Communication Breakdown! Led Zep Catalog Cut From Digital?

The press release says "remastered from the original analog tapes by Jimmy Page and pressed at Pallas" but of course we know that Page did not cut the lacquers. Not a problem. But when it says "remastered from the original analog tapes" does that mean "to digital" for CD and LP reissue? Or does that mean the lacquers were cut from the original analog tapes?

An anonymous source today claimed that the upcoming (June 3rd) Led Zeppelin catalog vinyl reissues were cut from digital sources because "Warner Music Group did not want to spend the extra money necessary to cut from analog tape."

There are times when cutting from digital sources is necessary: for instance when Jon Astley remixed Tommy to high resolution digital and Pete Townshend approved it, not the original mix as the master, or when the analog tape is no longer useable, or as in the case of the Blue Note 75th anniversary series, when the goal is to produce a record at a price point and there already are more costly all-analog options.

In this case, the Classic Records Led Zep releases are long out of print. There are no all-analog alternatives other than original Atlantic pressings from America or the U.K. (the band was signed to American Atlantic not to a U.K. label that licensed the masters to Atlantic).

There are no AAA Led Zep reissues currently in print. It is difficult to understand why a guy like Jimmy Page, who is a record enthusiast and who must exercise control of the catalog at least to some degree, could not force the issue with WMG. Perhaps he is convinced that high resolution digital transfers (let's hope!) sound transparent to the source and that's why he approved of the digital transfer. On the other hand if he's still using the Technics SL-1200 seen in the film "It Might Get Loud", was he really in a position to make an informed judgement about the vinyl sound (even if he was in the effing band)? And should a band member ever be put in charge of reissuing his own catalog? I could give you a list of reasons why the answer should be "yes" and "no."

If the anonymous source is correct, this is simply a travesty. Yes, we will cover these reissues and give them a fair and impartial listen but based on other such reissues, the results will at best be "okay" and not what they could have been. For instance, the Music on Vinyl reissues, many of which are cut from high resolution digital sources, do sound good. But not as good as all analog versions. Period.

The packaging will be "deluxe" and reproduce the original artwork including, for instance the wheel and die cut holes on Led Zepellin III, but what would you rather have: AAA vinyl and not "deluxe" packaging or AAD vinyl and "deluxe" packaging?

The single records will sell for $24.95. For a Pallas pressing and deluxe artwork, that is a good value but what is it you want here? Good value or the best possible sound? Money talks, bullshit walks. These reissues may be good for the budget conscious or for kids new to vinyl but for some of us, only a total boycott will do. Then perhaps WMG will be "incentivized" to bring out the tapes yet again so that one of the 'audiophile' labels can do them AAA justice.

Meanwhile if you have clean originals, especially the "RL" pressing of Led Zep II or the "plum label" UK versions, or the Classic Records reissues, especially the full set road case, your Led Zeppelin stock just shot way up.

samman's picture

I can't complain about the Stones 64-69 vinyl set, and it's digital. But I do agree with you that they should do their best to make it AAA. I guess it's a "wait and listen" type of thing.

Michael Fremer's picture

Yes, I agree with everything you've posted.

labjr's picture

Well that sucks! I was just talking with a friend about preordering those. Are you just thinking out loud or do you seriously think WMG would allow Chad and Analog Productions reissue them at the same time?

Michael Fremer's picture

Am thinking about what happened with The Doors catalog! 

planarhead's picture

This is word for word from John Davis, the engineer that did the digital transfers.

Forum user asks:

John, great to see you back among us. Here are three questions for you.

1. Were you involved with cutting the vinyl?
2. Were the vinyl versions cut from the analog tapes or your hires masters?
3. I noticed when doing some EQ comparisons of the iTunes versions that Led Zeppelin II was quite close to a pbthal needledrop of the famous Bob Ludwig RL cut of Led Zeppelin II. During your mastering did you have access to an RL cut or was it a target?


John Davis answer (emphasis mine):


Hi Stefan - 1 - I cut all the vinyl myself
2 - Have to check with Warners re their campaign cant get them upset
3 - No we didnt use a target - just tried to make the albums sound as best as we could




I think that speaks volumes as to the source of the vinyl. Michael I suspect you are correct about this.

Michael Fremer's picture

I'm disturbed to read "best as we could" as opposed to using a vinyl reference. Tapes are raw material from which lacquers are cut. Unless you reference original pressings, you really don't know what was originally intended and especially what the original mastering engineer did in terms of EQ, reverb etc. If the goal is to recreate the original or at least to remain true to it, how can you not reference original pressings?

J. Carter's picture

The last remaster done surpervised by Jimmie Page in the early 90's was not an upgrade in most cases.

J. Carter's picture

Given that the super deluxe version comes with a 24/96 download card my guess is that the records will be cut from a 24/96 master. Just an assumption but an educated one.

