Remastering Stories from Michael Fremer at Innovative Audio

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bmoura

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An interesting set of reissue/remastering stories from a presentation by Stereophile's Michael Fremer at Innovative Audio.
Report by Miles Astor from Positive Feedback:

One comparison that really stood out was the recent unreleased Analogue Productions reissue of Sonny Rollins Way out West (Concord yanked the license out from under Chad after he had already spent $100,000 on the project so they could release their own reissue) vs Concord’s disastrous 24/192 digital remasters. Make no mistake here. The disaster wasn’t related to the digital transfer. No siree Bob! The disaster was caused by whoever remastered this reissue totally forgot (or didn’t know?) to take into account Roy Dunann’s unique EQing where he boosted the highs and cut them on playback (this also happened on the OJCs so one have thought Concord would have known better). It was painfully obvious when Michael spun the two reissues that the cymbals on the digitally remastered version could peel the wallpaper off the wall.

Another unmitigated disaster was the Universal Music's 24/192 digital reissue Miles Davis’ Birth of Cool. As Michael recently wrote at his site analogplanet.com (https://www.analogplanet.com/content...issue-disgrace), the remastering engineer simply didn’t give a hoot. In fact, the engineer replied when confronted by the Q/C department about problems with the sound that well the recording was old. No fooling. Yet it was painfully obvious to everyone there (and as Michael described in his column) that despite the recording’s age—and it does date back to 1949-50—the Classic Records mono reissue rode herd over the UMe reissue. It wasn’t pretty. Oh well. The UMe comes with a nice insert.

Speaking of mono reissues. Michael then treated everyone to the “Mood Indigo” cut from Analogue Productions 45 rpm remastering of Duke Ellington and Orchestra’s 1950 recording Masterpieces by Ellington. Masterpieces by Ellington was a very early reel-to-tape recording (done on a mono Ampex 200 machine in 1950) and thought lost until jazz producer and writer Michael Cuscuna happened upon the missing tapes. Cuscuna subsequently reissued Masterpieces by Ellington on CD. Michael heard the CD and told Chad he had to get the tapes and reissue the recording on vinyl. Chad acquired the rights to the tape and the rest is history. According to Michael Masterpieces by Ellington is Analogue Production’s best selling reissue. (that does come as a shock to me!) Masterpieces by Ellington is an absolute classic by one of America’s best composers and Ellington’s best bands!

The highlight of the evening—at least for me—was when Michael broke out three different reissues of Bill Evans’ all time classic recordings Sunday at the Village Vanguard for the audience to compare and contrast. The three pressings were: 1) an unreleased Analogue Productions 45 rpm (another album Concord block Chad from reissuing); 2) MOFI’s Ultradisc UD1S 45 rpm single step; and 3) Electric Recording Company’s all tube, super limited, sold out before issued version. Now owning a copy of The Tape Project’s 15 ips reel-to-reel release of Sunday at the Village Vanguard’s sister recording Waltz for Debby unquestionably prejudices me; yet the Analogue Productions and ERC reissues were much closer to the sound of the 15 ips tape copy than the MOFI reissue. The MOFI bass was by contrast overblown and the sound of Ultradisc reissue wasn’t as transparent as the other two LPs. Nor were the harmonic overtones (and with Evans we’re talking about his use of higher order chord structures) of Evans’ piano on the MOFI rendered as well as the AP or ERC reissue. All three in my estimation also fall short of the tape when it comes to the recreation of the recording’s sense of space and audience presence (I find the same thing at home).

Then it was time to buckle up as Michael broke out his copy of an Analogue Productions 45 rpm Test pressing of The Who’s Who’s Next. Bernie Grundman apparently originally remastered this album for Classic Records but the company sadly went out of business before the record could be released. Chad inherited the metal parts when he bought Classic Records and used them to make this test pressing. Will this album ever see the light of day? Who knows? Apparently the legal issues are still in the process of being ironed out; Who’s Next will when if it comes out be part of Analogue Productions’s UHQR series.

Another highlight for many there was when Michael dropped a lacquer of Art Blakey’s A Night in Tunisia onto the Air Force 3 turntable and proceeded to play the title track featuring Lee Morgan on trumpet, Wayne Shorter on sax, Bobby Timmons on piano and Jymie Merrit on bass. The audience sat absolutely still and transfixed for the entire 11:14 of this hard bop piece simply taking in Blakey, Morgan and Shorter’s solos and spontaneously clapping when the record ended.

