Monday, May 7, 2012

details: My Bloody Valentine Loveless 2012 remasters - manufacturing errors

Now that I'm home and at my PC I can elaborate on my last posting.

To summarize, briefly...

About 10 years ago it was rumored that Kevin Shields was working on remasters/reissues of the legendary My Bloody Valentine Creation-issued EPs and LPs ("You Made Me Realise" / "Feed Me With Your Kiss" / Glider EP / Tremolo EP / Isn't Anything / Loveless).  Hopes would rise and fall, announcements made with release details, then suddenly yanked, etc.

This is funny - and it's only the past couple years!

In 2008 review copies were sent out, and some made it "into the wild" so to speak.  These leaked copies were long questioned as to their veracity, until Kevin helpfully cleared it up in a wide-ranging interview with Pitchfork a week ago.  They were indeed legit.  Which was good, because it gave us a nice baseline (along with the original 1991 Creation CD which I have) to use in comparing today's release (finally!) on Sony.

The Loveless reissue consists of two CDs, the inlay details it quite nicely:

"Original tape" is the '91 DAT master.  "Original 1/2 inch analogue tapes" is exactly what it says.  The '91 release - and all pressings since, until now - were sourced from the digital "original tape" master.

Kevin helpfully detailed what he did in the remastering in the interview with Pitchfork:
So, of the two Loveless CDs that are coming out, one of them is exactly the same as the original, but everything's brought up to zero without crushing it with digital limiting, which essentially takes all the information and chops off the spiky bits-- transients-- that you don't hear as much as you perceive subconsciously. Those are the things that make you feel connected to the music. So something can be 10 dBs louder, but it somehow sounds slightly less involving. Each of those chopped-off peaks puts a little piece of distortion there instead, so the overall sound gets this hard, unpleasant kind of sheen, and you can't hear it as well. There is a tiny bit of digital limiting on one song on the Loveless reissue, but I'm not gonna say which one because it was a sacrificial lamb to get the rest of the album up a bit. And since the sound is brought back to zero, it means your CD player will be able to process it a bit better, so that it kind of sounds... "better" isn't the right word, it just feels different.

The original Loveless was from a digital master because it was much closer to the picture I wanted, and, at the time, the analog one was slightly twisted-- the process of putting it onto tape widened the stereo image and made the top and bottom ends too loud, so the guitar placement wasn't correct. I wasn't happy with that and I didn't use the original half-inch analog tapes. But, this time around, I had the time to take the original analog tapes and fix all the things I didn't like, so all I left was essentially the benefits of the analog with none of the disadvantages. 

When people hear the two new remasters, some can't hear the difference. But, for anyone who's slightly into it, I can promise that if you listen to the record from beginning to end, you're gonna have a completely different feeling with one version compared to the other. They're both good for different reasons; the digital one is slightly more like an inner head trip and the analog one is more physical, like you're conscious that some people did this. 
All of which greatly helps us sort out which CD in the package is which, because, the package has been horribly mispressed.

There are a lot of little details to the '91 master that carry over exactly to the digital (original) remaster - a bit of hiss before "Only Shallow" kicks in, an abrupt ending to the long "Soon" fadeout, and especially this:  there is no EQ difference *at all* between the '91 Creation CD, and the "original tape" remaster.  Except for a volume boost (as Kevin himself says), the versions are essentially identical.

The interesting - and to my ears, special - differences are with the 1/2 inch analogue tape version.  There are a lot of differences here: the stereo field is wider; the digital "shrillness" is tamed, there's a bit more presence at the bottom end, and the EQ is noticeably different.  The image below shows what one has to do to the "original tape" (meaning the '91 release, and the "original tape" remaster) to match the EQ to the new version of "Only Shallow":
There is a distinct difference in feel, presence and just general "analog-ness" for want of a better term.  It's just plain nicer to listen to, and much more revealing to me.  Granted, this isn't a *huge* difference in EQ, but it is enough.

The leaked version in 2008 matched the packaging: CD1 was the "original tape" remaster, and CD2 was the "1/2 inch analogue tape" remaster.

