That’s a bad Beatles paraphrase.  Seemed relevant to mention The Beatles at the minute, seeing as everyone else is.  As I understand it the hype’s been whipped up surrounding the release of 2 “new” products: the Beatles Rock Band console game, and a remastered £180 14-album CD box set.  Not owning a games console (or for that matter, a working TV) it’s a little hard to get too geared up for the former.  Regarding the latter, however…

Maybe it was George Lucas who ruined the term “digitally remastered” for me with his incessant re-releasing and screwing-around-with of the original Star Wars trilogy.  The wikipedia article on Remastering has this to say:

Remastering has become a powerful buzzword in multimedia industries, and it generally implies quality enhancement of sound and/or picture to a previously existing recording (frequently designed to encourage people to buy a new version of something they already own).

That’s probably the crux of it – the process of digitally remastering a recording is where engineers go back to the source recordings of an album (hopefully, back to the intrument parts, if they’ve still got them), then convert the analogue to digital, and from there combine them into a new master copy.  The attractive part of a digital sound recording is that you can reproduce it an unlimited number of times without losing any information.  In the “old days” overtracking was analogue, so each time your recording went through a generation you lost some of it.

The question arises then about how minute the changes are going to be, and whether they’ll be noticeable.  The answer to that question largely depends on what you intend to do with the recording – if you’re going to rip the CDs to mp3 then play them on your iPod on the way to work, then through the combination of sound compression, substandard headphones, and background noise, you’re probably not going to notice that much of a difference.  Whereas if you’re sitting at home listening to it on your vibration-isolated CD deck, plugged into a smooth-powered amp and a decent set of Tannoys then (their widely known reverb issues not withstanding) the extra effort will more than likely have been worth the effort.  Assuming your hearing isn’t knackered from years of listening to industrial machinery or loud music at live gigs.

There again, I don’t suppose that being able to appreciate the extra dimension of sound is the only reason to buy a remastered box set.  Oh man am I glad I’m not buying any Stuff this month…

(Incidentally, day 9 and I’ve only had one lapse – one new t-shirt, but technically that wasn’t just Stuff, it was a holiday souvenir… so still going strong!)

Peripherally, the thing that inspired this post was today’s date: 09/09/09.  The other interpretation very well could have been a more Rammsteinian tangent than a Beatley one, but then having entitled the post NEIN! NEIN! NEIN! the mind boggles over what it could have possibly been about.

print