Best options for upgrading studio albums

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andysbassline ®

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Post 03-Feb-2014 04:34

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It wasn't until I got the Sound of the Smiths Remastered collection that I realized how muted the original studio versions sound. Are they available in remastered editions? There have been so many reissues and various editions, that I can't keep them all straight. I never really followed it because I had pretty much everything but the live shows, which I have since acquired. So, what's my play here? Thanks.
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SweetFA

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Post 03-Feb-2014 09:30 (after 4 hours)

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Get the original Rough Trade vinyl, that's how they're meant to sound.
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savbomb

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Post 03-Feb-2014 12:55 (after 3 hours)

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All the Smiths albums were reissued in remastered versions a couple of years ago, and there was a boxset called "Complete". AFAIK, these are the same remasters as used for The Sound of the Smiths.
Your best bet is eBay, but make sure you don't buy an old CD that someone has misdescribed as a remaster.
How much of an improvement you'll hear might depend on the CDs you have now. Most people think that old pressings on Sire and Warner Brothers are poor but pressings on Rough Trade or Virgin are OK.
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andysbassline ®

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Post 03-Feb-2014 15:25 (after 2 hours 29 minutes)

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Thanks. Unfortunately I no longer have a record player, so vinyl is out of the question. Amazon has the Complete set for about 63 dollars, so that's what I'll do.
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DavidA

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Post 03-Feb-2014 16:33 (after 1 hour 7 minutes)

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Frank Arkwright and Johnny Marr remastered everything in 2008. There was a great interview with Frank where he described what he did, but I can't find it now.
If anyone can find it, could they let me know please?
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andysbassline ®

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Post 03-Feb-2014 16:37 (after 3 minutes)

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Just looked at Amazon, and almost all the vendors ship from Japan. Was this set printed in Japan? I could order from Amazon.uk, but they are currently out of stock. Don't really have anything against ordering from Japan, but the fact that almost nobody from the states are shipping this has me a little suspicious.
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andysbassline ®

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Post 03-Feb-2014 16:40 (after 3 minutes)

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Also, why do CDs lose quality over the years? They are digital right? And if CDs do, what about lossless files on your computer? Sorry, but I'm not an audiophile, as you can tell.
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tmtomh

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Post 03-Feb-2014 17:32 (after 51 minute)

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One word of caution about the 2011 Johnny Marr-supervised Smiths remasters: They're compressed.
Not compressed like mp3 is compressed, but rather compressed in terms of dynamic range. The softer sounds have been turned up to make the whole thing louder, and less dynamic. (Technically, they've had a digital limiter applied as well: so the loudest peaks have been turned down as well.)
Some people don't mind this, and it sort of helps with the clarity of the sound because some formerly quiet instrumental bits are now easier to hear.
But it also robs the music of some of its impact.
There's something called a DR rating that measures the dynamic range of music. It's not a perfect tool, and of course one's ears should be the final judge. That said, the DR ratings of some of the original Smiths CDs are in the DR11 range (11dB separates the loudest peaks from the average volume level of the song). Many of the remastered tracks are in the DR6 or 7 range. That's a pretty big difference.
I appreciate the clarity of the remasters - there's a lot to recommend them sound-wise, and in particular I think the original album and The Queen is Dead sound pretty good.
But for the other albums, especially Hatful of Hollow, I would proceed with caution. I recommend the original UK CDs of Hatful, The World Won't Listen, and Strangeways. (Unfortunately Louder than Bombs just never sounded great. The original US Sire is the least bad version IMHO.)


Last edited by tmtomh on 2014-02-03 17:43; edited 1 time in total
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DavidA

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Post 03-Feb-2014 17:42 (after 9 minutes)

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Someone has painstakingly recorded all the Rough Trade vinyl to CD and those sound great, but of course they're not official releases.
Andy, the CDs do not lose quality over time. Nor do lossless files on your computer.
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tmtomh

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Post 03-Feb-2014 17:46 (after 4 minutes)

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DavidA is right about CDs not losing sound quality over time.
That said, CDs - like any digital medium - sometimes do experience what's called "bit rot." But that simply means that the physical media degenerate over time. Some CDs gradually oxidize - let oxygen in through microscopic imperfections in the label side or underside. If that happens, the aluminum can oxidize, and/or the clear plastic underside can get cloudy. (For burned CD-Rs it's different: the dye that's used to record the data is unstable over long periods and so eventually it can change the data in chaotic ways.)
The result is that the CD might eventually become unreadable. Sometimes when it's on the way to becoming unreadable, it might be readable but with clicks or other digital noise at certain points. In that situation I suppose you could say the CD has lost sound quality - but it's similar to a record having a scratch or skip in it; it's not an overall degradation of sound quality.
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andysbassline ®

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Post 03-Feb-2014 18:07 (after 21 minute)

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Ok, well what I mean is that if I listen to CDs I got many, many years ago they often sound dull and lifeless, then if I hear the same songs remastered, they sound much, much better. Like I said the versions in the Sound of The Smiths release sound much better. So, why is that?
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SweetFA

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Post 03-Feb-2014 18:48 (after 41 minute)

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Basically the original releases were recorded analogue rather than digitally and for CD had to be converted which brings some loss of definition, it's an approximation.
Also vinyl just sounds differently to CD anyway....
The remastered versions went back to the original master tapes and they changed certain levels in the mix using technology that wasn't available to (re)master it for CD back in the 80s to subtly change how it sounds.
Or at least that's how I understand it.
To me remastered versions always sound like they're cranked up to 11, they lack a bit of subtlety.
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