Best or Worst Mastered Albums?

Discussion in 'Mastering' started by Thomas W. Bethel, Sep 14, 2004.

  1. Thomas W. Bethel

    Thomas W. Bethel Distinguished Member

    Dec 12, 2001
    Oberlin, OH
    Home Page:
    Besides the albums mentioned on Bob Katz's site ( what are some really well done or really BADLY done albums that people are listening to or staying away from for the total content including mastering? I know for example that the Red Hot Chili Peppers album "Californication" is probably the loudest CD ever done. It probably has the most digital overs as well. Are there other albums that are really really good or really really bad?

    Just wondering???????
  2. Ammitsboel

    Ammitsboel Member

    Aug 12, 2003
    That's a good question!

    Have you ever heard The Flaming Lips?
    I've heard 2 albums: The Soft Bulletin and Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots.
    These 2 albums have just about the thinnest sound I've ever heard!!

    Jamiroquai: A funk odessey.
    The room an natural sound that's left on the album is reduced to a small grainy thing... very, very dirty sounding.

    Beck: Sea Change.
    A very good sounding album, and they wasn't afraid of the bass in the production.
    To my ears the message in the music comes out clear, warm and nice without it sounding to fat, very nice!

    Lenny Kravitz: Baptism.
    ...Didn't the older albums have about one more mile of depth and space between the instruments?
    Otherwise the album sounds nice, but a little digital sounding.

    Best Regards,
  3. Don Grossinger

    Don Grossinger Distinguished past mastering moderator Active Member

    Jan 16, 2002
    just north of NYC
    Home Page:
    A few good ones off the top of my head:

    The Rolling Stones catalog recent remasters for SACD (compared to the originals) and "Stripped" on CD
    Lyle Lovett: "Joshua Judges Ruth"
    Raul Malo: "The Nashville Acoustic Sessions"
    Geoff Muldaur: "Private Astronomy"
    The Fairfield Four: "I Couldn't Hear Nobody Pray"
    Afro Celt Sound System: " Volume 2: Release"
    Bob Marley & The Wailers: "Live At The Roxy" reissue

    Granted some of these are slightly obscure, but all are a treat for the ears. More titles to follow!
  4. Ben Godin

    Ben Godin Active Member

    Jun 5, 2004
    Charlotte, NC, USA
    Home Page:
    Pink Floyd, Dark side of the moon, Many Beatles Albums ... there are many good ones
  5. Don Grossinger

    Don Grossinger Distinguished past mastering moderator Active Member

    Jan 16, 2002
    just north of NYC
    Home Page:
    I think the Beatles catalog is begging for a current remastering to SACD or DVD-A. Great music, mastering done many years ago on old converters.

    Dylan, Stones, Who, Byrds, Love, Beach Boys, Hendrix, Grateful Dead, etc.... have all benefitted from great remasterings since initial CD releases.
  6. Johnjm22

    Johnjm22 Guest

    Louder than Taproot's "Gift"? That's one loud CD. Mastered by Tom Baker.

    I have both "Californication" & "Gift" and I consider "Gift" to be louder. I think it's just a percieved loudness thing. That CD absolutely slams you in face. Thats one mastering job that sticks out in my mind.

    BTW, does anyone know anything about Tom Baker? I'd really like to read some interviews with him or hear about some of his techniques.
  7. Ammitsboel

    Ammitsboel Member

    Aug 12, 2003
    Do you find "Californication" a good sounding album?
  8. Ammitsboel

    Ammitsboel Member

    Aug 12, 2003
    Mark Wilder, do you work in the same facility as Vladio Meller?

    Maybe you could ask him about the "Californication" mastering?
    Why are some numbers pumping so much as they do?
    It makes the numbers sound more different from eachother than they really are, when listening to the album. What I'm saying is that the loudness could have been achived without the severe pumping.

    And was the overs already on the material delivered to him?

    Best Regards
  9. markwilder

    markwilder Guest

    First I must say that I was trying to steer clear of this thread. I've been on both ends of this one and I care not to critique anyone's work in public.

    Vlado is an amazing engineer, and this is not really a conversation I want to have with him. But this topic did come up when the record was originally mastered. The original mixes were extremely loud (mixed to PCM 9000 from what I remember) and he hardly did anything to them. He took a lot of heat for this one and I'm not sure it's all on him.
  10. paulpreamble

    paulpreamble Member

    Jun 10, 2002
    anything every touched by Bob Ludwig, especially the Rush CDs.
    Not to start the loudness war again, but louder is not better. Dynamic range is a sweet thing!
  11. radarhead

    radarhead Guest

    I agree with Bennyg....Dark side of the moon, sets the precedent.
    On the downside i would say Alanis Morisette's jagged little pill is rubbishly recorded and mastered. Dont care how many albums it sold!
  12. Massive Mastering

    Massive Mastering Well-Known Member

    Jul 18, 2004
    Chicago area, IL, USA
    Home Page:
    Let's not forget "Aja" by Steely Dan... Hard to get any better than that.
  13. Don Grossinger

    Don Grossinger Distinguished past mastering moderator Active Member

    Jan 16, 2002
    just north of NYC
    Home Page:
    Actually, I just listened to Aja from the Mobile Fidelity 1/2 speed mastered vinyl pressing recently. Most of it sounded great, but there was some inconsistancy in the EQ, with the title track having noticably more high end than the rest of the album. Side B was really amaizing. And as far as playing goes, that records' one of my alltime favorites.
  14. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    Mar 8, 2004
    Tacoma, WA
    Anything by Aerosmith :oops:

