What does it mean for an album to be remastered?

  • There are times when older albums get re-released as a remastered version. What is the difference between the original version and the remastered version?

    this question deserves also a write-up on Loudness War to explain why remasters are worse than original versions more often than not (at least for music initially released before 1994)

  • Mastering is a separate art from recording or mixing. According to the Wikipedia article, the principle processes of mastering are:

    • Editing minor flaws.
    • Applying noise reduction to eliminate clicks, dropouts, hum and hiss.
    • Adjusting stereo width.
    • Adding ambience.
    • Equalize audio across tracks for the purpose of optimized frequency distribution.
    • Adjust volume.
    • Dynamic range compression or expansion.
    • Peak limit.
    • Dither.

    The common thread between these processes is that they can be performed on the complete mixed recording, not just on individual tracks of a recording. Because of this, mastering can be performed at any time on any audio source.

    As for the reason why so many works are remastered, the most likely reason is to keep up with new home theater audio formats. If you have a massive 7.2 surround system, it would be a shame if there wasn't a professionally mastered 7.2 format of "Dark Side of the Moon" to utilize that power. Every time new audio encoding formats become widespread (48kHz at 16bits, 92kHz at 24bits, etc.), your favorite audio source will need to be remastered to sound good in that format.

    One of my favorite remastering/remixing stories is the one about **Pink Floyd**'s ***Wish You Were Here***: https://vimeo.com/41085122

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Content dated before 7/24/2021 11:53 AM