Thriller-The Showdown - SACD vs. Remaster CD

Discussion in 'Music' started by RicP, Dec 2, 2001.

  1. RicP

    RicP Screenwriter

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    [​IMG] VS. [​IMG]
    Thriller Showdown - SACD against CD Remaster!
    This is a track by track comparison of the Thriller Super Audio CD and the recently released Gold Remaster CD. I listned to each track in its entirety on each disc and made notes as I went along. I traded off between CD and SACD as far as which tracks I listened to first. In other words on Track 1 I listened to the SACD first, then the CD, and on track 2 I listened to the CD first and then the SACD.
    I've been as completely honest as I could in regards to what I heard and how the tracks sounded on my system. Whether or not this is representative of what you will hear on your system is inconclusive. I used the same player for both discs, even though they travelled a separate path to get from source to speakers.
    The SACD needed a +3db boost in order to be level matched to the CD. This is most likely due to the compression of dynamics on the CD. SACD has a much larger dynamic range, so there is a need to alter the volume somewhat to compensate for the CD's compressed dynamics.
    Here's the gear I used for the review:
    SACD/CD Player: Modified Sony SCD-C333ES
    Redbook DAC: Perpetual Technologies P-1A/P-3A Combo, powered by Monolithic P3 power supply.
    Stereo Pre-Amp: Parasound P/HP-850
    Stereo Amplifier: Parasound HCA-1500A 205wpc
    The SACD player feeds the Pre-Amp directly when playing an SACD, and feeds the PerpTech P-1A with a "BetterCables Digital Coax Cable" when playing a CD.
    The P-1A feeds the P-3A via an I2S cable and the P-3A feeds the pre-amp
    Speakers: Paradigm Reference Studio 40's v.2
    Subwoofer: Acoustic Research AR112PS
    Speaker wire is "BetterCables 12ga. Bi-Wire Premium Speaker Wire"
    Ok! On to the Showdown!
    Track 1: Wanna be startin something
    Remaster CD: Tight and strong bass to lead off the CD. I noticed that the high end seemed to be a little sharp, but very listenable. The soundstage is good with excellent directionality and decent depth.
    SACD: Bass is well-defined, but doesn't seem as strong as the CD. Soundstage is nice and wide. Vocals are better defined and there is a real tangible depth to the recording.
    Track 2: Baby be mine
    Remaster CD: Good bass. Vocals are very clear. Soundstage is nice and wide. Listening to the shaker in particular you can hear he clarity.
    SACD: Bass is very smooth, soundstage very deep. The image as a whole seems clearer and more focused. The soundstage doesn't seem as wide as the CD though.
    Track 3: The girl is mine
    Remaster CD: First thing is that the vocals are louder than they are on the SACD. A nice soundstage and good clarity. Not quite as immediate as the SACD is.
    SACD: Nice & wide Soundstage, Paul's vocals are very clear and palpable. There is great separation in the instruments and the finger snaps are clear and well defined.
    Track 4: Thriller
    Remaster CD: Very Wide opening pan, good bass, and a wide stage. The vocals seem a little compressed thoughm and somewhat back in the mix. Vincent Price's monologue is wide and spacious
    SACD: The opening pan is not quite as wide, but the overall soundstage is very wide and directionality is great. This one sounds cleaner and there is more presence to the vocals. The horns sound more natural and Vincent Price's voice seems deeper.
    Track 5: Beat it
    Remaster CD: Great bass, great separation and a very deep soundstage. The Vocals are sharp and the solo is clear and well defined.
    SACD: Virtualy the same decription as the CD. If anything, the soundstage seems a little more 3-dimensional than the CD did.
    Track 6: Billie Jean
    Remaster CD: Wow! Very punchy opening. In your face Bass! The vocals seem back in the mix, there's less immediacy. The soundstage is nice with good depth and width.
    SACD: Best track on the disc in terms of sheer dynamics. The opening punch is amazing. Vocals are better, more upfront, great soundstage. Awesome Track.
    Track 7: Human Nature
    Remaster CD/SACD: My personal favorite track on the album. This song is so well recorded it sounds amazing on both discs. This one is much too close to call...a tie.
    Track 8: P.Y.T.(Pretty Young Thing)
    Remaster CD: Great soundstage here. Good bass and vocals.
    SACD: Much cleaner separation of instruments. A Wider soundstage and nice tight bass.
    Track 9: The lady in my life
    Remaster CD: Excellent bass and a nice soundstage. Vocals are good but exhibit ever so slightly some PCM artifacting. This is apparent during the very quiet passages.
    SACD: A Dead Black Background...fantastic. Great immediacy, wide stage, and the vocals seem much more real, with more presence.
    Final Verdict: Well, there you have it. Overall the SACD is a better recording for this album but the CD is astounding, and one of the best Remastering jobs I've ever heard. There are a few tracks here that are so close between the two that I'd even be hard pressed to pick them out 100%. Others are much easier to determine, but the CD is a great recording and a definite pick up for someone that doesn't have SACD capability.
    Thanks all! [​IMG]
     
