Forums > Queen - Serious Discussion > Remasters - just louder

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Richard Orchard user not visiting Queenzone.com
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Richard Orchard
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Posted: 23 Aug 11, 23:45 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Hi,

Are the new remasters better sounding - or just "louder"?  In reference to the idea of loudness wars: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Loudness_war

Sometimes you can say, i haven't heard that before when doing an A B comparison - but if one volume is a lot lounder when played, then that is bounds to be the case.  For example, Hot Space is pretty loud at the same volume setting compared to other CD's i have.

Is anyone up with recording technology, etc, who can give some insight?

Thanks,

Richard

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Posted: 24 Aug 11, 02:37 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

They are much louder. I don't know if they're ONLY louder, but they were not done from the multitracks, but from a stereo "master", so I personally think they are ONLY louder. Never bothered to check it, to be honest

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Posted: 24 Aug 11, 04:05 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

I don't know. I don't get into the technical stuff personally, though I am actually a musician, and perhaps I should. I've so far liked all the remasters that I've heard so far. I'm really looking forward to hearing Innuendo remastered, as it is personally my favorite CD of theirs. Knowing the intent that the band were going for, I think they've acheived it, in the respect that they got the sound closer to the 'vinyl' sound that was sought after, at least in terms of warmth. Just my opinion, and I know I'll have a hundred people that disagree with what I'm saying. That's ok, to each his own, you know?


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Posted: 24 Aug 11, 06:22 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

New remasters not just louder, they're indeed better.

Check out different remasters of The March of the Black Queen. There's 'click' nearly at 2:00, which is very audible on both 1994 and 2004 remasters, and on 2004 remaster it's very loud. On the new remaster, this click is much lesser audible than on previous remasters.

On new Jazz remaster Mustapha sounds great while it's too sharp on 2004 Japanese remaster.

Now I'm wainting for Innuendo remaster. All previously released digital masters sounds bad. On 2004 remaster drums on I Can't Live with You seems to be too prominent, so even 1991 Innuendo CD sounds better in that case.


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Posted: 24 Aug 11, 06:56 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

I think broadly, it’s a fair summation to say that they are just louder. Now on the surface that could seem like a slur, which I guess it is, because in the end that’s why I don’t like them. However in every other way they are quite acceptable (Which is more than can be said for every other Queen remastering effort). So it’s desperately frustrating that they fallen into this loud trap.

I think there is some acknowledgement of the ‘loud issue’ in the remasters, in so much as they are not overly compressed, rather they have been very heavily limited. So in some tracks (or sections of tracks) it can sound quite acceptable. But for the most part, snares, backing vocals, guitar solos etc.. are sunken and noticeably clipped, which is a real shame.
The annoying part is that the EQ is mostly very faithful to the first presses (aside from a slight boost to the low end), so on that score they sound fine, and occasionally the EQ reveals a little more detail than the originals, without going too far.
For what it’s worth, here’s my view on the remasters as they stand.

QUEEN – EQ very faithful to the first press, just louder, however not ‘crazy loud’. I would still opt for the more dynamic original, but if you can’t get your hands on it, this would be next in line.

Q II – Noticeable EQ rethink. For me this is the one real highlight of the releases. For what is basically a poor recording, this new version reveals a lot more detail and generally feels a lot more balanced. It is undoubtedly loud, however not too loud; considering, it’s actually quite restrained. There are only occasional moments of noticeable clipping. My new 'go to' version!

SHA – Again a faithful EQ, just waaaaay too loud. This was a real disappointment.

ANATO – Basically the same as the 2005 release. To be honest, it’s not that bad. Not overly loud, but enough clips to irritate. The EQ is quite good. It has moments where it sounds like the DCC and others where it sounds like the Japanese CP32. But not quite as good as either. In the end the DCC is pretty difficult to top. If anyone hasn’t heard that, I thoroughly recommend it.

ADATR –An attempt to clean up a slightly muddy first press. And generally it succeeds on that front. But it’s just ridiculously loud. The Millionaire Waltz is a perfect example of everything that’s wrong this approach to mastering. Unlistenable.

NOTW – Another attempt to de-mud, but probably didn’t need it. Again too loud. It’s late is a disaster. Will stick to the fantastic Target press I found a couple of months ago. Just brilliant.

JAZZ – Very similar to the first press (which is perfect IMO), but, you guessed it, too loud. ...You do however get an additional kick track in Jealousy; along with a moronically unconvincing explanation as to why it’s there. Another reason to stick with the first press.

TG – Great EQ. Outrageously loud. Could have been great. A real disappointment.

FLASH – Great EQ. And, wait for it ....it’s not that loud. Sure it’s not quite as dynamic as the original, but a worthy addition to any playlist. Haven’t decided myself whether I prefer this or the first press.

