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Customer Review

126 of 143 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars the sound quality is questiionable but better than zep on the 90's remasters, November 13, 2007
This review is from: Mothership (Audio CD)
A disclaimer for the 25 people who, before I rewrote this, had stated that it was helpful. They may not think the same of what they read here now.

I had originally written that "finally there is Zep on cd that sounds as musical as it deserves to sound! for anybody who has been dissatisfied by the digital representation of zep to the point that I have (the last remasterings sound so lousy to me that I can't enjoy them; so I've been listening to Zep on vinyl only) this collection will be a Godsend. For those who couldn't care less about sonics there is no reason to get this, as 'nothing is revealed'."
A 'hat in hand' update of this review posted after further listening on 11/30/2007:

Mothership sounded great to me at first but after reading other folks at Steve Hoffman forums all pointing to the 80's cds as being straight transfers from the analog, i had to check it out.

I realized i may have never heard the 80's version but because i never liked the 90's remasters (compared to my analog copies) i just assumed the 80's were worse - this also was based on prejudice from hating 80's cd's from many other catalogs (miles davis is a good example).
so this re-review stands as unrequired further proof that prejudice is bad and assuming makes a you-know-what out of you-know-who.

Yesterday I got an 80's copy of zep I and sat down with it and "mothership" - and after going back and forth again and again and again - I came to the same conclusion as those others had: the 80's cds sound better.

there are still digitally induced problems with the new versions though they remain vastly superior to the 90's masters to my ear.

So after my original proclamations of sonic bliss - I have to eat my hat (blech...).

I think a good mastering/manufacturing job now starting with the analog tapes as source (which mothership did not do) would surpass these 80's transfers easily due to so much ground being gained in 16 bit quality since then. a quick listen to the doors or creedence or 100 other bands' or orchestras' cds that have been remastered beautifully in the last 7 years or so will demonstrate the potential.

For now, in terms of these Led Zeppelin cds, if you can compare mothership to the 80's diament mastering.
Try this: turn up a diament cut til Plant's vocal is pretty loud. all will be well, I promise.
Now - swap it for mothership and turn up that same song til Plant is as loud as you just heard him on your 80's cd. I promise that your ears will hurt from the loudness/piercing quality of one instrument or another.

at low/careful volume the new masters reveal a lot of detail and appear to have great soundstage. this can be seductive, but there is an artificiality to some of the tonal shadings and the imaging if you compare directly to the vinyl or the diament 80's cds, along with the loudness and clipping problems.

this from a guy who was wowed by the new stuff until he:

1) listened to the classic vinyl again and 2) did the a/b thing with the diament.

ok. now I am done eating my hat (yuck...).

Still, if you have nothing to compare it to or have been living with the 90's remasters, mothership could rock your boat. I still enjoy it despite it's shortcomings, but not as much as the diament cds now that i've carefully visted them.

apologies to anyone led astray by my initial review.
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Showing 1-10 of 24 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Dec 7, 2007 9:44:34 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 7, 2007 9:55:14 AM PST
you're absolutely right!!!! I compared "Stairway", when played slightly louder, the 80's CD sounds more open and the drums seem to have crispier sound than on the Remasters and Mothership versions!

Posted on Dec 11, 2007 5:48:11 PM PST
Basically, the sound on the new CDs is compressed a bit more than before, which basically sucks. It may sound louder, but I'll take mine un-compressed, thanks.

Besides...have you heard any of the recent Led Zeppelin vinyl reissues from Classic Records? They are a bit pricey but they're 200 gram records, mastered from the original tapes with NO compression, and the sound blows any previous version you've ever heard out of the water. If you have a good analog front-end, your jaw will DROP, I guarantee it. If you think that the original vinyl pressings sound good (and they do), you won't believe the sound of these new versions. Worth every penny.

Posted on Dec 18, 2007 1:34:14 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 18, 2007 1:36:33 PM PST
ABQChris says:
Beware the folks in the Hoffman forums. Many of them rationalize their exorbitant expenditures on hard-to-find CDs (and studio-quality speakers they don't need, as they have no experience in the actual creation of music) by trying to talk others out of enjoying anything released past about 1990. You were initially so excited about the sound of the Mothership songs for a reason; I'd respectfully suggest not allowing your enjoyment of music to be continually negated by the nihilism of the so-called "audiophile" (a misnomer these days; "audiophobic" is closer to the mark). Leave that gullibility to impressionable people!