Michael Fremer's picture

And since most will be buying either CDs or downloads those should be sufficient to "subsidize" the extra expense of an AAA cut. 

iyke's picture

The cynicsm of the music biz is only 2nd to that of the energy industry.

bkinthebk's picture

can you explain how much extra effort and $$ it takes to do AAA vs mastering/cutting from digital? i'm trying to understand why Page & Co. would make choices that so clearly disrespects the music & die hard fans. 

Michael Fremer's picture

With files you do a single pass conversion and then work from there. With tape, given the age, you do one pass to digital and listen to that to make EQ choices and then you need a deck and lathe equipped with a preview head to make your final pass. It wouldn't be all that much more expensive probably but every penny....

timosmith's picture


AQ Shane's picture

Just curious, but why does Don Was get so much more slack for doing vinyl from digital masters than Jimmy Page? At $24.95 these are priced closer to the "affordable" end of the spectrum than the premium reissue part of the spectrum, so they seem to be aimed at the same segment of the market, rather than the premium audiophile market. At that price I wouldn't doubt it will be easy enough to get a bunch of the singles for $20 or so, which if they're from high-res and sounds good seems fair.

Certainly seems fair if the logic is rougly the same: that they're thinking audiophiles bought the presumably AAA Classics several years ago at premium prices, so they want to offer something for the people who didn't shell out the big bucks for those and who want to hear Zep on vinyl and own the cool art work in a large format.

Don't get me wrong, AAA is the grail. I'm a premium vinyl customer and that's what i want and I'm willing to pay for it. When I want Blue Note I buy the Music Matters 45s. I already bought all the Zeps from Classic and I still pick up originals when i can find em clean (and let me tell you that isn't $25 a pop either!).

 Just sayin, if Blue Note gets a hall pass for that plan, why not Zeppelin. Give em a listen and see if they're worth the $25.

Michael Fremer's picture

Many AAA Blue Notes are still available at retail. No AAA Led Zep albums are. I think I've cut WMG some slack too. I reserve judgement until I listen. You can't be sure of the outcome as the <i>Tommy</i> double vinyl reissue from 96/24 files will prove. Though there, the remixed master was done to digital.

J. Carter's picture

My understanding is that the Led Zeppelin stuff on iTunes that is "Mastered For iTunes" are the new remasters. Lots of mixed reviews however the people's opinions I trust say they are more compressed and bright so I'm not thinking we are going to get a very good remaster here. I hope I'm wrong though.

Sean Zloch's picture

I heard a couple of the Mastered for iTunes versions and didn't care for them. I'm hoping that the new remasters are different/better.

CCFK's picture

C'mon.  It's Led Zeppelin we're talking about here.

criswood1's picture

If the record companies continue to cut from digital masters so that they can hold out for a better sounding release years later... see the Beatles re-issues among many others.

deaconblue66's picture

That's the exact same question I've been asking via the email I send to WMG every day since I found out about these reissues.

Seventeen emails and no reply yet, maybe Warner's is having trouble with the coffee machine in the office and it's keeping them from checking emails.

Perfectly understandable, I get distracted sometimes too...

MM5498's picture

I sure hope not ! Jimmy Page announced that he working on these remasters in NOV 2012. We surely have not waited all this time for  something thats not going to be top notch and very special. Mikey, I want you on them like a tick on a dogs ear ! I look forward to any and all the information you can get on these new remasters. Thx

my new username's picture

It's long since become a buzzword, from publicists and other marketers who don't know, and don't know that you know, what it should mean when referencing LP production.

The digital intermediary step is part of the accepted, standardized and understood workflow. A generation or so of engineers have grown up using it. And that is more of a threat to good sound then even the ubiquitous penny pinchers who will never value what an archive of sound is.

One question I have is, what does all of this say about the Mothership LPs? Good, bad or indifferent, hey aren't very old ... are these new LPs even a different mastering, and if so, WHY?

"Remaster" has become a word that causes me to wince, because it's astonishing how so few people in the industry seem to know or care about the what and the why of it all.

Michael Fremer's picture

That's an overgeneralization. Among the audiophile labels, when possible, tapes are used to produce AAA albums. That goes for Analogue Productions, Mobile Fidelity, IMPEX, Pure Pleasure, Speakers Corner, Mosaic, ORG and ORG Music, etc.

Some cut from tape copies when they can't get the master and the digital apologists say that LPs cut from 96/24 files produced from the master tapes should sound better, but .....

my new username's picture

I was referring to when major labels do vinyl, reissues or not--not the specialty labels.

Musicophile's picture

That's a lot of fine labels. Do you know if the Blue Note reissues by Elemental Music are all AAA? Are they worth a buy?

David_Cormier's picture

The only of these Blue Note Elemental reissues I have is Kenny Burrell - Midnight Blue. To me it sounds very good and has great dynamic (first time I like the sound of congas that much). But I have never heard any other versions to compare and I have no clue if these are AAA. I would be curious to know too.

