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Posted: Sat Oct 15, 2005 12:51 pm
by MK
Okay, this is a summation of everything I found on these three CD's:

1. The 1995 gold stereo/mono CD reissue (aka "the gold disc")
2. The 2001 aluminum stereo/mono CD reissue with the same credits as the gold disc (aka "the 2001 disc")
3. The 2003 aluminum CD reissue produced by Bob Irwin with the stereo mix and a few bonuses including two mono mixes (aka "the Irwin disc")

Just to get a few details out of the way, to make this test easier, the Irwin disc tracks had to be reduced to 80% of their original volume. A very small adjustment had to be made with to match the gold disc with the 2001 disc (forgot how much), but overall these changes matched the levels across the board.

Also, Irwin mentioned his disc was the first to use the correct pitch on CD. So, I went through every freaking track on all three discs and matched them to the pitch on the Irwin disc. It's not so complicated with the stereo mixes, both the 2001 disc and the gold disc are 1/4 of a semitone too slow. Not much, but a definite audible difference.

The mono mix is weird because MOST of the tracks are 1/4 of a semitone too slow as well, but a few tracks are the right pitch. I couldn't figure out why the pitch would vary like this, but I checked and double checked and triple checked and it just is. So these are the mono mixes on both the 2001 disc and the gold disc that were in the CORRECT pitch: #3 My Best Friend, #7 DCBA, #8 How Do You Feel?, #10 White Rabbit, and #11 Plastic Fantastic Lover. All of the remaining mono tracks were 1/4 of a semitone too slow.

So, having cleared that up, on with the sound quality.

Yeah, the gold disc sounds slightly better than the aluminum disc. However, I think the Irwin disc is even better but a little aggressive in the EQ. I'm pretty sure the gold disc and the 2001 disc use a little denoising, with the 2001 disc using more. Listen to the quiet passages where tape hiss should really pop out and you'll see what I mean. The Irwin disc, I'd recommend taking out 2, maybe 3 dB at 8k, the same boost as the Simon & Garfunkel reissues he produced. Irwin claims he used the original EQ instructions given to the original Lp pressings, but it's still a little too harsh IMO, and even if that's how it's "supposed" to be, screw it, I'm gonna EQ it anyway.

The mono mixes, this time the 2001 disc sounds better than the gold disc, with the gold disc having less 'air' or 'top end.' There's not even that much, again, they both sound denoised, but the 2001 disc has a 'natural' sounding amount while the gold disc loses some more. Pretty odd how it could be reversed with these two discs.

As for Irwin's mastering, again, he only did two mono tracks on CD (check out his Sundazed vinyl reissue, as JWB pointed out, it's all mono), and his "White Rabbit" is clearly better. HOWEVER, on "Somebody To Love," I noticed his mastering has a bit more distortion in some spots. This is apparent pretty early, and it's easy to spot when the music gets loud. Even with EQ work, the distortion remains, so either Paul Williams & co. was able to "fix" it on their reissues (is that possible?) or Irwin introduced it into the sound or there's some other reason I can't think of. Anyway, the music is pretty loud through the whole track, so perhaps for this reason the denoising isn't so bad - either it was set to a more sensitive setting because the 'need' for it wasn't so apparent, or the loudness in general meant the plug-in, stand-alone device, or whatever didn't 'work' as aggressively, picking up less 'noise' to reduce, or whatever the appropriate technical lingo is supposed to be.

So there you have it. Stereo, I'm going with the Irwin disc, but with some small EQ adjustment, and mono, well, I guess the 2001 disc is it.

The gold disc is the nice middle-ground. If no EQ work can be done, I guess that may be your best bet for stereo.

Posted: Wed Sep 13, 2006 7:34 pm
by Chris M
Sorry to dredge up such an ancient thread. A few Pillow questions...has anyone heard the DCC LP? How does it compare to the other masterings out there? Finally, how are the 2 Pillow tracks on the Quad Worst of JA?

Posted: Wed Sep 13, 2006 11:33 pm
by MK
Sorry, I have no usable turntable and no vinyl.

Is the DCC LP stereo? I think Hoffman had access to the original masters, so if you like vinyl and prefer the stereo mix, I'm sure you can't go wrong.

BTW, anyone recall some ancient post from Hoffman stating that the original RCA CD was actually pretty close to the master, or something to that effect? Maybe it was a flat transfer of a copy tape like the Bowie CD's, but regardless...WTF?? I listened to those samples posted here after reading that claim, and maybe Hoffman's right, but the original RCA CD still sounds like complete shit, and vastly inferior to the current remaster, even if Irwin did add a touch of compression/limiting and boosted the 8k or 10k region.

Posted: Thu Sep 14, 2006 12:13 am
by Chris M
The DCC LP is stereo. He also mastered it for CD but DCC wasn't allowed to issue it for some reason. I do remember that SH post about the original CD.

Posted: Thu Sep 14, 2006 3:42 pm
by Chris M
Just listened to the clips. Anyone notice that huge dropout at the 35 second mark on the Irwin disc? I can't say I like the sound of any of them. Some comments about the specific discs. Note that I've only heard She Has Funny Cars..

- the 80's disc has the best sounding vocals. The vocals during the loud parts of the other discs sound grainy and edgy. The vocals on the 80's disc sound more relaxed (in a good way). Having said that the instruments on the 80's CD sound kind of weak. I'm guessing it's from a pretty generated tape. I like the sound of the drums, bass and guitars on the Irwin best.

- the Gold twofer has less hiss than the 80's disc. Not sure if this is because of NR or a better tape. I'm guessing both.

- the NR on the aluminum twofer is awful. Forget about the cymbal decay as it's gone here. I'd like to know who did this disc so I can avoid their work.

- I really liked the sound of the Irwin until the "Your mind's guaranteed,
It's all you'll ever need" bit. The vocals sound really harsh there. That dropout surprised me. Maybe the master deteriorated in the past 10 years OR this disc is the first disc to use the master. I bet it's the latter. Irwin said he found the multitracks so I would think he had the master as well. I just wish he backed off the upper midrange some. To be fair though it could be my system..

Posted: Mon Feb 12, 2007 10:21 am
by barrympls
Even though I'm a stereo fanatic, I have a problem with the stereo masters for this album.

The mono versions are so clear and natural and the stereo mixes have so much unnecessary echo slathered on it that I wish someone would remix the album, remove the hiss and reduce the added echo.

The bext example is comparing the mono "She Has Funny Cars" to the stereo. Honestly, the mono sounds so much if it only had stereo separation!