Judas Priest

Discussion in 'Music Discussion' started by Perun, Sep 9, 2013.

  1. Perun

    Perun Stepping out bravely Staff Member

    Most of my Judas Priest albums were bought second-hand, and are quite old. My Screaming for Vengeance and Painkiller CDs are original issues. I have all other 70s and 80s albums on vinyl. So here is my question: There is a new box set out, containing all albums on CD and remastered. Can anyone tell me something about that? Is it better than the 2001 reissues? Would it be worth to get either, or should I stick to my old issues, considering the remaster/loudness war issues? I'm not so concerned with the bonus material, I've heard it all and am not interested in it.
  2. Forostar

    Forostar Ancient Mariner

    Do you have any of these 2001 reissues? As you might know, this only covers Sin After Sin until Painkiller. They were also sold in a box set, which I have. Personally, I think some of the bonus tracks were quite good. On Unleashed in the East there were more live tracks from that tour and I think that the sound on both that and British Steel was very good, I'd even say: improved (but Yax disagrees with me; I was trying to find that discussion but failed). I am not sure what the new box set contains; I assume that these are the same albums with the only difference that is it more complete?

    The only bad thing on the 2001 reissues is that they cut the connecting tracks Raw Deal and Here Come the Tears at the wrong spot, so Here Come the Tears starts at the wrong moment.
  3. Yax

    Yax Ancient Mariner

    It's the same old Astley remasters again, only now they've somehow managed to get Rocka Rolla and Sad Wings into the fold as well (those recordings are owned by, whatever the name of the small-time label is), and Angel of Retribution and onwards (they haven't been remastered).

    And yeah, I strongly disagree with Foro. British Steel remastered is completely ruined. It sounds very different and that accounts for all instruments. A lot less punch, you know, a lot less attack on say the drums as it's been heavily compressed and limited (to make it appear louder). You can really hear the compressors pulling the cymbals. The bass guitar is a lot more bassy (to make it sound more modern) and less punchy. The drums have less top end, due to multi band compression and you can hear more of the room too, also due to the compression squashing it so you hear quieter sounds more clearly.

    The guitars are wider (actually the entire mix sounds a bit wider), fatter, and their spectral balance is different too. Their levels are evened out too. This annoys the hell out of me, as I think the guitar sound was perfect to begin with. They had the one million dollar sound.

    The vocals are considerably quieter and more even in level and a bit less harsh. This is in some ways an improvement.

    All in all, the remaster sounds more modern, but the original has more punch, all instruments have more dynamics (not just talking about the punch of the drums, but small variations in volume on all instruments. Like in Metal Gods, during the chorus when the guitars play the same riff as under the vocals, inbetween the phrases. That riff is considerably higher in lever on the original and more evened out in the remaster) and I think it sounds more organic. But the thing is, you can still enjoy both. If you don't actually hear the difference enough to be annoyed by it, or think that the more modern and wide and fatter/bassy sound makes it sound better, then by all means, enjoy it. I wouldn't have noticed the differences very much a few years ago, at least not to the extent to be annoyed by them. And as I recall, British Steel is the album that suffers most from the remastering process. Haven't compared the rest in a long time.

    Edit: This inspires me to compare a couple of other Priest albums. I'll check back if anybody wants to hear my two cents. I will edit my post on and off, as I'm writing my impressions as I listen to them. Would probably be wiser to just write everything down and post a few hours later, but whatever. Sorry for that.

    What I'm doing here is I put both tracks, original and remaster, and put them in a DAW, right under each other. I then bring down the remaster to the same perceived volume and then switch inbetween the tracks and then assess t hem.

    Screaming for Vengeance: The remaster sounds definitely more packaged (read compressed). I think the remastering is more forgiving on this album, as the mix and music in itself is more suited for this type of sound. Again, less bright drums with less punch. The snare is clearly less audible. Edit again: Actually, the left vs right balance was a bit off on the whole mix on the original CD transfer I have, by around 1,5-2 dB. I double checked, so wasn't just the guitars. This has been taken care of on the remaster, and I'm going to fix the balance on my original files when I can be arsed.

    The bass guitar is a bit of an improvement, but should be lowered in level a slight bit. The bass frequencies are more even in level, making the track sound a bit fatter. The guitars are more even and louder in level, a bit different in spectral balance.

    Vocals. They are less sibilant. That's an improvement. There's a DeEsser at work, a luxuary they didn't have at their disposal back then I guess. They are also again, compressed a slight bit, making them sit a bit in the mix. I could have done with a slight bit less but I think it might be a bit of an improvement for my taste.

    Guitars. Improvement at times, spectral wise and level wise. They have more bite, but aren't as round, so to speak, and KK's vs Glen's perceived volume is more even. This is a very good thing, as the right channel guitars often are a fair bit lower in volume.

