This commentary was written many years ago, probably in 2010, right around the time that Thriller really started to sound good, owing to advances we had made in cleaning and playback.
Our old friend Bernie Grundman handled the mastering for Thriller and managed to do a really nice job. Unfortunately, most copies of this mass-produced classic don’t give you as much of the magic as other copies, including the ones BG mastered.
The sound on this copy is huge — big, wide, deep, and open, with the kind of three-dimensional soundstaging that lets the music unfold in front of you and around you as well. You get the bottom-end punch that’s so crucial to this music and tons of energy. The bass is meaty and well-defined, showing you the rhythmic foundation that the music needs. The sound is transparent with amazing texture to practically every element.
Michael’s voice is marvelous on this copy — breathy, textured, and positively dripping with emotion (just listen to him break down on The Lady in My Life).
Thanks to constant improvements in our stereo, we’re now getting this album to sound better than it ever has. Extended highs appeared where none had been before. We were hearing synthesizers buried deep in the mix we’d never heard. All of a sudden, these ’80s pop records had amazing analog magic.
If your system is up to the task, you won’t believe how big and lively this album sounds. Who woulda thunk it?
In a recent commentary we went into some detail about Bernie Grundman’s shortcomings as a mastering engineer.