2015 Remasters on CD

Mosh

The years just pass like trains
Staff member
I agree that a lot of X Factor’s problems are in the way it was recorded and mixed. Mastering only goes so far to fix that. I do feel like the new version sounds just slightly punchier though.
 

jeffgt14

Nomad
The 2018 CDs use the identical mastering used in the 2015 Onkyo and iTunes releases, so if you already have those, don't buy the new CDs. They are a definite improvement over the '98s, as they eliminate the clipping and distortion that made the '98s unpleasant and fatiguing. They are NOT an improvement over the original CDs or the vinyl reissues from 2014, IMO. They are too loud and compressed, so that the the peaks (particularly the percussion) lose their oomph. The bass is boosted in the new remasters though, so some may prefer that. Because the new remasters are louder, one may think they sound better -- that is the fallacy of the loudness wars -- until you compare them to the originals with the volume cranked up. There should be added clarity in the new remasters, due to the use of a better source (the original 2-track master tapes), but the compression muddies things unfortunately.

The best sounding (#1 ranked) releases of all are, IMO, the 2014 180-gram vinyl LPs.* The 2014 LPs are much, much better mastered than the 2015/18 digital product. Like the 2015/18s, they were mastered using the original 2-track master tapes. But they are not nearly as compressed as their digital counterparts, and thus sound worlds better -- too bad, because a well-mastered CD or hi-res digital product using that original source tape SHOULD have been the best version. The LPs have improved clarity and separation, and they are much more dynamic, packing a real wallop when turned up loud. They are the go-to, archive-quality versions of these albums. If you own a decent turntable, then run, don't walk, to buy those before they go out of stock. (Note: I had heard that the UK releases of the LPs used a better pressing plant than the US releases, so I bought the UKs. I cannot speak for the US versions, but the UKs are well pressed with little to no surface noise, and they sound fantastic.)

I rank the original CDs a close #2 (and the best digital versions).* They are very dynamic and have a rich, warm, natural sound, though the bass on Piece of Mind seems a little thin. The 1995 Castle CDs used, I believe, the same digital masters as the originals, so they are tied at #2. I'll rank the original LPs #3, though my copies are so heavily played and not very well maintained (hey, I was a teenager) that they have a lot of surface noise, which makes it hard for me to fairly judge. A cleaner copy could be as high as #1. But don't spend too much time or money hoping to find a near-mint version of the old LPs -- just get the 2014s and you'll be happy. The 2015/18 digital versions are ranked #4. And the '98s are a distant #5 -- they are hideous garbage and should all be destroyed. So, if all you currently have are the '98s, the new remasters are a significant improvement. But you are much better off getting the 2014 LPs (new) or the original CDs (used), though they are going to be a bit more expensive.

* Footnotes: [1] I actually prefer the 198x U.S. Capitol CD over the 2014 LP for Number of the Beast. [2] To be precise, there were multiple masterings of certain original 1980s CD releases. While they are not identical, they all sound pretty close for the most part. There is a whole thread on this stuff in the Steve Hoffman forums if you really care. I think you're fine with whatever you can find from back then, but I do recommend the U.S. release of the self-titled debut over the European or Japanese releases, as it sounds better and has "Sanctuary." Don't spend a ton on the Japanese "Black Triangles" other than as a collector's item, as they sound pretty much (or exactly) the same as the US versions.

Happy Thanksgiving,
CFH

P.S. @Forostar : I cannot find your poll in which you asked people to vote whether the new remasters are the best versions. But my vote would be "no" in the poll for everything EXCEPT Brave New World and Dance of Death -- the 2015s sound better on those.
Agree quite a bit with this analysis. I personally rank the original vinyl highest for all of the first 7 except the S/T. I think the 2014 LP knocked that one out of the park. I do think the 2014 vinyls are all very close to originals except Killers and NOTB. Those 2 sucked.
 

Ruflux

Ancient Mariner
I don't think there's anything wrong with the sound engineering on the x Factor, it's actually very good. The problems with it are the wimpiest guitar sound of all time, and maybe some arrangement choices, a remaster or remix wouldn't alter any of that.
You could beef up the guitars a lot with a new mix, boosting the levels and using EQ to bring out more desirable frequencies. Remastering in itself of course wouldn't really change much, true. But I don't think the album's sound guitars wise is completely unsalvageable, unlike VXI.
 

