Vinyl Re-Issue vs Re-Master

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Could someone explain to me or point me to a book that describes how tape to vinly process works?

Specifically - why are old records being re-mastered instead of just re-issued? It seems I would prefer them to simply re-issue the original recording rather than go back and re-design the sound.

1. Did they not keep a single master mix-down tape? Is it a necessity that they must start the mastering process from scratch?

2. What happened to the master vinyl 'stamp' plates? Were they worn out through the stamping process? Thrown out because they were too large to store?

3. Is there absolutely no way I can find out if I'm listening to a digitally re-mastered vinyl?

I don't want to get in an argument over analog vs digital, or which is better the old master or the re-master, I'd just like to know what's going on with all this and what the reasons are.

Thanks. (hope I posted in the right forum)
Interesting article thanks. This is also interesting:
Interview: Bob Weston of Chicago Mastering Service & Shellac

I have started to buy new vinyl lately - some new and some re-releases - and have been less than impressed. The Beatle's Revolver seems less dynamic than the old and now I know why - it is. After digging further it seems that a lot of newer vinyl comes through a 44.1/16 delay stage, and much of it is actually sourced from 44.1/16 digital. I have heard that one of the common standard lathe cutting heads accepts only 44/16. CD resolution, combined with compression, and there's little reason to spend money for vinyl unless you know what you're getting before you buy.
Could someone explain to me or point me to a book that describes how tape to vinly process works?

a tuff one, there is little literature about this topic, most of it being very technical. There used to be a pdf of Larry Boden's book "Basic disk mastering" on the net, which is a comprehensive, short summary of the whole process from tape to stamper - with quite a lot of technical detail too. Larry made a new revised edition, which is aimed at pro cutters as it contains not only a reprint of the old book (only 51 pages) plus a 400 - 500 page collection of technical papers. He's selling it on ebay, but it's kind of expensive and overkill if you only want to know some basic stuff. has a few books which feature sections on disk mastering - a little dated, but still valid info:

Story of Stereo

INDEX Oliver Read - The recording and Reproduction of Sound

Oliver Read - The recording and Reproduction of Sound

1. Possible. Although depending on how old the recording is, I would expect them rather to archive a stereo (or mono) master rather than the multitracks.

2. In the electroplating process, there are two steps before the actual stampers: 1. father (negative taken from the lacquer cut) 2. mother (positive copy from the father) 3. stampers (negative). I'm not knowledgeable enough to know which one they keep, but my guess would be the mother, because from that it is only one electroplating phase to get new stampers. I've seen old metalwork (generic term for any of the aforementioned) at the storage room of an old recording studio, so yes, they keep it sometimes!

3. Any decent re-issue should have liner notes relating this kind of information for sure!! But I have a re-issue copy of "Kind of blue", turns out there is ZERO information about what the disk was pressed from, if there was any re-mastering done....... :eek: hadn't noticed! So yes, you seem to have a point! On the other hand, for this kind of seminal album, they might have kept the original metalwork, and pressed from that, hence no remarks on the sleeve.

In conclusion, the only authentic reissue is from original metalwork! If the album is old enough, there might be no documentation left about what kind of equipment and settings the engineers used for the tape transfer - so no chance of recreating the sound of the original pressing! Even if you have the documentation, and identical gear in a very similar signal chain, you might not be able to recreate it. Different lathes, cutterheads, amplifiers, limiters, mastering consoles, and of course the engineer contribute to the overall sound.

Then of course there is the possibility of remastering through playback and digital processing. It might be possible to come quite close with todays tools.....
The other elephant in the room is that magnetic tapes deteriorate over time. And many are not stored terribly well.

From what I've seen/heard, the generous use of compression is likely the biggest quality problem- too many of my recent vinyl have the same squashed dynamics of current CD/download releases. I can't imagine that it's because of the same loudness-war commercial drivers, so my wild guess is that it's to make the production (cutting) easier, and to "lift" the average level well above surface noise. Or maybe it really IS a commercial consideration, that the customers are used to a certain sound, so let's give it to 'em.
I appreciate all this feedback.

