• Two exciting new Carpenters releases are in the pipeline! The new book Carpenters: The Musical Legacy will be available on November 16, 2021 and can be ordered here. A big thanks to the authors and Richard Carpenter for their tremendous effort in compiling this book! Also, the new solo piano album Richard Carpenter's Piano Songbook is being released January 14, 2022, and is available for ordering here.

Prime Time Love

Another Son

Well-Known Member
I never actually found much that is distinctive or appealing in this recording - typical album filler: second rate, very hackneyed lyrics, a routinely generic melody, far too often used Carpenter background vocals, far too short Sax solo (cut off when just getting started)...the only thing that makes it interesting and listenable is the fact that Karen is singing it - and even so, she is not challenged here at all but could have done this while sleepwalking...
Totally agree.
 

Vinylalbumcovers

Ah am so steel een luv weeth yoo
I've looked at the waveforms. All they show is extremely few instances of any peak limiting in both the AM+ and the Remastered Classic. I don't believe any human could detect those few peaks, and those are my two cents.

Honestly, I prefer my original AM+ CD to the "Remastered Classic" for this reason as I honestly can hear it. It's not awful by any means but it is there (you can really hear it on "They Long to Be Close to You" at the end of the second b-section and into "that is why") and there's just no reason for peak limiting except to needlessly make things louder. We have volume controls on our playback equipment and I'd much rather make use of those than have a mastering engineer do it for me.

None of this is likely Richard's fault either. Quite often, the artists, producers, or engineers get blamed for this and it's often not their fault. It's usually the record label "wanting it louder" or the mastering engineer making an autonomous decision.

Ed
 

Cuyler

Bright colored pinwheels go 'round in my head.
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After both have their peaks normalized to -0.1 dB.
 

Harry

Charter A&M Corner Member
Staff member
Site Admin
Honestly, I prefer my original AM+ CD to the "Remastered Classic" for this reason as I honestly can hear it. It's not awful by any means but it is there (you can really hear it on "They Long to Be Close to You" at the end of the second b-section and into "that is why") and there's just no reason for peak limiting except to needlessly make things louder. We have volume controls on our playback equipment and I'd much rather make use of those than have a mastering engineer do it for me.

None of this is likely Richard's fault either. Quite often, the artists, producers, or engineers get blamed for this and it's often not their fault. It's usually the record label "wanting it louder" or the mastering engineer making an autonomous decision.

Ed
Ed, I agree with you. Very often, an earlier mastering will be a better one, but in the case of VOICE OF THE HEART - and "Prime Time Love", the subject here, there essentially zero difference between the original AM+ CD and the Remastered Classic. In fact, if you were to look at waveforms (and I don't recommend waveforms over actual listening), you'd see that there are more "over" peaks on the AM+ CD of "Prime Time Love" than on the Remastered Classic. But - only a few more. I think I counted twelve on the AM+ CD and only one on the Remastered Classic.

But peaks and limiting are only one facet of mastering a disc, and other things can make one CD sound better or worse than another. I believe that the age of the master is a factor. Every time a tape is run through a machine, a few more magnetic particles flake off or are realigned, essentially degrading the master.

Another factor is "which" master is being used. Did A&M Records in 1983 ship the pristine original master of VOICE OF THE HEART over to Japan so they could make their 34XB disc? Probably not - they were sent some kind of copy, at least some part of a generation away from the master. When the Remastered Classics were being made, PolyGram in the US would have had access to the actual master tapes, - but they'd aged since their origin.

Many, many factors go into the mastering of an album, and you cannot simply say that earlier is better. Back when CDs first came out, the mastering engineers and companies were still learning the ropes. Sometimes this could lead to a really good product - other times, disaster occurred. The original CDs of things like the 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY soundtrack or Rupert Holmes' PARTNERS IN CRIME are unmitigated disasters, sounding absolutely horrible. Other times they got it right the first time. I often point to the Tijuana Brass' GREATEST HITS album, the one with the orange cover, as an early CD that sounds terrific. "Tijuana Taxi's" master tape hadn't yet degraded to the awfulness of DEFINITIVE HITS in the early 2000s.