    Furthermore, as you can hear on the intro of Devil's Child, the signal to noise ratio is better on the remaster. You can hear the tape hiss on the original CD transfer.

    Overall: Some slight improvements. The instruments glue together more (for better or worse), partially due to the multi band compression, but it sounds less exciting.

    . Everything's at the same constant level, which if you compare the two becomes somewhat annoying. And the drums have less punch obviously. I am though, quite used to this, as most of my generation is. One good thing also, is that some details have been taken care of, like a drum fill on Devils Child, where the compression on the original kicks in a bit too heavy (ultra fine tunings weren't really possible at the time without massive efforts), has been fixed on the remaster.

    I'm going to go ahead and assume this is the case for the rest of the albums as well. But bear in mind, that this does not take away from the enjoyment of the music. These are details that frankly most people don't pay attention to or care about that much. And the kind of sonic packaging is something we're all used to. And as I said, some other details have been improved on the remasters, like that drum fill I was talking about, and less sibilant vocals etc. So there are both good and bad things about the remasters. I think the bad outweighs the good though.
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2013
  4. Forostar

    Forostar Ancient Mariner

    On British Steel:
    I take your word on the good overview of all these singular points you made. But still I find that the drums are coming out better. Less punch or attack or whatever you name it, but I really hear the hits better. Rapid Fire is a fine example. Awesome bass drum sound. Bass more bassy? I like that because there wasn't much bass on this album. The guitars are wider? I like that. And I find it well fitting to a metal band, leaning so much on guitars as Priest does. So I like the sound of the total result. To me it sounds like a production that does such a record justice, because now the instruments are blowing out of the speakers in the right proportions.
    Any bonus tracks?
  5. Yax

    Yax Ancient Mariner

    No bonus tracks. I haven't bought it myself, but the track listing only shows the regular tracks.

    Have you tried what I did? Both versions, equal in perceived level (bring down the level of the remaster in your DAW, don't crank the original) and listened carefully? I think just the opposite regarding the drums. But you know, they are more tightly packaged: the volume of all individual pieces have been evened out throughout the track, so there's less perceived (and actual) difference in level on all the hits. I suspect this is what you like, that tight packaging and I have to admit, I like compression. No, I love compression because I too love a tight drum sound, and I like having everything else tight too, but it comes with a price that I don't like. The cymbals get a bit dodgy when you compress heavily, because the compressor keeps pulling them (and on some hits you get cymbal swell, as the compressor attacks them straight away, and then slowly releases), you lose the snap on the snare, because the compressor will have to peel off the attack on the hard hits to make the subtler hits appear louder and so on. Everything is a compromise, sadly. I can appreciate both sides of the coin though, and I would say that SFV remaster has some big advantages and some big disadvangates - Good thing though that I have both the original and remaster so I can enjoy both in their own way (like the compression on the guitars. They have more attack which is good, but on the other hand the level is a bit too even at times. Dynamics are fun an cool). So doesn't really matter which one you prefer. There are upsides and downsides with everything.
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2013
    Forostar likes this.
  6. Cornfed Hick

    Cornfed Hick Puissant

    The Judas Priest remasters have been widely (and justly, IMO) criticized as sounding terrible, due to compression and drastically reduced dynamic range. But, if you prefer that, go ahead and try them. If you have original issues of Painkiller and Vengeance, definitely hold on to them. In my view, the only real value to the reissues are the bonus tracks, which you can download separately if you like them.
  7. Forostar

    Forostar Ancient Mariner

    Just curious cornfed: Have you heard these CD releases yourself?
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2013
  8. Yax

    Yax Ancient Mariner

    I believe, as I've stated, that there are advantages and disadvantages with both original and remasters. I do think though that the downsides have the upper hand. The advantages with the remasters lie with the details (like deEssing some vocals, and fixing the compression on some drumfills that have the original compressors go nuts) and the disadvantages, save for the actual reduction on dynamics in itself, lies in the fact that they've changed the level and spectral balance of everything, to what Astley appeared to be improvements. But you should be very apprehensive about improving legendary records sound. I do like though the increased attack on the guitars at times on SFV , but the overall dynamics are a bit too stale, because they are on the same constant level. But I can enjoy both in different ways, even though I much prefer the original releases (not sure if it accounts for Sad Wings, because I'm not really sure how the original release sounded. If the original is what I think it is, then I prefer one of the earlier CD transfers (which is about 2-3 dB louder than the one I think is original CD transfer, about the same level as the mid 80's records) because the guitars are significantly louder and sound better.
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2013
  9. Forostar

    Forostar Ancient Mariner

    I don't really see how the 2001 releases are widely criticized as sounding terrible. On one or two sites of a couple audiophiles, but how many of them are into, or even know Priest?

