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  1. #1
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    The Better Your System, the worse a pre 1980 CD will sound?

    Interested on your thoughts on this. It reminds me of an episode of "Taxi" where a woman tells Louie "if you really love me, then you'll never see me". Specfically, after I returned my Marantz 5400 CD player today to a high end Stereo place in LA called Shellys one day after I purchased it, telling him my CD's such as the Beatles "Revolver" sounded a lot better played through my JVC DVD receiver than through the Marantz CD player via the JVC receiver, the salesman who was a good guy and didn't give me any grief, thought about it for a minute and said "the better the sound equipment, the worse 1960's and 1970's recorded CDs (including remastered ones) will sound because their recording deficiencies will be even more noticeable then." Conversely the worse your equipment (within limits), the better these CD's will sound. Do you agree with him?
    This sounds like a can't win position for me as 85% of my 1000 or so CD's are pre 1980's recordings. Any advice at all other than stop listening to this music?

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by hershon
    Do you agree with him?
    Obviously, the more revealing your equipment becomes, the more you're going to hear any weaknesses in your chain, be it cd's, cd player, preamp, amps or whatever. Of course, this also means that stellar recording will absolutely sing and take you that much closer to the actual event. So yes, it's a double edged sword.

    However, there is excellent equipment available that can be highly involving musically yet more forgiving than others. Sonus Faber comes to mind as a very forgiving yet highly musical speaker. Canton and possibly Von Schweikert would fit the bill as well (although VSA isn't nearly as dark as either). Keep in mind though, "forgiving" doesn't mean they can magically make a poor recording sound good. A bad recording is a bad recording. It just won't be as obviously grating as on a system that is transparent almost to a fault, like one that uses B&W Nauts or Harbeths.

    If I were you, I wouldn't worry about whether or not I could get "better" sound if I'm happy with my current rig. You're walking down the dangerous path known as "audiophilia" or rather "upgrade hell." To me, these are the people that loose site of the music and instead become more enamored with the gear. "Gear geeks" as they were so aptly coined by a friend. This is a dangerous and usually expensive road to travel so be forewarned.

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    Topspeed Please Clarify Further

    Wow, your right, I'm becoming what I dispise- someone looking for a musical holy grail where maybe there is none. Anyway, while I'm 100% happy with my Orb Mod 1 speaker & sub system, are there any recievers and CD players that are as you said are more "musically forgiving" & could you give me the brand names and models and I'll research this. Thanks for your help.

    As an aside, has anyone ever played "Revolver" By the Beatles on Cd in their system and been delighted by its sound. If so, what is your system? When I was a kid, the first time I ever heard this was on someone stereo system in the 60's and the sound was the most amazing sound I've ever heard in my life and haven't heard since and I've always wondered what kind of stereo system they had circa 1966 that could have produced such an incredible quality.


    Quote Originally Posted by topspeed
    Obviously, the more revealing your equipment becomes, the more you're going to hear any weaknesses in your chain, be it cd's, cd player, preamp, amps or whatever. Of course, this also means that stellar recording will absolutely sing and take you that much closer to the actual event. So yes, it's a double edged sword.

    However, there is excellent equipment available that can be highly involving musically yet more forgiving than others. Sonus Faber comes to mind as a very forgiving yet highly musical speaker. Canton and possibly Von Schweikert would fit the bill as well (although VSA isn't nearly as dark as either). Keep in mind though, "forgiving" doesn't mean they can magically make a poor recording sound good. A bad recording is a bad recording. It just won't be as obviously grating as on a system that is transparent almost to a fault, like one that uses B&W Nauts or Harbeths.

    If I were you, I wouldn't worry about whether or not I could get "better" sound if I'm happy with my current rig. You're walking down the dangerous path known as "audiophilia" or rather "upgrade hell." To me, these are the people that loose site of the music and instead become more enamored with the gear. "Gear geeks" as they were so aptly coined by a friend. This is a dangerous and usually expensive road to travel so be forewarned.

  4. #4
    Forum Regular Woochifer's Avatar
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    I think that really depends. So many variables at work here, most prominently the source recordings. Most of these pre 1980 recordings were likely monitored on something like the JBL 4310, and mastered for maximum sound quality on a vinyl rig. A lot of the CD transfers were clearly rushed to market without regard for sound quality, or how the artists or production team intended the recording to sound. On top of that, speakers nowadays have moved away from the tonal characteristics of the vintage JBLs.

    Audiophile reissue labels such as Classic Records often involve the original production team when they remaster an album in order to identify the type of sound that the artist originally aimed for. Some mastering engineers also look for vault copies of a first release vinyl pressing, which they would then use as a sound reference. To them, the first issue vinyl LP might provide a better reference because it better reflects the intended sound. The master tape might have had adjustments and/or processing applied during the vinyl cutting process, and this can help flag the changes that were made and make any necessary corrections.

