Reissue Labels To Avoid and Some Best to Proceed With Caution

Call me crazy (and you wouldn't be the first!) but when I spend $25 or $50 on a 180 gram reissue, I want to know the source used and who did the cutting, plating and pressing. Don't you? But we don't get that vital information as often as we'd like, do we?

We do get it from certain labels, like Mobile Fidelity, ORG, ORG Music, Analogue Productions, Music Matters, IMPEX, Mosaic, Rhino, Pure Pleasure, Speakers Corner, Reference Recordings, more recently Sony/Legacy and probably a few others I can't recall off the top of my head. I'm not good with lists.

Sometimes we get slightly fudged information. LIke the original reissues of the Tom Waits Elektra albums Rhino issued that were stickered "cut from the original analog master tapes" when in fact, they'd been "cut" by Ron McMaster at Capitol from 96/24 files (per Tom's instructions) produced from the original master tapes. These were all defective, with no top end above around 6kHz due to a screw-up somewhere along the line.

The albums were subsequently re-cut by Chris Bellman at Bernie Grundman Mastering, this time using the analog master tapes, and they sound fantastic. The point is, you can't even necessarily believe what you read on the jacket! "Sourced from" does not necessarily mean "cut from."

Other times you get part of the story, the most important part of which is, was the original master tape the source of whatever was used to do the cutting—whether a high resolution (96/24) digital file or a 1:1 analog copy of the master, which is what some labels have to use if the tape's owner refuses to let it out the tape vault door.

If you buy from Sundazed, for instance, you can be assured that the original tape was used as the source, because Sundazed's Bob Irwin, who has worked for Sony's Legacy division for years producing CD reissues, is very focused on using masters. But there's no guaranty the LP was actually cut from the tape because Sundazed doesn't specify who cut and from what.

Often you can see a "WG/NRP" on the inner groove area, which means "Wes Garland at Nashville Record Productions" did the cutting even though the credits say "mastered by Bob Irwin". That could mean Bob took the master tape, did his thing, produced a 96/24 file and had Wes Garland cut from that, or that he went with the tape to NRP and cut from analog (assuming NRP has a preview head equipped playback deck), but sometimes there's nothing written in the Sundazed "deadwax", which leaves buyers with not a clue as to who did the all important lacquer cut and where it was cut, which is equally important: a mastering chain is like a hi-fi system in reverse. If you don't like the hi-fi, you won't like the sound.

The Netherlands based Music on Vinyl label issues some albums cut from analog sources but mostly from high resolution files sourced from masters that they obtain directly from the labels (at least based on my experience). 4 Men With Beards? I have no idea.

But still other times you get nothing, yet you're asked to plunk down big bucks for these reissues. There are certain labels I urge you to avoid. These include Doxy (not Sonny Rollins' label—apparently there's another one using the same name), ZYX from Germany, Vinyl Lovers, Simply Vinyl and Abraxas

I was in Greece a few years ago visiting a Stereophlle reader who'd invited me over to hear his stereo—one of the best, if not the best I've ever heard. A Sarah Vaughn fan, he played me a "greatest hits" album from ZYX that had been culled from Sarah's later Pablo catalog. Pablo was a Norman Granz label (Granz founded Verve among other labels) that used top engineers and the RCA vinyl infrastructure to process its albums and what this guy was playing me sounded wrong.

We later went used record shopping in Athens and I found an original Pablo Sarah Vaughn for a few bucks in near mint condition. At least one track on it was on the ZYX reissue. We compared and the difference was so great, we at first thought the ZYX was a different arrangement and performance. Then we figured it was a different take from the same session. Finally we realized it was the identical take but sounding soooo wrong, it was difficult to identify. I guaranty you, the ZYX was cut either from a CD or some other source that the mastering engineer completely ruined when he cut it.

Vinyl Lovers definitely cuts from CDs. I was at a show in Scandinavia and someone was playing a Vinyl Lovers Rod Stewart LP. I had a track on a CD made from the original pressing and we compared the two and the CD killed the vinyl played back on a very good turntable. Not even close and obviously cut from a commercial CD. You can read a review of a Vinyl Lover's John Cale reissue on this site. It's not pretty.

Simply Vinyl refuses to identify sources. Actually some of them, especially those licensed from EMI, can sound very good and could very well be analog tape sourced, but the company refuses to identify sources. I'd stay away.

Recently a friend brought over a copy of Jeff Buckley's Grace album Simply Vinyl had reissued. I had the original European vinyl. We compared. The original was much better. The SV reissue was bright and hard by comparison.

The bottom line is, be careful. Just because something's been pressed on 180 gram vinyl doesn't mean its going to sound good or that it was sourced from analog.

SET Man's picture

Hey! Good that you've bought this subject up. I ask that question every time I buy new LP. I think its only fair to buyer that they disclose the source used to cut the LP. Maybe they should start putting the "SPARS Code" ... (remember this on CD)... on the LP jacket. If the analog master and mastering was used than is should be "AAA" and so on.

dimitri19's picture

We just updated all our jewelry labels to organize our merchandise and for better security. I'm surprised more companies don't use them for the security a lone. Not just with Jewelry but all products.

Smafdy Assmilk's picture

The same problem exists for audiophile CD reissues also. There has been a long history of decpetive marketing, as we are slowly finding out. I wonder if DCC used an original master tape on more than just a handful of their releases.