HS -  Stupidly loud!! The EQ is fine, basically a similar profile to the original.

The one thing I will credit these releases for, is encouraging me to relisten to the first presses and reminding me how great they sound. It’s also made me seek out the MFSL versions of The Game and ADATR, which are brilliant; and finally being led to the simply perfect DCC version of ANATO.

One final point I’d like to make (I think I’ve made it before, so feel free to ignore), is that it’s reasonable to believe that Bob Ludwig himself doesn’t like these remasters, as he’s been on record numerous times talking up the evils of compression and hard limiting. But, as he also points out, he is at the mercy of his employers, in this case Queen Productions. And their history for commissioning remasters has been pretty diabolical.

(Don’t mean to be preachy. ....It’s all subjective anyway)

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Posted: 24 Aug 11, 09:32 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

I'm convinced this is just too subjective to answer definitively.

To my ears, some of these came out better than others - but then again, the original 2-track master mixes that Bob Ludwig was given were all sonically different as well.  Louder, yes.  Clearer, yes.  EQ changes, yes.  But to varying degrees among the different albums.

Every CD gets mastered - there's EQ, compression, and sometimes limiting applied.  EVERY single song.  So I get irritated when people act like compression on a REmaster is this evil thing.  If standards have changed (they have) then an updated mastering is merited.

I like dynamics, but I like a recording to have the punch of a bit of overall compression.  If i'm sitting in a soundproof studio, perfectly positioned in front of an amazing sound system, then vinyl or a wide dynamic range is great.  But a lot of times, i'm listening to music in my car.  If it isn't a modern, more compressed remaster, I don't hear it very well anyway.

the point is, there's no one answer to the question.  Different ears and different tastes on everyone.


Joseph A. Silvey
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Posted: 24 Aug 11, 11:24 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

@TyphoonTip: could you name a few clipping examples? Which songs?


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Posted: 24 Aug 11, 11:42 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Honestly, I haven't heard the MSFL/DCC versins (looking forward to ! ) but I cannot agree with the statement that It's late is the worst example on NOTW 2011 remaster. To my mind Freddie was always "behind" the loud vocal harmonies and his words weren't that clear to hear on that song, which - imho - have been always loud. On the 2011 remaster Bob Ludwig cleared up and "embellished" his voice and simultaneously sustained the high volume level of the vocal harmonies. There is a new feel added to the drum sound on this song. And believe me, you can hear it all when you listen to it on good Hi-Fi. For the first time in years I understood how deep in the terms of sound is the song. :)
But... stay away from the headphones !

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Posted: 24 Aug 11, 15:43 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

I agree. It's Late sounds great on a good audio set. In fact, NOTW is one of the albums which has been improved the most. Spread Your Wings sounds ace as well.


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Posted: 24 Aug 11, 15:46 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Today i was thinking the remaster sound like an old radio under the water... but maybe is too much, maybe it only sound more loud and nothing more...


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Posted: 24 Aug 11, 17:23 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

pittrek wrote: They are much louder. I don't know if they're ONLY louder, but they were not done from the multitracks, but from a stereo "master", so I personally think they are ONLY louder. Never bothered to check it, to be honest
=======================================================
You should be ashamed of yourself, especially as you can access, ahem, copies on the internet if you look hard enough.
Once you realise it's not JUST a case of sounding louder, but stereo seperation on some albums is better (Queen II especially!), the bass and drums are clearer, richer and more precise for a start, then you might want to think about actually buying them.

Of course, if you have the MFSL versions (What ARE the DCC ones people are talking about??), then you would be best to stick with them for headphone listening as the new remasters DO overpower after a few songs and can give you earache!

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Posted: 24 Aug 11, 17:25 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Guys. The only was to truly enjoy the Queen experience is by listening to the original LPs . there is a warmth that Digital mastering just cannot duplicate. Listen to an Good copy of ANATO which I believe was mastered by Bob Ludwig (I'll need to check that) the difference is night and day.


J-
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Posted: 24 Aug 11, 17:32 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Good news and bad news.   The good news is I have everything you ever wanted to know about this subject typed up, along with material you didn't even know to ask for that will make you the envy of your friends and family until forever that I would be happy to post in a heartbeat.  The bad news is it's on my iPad... ;)

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Posted: 24 Aug 11, 17:40 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Some good, some loud - I guess. Someone pointed out NOTW sounds way better rather than only louder. I can attest to that - it is my favorite album. The MFSL version was my favorite - but this is fairly close and is of course louder. I now listen to the remaster.

Queen II, ANATO, and Jazz are very worth upgrades, including NOTW. These are not only louder but actually sound "cleaner" and I think are also "corrected" (as in the case of Jealousy in Jazz).

