Monday, March 28, 2011

Wifey Snorefest

There’s my usual music posts that my wife ignores and then there’s my technical (i.e. BORING) musical posts that my wife ignores. I don’t blame her.

Last year Sir George Martin and company decided to run the entire Beatles catalog through their disgronification process and release ‘em again. After all, the digital technology that we had in the mid-80s is nothing compared to the gizmos we have not. Heck, back then they hadn’t even invented auto-tune so singers actually had to have a smidgeon of talent to go with their market-tested stage presence.

Since I’ve already shelled out the bucks to buy every album (sans a couple of the Anthology releases which are only good for a listen or two) I was glad to see that my tax dollars bought MULTIPLE copies of each re-scrubbed album. I think I saw at least three and possibly for of every title on the shelf of the main branch so you know some ordering monkey is breaking their arm in congratulating themselves on dropping a couple of thousand on such duplicity.

For my test I picked out Rubber Soul and from this album picked “Norweigen Wood” and the beautifully fuzzy “Think For Yourself.” I made WAV files of both the new versions and the original 80s CD release. Then I brought them into my studio software and set them side by side. Visually you could see that the new versions were just a bit louder, which is common procedure in rereleases – compress ‘em and crank up the volume so the consumer thinks it’s better. Fortunately any compression was very slight. Actually, any changes were very slight. Even with my “studio reference quality” headphones (Sony MDR-7506, if you must know) I could only barely detect any difference between the two. If the original was a ten in clarity the new one is a 10.3 (more or less). That’s it. Just a hint of added clarity. It’s such a miniscule amount of added clarity that not only isn’t it worth my money to buy the new versions but it isn’t even worth my time to get the albums from the library and rip copies. Not only do I not think it’s worth a quarter per album to make an “honest” rip but if I were to make even high-quality MP3s of the albums the compression would remove the .3 in added clarity.

For the record (ahem) I called this “lets do the whole catalog” move by Beatles Corp years ago when they re-scrubbed the songs from Yellow Submarine. I think back then I also did an A/B comparison and found little difference. For that matter, I couldn’t hear much of a difference when they gave the rescrub treatment to Alice Cooper’s Welcome To My Nightmare. So either my ears are not trained to detect the subtle nuances (in which case neither could someone who isn’t an audiophile with extremely expensive highly calibrated grear) or this whole digital rescrubbing this is a scam.

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