I commend Mobile Fidelity for their Silver Series for not trying to pass these releases as being sourced from the original master tapes.

markp's picture

Great article Michael.  Thank you for shining light on this topic. 

The past 10 years, as vinyl picked up popularity again, it seemed like an onslaught of companies offering "audiophile 180G" vinyl.  I remember purchasing some, and quickly learning my lesson.  Capitol had some reissues that were wretched (Heart - Dreamboat Annie).  There are so many records with that common "180G" gold on black sticker..when I see that sticker, I assume its straight up transfer of a CD to vinyl by whichever summer intern in the office shows a bit of apptitude. 

The "sourced from" designation pretty much means:

1) it is not cut from the original master

2) we don't know what we cut this LP from.

 eck, any version of an album is "sourced" at some point from the master, regardless of how many copies, remixes of digitizations have occcured.  One could put out a 180G album that was cut from a 30 years old cassette copy of your college roomate's cassette, which was 35th gen copy made at the record company factory...and say the 180G album was "sourced" from the 1st gen master.

Even with the good audiophile companies that Michael listed, one needs to check carefully.  I remember when MFSL reissued several John Lennon LP's about 10 years ago.  They didn't sound right to me.  In an email exchange with MFSL, they admitted the LP's were not cut from the "original masters" but from a remix provided by Yoko Ono (who knows if digital was involved).  So not really "original masters".

If you spend $25-$50 on a reissue, all the info should be printed on the album jacket, or available in plain sight on the reissue companies, and dealers, websites, including source tape, mastering chain (absence of digital), mastering engineer (s), manufacturing plant.  If all the information is not available, there is probably a reason.  Trust your ears. 

The Hoffman/Gray re-issues from Analogue Productions and Music Matters are spectacular, and a benchmark for how an audiophile re-issue should be made and marketed.



vinyldaze's picture

A truly great article and responses. And there there are those boots with those 180 gram gold and black stickers used by gray area companies like Scorpio. I was quite excited when I saw many of the classic blues titles from Yazoo being reissued. I bought one, a Blind Willie McTell. The source was some kind of digitally sourced, noise reduced flat sonic wash with all the life and dynamics sucked out. Yazoo appears to have nothing to do with these as their ability to coax fantastic sound out of old 78's set the gold standard on vinyl back in the 70's. A couple of obviously legit reissues II recently bought are two outstanding Johnny Winter reissues, Second Winter and Johnny Winter And Live from Friday Music that are the best I have ever heard these recordings by a mile. Yet they state quite clearly on the back that they were pressed at RTI and mastered by Kevin Gray and Joe Reagoso from the original Columbia Tapes. They sound fantastic to me, but note they do not say original analog masters. This is not a case of semantics and again leaves one to wonder. If they were taken directly from the original two track analog masters, I believe they would have said so. 

Michael Fremer's picture

Yes I should have mentioned them as "musts to avoid." The actually "lifted" the black and gold sticker Sundazed first created. Sundazed's mistake was to not put its name on them!

deckeda's picture

Readers of know the subject of "what's in a name?" has been recently discussed regarding "HD" downloads and of other digital files (and even including analog formats). Lack of provenance and of relying on familiar "Good Housekeeping"-style labels are pervasive.

I'm reminded that not until sometime in the '70s did amplifiers advertise comparable power and distortion specs based on common criteria and that it didn't happen for car audio until the '90s. Although none of that describes sound quality it's still a help on some level knowing what's what.

Perhaps one day the reissue and "HD" music businesses will reach a level of public conscieness that similar ad hoc (voluntary, yet accurate and agreed-upon) standard vocabulary --- and its uses --- will come about.

JC1957's picture

This goes way back to the original Mobile Fidelity LP's from the 70's and 80's. A lot of The Beatles 1/2 speeds were NOT done with original EMI master tapes. They used Capitol 3 & 4th generation copies, Parlophone eq'd dubs etc. A look a the photos of the tape boxes that appered in the box set were very revealing.

Michael Fremer's picture

Can you be more specific here? You have made a very serious charge. I know that since there was no "Magical Mystery Tour" LP for the U.K. (it was a double EP containing only side one of the American LP) and that side two of the Mo-Fi LP was the same "horrid electronically reprocessed for stereo" used by Capitol, that that record was sourced from Capitol, but what others used "3rd and 4th generation copies"?<p>

Please be more specific about your charge! BTW: the Mobile Fidelity <i> MMT</i> CASSETTE has side two in real stereo, like the German MMT LP!

JC1957's picture

Magical Mystery Tour was the specific title I had in mind when I orignally posted this. Before Mobile Fidelity did The Beatles box in 1982, there had already been 3 Beatles releases. MMT, White Album and Abbey Road. These were all sourced from Capitol submasters and not EMI originals. How many generations down they were is open to debate but MMT was definitely 4th generation. Once MFSL was able to license the whole shabang for the box set they were granted access to vault tapes from EMI England. Some of these tapes were originals, but some weren't. If you have the box set the LP's have the photos of the EMI tape boxes. Some say dub tape, some say corrected copy tape etc. I'm going by mostly memory here since I've long parted with mine. It could have been a great Beatles collection but some one at MFSL back then was making bad judgement calls in regards to the eq used. But that's another story. 