    I bet that these 2001 CDs weres received with open arms and enjoyed by a huge majority of Priest fans and metal fans in general.
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2013
  10. Forostar

    Forostar Ancient Mariner

    Haven't done that yet. I don't even know what DAW is. ;)
    You're getting more mildly here. ;-P
  11. Yax

    Yax Ancient Mariner

    Digital Audio Workstation. http://audacity.sourceforge.net/ There's a free one, which allows you to import the different versions onto separate stereo tracks and then you can adjust the level of the remaster so that you can make a fair comparison. It's important to switch inbetween, because the brain lacks the ability to maintain detailed information on sounds longer than a few seconds. Select bits and pieces of the tracks, a few seconds or so (and listen to the tracks in the entirety too) so you can make comparisons in detail rather than overall impressions. :)
    Forostar likes this.
  12. Forostar

    Forostar Ancient Mariner

  13. Cornfed Hick

    Cornfed Hick Puissant

    Yes. They sound like crap generally, though some (British Steel, Painkiller) are worse than others. I had the remasters of Stained Class, British Steel, Vengeance, Painkiller, and a couple others. I then sold them after getting used copies of the original releases, though not before ripping the bonus tracks.

    One exception to my blanket preference for the original releases -- the original CD version of Sin After Sin sounds very thin and wimpy, and I wouldn't necessarily recommend it over the remaster, which also doesn't sound great.

    Don't be fooled that louder + compressed = "fuller". Actually the opposite is true, though you do need to turn up the volume on the older releases.

    As a matter of objective fact, the dynamic range of the originals is uniformly greater. Subjectively, Yax is right -- if you hear both versions and like the remasters better, then hey, it's your preference and your money. Enjoy.
  14. Cornfed Hick

    Cornfed Hick Puissant

    Just read the Amazon.com comments on the latest edition of Vengeance (here), which I view as pretty mainstream, and a fair number complain about the sound quality. And, if you go to audiophile sites, the 2001 remasters are excoriated. (That said, getting the US Festival show on the 30th Anniversary edition might almost be worth it, if you have cash to spare. I have not purchased that version, which still uses the 2001 remaster.)
  15. Yax

    Yax Ancient Mariner

    What can I say, I try to have an open mind. I myself greatly prefer the originals, but I find that the remasters have some benefits on detail level that the original lack due to the limitations of gear and technology, and fashion, and I can understand what some may like about the remasters, apart from the perceived loudness of the tracks. You know, some people prefer tight packaging.
    The details that are good are the use of dessser on the vocals, although he overused the regular compressor that he added to the vocals, the dodgy drum fill on Devils Child that he evened out, he fixed a thing with a guitar solo, there was some kind of problem with the transfer of Painkiller on the original CD release, which is fixed on the remaster, as they obviously re-transfered the master tapes. Some more attack on the guitars are cool at times, multi band compression on the bass - Astley obviously used stem tracks and not just a single Stereo file). But I prefer the original and what he did with British Steel was blasphemy.

    Edit: Per - You must've seen this coming! :D
  16. Yax

    Yax Ancient Mariner

    Do not forget the new bonus tracks on the remaster. They added two or so additional bonus tracks, and the title track's live rendition is mental - Even better than the US festival performance. Rob is on fire.
  17. Cornfed Hick

    Cornfed Hick Puissant

    Back to Perun's original question: if you are not so much interested in bonus materials and want what are considered the consensus "best" sounding versions, then it sounds like you already have them. As for the 2012 box set, I did a little research. As Yax notes, the box set uses the 2001 remasters for Sin After Sin through Painkiller. The box set evidently has new remasters of Rocka Rolla and Sad Wings, which were done by Vic Anesini, who does good work. Those two albums have gotten reasonably positive reviews on the sound -- plus, Sad Wings was given the "proper" tracklisting (starts with "Prelude"). Perhaps the 2012 remasters of the first two albums will one day be released separately, in which case I may pick them up, but not worth it to me to get the full box set just for those. If you are looking to get the box set just to have all the CDs in one go, then my advice would be to check those releases out on Spotify or MOG or whatever you use first to see if you like the sound (you'll know the album is a remaster if it has bonus tracks). Or, you can do what I did, and get used versions of the original CD versions for all the albums you don't have. If your vinyl sounds good, consider just ripping that to digital.
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2013
  18. Yax

    Yax Ancient Mariner

  19. Perun

    Perun Stepping out bravely Staff Member

    I did, and it's always fun to watch you guys fight. ;) But I think I've gotten the answer I wanted, and I'll stick with my vinyl.
  20. Saapanael

    Saapanael "Get a life, punk!"

    I have Defenders of the Faith and Painkiller remasters and you're telling me these are crap? Damn, I wish I owned the old ones now. They weren't sold in that shop.

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