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Recording quality/best masters


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#1 TimC

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Posted 30 April 2017 - 01:01 AM

So I suspect this probably already has been discussed, but likely when I was paying less attention. I recently upgraded my stereo, with the result being that a lot of CDs that previously sounded good really don't, and certain ones are blatantly superior. What I've found is that Rush recordings, which I always thought were fairly first-rate, really often aren't. 

So rather than say what my impressions are, I'd like to hear what versions of what albums peeps on here prefer, and why.



#2 physics

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Posted 30 April 2017 - 06:18 AM

Purely as far as sound goes? My votes would have to go to Moving Pictures, Signals and Counterparts. They seem to have gotten all the setting just right with those. At the bottom would be Vapor Trails (too thick), Presto (too thin) and Power Windows.


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#3 chemistry1973

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Posted 30 April 2017 - 01:40 PM

Yeah I can see Power Windows being problematic for new systems. It was perfect sounding in the 80s, on the stereos of that era. These days it's probably too thin sounding.

Of course it seems Rush have over compensated in regards to their later records and live recordings. As Physics said, Counterparts strikes the perfect balance.

#4 BinFrog

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Posted 30 April 2017 - 03:20 PM

I always loved how Hemispheres sounded
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#5 chemistry1973

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Posted 30 April 2017 - 03:56 PM

Hemispheres might be there overall best sounding record. It sounds like they're jamming in your living room on a good system.

#6 Three Eyes

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Posted 30 April 2017 - 04:00 PM

No stereophile here, but I'm a big fan of the production sound of Broon's albums with MP being the pinnacle. (I'm going to start calling him LeBroon.) If his albums don't sound good on modern systems, something's wrong with modern systems.

 

For non-LeBroon albums, I'd say I like the sound of GUP best.


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#7 SpaceGhost2112

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Posted 30 April 2017 - 05:59 PM

For the majority of the albums, getting the "Sectors" boxes will cover you.  They did an admirable job on them and to me, in general, sound about as best as they can.  
Now of course, we can get all nit-picky and start throwing in special editions, mo-fi this and gold disc that.  But for the money and like I said, for all basic, general needs - Sectors is the one.  (ESL sounds fucking sweet btw. Just throwing that out there.) :D :D

 

Now if you wanna talk vinyl.  Holy shit does the latest release of Signals sound phenomenal!!  As well as CP and T4E.  All great sounding masters.  I got Presto to hear what they did with that but was disappointed.  It's just too damn quiet.  And side A is quieter than B!  With technology being what it is today, there was no reason for them to copy that from the original pressing.  The point of these re-releases was to get the best sounding versions possible.  They dropped the ball with Presto unfortunately.


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#8 TimC

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Posted 01 May 2017 - 12:49 AM

Oh man I am trying not to open the rabbit hole of vinyl... That's a huge amount of potential expenditure....

 

As far as mo-fi, I have Signals and to me it is OK but not great. It's pretty soft sounding. The "Rush Remasters" Signals is a lot punchier (though it doesn't sound that great really either, I suspect it's probably simply louder more than anything else).

Hmmmm....



#9 fenderjazz

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Posted 01 May 2017 - 03:36 PM

If I take it all the way back to the original vinyl, Moving Pictures sounded the best. If I compare on CD, Hemispheres, to my ear, sounds the best. In other words, I think the remastering job on MP wasn't as well suited as Hemispheres.

On paper, and to my ears, Moving Pictures, Signals and Permanent Waves were recorded and mastered optimally. This is evident from the day one vinyl release of each. You're never going to beat the Neve console, late analog or early digital recordings. This was the time period when the entire recording industry was mobilized towards overall sound quality. This was the peak. 1977-1983. After this time hard lessons were learned on the digital front and a refocus on small platforms (Sony Walkman, Discman, MP3s, streaming) happened and quality went to shit.


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#10 Saint Ronnie

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Posted 03 May 2017 - 05:41 PM

In my perpetual project of digitizing all my vinyl, I haven't reached the "R's" yet so I haven't heard the latest vinyl re-issues that I bought, but generally my favorite sounding albums are Hemispheres, PeW, MP and Counterparts. I also think Presto is a very well recorded album- such clarity. It does lack a it of bottom end and volume but I think that's fine and with Hemispheres I detect tape hiss but that doesn't bother me. 