Other than those gray-market ripoffs of HORIZON, pretty much any authorized edition of a Carpenters album is going to sound pretty good. Richard, as general curator, has seen to that over the years, and with him and Bernie Grundman in charge of things, they all sound within the limits of the media involved.

I still maintain that any version of VOICE OF THE HEART will sound pretty much as good as the next. Some might be a little louder, but all are within acceptable limits.
 

Cuyler

Bright colored pinwheels go 'round in my head.
Harry,

You are correct -- I think musical preferences are very subjective, so although I do hear quite a drastic difference and have a preference, and you don't, neither of us is right or wrong. It just is.

Cuyler
 

Vinylalbumcovers

Ah am so steel een luv weeth yoo
Ed, I agree with you. Very often, an earlier mastering will be a better one, but in the case of VOICE OF THE HEART - and "Prime Time Love", the subject here, there essentially zero difference between the original AM+ CD and the Remastered Classic. In fact, if you were to look at waveforms (and I don't recommend waveforms over actual listening), you'd see that there are more "over" peaks on the AM+ CD of "Prime Time Love" than on the Remastered Classic. But - only a few more. I think I counted twelve on the AM+ CD and only one on the Remastered Classic.

But peaks and limiting are only one facet of mastering a disc, and other things can make one CD sound better or worse than another. I believe that the age of the master is a factor. Every time a tape is run through a machine, a few more magnetic particles flake off or are realigned, essentially degrading the master.

Another factor is "which" master is being used. Did A&M Records in 1983 ship the pristine original master of VOICE OF THE HEART over to Japan so they could make their 34XB disc? Probably not - they were sent some kind of copy, at least some part of a generation away from the master. When the Remastered Classics were being made, PolyGram in the US would have had access to the actual master tapes, - but they'd aged since their origin.

Many, many factors go into the mastering of an album, and you cannot simply say that earlier is better. Back when CDs first came out, the mastering engineers and companies were still learning the ropes. Sometimes this could lead to a really good product - other times, disaster occurred. The original CDs of things like the 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY soundtrack or Rupert Holmes' PARTNERS IN CRIME are unmitigated disasters, sounding absolutely horrible. Other times they got it right the first time. I often point to the Tijuana Brass' GREATEST HITS album, the one with the orange cover, as an early CD that sounds terrific. "Tijuana Taxi's" master tape hadn't yet degraded to the awfulness of DEFINITIVE HITS in the early 2000s.

Other than those gray-market ripoffs of HORIZON, pretty much any authorized edition of a Carpenters album is going to sound pretty good. Richard, as general curator, has seen to that over the years, and with him and Bernie Grundman in charge of things, they all sound within the limits of the media involved.

I still maintain that any version of VOICE OF THE HEART will sound pretty much as good as the next. Some might be a little louder, but all are within acceptable limits.

Absolutely true - all of it. In truth, no one can say that "one is better than another." As @Cuyler said, it's all down to specific ears. For my ears, I prefer hearing the non-compressed audio of the AM+ series. I (thankfully) didn't get rid of my original US copies and those are the ones that I go to when I want to listen - the LP for "Passage." I think quite oftentimes, the audiophile chatter of "what generation is this tape/where did it come from/b-b-b-b-but it's not the original!" gets in the way of what a person is actually hearing. That's honestly all I care about. If it sounds great, I'm satisfied. There are so many things in "the chain" that can improve or degrade sound, no matter what the source.

In short, everyone's mileage varies. I'm just glad we have the choice. That choice doesn't exist for every artist.

Ed
 

Vinylalbumcovers

Ah am so steel een luv weeth yoo
Many, many factors go into the mastering of an album, and you cannot simply say that earlier is better. Back when CDs first came out, the mastering engineers and companies were still learning the ropes. Sometimes this could lead to a really good product - other times, disaster occurred. The original CDs of things like...Rupert Holmes' PARTNERS IN CRIME are unmitigated disasters...

