In Defence of Inferior Sound Quality. By Daniel Schott.

Nothing feels as good as expertly placing a needle on a good piece of vinyl, hearing the carefully muted thud and the slight crackle as your childhood ebbed away.

I bet it was something hip.

‘Madchester EP’ by The Mondays or the ‘Dirty’ by Sonic Youth?

Maybe you were cool as fig rolls and had to get the drill out for ‘Drill Your Own Hole’ by ‘Gay Bykers On Acid’?

I wouldn’t know. I wasn’t part of that generation and won’t subscribe to that myth my peers seem to falsify about either.

My first purchase was ‘ESP’ by The Bee Gees on cassette. It was beyond awesome and I’ll tell you why.

You can say what you like about the eighties. We were happy in our marble wash denim, listening to Brother Beyond and wanting to be Nick Kamen.

But THE thing we liked the most, due to technological advancements was Treble.

The crispness of good quality treble that could dry your throat and crush your windpipe sums up my eighties completely.

‘ESP’ by the Bee Gees was THAT treble orientated as an album, you felt like you were having your teeth cleaned, or at least the original cassette did.

The Spotify mix sounds all well-balanced with proper bass parts coming through. Even when I mess with my equalisers.

Rubbish. This is how it sounded to me.

I remember hearing seminal classic ‘You Win Again’ recently through a supermarket tannoy style speaker and being the sentimental type, played the MP3 through my top end set up when I got home.

It sounded better through the tannoy. Where’s all this extra bass on the remastered mix coming from? It wasn’t there on my lowly ghetto blaster speakers?

I’m currently looking at different ways of converting my HD eighties tracks into cassette style quality mixes to retain authenticity to the time of recording. This would allow the track to be enjoyed in the same sound as the original was and how it was meant to be heard. Surprisingly these services are thin on the ground, so it looks like running favoured classics through Audacity in the short-term.

I present ‘Heartbeat City – The Cars’.
Good isn’t it? Yes, but it’s not how I remember it as a track. This is.

The poor intro, the general crunch of the instruments, the haunting feel of the top end distortion, giving it extra depth which, I feel, is missing with the sanitised sounding former.

Maybe its horses for courses. One idea is to re-collect my eighties cassettes and buy a tape deck to enjoy the album pre tinkering and maybe do the same with my nineties stuff and CD’s, embracing the technology around at the albums conception for true realism.

‘Somebody was trying to tell me that CDs are better than vinyl because they don’t have any surface noise and I said listen mate, Life has surface noise.’ John Peel 1939-2004

Daniel Schott.



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