    If you really want an idea of how good a vintage recording can sound when it's properly done, pick up a copy of Neil Young's Greatest Hits CD. It's easily one of the best classic rock remasters that I've heard. They also have a DVD+CD package that includes a high res 96/24 DVD that has even better sound quality (and it's playable through any DVD player).

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    Woochifer Do You Have any of the Beatles on CD?

    If you do, I'd like to know what you think of the sound quality on CD. I read how george Martin personally remastered them and alot of them like "Revolver" sound totally mediocore.

    Quote Originally Posted by Woochifer
    I think that really depends. So many variables at work here, most prominently the source recordings. Most of these pre 1980 recordings were likely monitored on something like the JBL 4310, and mastered for maximum sound quality on a vinyl rig. A lot of the CD transfers were clearly rushed to market without regard for sound quality, or how the artists or production team intended the recording to sound. On top of that, speakers nowadays have moved away from the tonal characteristics of the vintage JBLs.

    Audiophile reissue labels such as Classic Records often involve the original production team when they remaster an album in order to identify the type of sound that the artist originally aimed for. Some mastering engineers also look for vault copies of a first release vinyl pressing, which they would then use as a sound reference. To them, the first issue vinyl LP might provide a better reference because it better reflects the intended sound. The master tape might have had adjustments and/or processing applied during the vinyl cutting process, and this can help flag the changes that were made and make any necessary corrections.

    If you really want an idea of how good a vintage recording can sound when it's properly done, pick up a copy of Neil Young's Greatest Hits CD. It's easily one of the best classic rock remasters that I've heard. They also have a DVD+CD package that includes a high res 96/24 DVD that has even better sound quality (and it's playable through any DVD player).

  6. #6
    Suspended topspeed's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hershon
    Wow, your right, I'm becoming what I dispise- someone looking for a musical holy grail where maybe there is none. Anyway, while I'm 100% happy with my Orb Mod 1 speaker & sub system, are there any recievers and CD players that are as you said are more "musically forgiving" & could you give me the brand names and models and I'll research this. Thanks for your help.
    Well, I'm partial to the way Denon treats RBCD's, especially in Pure Direct mode. My 3803 process' the signal with no less than 16(!) Burr-Brown DAC's for a very smooth, analog-like sound. This mode also shuts down all video, dsp's, and anything else that could degrade the signal and comes the closest to turning the receiver into a passive pre. However, I think the onboard amps suck in two channel and added an outboard amp soon after I installed the Denon. There's always a trade-off...

    To realize the next level of performance, you're probably going to need to move to separates. You can get very good amps and pre-amps for under $1K from B&K, Rotel, and Parasound and that's if you buy new. If you go used, a whole new world is open to you. Amps, in particular are great buys used as they contain no moving parts and many times their warranties are transferrable. Just go to audiogon.com and dream a little.

    As an aside, has anyone ever played "Revolver" By the Beatles on Cd in their system and been delighted by its sound. If so, what is your system? When I was a kid, the first time I ever heard this was on someone stereo system in the 60's and the sound was the most amazing sound I've ever heard in my life and haven't heard since and I've always wondered what kind of stereo system they had circa 1966 that could have produced such an incredible quality.
    Boy, don't we all have memories like this? I wonder if it wasn't so much the '60's stereo system you are in love with as much as it was that time in your life? The Beatles music, as all great music does, simply turns into the vehicle that takes you back there emotionally. Rose colored glasses and whatnot...

  7. #7
    BooBs are elitist jerks shokhead's Avatar
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    I try to only buy remastered older stuff if possibly. You want something that sounds good,try cd's in DTS surround.
    Look & Listen

  8. #8
    Sgt. At Arms Worf101's Avatar
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    Unhappy Man ain't THAT the truth...

    Quote Originally Posted by Woochifer
    I think that really depends. So many variables at work here, most prominently the source recordings. Most of these pre 1980 recordings were likely monitored on something like the JBL 4310, and mastered for maximum sound quality on a vinyl rig. A lot of the CD transfers were clearly rushed to market without regard for sound quality, or how the artists or production team intended the recording to sound. On top of that, speakers nowadays have moved away from the tonal characteristics of the vintage JBLs.

    Audiophile reissue labels such as Classic Records often involve the original production team when they remaster an album in order to identify the type of sound that the artist originally aimed for. Some mastering engineers also look for vault copies of a first release vinyl pressing, which they would then use as a sound reference. To them, the first issue vinyl LP might provide a better reference because it better reflects the intended sound. The master tape might have had adjustments and/or processing applied during the vinyl cutting process, and this can help flag the changes that were made and make any necessary corrections.