The 2012 release has the CDs backwards, though the cover art still indicates above.

Another critical error is in the "1/2 inch analogue tape" remaster:  there is an ugly digital transfer glitch approximately 2:46 into "What You Want", during the "I do, I do..." bit.  It's prominent and ugly, audible (yuck! through headphones) and visible in a spectral view.  This error was also present in the 2008 leak of the analogue tape variant, so Kevin/Sony has had (at least) 4 years to fix this.

These are critical errors.  The packaging/labeling error will confuse any and all buyers, and reviewers won't be reviewing the proper discs.  The glitching in "What You Want" needs to be corrected immediately.  It mars an otherwise fantastic release; in my opinion the analogue tape mastering is the definitive mastering of this essential LP.

Kevin and Sony, if you are reading this, do the right thing and recall/correct the problem.  You owe it to the fans who shelled out their hard-earned dosh for this, and if after all these years it can't be issued properly, there's no excuse for the error.

52 comments:

  1. Is the 2012 digitally identical to the leaked version?

    ReplyDelete
  2. Is the 2012 version digitally identical to the leaked version?

    ReplyDelete
  3. Glad you spotted this too and blogged about it - I thought I was going crazy!

    ReplyDelete
  4. I heard that ugly glitch! Oh my you're so right!

    ReplyDelete
  5. have sony released an official statement about this yet?

    ReplyDelete
  6. Any of these errors present on the other remasters?

    ReplyDelete
  7. So..are we getting a US reissue? The conflict with Warner doesn't sound good for us in the US...

    ReplyDelete
  8. Are we getting the reissue in the US? His conflict with Warner doesn't sound good for the US...

    ReplyDelete
  9. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  10. I wonder if the glitch is the "sacrificial lamb" he mentions in that Pitchfork interview?

    ReplyDelete
  11. I wonder if the glitch is the "sacrificial lamb" he mentions in the Pitchfork interview?

    ReplyDelete
  12. The analogue version is awesome. The mislabeled discs and the glitch are mistakes so awful that make me laugh a bit -so long for the 'perfectionist' reputation of KS?

    ReplyDelete
  13. That's the "sacrificial lamb" Kevin referred to, isn't it? Doesn't sound like he had any intention of changing it.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Discussing this over at The Quietus, we've confirmed the disc switch error along with at least two cases of both discs being identical copies of the 1/2'' tape mix.

    http://thequietus.com/articles/08742-kevin-shields-interview-my-bloody-valentine-new-album

    ReplyDelete
  15. I have to agree with you on the glitch--I went checking for info about the remasters, since I was curious as to how it differed from the original CD release (which I already have). I can live with a misprinted insert on the case; the glitch...I'll not be getting it 'til that's fixed.

    ReplyDelete
  16. No idea of any US release.

    The "sacrificial lamb" exists only on what-should-be-CD1 the "Original Tape" digital version - "Soon" is the track with a spot (and it truly is a "spot" in that dry English sense) of digital limiting; it's the only track that peaks at 0dBFS. No other track peaks that high and waveform inspection proves "Soon" was the limited track.

    No idea if there are errors on the other releases - I've not played Isn't Anything yet, and my few listens to the brilliant EPs collection have revealed nothing untoward except my continuing clear misguided failure to appreciate "You Made Me Realise" (I still flat-out don't understand the love for that track, it's poorly recorded for starters, and isn't a patch at all on what they'd come up with later on).

    Loving the publicity this is getting - the story is *everywhere*! Keep it up - the more outlets publicize this, the less Sony can hide.

    ReplyDelete
  17. I prefer the DAT remaster I don't like the way the 1/2 inch master softens the dynamics and also seems to mess with mix.

    ReplyDelete
  18. I believe when he is talking about a sacrificial lamb, he's referring to an entire song and how it sounds compared to the rest. I don't think a one second glitch is what he's talking about.

    ReplyDelete
  19. I believe when he is talking about a sacrificial lamb, he's referring to an entire song and how it sounds compared to the rest. I don't think a one second glitch is what he's talking about.