I'm certainly not championing over-compression, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that Mothership wasn't overdone in this sense. It sounds far better than the dead, flat-transferred original (Diament) CDs. Just another perspective to take into account. We should be careful not to overdo the watchdogging; anyone can convince himself that his ears are becoming "fatigued." Put your head right down near the speakers for ten minutes, and your ears will hurt -- no matter what kind of mastering was done.

Mothership is one of the better examples of how to expand the dynamic range to take advantage of the digital medium -- vs. the squashed dynamics of vinyl (which is all mid-range, no matter what speed it's transferred at, or how many grams it weighs). ;)

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 18, 2007 2:03:59 PM PST
J P Ryan says:
Too bad, for I bet "Mothership" portends what the next round of reissues of the studio albums will sound like. I'm happy I picked up the Classic label all analog reissues of LZ's catalog when they were issued on exquisite vinyl around 4 or 5 years back. (Too bad I now need a new turntable, and can't play them 'til I get them). They sound brilliant!

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 22, 2007 11:02:40 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 22, 2007 11:09:04 PM PST
Lathion says:
Chris, I have no idea what the vinyl versions sound like but the Mothership CD sounds like crap. It's flat, completely lacking in warmth and I cannot fathom how you can use it as an example of dynamic range since the original CDs had just as much. Please note that I'm not an audiophile (my stereo costs under $3k) but I have a good ear. Finally, the reason these people poo-poo modern recordings is because they have ZERO dynamic range. They fill the entire frequency spectrum with sound because when people listen to one or two songs, they tend to think that sounds the best. However, when you listen to several songs or a whole album, it hurts their ears. Of course, most people don't listen to whole albums anymore but that's another discussion.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 26, 2007 9:20:49 AM PST
ABQChris says:
Lacking in warmth? Perhaps we bought two different Motherships. Odd. The first thing I thought was, "Listen to the warmth of the bass and drums. This is the best they've ever sounded on CD." The lack of over-compressing means that the dynamic range was left intact. Ah, well; we all have different ears. (I agree; people don't listen to whole albums anymore. It's a shame.)

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 28, 2007 7:46:47 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 16, 2010 3:44:46 PM PST
J. Niss says:
my jaw did drop when i got a copy of classic records zep I some years ago when it was first released. even then (150 or 180 gram) it was astounding. I have the 200 gram set now and love them.

(can't get them to play without skipping in the car, so the cd's come into play).

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 25, 2008 10:22:00 PM PST
G. YEO says:
"The 80s CDs sound better" ? I had a copy of Physical Graffiti - the first CD release in the late 80s, and No way did it sound better than the 1990s remasters. The 1990s remasters were much better in my opinion. No disagreements about some analog masters which sound warmer, but the first batch of Zep CDs were not good. The 90s remasters worked for me - Mothership or not. Let's not mislead people here.

Posted on Jan 29, 2008 11:36:34 PM PST
I'm glad that at least SOME people are noticing this stuff. I recommend anyone who is interested in this topic to read a couple of articles, which touch on the backwards progression of modern recordings:


Posted on Mar 9, 2008 1:28:26 PM PDT
jcb02 says:
If you are the type of cat who puts every bar on the equalizer at maximum, or listens to most music on ipod, computer, or car stereo, "Mothership" will appeal to you, because everything is turned up LOUD so you can hear it on crap speakers or over the car engine. There is nothing wrong with that, per se, but for me, while shorts bursts of loudness are fun, after about five minutes I start to tune it out. If you love the loudness you aren't alone. Reading the rave reviews for the new mix on this album and other reissues, apparently everybody wants constant maximum aural stimulation. It only sucks for those old fogies like me who actually liked Bonham's drums providing the punch points or the quiet interludes like that on "The Ocean". Perhaps it's a good thing. Most people don't care about hi-fi anymore, anyway, and the majority should rule. I'm saving for a turntable. This wasn't an issue for me until Icky Thump made my ears bleed. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Gmex_4hreQ
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