    If you really want an idea of how good a vintage recording can sound when it's properly done, pick up a copy of Neil Young's Greatest Hits CD. It's easily one of the best classic rock remasters that I've heard. They also have a DVD+CD package that includes a high res 96/24 DVD that has even better sound quality (and it's playable through any DVD player).
    I'm sure that many of us were early adopters of CD technology. Much like when automobiles replaced horses, we thought we'd found a "perfect" technology. Now we know different. Just like horse poop gave way to smog, all the deficiencies of vinyl have led to a raft of hidden problems with CD's. For me at least, I was so happy to have a medium I didn't have to clean, could store in small place and absolutely that gave me no "snap, crackle or pop", that I didn't notice that I also had recordings with no bass, brittle highs, no depth and an overall sterile sound.

    Motown was one of the first companies to re-release the bulk of its catalogue on CD. I bought tons of the stuff. It sounded great on my old 300 Watt Pilot receiver with my JVC speakers. Now on my Onkyo 898 and Platinum Audio Studio 3's they sound like ass. There's no getting around it I suppose every form of refuge has it's price.

    Da Worfster

  9. #9
    Can a crooner get a gig? dean_martin's Avatar
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    Two suggestions, one of which will cause some around here to take up arms and the other has its own drawbacks:

    1) this is the more controversial suggestion - I prefer the Crystal brand digital to analog converter in my Cambridge Audio D300 cd player to the Burr-Brown 24/96 DAC in my AMC cd player with older and poorer recordings. I've had these players for 4 years and I've done several comparisons between them and have included a Panasonic dvd player with Burr-Brown 24/96 DACs in the comparisons at other times. At first, I thought the CA sounded smoother because it was less detailed, but then I began to hear the details that were so pronounced with the other players and concluded that the CA tended to blend everything together rather than causing or allowing things to pop out which results in a weightier rather than a leaner overall sound with some cds. This characteristic tends to mute the tizzy treble nasties and also alleviates the lack of bass to some degree with some early pop/rock recordings. It doesn't fill in bass, but it draws your attention away from the lack of bass. The Crystal in the CA D300 is an 18 or 20 bit DAC. (I think 16 bits is the redbook cd standard. I have yet to understand why it's necessary to have a 24 bit 96 or 192 Hz chip set to play back a 16 bit 44.1Hz medium.) So, I guess I'm suggesting that you audition different cd players. One that has the reputation (in some circles) for sounding "warm" with exagerated bass and rolled off highs is the Rega Planet 2000. If you want to take a hit or miss shot for relatively little money, check audiogon for a used Cambridge Audio D300, D300SE, or D500SE cd player. If you can track down a tube cdp like a Jolida it may be worth it to spend a couple of hours auditioning it with some of your favorite older recordings.

    Some argue that there are no differences in sound among cd players, or, to be more precise, that you can't prove there are differences in sound. (Some would argue that I can't prove that the differences I've mentioned are due to the different DACs and they're right.) Most of the time I don't detect any differences, and the differences I've mentioned are probably so subtle that it's taken me 4 years to draw any conclusions. Chances are you want hear night and day differences when auditioning cd players, but who knows what YOUR ears will hear.

    2) this is the more expensive suggestion - try a turntable. I've compared some early cd releases to their lp counterparts and have found the lps to be a tad more balanced with a little more bass weight. The releases I've probably spent the most time comparing are early REM albums. The first cd releases of albums like Murmur and Reckoning simply suck. The original lp versions do a slightly better job of filling out the bass and they don't have that irritating treble. But the version that brings out everything that was actually recorded for Murmur with the best presentation is the Mobile Fidelity LP. I have some remastered issues of 1960's jazz and rock (mostly Rolling Stones) on vinyl that sound as good as any new release on cd. Some of the studio recording equipment back then was actually very good, but inconvenient or cumbersome. With a little luck, you can get your hardware (table and cartridge) for less than you could get the cd players mentioned above. The biggest expense will be in reconstructing your cd collection on lp. You can find tons of remastered Beatles on vinyl. In fact, I think there was a recent re-issue.

    BTW, I have early cd releases, probably '89 or so, of the White Album and Abbey Road that I haven't listened to in ages. I do remember that the Abbey Road cd sounds similar to your description of Revolver. I'll revisit them and post if there's anything relevant to report.

  10. #10
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    Deano

    Thanks for your suggestions, I'm going to do some research on your Cambridge Audio D300 player. What receiver do you use with it? I'm totally not into vinyl because when I originally collected this stuff in the 60's & 70's- I've basically spent all my money on replacing all my vinyl albums with Cd's and replacing those CD's with the latest greatest remastered version, I scratched my records to smithereens! Oddly enough, when I play my CD's on my JVC receiver on the Marantz I had for all of one day, the dound was much better digitally through an optic cable than playing it through analogue cables. I also the next day then bought an Onkyo DCX-390 Cd player, and playing the same CD's as I did the Marantz, found the sound much better to my ears but still not as good as the sound coming from my original JVC DVD receiver set up.

    If you want email me your address and I'll make you a CDR of "Revolver". I'm curious as to what you think of the sound.

    As I said earlier, when I was around 12 or so, I heard Revolver on someones stereo system for the first time, I had never heard a stereo record before and it sounded like the Beatles were performing live in the room. I wish I knew what the guys set up was. I have never heard any recording sound as good since.





