Remastered to be crap
For Christmas, my wife got the remastered edition of the original Battlestar Galactica score (we’re talking 1970s, Stu Phillips – with a bonus disco version of the theme song!)
It should have been great. I already have it on CD, but that CD sounds like someone stuck a microphone next to the speakers on a LP player and put that on the CD, so I had high hopes for a remastered version. It was crap. Yes, it’s cleaner, crisper – and completely lacking in the bottom end.
The punch of the low notes on the brass – gone. Turning the bass boost all the way up does nothing. It’s all treble, all the time. The lower end (and even the lower end of the middle) is so faint it might as well be missing. What were they thinking?
Other remastered albums suffer from the same problem – my favorite metal band Queensrÿche had their back catalog remastered, and while the results aren’t bad, they suffer from (as TV Tropes calls it) “Record of Loudness War” problems (for those not willing to click through, the remastering involved “break[ing] out the dynamic range compression, which squashes every bit up to the same volume level . . . The often-used analogy here is that of attempting to read a text written entirely in capitals with a huge font … it can result in severe clipping, unpleasant and harsh-sounding distortion that happens when the signal is pushed to the saturation point . . . the practice is sometimes known as “brickwalling” in audiophile circles” – this can be fine for some extreme forms of metal, but not any band that actually has any sort of nuance to their music).
However, there are good remasters out there. I’m a fan of Irish folk group the Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem, and their “Live at Carnegie Hall” album is wonderfully remastered. I’ve heard older versions of the concert, and the digital remastering is so clear and clean, it sounds like it was recorded on modern equipment. It’s great.
Any good/bad remasterings anyone out there is aware of?