Jay's picture

The Mothership LP's are well presented, well pressed and are sonically "Meh..." at best.  By way of comparison, my copies of the Classic pressing of Zep IV and the original UK pressings of Physical Graffiti and The Song Remains The Same leave it looking third rate at best.

Michael Fremer's picture

Most compilations lose a generation or two in the production. It's a rare one where the masters are unspliced and respliced to produce a record side. The master is usually copied and the copies are spliced together. In the case of The Mother Ship, Stan Ricker was sent files hopefully from original tape transfers but if it was from copies or copies of copies transferred to digital you end up with "meh".

Bigrasshopper's picture

I've had my Mothership for what? five years now, but only listened to it twice.  The last time just a couple of months ago.  That's when I started eyeing the Classic's again.  Five years ago I was too new at all this to understand why I didn't want to keep listening.  I suppose if ones system was rolling off the highs it might sound alright?

Martin's picture

When Mothership came out, I waited till it was in a store here. I had a listen. And put it back. There was no point, just more plastic on the shelf. 

Jay's picture

That's true Mikey.  I just expected more from a project associated so publicly with Stan Ricker, but I suppose the man can only work with what he's given.

DigitalIsDead's picture

Honestly, is any one really surprised but these developments?  We don't live in an age where the majority of listeners care about sound quality ... Seriously, do you think that someone listening to Zep on Dre Beats cares what the source was?  Zep is a cash cow much like Pink Floyd, The Stones, etc.  The powers that be behind these bands, including their members, seldom show much deference to the quality.  I consider myself lucky owning a full set of Classics, some Japanese pressings, and a few others...  Once the reviews are out I will dip my toe into the water if favorable.  You can bet had they made the decision to go full Analog we'd already have heard instead of the current path.

AnalogJ's picture

I remember when the Classics first were released, the response was kind of meh. They aren't honoring the original sound. The UK Plums, though they weren't from the original matters, were rage best because the mastering engineer got it right. Etc.




I remember thinking how different the Classics were, sounding so dynamic, but also in your face as though you were only several feet away from the band. Very different from my UK originals.

Michael Fremer's picture

Of course the "original" Led Zeps were the American records since the band was signed to Atlantic, an American label. No doubt the plating and pressing greatly affect the final sound. Doug Sax cut the original American and UK pressings of Peter Townshend and Ronnie Lane's Rough Mix (highly recommended) but the UK version is far superior sounding. Same with Lee Hulko Sterling Island cuts (issued in the U.S. by A&M).

George Piros, one of the great mastering engineers (though better known for classical releases on Mercury than for rock cuts) cut many Led Zep originals but of course the "one that got away" is Led Zep II cut by Bob Ludwig. Ahmet Ertegun brought home a copy for his daughter, it skipped on her turntable so he had it recut to be less dynamic and less fleshed out in the bass.

If you've ever heard an "RL" Led Zep II compared to the re-cut you know why they go now for around $400.

nova_scotia_vinyl's picture

How is Zep II "the one that got away" for Piros?  He cut it in the mid 70's and that version is considered by many to be a close second to the RL.

steve3049's picture

2. Were the vinyl versions cut from the analog tapes or your hires masters?

2. Have to check with Warners re their campaign cant get them upset

I'm glad I found this post. I had bought a number of the recent Beatles pressings before researching. After comparing a couple of them with my old vinyl I chose to not even open the rest of them. Most are still sealed. Think I'll wait on this Zeppelin release. What a shame to pass such an awesome analog opportunity.

Michael Fremer's picture

I thought the Beatles reissues were particularly disappointing. However The Rolling Stones Decca reissues cut DMM from well-done DSD transfers hold up really well and the new Tommy cut by Kevin Gray from 96k/24 bit files sounds great. In that case they had to use digital because Pete Townshend ordered a remix from the multitrack and it was done to digital but the remix is for the most part true to the original.

Bigrasshopper's picture

It will be interesting to see when or if and how this suggestion of a digital source is verified.  If it just remains a lingering suspicion and cannot be verified by the label or engineer, and is found to "sound digital" then I suppose the add copy will remain and the credibility of "anolog tapes" will continue to be diminished.  Many believe that it's already used dishonestly, or "unknowingly".  If it is verified will the dealers feel at all compelled to remove a false sales incentive once it's there?  If not, then their credibility wanes, while Micheal's sources become increasingly necessary.  Sorry to bash one of your sponsors and one of my favorite dealer/labels, but whoever writes that drivel that pretty much says the vinyl has already ready been heard (by who) and beats anything out there, must think were idiots.

 This is the price anolog lovers pay, or not, for the "vinyl renaissance".  For a late coming true believer it's tempting to spend $1,200 just prove my principles.  But that would only be hundred or more that I'd be denying a dishonest label.  Those Classics that I've been putting off we're pressed where?  Not the noisy, warped plant  I hope.  Oh, there they go!

