Which "Wish You Were Here" Do You Want?
So how does this reissue, "sourced" from the original analog tape (which is not the same thing as "cut from" the original analog tape), as in this was cut from a high rez digital file created from the master tape and cut from that, all supervised and approved of by James Guthrie.
Why was it done that way? I can't answer that but based on what I hear here, the master tape was probably not in the greatest shape so rather than chance destruction, one "flat" pass was used and whatever was done subsequently occurred in the digital domain.
I say that because while the bottom end is full and rich, the soundstage relatively deep and transparent, and the RTI pressing drop dead quiet, high frequency transients are soft and muted as in "this tape, from an era when recording tape was not nearly as robust as the stuff produced during the 1960s, and especially during the 1950s, is very tired."
The overall transient attack is soft, robbing of their full potency Gilmour's airy, shimmering guitar lines. You just wish you could turn up by a few notches the "contrast" knob, of which there is none in audio—and I'm comparing this new reissue to a -H/-AD Columbia pressing, so I can only imagine what a -1A, 1B or 1C pressing might sound like—that is unless I lucked into a "hot stamper" (just kidding since there's no such thing as a "hot stamper" according to the pressmen with whom I've spoken at every major pressing plant around the world.
There's nothing bad about this reissue, in the sense that every care was taken to produce the best result, from the use of the original tape, to Guthrie's oversight of the digital conversion, to Doug Sax's lacquer cut and RTI's pressing, to the quality of the packaging. The problem is the sonic health of the master tape.
So, I'd say, if you already have a quiet, good sounding original (regardless of lacquer/stamper number) and you hear clean, sharp transients, particularly on the guitar and drums, I'd say you're set and should stand pat. I say that because while the reissue betters my original copy in some ways, overall when I want to hear this album, I know I'll reach for it and not the reissue.
On the other hand if you want to buy a vinyl copy of this, you can chance an original at auction or buy from a used record store or online, but you can be sure pressing and sound quality of such a mass produced product will vary all over the map, while the sonic variability of the very good sounding reissue will probably be minor.
Were it not for the soft transients and scarcity of air and shimmer on top, this would be a superb reissue. As it is, and probably due to the almost forty year old tape's condition, it's merely very good.
I know we're on the Analog Planet, but if you have an SACD player and especially if you have a surround sound system, don't miss the 5.1 channel remix from the original multitrack master. It's clearly in much better condition, which makes sense since it probably hasn't seen much if any use since the original mix.