Quality Rock record releases

Discussion in 'Music and Recordings (vinyl , 8-track, etc.)' started by JoshMorr, Mar 28, 2016.

  1. JoshMorr

    JoshMorr Friend

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    This post was prompted when I read @drfindley say that radiohead records mastered by capital records is crap (not his exact words but I could feel the sentiment).

    Jazz has Mobile Fidelity, Music Matters, MOV etc as well respected mastering house I am even willing to pay 2x or 3x the cost of the original recording for something that really brings the recording alive.

    Is there a rock equivalent? I seem to buy a lot of hit or miss rock records, especially newer releases. I can see how disappointing it would be to buy a great record and get a flat or grainy recording. Any advice other than trolling elusive disc hours on end?
     

  2. drfindley

    drfindley Secretly lives in the Analog Room - Friend

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    I find rock is waaaay more hit or miss. ORG tends to sound good as does Analogue Productions. That those original Radiohead pressing sound better is frustrating. I find that original pressings almost always sound better than the represses or remasters.

    A good example that was done incredibly well: August And Everything After out by Analogue Productions on 45. Sounds incredible.

    The recent Neil Young pressings sound incredible as well. Pick up Live at Massey Hall. Not sure how they compare against the originals, but they were done well.
     
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  3. JoshMorr

    JoshMorr Friend

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    Thanks dude. Looks like I will be combing through discogs for originals and well done masters. I will definitely check out anything live by Neil.
     
  4. Merrick

    Merrick Friend

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    For rock, your best bet is to search the threads on the Steve Hoffman Forums for recommendations. The quality can be all over the place, and sometimes the best sounding version is a Canadian re-release from 12 years after the original album came out. Oftentimes it's a good bet that the first pressing will sound the best, but that's not always the case. And sometimes it's just easier to pick up the most recent re-release depending on what record it is.
     
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  5. drfindley

    drfindley Secretly lives in the Analog Room - Friend

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    This is also very true.
     
  6. Merrick

    Merrick Friend

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    Just by way of example, I recently bought two Judas Priest records: Killing Machine and Stained Class. I was speaking with a big Judas Priest fan on the Steve Hoffman Forums, and he was telling me that the recent MoFi reissues of a few JP albums sounded good, but not the best the record could ever sound. At the same time, Todd The Vinyl Junkie was doing their vinyl blowout clearance sale, and I noticed they had the MoFi versions of both of those aforementioned albums for sale. I decided to get the MoFi of Killing Machine because it seems like a decent reissue and it's a good JP album, but not my favorite. For Stained Class, which is my favorite Judas Priest album and one of my favorite metal albums period, I ended up splurging on a Japanese re-release from the last '70s that is supposed to have the best sound quality. There really is no one size fits all rule of thumb for rock albums.
     
  7. Psalmanazar

    Psalmanazar Friend

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    Most recent records will be direct metal mastered from a digital source and pressing quality for everything (not just rock, jazz, reissues, or metal) is spotty. Look at all the pressings of the unbrickwalled Iggy remix of Raw Power from the same digital source and they all sound different. Even if they press from an analog source, it doesn't mean someone at the plant won't run it through an ADC (especially if the label wants to do a direct metal mastering from an analog source) if that source hasn't had the necessary equalization and filtering for the lathe as frequently the only usable tapes are mix tapes held by the labels, musicians, and studio people, not the master tapes sent out to the pressing plants. The amount of copy to copy surface noise can be drastic too. I've had to buy four copies of some recent all analog pressings to get one that wasn't too noisy. I've also almost given up completely on buying new vinyl pressings. A good digitization of intact tapes messes with the sound less than vinyl mastering so I only buy vinyl if the digital master is clipped to hell and the vinyl isn't but sometimes the lathe makes the LP sound even more compressed...

    The Steve Hoffman forum is a Steve Hoffman circle jerk of warm faggery rather than a find the best masters forum . His chosen engineer (I forgot whom his current guy is. Hoffman can't operate a cutting lathe or use a DAW) just equalizes the previous masters as most labels don't let Hoffman touch tapes anymore. Look at what he did to Metallica, Megadeth, and Dio. "I made Dio sound 3D!" when he just made some sparkly 80s record sound bloomy. For Metallica, he just equalized the "MORE LOUDERER!" 1995 CD remasters to sound like shit.

    Many of the CD editions shitted on there for 70s rock (Zeppelin, Sabbath, the Stooges) are in fact just straight dumps of the mix tapes from the late 80s and early 90s far closer than any LP will ever be. The Steve Hoffman crowd just doesn't like how many of these bands really sounded. The early Zeppelin LPs and first round of CDs sound nothing like the original mixes and mostly came from second and third generation tapes. The 1990 CDs, the mid 90s compressed versions of those digitizations, and the recent Jimmy Page remasters all sound much more like the reel to reels.

    Usually the best CD of anything old will be from the late 80s to early 90s unless they didn't have the original tapes (Court of the Crimson King) or it had a recent audiophile remaster or tape dump (the Earache back catalog). Some stuff has never had a decent digital version (pre 16-bit ADCs and DACs, crappy early 80s CDs and ultra compressed recent CDs) and you need to hunt down LPs and as @drfindley said, earlier is better as it's closer to the tapes and the lacquer was cut by the original mastering engineer.
     