  2. Jeff_A

    Jeff_A Screenwriter

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  3. Howard Williams

    Howard Williams Supporting Actor

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    RicP:

    I too appreciate your time and effort compiling this info. Based on your reccommendation, I will buy the SACD version this week.
     
  4. Damo

    Damo Auditioning

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    Thank you for your detailed and thorough account!

    I think I'm gonna track down an SACD (I have the remaster).

    But, hold tight...

    Mick Guzauski has remixed the "Thriller" album in 5.1

    for a furure DVD release. I heard two tracks and they are amazing!

    Unlike the most 5.1 DVD discs which chicken out by merely placing reverb/room in the rear speakers - this one has SOUNDS spinning from the rears! It'll make you dizzy, but it'll be worth it!

    Damo
     
  5. RicP

    RicP Screenwriter

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    Just wanted to add to this thread and say that the Remaster of Bad is probably even better than the one for Thriller.
    Amazing dynamics on that disc for a CD. These remastering jobs just keep getting better every year. [​IMG]
     
  6. RicP

    RicP Screenwriter

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    If I may be permitted one ^bump^ for those who may have missed the showdown.

    Thanks.
     
  7. Shawn C

    Shawn C Screenwriter

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    I picked up this re-master last night, mostly due to your review! It really does sound awesome. I'd say it's tied for first place with my "Brothers in Arms" CD for best re-master.
     
  8. Paul.S

    Paul.S Producer

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    Damo:

    Would you elaborate please on your having said that you have heard remixed 5.1 Thriller tracks. When? Where? It's been over a year-and-half since you stated that. Any information on when this might be released?

    All:

    I also wonder if there will be an SACD that features the remastered "Special Edition"'s interviews and outtakes.

    Paul
     
  9. Lee Scoggins

    Lee Scoggins Producer

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    Ric,
    Glad to see you back. [​IMG]
    Great review...thinks for this. I think it demonstrates the importance of good remastering.
    [​IMG]
     
  10. Greg Johnson

    Greg Johnson Stunt Coordinator

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    Lee,
    You need to wipe the sleep out of your eyes. This thread is from 2001. Maybe you shouldn't post until you've had at least two cups of coffee. [​IMG]
     
  11. KeithH

    KeithH Lead Actor

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    I thought threads this old were closed and archived.
     
  12. Paul.S

    Paul.S Producer

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    KeithH., (Admin), et al.:
     
  13. Lee Scoggins

    Lee Scoggins Producer

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  14. Derek Baker

    Derek Baker Stunt Coordinator

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    I'm glad this thread was bumped as I didn't catch it the first time!

    After reading this I may actually go and track this SACD down - I was avoiding it because it had no surround mix but I still love this album...
     
  15. KeithH

    KeithH Lead Actor

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    The remastered CD is good (Sony has done an excellent job with its remastered Legacy CDs), but the SACD it top dog to me.
     
  16. Paul.S

    Paul.S Producer

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  17. Ron Reda

    Ron Reda Cinematographer

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    I almost picked up the remaster a month ago, but decided against it as I hadn't read anything about the sound quality. Now, with my recent SACD capabilities, I have to decide between the remaster and the SACD...
     

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