Michael Fremer's picture

Yes, in the early days of the analog revival it was a boutique business. Labels were willing to lend tapes to the small reissue labels like Classic and Analogue Productions, but then when they saw there was money to be made some started doing it themselves with disastrous results: I'm thinking of the early Universal "Back to Black" series mastered by who knows who from what source and pressed who knows where.

Back in the 1990s though, MCA issued a 180g series in which I was involved that included Buddy Holly and Who's Next all cut by Kevin Gray when he was at Artisan. You can still find those around. They are a bit pushed in the trebles but still good.

Unfortunately some of the vinyl vendors exercise zero self-control in their advertising copy and so lose valuable crediblity just to sell a damn record. I have repeatedly begged them to excercise greater discretion and simply not stock or sell some of the stinkers but you know what they tell me? They tell me buyers are happy even with the stinkers.

Oh well. That's the "vinyl revival" for you! Hopefully the Classics you can get now were pressed at RTI but you pay a stiff price for them.... 

Bigrasshopper's picture

Hmm, it's more of a mixed bag now, I guess.  It's kind of amazing that Classic and MoFi and DCC and others were able to do what they did so consistently.  MoFi somehow is still able to, to a large extent.  Still, with these big bands, those days are gone.

 I just have wonder what goes on in the atmosphere of these majors.  So there willing to go to the trouble of pulling out the tapes, I suppose making new transfers to digital inorder to archive and to responde to the new sales numbers.  There pressing at Pallas.  But why the reluctance to take it all the way ? Surely they know that there are a fair number of "us" out here.  They must know that we are are willing to cover any additional costs for what we want.  I mean the new sales numbers aren't huge, it's still relatively small.  The audiophile market begins to look bigger now that you can compare it to the larger new vinyl market that has spread from the smaller core, right?  And they are responding to the new market.  And if they don't mislead people, will respond in kind.  So at this point the obstacles for a major to attempt  produce  audiophile product is what, mostly mental.  In fact there are some big indicators that they are starting to get it. Look at the dawning of hires digital.  That's huge progress. In this analog case just missing the middle piece.  Mostly just a shifting of gears.  An idea of moving towards purity.  And no, it's not a paranoid "purity of essence" communist plot.- " strictly distilled water and grain alcohol" thing.  There is a real reason why people shop at say, whole foods and buy Fiji water, or just their cheaper name brand.  Or have a walk in nature.  It springs from the same desire.  It's simplicity.

OK so they don't want to give Zeppelin to MoFi  again, but you know MoFi could sell 10,000 Zeppelin AAA's at fifty bucks a pop, well at 34.99 anyway in greater numbers.  So why not tap the audiophiles as well,  at a higher price.  Print two versions, because there really are two market groups within the vinyl domain.  Would we complain even if we were charged for their trouble?  Not if they made an honest attempt.  Get the house inorder and keep it in house if it'll improve your numbers.  But let's continue to educate the newcomers as well as push for an acknowledgement of the value of a pure aesthetic within the culture of the  label. Let's push it as far as we can.  This is what we love.  

It's what I love.  I just put my money were my mouth is.  Am I feeling stiffed? No, actually I feel more relaxed because I did what I wanted to, my obstacle to acting sooner was more mental, and I'm greatful for being fortunate enough to get them, I was assured that they were early and pressed at RTI.   But the trigger was really the anger at being mislead, baited and switched.  Don't put fluoride in my water and tell me it's good for me, damn it.

By the way Acoustic Sounds has removed the From Anolog Masters header.

Jay's picture

I noticed that from the acoustic sounds site alright, Chad and his people have a commendably low tolerance for BS in my experience.

Bigrasshopper's picture

Ok, so mabey the majors will never be able to reproduce the level of quality that specialty mastering guys have developed over the years, modified equipment and sheer experience.  But if Blue Note catalog can support three versions, well four if you count Music Matters 45's and APO's, MM 33's and now Was's budget 33's then Led Zep can surely support both an audiophile edition and a Mass Market product?

Jay's picture

Sorry about the pun, but Warner's re-issue track record has been pretty good in this respect lately.  The analogue cut Tom Waits LP's and the 45rpm Rumours are a fine example, even to some specialist labels of how re-issues of classic LP's SHOULD be done.  What looks like a retreat into digitally sourced mediocrity for Led Zeppelin of all people is perplexing to put it mildly.

PeterPani's picture

it is very easy to find out whether a pressing is AAA (including the cutting) or not. Allways, when there is any hint of a doubt something in the chain was done digitally. If they can promote an analog chain without any doubt the companies will allways shout it at us. That tells us, at least they know it when they have done something truly right. Means also, their hide-and-seek game with non-AAA records is absolutely disgusting!

Martin's picture

If these were all analog pressings, I'd probably jump for them, a full set. To see what Jimmy Page et al do and how they sound.

But digital, Nope. I will not be getting these. Certainly not at 96/24, which I assume these will be. 

If you have original Atlantics, or the Classic Records reissues of a few years back, it's just extra plastic on a shelf. Like the recent Beatles reissues which I also didn't get. Again, would have bought if they had been AAA. 

