Bad Digital Remastering

Two CDs that Sound Nothing Like Their Vinyl Counterparts

Reviews and Commentaries for Sticky Fingers

Reviews and Commentaries for Back in Black

I made the mistake of buying both Back in Black and Sticky Fingers on CD to listen to in the car, and both are a disaster — no bass, no rock weight, with boosted upper mids, no doubt in a misguided attempt to provide more “clarity” and “detail.”

But trying to achieve more clarity at the expense of the rock and roll firepower that makes both of these albums Must Own Rock Records is beyond foolish.

These albums did not need a new sound or a more modern sound. The sound of the original pressings of both of them is superb, as close to faultless as you are likely to find in this world.

Mobile Fidelity managed to get more transparency in the midrange for their pressing, and look what it got them: our award for the worst version ever.

On both of these CDs, even in the car I couldn’t get past the third song.

If this is what the digital lovers of the world think those albums actually sound like, they are living in some kind of parallel universe.

The best pressings on vinyl sound nothing like them. In fact the best pressings sound so good they are on our Rock and Pop Top 100. Rest assured that you don’t get to be on our Top 100 with anemic, upper midrangy sound.


FURTHER READING

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Every Label Made Bad Sounding Records – Ryko Released This Disgraceful Bowie Set in 1989

More of the Music of David Bowie

Reviews and Commentaries for the Music of David Bowie

This is the sound of digital mastering at its worst. Best to give this one a pass if you are looking for audiophile quality sound.

We play mediocre-to-bad sounding pressings so that you don’t have to, a public service from your record loving friends at Better Records.

You can find this one in our Hall of Shame, along with more than 350 others that — in our opinion — qualify as some of the worst sounding records ever made. (On some records in the Hall of Shame the sound is passable but the music is bad.  These are also records you can safely avoid.)

Note that most of the entries are audiophile remasterings of one kind or another. The reason for this is simple: we’ve gone through the all-too-often unpleasant experience of comparing them head to head with our best Hot Stamper pressings.

When you can hear them that way, up against an exceptionally good record, their flaws become that much more obvious and, frankly, that much more inexcusable.

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The Beatles / Past Masters – Digital Remastering at its Worst

Hot Stamper Pressings of The Beatles Available Now

Reviews and Commentaries for the Music of The Beatles

Hall of Shame pressing and another album reviewed and found to be perfectly suited to the Stone Age Stereos of the Past.

The late-’80s import pressings of this album are bright (the tambourine on Hey Jude will tear your head off, just to cite one example) and aggressive and very digital sounding.

Unfortunately, if you want better sounding versions of these songs, you’re gonna have to buy lots of pressings of the band’s albums and singles and EPs in order to find good sounding versions of them, which is exactly what I did back in the ’80s. It took me years to do it.

In the ’90s, when I was actually selling this awful record (because my system was just too dark and unrevealing to show me how awful it was), I wrote:

These are all the songs that aren’t on the original 13 British albums, so for those of you with the MoFi Beatles box, these 2 LPs give you all the tracks you don’t have.  

This was written so long ago that we actually refer to the MoFi Beatles Box as something an audiophile would own.

To be clear, in this day and age, no serious audiophile who loves The Beatles should have the MoFi Box Set or Past Masters in his collection.


FURTHER READING

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Badfinger / Straight Up Trash on 2 LPs

More of the Music of Badfinger

Reviews and Commentaries for Badfinger

This British 2 LP reissue from 1993 was (badly) digitally remastered by a Mr. Ron Furmanek. May his name live in infamy.

It contains alternate mixes of 6 songs at 45 RPM on the second record, with equally bad sound.

The whole Apple series of remastered releases — at least the ones we played — was awful sounding and should be avoided completely. These records are nothing but Audiophile Bullshit.

If you are a record collector and must have those alternate mixes, just buy the CD. The vinyl is terrible, the CD probably sounds every bit as bad, but at least the CD is cheap and plays all the songs straight through.

If you own this record, my guess is it is pristine.

If you played it at all, you played it once and put it away on a shelf where it probably sits to this very day. Good records get played and bad records don’t. If you have lots of pristine records on your shelves, ask yourself: Why haven’t you played them?

You may not like the implications of the answer: Because they aren’t any good.

And that means you should never have bought them in the first place.

But we all make mistakes. Owning up to them may be hard, but it is the only way to make any real progress in this hobby.

Record collecting for the sake of record collecting strikes us as a bad idea.

We like to play records, not just collect them, and we like to play records with the best sound we can find. We call those kinds of records Hot Stamper Pressings, and finding them, and making them available to other audiophiles, has been my life’s work.

All the collecting we leave to other people who apparently enjoy that sort of thing.

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Ray Charles & Betty Carter – DCC Clear Vinyl Pressing

More of the Music of Ray Charles

More Soul, Blues and R&B Albums with Hot Stampers

This Dunhill Compact Classics LP pressed on CLEAR VINYL is one of DCCs earliest forays into analog production from way back in 1988.

Unfortunately it sounds like a bad CD.

Screechy, bright, shrill, thin and harsh, it’s hard to imagine worse sound for this music.

NO warmth.

NO sweetness.

