I am not happy with the Peter Gabriel *Shaking The Tree* SACD. :o(

Discussion in 'Music' started by KeithH, May 6, 2003.

  1. KeithH

    KeithH Lead Actor

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    I have just had a bad experience with the Peter Gabriel Shaking The Tree -- 16 Golden Greats SACD. My first copy was defective, as it skipped during "Mercy Street" due to a divot on the surface. I exchanged it at Best Buy and got a perfect copy. Well, perfect in that it doesn't skip. The sound quality is another matter.

    At first, I was quite impressed with the SACD. I first listened to it on my less revealing stereo system (NAD C 350 integrated amp, Sony SCD-C555ES SACD/CD changer, Energy e:XL 25 speakers). When comparing tracks from So to the remastered So CD, I heard more depth on the SACD. I found the SACD to be quite good. Then I took it to my more revealing stereo system. This is where things got hairy.

    I was all ready to be blown away by the SACD on my better system (NAD C 370 integrated amp biamped with NAD C 270 power amp, Sony SCD-777ES SACD/CD player, Totem Arro speakers). Well, I am quite disappointed. I still prefer the tracks from So on the SACD to the remastered So CD, but the SACD sounds thin and harsh. I found myself lowering the volume at points on "Sledgehammer", for example, due to the harshness in Gabriel's vocals. I just couldn't take it. Drums also sounded like someone was bashing metal. [​IMG]

    Am I alone in my assessment? I have read a good bit of criticism surrounding the sound quality of Universal SACDs, but I had been impressed with all of the ones I had before this one. In my opinion, the Gabriel SACD is a letdown, and I don't see myself rushing out to buy the other Gabriel SACDs.

    So, is it the master tapes or the mastering? I wonder. Before listening to the Gabriel SACD, I listened to a CD-R of the Elton John Greatest Hits DCC gold CD. I was in hog heaven. I should add that I listened to the Elton John CD-R in my revealing system on a Sony SCD-C555ES, while again, I listened to the Gabriel SACD in the same system on the Sony SCD-777ES. An SACD played on a flagship component sounded inferior to a CD-R of a CD played on a lesser component. Maybe it is all in the mastering. [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  2. Dan Joy

    Dan Joy Supporting Actor

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    You are not alone!!!!!!!!!!!![​IMG]
     
  3. ReggieW

    ReggieW Screenwriter

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    Keith,

    It sounds to me like your dedicated stereo system really brought out the flaws in this disc. I have "Shaking the Tree" and "US," and the first track on US, "Come talk to me" sounds pretty "stuffy." I then listened to this track in straight two channel with my Sennheiser headphones through the 222es then I heard this static-like noise (it wasn't terrible, but quite audible) coming out of the right earmuff. At first I thought that maybe I had blown something in the headphone, but all of my other SACD's played well without this noise. I also heard this noise on a few other tracks on "US." I am not disapponted in the overall quality of the Gabriel SACD's, I'm just not really blown away. I had almost bought "Passion," but I have the remaster which was released a few months back and love it. I'm afraid that if I buy it's SACD counterpart, it may have some of the "noise" I hear on "US." I just don't want to take the chance.

    Reg
     
  4. KeithH

    KeithH Lead Actor

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    Dan and Reggie, thanks for sharing your thoughts. This is one of those cases where a better system, being more revealing, can make a listening session less enjoyable. The Gabriel SACD clearly has warts, and they come through plain as day on my better system. I will probably listen to this SACD on my second system most of the time now. I like an accurate system, but unfortunately, some recordings are better heard in a less accurate setting. [​IMG]
     
  5. Rich Malloy

    Rich Malloy Producer

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    In my reviews of all the PG SACDs I have so far (Tree, Passion, So, Us), I've noted that they sound far superior to the original CD releases (except for "Us", which I didn't previously have, so don't know), but that they seemed a tad "bright" to me. I wonder if this is the same "harshness" that you're hearing?

    At any rate, I called this brightness/harshness "inherent" to the recording, because it was also there in the original CDs (along with the glare, midrange congestion, and pinched soundstage), but by comparison the SACD is significantly better. I guess the real question is whether this is just the master sound or if it's been tweaked and EQ'd? I presumed the former, but do you think rather it's the latter, Keith?

    And do your hear this "peakiness" or "harshness" or whatever on the remasters? (Again, I only have the original CD issues.)
     
  6. Javier_Huerta

    Javier_Huerta Supporting Actor

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    Rich, the Universal Chronicles Police remasters also suffer from too much brightness.

    I wonder just who is doing the remastering. He needs to get his ears checked.
     
  7. Michael_T

    Michael_T Second Unit

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    I purchased all 10 PG SACDs - but haven't listened to "Shaking the Tree" yet. But so far all of the 7 that I did listen to are a great improvement over the original CDs and the remastered CDs.

    "So" was the only SACD that seemed overly "digital" or bright, but that is because that recording always sounded like that.

    One thing I have noticed about all the PG SACDs I have listened to so far, is that the bass extension goes lower than the CDs and overall dynamics are much better.