Michael Fremer's picture

I agree with you there! The EQ was "car stereo valley" all the way: boosted bass and treble, sucked out midrange. Very sad. I played the box version of <i>Sgt. Pepper....</i> for Beatles recording engineer Geoff Emmerick at a mastering session where I got to hear the master tape that Geoff had flown over from the U.K. for a planned 30th Anniversary CD edition. <p>

Geoff called it "rubbish" and demanded a take it off the turntable! He heard the HF boost and was outraged. Then I played him the red vinyl Japanese Odeon mono pressing and he declared that "spot on."

JC1957's picture

The Mo-Fi UHQR of Sgt. Pepper sucked too. Same crappy mastering only on thicker vinyl.

deckeda's picture

Heard 24/96 rips of the UHQR Pepper on three different high quality systems and found it enjoyable. I also really like the Japanese red mono vinyl, but mostly for the different mix. But the latter doesn't sound better IMO. Vocals in particular seem as if burlap was placed in front of the mic ...

Whether or not the former is rubbish is open for some debate, considering the multilayered approach to the recording wasn't a purist, minimalist effort by any stretch of the imagination.

Back then I bought the MFSL Magical Mystery Tour, unfortunately. It was my first MFSL and nearly my last. Every time I played it (which of course wasn't often) I had to tell myself, "This is supposed to sound good. This is supposed to sound good. This is ... horrible." To this day I think it's my brightest-sounding LP. The UHQR Pepper ain't in that same league at all.

The German Horzu pressing of Magical Mystery Tour is of course incredible compared to all the rest.

john ryan horse's picture

I'm reading an old thread, but just to add my 2 cents: back in the late '90s I realized Mofi did not always use original masters when I bought Clapton's "461 Ocean Blvd", which contained a track from his subsequent album ("One In Every Crowd") right in the middle of the CD. Also Traffic's "Shoot Outn At The Fantasy Factory", which I bought the week of release in 1973, featured EDITED versions of 2 tracks.

conjotter's picture

Hi Michael ... Excellent article.

The only way to teach these companies that won't clearly state the source of a recording is to not buy their records. I have sent emails to Capital and 4 Men with Beards about the source of certain LPs and they never responded. And some post partial information, like on some John Coltrane reissues that have a sticker that says "Sourced by Rhino, distributed by Scorpio."

Then there are all those cheap Blue Note reissues. Heard a $12 copy of Pete La Roca's Basra in one shop on a basic system that sounded pretty flat, and a few months later I was in a store where they were spinning the 1995 reissue, and it sounded great. Why the difference? Probably different sources. I'll wait for the Music Matters reissue later this year. Sure bet.

Now when I shop and I'm not sure about a title I'll ask the vendor to hold the record behind the counter for a day or two so I can do some research on sites like this.

Let the buyer beware.


Martin's picture

This is a really good article and makes a very good point.

Transparency in what you buy in music is not good. Apart from the ones mentioned, it gets really difficult to work out what sources are. Sometimes you buy something, put it on the platter and get confronted with 2 dimensional, harsh crap where you were expecting something decent.

It would be worth putting an area on Analog Planet devoted to this. Put on album title, record label or company, and what the sources were for the record. Say;

1. Album title, 2. Label/record company, 3. sources. 4. who mastered it.

Make it updatable by anyone. Ie., fully open. Anyone can go in, open a new record, and put in the info. And anyone can go in and update information. To my knowledge, there is no such resource anywhere on the web. Most record labels don't seem keen on the idea of any kind of transparency. Unsurprisingly, if you can pass off 44.1/16k as a full analogue chain and sell it as such, why tell people?

A few examples:

Rolling Stones - 60's catalog reissues; 2.8Mhz, DSD. great sounding
Rolling Stones - 70s and 80s; 48/24K; compressed. Not particularly good
Exile on main street - 2010 reissue; 48/24. Compressed and terrible sounding
Nirvana, Nevermind, Simply Vinyl. Digital something, and not good.
Bob Dylan Bootleg Series 8, Tell tale signs; 44.1/16k digital. The whole set.
Bryan Ferry, Dylanesque, 96/24. Great sounding, transparent, clear and full.
Rolling Stones, get your ya yas out reissue box set; 96/24. Great sounding, good dynamics.
Leonard Cohen - the 4 men with Beards reissues - "Apparently" all Hi-Rez digital
Pink Floyd, Dark Side of the Moon and The Wall recent reissues, both 96/24k
The Doors, Box set from a few years ago, 192/24k digital.
Rolling Stones, "Rarities 1971 - 2005". Digital, most likely 48/24, but Adam Ayant didn't want to say. 
 Rolling Stones, "Stripped" double LP. Digital, most likely 48/24k. No-one seems to know.
Bob Dylan, "Modern Times", digital, resolution unknown. Same with "together through life".

 Then the labels mentioned above, steer clear of anything from Doxy, it is virtually guaranteed to be 44.1/16. Simply Vinyl is pure chance, you never know what you get. Sundazed always sounds good.