 

Signals and ESL always sounds like it's had a dampening field placed over it, I look forward to listening to the vinyl re-issue to see if they added some sparkle. 


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#11 Three Eyes

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Posted 04 May 2017 - 04:09 AM

with Hemispheres I detect tape hiss but that doesn't bother me.

 

That was just Medusa making an appearance.

 

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#12 Saint Ronnie

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Posted 04 May 2017 - 03:48 PM

Best Rush song Rush never wrote

 


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#13 chemistry1973

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Posted 04 May 2017 - 05:57 PM

In my perpetual project of digitizing all my vinyl, I haven't reached the "R's" yet so I haven't heard the latest vinyl re-issues that I bought, but generally my favorite sounding albums are Hemispheres, PeW, MP and Counterparts. I also think Presto is a very well recorded album- such clarity. It does lack a it of bottom end and volume but I think that's fine and with Hemispheres I detect tape hiss but that doesn't bother me.

Signals and ESL always sounds like it's had a dampening field placed over it, I look forward to listening to the vinyl re-issue to see if they added some sparkle.


You're onto something there. Weird mastering. And they were released right next to each other.

#14 DaveG

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Posted 04 May 2017 - 07:10 PM

One of the Rush production sounds I find more agreeable in a backhanded way is one that's often cited as one of their worst-sounding records - Signals. A lot of it has to do with the fact that the guitar tracks on a lot of subsequent albums get kind of ear-piercing at times for me. Grace Under Pressure is bad for that - on some sound systems, any guitar parts where he's doing a lot of playing on the unwound strings, especially solos, just pin my ears back. Signals is an album where, even on less forgiving sound systems that can accentuate upper mids and highs a bit, it still sounds more smooth and pleasant. It also has a pretty great bass sound.

 

I like some things about Test for Echo's production, but there too, on the title track when they hit the "don't touch that dial" section, that guitar figure is like an icepick to the ears when I play it on my Dynaudios (those are fairly unforgiving monitors, though - if things are at all peaky/harsh in the upper mids, they'll definitely tell you). That's probably my most recurring problem I have with Rush's production sounds - the guitars are often not smoothed out enough to avoid fatiguing my ears.

 

But then, a lot of recordings besides Rush's have more emphasis on top end and the upper mid "clarity" frequencies than I like to hear. I was checking out Steven Wilson's last album on my monitors and even there some of the guitar sounds make me wish I could reach into the mix and clamp down on 2-3kHz to tame them down some. It's a personal taste thing, I guess.


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#15 Three Eyes

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Posted 04 May 2017 - 07:42 PM

One of the Rush production sounds I find more agreeable in a backhanded way is one that's often cited as one of their worst-sounding records - Signals. A lot of it has to do with the fact that the guitar tracks on a lot of subsequent albums get kind of ear-piercing at times for me. Grace Under Pressure is bad for that - on some sound systems, any guitar parts where he's doing a lot of playing on the unwound strings, especially solos, just pin my ears back. Signals is an album where, even on less forgiving sound systems that can accentuate upper mids and highs a bit, it still sounds more smooth and pleasant. It also has a pretty great bass sound.

 

I like some things about Test for Echo's production, but there too, on the title track when they hit the "don't touch that dial" section, that guitar figure is like an icepick to the ears when I play it on my Dynaudios (those are fairly unforgiving monitors, though - if things are at all peaky/harsh in the upper mids, they'll definitely tell you). That's probably my most recurring problem I have with Rush's production sounds - the guitars are often not smoothed out enough to avoid fatiguing my ears.

 

But then, a lot of recordings besides Rush's have more emphasis on top end and the upper mid "clarity" frequencies than I like to hear. I was checking out Steven Wilson's last album on my monitors and even there some of the guitar sounds make me wish I could reach into the mix and clamp down on 2-3kHz to tame them down some. It's a personal taste thing, I guess.

 

When's the last time you enjoyed a song without thinking about frequency tweaking? lol.

 

Seriously, do you do any custom remastering of Rush songs to make them more palatable to your ears?


