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Offline JonnyP  
#1 Posted : 22 August 2017 10:18:12(UTC)
JonnyP


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Hello to everyone at the the Hifi Critic forum.

I should qualify my question. Even though I have a pretty decent Hifi system (digital and analogue), I'm not very good at AB subjective comparisons - no idea why and a bit embarrassing!

Anyway, I've read a lot about the pros and cons of hi res downloads, and I'm sceptical about the benefits of any offerings that are reworked from old master tapes whether analogue or digital masters. So my question is simply: Are there any hi res albums from pre 2000 (arbitrary date) that demonstrate a discernable improvement over the original vinyl or CD?

I'm very interested to hear your opinions - thanks.
Offline Pete_w  
#2 Posted : 22 August 2017 14:52:34(UTC)
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Welcome to the forum, Jonny.

You'll get a diverse range of opinions on this one. I seem to be here first, so here's mine, for what it's worth...

I don't think that there's a consistent answer to your question, however convenient it would be to have one. With some of the hi-res re-issues of older material, what I think you're often paying for is for a competent engineer to go back, take their time, and do the job properly for a more "audiophile" audience. You're paying for that, not for the "hi-res" per se.

Let me give you three anecdotal examples, from varying eras...

My first example is Norah Jones' debut, Come Away With Me. It sold a zillion CDs, doesn't sound bad, but actually there's quite a lot of compression in there, which you pick up on after a while. It can make the voice sound rather hard and flat, among other things. Compression was added when it was originally mastered to make it sound "louder" and perhaps even "better" on your average car radio. So HDTracks, I think, paid the same engineer who mastered it originally to go back and do it again, from his original tapes. This time, bearing in mind his likely audience of home-based listeners, he did a rather different job, and the resulting HD master is significantly clearer, more delicate, more musical (in my opinion...).

Back in time to my second example, Ella Fitzgerald's stunning voice-and-piano outing, Let No Man Write My Epitaph. Do 50+ year old master tapes, hiss'n'all, benefit from HD sampling? Probably not. Is the HD download version as good as my by-now rare-as-hens-teeth Classic Records vinyl re-issue? Probably not, the tapes are many years older. Is it a much better digital transfer than the early crap one that was issued as (I think) "The Intimate Ella"? Yes, lots. Does it allow a new generation of people to clearly hear that marvellous voice? Yes.

Sticking in the dim'n'distant past, there's Miles Davis' Kind Of Blue. Been issued and re-issued so many times that apparently the master was worn out. Has an entertaining history of being issued at "the wrong speed" as well. So the re-issue guys went back to the 3-track masters and re-mixed from there, approximating the original mix as far as possible but, obviously, from the less-worn tapes. Result? Stunning! Is it as good as a vinyl original? No idea, never heard it, I can't afford one, and my modern stylus probably wouldn't play it well anyway. Is it better than my 1980s "digital remaster" vinyl? Yes, night and day.

So it seems that, in those three examples, I've concluded that the hi-res remaster is probablky better than anything you're likely to be able to buy today. Whether it's better than something you already own, well that's a different story. Probably almost always going to be better than an early CD, unless they're having to work from the original CD master (in which case, why bother?) but not necessarily old vinyl...

Time for someone else's opinion Blushing



Offline Pete_w  
#3 Posted : 22 August 2017 14:56:05(UTC)
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Sorry, another example just occurred to me of an early CD I re-purchased as a Hi-res download. Eric Clapton, Just One Night. Early RSO CD? Rubbish. Hi-res re-issue? Fantastic. Goosebumps. Like a whole different gig...
Offline JonnyP  
#4 Posted : 22 August 2017 16:21:57(UTC)
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Thanks for an interesting and well informed reply Pete. I admit I hadn't considered poor original mastering or the rarity factor either. I guess there are a lot of modern examples of music produced for the MP3/cell phone/portable speaker market too, so remastering those has potential, assuming there is anything in that bracket worth listening to. It does suggest to me that buying hi res is potentially akin to playing the lottery, unless you have good advice to lean on. Wouldn't it be nice if the provenance of the files was published!
Offline Pete_w  
#5 Posted : 22 August 2017 20:51:12(UTC)
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Oh yes, wouldn't it be nice?

This website is sometimes useful, the Dynamic Range Database: http://dr.loudness-war.info/

It's an attempt to sort through the detritus of The Loudness War, it's full of user-submitted data looking at (the effects of) applied compression. That's not all there is to it, but it's a start!
Offline phil page  
#6 Posted : 22 August 2017 23:34:31(UTC)
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I found the same with the Keith Jarrett Köln Concert, where I felt that the hi-res download was miles better than the CD - sounds like a good even recording rather than a lumpy CD one - but again perhaps just because of better mastering. And the vinyl sounds different again...
Phil
Offline Martin Colloms  
#7 Posted : 20 December 2017 14:28:26(UTC)
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a reminder on why so many CDs sound very boring
Martin Colloms
[size=6]
http://www.cdmasteringse...ces.com/dynamicrange.htm

Edited by user 20 December 2017 14:38:24(UTC)  | Reason: Not specified

Offline darkmatter  
#8 Posted : 20 December 2017 15:40:13(UTC)
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Originally Posted by: Martin Colloms Go to Quoted Post
a reminder on why so many CDs sound very boring
Martin Colloms
[size=6]
http://www.cdmasteringse...ces.com/dynamicrange.htm


That is just one reason why I hoovered up all the CDs my friends sold when they bought the 'superior' remasters. I noticed the trend from as the article alludes as early as 1990!!
Offline sandyk  
#9 Posted : 23 January 2018 01:34:42(UTC)
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