    Quote Originally Posted by dean_martin
    Two suggestions, one of which will cause some around here to take up arms and the other has its own drawbacks:

    1) this is the more controversial suggestion - I prefer the Crystal brand digital to analog converter in my Cambridge Audio D300 cd player to the Burr-Brown 24/96 DAC in my AMC cd player with older and poorer recordings. I've had these players for 4 years and I've done several comparisons between them and have included a Panasonic dvd player with Burr-Brown 24/96 DACs in the comparisons at other times. At first, I thought the CA sounded smoother because it was less detailed, but then I began to hear the details that were so pronounced with the other players and concluded that the CA tended to blend everything together rather than causing or allowing things to pop out which results in a weightier rather than a leaner overall sound with some cds. This characteristic tends to mute the tizzy treble nasties and also alleviates the lack of bass to some degree with some early pop/rock recordings. It doesn't fill in bass, but it draws your attention away from the lack of bass. The Crystal in the CA D300 is an 18 or 20 bit DAC. (I think 16 bits is the redbook cd standard. I have yet to understand why it's necessary to have a 24 bit 96 or 192 Hz chip set to play back a 16 bit 44.1Hz medium.) So, I guess I'm suggesting that you audition different cd players. One that has the reputation (in some circles) for sounding "warm" with exagerated bass and rolled off highs is the Rega Planet 2000. If you want to take a hit or miss shot for relatively little money, check audiogon for a used Cambridge Audio D300, D300SE, or D500SE cd player. If you can track down a tube cdp like a Jolida it may be worth it to spend a couple of hours auditioning it with some of your favorite older recordings.

    Some argue that there are no differences in sound among cd players, or, to be more precise, that you can't prove there are differences in sound. (Some would argue that I can't prove that the differences I've mentioned are due to the different DACs and they're right.) Most of the time I don't detect any differences, and the differences I've mentioned are probably so subtle that it's taken me 4 years to draw any conclusions. Chances are you want hear night and day differences when auditioning cd players, but who knows what YOUR ears will hear.



    2) this is the more expensive suggestion - try a turntable. I've compared some early cd releases to their lp counterparts and have found the lps to be a tad more balanced with a little more bass weight. The releases I've probably spent the most time comparing are early REM albums. The first cd releases of albums like Murmur and Reckoning simply suck. The original lp versions do a slightly better job of filling out the bass and they don't have that irritating treble. But the version that brings out everything that was actually recorded for Murmur with the best presentation is the Mobile Fidelity LP. I have some remastered issues of 1960's jazz and rock (mostly Rolling Stones) on vinyl that sound as good as any new release on cd. Some of the studio recording equipment back then was actually very good, but inconvenient or cumbersome. With a little luck, you can get your hardware (table and cartridge) for less than you could get the cd players mentioned above. The biggest expense will be in reconstructing your cd collection on lp. You can find tons of remastered Beatles on vinyl. In fact, I think there was a recent re-issue.

    BTW, I have early cd releases, probably '89 or so, of the White Album and Abbey Road that I haven't listened to in ages. I do remember that the Abbey Road cd sounds similar to your description of Revolver. I'll revisit them and post if there's anything relevant to report.

  11. #11
    Forum Regular Woochifer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dean_martin
    Two suggestions, one of which will cause some around here to take up arms and the other has its own drawbacks:

    1) this is the more controversial suggestion - I prefer the Crystal brand digital to analog converter in my Cambridge Audio D300 cd player to the Burr-Brown 24/96 DAC in my AMC cd player with older and poorer recordings. ....[snip]

    Some argue that there are no differences in sound among cd players, or, to be more precise, that you can't prove there are differences in sound. (Some would argue that I can't prove that the differences I've mentioned are due to the different DACs and they're right.) Most of the time I don't detect any differences, and the differences I've mentioned are probably so subtle that it's taken me 4 years to draw any conclusions. Chances are you want hear night and day differences when auditioning cd players, but who knows what YOUR ears will hear.
    Controversial? Well, one out of two ain't bad ...

    I'm not disputing that there are differences with DACs, what I do dispute is the magnitude of those differences. IMO, tweaks to the digital playback alone cannot and will not rescue a poorly done CD. Unless you're talking about something drastic like using tubes in the output stage, the differences between DACs won't be enough to overcome some of the issues that I brought up earlier like how CDs were often transferred using master sources designed for LP mastering and not adjusted for the characteristics of CDs.