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#16 DaveG

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Posted 04 May 2017 - 08:14 PM

It's not something I really think about that much in an analytical way - particularly with the frequencies in the vicinity of 2 to 3kHz, if things aren't as controlled there as I prefer to hear, my ears are just immediately recoiling from it a little bit and I know from experience what frequency range is bugging me. Of course from 2 to 5kHz is the area where human ears are most sensitive.

 

It's not as much of an issue on some sound systems as others. The factory system in my Ford Five Hundred that I sold last year was very unforgiving of albums like P/G and PoW (it's not just me - my other half made comments to the effect that "those piercing guitars are going to give me a headache"). The system in my other half's F-150, on the other hand, smooths off a fair bit of upper mids and top end so those same albums sound a lot more agreeable in there.



#17 Three Eyes

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Posted 04 May 2017 - 08:59 PM

It's not something I really think about that much in an analytical way - particularly with the frequencies in the vicinity of 2 to 3kHz, if things aren't as controlled there as I prefer to hear, my ears are just immediately recoiling from it a little bit and I know from experience what frequency range is bugging me. Of course from 2 to 5kHz is the area where human ears are most sensitive.

 

It's not as much of an issue on some sound systems as others. The factory system in my Ford Five Hundred that I sold last year was very unforgiving of albums like P/G and PoW (it's not just me - my other half made comments to the effect that "those piercing guitars are going to give me a headache"). The system in my other half's F-150, on the other hand, smooths off a fair bit of upper mids and top end so those same albums sound a lot more agreeable in there.

 

To my ears, generally speaking, something really went off-track with Al's guitar tone after Terry left. I'm no expert, but I wonder if the more obnoxious, trebly quality of his post-Signals sound was meant to cut through all those layers of keyboards during the '80s era. Then after the keyboards went away his sound really just kind of never recovered for me. (Like you say, though, it's probably a taste thing.) I actually like his tone on Signals, where his buried guitar quite beautifully and lyrically struggles to heard in places, more than I do on albums like PoW and HYF where it's louder in the mix.  


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#18 TimC

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Posted 05 May 2017 - 02:15 AM

To my ears, generally speaking, something really went off-track with Al's guitar tone after Terry left.

 

While I get it insofar as artistic stagnation and there are definitely ups (and downs) that wouldn't have happened had they stuck with the status quo, I have to agree that recording quality/sound quality of all kinds of stuff did drop with Terry's departure. A possible exception/high point being Counterparts - I think that sounds very naturally good, probably due to hauling big amps back in and such.

 

Also (sorry for not quoting) but MP not-vs-remaster got mentioned - I find the original CD master to be quite good and shied away from the '97 remaster due to "too loud/less dynamics" comments etc. I'd be interested in comments on the original CD vs the Sectors remaster.

 

(I do have a pretty clean vinyl copy. But like I say, I'm trying to not go down the vinyl hole because I've almost got a house down payment. STAY ON TARGET)


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#19 TimC

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Posted 05 May 2017 - 02:19 AM

on some sound systems, any guitar parts where he's doing a lot of playing on the unwound strings, especially solos, just pin my ears back

 

Heh, you probably wouldn't want to hear my setup (Klipsch). Tubes (preamp - SS amp) soften the blow, but good grief things with lots of highs blow your head off.



#20 Three Eyes

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Posted 05 May 2017 - 04:08 AM

While I get it insofar as artistic stagnation and there are definitely ups (and downs) that wouldn't have happened had they stuck with the status quo, I have to agree that recording quality/sound quality of all kinds of stuff did drop with Terry's departure. A possible exception/high point being Counterparts - I think that sounds very naturally good, probably due to hauling big amps back in and such.

 

Also (sorry for not quoting) but MP not-vs-remaster got mentioned - I find the original CD master to be quite good and shied away from the '97 remaster due to "too loud/less dynamics" comments etc. I'd be interested in comments on the original CD vs the Sectors remaster.

 

(I do have a pretty clean vinyl copy. But like I say, I'm trying to not go down the vinyl hole because I've almost got a house down payment. STAY ON TARGET)

 

Haha. Oh come on. Just blow it all on Rush. Live for the moment! You're only immortal for a limited time. lol.


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