Different CD masters of the same album and a comparison with a vinyl rip - Are there any differences?

2017/10/04

Categories: Audio Tags: cd vinyl dynamic range

Although I am not a big fan of the 70’s Rock, there are some albums from this era I love and I always try to find a good CD master for my digital library.

One of these albums is Rumours from Fleetwood Mac. Long time ago, I ripped my father’s cd with EAC . It’s a US release, for which unfortunately I don’t remember much. Below you can see its dynamic range report using DR14 T.meter:

 ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------    
 Analyzed: Rumours /  Artist: Fleetwood Mac
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------   
DR    Peak    RMS    Duration    Title [codec]    
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------    
 DR8     -0.10 dB     -10.69 dB    2:56    01 - Second Hand News      [flac]    
 DR10    -0.10 dB     -11.52 dB    4:16    02 - Dreams      [flac]    
 DR13    -0.11 dB     -15.78 dB    2:14    03 - Never Going Back Again      [flac]    
 DR9     -0.13 dB     -11.43 dB    3:12    04 - Don't Stop      [flac]    
 DR8     -0.10 dB     -9.54 dB     3:43    05 - Go Your Own Way      [flac]    
 DR12    -0.58 dB     -18.61 dB    3:20    06 - Songbird      [flac]    
 DR9     -0.10 dB     -13.49 dB    4:29    07 - The Chain      [flac]    
 DR8     -0.34 dB     -12.54 dB    3:35    08 - You Make Loving Fun      [flac]    
 DR9     -0.10 dB     -11.53 dB    3:16    09 - I Don't Want To Know      [flac]    
 DR10    -0.10 dB     -13.82 dB    3:56    10 - Oh Daddy      [flac]    
 DR8     -0.10 dB     -12.90 dB    4:54    11 - Gold Dust Woman      [flac]    
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------    
 Number of files:    11
 Official DR value:  DR9

 Sampling rate:          44100 Hz
 Average bitrate:          878kbs 
 Bits per sample:          16 bit 

Dr14 T.meter 1.0.16 
==============================================================================================

and this is a redbook spectrogram of my favourite song The Chain:

The Chain - Bad CD Master

Although I was not very impressed with the sound quality, I always though that this was an acceptable version I really enjoyed listening to……until I listened to an 2496 Vinyl Rip.

Below you can see the dynamic range of this vinyl rip:


 Analyzed: Rumours /  Artist: Fleetwood Mac
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------    
DR    Peak    RMS    Duration    Title [codec]    
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------    
 DR14     -1.64 dB     -18.99 dB    2:45    01 - Second Hand News      [flac]    
 DR16     -0.73 dB     -19.64 dB    4:15    02 - Dreams      [flac]    
 DR15     -6.51 dB     -26.19 dB    2:02    03 - Never Going Back Again      [flac]    
 DR16     -1.33 dB     -19.48 dB    3:14    04 - Don't Stop      [flac]    
 DR14     -1.13 dB     -17.64 dB    3:39    05 - Go Your Own Way      [flac]    
 DR14     -6.48 dB     -27.78 dB    3:20    06 - Songbird      [flac]    
 DR15     -1.03 dB     -21.63 dB    4:29    07 - The Chain      [flac]    
 DR14     -1.08 dB     -17.96 dB    3:33    08 - You Make Loving Fun      [flac]    
 DR16     -1.66 dB     -19.81 dB    3:12    09 - I Don't Want To Know      [flac]    
 DR15     -1.82 dB     -20.87 dB    3:56    10 - Oh Daddy      [flac]    
 DR16     -1.02 dB     -21.88 dB    5:15    11 - Gold Dust Woman      [flac]    
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------    
 Number of files:    11
 Official DR value:  DR15

 Sampling rate:          96000 Hz
 Average bitrate:          2704kbs 
 Bits per sample:          24 bit

Dr14 T.meter 1.0.16 
==============================================================================================

and this is the 2496 spectrogram of the same song:

The Chain - VInyl Master

Although a higher dynamic range doesn’t mean that the sound is better, I usually find albums with high DR better to my ears. Especially for this album this master is amazing! The sound is more natural, everything is quieter and more balanced and comparing to this, the first cd master was a mess!

I decided to further investigate it and I was very lucky to find and rip a West German Target of the same album. Below you can see the DR report of this master:

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------    
 Analyzed: Rumours /  Artist: Fleetwood Mac
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------    
DR    Peak    RMS    Duration    Title [codec]    
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------    
 DR14     -2.96 dB     -20.32 dB    2:46    01 - Second Hand News      [flac]    
 DR15     -1.69 dB     -20.32 dB    4:16    02 - Dreams      [flac]    
 DR14     -5.59 dB     -25.03 dB    2:14    03 - Never Going Back Again      [flac]    
 DR15     -2.16 dB     -20.05 dB    3:12    04 - Don't Stop      [flac]    
 DR14     -2.35 dB     -18.80 dB    3:39    05 - Go Your Own Way      [flac]    
 DR15     -9.86 dB     -30.90 dB    3:20    06 - Songbird      [flac]    
 DR16     -1.80 dB     -23.26 dB    4:29    07 - The Chain      [flac]    
 DR14     -3.20 dB     -20.72 dB    3:35    08 - You Make Loving Fun      [flac]    
 DR15     -0.78 dB     -20.16 dB    3:16    09 - I Don't Want To Know      [flac]    
 DR15     -2.38 dB     -22.49 dB    3:53    10 - Oh Daddy      [flac]    
 DR15     -5.75 dB     -26.32 dB    4:51    11 - Gold Dust Woman      [flac]    
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------    
 Number of files:    11
 Official DR value:  DR15

 Sampling rate:          44100 Hz
 Average bitrate:          712kbs 
 Bits per sample:          16 bit

Dr14 T.meter 1.0.16 
==============================================================================================

Quite similar to the vinyl master, right?

Just for the record, this is a spectrogram of the same file:

The Chain - VInyl Master

This spectrogram is typical for that era, with a low pass filter applied and set an approx. 20KHz limit.

What about the sound quality? It’s very close to the vinyl rip. Everything is natural and quiet again and this CD release has nothig to do with the first!

Based on all this stuff I would like to share some final thoughts: