An unexpected pleasure in the editorial office

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Editor's introduction: One of the pleasures of being involved with this site is the quality of response, in terms of careful thinking and everything related to it that we receive from readers leaving comments. It’s gratifying that in these time-tight times (oh, I like that) a person we’ve never met would want to contribute. After all, they’ve given us and the other readers some of their time. Anyway, every now and then a comment to one of our posts is so compelling that it ‘demands’ to it be published as a post simply because that commentary deserves a wider audience and you might have missed it. The following is a case in point. Howard wrote: “Howard Popeck wonders if his vinyl records are filters?” and Mr. Ed Hryniewicz commented as shown below. We thank Ed and we thank all of you for your attention.

Neil McCauley / editor

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Ed Hryniewicz writes as follows: A bit of a coincidental topic meshing here, not entirely on your points, as I have currently been ruminating negatively on digital remastering of analogue recording.

Not particularly relevantly, any discs mentioned are second-hand or charity-shop purchases. Also I know that I can only ascribe impressions to my own (flawed) hearing, from my own stereo set-up.

A while back I bought a ‘digitally remastered’ Muddy Waters compilation LP. I hated it so much it went to Oxfam. Over-hard, harsh, unpleasant to listen to. I have avoided vinyl described as digitally remastered ever since. Led Zeppelin’s ‘Mothership’ CD, yet another compilation, this time re-remastered by Jimmy Page. The aim seemed to be to increase the sharpness, and the dynamics (!). I preferred the previous edition ‘Remasters’. Two latest CD purchases. King Crimson (college days nostalgia), an uncomfortable screechy top-end, not like the LP used to sound, nor my cassette tape recording, it has had me swapping about different (kit) feet in attempted mitigation, surprisingly with some small success. The Doors ‘Strange Days Remasters’. Amazingly, some tracks with added sibilance. How do they do that?

Maybe the fault is with my equipment, and my pensioners ears are now more sensitive to top-end distress, but most of my collection still sounds fine.

I contend that the music of the day could only be mastered to sound how it would reproduce on the analogue equipment of the time, principally onto vinyl. So, if you want the authentic sound on a reissue, where is the virtue in transferring from analogue to digital and back to vinyl? Obviously new recording is a different matter, but this mania for pushing the high registers in older recordings into the stratosphere will cause damage to the molars I still possess.

Incidentally, I have a device the size of a cigarette packet for transferring from LP to laptop (and hence onto Cd if wanted), and whilst not absolutely clinically accurate in comparison to the original as emergent from my speakers, it achieves a most pleasurable result.

Thank you for indulging my current pet theme.

Ed Hryniewicz

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