Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
audiophile65

Steely Dan MoFi UltraDiscs: not from 1st generation masters??

Rate this topic

Recommended Posts

At least one person on this forum has stated at least two times in as many weeks that the Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab (MFSL) UltraDiscs of Steely Dan's "Aja" and "Gaucho" are NOT from first generation masters.

If there are other forum members out there that are aware of this, please chime in.

Although I do have "Gaucho" in 24/96 from HDTracks, I am getting ready to order the first seven albums from Steely Dan ("Can't Buy A Thrill", "Countdown to Ecstacy", "Katy Lied", "Pretzel Logic", "The Royal Scam", "Aja", and "Gaucho") in the form of SHM-CDs from Japan. I hear they are all exquisite sounding! Not only do I want to rip these CDs (16/44.1 AIFF, WAV, and Apple Lossless) into my MacBook Pro for my audio system, I also want to load them into my upcoming new iPod (most likely the 160GB iPod Classic).

Again, please chime in whether you all know anything about the MFSL deal.

 

Thanks!

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

happen to know what the source masters are for the Japanese SHM discs?

SHM is just a higher quality CD, which will make no difference for ripping (as the reason for the higher quality CD is to reduce errors and servo activity during real time reading in a CD player)-if you are going to rip these discs for computer playback there is no reason to pay extra for the high quality SHM disc itself-unless the master they are using is not available elsewhere.

MOFI releases are actual re-masters, not just a new CD of some existing master. In my experience MOFI releases are usually the best CD version available, but I have not heard their Steely Dan re-masters. Usually, no record company will let the actual 1st gen master of artist's work out of their sight, so I doubt the SHM discs are from 1st gen masters. I do know that MOFI has ditched projects when the master provided to them was not good enough for them to work with: their standards are pretty high.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

barrows wrote: "SHM is just a higher quality CD, which will make no difference for ripping ... if you are going to rip these discs for computer playback there is no reason to pay extra for the high quality SHM disc itself"

 

I have over a dozen SHM-CDs - mostly Yes and Led Zeppelin. The rips from SHM-CDs sound better than rips from the equivalent remastered CD from the US. To be fair, this might be due to differences in the masters used. But, I feel that it's due to the SHM, which is why I keep buying more of these. YMMV

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

What's most noticeable when comparing an SHM-CD to the equivalent CD is that the SHM-CD is louder. So my guess is that the digital data is not identical. This is REALLY easy to hear. I wish I could upload a couple ripped tracks so the skeptics could hear this.

 

This gain difference does make it more difficult to do a comparison of the rips. I find that I have to reduce the volume when playing the SHM-CD just to make things apples-to-apples.

 

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

if the SHM discs are actually "louder", that would indicate that some compression/limiting was used when the SHM discs were created.

As far as I can tell, the producers of SHM discs make no claims about remastering...

Perhaps there are some mastering changes with some SHM discs (louder). I would not want more compressed (louder) versions of most of the titles available as SHM.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You seem to be missing the point.

Barrows and I were saying that when the discs do contain identical data and accurate rips are obtained, the SHM construction of a disc is worthless because the rips will be identical.

If one disc is noticeably louder, then the discs cannot contain identical data, so rips of these discs will not be identical, obviously.

 

 

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

http://www.stevehoffman.tv/forums/archive/index.php/t-185836.html

 

Like you said, barrows, there's no point in paying a premium for an SHM-CD when the same mastering is available on a standard CD and all you want to do with the disc is rip it.

 

If the info in that link is correct, this could be the same mastering as the SHM-CD but for under $10: http://www.cduniverse.com/search/xx/music/pid/1104652/a/Aja.htm

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If the SHM Led Zeppelin discs are actually louder than the mid nineties re-master CDs of the same titles, then they are definitely compressed/limited to an even greater extent. I just checked, and the Led Zep re-masters have plenty of 0 dB peaks already, so to make the average levels higher, even more compression/limiting would have had to be applied: I would not consider this to be an improvement.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

goldsdad: Have you confirmed that SHM-CDs and the equivalent CD do contain identical data? I guess you must have, otherwise you wouldn't have written that "there's no point in paying a premium for an SHM-CD when the same mastering is available on a standard CD". Which SHM-CDs did you test to confirm identical data? And did you listen to these too?

