I am the Paulrus wrote:Questions on Re-mastered recordings vs. recent recordings
How does the sound quality on the re-mastered "Let It Be" compare to "Let It Be...Naked"? How does the sound quality of the re-mastered "Yellow Submarine" compare to the 1998 re-release of "Yellow Submarine"? How is the sound quality of all the songs that appear on "One" compare to their re-mastered counterparts? On the song "Let It Be", I have noticed that on the original version of LIB that George's guitar solo stands out. Whereas, on another version the guitar solo seems like drowned out or toned down. Why is that in the difference?
I've worked as a sound engineer. There is a difference between "recording" "mixing" and "mastering" in the process. Call these step 1, 2 and 3 respectively:
1) You probably know that songs are recorded on "multi-track" recorders. These days, multi-track recorders can have dozens (or hundreds) of "tracks" or channels. During the recording
process, each instrument (voice, piano, guitar etc.) is typically recorded onto a completely separate track, which means that each instrument remains completely isolated from all the others. More instruments can be added to a song without having to re-record parts that already exist, for example, adding a string section to a song weeks after the main instruments have been recorded. Mistakes can be corrected on any instrument, without having to re-record other completed parts... such as fixing mistakes in a guitar solo or vocal performance without having to re-record the bass and piano parts.
2) During the mixing
process, the producer and engineers typically take all the channels they recorded, and "mix" them into "2 channel" left and right stereo. Since each instrument is isolated from the others, each instrument can be processed and modified independently. The producers and engineers can change the tone, volume, and left/right placement of each individual instrument. They can add or remove effects on each individual instrument. They can completely "mute" or remove instruments that were decided for whatever reason to be excluded. During this phase, the mixing engineer and producer ensure that each instrument
has the correct (intended) tone and volume. At the end of this process, you get the complete stereo recording.. that is sent to...
3) The mastering
process. Mastering engineers work on taking the stereo recordings of each song, and assembling them into a final "mastered" album. They do not have control over individual instruments in any way
. They work at the song and album levels, not the instrument level like in the previous two steps. They are responsible for making sure all the songs
have consistent (correct) volume levels and tone, and that the peaks aren't to loud, etc. They set the silence gap between songs, add noise reduction and sweetening, and prepare the recordings for their intended medium (vinyl, CD, etc).
Often (but not always) the term "remastered" is a crock, and a way for the record companies to dig more cash out of your wallet. With "remastering", Stereo recordings are taken back to step 3. More often that you'd expect, you can "remaster" your own original copies by simply adjusting the EQ and tone knobs on your stereo, although this is a little bit of an oversimplification, but there's truth to it.
Onto your questions:
The more recent remastered "Yellow Submarine" and "Let it Be... Naked" were in fact REMIXED as well. That is, they were taken back to step 2, something only made possible by today's technology. The Beatles did NOT have multi-track recorders with dozens of tracks like they have today. In fact, most of their later recording were done on just 4 tracks, or 8 tracks for the last two albums. They were able to "approximate" having more tracks by a process called "bouncing". Simplified, they would record 4 instrument tracks, then pre-mix them down to one or two tracks of another 4-track machine. this would give them blank tracks to record more instruments on. when the second 4 track tape was full, they'd pre-mix onto another tape machine, effectively "freeing" more tracks. "Bouncing" is far less flexible than simply having dozens of tracks at your disposal, because you have to do mini-mixes that can't be changed, along the way.
Luckily, they kept everything from this process, meaning all the pre-bounced tapes. So for "Yellow Submarine" all the individual tracks from all those pre-bounced tapes were "imported" into modern digital multi-track recorders as if they were recorded that way, and then (re)mixed in true stereo. The result sounds fantastic. It is what the songs might have sounded like if they didn't have to do all that "bouncing" because of the old recorders. It's also not really "pure", which irritates the purists.
"Let it be...naked" was similar. By using the above process, as well as modern digital editing techniques better mixes and takes were created from multiple sources. Songs that were perfect except for a bad guitar lick or out of tune vocal were pitch-corrected, parts from one take were inserted into another, and what you have is a compete "remixing" of the original tapes. I wish they had just done this with the familiar, original takes of the songs (just because I'm more familiar with those versions), but I think its a good album nonetheless.
The older "remasters" are just EQ (tone) and noise corrected.