The Classic Records Led Zeppelin reissues are the ones that sound best to me. Except for Led Zeppelin II. Nobody seems to be able to beat Bob Ludwig at the peak of his game. 

The Rolling Stones 64-69 box set does sound very good indeed. But again, first, that was Bob Ludwig transferring to DSD, adding his magic. Then DSD has a nicer, smoother sound than 96/24 - in my opinion. Even if the finished product on vinyl was 176/24 PCM or whatever. Anyway, the box set sounds great. Very enjoyable. Until you put one of the box set LPs on, then right afterwards put on an original Decca. The Decca tops the reissue in virtually every case. Ok, Beggars Banquet sounds nicer at the correct speed, but you can use Feickerts iPhone app to get the Decca up to speed. 

Anyway, Led Zeppelin reissues, great! Digital at 96/24? Nope. 

Michael Fremer's picture

Actually the DSD transfers were not done by Bob Ludwig. They were done at The Magic Shop by Steve Rosenthal and then Bob got the files for the final "magic". So you had "magic" twice!

You can read more about this here:

That was for the first LP go round. The more recent box set used a new software set for the conversion back to PCM (the records are cut PCM not DSD) and the sound greatly improved.

However, I thought the box set's first few LPs sounded better than my original Decca UK versions...

Martin's picture

Yup, I remember reading that about the transfer then Bob Ludwig working to get the original sound. 

I agree with you too, the new box set sounded better than the original first DSD LP go round. From what I understand they were transferred from DSD to 176/24 PCM. Whatever, they sound great. 

I actually prefer the original Deccas. That said...  The original "unboxed" Decca of Rolling Stones 1 is squished, rolled off on top and a bit, um, "crunchy" to me. It's primitive stuff. Dynamically I agree, the box set beats that one.
The one to get is the "boxed" Decca reissue from the early '80s. That one gets the best out of the tapes, beating all else, including the MoFi. 

For Rolling Stones No. 2, the original Decca is much better, there for me it was no contest. Best of the UK Deccas is the '80s reissue.
The one to get here though is a 1978 French Decca reissue where the guy in charge was a former Decca exec who got access to the tapes. Apparently in the Paris storage facility. He got the Chess tracks in real stereo. He did flat transfers. No squishing. The Chess tracks, sonically, are like Muddy Waters "Folk Singer" with the reverb turned down a few notches. The sound on these is fantastic. "I can't be satisfied" blows you away. 

Michael Fremer's picture

Great information. Analogplanet has the best readers! A Stones fan sent me a CD bootleg called "Stereophonic Stones" with all the Chess stuff in stereo. Sounds good. I always wondered and still wonder why those mixes never made it to the original "stereo" LPs. Do you know?

Martin's picture

This is what happened, from what I understand.

All the Stones stuff recorded at Chess in 1964 was done in real stereo. There were no dedicated mono mixes. Really. Said stereo Chess tapes went to London, to Decca, who for Rolling Stones No. 2 folded them down to mono. Nice mono, but mono. They had to do if for consistency, everything else they'd done to date was all mono, no stereo mixes, so the records were mono. It's also why the bass pops on the Chess tracks on those Deccas, they're folddowns. You play the Frenchie 1978 LP then a UK Decca, you hear that bumped bass on the Decca. Plus a dose of the compressor. 

For the US releases, as I understand it, UK Decca sent US London copies of the folddown tapes. So we're already second generation here. For US stereo releases, London took the mono tapes they had been sent, either not knowing real stereos were in existence, or maybe they couldn't get the stereo tapes, maybe they just couldn't be bothered, whatever and reprocessed them for stereo. So they achieved the difficult, though not impossible job of turning sonically stellar sounding tapes into utter crap. Having heard the original stereo mixes and the London "reprocessed" for stereo, it has you gaping in disbelief. I occasionally play them back to back for guests as a joke. 

For later stereo UK releases that were reprocessed stereo, I don't know. Maybe they forgot they had stereo tapes, maybe they were "unavailable", maybe they were marked "do not use". 

Michael Fremer's picture


Jay's picture

You'd think that after the travesty of the initial run of Tom Waits albums and the way that re-issuing the set, cut directly from analogue master tapes turned a total mess into one of the finest reissue series from a mainstream label, that Warner would have learned a valuable lesson.

Michael Fremer's picture

Wouldn't you? I would too.

soundman45's picture

At least lets hope the jump to 24 bit is enough to carry these remasters, digitally sourced or not. Truth is that converters have come a long way since the catalog was last remastered in 1990.

