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Last Usable Audio Data

This is really strange – many of the cuts on the new Bad Brains compilation Banned In D.C. are mastered from vinyl – even stuff off I Against I, which I've got on CD ! Is this a case of

  1. Analog fetishism taken to a pointless extreme ?
  2. Really bad archiving practices ?
  3. An opportunity to reissue this when they “find” the original master tapes ?
Really, it's puzzling. The early stuff, I can understand. But it's the same company for the reissue and the original release of I Against I. Weird.

OK, I found this from the guy whose analog vinyl playback system was used, via this. Sounds like a case of item (1). I guess, yeah, it kind of makes sense, if you want to “warm up” the sound, but geez, for the stuff that was still available as two-track masters, wouldn't it have just been a lot simpler to work with tape ? Just find the right machines, align them, and put them through that “$25,000 analog front end” that Michael Fremer is raving about. Really, we've come a long way in mastering for digital in the twenty or so years since this stuff was recorded.

Although maybe I could do the cheap version of what that guy is doing: Acoustic Research turntable ES-1 (when having a 33/45 switch is just too maximalist), Grado cartridge, NAD 7140 receiver, and M-Audio FireWire Audiophile (and yes, it can do 24bit 96 kHz, but this computer can't keep up with that !). All I need to do is replace the NAD with some minimalist all-tube phono preamp and I'll have true audiophile cred.

Comments

( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
jsd
Feb. 12th, 2006 01:48 am (UTC)
that is nuts. vinyl, no matter how good a front end you put it through, is always going to stink in comparison to a digital or tape master. if the guy ever played those records before they have been degraded just by the very act of the needle touching them.

btw, i approve of your saint etienne, but "oh my" indicates you are listening to the butchered-for-no-good-reason US release. check out the original UK track listing instead... it makes so much more sense. how could you NOT start that album with "sun in my morning"? the whole thing is a freakin' song cycle for pete's sake.

i made a new bedtime cd for mika and it ends with "good night" from turnpike house. what a gorgeous song. what a gorgeous album.
rpkrajewski
Feb. 12th, 2006 02:44 am (UTC)
Vinyl remasters can sound surprisingly good, but the emphasis is on "surprising" for sure. And it's not just the signal's frequency/noise characteristics that get affected, it's also integrity of the timebase (i.e., wow, flutter, miscalibration of the motor's speed, etc).

One thing that was overlooked with a lot of early CD masters of analog era stuff is that people did mix on equipment of their own era (naturally) and so balance decisions that the original producers and engineers made need to be recreated to reproduce their intentions -- so if one was remastering some old 50s stuff, you'd get the best period or reproduction tape players and tube-based equipment you could find, then lovingly digitize the result of that. And that does seem to the m.o. of anybody with half a clue these days.

I know that the Saint Etienne was reordered for the U.S. (and it has three new tracks), so assuming no UK tracks were left off, I suppose I could just edit it back to the original ! And yes, it's quite a lovely album; I recommended it to explosivo, who'd kind of lost track of them.
jsd
Feb. 12th, 2006 02:35 pm (UTC)
Yes, it is missing stuff from the UK version. The correct order is:

Sun In My Morning
Milk Bottle Symphony
Lightning Strikes Twice
Slow Down At The Castle
Good Thing
Side Streets
Last Orders For Gary Stead
Stars Above Us
Relocate (MISSING)
Bird Man Of EC1 (MISSING)
Teenage Winter
Goodnight


"Bird Man" is just a little instrumental sketch, no big loss, but "Relocate" is a duet with David Essex (yes the 70's icon) which is utterly fabulous. I'll trade ya the missing tracks for the new US ones :)

Also you're missing the "Up The Wooden Hills" EP which is SE's children's album. It's got some really great kid tunes on it. Especially "You Can Count On Me" and "Let's Build A Zoo."
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