Sampling frequency on Radio programmes - Taking it off topic

Kevin Lynch klynchk at
Sun Apr 26 10:37:51 PDT 2015

Although this discussion is largely closed I just wanted to draw
attention to  this show on R4 that investigates the whole "art" of
remastering I have not listened to it yet
but it's in my queue

Synopsis below


Sara Mohr-Pietsch explores digital re-mastering: is it the art of
restoring music to its original glory; or just another way of selling
us music we already own?

The whole of the Beatles back catalogue has recently been re-released
in re-mastered form; a quick search of any record store or online shop
will reveal that a large number of recordings have been re-mastered,
from very old crackly recordings to very recent releases. But what do
the words 'digitally re-mastered' on a cd actually mean?

Sara Mohr-Pietsch visits London's iconic Abbey Road Studios (recently
awarded Grade II listed status) to meet some of the engineers who
re-master recordings there. She asks them and others from the music
industry what re-mastering actually means. She learns that sometimes
re-mastering can be as much about what to leave in as what to leave
out. And is it an advantage to have the original artist involved in
the process?

Sara also considers the consumer's point of view; we've already bought
these recordings on vinyl and cd (and possibly cassette as well) so
why do we need to buy them again? Can the average listener hear any
difference between the original version of (for instance) a pop song
from the 1960s and the re-mastered version?

Sara looks at the technology that is used to clean up very old
recordings, where the music is often buried almost completely beneath
noise and the sonic distortions caused by very primitive recording

Whatever your view is of the value of re-mastering, what is clear is
that the re-mastering engineers Sara meets treat the work they do with
great care and reverence - they are often uncovering moments in

On 20 April 2015 at 14:16, Kevin Lynch <klynchk at> wrote:
> When people talk about music/audio "quality" there can be a tendency
> towards "group think". I just wanted to open up the discussion to the
> other more subtle, subjective. parameters of quality and how they are
> lost in the musician to consumer (mass market) production process .
> We are all in agreement here really :).
> Kevin
> On 20 April 2015 at 11:52, michael norman <michaeltnorman at> wrote:
>> On 20/04/15 09:59, Jim web wrote:
>>> This is drifiting OT but since the comments below were made I will respond
>>> on this occasion and hope people are OK with that... beyond that if anyone
>>> wants to discuss this - take it to  :-)
>>> In article
>>> <CA+L9MatjHhgt_m=rRFjozuiveDc_zP_v+EfhqsnrWxJL3LgGRA at>,
>>>     Kevin Lynch <klynchk at> wrote:
>>>> Jim's article is well considered and only tells part of the story of
>>>> music mastering for distribution. His definition of a "good" audio
>>>> recording says a lot about his purist perspective.
>>> Yes. My 'purist' approach is pretty simply. It is that when the musicians
>>> and engineers have made a source recording master they are happy with,
>>> then
>>> - so far as technically possible - *that* is what the end-user's result
>>> should sound like when played on decent equipment.
>>> FWIW I know perfectly well that, say, Jimi Hendrix used electric guitars
>>> which have no real 'acoustic' sound, and then distorted and compressed the
>>> results on it way to the final master tape. That was done using his
>>> judgement and talent.
>>> What he *didn't* do was then add *more* clipping and avoidable distortions
>>> of quite different kinds as have appeared, time after time, on the CDs
>>> released after his death. [1]
>>> You can more easily make a similar point for classical music and jazz
>>> where
>>> there often *is* a genuine orginal sound to be heard in a venue and into
>>> which the musicians judge what they perform.
>>>> However the vast majority of people who produce, buy and consume music
>>>> are not audiophiles and they do not care about fidelity of their
>>>> listening experience.
>>> I agree. That why, for example, I didn't bother to try analysing any
>>> 128kbps mp3 files. Although admittedly, another reason is that I don't
>>> have
>>> any. 8-]
>>> More below...
>>>> This 2008 Wired article fleshes out the story
>>>> my favourite quote. "Bands, producers and record labels have always
>>>> wanted to make loud records, for radio play and jukeboxes.
>>> That did leave out the small but key word "some". And the title in the URL
>>> you give is perhaps of interest here. :-)
>>> TBH I don't think that when, say, Mark Elder conducts the Halle he wants
>>> the end result to follow the recipy you quote.
>>> But yes, I've seen that 'justification' trotted out many times. And as a
>>> long-term AES member, seen it argued about. However the key point to note
>>> is that it states a belief system on the part of those who believe it.
>>> In some cases they may be judging their audience well. (Indeed, I suspect
>>> many people have never even heard really well mastered and reproduced
>>> music. So may have no idea what is possible.) But even allowing for that,
>>> the believers have dodged putting their faith to a simple critical test.
>>> This is to symultaenously release a clipped and massively level compressed
>>> version in parallel with releasing a less processed version. Then tell the
>>> potential customers about it, and let them choose which they prefer, given
>>> the ability to hear both first.
>>> However the 'wizards' who get paid to compress and clip generally don't do
>>> this. They just rely on the mantra that 'louder sells more'.
>>> All that said, the main point of the health check is to spot digital
>>> recording/processing errors and faults. Not just clipping or level
>>> compression. If you prefer the results, that's a personal choice you're
>>> entitled to make once you are fully informed. However to really decide
>>> you'd need to listen to an *unaffected* version for comparison. if you
>>> haven't heard that you can't know if you wouldn't prefer it.
>>> TBH I doubt in most cases those producing the CD had any idea at the time
>>> that they'd used undithered integer gain changes, etc, and caused the
>>> effects shown. Chances are they just moved a gain slider to change the
>>> level without knowing that happened. Indeed, you can find an example on my
>>> webpage where the first issue of a CD shows problems, and a later
>>> re-masting doesn't. If they'd *wanted* the flaws they'd have repeated
>>> them.
>>> Jim
>>> [1] BTW Anyone who likes Joni Mitchell might also wish to be aware of the
>>> misuse of 'HDCD' on some of her CDs, making them sound worse than the
>>> equivalent LP or earlier plain CD versions. Again, apparently applied by
>> Jim
>> This is all, as you say, totally OT for this list but does illustrate a
>> number of things. As you say it is as much about belief systems as anything
>> else.  Probably the same people who argued back in the day that an amplifier
>> was a "straight wire with gain" are now arguing that no human being can hear
>> the difference between mp3s and uncompressed digital files.  I have given up
>> trying to debate with these believers. You will know all this.
>> On "Loudness" this is from Stereophile
>> Michael Fremer also has a lot to say on the subject of mastering etc., find
>> him on Analogplanet and in Stereophile.
>> He is of course very much a vinyl advocate.
>> I'm sure you know all this.
>> Mike
>> _______________________________________________
>> get_iplayer mailing list
>> get_iplayer at

More information about the get_iplayer mailing list