There are several albums I’ve purchased in a lossy/compressed format from iTunes. I’ve decided to replace these albums with something of higher quality. I’ve already replaced a few with CDs ripped to lossless/uncompressed FLACs and the difference in quality is obvious.
So onto the question. How does one go about picking the “best” version of an CD or digital download? My question stems from the fact that many of the titles I’m replacing have been re-mastered, and I’m starting to think that isn’t always a good thing.
For instance, I purchased on CD the recently remastered versions of the Beatle’s “White Album” and “Sgt.Peppers”. Both excellent sounding recordings. However, I also purchased a few other CDs that advertised as being remastered but I don’t feel like they sounded as good as the original CDs that I had on hand for comparison. They really just sounded more compressed and louder.
An album I’d like to replace is the first Led Zeppelin album. HDTracks has a 96/24 version but gives scant info about the remastering. Qobuz (I’m an early U.S. Qobuz member) also offers a 96/24 version and gives just a bit more info, but are these the same remasters?
Any thoughts? (no industry affiliations, btw)
the “best” version is very subjective. The issue is many times, as you say, there are no information available what the re-mastered version is about. If you look for reviews about remastered version released in the past you many times come across varying reviews stating often times contradicting impressions. In some (box) cases the reviewers state on some occasion different verdicts per title on the same album. imo this goes down the same rabbit whole as to which pressing is preferable. If you are so inclined hunt down several and make your own decision. If not the just buy what you fancy (if no obvious reviews about a botched up remaster deter) and call it a day and enjoy the music instead of spending time to research what the “best”/”ultimate” version shall be.
All very good points and thank you for the response. Interestingly, John Darko published a piece today with the results of his needle-drop survey in which most responders preferred the remastered version of David Bowie’s Low.
I guess I’ll stop wringing my hands and just purchase whatever version gives the most perceived value. Qobuz, for instance, often has 96/24 downloads priced below the 44/16 downloads (for those on the “Sublime” tier).
I have no specific source of info.
I like to Google a given re-master and look for reviews or discussions of the merits of each digital edition of a recording and then go from there.
There are sites that offer the measured dynamic range of a given release, source the recordings were mastered from, etc.
I just sort of follow the Tao, it’s pretty fun.
Sorry for the lack of helpfulness on this, just my own idiosyncratic way of wandering about.
What makes the process easier now is that, at least with downloads from Qobuz, I can try before I buy. I’ve decided I don’t care if something is the “best” version or not. If it pleases me when I listen to it then I’ll purchase it. Thanks for all of the replies.
Remember some of these remasters were done so they could get a contract on the new work. Because the old contract for some of these albums did not include any digital. So the fat record companies were making money (still are) and the bands were getting nothing for digital stuff.
The remastering really was taking those tapes and and a good AD and putting them in respectable format for digital.