NO richness.

NO Tubey Magic. In other words,

NO trace of the original’s analog sound. I have to wonder how records this awful get released.

You can be sure that Hoffman’s CD murders it in every way.

A PUBLIC SERVICE

We play mediocre-to-bad sounding pressings so that you don’t have to, a public service from your record loving friends at Better Records. (more…)

Elvis Costello / Girls Girls Girls – Skip It on Vinyl (But Get the Brilliant 2 CD Set)

More Elvis Costello

Reviews and Commentaries for the Music of Elvis Costello

Years ago we had a British Import Demon Records 2 LP set that sounded decent — better sound than you’d find on any domestic copy — and the songs, spanning the period from 1976 to 1986, are GREAT! 

But the CD has much better sound than any vinyl I have yet to hear.

Buy the CD, it’s one of the best compilations — of any artist’s music — I know of.

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Comparing a Hot Stamper of Rumours to an Original and the Nautilus LP

More of the Music of Fleetwood Mac

Reviews and Commentaries for Fleetwood Mac

Rumours Remastered at 45 RPM

This letter from quite a few years ago comes from our good customer Roger, who was blown away by our Hot Stamper pressing of Rumours. Roger did his usual thorough shootout of our Hot Stamper against his own pressings. The results? Another knockout for our Hot Stamper.
Hi Tom,

Just a quick note on the Fleetwood Mac Rumors Hot Stamper I just bought. I have a Nautilus pressing and my original pressing I bought in college when it came out. I have never liked this record as much as Fleetwood Mac Fleetwood Mac, perhaps partly because its sonics were somewhat inferior.

So I played the Nautilus and quickly remembered what a piece of sonic detritus this thing is. How can audiophile labels like Nautilus put out something that is as thin, bright, flat, and compressed as this thing is? It obviously reinforces your point that most audiophiles are lemmings when it comes to audiophile records. If some audiophile guru said the Japanese pressing of Girl Scout Troup #657 singing the Girl Scout Theme Song was sonic nirvana, it would show up on every internet record website for $50 each.

Next up was my original pressing with an F16 matrix on side one, and man, what a relief after following the Nautilus disaster. In fact, I resisted buying a pricey hot stamper because I always felt my pressing to be pretty darned good, which it was. So I was shocked to hear just how much better the hot stamper was.

I played Dreams on side one and it took all of about 5 seconds of hearing the massive bass and startlingly dynamic cymbal crashes on this track to find the hot stamper worth every penny I paid for it. If the drum kit on Oh Daddy doesn’t get your pants flapping, time for a new stereo. Voices were eerily present, guitars had great detail, pianos had weight just like in real life (we have a piano in our house), and best of all, the highs were arrayed in space and were delicate and detailed.

Since the Nautilus is too thin to make a good frisbee and would probably fetch big bucks on ebay I will stuff it back on my shelf forever, unless I need a good laugh, and add the HS Rumors to my favorite recordings.

Roger
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Steely Dan ‎on MCA Audiophile Vinyl – Sounds Like a Good CD to Me

More of the Music of Steely Dan

Reviews and Commentaries for the Music of Steely Dan

Clean and clear and tonally correct, just like a good CD should sound. If this is what you are after, why not just buy the CD? It’s bound to be a lot cheaper.

Some songs sound better than others, can’t for the life of me remember which ones. I auditioned copies of this record more than twenty years ago. Once I got rid of them I never bought another. Why would I?

No doubt there are still audiophiles extolling the virtues of this record in various internet threads.

One thing you can be sure of: these are people who are not very serious about making progress in audio.

Some of the pressings these audiophiles like can be found in our Stone Age Audio Record section.

If you have top quality, highly-tweaked modern equipment, a good room, and the myriad other things that make exceptionally good vinyl playback possible these days — in a way that was not possible even ten or fifteen years ago — you would have no reason to keep a record of such mediocrity in your collection.

Or say anything nice about it on a site ostensibly devoted to audiophile vinyl.

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Frank Zappa – An Astonishingly Badly Remixed CD

More of the Music of Frank Zappa

Reviews and Commentaries for the Music of Frank Zappa

The album was reissued on CD in 1985, and almost all of the rhythm tracks were re-recorded at that time. Since all of the reissues that followed have contained the new versions of the material, early pressings of this album, such as this one, are the only way to hear this album the way it was originally recorded.

I made the mistake of buying the new CD and was appalled — yes, that’s the right word for it — by both the modernized sound and the wrong-headed re-recording of the rhythm tracks.

The only way to hear this music properly is on the early Blue Label Verve LP. (more…)

Fleetwood Mac / Rumours – Nautilus’s Digitally Remastered Half Speed Vinyl Junk

More of the Music of Fleetwood Mac

Reviews and Commentaries for Rumours

Sonic Grade: D

Hall of Shame pressing and another Half-Speed Mastered Audiophile Pressing reviewed and found wanting.

So compressed and thin. For all I know the CD might be better than this barely listenable audiophile pressing. In fact I would be very surprised if it were not.

Is the digital remastering the source of the trouble?

Who the hell knows?

And what difference would it make?

A bad record is a bad record regardless of why it might be bad, right?

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