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I stand by exactly what I said. Some people may misinterpret my words and infer something more or different. Or I may have misrepresented my point, of course.

I did not name discs that I have or have not compared.

If I did, that would prove nothing; I could be lying.

 

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

@kennyb123

 

You seem to be misunderstanding what is being said. My understanding of SHM-CD's is that the thing that sets them apart are the materials that the CD is constructed from. Given that, if the master used to produce the SHM CD is the same used in another CD, and you are only going to rip the CD and then play that given rip, it should make no difference. Those unique materials used in the construction of the CD are immediately removed from the equation post ripping.

 

Quoting that piece of a sentence from Goldsdad is taking it out of context. All he was saying is that if the masters are the same, SHM makes no difference once ripped so why pay a premium? Now, if the mastering is different, that's a whole 'nother ball game.

 

Tim

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Tim - The differences I'm hearing suggest that they may be tweaking the masters too. I have a hard time believe that the volume differences and other benefits I'm hearing are due only to changing materials. Something else may be going on with these discs beyond just the claims made in the marketing materials.

 

I think one should listen to these - or at least compare the data - before making the blanket statement that it's not worth spending a premium on these. Is that too much to ask?

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Tim wrote: "(if) SHM makes no difference once ripped so why pay a premium"

 

I would love to share some files with you Tim (is that legal?).

 

I have done SHM-CD vs regular CD shootouts with three non-audiophile friends. The result was the same: each nearly jumped out of my listening chair. The increase in volume was the chief reason. This is not subtle, so something else must be going on here.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If there is indeed an increase in volume in Led Zeppelin SHM discs, then there has to be an increase in compression (over the 90s re-masters). I would not consider increasing compression an improvement on these titles.

On the other hand, all information which I can find on SHM discs indicates that there is no remastering done; it would be nice for the producers of the SHM products to be more transparent about their actual process, what source files they use, and if they do any re-mastering.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I agree barrows that the producers should be more transparent about their actual process - and that if they increased compression this would not be an improvement.

 

I'll see if I can produce some graphs later. Is there a way to post these here?

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

"I think one should listen to these - or at least compare the data - before making the blanket statement that it's not worth spending a premium on these. Is that too much to ask?"

 

Nobody made a blanket statement about all SHM-CDs!

 

If, and I repeat if, the mastering is identical for an SHM-CD and another significantly less expensive CD, then the SHM is a pointless expense for a disc being purchased for ripping only.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

that there are no differences between SHM-CD's and other CD's. I have not listened to any to make a comparison. I have seen on other sites people making somewhat similar arguments to yours, in that they were saying that they are hearing differences with the SHM-CD's and that they sound excellent. I was only trying to explain where I thought goldsdad and barrows were coming from, and which I agree makes perfect sense.

 

You may be correct, in that there is something else going on and which they are not openly documenting. I don't see anyone making blanket statements that they're not worth the money though.

 

Tim

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There are 2 versions of the Led Zeppelin SHM discs...American and Japanese. The Japanese versions are highly sought after because of a smoother sounding and less jarring (loud) mix. I finally found a copy of the Japanese box set, and they sound great (I was warned off of buying the American version due to the "crappy" sound). Also, I am pretty sure that the Rush SHM discs were remastered before release.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

SHM-CDs are simply a manufacturing and material process and in and of themselves offer nothing to the musical content. The only way the SHM series would offer any different or better is if the mastering was different or better. I equate these to the benefits of 'gold' cds but the really benefit of DCC, AF and MoFi in those cases is the very same, the quality of the masterings and not the materials.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Specifically where have you heard and read this. These MFSL Steely Dan's have been around for years and I have never heard or read anything of this nature. I am always very suspect of one internet voice crying out in the wilderness of some great wrong.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