A few months ago I selected a few classic Sabbath records from this site:

Vinyl Records | Vinyl Record Albums | Vinyl LP Records - SoundStage Direct

First month of listening it was all good because I had my turntable going through an old receiver with a 'contour' button that seemed to make everything sound full. When that receiver broke though, I put it through a more modern Sony that had no built-in EQ at all. Well, lo and behold, even though the sound coming through beat the heck out of my re-mastered CD version - I could tell this thing was digitized. I guess it's compression, but everything sounds crystal and tin. On the same set-up, my older real analog vinyl still sounds great.

I mean - I'm just sick of spending $$ on re-hash of something that was perfect in it's original form.

That website says absolutely nothing about who, what, where, when, how of anything. The times I'd hunt around usually led me to understand it's almost always digital re-mater to vinyl.

Btw, searching for the book "Basic disk mastering" I saw this forum:

The Secret Society of Lathe Trolls • Index page

Not trying to say vinyl is be-all end-all, I just wonder if digital hadn't come along would everyone still be recording to magnetic tape or would someone have invented a better all analog system :)

Here we go - I found a sticker on top of the plastic wrapper of the record which says:


LPs cut from the original analog masters.
Which means... more hand waving. But I did find this forum thread:

Black Sabbath vinyl reissues on Rhino | Steve Hoffman Music Forums

Oh well, you know - I think I'd prefer my old Sold Our Souls For Rock and Roll long play tape to all this gimmickery.

I wonder if some kind of open petition would help. Something like:

Fans vs Artists (2013)

We the fans are tired of being sold out. We demand the music manufactured today be just as pure as the original production. We should not be led to believe we are purchasing a re-issue of a classic recording when in fact we are being sold a re-master.

We are insulted by the fact that we must pay $500 or more for a better sounding original from 1970 than $15 for a substandard re-master. Why does every sound engineer and band think they can do a better job of it today than it's best selling original? Save your sound experiments for those who request them.

Please give some courtesy to your fans and show some concern for what we are truly after - original recording & original master and stop trying to re-hash something that was perfect to begin with.

Thanks, your fans.
Can of worms. As I understand it, vinyl issued in other countries than the original would have been sourced from a copy of the first master tape, and would then go through its own productionising process unique to that country. So, what is original? Personally I like to think that vinyl is analogue all the way through the production process, but of course a lot is not. Best to be aware, not get too absolutist, 'cos the main thing is to take pleasure in the music. And no. I don't think modern production techniques make make music sound better. When was the last time you heard a 21st century record that made you think "Gosh, that sounds good!"

Cheers Steve

Cheers, Steve
I see what you're getting at. In the case of this Sabbath record, there was a British master, a German master and a US master. According to the thread though, the original British master is far superior to any of the others including the latest re-master.

It's a frustrating situation because these bands and record companies are all a bunch of myopic megalomaniacs who think they know better than their idiot fans. I mean, Iomi, Geezer and Ozzy are now in the record studio with Rick Rubin (of all idiots) thinking they can make a new Sabbath record. Where does the hubris end?

If I were in their shoes I'd be doing one of two things: helping new talent make a break or making sure fans had the best recording. Instead, they are in the studio trying to relive the glory each of them have already had too much of. Oh well, if this is karmic justice I guess I should learn my lesson and look elsewhere.
i have Sabbath bloody Sabbath on Vertigo. the rest on NEMS all mint.

anyway. how can something that was mastered in digital pass itself off as analogue?

i don't like the way these companies are doing re-masters unless they are using full analogue mastering equipment from start to finish of the mater tape, which i very very much doubt in this day and age. if there is digital somewhere along the line what bit rate are they using?

when i hear one of my favourite albums i listen to it as i know the sound and i like it so any tampering from the original mix is just a no go as far as i'm concerned and i don't care if it's the worlds best mixer and engineers that are doing it as they are putting their own thumb print on it and i don't want their thumb i want the original.

yes you could cut a record from digital but would only sound as good as the digital to analogue converter that they are using which opens up a whole big can of slimy worms.
I see what you're getting at. In the case of this Sabbath record, there was a British master, a German master and a US master. According to the thread though, the original British master is far superior to any of the others including the latest re-master.

