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Analogue: How much is mastering and how much is the medium?

I thought I'd add to this thread, however if a mod thinks this should belong to its own thread please move and rename as you see fit (thanks):

Accidentally "Warm" vs. Cold & Harsh on Purpose ("digital clarity" = high frequency boost?)

I recently purchased the 1992 CD release of Blondie's Eat To The Beat. I was a little surprised at how high the highs were; it's something I've come to expect from the remastered versions (where the hi-hat rules, and seems to be considered marginally more important than the vocals and every other instrument). Below are 2 sets of files, for comparison. What I found interesting was the order I listened to them affected how I felt about the recordings. If I listened to the CD version first then the Vinyl + CLAS version sounded dull; conversely if I listened to the Vinyl + CLAS version first, it sounded pretty balanced and the CD version sounded overly bright / "cold" / harsh. This was especially the case for Atomic. Listening to the percussion on Atomic it's quite easy to see how CD got a reputation among vinyl lovers for being cold or overly brittle / harsh - all which became encapsulated by the term "digital" (p.s. I realise this has nothing to do with the CD medium).

However, I can't believe this is entirely related to vinyl's added distortions, harmonic distortions and rumble (although on the vinyl there is plenty of mechanical noise / background hum below 60 Hz which "warms it up" and gives it a "fatter feel".

What I'm interested in (and if anyone at HA has been involved in the mastering process when pre-CD material was readied for the new CD format back in the 80's, I'd love to hear what you have to say on this) is how much do you think the difference in sound is related to the medium (i.e. vinyl's characteristics) and how much is due to a difference in mastering?

Finally, I'm mostly interested here in the difference between files 1 and 3 (the pure vinyl version is too muddy for my liking), and I'd be grateful for feedback as to what people here think about the cymbal-based percussion. My view on this with these tracks and many other tracks, especially remastered tracks (loudness aside), is that what is mainly a support element seems to be too much to the fore in the mix when the higher frequencies are boosted (perhaps for the CD release?) or perhaps when a medium's limitations (which carry a high-frequency roll-off or bass-boost for whatever reason) are removed.

Anyway here are the files, and I'd recommend listening to them in 1, 3, 2 order, then try 3, 1, 2.
The files are FLAC files, processed with WavGain and LossyWAV --standard (just to keep them small).

Atomic (89 dB - 20 secs):

1. Blondie - [Eat To The Beat #01] Atomic  [1992 CD Version]
2. Blondie - [Eat To The Beat #02] Atomic  [Vinyl Version]
3. Blondie - [Eat To The Beat #03] Atomic  [Vinyl + CLAS DSP Processing to brighten]


The Hardest Part (90 dB - 30 secs):

1. Blondie - [Eat To The Beat #01] The Hardest Part  [1992 CD Version]
2. Blondie - [Eat To The Beat #02] The Hardest Part  [Vinyl Version]
3. Blondie - [Eat To The Beat #03] The Hardest Part  [Vinyl + CLAS DSP Processing to brighten]

All and any feedback welcome.

C.

EDIT: grammar
PC = TAK + LossyWAV  ::  Portable = Opus (130)

Analogue: How much is mastering and how much is the medium?

Reply #1
After re-reading, I think I could have been clearer. What in essence I'm asking is this:
  • Does the 1992 CD sound like the vinyl would sound like if one could magically remove all the characteristic noise associated with the vinyl medium?
  • Was pre-CD material mastered especially for CD when it was first released on CD? And how did that vary from decisions relating to vinyl mastering (and does that explain the big difference between the samples above?)
  • Does anyone know whether sometimes/often (in mastering pre-CD material for CD release) aesthetic decisions were sometimes over-ruled in favour of "showcasing the CD medium's superior fidelity" (e.g. mastering with increased highs to give the impression of clarity and detail, etc ...)?
Hopefully that's clearer.

C.
PC = TAK + LossyWAV  ::  Portable = Opus (130)

Analogue: How much is mastering and how much is the medium?

Reply #2
I can't really answer your questions. But I just want to say, that listening to both example, I can hear the distortion in the vinyl versions, especially in the snare drum, and it sounds horrible, IMHO.

Analogue: How much is mastering and how much is the medium?

Reply #3
I see where you're coming from, the snare drum is much cleaner in the CD, but I find the hi-hat over-rides everything. Maybe it's a bugbear of mine and thus I'm overly drawn/sensitive to it.

C.
PC = TAK + LossyWAV  ::  Portable = Opus (130)

Analogue: How much is mastering and how much is the medium?

Reply #4
Well, as far as I hear, they boosted highs in CD version. Maybe there was some limitation for mastering to vinyl regarding hiss, so they had to turn the highs down a bit?
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Analogue: How much is mastering and how much is the medium?

Reply #5
Well, as far as I hear, they boosted highs in CD version. Maybe there was some limitation for mastering to vinyl regarding hiss, so they had to turn the highs down a bit?

Or the other way around: Maybe people were more sensible to highs in that age, as it (hihats etc.) could easily relate to hiss, which they didn't want.
Can't wait for a HD-AAC encoder :P

 

Analogue: How much is mastering and how much is the medium?

Reply #6
One anecdote about vinyl I remember is that they avoided to put tracks with lots of high frequency content at the end of each side, because audible high frequency distortion becomes a problem here.

 
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