An interesting bit on the new PF blu-ray has a doc about Dark Side. One thing that was enlightening: According to Gilmour the Dark Side most of us grew up listening to was made from 3rd generation tapes. The SACD mix in 2003 dug up the original tapes and represents a proper remaster. I have had a mixed bag in my experience with SHM-SACDs, which may be very different from SHM-CDs. But what I found is that with albums like Paranoid it sounds like they just took whatever studio master they had and threw it on a disc without too much thought going into it. Tape hiss, terrible vocal tracks, (the guitar and drums sound ok). I have a CD of this that sounds absolutely amazing--you can actually hear voices in the studio. Not so on this. I found Aja to be very harsh to my ears. Was there not an issue with Aja and some missing masters and this is why we have no 5.1 of it? Anyway the 180gr Lp makes the sacd sound like an Mp3. YMMV of course. I have heard tattoo you from shm-cd that doesn't really sound any different from the old cd, a bit louder. Im thinking a lot of these Japanese releases on SHM are done sorta cheaply--they seem to be mostly just taking the master and plopping it on a disc. I think there's a bit more to it than that but this is my opinion on the sound. They certainly aren't investing in the invigoration of the sonics like the projects that PF has done or someone like Neil Young. Im interested in hearing the Stevie Wonder SHM-sacd of talking book which I have on HDCD and sounds really quite amazing. I have a feeling that the SHM is going to seriously underwhelm. Perhaps the gutting the music industry has taken (supposedly) has taken all the budget out of restoring these albums to a better state. Tape hiss and the like in this day and age is just weird on an SACD. Literally on Paranoid it sometimes sounds like the tape is slowing down or speeding up when they did the transfer. They (sacds and the like) can sound really good. My experience with the SHMs tends to depend on the master and how much post production work went into it. Some of them sound terrible frankly.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've read this for years about the MFSL Dan discs. I remember reading it back when ICE magazine was the source for what was going on w/CD's new and upcoming.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi kennyb123,

 

"...Have you confirmed that SHM-CDs and the equivalent CD do contain identical data?..."

 

I know this was addressed to someone else but the answer to whether a CD and its SHM version contain identical data depends on the particular CD and SHM.

 

I have compared a few SHM and HQCD discs to their equivalent CDs (in both cases, samplers that included both the SHM and CD in the package).

 

I started, as always, by listening to the discs played back via my disc player. Within the first several seconds, I could hear differences of such magnitude, I was quite confident I was listening to different EQ. This, again, when the discs were played in my disc player.

 

I then extracted tracks from both discs to computer hard drive and found (to my great surprise) that I could null the versions against each other and achieve dead silence as a result. This, as far as I'm concerned, proves without doubt the data on both discs (in these particular sets is identical.

 

Playing the extracted tracks from the hard drive, eradicated the differences, both sounding closer (to my ears, actually a bit better than) the SHM disc played from the disc player. (In all cases - computer or disc player, audio was fed to the external DAC in my studio.)

 

Therefore, I would say that if audio extracted to hard drive from an SHM sounds different (especially the order of difference you describe) from audio extracted from the CD version, this is pretty good proof both discs were made from different masterings. In such a case, which is "better" would depend on the mastering one prefers. (The SHM might be made from a better mastering or it might simply be a clearer picture of an inferior mastering.)

 

***

To the topic at hand, when I was at Atlantic, they never sent out original masters.

 

That said, in my opinion, whether a finished master is created from the original sources or from a copy will have significantly less impact on the final result than the mastering itself. There are plenty of re-mastered discs out there, where the original tapes were obtained and subsequently has the life squeezed out of them by heavy handed mastering. I'd rather listen to a George Piros mastering made from a cassette (!) than some other masterings made from original mixes. Of course, the ideal would be George having used the originals but if it comes to a choice, I choose the mastering over the source, since it is the mastering I'll be listening to.

 

Best regards,

Barry

www.soundkeeperrecordings.com

www.barrydiamentaudio.com

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Amen! Frankly there are some bootlegs on various quad sites that came from reel to reels and such and are homemade that often sound better than their digital counterparts (save for those transients that the creator can't control: tape age, vinyl weardown, ect.) that have been remastered. I recently heard a bootleg of WYWH that appeared on SACD from a quad source that actually to my ears was nearly as good (and in the case of channel separation, better) as the new mix that came out. I'll be happy when the labels settle on some relative high def format and stop re-releasing the same 40 year old albums every 5 years. Since it seems that the CD is finally about to be phased out by next year we can only hope. My only problem with not having a disc is that I feel surround sound will probably suffer the semi-resurgence it is getting on the new blu ray sets. If the industry goes to straight downloads I see that trend stopping immediately. Hope that didn't stray too far off topic!

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

×