Michael Fremer's picture

I will post a review of Tommy cut from 96/24 files by Kevin Gray and that one sounds great...

bkerven's picture

Genius, I was just going to ask for this. Been seriously considering, but am hesitant to purchase yet another copy.

recordhead's picture


Michael Fremer's picture

I just hate that a guy with Jimmy Page's means and love for music uses one when he can afford something far better! That's all.

atomlow's picture

You might even be more sad because it looks like his turntable is a Technics SL-B3. I did look this up because I wondered when I watched the movie what kind of turntable he had, you got me on the right track. His record room makes up for his turntable if you ask me. He's a music lover not an audiophile which is a big difference. You can be both of course, but I'd rather have taste first, then good sound. smiley

tresaino's picture

I just canceled my pre-order with amazon, am fed up with vinyl transfered this way. In 2014 it should become mandatory to label all vinyl issues or reissues for what they are. AAA should become a new standard.

kenkirk's picture

Well, its not really a Zep lp unless seeds roll out of the gate fold when

I guess they can't get that into the production line...

But really, it seems the best music always gets the worst reissue... Beatles etc. But then we did get some great Doors and CCR stuff. I guess as long as they keep the compressor out of the loop it will be a fun listen for someone without a clean AAA.



Michael Fremer's picture

Yes, well that was Analogue Productions and Chad Kassem's tenacity. 

kenkirk's picture

The stuff Chad has reissued has always been great to my ears. If only he could do the Beatles catalog. Or the Zeplin catalog. Its a shame the MFSL Beatles I have that was sourced from analog masters is EQed in a bad way to my ears. It has that great JVC vinyl, but the top and bottom are not right. I am beginning to doubt the analog masters of the Beatles will ever be used to directly cut vinyl again. Only the digital masters... And I will never forget the sound of Revolver that I heard recorded from your tt rig. Those masters must be incredible. 



labjr's picture

I wonder if they possiblly did the original transfer at 24-192 then cut the vinyl masters from the 192 and downsampled to 96 for the downloads, thus giving the vinyl buyer better quality sound? Kinda doubt it but you never know.  

Michael Fremer's picture

But once you get to 96/24 it's very good.... 

Musicophile's picture

Will the high-def files be available without having to buy the Deluxe Box Set? If they are, and the LPs are from a digital source, why bother with them? - Note that I would have also prefer an all AAA pressing.

Lazer's picture

Led Zeppelin is my favorite rock band of all time. To me, nobody comes close. But I think it's sad(?) that Jimmy Page doesn't do something new.  Prior to Zeppelin and during Zepprlin he was all about creative innovation.  Now, he seems to be reliving the 13 years or so Zeppelin was a band.  Robert  Plant has moved on, Page seems stuck in the past. 

Paul Boudreau's picture

...that none of this is confusing in any way!

mdm08033's picture

I'm not buying.  For the mony being chargerd vinyl buyers lovers deserve the best AAA mastering and pressing possible.  For digital lovers how can 192/24 Blu-ray audio and download files not be available?

Chriswilford1's picture

Just canceled my order. I'll wait to hear how they turn out before pulling the trigger. No need to rush in now that the source is seriously in question.

TheBottomline's picture

I'll wait for all analog issues from Quality Record Pressings. Just like the Doors box. I was suckered with the first vinyl box, then I repurchased them from QRP. These companies have made such a profit on all re-re-re issues, after every first release of all classic record albums. For what generation are they saving the original masters?

The Beatles (surviving) members and especially Stevie Wonder are holding the masters. Stevie couldn't be at the studios for MOFI and Audio Fidelity??? Who is he saving the masters for?? When he passes on from this Earth.For whom? I'm a baby boomer and  a large majority  alive at this time will never appreciate the music, as much as the people born in the  sixties and seventies.

First, young kids had their Walkman (tape) and then the great Apple IPod (digital) with mp3 inferior compressed sound. Then we Baby Boomers had to hear brick walled (Metallica: Death Magnetic)  masters. Why, so some people who don't live in their cars could hear it above the noise. I won't  keep giving away my hard earned money.

Movies for the people born in the 1930' and later want their memories on DVD/Blu- ray before the films rot forever. Why save the originals tapes/films for this and later generations, that won't care who Cary Grant or Bette Davis are???  It's all ready happening, (been happening, actually). 

I know I digressed. Original music masters and Movie masters are in the same bind right now. 

I'm headed to Amazon and  Elusive to cancel. Thanks for the honesty, Michael Fremer.

Michael Fremer's picture

That set was as good a test of digital transfers to vinyl as could be produced. You had the original engineer Bruce Botnick and label founder the legendary Jac Holzman supervising the transfers and the vinyl box set.

It sounded very good but like the best CD you ever heard and in no way comparable not just sonically but "experientially" to listening to an original pressing.

Once we got to hear the tapes again, cut at 45rpm we were back in Doors business. Those tapes have "been through the mill" and have lost some sparkle compared to a clean original but "experientally" it's 100%.

Steve Edwards's picture

Looking forward Michael to your cover / assessment of these reissues; AND, when you get the time, the same with the new Fleetwood Mac 1969 - 1972 box set.  I have heard rumblings of a digital source on that project as well.