    Quote Originally Posted by dean_martin
    2) this is the more expensive suggestion - try a turntable. I've compared some early cd releases to their lp counterparts and have found the lps to be a tad more balanced with a little more bass weight. The releases I've probably spent the most time comparing are early REM albums. The first cd releases of albums like Murmur and Reckoning simply suck. The original lp versions do a slightly better job of filling out the bass and they don't have that irritating treble. But the version that brings out everything that was actually recorded for Murmur with the best presentation is the Mobile Fidelity LP. I have some remastered issues of 1960's jazz and rock (mostly Rolling Stones) on vinyl that sound as good as any new release on cd. Some of the studio recording equipment back then was actually very good, but inconvenient or cumbersome. With a little luck, you can get your hardware (table and cartridge) for less than you could get the cd players mentioned above. The biggest expense will be in reconstructing your cd collection on lp. You can find tons of remastered Beatles on vinyl. In fact, I think there was a recent re-issue.

    BTW, I have early cd releases, probably '89 or so, of the White Album and Abbey Road that I haven't listened to in ages. I do remember that the Abbey Road cd sounds similar to your description of Revolver. I'll revisit them and post if there's anything relevant to report.
    Excellent suggestion because it really is about listening to something at it's best. I think this is a good illustration of my earlier point. It really comes down to those albums getting prepared with the assumption that the LP would be the best available playback for consumers, and the process was optimized for that. There are plenty of LPs in my collection that I much prefer to the CD version. Some of the better vinyl cutters out there like Doug Sax, Bob Ludwig, and Bernie Grundman were able to get consistently decent sound with the LPs that they mastered. If you compare the LPs that they mastered with the CD versions that came out early on (usually done by somebody else), you can pick up on how they tweaked with the recording to optimize the LP's sound.

    A recording done with an edgy treble won't present much of a problem once it gets transferred to LP because the vinyl medium will gently rolls off the extreme highs. Supertramp's another great example where their LPs were often praised for how clear and detailed they sounded, yet the early issue CDs were jarringly harsh. I don't think it's coincidental that most of these remastered CDs have less prominent highs than the earlier versions.

  12. #12
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    old Beatles CDs

    I've got Rubber Soul on CD and it sounds absolutely amazing. The Beatles obviously had a few tricks up their sleeves. It would be interesting to know if McCartney is an audiophile or whether he listens to music on a no-name blaster. On the other hand, I have the Blood, Sweat and Tears' Greatest Hits CD and I bleed, sweat and tear up if I try to play that disc on my system. Lucretia McEvil sound positivity evil. The brass is so grating it creates an instant headache. I have Adcom separates (535II amp and tuner/preamp, Mission M73s with silk dome tweeters and a Mirage BPS-150 sub. With the right CD this system sounds terrific in a room with 14 foot vaulted ceilings. With the wrong stuff my son's $39 Koss blaster sounds better.

  13. #13
    Can a crooner get a gig? dean_martin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Woochifer
    Controversial? Well, one out of two ain't bad ...

    I'm not disputing that there are differences with DACs, what I do dispute is the magnitude of those differences. IMO, tweaks to the digital playback alone cannot and will not rescue a poorly done CD. Unless you're talking about something drastic like using tubes in the output stage, the differences between DACs won't be enough to overcome some of the issues that I brought up earlier like how CDs were often transferred using master sources designed for LP mastering and not adjusted for the characteristics of CDs.


    .................................................. ............


    A recording done with an edgy treble won't present much of a problem once it gets transferred to LP because the vinyl medium will gently rolls off the extreme highs. Supertramp's another great example where their LPs were often praised for how clear and detailed they sounded, yet the early issue CDs were jarringly harsh. I don't think it's coincidental that most of these remastered CDs have less prominent highs than the earlier versions.
    It's been my impression that by the mid to late '80s even most consumers' vinyl rigs were woefully inadequate at reproducing the frequency extremes. The mass market turntables with pre-installed cartridges or the $30 carts purchased at the same time as the plastic tables suffered from loose, bloated bass and little or no high frequency extension. Somewhere in the process for run-of-the-mill pop/rock recordings, the highs were emphasized and the bass was minimized for lps to accomodate mass market vinyl rigs and this same technique was used for early cds. I think I read somewhere that this was intentional so as to not run into similar problems with the new cd players. If that's true, then boy were "they" wrong. What we got were pop recordings with no bass at all and treble that made dogs cry. I'm still amazed when comparing some early pop cds and original lps from the mid to late '80s to remastered LPs. (I know I keep referring to REM, but I would rather listen to the cassette version of Life's Rich Pageant than the first cd verison.) The cds sound awful while the original lps are only slightly better and on flimsy recycled vinyl. The original '70s lps in my collection are easier to listen to compared to my 80s lps which leads me to believe that something fishy may have been going on in the 80s to get us to jump on the cd bandwagon. Cds can be done right so I don't have a problem with the format itself, but those early cds...well, I think we've identified most of the problems.

    BTW, I certainly agree that a DAC won't turn sh*t to gold. I just happen to have one player that I prefer over my others when listening to some of those early cds.

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    BC Dave Important! Beatles Rubber Soul I Do Not Agree!

