CD remasters – what’s been your most disappointing – and your best?

We at Bowers & Wilkins in the London office have a certain love affair with the retail institution that is Fopp. It may have disappeared from many city centres throughout the UK, but the central London store remains, along with a few select others.

They often sell remastered CD editions at remarkably good prices, but what have been recent personal purchases it amazes me the variation in the quality of that remaster. While the relatively recent reissues of REM’s Murmur and U2’s Joshua Tree have revealed hitherto unheard complexities in recording – listening to Mothers of the Disappeared from the latter and you will hear what Brian Eno really intended as the pulsing heart of the song, which was lost in the original vinyl and CD versions – , others have left me rather underwhelmed (Bruce Springsteen’s Born to Run being one).

We’d love to know what you consider to have been the best remasters you have heard that should be sought out, and those that should be avoided. I am sure we’ll be talking about the Beatles remasters in a separate post later in the year!


  • Steve Waller says:

    Thanks for this…turns out there is one in Manchester. I’ll check it out

  • Fred says:

    Live / Dead, Grateful Dead HDCD remaster. My vinyl transfer digitally spliced into one continuous concert IS WAY BETTER than this Warner Brothers official POS.

    Doesn’t even sound like the same band and the sad part is I would have purchased the CD if it sounded better than what I did.

    WB, you think they have the master tapes. I could have done a better CD mastering job than the nitwit at the board.

  • David says:

    Yes, the Fopp in Manchester is even bigger than the London one:) Lots of remastered CD offers there at the moment.


  • Kevin says:

    I know several people who say the same about Born to Run but while there’s certainly plenty going on on that record maybe Bruce wasn’t interested in revealing ‘hitherto unheard complexities in recording’. I read an interview where he said he wanted his records to sound like Gary Bonds’ ‘Quarter to Three’ – like they were recorded in a bathroom on the moon and nearly drowned out by the house party going on outside the door. If an artist’s ideal sound quality is that of his youth – crappy car radios, cheap portables and muddy pa’s in local bars – then maybe remastering isnt really relevant.

  • Dave Cochrane says:

    My biggest remastering delight ever has been The Beatles stereo remasters – the monos are good too, but for me the stereos are nicer. As I said in a comment elsewhere, I was relieved that all the dynamics of the original masters have been retained, so the music lives and breathes and moves freely without constraint. I would say the same of Miles Davis’s Kind Of Blue 50th Anniversary remaster too. Delightfully warm and dynamic, a joy to hear coming from my B+W speakers!
    My biggest disappointment: the Genesis stereo remixes, released in 2007. After all that waiting and anticipation, the sound was just horrible. LOUD in-your-face over-processed sound from start to finish – too heavy on the warm harmonics (obviously added to counter the coldness of digital media) to the point of sounding distorted – with a tiny dynamic range (even worse than Gabriel’s later output) that makes one come over all claustrophobic. I will say that the vinyl remasters sound very good, particularly Foxtrot, mainly due to the very tasteful compression applied. But as for the stereo CDs – forget it. Too flat and lifeless. Awful! Probably no worse than most masters these days though.

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