Don't even get me started on THAT disaster. LOL!!! It's like a kid found the CEDAR and decided to apply it to everything. All the fade-outs are just awful. I can't imagine how Rupert would have felt had he heard it. All the life's been sucked out of it. I found an original Infinity pressing of it and, to my ears, it's amazing. It's on the site and it sounds infinitely more natural than the CD. I'm sure the MCA probably sounds pretty good too.
 

Harry

Charter A&M Corner Member
Staff member
Site Admin
No-no - the MCA of PARTNERS IN CRIME is awful. It's muddy and has absolutely no life to it. I did a needledrop from my Infinity LP that's miles above that "real" CD. But even better is a compilation called Piña Colada from the Netherlands. It has nine of the ten tracks from PARTNERS IN CRIME in much better digital quality. I suspect that a Japanese version might have been better than the MCA.
 

Cuyler

Bright colored pinwheels go 'round in my head.
I'm only now seeing on Discogs the first time "Partners in Crime" was released on CD was in 1992, which *may* explain some things.

Harry, what is the catalog number of the original CD for "Partners in Crime" that you have? Would be interesting to see if that first press is or isn't on Discogs.
 

Vinylalbumcovers

Ah am so steel een luv weeth yoo
No-no - the MCA of PARTNERS IN CRIME is awful. It's muddy and has absolutely no life to it. I did a needledrop from my Infinity LP that's miles above that "real" CD. But even better is a compilation called Piña Colada from the Netherlands. It has nine of the ten tracks from PARTNERS IN CRIME in much better digital quality. I suspect that a Japanese version might have been better than the MCA.

I was talking about the MCA LP. I haven't heard it but it can't be worse than the CD. I've only heard the MCA CD and the Infinity LP. I still have the LP but threw the CD away years ago. LOL!! It's easily one of the worst I've ever heard. I distinctly remember "In You I Trust"'s great guitar solo just getting killed by CEDAR. The fade-out was also quite early and it's missing about 20 seconds of it or so. Just awful that it ever got approved for release that way.

Ed
 

Vinylalbumcovers

Ah am so steel een luv weeth yoo
I'm only now seeing on Discogs the first time "Partners in Crime" was released on CD was in 1992, which *may* explain some things.

Harry, what is the catalog number of the original CD for "Partners in Crime" that you have? Would be interesting to see if that first press is or isn't on Discogs.

I got mine in 1996/97 and I think that's the OG MCA CD, though I do remember it having the modified MCA logo as opposed to the original, thicker logo font.

Ed
 

Harry

Charter A&M Corner Member
Staff member
Site Admin
It's MCAD-10841, and has UNI in the hub area. I might have even mentioned the awful mastering on the Discogs entry.
 

tomswift2002

Well-Known Member
(But really, judging sound quality on iPhone speakers should be a no-no!)
Your way out of line here on your reasoning.

A lot of times the bigger, HiFi speakers will hide the flaws that may not pop out on those speakers. But play the same track on a pair of lofi speakers and the flaws are exposed. Chuck Britz used this same method on the Beach Boys tapes in the 60’s so that they would sound their best on the mono car stereos of the 60’s. The first mix may’ve sound good in stereo on the studio speakers, but playback on a lofi speaker would’ve revealed parts that were hot & distorted or didn’t work correctly in mono.
 

tomswift2002

Well-Known Member
Also nowadays we have “Mastered for ITunes” so that the music sounds “good” on cell phones, watches, tablets and Bluetooth speakers/headphones-earbuds/Bluetooth-to-FM devices, whereas older masters that people have ripped from lossless CD or studio masters to lossy MP3 & AAC. It’s like “Mastered for AM Radio” in the 60’s.
 

Harry

Charter A&M Corner Member
Staff member
Site Admin
Tom, your examples and reasoning are sound (no pun intended!) - for mastering engineers who wanted to see how their work would sound on the low fidelity equipment of the day, like transistor radios - or cassette Walkman® players - or even car stereos. Cuyler's examples were comparing things like the presence of the drums or the way Karen's vocal's "floated" over the backing track. Those kinds of things are best appreciated on the biggest and best equipment you can find.

