Tuesday 5 February 2019

Dark Side of the Moon - Original Pressing vs New Remaster

There has been a lot of chatter over the last few years regarding the "remastered" trend we have been seeing in the vinyl world. In particular Pink Floyd fans have sometimes been dismissive of the remasters and claim the original pressings were far superior, so I thought I would put this to the test for myself. A local record store had the old original pressing from 1973 in what looked like close to mint condition, at least the vinyl is, the cover... not so much. I subsequently also ordered the 2016 remastered copy from an online retailer for four times the price.

I then spent a happy afternoon playing first one and then the other in an attempt to get as good a listening comparison as I could possibly muster. All listenings were via My Rega Planar 3 fitted with a new Rega Elys 2 cartridge, Rega Elicit amp and Snell Elll speakers.

First off, the remaster is of course unplayed virgin vinyl and as such has almost zero surface noise compared to the 1973 version which has minimal noise but it is still there. This isn't actually a problem of any kind but just worth mentioning anyway, and it certainly doesn't distract from the listening experience of the original pressing which is in NM+ condition.

The actual pressings are almost identical in sound quality however, with perhaps only the bass on the 2016 remaster being a little fuller and better controlled. On a lesser system I doubt very much if one would hear any difference at all. I'm actually surprised by how similar they are and almost disappointed having nothing much to report...

I suspect the whole "remastered from original recordings" hype is just another marketing ploy to milk us vinyl lovers of our money. To be fair they are milking the cd market too. Oh well.

Which brings me to a question, is it really worth paying a handsome premium for the newer album when the originals are still in plentiful supply at very reasonable prices. My conclusion is, no. If you can get an older copy in good condition, go for it because the newer version probably won't give you anything better and you could buy three other LP's for the balance of your hard earned cash. For avid Pink Floyd fans it may be worth it just to complete "the collection" as it were.

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