    ReplyDelete
  20. For what it's worth, I'm going to link to this page from my blog.

    I have the EP collection but based on what you're saying, it's worth just holding onto my original copy (well, a friend has that...). Or at least my original files.

    I'm glad this blog post breaks the pattern set by all the stupid critics who fell over themselves to tell us the songs are good --- WE KNOW.

    I really hope this issue is rectified because I would love to hear a good treatment of the analogue tapes.

    I suppose, if you know the eq curve, you can suture on a portion from the digital tape to cover over the glitch...

    ReplyDelete
  21. Okay. I'm confused.
    Which one is the DAT 2006 version? The glitched version?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The gist of it is that the analog version, mislabeled as the DAT version, has the glitch.

      Delete
    2. Seems like the 2006 version is a work in progress. CD 2 (misprinted as CD 1) is the final version of that project.

      Delete
    3. I don't mean to be disparaging but that goes against what everyone else has been saying.

      For the record, I haven't bought Loveless as I don't want to deal with the issues. Quite content with the EP collection for now.

      That said I have heard the glitch on spotify.

      Delete
  22. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  23. http://www.mybloodyvalentine.net/smf/index.php?topic=1700.msg39453#msg39453

    So, apparently, there are copies with 2 diferent discs and no glitch...
    Can anyone confirm this, maybe using the hiss at the beginning as a reference (and possibly some waveform analysis maybe?)

    Mine is glitched :(

    ReplyDelete
  24. I can't believe after all the delays that they fucked it up so bad!!!

    At first I wondered "Is this a situationist gag?"

    No, it's simply that Sony are a bunch of incompetent cockmunchers...

    ReplyDelete
  25. This is a great blog post. Thank you for writing it. There are so many things I love about the Loveless reissue, but if they spent so many years putting it together why didn't they exercise a little more quality control? It puts a real stain on an otherwise excellent release.

    ReplyDelete
  26. Has Steve Hoffman weighed in on this issue yet? I need more graphs and charts with lots of sine waves!

    ReplyDelete
  27. I just checked my copy and confirmed that disc 1 has the glitch (and sounds a lot better overall).

    Personally, I don't mind the glitch - reminds me of listening to this on cassette!

    ReplyDelete
  28. Can anybody tell me what the glitch sounds like? I don't hear anything out of the ordinary on either of my two discs.

    ReplyDelete
  29. Mine's fine. Bought it from HK today. http://www.mediafire.com/?15addr4nzi2reym(Just a pic)

    ReplyDelete
  30. While this article is informative, there is one major error. The "glitch" isn't due to digital transfer, it's damaged tape from the original recording that couldn't possibly be remedied without mutilating the authenticity of the mix. Do you honestly think that Kevin would let something THAT BIG slip? Wake up/

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. @Dr_Lossless: I disagree with your conclusion. Having inspected this closely, looking it at spectrally as well as the wavform, it bears all the hallmarks of digital corruption. A glitch. I've induced these same glitches transferring my own stuff into digital and they sound remarkably similar. The glitch goes away the next time it's tried, as is the transient nature of these.

      Delete
  31. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  32. Checking in from Japan, where I just picked up the Blu-Spec version. Same situation: 1/2 analogue tape disc (mislabeled CD 1), Track 10 "What You Want" at 2:46.53. About a .13 seconds of straight up bad transfer. Save your money. Well, the packaging is nice.

    I'll also chime in that it's *not* an analogue tape issue. Most audio hits from old tape have a classic "drop out" sound. I've worked with audio in TV, and beta hits are quite the pain to clean up when we're digitizing old stuff. Usually, it involved cleaning heads and re-recording. I bet it's a little different with 1/2 tape, but probably in the same ball-park. All that said, this sounds *nothing* like that.

    Thanks for keeping us informed. Love the blog!