Another fun track was “New York State of Mind” from Mel Torme and Friends Live at Marty’s (Finesse Records).” Michael spent a moment recounting how the late Jason Bloom of Apogee speakers had originally turned him onto this record before quipping Billy Joel would love to sing like this.

Along the way, Michael also found time to play “Whole Lotta Love” from his Bob Ludwig mastered pressing Led Zeppelin II vs new Jimmy Page approved 24/192 digital vinyl release. Michael recounted the story of how the original LZ II album (like many in the day) caused tonearms to jump out the grooves necessitating Atlantic to recall all the LPs. Atlantic’s subsequent release featured among other things severely truncated bass. (Michael also went into reading the matrix numbers for the Atlantic pressing but that’s beyond the scope of this report.) Suffice it to say that the original Ludwig mastered ran rings around the Page approved reissue. Not even close. Perhaps old rockers need to be banned from having a say in the release of their albums.

 

4-earredwonder

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An interesting set of reissue/remastering stories from a presentation by Stereophile's Michael Fremer at Innovative Audio.
Report by Miles Astor from Positive Feedback:




Absolutely fascinating read, Brian. Wow ..... so the 15ips Open Reel Tape which has made a [minor] resurgence IS, in fact, the cat's meow! Too bad they're so [excessively] expensive but I suppose if you want the real deal [no pun intended] it is the way to go.

And the Who's Next ... Too bad Classic Records did go under .... would've been a fine remaster. And interesting that even Mr. Astor concurs that Jimmy Page should NEVER be allowed to remaster LED ZEP ........ that fact has also been ascertained by many who are disappointed in his dismal attempt at remastering the Led Zep Catalogue.

And I will have to pick up a copy of the AP remaster of the 1950's classic Masterpieces by Ellington. I've heard only raves about that MONO treasure! https://store.acousticsounds.com/d/98202/Duke_Ellington-Masterpieces_By_Ellington-Hybrid_Mono_SACD
 

ar surround

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I love this line:

"It was painfully obvious when Michael spun the two reissues that the cymbals on the digitally remastered version could peel the wallpaper off the wall."

I think that description better describes what we normally refer to as a "hot" high end. I think I'll start using it.

I also like this one:

"Suffice it to say that the original Ludwig mastered ran rings around the Page approved reissue. Not even close. Perhaps old rockers need to be banned from having a say in the release of their albums."

Yep, poor old rockers with hearing that's shot from years of playing at maximum amplification. Really, someone with flat hearing response at least up to 14kHz...and that ain't me...should have the say. I've had the good fortune to hear a home-made 5.1 of Whole Lotta Love. Not only is it a terrific mix, but the quality and clarity of the multi-tracks used to make that mix is stunning. The Led Zep catalogue could be remixed into something really fantastic.
 

bmoura

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I will have to pick up a copy of the AP remaster of the 1950's classic Masterpieces by Ellington. I've heard only raves about that MONO treasure! https://store.acousticsounds.com/d/98202/Duke_Ellington-Masterpieces_By_Ellington-Hybrid_Mono_SACD

I have that one on Mono SACD from Analogue Productions.
It is a winner.

Also, note the comments in the article about Analogue Productions spending $100,000 on a Jazz reissue that was then un-licensed before the AP reissue was completed!
The reissue business can be costly and risky.
 

4-earredwonder

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I have that one on Mono SACD from Analogue Productions.
It is a winner.

Also, note the comments in the article about Analogue Productions spending $100,000 on a Jazz reissue that was then un-licensed before the AP reissue was completed!
The reissue business can be costly and risky.

Ridiculous concerning AP spending $100K on a Jazz reissue which Concord pulled. I'd demand my money back. So I'm still a bit confused: what actual reissue of Sonny Rollins WAY OUT WEST is considered definitive? This is the one I own: https://www.hraudio.net/showmusic.php?title=406 [Now OOP].

NO Wonder, Acoustic Sounds isn't offering further discounts on a slew of even their own AP SACD remasters ........to make up for that painful $100K loss!
 
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