Customer Review

144 of 173 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A great collection by an awesome band is ruined by the Loudness Wars, October 15, 2010
This review is from: Telephantasm [Super Deluxe Edition] [2 CD/1 DVD/3 LP] (Audio CD)
I was really looking forward to getting this collection, 3 coloured vinyl records mastered by Bob Ludwig and a DVD with all the videos on it as well as lithographs, a 7" vinyl of Black Rain also coloured and 2 CD's. The package is very well done, doesn't feel cheap at all. Everything fits nicely together and the vinyl is in a separate side of the box set to the CD's, DVD's and booklets, as it should be. So...where does it go wrong? From the first notes of the first LP or CD you're in for a big disappointment. Another release gets ruined with overzealous dynamic range compression.

Now I wasn't too concerned about how the CD's were going to turn out, I got this first and foremost for the vinyl and secondly for the DVD of the videos. Due to low sales numbers and the methodology in which vinyl records are created, vinyl editions of recent albums have seen better mastering than their CD counterparts. Don't get all defensive and launch into a CD vs. vinyl debate, because this isn't about that. What I'm saying is, the vinyl releases of new albums from Alice in Chains, Dave Matthews Band and others have received less dynamic range compression and less tools that result in dimished dynamics of the master that is to be used to create the vinyl, resulting in a more dynamic performance, one closer to what the producer was hearing in the studio one would hope.

This isn't the case with Telephantasm, the vinyl is as poorly mastered as the CD is, perhaps even worse. The sibilance does not hold up well in Cornell's high notes and Cameron's cymbals and hi-hat, it sizzles into obscurity. There is little in the way of dynamics, everything sounds like your typical 2010 CD. This is very disappointing given that there are supposed to only be 5,000 copies of this. The loudness war sucks wholeheartedly, but with top bands usually only moving between 12,000~25,000 copies of their records per year the vinyl usually escapes as the idiots in A&R at the labels and those musicians who don't know any better usually don't care about the vinyl, it's not getting into enough people's hands, therefore the mastering engineer can master with dynamics intact like most of them want to.

I compared Outshined and Rusty Cage from SIDE THREE of the coloured vinyl with my 2003 German (EU) pressing of Badmotorfinger, man what a MASSIVE difference, the sonics and dynamics of the recording are wonderful on the 2003 edition, which can still be found on the Amazon Germany website, ASIN B000057UWZ.

If you want to order one of the two copies left, just follow through the buttons, you don't need to read German to navigate, it's all the same set-up as Amazon Canada or US. I highly recommend this pressing at 24 Euros, even though you'll have to pony up 14 Euros for shipping to North America it's still worth it to get the best sounding version of Badmotorfinger I've ever heard, although if you don't spin vinyl be content with the original CD, it's also very good.

I was hoping with Bob Ludwig's name attached that the CD's might be okay, but should have know the label and project team probably said "no, we need this to be loud like other bands albums are these days, or kids won't like it" - which is TOTAL BLOODY NONSENSE. You can see a comparison between the Badmotorfinger CD and the Telephantasm CD in a post I made at the Steve Hoffman forums by googling "Soundgarden outshined telephantasm vs badmotorfinger dynamic comparison" and click on the first link that says "New release sounds like crap" and check out post #20.

The 2010 tracks are clearly boosted, well outside the scope of CD's limits resulting in brickwalling and/or limiting to prevent a massive amount of clipping. Dynamics are suffering, what a shame. It's nowhere near as bad as Death Magnetic, but it's still poor.

I will say that the CD actually sounds better than the vinyl to my ears, or maybe it's just that the vinyl sounds so poor compared to the 2003 EU pressing of Badmotorfinger that I don't even remember how bad the CD sounds.

Now maybe there is one saving grace for this package...the DVD. Nope, it suffers too. The audio isn't as bad as the CD and vinyl from a dynamic perspective, but the bitrate afforded the DVD's audio track is poor. They've gone with 2.0 Dolby Digital only at a bitrate of a little over 200 Kbps. No effort was made to visit the studio and create a 5.1 mix, they didn't even add a 2.0 PCM uncompressed stereo mix which would have been much more palatable. I'd love it if they'd included a Blu-ray of all the videos, but really the source material is probably video in most cases and the Blu-ray would only allow for less compression...but a high resolution 24-bit audio track wouldn't have gone amiss. Anyway, that's neither here nor there, it's nice to see some of these videos and remember watching the Buzz Bin on MTV in 1991 seeing Outshined...but the lack of fidelity in choosing only a Dolby 2.0 mix takes away from it. Had they used the full 448 Kbps allowed on DVD for Dolby it would have been a much more enjoyable sonic experience.