Cornfed Hick

Puissant
Interesting you find the original TXF better than subsequent remaster(s). Would you elaborate on that? So many people complain about the TXF production. A master might have improved matters?
Current standings TXF: 5 say yes: latest remaster sounds better, 1 says it does not.
I agree that the production on TXF isn’t great, but a remaster can’t really fix that; a remix might. I actually think the original CD of TXF (as opposed to the 1998) sounds just fine. It is very quiet and needs to be turned up, but that’s a good thing, as the dynamics are preserved.
 

Diesel 11

Und die Welt zählt laut bis zehn...
I'm listening to certain songs from the 2015 remasters via YouTube and Spotify and comparing them as best as I can to the 1998 remasters and the originals. So far I don't think that there's a tremendous difference with the first four, though the guitar sound in both TNotB and PoM feels more artificial than the other versions do. Powerslave is a completely different story. I couldn't even finish "Aces High" before I went to seek out the other versions. It sounds absolutely terrible.
 

srfc

Ancient Mariner
That's the UK vinyl pressing. The only CD master ever made available is the original; the upcoming reissue will be the second.
UK vinyl was the original format I had the album on when it was released. I don't recommend it. The dynamic range is too big. You can't hear the quiet parts at all, in particular the first verse of Look for the Truth*, so you higher up the volume, then when the heavy parts kick in you get blasted out of it.

* the first time I heard LFTT I thought there was just a big gap between FOW and the next track as the intro was literally so quiet I didn't know it was playing.
 

srfc

Ancient Mariner
I'm listening to certain songs from the 2015 remasters via YouTube and Spotify and comparing them as best as I can to the 1998 remasters and the originals. So far I don't think that there's a tremendous difference with the first four, though the guitar sound in both TNotB and PoM feels more artificial than the other versions do. Powerslave is a completely different story. I couldn't even finish "Aces High" before I went to seek out the other versions. It sounds absolutely terrible.
How can you judge anything from Youtube?
 

Number 6

Ancient Mariner
It just occurred to me that "Sanctuary", "Twilight Zone" and "Total Eclipse" aren't available on Spotifty anymore. :oops:
 

terrell39

Ancient Mariner
Total Eclipse just vanished from my Amazon library...along with ALL the studio lps!!! I was able to re-add the lps back in again but Total Eclipse is no longer available on Amazon.

WTF?!
 

Number 6

Ancient Mariner
Total Eclipse just vanished from my Amazon library...along with ALL the studio lps!!! I was able to re-add the lps back in again but Total Eclipse is no longer available on Amazon.

WTF?!
They replaced the entire remastered catalogue from 1998 with the 2015 one, which utilizes the original UK track listings for all records.
 

Deanatron

Can I play with Agnes?
I've been listening to the 2015 remasters on Amazon and I think they sound great, particularly FOTD & TXF. I have release era CD's of those and was really impressed how much better the remasters sound.
 

Formula409

Invader
Overall I like the remasters, but SIT just doesn't sound right. The guitars are too loud (reminiscent of the post-reunion albums), and the sound is just all over the place. SAD. The original is one my all time favorite sounding albums.

Don't get the hate for The X-Factor at all. I admit it sounds different from most Maiden albums - the guitars are less loud, it's less "in your face", with a healthy room reverb on the drums, but I really like the sense of space on that album. It's quiet, but when it gets going (example: during the solo of Edge of Darkness) the sound is just perfect to my ears.
 

Diesel 11

Und die Welt zählt laut bis zehn...
Don't get the hate for The X-Factor at all. I admit it sounds different from most Maiden albums - the guitars are less loud, it's less "in your face", with a healthy room reverb on the drums, but I really like the sense of space on that album. It's quiet, but when it gets going (example: during the solo of Edge of Darkness) the sound is just perfect to my ears.
Preach. :notworthy:
 

Ruflux

Ancient Mariner
X Factor would be much improved with better dynamics (in this case, less dynamics, funnily enough) and louder guitars. Add in some rhythm guitar overdubs to some of the harmony guitar only sections to make them sound less empty and I figure it'd be alright.
 
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