Matt Ruben's picture

Mothership's mastering is terrible - compressed and brickwalled, and also from the 1990 digital transfers, which among other things were done in 16/44.1, not high-res. Stan Ricker's vinyl master for Mothership is better than the CD, but it's based on a poor source.

The new reissues are based on new digital transfers done at 24/192. So (for what it's worth), while the high-res digital downloads are offered at 24/96, the LPs can be cut from 24/192 masters.

The new reissues also are quite good - I love how folks say that "people whose opinions they trust" say they don't sound good. Listen for yourselves, for cryin' out loud!

That said, the digital versions have annoyed some because of their high-end prominence. But a better, more gentle-sounding high end is one of the things vinyl often delivers, so I would recommend against folks dismissing these LP issues before they've heard them. I've heard snippets from a couple of them, and they're very good indeed IMHO.

Finally, when is this "Mastered for iTunes is just for idiots listening on Beats headphones through iPods" BS going to stop? Mastered for iTunes is just a seet of lossy compression tools that help minimize, as much as possible, the degradation from the original lossless source. The underlying mastering is what's really important. The fact that the new Zep masters appeared first in lossy form on iTunes is perhaps unusual - but it doesn't tell us anything about the mastering itself.

labjr's picture

Has it been confirmed that the tranfers were done at 192? If so there's a good possibility the masters were cut at 192. Unless, like with the Beatles, they did all the editing after downsampling.

To me, 192 seems to cross a threshold, has a realism that's not quite there with 96. If it's the case, then there may be hope for sound quality of the vinyl. However, as a collector and purist, I don't see the point in tying up my money in deluxe editions for $140, when they're making a minimum of 30,000 of each.





Michael Fremer's picture

For confirmation from a "prime source" of how these were produced....

Martin's picture

To stir up some controversy :-)

Over 40 years after the fact. Who would have thought they would be reissued on LP record 40 years down the line. Who would have thought anyone would care. 

Who would have thought the reissue 40 years down the track would sound worse than the originals. Not that we've heard them, but that is the way it's looking. Was certainly the case with the Beatles. 

Michael Fremer's picture


labjr's picture

Price of the Classic Records Led Zep went up $75 this week at Acoustic Sounds.I wonder why?

hi-fivinyljunkie's picture

Just to put another perspective on this. Warner may think they are on a roll with digitally sourced vinyl after the mid period Fleetwood Mac releases and Eagles box. These actually sound pretty close to or even better than original AAA pressings. As a result one can't write off these new Zep reissues. Also may be worth buying in the deluxe format for the additional live and studio tracks. It's disappointing though as Warner have release a bunch of excellent AAA vinyl reissues from lesser artists (in terns of sales). I think this is for convenience with the simultaneous release of vinyl CD and deluxe/ super deluxe sets. I think Classic Records are still going to be my go to copies though.

Michael Fremer's picture

I agree it's a "wait and hear" thing.....

atomlow's picture

I was pretty excited about the news they were going to reissue these records, then I read they might be doing the reissue a little half-assed. I went back and tried to listen to my who knows what pressing of Zeppelin II and III and thought they sounded really bad. I pulled out my 2nd copy of Zeppelin I Classic records and gave it a spin. I said 2nd copy because my first copy I dropped on the turntable and side 2 has a devastating scratch! This happened a few years ago and I was shocked how much these jumped in price. It was one of the first records I ever bought from Acoustic Sounds and it was 29.99 I believe. I thought that was really expensive but I should have bought the whole set! Anyway I listened to my second copy and it sounds so amazing that it breaks my heart to see the pressings going for $299.00. Come on Jimmy I hope you deliver on these reissues, I don't care what the source is if it even touches the tip of the Classic Records pressings I'll be extremely happy.

Heartbreaker your time has come I can't take your evil ways.

atomlow's picture

Question for those who have heard the other Classic Zep reissues... Where does Zeppelin I fall in sound quality compared to the rest of the Zep Classic reissues?

andyo5's picture

I have owned two copies of Led Zeppelin, one Led Zeppelin II, and Presence. I also bought a few of the Jimmy Page remastered CDs. To me, they all sound like crap. Distant sound, like I am listening from out in the street. Can barely hear the drums. Totally Snoozeville. I just don't understand how the band's popularity managed to survive the poor quality of their studio releases. I never realized how good they actually were until I bought the 'The Song Remains the Same' on DVD.

my new username's picture

I continue to be astouneded that the label doesn't want the buying public to know the full story of the sources used, the methodology employed nor the reasoning behind any of it. The level of paranoia and control is curious at best and insanely shortsighted at worst.

But I'll say this much: Nothing beats the Internet for information-sharing, and it's not as if the sound quality won't ultimately be discussed, regardless.

MMaterial's picture

When Accoustic Sounds bought Classic Records, would they have retained the lacquers and/or stampers used to make the 45 RPM Led Zeppelin vinyl? 

Also, would they have to obtain the rights to make new pressings?

MMaterial's picture

When Accoustic Sounds bought Classic Records, would they have retained the lacquers and/or stampers used to make the 45 RPM Led Zeppelin vinyl? 