    I would have to assume that the mastering engineer got a contact buzz before mixing these discs...
  15. huub

    huub Guest

    I'm pretty amazed by justified (Justin timberlake)..
    That cd is LOUD!!! but I ( A mere broadcast audio mixer, no authority on mastering i must admit) don't hear any clipping or pumping going on...The bass on that album is also really fantastic..(Herb powers jr. @ hit factory did it)
  16. Ammitsboel

    Ammitsboel Member

    Aug 12, 2003
    Are you sure you don't hear any pumping?...
  17. Ammitsboel

    Ammitsboel Member

    Aug 12, 2003
    PLease take a look at this interesting reading:

    And here they are also referring to coments on this thread!!!:

    Best Regards
  18. p0llen_p0ny

    p0llen_p0ny Guest

    Worst Mastering

    Hmmmm... Where should I begin.

    I think it's a tie between The Rolling Stones Forty Licks (greatest hits collection) remastered by Stephen Marcussen and the 2000 remaster of Stevie Wonder's "Songs In The Key Of Life" (1976).. Both masters have been screwed with far too much. The first issue CD version of Stevie's sounds much more natural and musical. Same with the Stones "Hot Rocks" compilation. If it ain't broke....

    A few of the latest Hendrix remasters are horribly mid-rangy and just awful sounding. Amputated peaks all over the place. Really a shame because they finally got a hold of the original masters for this release. George Marino at Sterling Sound is responsible for this. Disappointing. However, the Band Of Gypsys Live At Fillmore East (2CD) sounds dramatically better.

    The 1996 "24 bit" remaster of The Doors catalogue is a laugh. Strange that they didn't issue them as HDCD. Just regular 16 bit. I'm beginning to think dithering has a role to play in bad sounding CDs. I'm buying back my old Doors CDs as I can't listen to the remasters. Anyone want to buy a boxed set?

    Same goes for the Cream remasters. Again... I'm buying back my old Cream cds. UV22 is evil I tell you!!

    The Led Zeppelin remasters are listenable but I seem to remember my old Zep CDs sounding a little warmer. Bit too much hi-midrange for my tastes and not enough bass. Then again, it was remastered in 1990 by George Marino at Sterling Sound. Back when it seemed all things analog should be avoided at any cost. Cold sounding and hard to listen to. Recommended bass setting: +7 ... Treble: -5 :wink:
    PS: Don't be fooled by the later Zep compilations like the Early / Latter Days set. Still the same stuff from '90.

    The Police - Message In A Box (1996)
    Astonishingly weak sounding and very irritating in places. Thankfully I only borrowed this set. They've since remastered everything again. Haven't heard them though.

    Other garbage to avoid:
    Let It Be... Naked.
    I really, really tried to like this one.
    Remixed in ProTools and slapped together. Absolutely no character. A couple of tracks are from completely different takes than the original. They made the curious decision to edit out all the intro/outro chatter... assumingly to make this into a "real" album like Paul wanted. Should have been renamed "Won't Let It Be".

    Oh well... Remasters are like buses. Just wait for the next one to come around.

    On a more optimistic note, not all the new remasters are bad.

    Great Sounding Masters

    The Beatles - Yellow Submarine Songtrack (1999)
    Yes, I know this was also remixed for this release but the mastering is just superb. I believe Peter Mew at Abbey Road did it. Beautiful work. Just about as good as The Beatles can sound on CD. Definitely recommended.

    Rush remasters - Bob Ludwig at Gateway Mastering
    Moving Pictures (1981) sounds fantastic. I hear he did a good job on the new Stones SACDs.

    Free remasters (2002) - Peter Mew at Abbey Road
    This is THE reissue to get. Not only does every album sound fantastic but they filled out each one with rare and unreleased tracks. (BBC sessions, b-sides, alternate takes, demos, etc.) The liner notes have interviews and insights into some of the songs as well as recording and release dates. Other labels take notice. This is what people want. If you're not familiar with Free I'm sure you've heard "All Right Now". Paul Rodgers band before Bad Company. Dynamics, warmth and presence. The pristine sound from these gorgeous 1/2" masters really shines through on every one of these CDs. A pleasure to listen to. Possibly my favorite remaster ever! I'm sure the gear at Abbey Road has something to do with it but Peter Mew is a great listener.
    Personal favorite: Highway (1970)

    Have I missed any?
  19. huub

    huub Guest

    i'm sure...anyway, are you suggesting this cd DOESNT sound fantastic?
    just curious.
  20. joe lambert

    joe lambert Distinguished Member

    Oct 17, 2001
    321 West 44th Street Suite 1001
    Home Page:
    I think we can all agree that Dark Side.. Peter Gabriel's So and a handful of other records are all around great records. That does not quite cover what's great mastering.
    For example a ME may get a record that was poorly recorded and poorly mixed. Very little stereo image, muddy vocals and all around uninspired performances. But if you make that into something that is actually listenable that's a really great job. Frankly this is more common than getting great mixes that need very little work.
    With all do respect to the mastering of Dark SOTM. I would imagine the master mixes of Allen Parsons sound pretty damn good. Not all to different from what we hear when listening. That's fine. If it doesn't need a lot of work leave it be.
    I hear a lot of what I consider "over mastering" lately. Too much low end, too much top, too much level. It sounds good once or twice but after listening a few times I don't feel like hearing it again. I'm actually fatigued by it.
    Recently I worked on a record that was mixed by a very experienced producer/engineer. Of the 12 songs I added processing to only 3 of them.

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