    Last edited: Mar 29, 2016
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  8. Skyline

    Skyline Friend

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    I'm very fond of the Jimmy Page remastered vinyl. Some of my favorite records to play.
     
  9. Psalmanazar

    Psalmanazar Friend

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    Yeah I thought the self titeld sounded good despite being from same master as the CDs. I mean it's Zeppelin, it's not a great recording to begin with.

    The last round of Zeppelin LPs represses were good too and I think analogly mastered.
     
  10. Skyline

    Skyline Friend

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    I've just got I and IV so far. The rest are certainly on my wishlist.
     
  11. Merrick

    Merrick Friend

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    The Classic Records 45 RPM reissues of Zeppelin's catalog are the ones to get, hands down.
     
  12. Mr.Sneis

    Mr.Sneis Friend

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    I hate to give a roundabout answer but there are so many factors to consider you usually end up having to compromise somewhere. Best bet is to take your time and research each album one at a time and learn where you draw your line. Some people only go for original pressings, but even Steve Hoffman will tell you sometimes (pretty rarely at least) early pressings were a mess to begin with or flawed in a non trivial way.

    The original Radiohead og pressings will sound the best no question but you will have price and condition concerns, I have been saying lately that sometimes you cant even pay for quality. Some current USA Radiohead pressings are actually parlophone uk pressings in disguise and they are great sounding (even if not from the original plates), cheap, and available at local stores.

    Since rock is such a crazy umbrella of a genre you have to consider a bunch of factors like the quality and vitality of the source material, the label, the mastering, and the pressing plant. You minimize risk with the audiophile labels but they are not always the best pressings and will burn through money really quick. Rhino for instance puts out a lot of reissues and they are 50/50 for quality vs crap. Even Mofi completely ruined the Metallica catalog with their versions and not all Analog Productions is perfect. Capital vaults/Back in black is mostly garbage but early on some of them were decent.

    Some quick hints for mastering:

    Chris Bellman is today's Wally Traugott, he is an excellent and very active mastering engineer for a lot of the "rock" releases I buy and he doesn't even work exclusively for the audiophile labels. His CB initials in the deadwax are comforting to see. Another thing I like to see in deadwax is Sterling for Sterling Sound, they do generally very good in the mastering department.

    Pressing Plants:

    I usually loathe anything put out by Rainbo, GZ, and to a lesser extent United. RTI, QRP, and Pallas are going to be the best right now but I am probably forgetting a few.
     
  13. drfindley

    drfindley Secretly lives in the Analog Room - Friend

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    The most reliable label for me has been Music Matters. So far quality all the way through. But yup. Every thing else has issues. Sometimes I dig into it, sometimes I just buy and hope for the best.
     
  14. Marvey

    Marvey Loves sex and records

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    Any idea on the others? There are MoFi and BoB (180g 2 discs) releases easily available. I can't seem to find a source for the Japanese one.
     
  15. Merrick

    Merrick Friend

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    I got my Stained Class copy used on Discogs from a seller in the Russian Federation, which had me slightly nervous, but the record came through fine. I still need to listen to the Mofi of Killing Machine. I've been told the best release of Screaming for Vengeance is the regular original US release, which shouldn't be hard to find used.
     
  16. JoshMorr

    JoshMorr Friend

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    Just got a heads up and it looks like Radiohead is re-releasing all their albums on 180 gram audiophile virgin vinyl under XL Recordings. Any one know anything about these? Are these remasters? Is XL Recordings a decent maker, a quick check and they look legit. Is the word not out yet as Radiohead waits to announce with new album in June?
     
  17. Merrick

    Merrick Friend

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    This is what I found on that subject: http://forums.stevehoffman.tv/threads/radiohead-new-vinyl-pressings-may-20-2016.535772/
     
  18. JoshMorr

    JoshMorr Friend

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    Sounds like it's still up in the air as to what these recordings are. Most are saying they are just re-pressing. I accidently bought all the rereleases after a couple of bourbons last week - we will see!
     
  19. Merrick

    Merrick Friend

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    Doing more research, it appears that Parlophone in the UK used better sounding stampers than Capitol did in the US, and apparently even the XL Records for In Rainbows and King of Limbs sound better in the EU pressings. It may be worth it to you to track down the EU/UK pressings as there's no guarantee XL will use the EU stampers for their releases.
     
  20. rtaylor76

    rtaylor76 Acquaintance

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    MoFi is the standard for all. They do rock records too - not just jazz.

    In the mid 90's they invested in the GAIN™ A/D converter system and then in 1999 went to the GAIN 2™ system:

    http://www.mofi.com/Articles.asp?ID=255

    And who was involved with that? Theta...ahem...Mike Moffatt (aka - Baldr), who is now at Schiit making awesome multibit machines.

    122 releases available on the GAIN 2™ system. Yes, some of them are Jazz, but most are classic rock and some modern ones. I only own one...the Weezer blue album. And it sounds glorious and HUGE.

    Simply Vinyl is another popular label. Music on Vinyl is another. However, here is a YouTube video between a MOV master and a MoFi (MFSL) and the MoFi is clearly better. Even from the YouTube clip.
     
    Last edited: May 19, 2016
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