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You Tell Me Which "The Man Who Sold The World" You Prefer !

Here are five "fair use" length 96/24 aif files of David Bowie's sublime "The Man Who Sold The World" (the song). The cover art is from the original German issues, that I do not have.

The five are: the original American Mercury pressing, the UK RCA early '70s reissue, the Japanese late '70's reissue, the Rykodisc digitally remastered and finally the new "Five Years" box set version, whose provenance remains unknown.

The files are not presented in that order, nor are they identified in any way. This is not a formal test so while I normalized peak levels, these are not all presented at identical levels. Please try to adjust levels for each when listening and don't spectrum analyze and spill the analog/digital beans okay? Just listen for yourself and pick your favorite, or maybe you think they all sound good (or not). Also please comment!

I'd pay particular attention to the güiro and to the flanging on Bowie's voice as well as to the air and space around the instruments. Unfortunately the tracks are limited to 45 seconds to avoid legal issues.

And yes you can say there's something oxymoronic about presenting digital files of what might be digitally sourced LPs, or you could say the entire exercise is moronic, which is fine with me.

Source: Caliburn TT, SAT arm, Lyra Atlas cartridge, Ypsilon MC-10 SUT/VPS-100 phono preamp, Lynx Hilo A/D converter.

(Note: when these files were first posted the file names accidentally gave away their identities. The names have been changed as have the order so "A" before is not "A" now!)

File "A"

File "B"

File "C"

File "D"

File "E"

You Tell Me Which "The Man Who Sold The World" You Prefer !

COMMENTS
Consoleman's picture

As another commenter advised I installed Quicktime and the files played without an issue. I do agree that putting them in the WAV format would have made things easier but am not going to pick nits.

thomoz's picture

Even with the same person and the same set of ears, if you handed him a pair of grado SR80s, a pair of audioquest nighthawks, a pair of Polk buckles, or earbuds, one pressing could sound better than the other because of the tonal presentation from the headphone/monitor.

I have not been able to download yet but will soon chime in (if anybody cares, ha!)

thomoz's picture

I don't prefer one over the other for B and E.

A "has" to be the Ryko, it's so forward sounding.
With EQ to tame the bass, or playing it at an insane volume,
I might like C but played back "flat" at a normal volume
it sounds quite murky!

fredbro44's picture

I liked A, open, good separation, airy, but D comes in second to me.

Rick Tomaszewicz's picture

Stay 407's are pretty revealing. There was plenty to reveal in A. The rest sounded like they were coming from another room.

Jim Tavegia's picture

I don't think that the quality of the masters make worrying about the quality of remastering or which format makes it better. Tone control it and move on, at least for me.

My last remaster of Billy Joel and The Stranger did it for me. I'm not buying this remastering thing, but I'm not that big a fan of MFS work anyway. The labels better start saving their old vinyl in a hurry if often what I from remasters is any indication of how badly some tapes are holding up.

Don't mean to be so negative about this remastering trend.

junker's picture

You are right about the remasters. 90%+ they suck heroically. In almost every case it is a ProTools DR snuff movie with treble push. And quite a few even have digital clipping. Just found this today, if fact, of the Velvet Underground Reloaded ("45th Anniversary") from HDHacks - it's present on every 24/96 and 24/192 track, but not on the Super Deluxe CD release.

junker's picture

When the dust settled I'd have go with E. It sounded dynamic, vibrant, with great textures, and it wasn't muffled, flatulent, and too shimmering as some of the others.

A is very interesting and I liked it a lot, but in the end... too much treble and not enough bass. I don't know these record issues well enough but I see this a lot with Land of the Setting Sun remasters. Or maybe it's a digital source...I dunno.

C Sucked the most, well none sucked per se but it was the most congested dynamically and sounded muted to me without as much life as the others.

The flatulent, rich, sloppy, shake you booty bass on B was what stood out to me.

D was good but in many regards but the bass was blubbery.

Did I pass?

kerkm1's picture

At first listen i prefered A, because of its detail , but the bass lacked all punch and i wouldn't like to listen to this forward sound a long time.
C has a thick heavy sound. not only on the bass but also on the strumming guitar.
D has a uuuh prominent bass, i like bass-guitar, but other instruments too.
E as fine as B

singhcr's picture

I prefer A overall. The instruments were the most distinct and powerful, and I could hear a lot of fine details. E was pretty close and had a tad more base and was "warmer" sounding so it was a tough call between the two. Ideally I'd like "A" with a tad more bass. I'm listening on my headphones with a 192/24 sound card. I wonder if my preferences would change if I listened on my main rig downstairs through my loudspeakers?

CHFels's picture

I didn't spend ages on this, but definitely B and E were most natural sounding to me, and I gave the nod to B. B and E seemed to have more pops/clicks, so I suspect they're older. A was an ear-bleeding experience for me, though certainly it conveyed detail. C was bloated and the highs too lacking in sparkle. D was better than C but too similar to compete with B or E.

rl1856's picture

I chose D as having the most detail and I found it easier to follow the bass line in D. A had greatest overall clarity and better HF extension, however it sounded a bit lean and lacked the LF weight of the others. I would be happy with either. I found fault with B-C-E. HP PC Win 7 and Foobar2000 ; original HRT streamer into a Musical Fidelity A3.2 int amp and NEAR 10M speakers. I did not touch the level and I made sure to keep my head in the same place for each sample.

Slipperman's picture

Michael - we're waiting for the revelations of which file is from which source!
I assume they're all vinyl?

Please post the sources!

Slipperman's picture

Oh, and it's B followed by A then E for me.
I think A is the Ryko.

Slipperman's picture

Nevermind - I see you posted the results in another thread.
I really appreciate your doing this Mike. What an awesome vinyl rig you must be using.
And no de-clicking software?! Incredible.

Could you please post results in the same thread as the original thread in the future?

Christian Goergen's picture

Comparing the first 5 seconds, file A delivers the best sound of the rythm guitar.

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