That's it. The British tape is the original master. The other pressings will have been mastered from copies of this. I mean, a company isn't going to post their master to another country, at least not after they've lost an expensive master tape. Why not send a stamper? Marketing reasons perhaps. The local office may wish to include the latest hit single, delete the track that offends local mores, etc.

i have Sabbath bloody Sabbath on Vertigo. the rest on NEMS all mint.
Bibio, you do play your records don't you? I have about 1100 lps, none of them are mint, barring a Captain Beefheart Grow Fins Vol. whatever which isn't even unpacked from its postage packing, as I have a duplicate. One of these was sent to me in error.

Cheers Steve
my definition of mint is different to others in that they are not scratched and still listenable.. lol

i bought most of my albums in the 80's and a lot of them were second hand (stayed across the road from the record shack in Edinburgh) but very good quality. i cashed in on the CD era as well. one of the mates practically gave me his entire collection of hawkwind which totalled about 20 lp's. i don't have many albums and its about 400 but there are some very very nice ones in there such as DSOTM, The Wall, WYWH first pressings. DSOTM is a bit burgred now though :)
I think the actual problem is more "mastering" and compression than it is digital vs. analog.

Mastering changed meaning between the LP era and the CD era. It used to mean controlling the signal to the lathe so that the cutter didn't bottom out and get damaged while retaining some good dynamics on the LP, but it changed into the "making it louder" thing of the hypercompression/loudness wars of the last couple of decades.

It's incredibly ironic, because I kept reading in the '70's that future digital technology would give us recordings with INCREASED dynamic range, and indeed the 44/16 CD format with proper noise-shaped dithering can give an audible range of 100 to 110dB. This is well beyond not just the LP but the analog studio tape recorders of the time. There's more dynamic range available, yet LESS of it is used.

I recall that Ben Folds released an all-analog-path LP a year or two ago (he was posting on AudioKarma and I think a few other LP-loving places asking about all this before making the album), but I never got around to buying it. 99+ percent of my LP buys the last 25 years have been used. The dynamics of an old Cat Stevens record really cuts through any ticks and surface noise left after a good vacuum cleaning. I really should check out the Ben Folds thing, though I'm afraid it might still be overcompressed despite the attempted attention to detail. It's about as easy to cascade old analog compressors and set them to "stun" as it is to do hypercompression in the digital domain, and I suspect that (whether for new material or re-release/remaster) substantial compression, in either domain, ALWAYS happens thesedays.
There's huge irony that while we have amazing dynamic range, music is mastered to sound good on iPods. The vinyl market is growing rapidly, but I think the average new vinyl buyer is a hipster that grew up with iPod earbuds embedded. The audiophile market just isn't big enough to have any influence, especially on major acts.

I have bought a couple of 21st century discs that I'm impressed with (Wilco seems to care about the sound quality on their vinyl), but for the most part new vinyl, especially the alt-rock stuff sounds like an iPod with background noise. It's depressing.
the alt-rock stuff sounds like an iPod with background noise. It's depressing.
That's 'cos there is a whole "lo-fi" vibe in alt music at the moment - low bit rate, noisy samples, glitches. A desperate attempt to instil a fake "authenticity" into the digital process. There's probably a button for it in ProTools or something.

The other thing about all this digital remastering activity; when we can access/download a decently packaged product (sleevenotes, pretty picture etc.) that is at the same bit rate as the master, is digitally identical to the master,the reissue game is over. Nowhere to go. In the mean time, some record companies desperate for income see vinylists as idiots who will pay anything for new product, at the exact same moment that the rest of the population has decided that it doesn't want to pay anything at all for new music.

Cheers Steve
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Nah, there will always be "New Technology," as the marketing for repackaged releaces will tell everyone. There may even be a "bonus" track that was not on the original (because the artist and/or producer decided it sucks).

Back in the late 70s to early 80s I recall several "extended dance mix"/"instrumental dance mix" 12-inch singles, often at 45RPM, of pop songs. Different mixes for "iPod mix" "Vinyl mix" (the youngun's call them vinyls now...), "24-bit mix" with different amounts of compression/dynamic range could easily be made and sold, targeting different segments of the music buying public. I've read about 24-bit high-sample-rate download sites (which may or may not have full 24 bit resolution or extend beyond CD frequency response, but that's another topic), but these are of the same mixes that people listen to on iPods and in cars, and they'll get annoyed if they have to change the volume level to keep the sound the same loudness throughout a track.
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