I have bought a ton of remasters over the past few years and I still am amazed at how much better most of these sound. The best way to explain why there is a difference is just plain taking the time to do it right and much better analog to digital conversions. As you probably know most of the early cd's were just copies of the tapes that they used to press the regular vinyl lp's. Most of these tapes were not the original master tapes, but were usually several generations down the chain with all sorts of funny eq'ing, compressing, etc. to make them sound ok to the average person or over the radio. I would like to think that small audiophile labels and other companies such as Mobile Fidelity and DCC made more people aware of what was actually capapble with the cd format. I think that enough money was going to these labels that the big guys finally got the hint that it was money out of their pockets unless they changed. Of course going back to the original master tapes removes layers of sonic crud and gets you the best source there is instead of a copy of a copy of a copy ... Technology also plays a big part because now there are A-D convertors that are light years better than those of just a few years ago. Being able to convert analog to digital at higher sampling rates and more bits gets the transfer that much closer to the original so that when they do the final 44.1/16 transfer it sounds that much better. Also noise shaping techniques such as HDCD, SBM, Apogee's UV22, etc. allow you to hear what is closer to 20 bits of resolution. Hopefully the record companies will get off their butts and start putting out some DVD-A's soon!
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