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Did Karl Richter ever play any other instrument?
He was also a conductor.
Made many choir recordings, a few of his Bach and Händel recordings became quite legendary.
I got to know the Brandenburg Concertos with a Richter recording.

But he earned his first fame as organist indeed.
 

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And this assumes that those master tapes were stored in a way that preserved them - which is often not the case. IIRC, the latest remaster of the Solti RING wasn't done from the master tapes because they had deteriorated beyond repair.
Maybe the most detailed article about the remastering of a recording ever written:

Solti Ring Remastering.
 

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I, for one can't answer that question. As much as I want the very best rendition of a particular work, who knows?
At the end of the day, you owe it to yourselves to own the very best sound reproduction of a particular work.
Keep on buying until you get to a mastering that sounds right - to you. Yet this is when we become slaves to our masters. Do we keep going? Who knows. Only you.
 

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He actually made multiple harpsichord recordings (including another Goldberg Variation from the 50s) and was the harpsichordist on both his recordings of the Brandenburg concertos.
I'm so used to the combi organ/harpsichord that I sometimes tend to forget to mention either one of them.

(I bet he played a little piano, too... but I don't recall any recordings. ;))
 

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A lot of YT videos are 320 Kbps MP3s and they're pretty freaking good.
Most use AAC+, which is light years ahead of MP3. YT videos are most commonly encoded in Mpeg 4, the default audio layer of which is AAC+. If one even attempted to encode an Mpeg 4 video with MP3 audio, it would render as unplayable by most users. That's assuming the encoder successfully encodes at all without errors.
 

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Classical recordings are frequently remastered and the refurbished product is sold to the customer as an improved version. This is especially common for older, analogue recordings, but even digital recordings are being remastered. For a time, 24 bit/96 kHz remasterings or variants thereof were all the rage, and marketed as such even when released on 16 bit/44.1 kHz CD.

But are these remasterings really an improvement? The case of Günter Wand's Beethoven symphony cycle allows us to easily make comparisons as both the original 1980s releases and the 2001 24/96 remasterings are available on YouTube and Spotify. I also have the CD releases so I'm confident about my conclusions.

Here are playlists for both versions on YouTube, first the original, then the remastering:


I have used my audio software to make direct comparisons, and here is what I hear:
  • The remastered version is about 4 dB louder.
  • Smile EQ has been applied to the remastered version, meaning that the bass and treble have been boosted.
Yes, that's all I hear in this remastering. A volume boost on top of a volume boost. Unfortunately the combination of these changes has introduced distortion in some of the loudest parts of the symphonies. As an example of this, consider the final seconds of the third movement of the fifth symphony, at the end of the transition to the final movement. The original is first, then the remastering:


A telling example is the last 20 seconds of the Finale of the first symphony starting from 5:30 in the links below. Here, the trumpet line sounds less brilliant and somewhat distorted in the remastered version. At 5:34, there is a slibilance artifact in the violins that gets amplified in the remastered version because the treble has been boosted. At 5:39 in the remastered version, there is an unpleasant rumble as the timpanist switches from the C to the G timpani. The timpani sound more even in the original version.


So what are your thoughts? Do you hear the same things that I do in these examples? Do you think that remastering actually improves the sound of old recordings, or is it mostly a marketing gimmick?
To respond to this particular example. I've bought three CD sets from the Sony/BMG Masters Series. I first bought the Leinsdorf Prokofiev box, then the Bernstein London Symphonies box and finally the Isaac Stern Beethoven box. For whatever remastering that was done with these sets, I've found the sound to be subpar. In the Prokofiev in particular, I also found the distortion you described in the Wand recording.

Having said that, I do hear improvement from previous masterings in the big Szell box. I think the sound I've heard in some of the more recent EMI/Warner Klemperer boxes is a little fuller to my ears than the earliest CD masterings (and certainly the Angel recordings!).

All in all, I'd have to say that sometimes the remasterings are improvements, and other times they are not. Because of my bad experiences with the Masters series, I will not buy another CD from it. I think if the buyer starts to have similar experiences with a certain label or a particular series from a label, that should guide them in deciding to buying a remastered version of a recording.
 

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Are these the cheap "white" cardboard boxes from Sony? Or some "original cover art" boxes?
Of the cheapo "white boxes" I have Levine/Mahler, Walter/Mahler, Szell/Haydn, Leinsdorf/Prokofiev and Serkin/Beethoven and didn't notice any particularly problematic sound, i.e. nothing that would be surprising or very substandard for ca. 1960s recordings (never known for especially good sound, unlike some Mercury or Decca).
However, I could only have made comparison in one or two cases (Walter/Mahler and Serkin) and I didn't really before giving away the older single issues. I am not that particular about sound, though
 

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The best examples of remastering done really well are the series of Emil Berliner Studios' remasterings for SACD (and occasionally CD as well) of the vintage DG catalogue. The results are revelatory, causing me to completely revise my opinions of the DG house sound. For example, DGs analogue recordings of solo piano often sounded tinny on both LP and CD, but these remasterings restore a rich, full sound - eg. Gilels' solo Beethoven, Martha Argerich's Ravel recital. All of the orchestral sets I have bought, like Karajan's Schumann and Beethoven symphony cycles, his Second Viennese School set, Bohm's Beethoven, Kubelik's Beethoven and Dvorak cycles - all sound incredible. The secret is that they remixed from the original multitrack masters. I also have to say that the few Esoteric remasters I have bought are incredible, even when the source is digital.
 

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Discussion Starter · #32 ·
The best examples of remastering done really well are the series of Emil Berliner Studios' remasterings for SACD (and occasionally CD as well) of the vintage DG catalogue. The results are revelatory, causing me to completely revise my opinions of the DG house sound. For example, DGs analogue recordings of solo piano often sounded tinny on both LP and CD, but these remasterings restore a rich, full sound - eg. Gilels' solo Beethoven, Martha Argerich's Ravel recital. All of the orchestral sets I have bought, like Karajan's Schumann and Beethoven symphony cycles, his Second Viennese School set, Bohm's Beethoven, Kubelik's Beethoven and Dvorak cycles - all sound incredible. The secret is that they remixed from the original multitrack masters. I also have to say that the few Esoteric remasters I have bought are incredible, even when the source is digital.
Thank you for bringing these releases to my attention. Some of those sets are on my remastering wishlist.

However, there are some issues. Looking at the Emil Berliner website, the formats seem to be all over the place, CD, SACD, Blu Ray and Vinyl. And where can I buy the products? Apart from the most high-profile sets like some of the Karajan, I'm not able to find them at the usual sellers. Some of them appear to have been released physically only in Japan.

Furthermore, are they available on any streaming services? It's not that obvious. It makes me wonder if these companies actually want to sell their products. I would hope that DG would come to their senses and just replace the outdated boxed sets with these new ones on CD. One can always dream.
 
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