As for the rest, yes they are louder, no the differences aren't extremely noticeable, and NO THEY ARE NOT TOO LOUD. If you feel they are too loud, lower your volume... there is no clipping... and anyone who complains about loss of dynamics, or compression, etc... you have superhuman ears. I have 125% hearing (as per a hearing test I underwent a few years ago)... and I can tell 192kpbs mp3 from a 320kbps mp3 from a lossless file (So I have an idea what compression sounds like)... there is no audible compression in any of the remasters.... unless your comparing to vinyl which is a whole other argument.

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Posted: 25 Aug 11, 06:28 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

jstger6969 wrote: Guys. The only was to truly enjoy the Queen experience is by listening to the original LPs . there is a warmth that Digital mastering just cannot duplicate. Listen to an Good copy of ANATO which I believe was mastered by Bob Ludwig (I'll need to check that) the difference is night and day.

******

Agree on the LP's, vastly superior - the only way to understand the intent of the music in my opinion. DCC of ANATO on CD is the closest I've heard a digital format come to the vinyl. Ludwig didn't do ANATO originally, that was Chris Blair from Abbey Road wasn't it? Look in the deadwax and you should see something like "BLAIR'S CUT" OR "MR BLAIR'S CUT" or something similar.

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Posted: 25 Aug 11, 08:13 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

OK, 'clipping' can be a loaded term in audio circles, but in truth the definition has a certain amount of breadth. In this instance (i.e. these remasters) I'm using the term in reference to 'soft clipping', rather than a flattening or distortion of the wave form. So, yes, there is clipping in these remasters. There is nothing necessarily wrong with this mastering approach, if used sparingly and intelligently. Personally I feel it works better with some genres than others. Messing with the dynamic range of recordings is nothing new. And as some have pointed out, compression can often help a mix. But as with all things, it's about choosing when and where it's best suited.

Again I reiterate that this is all subjective and whatever sounds good to you, then stick with that. But for me Queen, particularly the 70's stuff, is all about dynamics, and the careful craft that went into creating it. And any mastering effort that undermines that is just not for me. I have a background in sound engineering so I'm probably more prone to hear when things are limited. There are tell tale signs (that are difficult to describe) when snares, kicks, solos, don't punch through a mix they way they should do (...if you are familiar with the mix, that is).

I'm not one that generally looks at wave forms. In fact I purposely shy away from them, as they can distract and make you hear things in a different way. In short, they can play with your head. So my rule is, I live with a CD for a while, if I feel I'm hearing something that doesn't quite sound right, then my curiosity will occasionally get the better of me. And that's been the case with these remasters. I listened to them for a long while, before checking my suspicions, on one or two occasions. Sadly my suspicions were justified. Although clearly far from 'brick-walled', nevertheless a substantial amount of dynamic range has been lost from many tracks. Some worse than others.

As for examples, the tracks I mentioned in the previous post are a good place to start. NOTW is a good case in point. In and of itself, the new remaster sounds quite good. And if that were the only version around, I'd happily listen to it, and probably not ever notice the limiting. But the problem is, I've grown up with the vinyl since I was a kid, and I've become super sensitive to how 'I think' it should sound. So to me the limiting is very noticeable. And as I've said before, having discovered other fantastic digital versions, like DCC, MFSL, and the Target NOTW, I find it hard to compromise.

Whether you think something sounds good, or not, is completely up to you. There's no right or wrong. I'm just saying my piece and perfectly respect others that disagree.

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Posted: 25 Aug 11, 12:31 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

*shakes head at anyone who listens to rock music who complains because it's too loud*

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Posted: 25 Aug 11, 15:25 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

I'm really happy that I am such a noob when it comes to sound quality etc and I have no knowledge about remasters, clicks, clipping, loudness and other blabla. It seems that it really makes my life a lot easier, esp when I read everyone's opinions here who are so well-taught in that area.
I always enjoyed the Japanese remasters back then and thought they were much better compared to the 80's CD's (80's discs were flat and too much hiss in my opinion).
With the new remasters I barely hear any difference between these and the Jap ones. In the end I bought em for the bonus disc and because I like to stay up to date.. no matter if the sound is better or worse..
:D


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Posted: 25 Aug 11, 15:47 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

It really is just louder. Look up "loudness war".  I fell for the whole idea that each new remaster reissue means new technology that improves the sound. I bought and rebought and sold old CD's. So after buying the same album 5 times, I'm the theif for wanting to download the old version that I gave up. It's truly a scam. They do have the technology, but they just use to to make it louder instead. You will notice your ears fatigue really quickly.

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Posted: 25 Aug 11, 15:53 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Do yourselves a favour and google and youtube "loudness war". Here is a link to a very good explanation. it is a short video. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Gmex_4hreQ