Overall I can only give this collection 2 stars. It's well put together and definitely great for collectors, but the sonic misadventures that afflict the DVD, the 3LP's and the 2CD's are just not welcome in my house, I'm probably returning mine to Amazon.
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Tracked by 6 customers

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Showing 1-10 of 37 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Oct 19, 2010 12:27:42 PM PDT
zman1975 says:
hmm... I take it you're an audiophile? Just a little bit? LOL

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 19, 2010 12:32:38 PM PDT
Bricktop says:
Well I certainly wouldn't say no if they offered me a 24/96 5.1 high resolution surround mix of all the tracks here, lol.


But seriously, I just love music. I'd be happier listening to a well-mastered version of this on a $1,000 system than the squished CD's included here on a $100,000 system. It should always be about the music first, and this release has destroyed so much of the dynamics it just really sucks, because I was looking forward to it. Soundgarden are awesome, I saw them in 1994 and 1996 and would love to see them again.

I don't understand why a band as accomplished as Soundgarden who rock super hard would want to introduce dynamically challenged versions of their songs to a new generation especially after the backlash of the garbage that was Death Magnetic.

All I can do is say how I feel and if people think I'm dissing Soundgarden as a band they'll probably quickly vote this review down, whereas if they actually read what I'm saying and take the time to compare the original Badmotorfinger CD to the BMF tracks on Telephantasm they might realize that there is a lot of merit to what I'm trying to put across.

Thanks for commenting Will!

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 25, 2010 10:02:57 AM PDT
Paul E. Linn says:
Wheres Steven Wilson when you need him?

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 25, 2010 10:03:42 AM PDT
Bricktop says:
Amen Paul!

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 25, 2010 10:08:26 AM PDT
Paul E. Linn says:
Seriously...thanks for your review. I debate getting these types of throwback boxsets. Huge SG fan, fortunate enough to have seen em 9 or 10 times between 92 and 96. Glad theyre back, but with no new material the ONLy thing that would prompt me to get this would be the vinyl and now I know to save my money.

Luckily I have my Genesis Nick Davis boxsets and SW's PT catalog to keep me busy. Will be moving toward his reissues of some of the Crimson catalog. And will save the money I may have spent on the vinyl here for hopefully an SG show instead, should they decide to actually tour outside of some festivals....

We'll see....thanks again.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 25, 2010 10:13:12 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Nov 5, 2010 4:54:15 AM PDT
Bricktop says:
You're welcome, I would love some of the people who rated this "not helpful" to actually explain why it isn't!

I wish everyone was as enthusiastic about high resolution surround sound as PT/SW, Tom Petty, Trent Reznor and a few others. I hope Blu-ray as a fully supported medium by all major labels (ie - no-one is "against" it or supporting another format capable of what BD is capable of) may over the course of the next few years bring to light another sustainable outlet for artists and we'll start seeing some anti-loudness war releases complete with high rez stereo and surround mixes, and mono where applicable (Beatles 24/192?).

Thanks for your comments. :-)

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 4, 2010 8:03:56 PM PDT
Honestly, I consider myself an audiophile and have collected some of the crappiest demo/bootleg/home-recorded stuff ever imagined. I do not have a turntable in this day and age of technology and would have really only been interested in the DVD and unreleased CD stuff, but I am going to hold out for a more aware, enlightened and substantial release in the near future. I, for one, do not doubt your devotion to Soundgarden, but I do however recognize that "The Man" may have had a hand in this "release".

Posted on Nov 6, 2010 6:41:43 PM PDT
Thanks for the in depth review and sorry to hear the sound is so...well, so 21st century. I feel for you if you paid about $120 for your set. I was going to get just the 2-cd 1-dvd set for only 9.99 but now I'm not sure I even want to spend even that little amount on this package. I have all of SGs CDs and I guess I just keep them handy. I listen to music on my ipod often but I still like to blast on my home system so when they mess up the music to please the 21st century ipod listeners then I just shake my head. Music has been left behind and until they wake up I guess I will just get MP3s from itunes and just play my vinyl until they wake up. SO sad they have not figured out what they are doing. How can they look them selves in the mirror after destroying a great bands music. Not just to the 90s and later stuff but to the 60-80s music they pump up the volume to those also. So sad.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 7, 2010 7:33:25 AM PST
[Deleted by the author on Nov 7, 2010 7:36:53 AM PST]

Posted on Nov 7, 2010 8:14:14 AM PST
Bricktop says:
Hi Paul - maybe you can get it cheaper from Discogs?
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