Michael Fremer's picture

Your descriptions of those releases above is SPOT ON, IMO. And I'm glad you are not "digiphobic" and call them as they sound. The DECCA Stones box from DSD sounds fantastic....

floweringtoilet's picture

Digital or not, those Modern Times and Together Through Life sound much better on LP than CD, particularly Modern Times. The CD is totally compressed while the LP has lots of dynamic range and better tonal balance.


Good list though.

Michael Fremer's picture

I agree 100%

jesuswept's picture

I suspect Doxy is one of those labels that's sprung up in Europe to release music that's now in the public domain under EU law, which is pretty much anything pre 1961 or so, from what I understand.  

Martin's picture

That's the way it works. I think Doxy is an Italian label. They are taking advantage of the EU law that puts stuff beyond a certain age in the public domain. Their stuff so far as I know is just CDs pressed to vinyl. It is unfortunate. I see their stuff sold here in real, reputable record stores like Jecklin and other places. People buy it under the impression it's analogue. There are a few others like that here too.

Doxy have done a series of Muddy Waters box sets on vinyl for example. Great track selection, pretty questionable sound from various sources.

EU law used to be sometimes quite advantageous, for umm, unofficial releases. I have two very good sounding compilation LPs from "The Swingin' Pig" from the early '80s with a selection of Beatles, Stones and Hendrix tunes. Heaven only knows how they got here and in the surprisingly good sound quality. There are others too. The quality on these releases has been steadily improving over the last few years.

Watch out when the Beatles, Stones and others get into the public domain here.

krell's picture

Great article, and critical subject matter. As a newb vinyl listener (largely influenced my MF articles in Stereophile, thanks!) this is fairly disconcerting. We buy the hardware and software in the hope we're avoiding the digital nasties but it would appear there's much more to this than would appear. Any info' on labels/titles is appreciated.... Thanks!

Billy the Kid's picture

Having only just started to re-build my vinyl record collection, advice like this is invaluable! While I do try to chiefly hunt down original pressings of my favorite albums, the occasional re-release is unavoidable for the unobtainable. Of course, the CBS Mastersound LP of Dylan's Blood On The Tracks is a great example of this. Still, you would be hard-pressed to trump a well-kept, well-cleaned original. Great read Mikey, thanks!

floweringtoilet's picture

This is a really good article, and hopefully, along with consumer pressure, it will lead to greater transparency from reissue labels.

One concern I have is that some vinyl enthusiasts will automatically reject any reissue that has been "contaminated" by digital in any way whatsoever, which might be part of the reason labels are sometimes not forthcoming with information. This is unfortunate because, as you note, LPs cut from hi-rez digital can sound fantastic.

There are a lot of factors that go into whether an LP sounds good or not, and whether digital was involved is only one of them. I have plenty of LPs from the 50s, 60s and 70s that were cut 100% analog every step of the way (obviously) and still sound horrible. Try finding a really good sounding Stones record on the London label. It's not easy! Many of them were cut at places like Bell Sound that used dupes of dupes for cutting, and they sound awful. I'd take the DSD sourced vinyl over those any day as they are way closer to the masters (unboxed Decca UK pressings are a different matter, most of those sound great if you can find them in good condition).

But I know people that will refuse on principle to buy any vinyl that they know to have had its purity of analog essence contaminated by digital. That's their right of course, but I swear it's almost like a disease.....okay, I'm probably ranting about this in the wrong place.

None of this is to excuse those reissue labels that have no interest in sound quality and simply cut LPs from commercially available CD sources. And in the end, I believe we would be better served by greater transparency about sources and mastering because the current atmosphere of mistrust and suspicion not helpful.

Michael Fremer's picture

The DSD mastered Stones reissues sound fantastic as do original UK Deccas. The Londons? Not so much but I wouldn't blame Bell Sound. That mastering stamp more often than not indicates a good sounding record. I suspect it was either a bad sounding tape supplied by Decca (though why?) or someone at the American affiliate made some foolish mastering choices and forced them on the Bell Sound cutting engineer.

the matching mole's picture

Nice article, Mikey. I'd like to throw in my two cents: Avoid anything released by the Italian reissue label Get Back records. Terrible sound, terrible QC. One of their LPs I bought had a blob of glue in the middle of side one, and this was a $40 Comus LP. Never again. angry

JBo's picture

Hey we need to bring back those goofy AAD designations that used to be on CDs, where it was implied that DDD was somehow the ideal, but now we need them for vinyl -- AAA implying pure analog recording, mixing, and mastering!

I completely agree with Mickey that it's dicey at best with remasters if the info is limited.  So this means I concentrate nearly all my spending on mint used LPs which is sort of a shame for the record companies and artists, I'd like to buy new vinyl but it's like a 50/50 proposition that it will be mastered and cut correctly unless, of'course, I source it from MoFi or the others Mickey mentions.   

I'd encourage the companies to provide much more information for sure.

Also, how about somebody starts a company to release 00's music that is remastered without the massive compression (provided it's not squashed for posterity in the mixing stage already) -- I know Arcade Fire and The National have put out some great releases, but just imagine how awesome that stuff would be if MoFi remastered it with 50% more dynamic range.   Just a thought...



MacKat's picture

I have had horrible luck with new issues. I use a V15 VMR on a variety of turntables, and MoFi has been pretty noisy. I just got a Carole King simply vinyl, cleaned with that $4,000 record cleaner Mikey talked about at T.H.E. Show Newport, and It's so crackly, back it goes. I would expect it to be GOUGED for that many crackles. I guess I have to stick with mainly used vinyl. At least I'm not as dissapointed when it is a dud.

