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Limited 24kt Gold disc pressing of this collection from the Classic Rock band led by sisters Ann and Nancy Wilson. Focusing on the years 1975-83, this chronological collection features tracks culled from hit albums like Dreamboat Annie, Dog & Butterfly and Bebe Le Strange. Also includes a live cover of Led Zeppelin's 'Rock And Roll' and a 1998 studio track.
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Steve Hoffman is very highly regarded and I feel he lived up to his reputation by doing a great remastering job on this. Whether you prefer the shallower, harsher, more in your face sound of the compressed original is a matter of taste but there's no question that these discs sound quite different.
The day I received my copy I first opened it up and ripped it to my computer hard drive. I have a nice Klipsch speaker system connected to the PC and as the disc played it did sound very good. So my first impression was positive. I went back and read all the mixed reviews from "spectacular sound", the "best I've ever heard" to "uneven mastering" and "hoped for better sound". At that point I decided to do a bit more critical listening and a little A-B comparison with some other original Heart CD's that I own.
Here are my impressions: first off, this disc is Not mastered dramatically different from the older standard versions that I have. I've got a 20+ year old copy of Dreamboat Annie, and when checking the levels and sound differences they are slight at best. For those worried about compression, this disc has been conservatively remastered with loads of head-room, similar to the '96 Eric Clapton Polydor remasters. They are a lot like how a vinyl record should sound (without the surface noise and pops and clicks of course...). The only difference with all the other CD versions I have, both old and new, is that the bottom-end has been slightly increased and, at the same time and about the same amount, the High-end has been lowered. The only reason I could think of for this being done would be to avoid excessive analog tape hiss, but Heart's music has never been plagued with that (unlike some other artists). It's not a lot, but it is just enough to be noticeable. In A-B comparisons, the standard discs are brighter. There is more semblance in the vocals and the high-hat, symbols, and acoustic guitars sound much better.
(For the audiophiles out there only, my system is a Denon 100 watt receiver, Denon CD player, Klipsch Heresey's and a Klipsch Synergy 12" powered sub-woofer)
The bottom line is if this is the only Heart disc you owned you would probably be thoroughly satisfied with it. It is loaded with some of the band's best material. If, however, you are very picky about your stereo sound quality and were hoping this might be the "definitive bench mark" in top sound quality of Heart's music...you may well be disappointed.
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