The Nevermind Remaster: Further Analysis

My post on the Nevermind Super Deluxe Edition debacle has officially become the most popular post on The Lost Turntable, thanks to it spreading like wildfire on Facebook and being picked up by Fark yesterday.

Of course, with popularity comes criticism.

The biggest complaint of my post was that I didn’t rip the CD myself. Many people here, and on Fark, have claimed that an improper rip can result in a distorted/over-compressed file.

While ripping at a low bitrate can cause distortion and decreased fidelity, it really doesn’t make the waveform LOUDER. But since so many people like to complain (it is the Internet after all) here’s a comparison of “Aneurysm.” One is taken from from my copy of the Super Deluxe Edition, and the other was purchased from iTunes:

They’re identical, and much louder than the original:

Music on iTunes is encoded in the M4A format at 256kpbs. I’m not a fan of the M4A format, but it wouldn’t cause audio compression like that. It’s at the source. It’s on the master.

Also, I’m not the only person who noticed this.

It’s not even a new phenomenon when it comes to Nirvana recordings. All of the following were taken from my own personal CD collection.

“Curmudgeon” – Original B-side version vs. the With The Lights Out version (which is slightly different, but I believe it’s the same recording)

For some reason I have misplaced my original copy of Breed, and I don’t think you’ll be swayed by my vinyl rip. Here’s how “Negative Creep” looks on the 20th Anniversay Edition. I can assure you that the original CD pressing was not this loud:

As you can see, this is not a new problem with Nirvana remasters. I can assume that the butchered remaster of In Utero is already done and ready to assault our ears in 2013.

If you want a great example showing how bad these remasters sound, check out this video comparing the original version of “Curmudgeon” versus the WTLO remaster from 2004.

My bottom line remains the same: this “remaster” is shit and makes the music sound worse. Don’t buy it. The word is still out on the vinyl version though. My copy is coming on Tuesday, I’ll give you all a full report then.

No new music for now. Hopefully I’ll have a new, non-Nirvana, post tonight.

9 Responses to “The Nevermind Remaster: Further Analysis”

  1. Keith says:

    Your posts encouraged me to cancel my Best Buy pre-order which went into Backorder on release day – just like every other “exclusive” edition they crap out. I have all the original singles, the original CD, WTLO and a smattering of Outcesticide and I’m just gonna leave it at that. Nevermind may have dethroned the aging 80’s pop icons of the era, but 20 years later modern pop music is totally kicking its ass. Have you heard “Major” the song The Asteroids Galaxy Tour is giving away on their Web site? That song makes me jump as high as D-7 did back in the day – since you like Foxy Shazam, it should make you implode.

  2. [...] rerelease of Nirvana’s Nevermind, calling out everyone involved for simply jacking up the volume of the record and ruining the aural dynamics that made the damn thing so interesting in the first [...]

  3. lou says:

    Have you heard the deluxe edition of the cures three imaginary boys? The drums are so horrendously loud they drown out the guitars. I used to be a remaster deluxe edition snob, but that release made me rethink my stance. Now I’m searching record stores for original pressings. I was excited to check out this release, but after reading this I think ill stick with my good old cd of nevermind. Thanks! I feel like I dodged a bullet

  4. drfeelgoed says:

    I’ve got the No Talking Just Head album + 2 cd singles, just let me know if you’re still interested & I’ll rip them for you.

  5. Lost Turntable says:

    I got the album now, but the singles sound interesting, shoot me an email, its on the sidebar.

  6. Blackout says:

    this new 2011 remaster of Nevermind is a TOTAL DISASTER. the punch and clarity is gone, turning the whole album into a mushy mess. The impact of the big choruses was what made Nirvana so special, now its all flat as a pancake. After years of people complaining about the “Loudness Wars” you would have thought the moron mastering engineer would have treaded carefully with this most special release but ….he has butchered it. the top end hats just disappear as the tracks get louder, everything is just all-round bad.

    *sigh*

  7. Buck says:

    I listened to this “deluxe” edition for the first time today. I stopped it about a minute in. Oh well, whatever, nevermind.

  8. NoRemasters says:

    The word “Remastered” has been perverted dramatically to sell more legacy album reissues.

    For the “record”, to remaster does not mean to hyper-compress and/or brickwall limit the hell out of the transients and volume ebbs & flows that lend emotion to the music.

    Remastering can and often does include:

    -Noise reduction
    -Stereo channel balance correction
    -Speed issues(wow/flutter in worn master tapes)
    -Tonal issues(Re-equalizing the bottom of a LP master up to modern standards for repro. of bass).

    Dynamics processing should be used sparingly – if at all! All the compression and limiting necessary was performed 20-40 years ago – and any additional modern compression only detracts from the original listening experience.

  9. NoRemasters says:

    Blackout(10/22/11):

    Realize that it is not always the (re)Mastering engineer’s choice or desire to create “mushy messes” during the mastering(new albums) or remastering(legacy albums pre-1995) process.

    The edict to make it “louder” at the expense of dynamic nuances and even proper tonal balances comes more often than not from label execs, record poducers, and even the artists themselves.

    And sadly it is their job to go against their better judgement in these cases – unless they are self-employed and can choose to accept or turn down a “squashing” remaster project.

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