Michael Fremer's picture

Classic Records' version of <i>Tapestry</i> was fantastic.

Michael Fremer's picture

As a double 45 and in print is even better!

Michael Fremer's picture

Is best ignored even though some titles were pretty good. My understanding is that when Simply Vinyl licensed titles from EMI, the label used analog sources from its vault but other label sources are a crap shoot and mostly sound mediocre. Apparently no one at Simply Vinyl pays much attention to sound. They are "simply" about vinyl.

Martin's picture

There is amazing variation, the "Exile" reissue sounds like a shrill, lifeless compressed mess.

Patricia Barbers "Café Blue" is a 44.1/16k recording, but the LP is very listenable.

Bob Dylans "Modern Times" LP is much better than the CD, real dynamic range where the CD sounds squashed. Same for "together through life".

The T-Rex "Electric Warrior" reissue is also "apparently" Hi Resolution digital, though I haven't heard it.

The Leonard Cohen live stuff recently released on vinyl is a 48/24k recording upsampled to 96/24k. It sounds quite respectable.

Leonard Cohens "Old Ideas" is digital, resolution unknown, but quite nice sounding. Leonard Cohens "10 new songs" also digital. resolution unknown. In my opinion, 10 new songs suffered a bit from some wierd Pro-tools sounding stuff. "Old Ideas" sounds better.

The Friday Music Elvis reissues are analog and great sounding.

Simply Vinyl has done some Elvis reissues and other LPs. The ones I have heard are uniformly crap. I have some Elvis gold CDs that sound better.

A number (most?) of the "Chess master" reissues from the mid '80s are actually analog, although it says "digitally mastered by..." on the back. They sound great. I recommend Muddy Waters sings Big Bill Broonzy. The Chess Masters reissue, it was done all analog by Steve Hoffman.

Michael Fremer's picture

My sources told me back then that Bob's people brought both ProTools files and an analog master tape to the mastering sessions for <i>Modern Times</i> and Bob went with the digital files. So there might be a tape that could be used for a reissue!<p>

The <i>Old Ideas</i> vinyl sounds remarkably superior to the CD also included in the jacket. <p>

As for <i>Electric Warrior</i> if you can find a U.K. Fly Records (HiFly 6) pressing mastered by George "Porky" Peckham, you will s..t  yourself!

Martin's picture

Didn't know there was an analogue version of Modern Times. Would be a great idea for a reissue. Use the analogue tape.
Love the record, it sounds just a tad muddy.

Yup, "Old Ideas" on vinyl sounds remarkably better than the CD that came with it.

Electric Warrior on the original Fly label, with Porky and Pecko Duck in the deadwax truly rocks. Great sounding record!!  There is a limited vinyl 12" that came out for record day with 3 or 4 versions of "Get it on", Accoustic, Electric and a boogie version!  Then on the other side 3 versions of I think Jeepster.
Sound is Ok, sounds digital, a bit flat. Marginal improvement over the CD.
Putting on the Fly, Electric Warrior after the 12" has people bopping around the room.
There was a 12" single (both 33 1/3 and 45rpm) of the 1985 Power Station remake. Whatever your take on Robert Palmers interpretation, the sound on that single is awesome. It is HUGE. Everything is there in three dimensional space in front of you.

marcel_kyrie's picture

If you're talking about the Rhino Electric Warrior, I don't know what it was cut or sourced from, but the record itself was noisy, and I was not impressed with the sound. I wanted to replace my Reprise pressing from the eighties, and tried like heck to find any information about the Rhino pressing I could, but no luck. Bought it anyway, and wasn't super happy. I also picked up the Fat Possum reissue of The Slider, even though my copy is still in good shape. Wasn't terribly impressed with it, either. Anyone know anything about Fat Possum's reputation?
If Mikey, with his connections, can't get this information, what hope is there for us? You'd think there'd be some obsessive on the internet keeping track of this stuff. Tell ya what though, the pressings I've been happiest with have come from Quality Records. Talk about truth in advertising!

Mr Boots's picture


Greetings, Kevin here in The City. I have to agree concerning the 4MwB pressings. I picked up Dylan's 'No Mercy'. The vinyl is noisy and Dylan's voice is all over the place. He mainly travels from center to right. I have a couple of other artists from that label, and they're ok; nothing to write home about. After this last purchase, and your article, this will be definetely one label that I shall be avoiding like the plague. I can recommend whole heartedly and with a clear conscience to other music lovers, please, stay away from 4MwB.


antonmb's picture

Great article and followup posts. I couldn't agree more re some labels simply putting out junk copied from digital. A couple of years ago I bought a Vinyl Lovers reissue of the Allman Brothers "Eat a  Peach". When I first played it, it sounded so bad I thought there was something wrong with my system. I pulled out my original copy and, although it lived a hard life during my misspent youth, it still sounded way better than the Vinyl Lovers. It was then that I noticed that the actual tracks on the individual albums weren't in the same order as on the cover or the original, and that there were actually some additional tracks, like one of those extended cd reissues. I also checked the fine print on the back cover and found "this compilation copyright 2008 Lilith Records" and "manufactured in EU under license from OOO 'Universal Music', Russia". I can only guess what that all means, but it can't be good and can't be from the masters. Caveat Emptor.

