinyl" which I assume means no digital conversion in the mastering stage.
The New West artist roster is a great one: Richard Thompson, John Hiatt, Rodney Crowell, Buddy Miller, many others. They're having a Black Friday sale all weekend (some of John Hiatt's albums are $3.99 on CD!), and on Monday 2018 new releases are $13.99 for LP's, $7.99 for CD's.
If anyone thinks Bop til you Drop sounds fine I have bad news for you. It’s terrible and you should have your ears candled immediately. In fact Bop til you Drop is Exhibit A for just how bad early digital sounded. It sounds VERY DIGITAL. Was it the first digital recording? Maybe it was the second. On the same topic I find digitally remastered cassettes to be by and large fantastic. Check off all audiophile parameters, natural, dynamic, clean, musical, whatever!
When CD's first came out, vinyl was better, but now, both of them are all over the place. A friend just bought CD's that were better than my original Blue Note LP's.
Old CD's are not as good as old LP's, but the game keeps changing.
In general, old LP's seem to be better than current LP's, but this LP CD thing is a crap shoot, and I'm still trying to learn the rules of the game.
Lp's are hit or miss, it's the same today as it was 40 years ago. Variables include the recording engineer, mastering and pressing plant among others including the thickness and material makeup of the vinyl itself. Pressings with an ear to quality are using certain colour vinyl due to it not using the carbon black contained in regular black vinyl. The carbon can absorb magnetism which affects playback quality on whatever vinyl front end you use. There is a machine that will demagnetise any albums containing carbon black. True science not snake oil this can be empirically proved using test equipment.
Today many pressings use superior vinyl, think of Classic Records with the Bernie Grundman all analog playback and cutting system used with excellent result. The Pink Floyd Vinyl Box Set Echos, the modern digital transfers of their catalog, the remasters of all Led Zeppelin albums and countless others use the best available analog sources to produce high resolution digital files used to cut the LP's Digital has come very far in the last 20 years, many of the releases of older material using digital masters have better and more consistent audio quality since the master files never wear the way analog master tape does.
When I buy used pressings, I try to decipher the deadwax using Discogs on my phone while in the store and study the Goldmine catalog as well as the forums such as Steve Hoffman to decode the consensus of which pressings are best and which to avoid. Many people complain about the quality of the remastered 180 and 200 gram vinyl sold today, often lamenting it sounds different or inferior. I was often among those until I up graded my vinyl rig and phono stage from 1970s and 1980s to a more modern rig with a more expensive cartridge and phono stage. As touched on above, audiophile quality pressings are not for those with a dusted off Dual, Technics, etc. 1970's average turntable. The results often sound horrible and inferior to the originals which we pressed by design to work on the majority of turntables owned and not returned because the skipped or sounded bad. Think of the quickly recalled original Robert Ludwig pressing of Led Zeppelin II. Ahmet Ertegun quickly recalled the original pressings in 1969 and had it recut after complaints from his niece, saying the album skipped repeatedly on her record player, no matter how many replacements she tried.
Today a veritable smorgasbord of vinyl is available digital and analog sourced. If you want the ultimate in vinyl playback try any of the 1000 reissues of single and double LPs pressed at 45RPM on multiple side.This allows the cutting lathe and amp to run wide open with no worry about how many minutes can be cut to one LP side. Typically 2 LP's are needed to press a 45 RPM 12" pressing of a single LP. Titles such as Rumors are over the top good, same with Peter Gabriel releases, Doors releases, Dire Straits, the list goes on and on.
Will they sound better on a 1970s or 80's type vinyl rig? Yes. Will you be able to get all the increased detail and resolution contained within the groves? No way. Are they more expensive that a 33 RPM reissues,? Yes about 30 percent more. Will a modern mid-fi and better arm, cart and table with phono stage make a difference in playback quality of these albums? Absolutely. I know this from experience. When done properly modern analog and digital sourced LP's can sound unbelievably good. Are the masses willing to invest in a vinyl front end capable of playing these albums to their fullest sonic content? Mostly no, but better quality tables arms and carts are trickling down with decreasing price tags, placing mid-fi and better vinyl rigs within the grasp of vinyl savvy consumers, even as vinyl prices increase.
In this game, you most often get what you are prepared to pay for. Or you can stick with older technology and used records, playing hit or miss insearch of the best sounding vinyl. I was hesitant to upgrade my old vinyl rig. Now that I have, there is no looking back and I don't regret spending the 8K$ I did for everything I have. Once I hear what vinyl is really capable of, there was no looking back. Sure a bad pressing sounds bad or even worse in an expensive turntable than an older combo. Bad sound is bad and that's not going to change no matter what you spend. This is why you do your research before buying. Was it the pressing or the master recording, the vinyl master transfers, or were the original source tapes recorded poorly or using cheap equipment within reach of studios 50 years ago. I avoid any Dynaflex records, anything with Columbia House and RCA Record Service on the album or jacket. Chances are they sound like total ASS on any turntable, even a Crosley Crusher.
Do your research. Upgrade to a better analog front end if at all possible. Clean your LP's correctly. It's not any one thing that nets major improvement, it's the sum total of them all together that make that huge difference in audio playback quality. Then you can hear what vinyl is capable of, damn close to master tape in quality if it is done and played correctly.