Bad Digital Remastering

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

David Bowie Records with Audiophile Sound

The sound of digital mastering at its worst. Best to give this one a pass if you are looking for high 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.

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

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

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

No doubt there are still audiophiles extolling the virtues of this record in various threads. One thing you can be sure of: these are people who are not very serious about audio.

Some of the pressings these people 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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The Beatles – Past Masters Volumes 1 & 2 – Digital Remastering at its Worst

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Sonic Grade: F

The ’90s import pressings of this album are bright and aggressive and very digital sounding, but 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 I did back in the ’80s and it took years to do it).

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 and audiophile would own.

No serious audiophile who loves The Beatles should have the MoFi Box Set or Past Masters in his collection.

Badfinger – Straight Up – The British 2 LP Digital Remaster Is Ridiculously Bad (As Was the Whole Series)

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Sonic Grade: F

A Hall of Shame pressing.

This British 2 LP reissue was digitally remastered and contains alternate mixes of 6 songs on the 2nd record.

The whole series was awful sounding and should be avoided completely.

A Good Customer Compares Our Hot Stamper of Rumours to His Original and the Nautilus Audiophile Pressing

rumours

This week’s 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 pressing!

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 compresssed 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


Roger, thanks as always for the insightful review. The sad fact of the matter is that the Nautilus Digitally Remastered Half Speed — Yes, you heard that right — is actually better than the average reissue, and probably better in most ways than the average grainy domestic original, which is pretty much unbearably edgy and gritty, especially if it hasn’t been cleaned right.
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Fleetwood Mac – Rumours – Nautilus’s Digitally Remastered Half Speed Vinyl Junk

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Sonic Grade: D

 Hall of Shame pressing and another Half Speed debunked.

Compressed and thin, for all I know the CD might be better than this barely listenable audiophile pressing.