Martin's picture

I think it's worth putting this on. This is an exchange with HD Tracks I had a while ago. I think it speaks for itself.


From: Support []
Sent: Mittwoch, 4. Januar 2012 22:59
To: martin
Subject: RE: Contact Inquiry From HDtracks


Some Girls came from the tapes, so I suppose it depended on the condition of the tapes.
They use their own mastering engineers, so I imagine they aim for the best possible result.
The compression may be an aesthetic choice, or may be done so to accommodate use on portable devices.
At any case, I do empathize with your comments.



From: martin
Sent: Monday, January 02, 2012 8:54 AM
Subject: Contact Inquiry From HDtracks

Dear Administrator,
We have Received a Contact Inquiry From Martin

Great to see the reissue of Some Girls is now on HD Tracks. My apologies if someone has already asked this. But... HD Tracks says 88kHz/24bit files. However, the LP reissue is 44.1/24 and compressed.


It would stand to reason the highest resolution digital files were used for the LP...


Can you tell me please what the original sources for the HD Tracks files are? Are the HD Tracks files really Hi Rez? Or just 44.1/24 masquerading as 88/24?

And, do they have the same high compression applied?

The really important question is, are the extra tracks 88/24?

As this is the reason why someone with the original LPs would buy these.

With or without the compression from Marcussen - the masher - mastering???

DocSamG's picture


Are you changing your recommendations of the Fairport Convention reisuses on FMWB?

deniall's picture

Interesting reading, especially your opinions on Music On Vinyl. Their website states this:

As for our sources; We are provided with the best possible (analogue) masters available. On top of that, our sound engineer has over 35 years of experience in cutting and mastering records for (major) labels.

I own a ton of Music On Vinyl records and I have always thought they sound great but i'm a vinyl noob and only have about $3000 worth of gear so maybe i'm not hearing what you hear. Very interested to compare to originals though.

deniall's picture

I emailed Music on Vinyl and this is the response I got.

Thanks for your mail.

Our records are pressed in the Netherlands (@record Industry- one of the best in the business)

We use analog & digital sources, for the majority of our releases we use high res digital files sourced from the master tapes.

All the best


Music On Vinyl

Looks like MF was totally right on this one...

omar_alt's picture

This is my biggest grievance with vinyl toady. Lots of labels have cottoned on to the fact that they can make great margins from knocking out a badly sourced record so long as they put a '180g audiophile vinyl' sticker on the front. Look at the job Sony Legacy did with Bernard Purdie's Soul Drums. Awful!

"Hey look kids it's in a deluxe box with all this cool extra stuff..."

but when you put the record on - psshhhhpssshhhtt.

I sometimes think these labels would do better getting a mint, native original LP, cleaning it, transferring it to 30 ips tape via a reference level set up and then cutting again. Call me crazy but I think this would sound much better.

Obviously if you only want the classics then you will usually get a good deal but if it's anything that was on an independent...

deckeda's picture

Been reading Plain Recordings and 4 Men With Beards are one in the same and have the same mailing address.

Most of what I've read isn't positive. Not uniformly bad but definately hit or miss, and for typical vinyl prices I can't afford to take chances on labels like these.

Banford's picture

What about the new Beatles Vinyl Box Set being released on 11/13/12?  I was about to order it, but now I wonder about the source and the mastering and pressing process.  I would love to have it if it's good, but I don't want to spend over $300 if not.  

cement_head's picture

There's an excellent review of this box set in Stereophile magazine:

And several threads on Forums.  The general consensus is that this is a great set if you don't have any Beatles, AND the EU pressing is better than the US.  But if you are a collector and have several of their albums in audiophile condition, might want to be a bit careful.

- CH

wgb113's picture

How do these rate?  Seem like they're readily available and less than $15/LP.


Michael Fremer's picture

Great value. Many all-analog

julio's picture

Can anyone chime in about the simply vinyl nick drake releases? and what they know about the up coming reissue of Pink Moon

scmaculous's picture

Legend states that "Pink Moon" was the only Nick Drake album that still has the existing analog, 2-track master. The rest...either duplicates or some other explanation. Legend also states that because of the availability of the "Pink Moon" original tape, it is the only remaster done with an entirely analog signal path. I purchased this album with that information in mind. The album, IMO, sounds incredible. I've never heard a 1st pressing, only CD masters until this point, so I can only compare what I have heard. There is no CD mastering of any Nick Drake material that comes close to the "Pink Moon" remaster.

scmaculous's picture

P.S. - My pressing of "Pink Moon" does not appear to have been manufactured by Simply Vinyl. It's a Universal remaster. Seems to be known for its superiority over other, questionable reissues.

MusicNut612's picture

Is Get On Down if you're into hip-hop at all. The do a lot of reissuing of Wu-Tang LPs. Not a single one I've heard comes even close to the OG presses. All are flat and muddy sounding. I've heard better MP3s than some of their presses.

vedicspaceprogram's picture

Scorpio and many other "to be avoided labels" are reissuing many hip rare underground records that the high end reissue labels aren't doing and will never do. I've been around vinyl since the 70s and many of the Scorpio records sound good and have stickers stating "manufactured by Rhino" (whatever that means). Try finding an original copy of Gris Gris. 

