Sound quality of older CD's?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Allan_Lim, Oct 18, 2002.

  1. Allan_Lim

    Allan_Lim Agent

    Joined:
    Sep 9, 2002
    Messages:
    42
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    I recently purchased a minidisc player and I've been recording compilations.

    I decided to make an 80's rock disc and it had been quite a while since I listened to some of these old CD's.

    Is it just me or has the sound quality of CD's taken a quantum leap since the 80's? Perhaps the few CD's I've used have poor sound quality, but from the few I've listened to today in making my compilation I find the sound to be very poor compared to CD's made within the last few years.

    Has anyone else noticed this?
     
  2. Jagan Seshadri

    Jagan Seshadri Supporting Actor

    Joined:
    Nov 5, 2001
    Messages:
    528
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Many of the CDs issued in the 80s were hastily produced using 2nd or 3rd generation copies of the master tapes, and this was further compounded by the limited knowledge about digital audio at the time.

    Record companies finally took the time in the 90s to find the original master tapes and often use techniques such as dithering to trick our ears into hearing more detail than what the CD format can actually provide (I know this sounds like complete B.S. but dithering it is a true psychoperceptual trick that is used in both audio and video).

    It makes sense that as scientific knowledge increases, we can reap the rewards that were unattainable years ago. Still, not all the CDs issued now are good. Many are made to have a louder average sound level (excessive dynamic compression) at the expense of sound quality. This kind of deleterious sound processing was not technically feasible back in the early days of CD. Technology is a double-edged sword.

    -JNS
     
  3. John Watson

    John Watson Screenwriter

    Joined:
    Jul 14, 2002
    Messages:
    1,937
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Sure its not just 80's music? [​IMG]
    Lot's of 50's hifi sounds way better
     
  4. Salvador

    Salvador Second Unit

    Joined:
    Dec 4, 2001
    Messages:
    431
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    most of my old cd's sound like absoluste sh!t (quality wise) when compared to my newer ones. Take for example the Foo Fighters' first album. I like that ablum artistically but boy does that CD recording sound awful.
     
  5. Ryan Spaight

    Ryan Spaight Supporting Actor

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 1997
    Messages:
    676
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    There were plenty of duff CDs issued back then, but several gems as well. For example, the *original* issue of Who's Next from 1984 sounds better than any other version since, including the latest remaster and MSFL gold disc.

    CDs from that era are much less likely to be processed to death like today's are. Newer reissues are often slathered in No-Noise processing to get rid of tape hiss. Unfortunately, this also gets rid of quite a bit of sound that you want. A good example is Beatles One, which sounds just awful because of all the noise reduction. (The original Beatles CDs certainly have their problems, but this isn't one of them.)

    New releases and reissues alike these days are often level-maximized to the point of distortion, which kills the dynamic range (as Jagan mentioned above). It's loud (which many perceive as sounding better), but everything's smooshed into a few dbs, rather then using even a fraction of the 80+db of dynamic range CD is capable of. Very tiring to listen to.

    As always, the your best bet is to listen with an open mind, and not assume anything about sound quality based on the date on the box.

    Ryan
     
  6. Colin Jacobson

    Colin Jacobson Producer

    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2000
    Messages:
    6,249
    Likes Received:
    737
    Trophy Points:
    9,110
     
  7. MikeH1

    MikeH1 Screenwriter

    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2000
    Messages:
    1,492
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    I have to agree. It seems that todays music the recoring is very loud and the detail isn't there. Thats why I like 80s so much - great dynamic range and lots of synth. Africa by Toto is a good example. Not the best recording but colorful (can this word be applied to music)?
     
  8. Kevin C Brown

    Kevin C Brown Producer

    Joined:
    Aug 3, 2000
    Messages:
    5,712
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Just be aware that some of the CDs mastered early on are still comparable to the best that's being produced today. Not as simple as: old=crap, new=good.