    I'm not saying one I'm right and you're wrong or vice versa, but I'm fascinated here. To my ears "Rubber Soul" CD on my system sounds B- or a B at best. Specifically, lets just focus on one song here, "Norwegian Wood" which is mainly accoustic with bass. My problem with this recording when I hear it on my system to my ears are the vocals don't sound like they're actually being performed "live in the room" and what my ears hear are John Lennon's vocals coming in a little muffled or not super prominent on the right speaker along with Paul McCartney in the chorus on the right and to my ears the vocals should be more prominent. I don't know if what I'm saying makes any sense to you. For all I know maybe this is exactly how this was recorded originally and my mind is tricking me that I recall the song to have more prominent either more centered or more upfront vocals. I'm wondering how you hear this song. Your comments are welcome. The instrumentation on "Norwegian Wood" sounds excellent on my system, its the vocals that I have a problem with.



    Quote Originally Posted by BC Dave
    I've got Rubber Soul on CD and it sounds absolutely amazing. The Beatles obviously had a few tricks up their sleeves. It would be interesting to know if McCartney is an audiophile or whether he listens to music on a no-name blaster. On the other hand, I have the Blood, Sweat and Tears' Greatest Hits CD and I bleed, sweat and tear up if I try to play that disc on my system. Lucretia McEvil sound positivity evil. The brass is so grating it creates an instant headache. I have Adcom separates (535II amp and tuner/preamp, Mission M73s with silk dome tweeters and a Mirage BPS-150 sub. With the right CD this system sounds terrific in a room with 14 foot vaulted ceilings. With the wrong stuff my son's $39 Koss blaster sounds better.

  15. #15
    Forum Regular Woochifer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dean_martin
    It's been my impression that by the mid to late '80s even most consumers' vinyl rigs were woefully inadequate at reproducing the frequency extremes. The mass market turntables with pre-installed cartridges or the $30 carts purchased at the same time as the plastic tables suffered from loose, bloated bass and little or no high frequency extension. Somewhere in the process for run-of-the-mill pop/rock recordings, the highs were emphasized and the bass was minimized for lps to accomodate mass market vinyl rigs and this same technique was used for early cds. I think I read somewhere that this was intentional so as to not run into similar problems with the new cd players. If that's true, then boy were "they" wrong. What we got were pop recordings with no bass at all and treble that made dogs cry. I'm still amazed when comparing some early pop cds and original lps from the mid to late '80s to remastered LPs. (I know I keep referring to REM, but I would rather listen to the cassette version of Life's Rich Pageant than the first cd verison.) The cds sound awful while the original lps are only slightly better and on flimsy recycled vinyl. The original '70s lps in my collection are easier to listen to compared to my 80s lps which leads me to believe that something fishy may have been going on in the 80s to get us to jump on the cd bandwagon. Cds can be done right so I don't have a problem with the format itself, but those early cds...well, I think we've identified most of the problems.

    BTW, I certainly agree that a DAC won't turn sh*t to gold. I just happen to have one player that I prefer over my others when listening to some of those early cds.
    Well, by the late-80s the midlevel turntable market had pretty much disappeared. The turntable and LP markets were already in fast decline by the time the CD appeared. The rise of the Walkman, the growth of sub/sat speaker systems, and growth with car audio systems redefined how people listened to music. It's not coincidental that around this time the studio monitors of choice had shifted away from the JBL monitors and more towards the Yamaha NS-10, which was a better barometer for how something would sound on a mobile audio or compact speaker system.

    At that time, I think there was a general trend towards emphasizing the treble and getting away from the pounding bass. The CD might have been responsible for some of that because the highs were really the biggest change, and it seemed that more recordings were trying to take advantage of that new capability. But, it was an ongoing trend as audio equipment in general was able to capture more of the high end. Sort of like when stereo came along and recording engineers discovered that they had TWO channels to play around with, and would sometimes go overboard with the panning effects.

    Some examples that I can think of offhand were the early "smooth jazz" recordings, a lot of the new wave pop recodings, etc. One recording that I think epitomizes what you're referring to is Rush's "Grace Under Pressure" album. THAT album is a lot of treble and not much else.

    With the LP, one major change that occurred by the mid-80s was that a lot of mastering engineers had switched over to direct metal mastering. It reduced distortion, allowed for a wider dynamic range, and it allowed for over 40 minutes of playing time per side (more than the CD). Subjectively, the DMM albums that I have generally have less of that fat midrange that you typically hear with vinyl and they generally have a lower level, but they do have somewhat cleaner high end extension and less audible bass distortion. Back in the day, some vinyl devotees said that DMM made vinyl sound more "digital". Of course, the flipsde to this is that traditional mastering could not handle as much high frequency information, so they were more prone to distortion and sibilance if the treble was at too high a level.

    To check on whether or not an album was direct metal mastered, look at the blank space at the end of an album side. Typically, you'll see an imprint or signature from the mastering engineer. The ones that were direct metal mastered were usually signed with a "DMM" somewhere. That blank space at the end of the side also gives you the number of the stamper used to press your record.