Also, would they have to obtain the rights to make new pressings?

cement_head's picture

Well, I have also changed my mind on AAD.  The recent PF, Beatles (Abbey Road) and especially The Who's Quadrophenia have convinced me that if it's done correctly, the AAD process can produce a vinyl record that is spectacular sounding.  I've also bought the Tori Amos Under the Pink (MOV) reissue and it's pretty amazing (no doubt it's probably a DDD affair).

I've pre-ordered all three LZ releases (deluxe vinyl) and I'm sure that they will be pretty damm good.  If I'd known about the Classics and I'd not been a poor student, I'd have bought those.  But in any case, here's fingers crossed!

David Andrews's picture

I understand that we're talking digital vs. analog mastering to vinyl here, but let me say that every single Beatles remaster to CD has been disappointing (or worse) compared to the best-pressed Parlophone, Capitol, and Apple mono or stereo LPs.  No 1960s Stones CD remaster has cut the best Decca or London vintage LPs.  If it's so hard to get two guitars, bass, and drums in four-track right on CD - what hope is there for any digitally mastered Zeppelin on vinyl?  I wouldn't trust it with one guitar.

Corporations fret about illegal CD downloading, when - psychologically - they created that anti-market themselves.  Get people used to compressed crap sound, and they'll take it for free instead of paying you for better.

Back to our regularly scheduled topic....

bodo61's picture

Not about quality of sound but for anyone interested in these re-issues:

atomlow's picture

Thanks for the link, I have high hopes that this will be done right. If it's not done right I still have high hopes that it will sound better than the copies I own.

detroitvinylrob's picture

Well, I'll hold out with a variety of pressings at hand until, either I'm in the dirt with Bonzo (RIP), etc OR Chad and his fine crew gets a shot at doing this catalog AAA and truly "Deluxe". (realizing, AAD could be fine) The industry has gotten enough of my hard earned money for doing half-baked attempts at what is rapidly becoming (because of sites like Analog Planet) common knowledge of what it takes to do it "right". I don't believe there is any misunderstanding here, I would be overjoyed to eat crow pie here but....

Hmmm, In 1972 I saw the Zep live for $6.50, boy, that kind of value is long gone.

Truly look forward to your review of these pressings Mikey (valuable as always) but, I'm just incapable of holding my breathe for the lukewarm, mixed results that I think we can reasonably anticipate...

And those younger and often far less knowing, criticize us for being curmudgeons... Geez!

Happy (regardless) Listening!

JJefferson's picture

The vinyls are remastered from 24 bits 192khz digital masters, This should end the speculation. hopefully they did a good job in transferring.
quote from the band's official website: Technical note: The new remasters were created from 192 kHz/24 bit digital transfers of the original analogue tapes. The catalogue is being remastered now to take advantage of the significant advances in mastering technology that have occurred since 1991.

detroitvinylrob's picture

"...Page didn't play any of the album cuts, but assured the crowd that they were each treated with tender loving care and mixed to suit the particular listening needs of all of today’s music-loving fans."


Hmmm, I wonder what that is supposed to mean. My particular needs are for a RL RL Sterling Led Zep II. Anyone? Anyone?

casey2349's picture

after listening to the expanded lp's of zep 1 & 2 (3 not available yet), I must say that I'm stunned by the quality of sound. Bass is tight and slammin. Robert's voice soars, as do the riffs. Much better than I anticipated! I can't wait to hear (read) the comparisons to classic and rl pressings. If this is what 96/124 sounds like on vinyl, then play on!! C'mon Michaell, where's the official review?

Chriswilford1's picture

Looking forward to Mike's take as well as some others around here. Really would be thrilled if these end up sounding good.

Neilson77's picture

Any idea when you'll be reviewing these new reissues Michael?

Grant's picture

"what would you rather have: AAA vinyl and not "deluxe" packaging or AAD vinyl and "deluxe" packaging?"

I would have thought a competent writer would know there is no such thing as AAD on vinyl. The LZ reissues on vinyl are ADA.

As for personal preference, I would prefer best result over best philosophy any day; I am pragmatic and not prejudiced in these matters. Your decision to damn the process without having heard the result is the very definition of prejudice, yes, no?

Oksana's picture

Were all the Classic re-issues pressed at the same plant? A comment made in one of the posts made me wonder. How can I tell which plant the Classics I have were pressed?
I've got thousands invested in my gear but I don't think I've come close to the sound of LZ IV I heard on my uncle's stereo in 1974. Stanton EEE cartidge, Thorens turntable, rectilinear speakers and I don't remember the amplification. What a glorious sound!

jpvisual's picture

Hey Michael,

Correct me if I'm wrong, but weren't the George Marino/Sterling sound EPIC 2003 AC/DC reissues done the same way? Why are those better?

I can't find much information on the AC/DC stuff other than it was remastered at SS by George Marino.

Any info would be great. Thanks.