Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Scum 20th anniversary edition sound problem.

Question: What\'s wromg with the N.D. \"Scum\" Anniversary disc from 2008?

Audiowise, this release sure offers a much better sound quality compared to the original CD release. However, someone must have slept through the Quality Control part. Starting at the eighth track (Siege of power) you can hear that the audio is speeding and slowing (not the band, mind you...). And in the next track (Control) it gets ridiculus! Listen from the beginning and notice the crazy speed-up at around 0:25!! What\'s up with this? It is NOT supposed to sound like this, never did.
Will there be a corrected version?

Cheers! From:

Answer: Well spotted my eagle-eared friend!You are right, I can hear a subtle upward change in pitch during the song "Control" which gives the impression of speeding up.It is really hard to notice unless you are massively familiar with the album. Heck, I even just played it to my label manager who could hear nothing amiss. You are the very first person to point this out, but the 20th anniversary edition with DVD is sold out and wont be re-printed anyway.The reason its hard to notice is because to the untrained ear, the band varies speed so much on the album, from extreme sludgy slow riffs to chaotic extreme high speed noise, that in the context of the song, the pitch variation you pointed out seems "normal". But its definately a mistake in the master, yes, sorry if it spoils your enjoyment of the album, but 99.9% of listeners don't seem to notice it.

We can't explain it, its somehow got on this pressing.I can only guess that during the mastering from original tape, some kind of tape slippage occured, but that would result in slowing down of the tape- this is sped up.Its some kind of analogue error, I dont think digital mastering can have such a speeded up effect, though I'm not sure, so will ask the audio experts.

One thing I have noticed is that when we revisit the old masters of Earache's classic early titles, many of which were recorded in the 80's, the modern day mastering software accentuates some of the sounds- the high and low end- which due to restrictions of analog equipment in the 80's werent present on the original printing back in the vinyl and cassette days. When we remastered Altars of Madness from original master tapes we opted to scrap the new modern master because it sound so UNLIKE the 80s version, and kept with the original instead.

Heres the soundfile of CONTROL taken from the original CD from 1988, Scum and FETO together, Ampex master tape of A-side of Scum was already 2 years old at that point.

Now compare to CONTROL from the SCUM standalone CD from 1994, master tapes were 8 yrs old by that point, its noticeably different,mastering made it a bit louder.Its from same source original tape!

Unfortunately I can't upload the 2007 Dualdisc Uk 20th Anniversary edition because my mac cant rip dualdisc, so cant play here the actual song you are mentioning in the question, but i'll work on getting a rip up here.I already reckon it might have been taken from this 1994 CD, that would explain it.

I should point out there have been a zillion printings of the CD in the 20 years, at myriad plants and using different masters (often a regular CD) and they are all fine.Even in this case the album is fine -its the song CONTROL which suffers this pitch change.

Feel free to comment on the differences, as I have no simple explanation for them.

As I mentioned in the answer- the reason remastering of Altars was scrapped was because of the vast change in the audio when remastered 15 years after the event.It seems vintage tapes played into a pristine digital software mastering suite era 2000 sounds 'off' when compared to the original master which was made back in the 80s era analogue environment.

I think the same thing happened here with Scum, our ears want it to sound the same as 80's vinyl, but coming off 8 yr old analogue tape in an analogue mastering environment, it doesn't, sadly. To sum up, that's the 'beauty' of Ferric Oxide, its not digital perfection, nor is it bad quality control, you simply get whatever is on the tape on the day you run it.


Anonymous said...

A marketing opportunity lost? I think you should have released the "modern" sounding Altars of Madness. As a music fan, the closer you can get to what the musicians heard/intended when they were recording the music the better. If you thought the difference was too jarring for your average MA fan, you could have added it as bonus disc. I'm sure Mobile Fidelity isn't making money hand-over-fist, but there is a market for "truth" in audio.

Anonymous said...

Hey , why don't you release Altars Of Madness in one of those neat digipak multi-panel packages with both versions on the disc. It could be an extra cd like the one that had the "heartwork" demos on the carcass re-issue. Deep Purple did this for MAchine Head (well the second album on that re-release was actually remixed but you get the point).

Can't wait for "Blessed Are The Sick" though! Just saw it :D

Anonymous said...

I didn't read the message of the first guy! I would just agree if i did

Anonymous said...

The other thing that I would add to the above is that the audience for a deluxe Morbid Angel remaster edition is likely to the be the kind of fan that already owns the original and would be curious as to what it could sound like.

Invisible Oranges said...

There is "truth in audio" but there is also "truth in expression". Earache did the right thing by staying true to the original sound. That sound is what made the album classic, even if it's technically flawed. Too many of these modern-day remasters change the sound into grotesque, 'roided-up facsimiles of their original sources. It's a bit like plastic surgery.

diamonddave said...

thats funny. i got scum on tape in 91 and loved it. my buddy keith got the cd in 94 with the yellow cover(my tape was purple) and I remember listening to the cd and when control came on i said at the 25-30 second mark, due this shits sped up!! you hear that!?!?! im glad im not the only one who noticed it!

J.B. said...

I can't believe what I'm hearing! I just compared the 1988 cd version of the song "Control" with the 1994 cd version and the 1994 version is a full semitone higher! that's running at around 2.5% faster. for those with guitars..... Eb tuning 1988, E tuning 1994..... is the entire cd running too fast or is it just that song?

this is just sloppy re-mastering.