The Wah Wah label from Spain has reissued tons of obscure 70s records from France and Germany that I am glad I am able to own in the vinyl format, regardless of the source. In the unlikelyhood that Mobile Fidelity or Speakers Corner does their fancy reissue of these records I'll gladly fork out the money, but in the mean time if I want to hear Embryo, Lard Free, Mythos, Anaxis Quam, Holderlein and lot's more, I'll be listening to them on Wah Wah.

These "bad" labels have their place and often provide a service for people who want more than Living Stereo and certain Blue Note records in their music diet. 

Michael Fremer's picture

Rhino is a division of Warner Brothers and if you see Rhino, chances are sources are good, even if the label is Scorpio. Of course sometimes content trumps source but if the source was originally analog and the source is available, using a CD to cut a record is inexcusable.

Davetruestory's picture

I prefered a complete analog experience, that's why ilisten to Lp in the first place. So i buy my lps produce before the digital era, with warts and all.

desdeo's picture

Another informative article by Mikey and terrific feedback from the many knowledgeable readers; most of whom, I imagine are far more knowledgeable than myself, which is why I am throwing my question out to the field.  Is there an easy and inexpensive way I can improve my system?  I built a low budget LP playback system (below) a few years ago and, frankly, the sound is uninspiring.

Music Hall mmf-2.2 turntable

Pro-Ject Phono Box II pre amp

Cambridge Audio 550A integrated amp

Panamax M4300-PM line conditioner

PSB Alpha A/V monitors

PSB Sub 5 subwoofer

Tributaries Cable interconnects

Salamander equipment rack

Sound Organization speaker stands

I've heard (more expensive) CD playback systems (as well as some five-figure LP systems) that are absolutely engaging, but since I don't collect CDs and I don't have three to five times the $2,000 I invested in my system to throw at one of those, I need to find some "fix" for my existing system.

My reference recording is Sheffield Lab's direct to analogue recording of James Newton Howard & Friends.  And, I still own the first LP my family ever owned - Neil Diamond's Moods from 1972, which my mom bought on impulse as we were returning home from school and she saw the album in a record store window.  She hit the brakes, put some money in my elder brother's hands (he was the bravest of us three boys, although not the eldest) and said "Tell the store owner that your mom wants to buy the man hanging in the window."  True story!  The album is badly in need of a proper scrubbing, and sounds as noisy as ever, but we still love giving it a spin.

I know the individual components are quality pieces because I never buy any hardware or software (the real subject of this article) that hasn't received some favourable reviews from credible sources, so I am sure it's that they are not complementing each other as a system.  I've been toying with the idea of replacing the Pro-Ject pre with a Bellari VP-130 tube pre amp, but I am wary of throwing money at the problem out of blind ignorance.

So, please, any ideas would be much appreciated.

Thanks for any advice you may offer, and I'd like to wish you all a safe and happy new year.

- Deon

Anamon's picture

I would move Doxy Music / Doxy Records from the "generally avoid" to the "check before buy" category. They have also released some excellent sounding pressings, for example of film soundtracks or historical compilations—they are not a pure re-issue label, they also have original releases, though no original artists I think. They also seem to be in the habit of clearly noting transfer sources, involved engineers, studios and plants, which is always commendable. Best see if you can find a review before purchase, or whether you can give it a listen. Don't dismiss them outright because of the label, because you might be passing up a good vinyl.

Michael Fremer's picture

Well if the source and other info is listed on the record, of course consider that release. Thanks for that information.

century's picture

How do I go about researching who is issuing what?

A lot of websites that sell new re-issues have little to no information about the pressing.
And even if they did, as a new collector, is it trial and error or is there a comprehensive list out there of the good and not so good producers?

watchnerd's picture

Acoustic Sounds is as good as I've ever seen in terms of having commentary on re-issues. It's not 100% accurate or complete, but I haven't seen better elsewhere.

DLKG's picture

I'm getting into this conversation pretty late it looks like but I've gotten some really great sonding Lp's on Doxy.  Plus they're titles that most labels wouldn't dare put out.

For Example:

Morton Feldman and Earl Brown, 3 Pierre Henry records and A couple John Cage Lp's.  All these records sound very good, so I'm very happy with this label.

Kurt's picture

I emailed Friday Music about their reissue of Boston's debut LP, which their literature says is "Mastered...from the original Epic Records tapes" but doesn't specifically say "analog." They did not respond. 

watchnerd's picture

I have a Music on Vinyl version of Al Di Meola's LP, the original 1970s LP, as well as a CD rip. While the Music on Vinyl might be from a high rez digital source (although given I've never seen one on HDTracks etc, maybe not), it definitely isn't just ripped from CD, as the mixes are distinctly different. It's definitely a good effort.

The same can't be said of Wax Time.

Wax Time reissues are sold widely by reputable record stores like Amoeba and Rasputin, and while not in the price range of the true audiophile masterings, they're not exactly cheap, either...typically about $20 retail at a brick and mortar store.

All the jazz albums I've bought on WaxTime sound horrible, in some cases like they didn't even use a CD source, but perhaps an MP3!

The tell-tale sign to me is that, while the jacket art is pretty close to the original, the label never is -- it's always a Wax Time label, never Columbia, etc.

