The brouhaha over the special edition remasters of Duran Duran and Seven and the Ragged Tiger must have rankled the brass over at EMI. There was enough outcry that the label had to make a statement, but then stood by their work, which, when analyzed in a sound editor, isn’t all that great.
Of course, I was too bedazzled by the demos to notice the remastering.
After a few delays, special editions of Notorious and Big Thing are now available. This time, EMI opted not to boost the levels to the point they were squashed, but they still are squashed.
I noticed right away the mixes were pumping — soft parts would get loud, and loud parts would get soft, even though the overall level remained constant. So I fired up Sound Forge to confirm my suspicions — the transients were all cut off in the remasters. The result is something that may sound "louder" but isn’t.
That certainly addresses an issue from the previous special editions, but it also loses the spaciousness of the original mixes. Compare the Big Thing and Notorious special editions with some tracks from the Singles 1986-1995 boxed set, and you’ll hear the disparity.
The Singles 1986-1995 tracks are boosted significantly, but they don’t do a bad job of preserving the proportion of peaks. Not so with the special editions. They are flat, flat, flat.
The outcry from this set is going to be something fierce.