Customer Review

83 of 87 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars 5 stars for a great album; one star for a POOR re-master., April 18, 2005
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This review is from: Sports [Expanded Edition] (Audio CD)
This is one of my all-time favorite albums; it certainly brings back lots of memories of 1984, though I did not actually own a copy until 2003. It is the hit singles that I remember hearing on the radio throughout 1984.

My favorite track would have to be "The Heart of Rock and Roll," followed closely by "I Want a New Drug" and "If This is It," which, coincidentally, were the three biggest singles.

However, this "re-mastered" edition, which was released in 1999, is very, very poor. I purchased this edition in the summer of 2003, at which time I was taking an internship in audio engineering. This "24-bit re-master" is an engineer's worst nightmare. The engineer who re-mastered this disc has taken some pretty tasteless liberties with the bass and treble.

On most of the tracks, there is too much low end bass, which makes them sound muddy and overbearing. There is also a lack of treble (high-end), making this an extremely poorly-balanced re-master. The best example of this is track #4, "I Want a New Drug." The bass drum pounds and pounds away, ready to break my car stereo speakers at any given moment. The high-end is not as airy or clear as it sounds on the old CD edition. And the following track, "Walking On a Thin Line," opens with a synthesizer bass line that is excessively overbearing.

At first, I thought that this was intentional, but after downloading mp3s of each track, presumably ripped from the original CD release, I can safely say that this release was severely botched up. The mp3s, particularly "I Want a New Drug," sound much more balanced out and tighter.

Again, a great album, but a very poor re-master. To think that this edition was intended to replace the original CD release is unthinkable.

Also, Chrysalis/Capitol Records missed an opportunity to include the extended 12" remix of "I Want a New Drug," as well as the very rare 12" remix of the first single, "Heart and Soul." I would have listened to those more than once, which is more than I can say for the existing bonus tracks, which consist of alternate session takes for "The Heart of Rock and Roll" and "Walking on a Thin Line," respectively, as well as live, concert versions of "If This is It," "Heart and Soul," and "I Want a New Drug."

UPDATE: I managed to locate a copy of the original CD edition, which sounds a heck of a lot tighter, crisper, and better balanced than this atrocity of a re-master.
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Comments

Tracked by 2 customers

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Showing 1-6 of 6 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Feb 5, 2011 11:34:44 AM PST
Justin Rice says:
Amazon has posted this review to all versions of this album including the "gold CD" issued in 1990 and even the original recording on vinyl from 1983. I certainly consider this a helpful review of the 1999 CD release (although I haven't heard that release yet), but be careful which edition you are considering before weighing this review too heavily.

In reply to an earlier post on May 2, 2011 9:23:33 PM PDT
A customer says:
Oops, I forgot that Amazon groups together the reviews of all editions. To be clear, it is the 1999 re-master that I reviewed, which sounds awful. The original CD sounds marvelous. Grab that one, or the vinyl, if you can.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 21, 2011 5:59:22 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 21, 2011 6:08:01 PM PST
I totally agree with this review, as it pertains to the 1999 remaster. I had the original CD and loved it, but lost it. I bought this remaster and couldn't believe how bad it sounded. I finally got hold of the MFSL gold CD, and boy, what a difference. Your take on it is exactly right: it's clear that the engineers here pumped up the bass and cut way back on the high frequencies, which makes the whole album sound bloated and muddy. Why in the world they did that, I have no idea. I know "good" sound is often a subjective concept, but this release strikes me as objectively awful. The MFSL engineers kept the original master tapes sounding the way they should, which matches your description of the original CD: crisper, tighter and better balanced, which is what I remember from the original CD. It's unfortunate that this remaster is the only version readily available now. It's well worth searching out either the original Chrysalis CD or the MFSL CD.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 6, 2012 8:29:09 PM PDT
A customer says:
Giacomo, I am glad that I was not the only one who felt this way. Originally, I thought that the intention of the re-master was to make it sound punchier and more "up-to-date," but after hearing the original CD in comparison, I immediately felt the way you did: that the re-master was objectively awful, not just subjectively. It simply sounds inferior, and amateurishly so. The difference was literally night and day. I was appalled at how the record label passed this for release.

I have not had the pleasure of owning the Mobile Fidelity Sound Labs Gold Edition, but I do believe you unequivocally. Any re-master that is not done by MFSL nowadays sounds totally inferior to the original edition. Not just in the area of excessive EQ, but also in excessive loudness (i.e. the "Loudness War"). It is truly heartbreaking that the music industry is making classic albums like this one sound so terrible!

Posted on May 1, 2013 10:31:22 PM PDT
dj says:
Welcome to the "loudness war," my friend. Google it. It's a serious problem, and the reason why I **NEVER** buy remasters. I only go for the original CD pressing, or splurge for the MFSL versions (if available).

Posted on May 14, 2013 9:14:51 AM PDT
Andrew Claps says:
Along with the "Rebel Yell" expanded edition that came out around the same time, I believe, this remaster is beyond awful. I'm far from a sound-quality snob, and don't think the so-called Loudness War is *quite* as pervasive and all-encompassing as some make it out to be, but when an album as great as "Sports" is treated with such disrespect and lack of care, it REALLY boils my hide. I bought the MFSL CD when it first came out, and I still praise god I had the foresight to do so. It so completely annihilates this 1999 piece of dung, it's not even funny. The original CD, as has been noted, is quite nice as well, but I'll still go with the Mo-Fi. It's a shame it often commands a small mint when found in great shape.
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