I've personally been traveling on the road and seen a post here and there on the Internet about some phenomenal-sounding song, or whether an instrument can be heard in the mix - and I wouldn't dream of using my phone's speakers to check on that kind of stuff. It would have been different if Cuyler had asked someone to check if something was hearable on a cell phone, but he was genuinely concerned with the high-fidelity sound of his early pressing. I provided the latter-day modern pressing for comparison and wasn't ever considering trying to hear the difference on a cell-phone.

So don't suggest that I'm way out of line.
 

Cuyler

Bright colored pinwheels go 'round in my head.
It looks like "Partners in Crime" is not Apple Digital Masters (formerly known as Mastered for iTunes). It is likely that the version available on iTunes is just a 256 kbps AAC file of the redbook CD released in 1992/3.

I should add that "Apple Digital Masters" are not mastered by Apple, but they are mastered by the record companies using Apple's proprietary codec/converter to essentially cram hi-fi resolution into a lossy file. I don't know how much I buy it, but a big difference between Apple Digital Masters and non-Apple Digital Masters is that "Apple Digital Masters" are not sourced from Redbook CDs, whereas many non-ADM files are essentially lossy redbook CD rips.

Here's the Apple website with more info:

 

tomswift2002

Well-Known Member
Tom, you're examples and reasoning are sound (no pun intended!) - for mastering engineers who wanted to see how their work would sound on the low fidelity equipment of the day, like transistor radios - or cassette Walkman® players - or even car stereos. Cuyler's examples were comparing things like the presence of the drums or the way Karen's vocal's "floated" over the backing track. Those kinds of things are best appreciated on the biggest and best equipment you can find.

I've personally been traveling on the road and seen a post here and there on the Internet about some phenomenal-sounding song, or whether an instrument can be heard in the mix - and I wouldn't dream of using my phone's speakers to check on that kind of stuff. It would have been different if Cuyler had asked someone to check if something was hearable on a cell phone, but he was genuinely concerned with the high-fidelity sound of his early pressing. I provided the latter-day modern pressing for comparison and wasn't ever considering trying to hear the difference on a cell-phone.

So don't suggest that I'm way out of line.

Sorry but you are.

Just the other day I was listening to “The Archies: Everything’s Archie (Remastered)” (2012) by Essential Media Group that I had downloaded from iTunes on both a HiFi setup and switching to my phone partway through. I also have an LP version from the 70’s, but I was only listening to the iTunes version and as far as I’m aware the ITunes version was never mastered for ITunes. (It has been issued on CD-R by ESG, but I don’t have the CD-R). On my HiFi speakers, while it sounded nowhere near CD Quality because of its lossy AAC, and the dynamic range is nowhere near the 70’s LP, it was still pretty quiet with maybe the odd quiet spot allowing me to very faintly hear the analog tape hiss (on a scale of 0 to 100, 0 being can’t hear, 100 being extremely hearable); the hiss would be in the 5-10 range. But then, when I went to my phone speakers, all of a sudden, the sound went to 50-55 album, 45-50 tape hiss on all sections.

Also, the DAC’s & ADC’s that were out in 1983 can be considered lofi (or baseline in your modern average boombox stereo) when compared to any DAC over the last 20 years, especially when modern DAC’s/ADC’s can apply up-to 24bit 192khz processing to process lower signals like 16-bit 44.1khz and get the highest possible quality from the lower source like a CD. Also, and I realize people find tube & transistor amps provide a “warmer” sound, but ultimately, tube amps are from the 1910’s, by comparison their sound quality is not HiFi nowadays when compared to solid state amps, and in 1983 the mastering for CD might’ve used something closer to vinyl (any rod between vinyl mastering & what would be standardized as CD mastering) in order to sound “good” on Hifi’s of the era, but now you can hear (and possible on retail & home copies on cassette’s of the era) the changes that occurred in the mastering. Maybe that’s why the 34XB master was never used again (or they might’ve also mastered it close to a CX master, like laserdiscs were getting). The older DAC’s and Hi-Fi could conceal it from the higher quality but anything lower like cassettes or nowadays playing it out of a lofi phone speaker, reveals the faults because that padding is stripped away.
 

Harry

Charter A&M Corner Member
Staff member
Site Admin
Tom, if it makes you happy, keep listening to your phone...
 
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