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Old 8th July 2007, 05:42 AM   #1
cjv998 is offline cjv998  United States
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Default Of Remasters and Classic Rock...

Basically, I'm looking into picking up some classic rock music (I have a bit of a list started further down, and I'm definitely open to suggestions). I have a stereo system, and I can play CD's, so I'm limited there. Basically, here's my question: what should I be getting if I want good audio quality from a CD? Are the "best of" CD's terrible quality, as I am inclined to believe? Should I go for re-issues of the original studio albums? Is there a better option I'm missing, aside from LP's? (I realize being restricted to the CD format limits me in audio quality, but I'm not at a point where I can justify spending money on a good record player and some LP's.) Thanks!

So far, I know I want:
Pink Floyd: Dark Side of the Moon, The Wall (if it isn't too pricey)
some Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, ELO, REO Speedwagon, The Who, the list goes on...


(This was all motivated by searching the forums; I was looking for good-quality recordings; naturally, classic rock got mentioned, and well, here I am after a little more searching.)
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Old 8th July 2007, 06:54 AM   #2
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Here would be my quick fix for your situation. I also am sorely disappointed with digital.

Get a Technics quartz direct drive turntable and a Shure M97E cartridge. The M97 can be found for $70 on the web, somewhere.

Most remasters are digital, even though they fill your head with analog jargon and expectations. Almost all if not all Mobil Fidelity are digital. Nautilus, the whole crowd, are almost all digital. Columbia Half-Speeds are real analog. As are RCA half-speeds.

The majority of the "super-pressings" today are digital. They lie by doing the "side-step" in their ads.

The standard commercial issues are probably the best. They can be surprisingly good. If you are in a city with Half-Priced Books stores then you're all set.

Most standard reissues pressed after 1981 are digital, but they don't say it. They aren't remasters, but they are cut with a digital delay-line at the cutter head. They STINK.

No record cleaning machine? use Windex. Let it sit on them for a couple minutes and run water over them. Tilt the record right and you will keep water off of the label. Then dry them with a white t-shirt.

Happy Hunting, Mark
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Old 8th July 2007, 07:39 AM   #3
OzMikeH is offline OzMikeH  Australia
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Amazon currently has a special. EVERYTHING by led zep boxed set for about $75.

12 or 13 albums roughly.

Buy some jewel cases to put the CDs in straight away. the boxed set packaging scratches the disks.
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Old 8th July 2007, 10:03 AM   #4
dnsey is offline dnsey  United Kingdom
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Quote:
Get a Technics quartz direct drive turntable and a Shure M97E cartridge.
I agree (or a similar setup, anyway!)
It will open the way to a collection of all the music you've ever wanted in the original versions and quality, provided you have a little patience to track down LPs in good condition.
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Old 8th July 2007, 12:25 PM   #5
SY is offline SY  United States
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The issues with remasters are numerous. The "digitization" is the least of them. Assuming that the remastering engineers have good intentions and don't deliberately screw things up (especially compression and re-EQ), which is NOT a good assumption, the fundamental problem arises- the source material. Sometimes a second, third, or even fourth generation tape is used. Clearly, there will be significant and audible degradation.

If all the stars align, a first gen tape is used, the tape is not ratty and been stored well (not always or even usually the case) and the engineer sets levels properly and does little else, the next layer of problem is the master tape itself. Old tapes are plain and simple not stable. Over the years, bad things happen including shedding particles, peeling coatings, dried up lubricants, embrittled base stock, and (worst of all) self-demagnetization. The last causes the transients to smear out along the tape as each set of domains slowly affects its neighbors and leads to a very characteristic dull, flat sound.