    I wonder if "Shaking the Tree" is an anomaly here, since it is a greatest hits compilation - and it may have been digitally compiled.
     
  8. KeithH

    KeithH Lead Actor

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    Rich,

    I don't know what to make of the Shaking The Tree SACD. Certainly, I hope that the sound reflects the master tapes, but I can't help but wonder if some tweaking was performed. As I had said, the tracks from So sound better than the remastered So CD, but the SACD is still a disappointment.


    Mike,

    I would be curious to hear your thoughts once you have the chance to listen to the Shaking The Tree SACD. In particular, I'd like to know if you find that the tracks on the SACD sound the same as those off the album SACDs.


    Javier,

    The Police Every Breath You Take: The Classics SACD is not ideal, but to my ears, it is decidedly better than the Gabriel Shaking the Tree SACD. I have been quite impressed with the Police SACD.
     
  9. Al B. C

    Al B. C Supporting Actor

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  10. Justin Lane

    Justin Lane Cinematographer

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    Thats an interesting article Al. It seems that engineers of the disc felt PCM provided better performance then the DSD, so they changed the converters used (though the article does not state their opion of the new converters, though they must have been better). The other interestng quote from that article was:

     
  11. Michael_T

    Michael_T Second Unit

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  12. Michael St. Clair

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    1) Wish they would have mastered to 192k instead of 96k.
    2) They should have used the full versions for Shaking the Tree. I believe there is room to do this for the SACD version since there is no Multichannel mix eating up space. Expanding to the full unedited versions is how Steve Hoffman made the DCC 'Original Masters' Jethro Tull CD and it is fantastic.

    Perhaps the DSD editing software they used does things internally that are nasty (like DSD->PCM->DSD inside the 'black box'?) and compromised the compilation disc.

    I'd sure like to hear the DVD-A. I may back off my plans to buy hybrids from France (about 18 bucks a disc shipped when ordering several, but that price may go up).
     
  13. KeithH

    KeithH Lead Actor

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    Michael, good points. I would like to hear the DVD-Audio discs too.

    Speaking of editing, why did Universal release a "Highlights" version of Peter Gabriel Plays Live on SACD? What's up with that?
     
  14. Rich Malloy

    Rich Malloy Producer

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    Keith, are you of the impression that the mastering was poor and that these discs should sound a whole lot better than they do (for example, perhaps they were poorly EQ'd, or even remixed), or do you think this "harshness"/"brightness" are simply inherent artifacts of the original recording?

    Having only heard the original CD releases, I've been describing these SACDs as great improvements (which they are), and the "brightness" (as I call it) as being inherent to the recording... but maybe I'm presuming too much?
     
  15. Charles Gurganus

    Charles Gurganus Supporting Actor

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    My thoughts on the STT SACD are similar to Keith's. Overall, STT is disappointing and I think most of it goes back to the original recordings. The "SO" cuts are the best because I think they are the best recorded originally. I have all the PG releases in mint LP versions and out of those, "So" is the best sounding. I even prefer my LP version of So to the SACD as it is warmer. The other LP's do not sound as good and I think those recording deficiencies are amplified on the SACD.

    If I could exchange STT for just the "So" SACD, I would do that.

    My setup....Onkyo DV-SP800....Aragon Soundstage....Sherbourn 5/1500a biamping NHT VT2...NHT VS2 center...NHT VT1.2 rears amped with B&K ST1400.
     
  16. Ken_McAlinden

    Ken_McAlinden Producer
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    It sounds like they added some excessive "air". If you have an equalizer, try knocking off 2-3 dB somewhere in the 6-8kHz range (experiment a little on the exact frequency point). This helped me tremendously. [​IMG]

    Regards,
     
  17. Lee Scoggins

    Lee Scoggins Producer

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  18. John Geelan

    John Geelan Screenwriter

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    Count me in as one who found the new SACD of Shaking The Tree a bit disappointing upon first listen. So much so that I've been questioning how my SACD system is set up (see Hardware).

    I came away feeling the new redbook remaster actually sounded better on my system. This surprised me so I started tweaking my Denon 3300/Sony CE775 set-up to achieve better sound to no real conclusion.

    Now it just may be the SACD itself as others feel.

    I don't have all the other PG SACD's yet to compare but should get them soon. I'll post my findings then.

    I use:

    Sony CE775 SACD
    Denon 3300
    Pinnacle PN6+'s
    Velodyne CT120/ SVS 25-31
    Outlaw ICBM (not needed for this recording)
     
  19. KeithH

    KeithH Lead Actor

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    Rich, it could be that the original masters for the Peter Gabriel albums are poor and SACD is bringing out all the bad stuff. I have a couple first pressings of Security on CD, and I feel they sound smoother than the same tracks on the SACD, but the SACD is better overall (better soundstage, impact). I do wonder if someone screwed around in mixing tracks for the SACD. Now some people are saying that the tracks sound better on the SACDs of the studio albums. Hmmm....

    I will have to pick up the SACDs of the studio albums. I'll probably start with Security and So.
     

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