    Case in point, the Stones SACDs. I don't have the link handy, but if you search around and find the FAQ, the dude talks about how the specific early London CDs are still quite comparable in sound quality to the new SACDs...
     
  9. Joel Fontenot

    Joel Fontenot Supporting Actor

    Joined:
    Aug 9, 1999
    Messages:
    933
    Likes Received:
    195
    Trophy Points:
    610
    Location:
    Baton Rouge, LA
    Real Name:
    Joel Fontenot
    I find a lot of mid 80's CD's actually sound quite good. Not all of them, mind you, but many were flat transfers from 1st generation tapes.
    I'm finding that a lot of old West German and Japanese made CD's sound better than new re-masters of the same material.
    Some old CD's that still hold their own:
    • Bryan Ferry's Boys and Girls
    • Berlin's Love Life
    • Duran Duran's Rio, the W. German EMI disc, not Capitol's
    • Fleetwood Mac's Rumours
    • Dire Straight's Debut album on the Vertigo label
    • Bananarama's Second album
    There are others, but all these are very good transfers and all made in W. Germany at the time. Most of these have since been produced in the US once enough CD manufacturing plants finally came on-line.
    Joel
     
  10. Kevin C Brown

    Kevin C Brown Producer

    Joined:
    Aug 3, 2000
    Messages:
    5,712
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Yuppers- The London records version of Let it Bleed I have was made in W. Germany...
     
  11. Seth_S

    Seth_S Second Unit

    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2001
    Messages:
    335
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    I mainly listen to classical, but the music industry as a whole probably follows the same philosophies on remastering/recording...

    If you're talking about 80s reissues of analog recordings, yes, they were terrible. Remastering back then seemed to have meant heavy amounts of noise reduction which left the music sounding flat.

    With very early 80's digital recordings, sound mixers seemed to have forgotten about sound imaging. After that digital recordings tended to be very good, spacious and natural sounding, such as Muti/Philadelphia/Mahler/Sym 1/EMI 1984 and Abbado/Chicago/Mahler/Sym 7/DG 1984.

    By the mid to late 80s, labels started to multi-mic orchestras to death, which often created a very forward sound, and tended to give instruments a brittle texture.

    Today, remastering of analog recordings is far superior to what was going on in the 80s. The difference is really night and day.

    The quality of new digital recordings still remains highly variable. Sometimes you get fantastic recordings like Boulez/Vienna/Bruckner/Sym 8/DG - 1996 and Sawallisch/Philadelphia/Hindemith/EMI - 1995, while at the same time there is still overly closed miked, mixed to death recordings like Abbado/Berlin/Mahler/Sym 7/DG 2001.
     
  12. Grant B

    Grant B Producer

    Joined:
    Mar 29, 2000
    Messages:
    3,210
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    The Pretenders and REMs 1st album both came out on cd when most were released on album. I do nt have a problem with their sound
    I bought U2's War in 1982(give or take a year) and it still sounds great
     
  13. KeithH

    KeithH Lead Actor

    Joined:
    Mar 28, 2000
    Messages:
    9,413
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Kevin said:
     
  14. Wayne Bundrick

    Wayne Bundrick Cinematographer

    Joined:
    May 17, 1999
    Messages:
    2,358
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    I think there was an all too brief period of time in the late '80s to early '90s when CDs had the best sound quality. Beforehand, they were doing bad remasters and otherwise hadn't quite figured everything out. Afterward, they're compressing the hell out of everything, both new material and remaster reissues. In between, it was sweet. Too bad it didn't last.
     
  15. KeithH

    KeithH Lead Actor

    Joined:
    Mar 28, 2000
    Messages:
    9,413
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Wayne, that's a fair point. I do feel, however, that many remasters coming out from the major record labels are being done very well. For example, I have been very impressed with Sony/Legacy jazz remasters. As another example, I picked up the remastered version of Supertramp Breakfast in America a couple of months ago and found it to be better than the MFSL CD. So, it's not all bad these days! [​IMG]
     

Share This Page