A good mastering engineer will have some tricks to try to compensate for deteriorated tape and can produce an acceptable result. But no matter his skill and good intentions, it will not be the same as using a freshly-made tape for mastering. It's analogous to a fine chef, who can make an acceptable dish from old meat and wilted vegetables, but it will not be a vibrant and excellent dish, just palatable.
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Old 8th July 2007, 01:00 PM   #6
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Sy has posted a very coherent reply on the issue. I've come to the conclusion that "remasters" are variable at best, and on some it seems like the engineer had never heard the original album. The remaster of Laura Nyro, Eli and the 13th Confession, is devoid of bass and almost unlistenable, yet the reviews on Amazon rave about the sound quality. The only hope is for me to copy it with re-equalization.

There are many CDs that are as good as the LPs, but no good guidelines to predict which ones. LPs have their own set of problems, but if they were little played, and you wash them, you'll be rewarded. I use a cheap Sony PS-T33 direct drive table and an Ortofon OM30, but you can probably do better with a decent belt drive unit. Back when I bought the cartridge, they were reasonable. Recently I priced a new stylus and nearly fainted. More than I paid for the turntable and cartridge when they were new.

If you don't have or want to build a record cleaner, try to get a record cleaning brush- can one still get Watts products? Use the published mix of isopropyl alcohol, water, and a drop of wetting agent. I recently had to clean some records at my parents house, and didn't have a record cleaning brush. A big artists brush has pointed bristles that work rather well, though it's more work to get around all the grooves. Work on a clean cotton bath towel and dry with same. Try not to wreck the labels when cleaning.

What you get obviously depends on your tastes. Being over 50, my nostalgia rock collection includes Airplane, Starship, Kinks, Deep Purple, Pink Floyd, Kraftwerk, Pretenders, Police, Renaissance, Procol Harem (sp?), Dire Straits, AC/DC, Cheap Trick, Pat Benetar, Quarterflash, and a few hundred others. Don't forget folk/rock/country, if you like that sort of thing. IMO, some Arlo Guthrie, Michelle Shocked, Gordon Lightfoot, and Nitty Gritty Dirtband are good to have around. Don't forget Dylan and Paul Simon. If the above list makes you gag, no doubt there will be other recommendations!
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Old 8th July 2007, 02:08 PM   #7
OzMikeH is offline OzMikeH  Australia
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If you're a fan of AC/DC you should have a listen to The Angels.
Some of my favourites are Shadow Boxer, No Secrets and any live version of Am I Ever Going To See Your Face Again with the traditional crowd response. Their later Beyond Salvation album was more sophisticated but seemed too polished. It lacks the raw pub rock energy the earlier albums had (circa 1977).
ACDC's last good album was Back in Black. I would not bother with the rest of post 1980 ACDC.
CD versions of ACDC I've heard are pretty good, CDs are easier to play at the correct volume without feedback.
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Old 8th July 2007, 02:41 PM   #8
cjv998 is offline cjv998  United States
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It sounds like the majority of remasters are bad enough that I shouldn't even mess with them, and I really should look into picking up a record player, as the CD format is out of the question here, correct? That's a shame. I read a little on that during my searching, but hoped it wasn't the case. Hmm, my dad had an old record player that I hope is in the basement somewhere, maybe I can get that from him (if I remember correctly, it was a Technics, but I could be wrong). That would save me a significant amount of money, but I'd still need a new cartridge, and some cleaning supplies. He may even have records around still. I assume those will still be playable.

In fact, after looking at some pictures, I swear it was a Technics SL-Q2 that my dad had. I'll have to ask him later today.
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Old 10th July 2007, 10:37 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally posted by OzMikeH
If you're a fan of AC/DC you should have a listen to The Angels.
They were called Angel City in the U.S.
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Old 11th July 2007, 10:14 PM   #10
cjv998 is offline cjv998  United States
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My dad said I can have his old record player, but it needs a new needle (it's been sitting in the basement for almost 10 years now, so who knows if anything else is wrong with it). He said he remembers spending a hefty amount on the cartridge, so as long as it's still good, I should be able just replace the needle, right? He still has all his records too. Where are good places to get old LPs? Is buying them online usually advisable, or would I be better off going to a used music store, or what?
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