  16. #16
    Can a crooner get a gig? dean_martin's Avatar
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    Thanks for the history, Wooch. I was in my teens in the mid 80s and my main concerns were girls, my car audio system w/cassette deck and finding beer on the weekends. Only within the past few years have I tried to figure out what was going on in home audio and the record industry back then. I'll certainly go through my lps and look for that "DMM"!

    Did those JBL monitors have a signature sound and can you describe it? Have you ever tried them or something similar in a home system?

  17. #17
    Forum Regular Woochifer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dean_martin
    Thanks for the history, Wooch. I was in my teens in the mid 80s and my main concerns were girls, my car audio system w/cassette deck and finding beer on the weekends. Only within the past few years have I tried to figure out what was going on in home audio and the record industry back then. I'll certainly go through my lps and look for that "DMM"!

    Did those JBL monitors have a signature sound and can you describe it? Have you ever tried them or something similar in a home system?
    Well, I was in my teens in the 80s as well, and given that I didn't get a lot of dates back then and wasn't into beer, my buddies and I got heavily into audio and music. Most of them wound up working at various audio stores around the area, so I got to try out a lot of equipment where they worked.

    At home, my parents had a vintage JBL/Marantz rig, which I tweaked with all the time. The JBL sound is the classic "West Coast" sound, which entails a lot of kick in the bass, with a rise in the highs. The 4310 studio monitor was the most commonly used monitor of its era, and the consumer variant of that model was the JBL L100, which by several accounts was the biggest selling speaker of the 70s. (My parents had the L65 Jubals, which used a unique plexiglas prism tweeter [the price for that part alone nowadays can go for $200 because they were only made for the L65], and the same 12" alnico woofer as the L100) It's no coincidence that most classic rock sounds great on vintage JBLs. And with the more forgiving tonal characteristics of vinyl, the brash sound of those JBLs didn't make you wince.

    If you try playing one of those classic rock recordings back on a speaker that rolls off the highs and fattens up the midrange like the British speakers from the 70s and early-80s, it won't sound good at all. That's why so many of the so-called audiophile speakers from 20 years ago were ill suited for rock music.

    Once CDs came along and the 80s recordings started cranking up the treble, the vintage JBL sound wound up boosting the sound in all the wrong places. What was forgiveable with LPs sounded almost painful with CDs, especially the poorly mastered ones from the first wave.

  18. #18
    Utmostjamin1
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    Have you listened to any of the other Beatles recordings on cd? I found that Revolver and the White album were ok, but I have sgt peppers on cd (remastered) and it is step up in sound quality . It would make a great DVD-A release.

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    This is what disapoints me on the Beatles recordings

    My psychological problems with the Beatles legit albums (as opposed to compilation albums) on CD is partially psychological, I don't know if you guys remember this, but the Beatles were one of the last major groups to have their albums come out on CD and when they were at the time in the early 1980's I think, their releases were treated like major events with huge magazine and newspaper coverage and at the time George Martin the Beatles producer personally worked on all the CD releases which entailed both remastering and remixing (I believe) and at the time these drones for the media were salivating like thirsty dogs & treating & hyping the Beatles CD sound like the Holy Grail, how incredible it was, etc and that one had not experienced music until they heard the Beatles on CD. As far as I know, these original CD releases were from the first generation or closest to first generation tapes available & they have not been remastered since those initial releases in the 1980's. So let's move forward to 2004. For me, I have the best sound system I ever had for myself- 5 orb Mod 1 speakers a supereight sub, a 500 watt 5.1 digital JVC DVD receiver, first rate cables & everything, and when I put these albums on, I'm psycholgically expecting magic and what I'm getting while not terrible by any means if I was implying that, but B-/C+ sound. A track like "Taxman" from Revolver sounds sterile, dull, not full sound & "Norwegian Wood" which I expected to sound like John & Paul were performing in my room around a campfire, while instrumentally it sounds very good, vocally all I get are muted/stunted sterile not warm not prominent vocals coming from part of the right hand speakers. I should mention I'm listening to all 5 speakers & a sub naturally in the all channel mode- I'm not using prologic or anything, for me I prefer to listen to CD's this way instead of just 2 speakers & a sub. I'll have to listen to Pepper again. I don't recall it being bad but don't recall it being 4th of July fireworks either. Also some of the early Beatles albums did not come out on CD in Stereo for some reason. As an aside, when I lived in London during the early 1990's and did record producing on the side for a bunch of 60's groups/musicians whose names you'd recognize, I mastered for CD one of the albums I did at Abbey Road Studios which cost an extra $800 1993 dollars than doing this at another studio but I had to do this for posterity and the engineer who did the remastering with me was a nice and talented guy named Peter Mew who remastered the Beatles Red and Blue Anthology CD's.
    Last edited by hershon; 02-02-2005 at 10:53 PM.

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    Loving This kexodusc's Avatar
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    Consider this your final warning...