Again, this is 1960s jazz material that is in the public domain in the EU. Wax Time is made in Spain, if I recall correctly. Last time I checked, they didn't even have a website, just an email address, which also makes one suspicious that the operation is a bit fly-by-night.

Jazzoid's picture

I have bought a couple of records from this label for $15+tax: Ray Charles and Grant Green, and found the quality to be poor.

TheManFromTaco's picture

I have purchased more than one pop/rock WaxTime LP.
Perhaps they don't have the dynamic range of a re-mastered LP from a major label, but I find the sound quite enjoyable on my vintage system. I have not yet tried any of their jazz releases.

And I must say.... unlike MANY recent official reissues from the major labels, the WaxTime records are absolutely free of pops/clicks and surface noise! Why can't the major labels get their act together in this regard?? It really stinks to drop $50 on a brand new copy of "The Wall" only to be inundated by staticky noise.

So I will continue to purchase WaxTime records.


Michael Fremer's picture
They are cut from CDs....
TheManFromTaco's picture

For $13 a piece at your local Half Price Books, you could do a lot worse, especially since many titles in the WaxTime catalog are totally unavailable except as rare scratchy originals that go for $100 a piece.

And if a $60 LP from a major label is remastered from the best original sources, but comes out with a lot of crackling... well, I would RATHER get some $13 LPs possibly cut from dubious sources but with absolutely no surface noise.


watchnerd's picture

Same deal for Jazz Wax Records, too -- more public domain stuff that appears to be 'mastered' from CDs.

noorjivraj's picture

Anyone have any experince with the following:
DOLCHESS 140g (pressed in the UK?) Blues and Jazz
RHINO 180g Jazz - seems they pressed mainly ATLANTIC stuff

Bluewolf's picture

Here is the confirmation I recently received from them:

"Thank you for your interest in Exhibit Records.
To your specific inquiry, the original analog master tapes were the source for our remastered vinyl release of Chet Atkins & Les Paul, "Chester & Lester" (eXLP1-44061). For your general information, unlike other reissue companies, we have only ever used analog masters on our vinyl releases.

eXhibit Records/Soundboard
8491 Sunset Blvd., #174
West Hollywood, CA 90069"

Michael Fremer's picture
I need to review that I have it here. They are the real deal.
culabula's picture

I have to say, I'm very pleased with the three Doxy LPs I've bought so far. Not only were they very cheap, but they are great-sounding, quiet, 180g above-average pressings. They are:

Serge Gainsbourg
Juliette Greco
Sylvie Vartan

At 7€ a pop, I have little to complain about.

superbee's picture

I'm so glad you brought this subject up because I buy lots of reissue vinyl and when I pay on average $30 per album I certainly do not want one cut from a cd......I gave up collecting cd's and don't want my lp's sounding like or cut from cd's......thanks for the information about music on vinyl......I have bought quite a few of these and the price for them is not cheap!

See Why Audio's picture

Glad someone else noticed. Music Lovers = we make money by cutting corners not by cutting from masters.

I'm sure I'm not making this up, I have a distinct memory of buying a Stevie Wonder album, I think it was Innervisions, on the 'Music Lovers' label that sounded dreadful and if I was in any dohbt that the source used wasn't analogue, or in any way near the master, you could hear the CD that was used to cut the vinyl actually skipping. ON THE CUT! Anyone else unfortunate enough to grab that same LP? I do actually wonder if it was a bad dream...

Nothing Like Vinyl's picture

I'm thinking of getting this LP, since it seems to be the only release of the original soundtrack for "Psycho" on vinyl (I compared it to the movie and it's definitely not a re-recording). Not an audiophile quality release, but it may be a good addition to a collection just as a document. You can hear it here:

Nothing Like Vinyl's picture

...and I want to say that, while it's definitely not an "audiophile sound quality" release, I'm truly impressed with the quality of the record itself. It's one of the flattest and most perfectly centered records I've seen in my life. The audio has noticeable background noise, but it's definitely because of the source and not from the record itself. The non-recorded areas are extremely quiet. Not one single click or pop. The record company (Doxy) even put different custom labels for each side.

So while it's true that this LP sounds as if the movie soundtrack was being played through an old radio, I feel that the people at Doxy put their best effort on giving the collectors a high quality product, at least regarding manufacturing. I'm truly happy with it.

Rand_daddy's picture

Can anyone of you tell me about the reissues on the DOL-Label? Are they worth buying? How is the pressing quality?

theboogeydown's picture

I have a general idea of what people on here think of this site (see below), but maybe, just maybe, this is a way for all of us to be a part of the solution. The opinions here are educated, thoughtful and easy to come by. Why not put them to use and aide "the cause?"

Let the world know what you think about a record: Write a Review on Discogs!

Michael Fremer's picture
Discog readers come to Analogplanet
theboogeydown's picture

and I'll never go back, swear.

geoffpiano's picture

A few months back I paid about $40 in Norway for the Friday Music's 2008 reissue of America's self-titled album. Absolutely AWFUL... The worst-sounding piece of 180gr vinyl in my collection. Just to be sure, I compared it to the mp3 version on Spotify, which blows it out of the water in EVERY respect. Whoever half-speed mastered this had less than NO idea what they were doing...