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I was chatting with a sales guy at the local record store and relayed my disappointing experience with the 2012 remastered Beatles "Abbey Road" 180 g pressing (which I purchased in his store). He replied that the new remaster sounds the way I describe it because it's the 'audiophile' issue (sic?!?)
That made me ponder: what does it mean when someone labels a vinyl pressing as 'audiophile'? If I were to judge by the overall sound of the 180 g Abbey Road remaster, I'd conclude that 'audiophile' implies dark, somewhat subdued, 'safe' sound. Excessively warm (to a fault), with a lot of high-end sparkle removed in order to eliminate the inevitable tape hiss. The end result is sound which, for the lack of a better word, I'd describe as 'sanded off'.
Maybe some connoisseurs prefer such castrated sound (and then rush to dignify it with 'audiophile' epithet), but to me it's all ass backwards. Or did I get everything wrong?
Anyway, what's your opinion on what qualifies as 'audiophile' issue?
Edits: 04/18/17Follow Ups:
"Once this was all Black Plasma and Imagination" -Michael McClure
"Life without music is a mistake" (Nietzsche)
There seems to be an attempt in this thread further down to try to explain away the sound you have experienced of the 2012 remastering of Abbey Road as being the fault of the cartridge that you use or even VTA. If you get to hear the 2012 CD equivalent then you will find it sounds pretty much as you describe the LP that you have. In brief the 2012 remastering was a tragic error if compared to a UK original LP pressing or even the 1980s George Martin CD transfer (I have compared all).
"Audiophile" pressing? It generally means watch your wallet ( that's billfold in American I understand). There are exceptions but here is an example from , I believe, Bob Ludwig. Aja had been reissued in "Audiophile" quality. The reissue producer phoned Ludwig to say how they had been able to emphasise the bass drum. Ludwig pointed out that for the original release he and Donald Fagen had spent a long time trying to correct what tney felt was an over loud bass drum! So more drum, less artistic integrity. Sigh.
If you get to hear the 2012 CD equivalent then you will find it sounds pretty much as you describe the LP that you have. In brief the 2012 remastering was a tragic error if compared to a UK original LP pressing or even the 1980s George Martin CD transfer (I have compared all).
I've tried to compare the 2012 180 gram vinyl remaster to the 2009 24-bit FLAC remaster (from the Apple USB stick). The digital format is much louder, because they applied limiting to it which they didn't apply to the vinyl remaster. Other than being louder, I haven't noticed much difference in the overall sound between the digital and the 180 g vinyl remaster (shouldn't be surprising, since the vinyl is cut from the digital source).
I haven't compared George Martin's 1987 CD transfer to the 2009 remaster, but to me the 1987 transfers to CD always sounded lacking when compared to LPs.
" but to me the 1987 transfers to CD always sounded lacking when compared to LP".
They are, but nevertheless the earlier CD transfers still sound better than the later ones (given a good replay system). As the 2012 stereo LPs are made from the same masters as the CDs they can only sound at best a little better. The mastering trumps all. I know that you cannot do this with Abbey Road but if you compare one of the other 2012 LPs with its mono equivalent from, was it 2015?, and then to either mono or stereo UK pressings, including 1970s black and silver label analogue mastered ones, you will immediately hear why the 2012 remasterings are inferior and what an opportunity was lost. NB: my comparisons had to be made with borrowed copies of the 2012s as I cannot bring myself to spend money on them.
if you compare one of the other 2012 LPs with its mono equivalent from, was it 2015?, and then to either mono or stereo UK pressings, including 1970s black and silver label analogue mastered ones, you will immediately hear why the 2012 remasterings are inferior and what an opportunity was lost.
I have a 2012 Sgt Pepper's mono 180 g remastered LP. Compared to my lowly Canadian pressing (all scratched and abused), this much ballyhooed 'audiophile' 180 gram remaster sucks donkey balls. The scratched old Sgt Pepper's beats the new one by a country mile.
Same conclusions regarding Revolver mono (although I have an original Capitol pressing from the '60s which omits "I'm Only Sleeping" and "And Your Birds Can Sing"). The original Revolver sounds like thermonuclear power plant exploding compared to the tame and prim and proper new Revolver mono pressed on 180 gram vinyl.
Consequently we might wonder how you manage to get these 'audiophile' records played.
When it comes to turntables, tonearms , cartridges and phono stages, the equipment in use does in fact have a large say as to the quality of the playback.
So, what are you using?