    Quote Originally Posted by Woochifer
    . One recording that I think epitomizes what you're referring to is Rush's "Grace Under Pressure" album. THAT album is a lot of treble and not much else.
    If you EVER speak that way about Rush again, I will drag you to the Rave Rec's forum where you will undoubtedly receiver a good ol' fashioned e-gang-stompin'...

    Truth be told, I'm not sure that the medium or recording is to blame...Grace Under Pressure was the beginning of the "dark times" of Rush, which really lasted until 2002's Vapor Trails...too many damn goofy laser synthesizers and attempts at accessibility in these albums...
    And Vapor Trails, oddly enough, is apparently being remastered itself because Rush and their fans were disappointed with how this solid music got short-changed along the line...

    BTW: Rush in Rio - Excellent music DVD!

  21. #21
    BooBs are elitist jerks shokhead's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jamison
    Have you listened to any of the other Beatles recordings on cd? I found that Revolver and the White album were ok, but I have sgt peppers on cd (remastered) and it is step up in sound quality . It would make a great DVD-A release.
    Where did you find a remastered beatles cd?
    Look & Listen

  22. #22
    BooBs are elitist jerks shokhead's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hershon
    My psychological problems with the Beatles legit albums (as opposed to compilation albums) on CD is partially psychological, I don't know if you guys remember this, but the Beatles were one of the last major groups to have their albums come out on CD and when they were at the time in the early 1980's I think, their releases were treated like major events with huge magazine and newspaper coverage and at the time George Martin the Beatles producer personally worked on all the CD releases which entailed both remastering and remixing (I believe) and at the time these drones for the media were salivating like thirsty dogs & treating & hyping the Beatles CD sound like the Holy Grail, how incredible it was, etc and that one had not experienced music until they heard the Beatles on CD. As far as I know, these original CD releases were from the first generation or closest to first generation tapes available & they have not been remastered since those initial releases in the 1980's. So let's move forward to 2004. For me, I have the best sound system I ever had for myself- 5 orb Mod 1 speakers a supereight sub, a 500 watt 5.1 digital JVC DVD receiver, first rate cables & everything, and when I put these albums on, I'm psycholgically expecting magic and what I'm getting while not terrible by any means if I was implying that, but B-/C+ sound. A track like "Taxman" from Revolver sounds sterile, dull, not full sound & "Norwegian Wood" which I expected to sound like John & Paul were performing in my room around a campfire, while instrumentally it sounds very good, vocally all I get are muted/stunted sterile not warm not prominent vocals coming from part of the right hand speakers. I should mention I'm listening to all 5 speakers & a sub naturally in the all channel mode- I'm not using prologic or anything, for me I prefer to listen to CD's this way instead of just 2 speakers & a sub. I'll have to listen to Pepper again. I don't recall it being bad but don't recall it being 4th of July fireworks either. Also some of the early Beatles albums did not come out on CD in Stereo for some reason. As an aside, when I lived in London during the early 1990's and did record producing on the side for a bunch of 60's groups/musicians whose names you'd recognize, I mastered for CD one of the albums I did at Abbey Road Studios which cost an extra $800 1993 dollars than doing this at another studio but I had to do this for posterity and the engineer who did the remastering with me was a nice and talented guy named Peter Mew who remastered the Beatles Red and Blue Anthology CD's.
    Thats the only way i listen to cd's,5 channel stereo. I notice that there is a big volume change form one beatle cd to another.
    Look & Listen

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    Shokhead

    How does "Norwegian Wood" and "Taxman" sound to you on your system if you've played those CDs?

    Quote Originally Posted by shokhead
    Thats the only way i listen to cd's,5 channel stereo. I notice that there is a big volume change form one beatle cd to another.

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    Hershon, you are absolutely right

    I listened to Norwegian Wood again last night and all the vocals eminated from the right side. I have never noticed this before. I tried a couple of other cuts and heard vocals from both speakers. I wondered if they screwed up on Norwegian Wood or did that deliberately? It does sound kind of weird, because it screws up any sense of imaging. Still, the fidelity of that disc, for that time especially, is very impressive.

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    BC DAve Maybe I'm trying to fix what can't be fixed!

    Well its good to know someone totally independent of me is hearing the same things I do so I know I'm not totally mad. What system do you have? I'm wondering if same thing will happen sonically on "Norwegian Wood" if you're listening to it on a $20,000 system as maybe then I'm banging my head against the wall with no solution in sight ever. I just keep thinking that if I heard this song on a much better system, it would sound differently in regards to the vocals.
    Anyway, thanks for helping me keep my sanity.


    Quote Originally Posted by BC Dave
    I listened to Norwegian Wood again last night and all the vocals eminated from the right side. I have never noticed this before. I tried a couple of other cuts and heard vocals from both speakers. I wondered if they screwed up on Norwegian Wood or did that deliberately? It does sound kind of weird, because it screws up any sense of imaging. Still, the fidelity of that disc, for that time especially, is very impressive.

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