Monday, November 24, 2008

What Can We Learn from the New Order Remaster Debacle?

If you're a fan of New Order at all, you were probably pretty excited to hear that they were releasing re-masters of the band's first five albums (aka "the good ones") with bonus material. But as you may have heard in recent weeks, the remasters are apparently fraught with audio problems not present on the originals, some even sounding as if they were lifted from vinyl!

By now, the New Order fan community is rightly pretty pissed off. After all, it's not an unreasonable expectation to have a remaster of an album sound better than the original. If you are one of these pissed off fans, you can make your voice heard by sending an email to: Neworder.d2c@warnermusic.com. The record company says that if they get enough complaints, they will do proper remasters. (Why is this something they even need to ask about?!?)

So what can we learn from this? I think this incident (along with abysmal mastering on the new Metallica and countless other 'louder is better' releases) exposes a deep cynicism in the record industry regarding its customers. I don't think that's exactly earth-shattering news, but it doesn't mean we as musicians can't learn something from it. For me, the lesson of this is not to underestimate the sophistication of your fans and listeners. And though you undoubtedly have some fans who are less discerning, always do what you do in an effort to satisfy that discerning listener. You don't have to spend ages tweaking everything to death (Axl Rose, I'm looking in your direction...), just don't take short-cuts or sell your final product short out of the belief that your listeners ears aren't finely honed enough to notice. Don't take anything for granted, and don't assume that fans are going to be thrilled with everything that has your name on it just because it has your name on it. Yes, it takes more work, some of it tedious, but your fans will appreciate it. And at the end of the day, the customer is always right. Even when they're not.

3 comments:

Bob's Country Bunker said...

Ruining New Order songs is the new black!

I was recently nauseated by this unlistenable insult -- literally the most offensive cover I've ever heard:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YcF0bexWsos

If you <3 New Order, you won't even make it half way through. It's horrendous.

...and I <3 New Order:
http://www.nonplus.us/audio/nonorganic/Heidelberg%20Park%20060921%20001%20Mix.mp3

Evan Collingwood said...

I've been saying similar things for a little while. Personally I would never compromise the quality of a track. Putting your heart and sould into a release, and making sound as good as possible, without pushing it over the edge is the only way you should treat your fans.

Anu said...

Some of the tracks were in fact "re-mastered" from vinyl.

The New Order camp claims "we can't find the original tapes".

The New Order fan site/forum has extensive documentation of the issues as well as noting which previous CD releases had (44.1 16-bit) digital versions they could potentially start from. (Yes, I know, there are a bunch of foolz who will say "why would you rip from CD when vinyl is better?")

It's sloppy and embarrassing. Rhino originally made their name doing decent reissues. These days they contract all the remastering out to DigiPrep who just does a hack job.

The original releases aren't that bad - I just picked up an original Technique CD for $3 at Amoeba yesterday. I'm not going to drop $20 for +3 dB at 5K and THA NEW LOUDNESS!!!

On the other hand, where are those Kraftwerk remasters?