Originals vs Remasters?

This is not a confessional, but I’m now addicted to buying CDs online. Ripping them and then streaming the playback. No judgements…

With that, I’m finding that the original ‘pressings’ consistently sound better that the remasters. A small sample size of 3-5 of them, but convincing enough that I’m now looking at each click to ensure that I’m not getting something re-processed.

Is this something that needs evaluation recording-by-recording or is a sweeping generalisation (always a good idea) the correct path?


You are not alone, it’s the same here! Also it’s nice to have a physical media in your hands, digital files leaves you with nothing. I used to prefer streaming but I’ve moved to ripping CDs, in my experience they often sound better than the so called Hi-Res version.

I would say I had the same impression, however the answer is not always obvious.
Once I found a remaster to be better than the original, that was Thriller by Michael Jackson vs its 25th anniversary edition; the low end sounded fuller and more complete, the original seemed to be lacking the groove. Another time I found no differences between Santana’s Abraxas in Hi-Res and the original CD. On other occasions I found the soundstage to feel quite different in some soundtracks such as Wonder Woman 1984.

I wish I knew the answer, I’m still looking for it. One should make an A/B comparison but it’s not always possible.

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Generally agree, I usually prefer original pressings, but…some remasters can be transforming:
I’ll cite the recent remaster of Gil Scott Heron’s Pieces Of A Man as one such.


A lot of remasters of popular music are victims of the “DR Wars.” “Some Girls” by The Rolling Stones is a classic example. The tracks on the early CD masters had an average dynamic range of 14. The tracks on the 2020 remasters (hi-res no less) have an average dynamic range of 6. The effect is to make the music louder at the expense of musicality.

I’m sure there must be a thread on this forum.

Notes: This is not as often true with respect to vinyl. Also it is not as often true with respect to classical albums.


As Jegreenwood says many remasters are victims of compression and the loudness wars. One issue with streaming services is that you are at the mercy of which version of an album Spotify/Tidal choose to make available. By ripping CD’s you regain control of which version of an album you are playing.

Also given the very low cost of CD’s nowadays and the sonic superiority of local rips to those streamed via the internet it’s a very worthwhile exercise imho. The downside is storing the things! Frankly I’m fast running out of room to display any more CD’s, blu-rays, DVD’s and vinyl records.

I guess I could rip the CD’s and then put the cases in the loft but then again I have a nice Naim CD player and I like using it! One of these days I must directly compare the CDi v the NDX to figure out which sounds best. My current impression without having done a straight A/B comparison is:

NDX playing local rip
NDX playing Tidal
(In descending order of quality)



I totally agree! I noticed the NDX 2 sounds much better with local streaming too. All the hype for Hi-Res but then the master used on streaming services often has a poor quality. That sort of makes Hi-Res useless. It could be a great achievement but then it seems to be implemented in the wrong way.

Originals when it was done well!


How not to agree!

And with the ridiculous low price of CDs, it will start getting fun once I order both the original and remastered version of the same album!! That’s probably the next step in this madness :grinning:

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I’m waiting for your reviews then! Do you mostly buy your CDs on Mediamops? Or did you find new shops?

3-5 evaluation? When you’ve done 300-500 come back with your thoughts. I think you’ll find some remasters are better and some originals are better.


I don’t think you can generalise. Sometimes one, sometimes the other. Of course sometimes it’s not just a remaster - for example the Beatles albums have the original CD issue, the remaster and now anniversary remixes by Giles Martin. If you aren’t familiar with it, there’s extensive discussion of the variety of factors involved on the Steve Hoffman music forum. Look for example at the thread which is called something like best CD version of Dark Side of the Moon. But beware, there is no simple answer to your question and the Hoffman fanatics might drive you crazy!

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As I am approaching my 10,000th post on Hoffman (over 20 years), I second that assessment. Fortunately, these days my purchases are primarily classical, so I have stopped searching for the early Canadian master of “Who’s Next” done by Mr. Hoffman, himself - mind you, he does good work. And you are right, a remix can have a more significant impact than a remaster. But Dynamic Range is a significant element when comparing one element with another. This (non-commercial) website offers some guidance.



I do agree that dynamic range is a very important factor and I look for it as well, however I wonder… is it always true?

I’ve been looking for some CDs on the website you mentioned (by the way thanks for sharing, it’s pretty interesting) but I think some CDs still sound better despite having a worse DR (es. Thriller 25th anniversary vs. the original Thriller from 1982).
So maybe does it have a different remix too? I can feel the original CD have a better a DR, but the newer edition feels more musical and enjoyable to my ears. What am I missing?

Keep in mind that I usually prefer original masters, I don’t look for louder CDs and I don’t enjoy the modern approach to loudness and compression.

I haven’t compared hundreds, so @Count.d won’t value my opinion, but well into double figures for sure.

Almost always the original. In fact, struggling to think of an example where I didn’t.

Another website worth a look is The Best Version Of… - they do an extraordinarily in-depth assessment of pretty much every version of a release, using actual measurements and listening tests. The results are sometimes quite surprising.

My latest example was Tears for Fears’ Songs From the Big Chair. I’d had the remaster for years, but could never bear to listen to it for long due to what I now recognise as excessive compression hurting my ears. According to the above website, The Best Version was either the OOP SACD (£100+!) or the original 1985 CD (£3 or thereabouts). Since that’s my version of a no-brainer, I went for the latter and it’s wonderful. Not only can I listen for more than a couple of songs, but I don’t want to stop listening to it! The contrast with the remaster was astonishing. So much for blanket claims that early digital/CDs all sounded dreadful!

For goodness’ sake, just don’t tell anyone. I couldn’t bear for all those dirt-cheap 80s pressings to shoot up in price. At least not until I’ve bought all the ones I want!



Absolutely! That’s two Clives in agreement.


I take it you mean the “Best Version” section on audiophilestyle .com Mark?

I’ve found there’s no consistency some are better, some not and others there’s little difference. I’ve had an original copy of Lou Reeds Transformer on cd for 30 years that was horrible, the top end sounded extremely harsh however my new remastered hi res version is so much better.


I only found that too, I suppose @ebor refers to that.

Yes, that’s the one. Apologies for lack of clarity!