Hmm, I thought I've updated my system description...
Anyway, I have modded Systemdek IIX (replaced the original platter with acrylic plater). Rega RB300 tonearm (rewired) with Denon DL-103 cartridge into hand-made SUT into Emotiva XSP-1 MM phono.
and this could be significant. That DL-103 does require a good 40 to 50 hours of break-in time before it loosens up and delivers the way it should. I recall my first DL-103R, out of the box, unmodified in any way, sounded constrained and lifeless for the first 20 hours. Then it gradually began to open up. At 40 hours it was mostly ready for serious listening. At around 100 hours it had its true character.
The RB300 should be ok for that cartridge, if a little bit light on effective mass. The RB300 is rated at 11 grams effective mass. And the DL-103 would be happier with a heavier arm. But that should not be a bottle neck that prevents you from hearing the essential character of that cartridge.
I agree, Denon DL-103 is a much better cartridge after the initial 40 - 50 hours playtime. I think I'm now around its hundredth hour, so the cart should be fully broken in.
When I play my old scratchy copy of Abbey Road, it sounds simply fantastic. It totally destroys the 2012 180 g remaster!
The only thing I can think of is VTA. 180 gram LP is thicker, and maybe my DL-103 is not calibrated for that thickness? Rega RB300 unfortunately doesn't have VTA adjustment.
What do you think? Could VTA be the culprit?
The DL-103 comes with a conical diamond stylus. And those aren't all that sensitive to VTA/SRA compared to other stylus configuration.
But it doesn't hurt to get a good ball-park adjustment that is aimed at the average lp thickness in your collection. The adjustment can be carried out using headshell shims.
Btw, you can also adjust effective mass of that arm using headweights (which also function as a vta/sra adjuster.
I have an RB250 which has modifications from Expressimo Audio. It has, among its mods, a vta adjuster in the form of a threaded sleeve collar that screws on over the threaded base of that arm. It is not convenient to adjust but it is possible to work. And...there are other vta adjusters that can be bought for that tonearm. That said, the conical tip on that DL-103 isn't too sensitive to these adjustments.
Opus 33 1/3
In fact people put way too much importance in labels. Its like calling an auto a "classic". Truth be told, calling anything a "classic" just means its at least 25 years old.
Calling a LP an "audiophile pressing" has less descriptive information associated with the term "LP" than "classic" has to do with "automobile". Audiophile pressings used to be associated with half speed mastered LPs which were pressed on some kind of virgin vinyl and released by a special label.
Please note that the description above says nothing about how it sounds. That is a harder thing to put into language and whether a pressing is pressed on heavy weight virgin vinyl, how it was mastered, who mastered it and from what master tape still does not guarantee any sort of sonic nirvana.
If someone goes through the trouble of getting the original stereo master tape, masters the lacquer at half-speed (or takes some sort of special care in mastering the lacquer) and the plating and pressing is performed by a top quality vinyl pressing plant, hopefully this all means that the LP is going to be a winner. But like I started above, none of that ensures that the LP will be great.
The real truth is if they screw up any of the above steps, the LP is very likely to be a bad pressing, but nothing guarantees a sonically great LP. There are too many things that can go wrong. Labeling a LP an "audiophile pressing" is more likely to be a marketing step than anything else.
If you talk to someone and they tell you that anything labeled "audiophile" means its bad is just as stupid and calling an "audiophile pressing" some kind of great product. The rule of thumb is this...anyone who tells you something or someone is guaranteed to be any kind of great this or that, be sure the source knows nothing about the subject they claim to know so much about.
There are way too many self appointed experts around. The internet has a way of bringing them out and giving them some sort of credibility. It just isn't so.
We don't shush around here!
Life is analog...digital is just samples thereof
It used to mean, and still does in many cases, that extra attention was paid to remastering, plating and pressing. Sometimes hype. Sometimes real.
...they're just trying to sell records.
the marketing department had the final say in how it was labeled.
"The piano ain't got no wrong notes." Thelonious Monk
But I don't think the 180 g Abbey Road remaster was labeled as 'audiophile'. It's the sales guy who labeled it as such. So in his mind, that murky sound is 'audiophile'?
He's just being difficult, as record store dudes tend to be. Don't pay any attention to him. So-called audiophile records are just like any records: Some are very good to exceptional and some suck.
The term loosely applies to releases that have been carefully mastered and pressed by specialty companies such as Analogue Productions, sometimes using original tapes.
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