    ReplyDelete
  33. Great article. I've referenced you in some thoughts I shared on the remasters:
    http://ludditestereo.net/2012/05/23/isnt-anything-loveless-and-eps-1988-91-reissues-my-bloody-valentine-album-reviews/

    ReplyDelete
  34. Great article. I referenced your piece in some thoughts I share on the remasters:

    http://ludditestereo.net/2012/05/23/isnt-anything-loveless-and-eps-1988-91-reissues-my-bloody-valentine-album-reviews/

    ReplyDelete
  35. Amazon had a version of the Loveless remaster under the title "Loveless - (2nd Life)". Isn't Anything also had a product of such, but not the EP collection, strangely. I was curious, because no other release of the remaster had this (2nd Life) label attached to it. I initially thought (and hoped) that it was a repressing of the remasters, fixing the mislabels and the audio glitch. Turned out I was wrong. So sad. What's interesting to note though, is that the (2nd Life) pressings of Loveless and Isn't Anything have been "temporarily out of stock" for quite a considerable amount of time, and the UK/European import has only two copies left (with no "more on the way" indicated). Hopefully this is a sign that there WILL be a repressing, fixing all of the issues. Hopefully..

    ReplyDelete
  36. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  37. Hey there. Just wanted to chime in. I purchased a new copy of the Loveless reissue over the summer on Ebay and finally really sat down and investigated the two discs. The discs on my copy are NOT mislabeled. Disc 2 is noticeably more dynamic than disc 1 is and an immediate tell-tale is that on both the Loveless disc 2 and the EPs Disc 1 (both labeled as remastered by Shields) versions of Soon, the loop at the end fades out cleanly whereas the Loveless disc 1 version of Soon has that abrupt stop towards the end. Reporting in that I have a copy that is NOT mislabeled.

    ReplyDelete
  38. Like Unknown 11/18, I just bought a copy of the reissue with no packaging errors. Disc 1 appears to be the DAT remaster, with the same hiss at the beginning of Only Shallow found on the original CD. Both versions of What You Want are clean, without the digital glitch. Also, the analogue remaster is a bit louder with slightly less dynamic range than the DAT remaster (Analogue DR = 9, DAT DR = 10 according to my foobar2000 plugin).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Interesting! Can you post the matrix info from both CD inner rings?

      I bet there was an unannounced re-press.

      Delete
  39. Certainly. Here are the numbers printed on the rings:

    CD 1: 55115382/88697312112-1-1 21

    CD 2: 55115383/88697312112-2-1 21

    The discs also have the following very-hard-to-read etchings on the innermost layer of the center circle:

    CD 1: IFPI 0794

    CD 2: IFPI 0763

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Same here! I have held off forever on buying this reissue because of the issues. Very happy to report that both versions of What You Want are clean, without the glitch, and that both Discs are appropriately labeled. Disc 1 is the DAT remaster and Disc Two is the 1/2 inch analogue. CD's have the same matrix numbers as you listed.

      Has there been a confirmed repress? It was obviously corrected.

      Delete
    2. Marcelo, Eric, where did you purchase your copies of the remasters?

      Delete
    3. Apologies Vincent, just saw your message. I ordered mine on Amazon US.

      Delete
  40. I'm still mad I'll have to purchase these as imports if I want them! That brings up a good question though, Kevin hinted there was a difference between the leaked and final versions. I'm assuming that difference is non-existent, but has anyone looked into that?

    ReplyDelete
  41. We're these new-new-masters ever confirmed? Not that I don't trust the above posters but... You know... Internet.
    Anyway of telling from the outer packaging?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. As I just posted above. I also just received Loveless that was pressed correctly. Disc 1 and 2 are correctly labeled and no glitches anywhere. Very pleased.

      Delete
  42. The new release 'mbv' can be purchased as HD Audio (96/24).
    Is it possible to buy the remixes in a similar quality?

    ReplyDelete
  43. I was sceptical that the errors had truly been corrected, but I took the plunge and re-ordered from Amazon UK anyway. Sure enough, the matrix numbers are updated as stated above and the the discs are now labeled correctly. Even more surprising, the glitch has also been corrected! Kudos to Sony for making these corrections, but it would have been nice to issue a recall announcement so I could be refunded for my faulty original copy.

    ReplyDelete