Jan 16, 2007

ReMastered: Maybe, no thank you.

In our economy and society of "bigger! faster! more!" we seldom stop to think whether any of these things = "better". I've been following the post-Mac World discussion about whether Steve Jobs dropped some pretty obvious hints that Apple, Inc. has made a deal with Apple Corps (home of the Beatles catalogue) to finally bring the long-coveted Beatles albums to the digital century. As part of that discussion, there was mention that this deal would likely include the delay in release of remastered versions of each album. While I and others are likely very excited about remastered albums (I have copies of many of the Beatles albums, but I own nary a one, unless you include my Dad's LP of Abbey Road), I have been turned onto thinking about the way that record companies cash in on old classics without giving the level of performance that we should expect from a newly packaged, and likely highly priced re-release of an old favorite.

This short video gives some indication of what happens when companies "compress" the audio after making everything "louder." For the casual listener, the difference may not be noticeable, but considering how much time artists and their producers spend to get the sound right, it doesn't make sense for that to be distorted in an end product that's marketed as a high-fidelity (or at least higher-fidelity) release. So I'm a little concerned, and my reluctance to buy things digitally may just fall to the wayside with this revelation.

Besides, I think I'm losing my hearing.

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