Author Topic: 10.16.2019 – UPDATED NOTES ON Z00R0PA 2018 REMASTER (WAV FILES) REVIEW  (Read 585 times)

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Offline zooguitar

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So it's been a little over a year since my original review of the digital download files (WAV) of the Zooropa 25th anniversary remaster. I've updated some of my equipment since then, and wanted to go back and see if that would impact any of my original opinions.

THEN:
  • DAC
    Dragonfly Black/Upsampling 24-bit @ 96 kHz

NOW:
  • DAC
    FiiO K3/Upsampling 32-bit @ 384 kHz

Generally speaking, upsampling at an even higher bit-rate and frequency, and perhaps with more distance for comparison to the original recording, revealed improvements to a few of the songs that I did not appreciate at the time of my original review.

That said...
  • The only remastered songs that, IMHO, sound improved are …Crashed Car, Some Days…, and Dirty Day.
  • Everything I wrote about side A (tracks 1-5) still holds up

One discovery I made in my research is the inconsistency between the mastering for U2 songs on soundtracks in comparison to the original recordings

  • 1995 CD single from of "Hold Me Thrill Me Kiss Me Kill Me" from the Batman Forever soundtrack
  • 1993 CD soundtrack for "Faraway, So Close"

The FSC soundtrack contains different versions of Stay and The Wanderer. Stay has an extended middle eight section, and the intro features a looped beat and different guitar line vs the sparse original. The Wanderer has an extra verse and chorus, but is otherwise the same as the album version. HMTMKMKM is a Zooropa outtake, and there's no indication that U2 ever actually went in and added anything new for the version they ultimately released.

However, when you rip these songs from CD, any sound utility will reveal that they are noticeably louder than the songs on the original Zooropa recording. The Wanderer is especially better sounding (Adam's baseline has distinctly more presence with the louder volume), and with some easy editing, you can easily match it to the original album arrangement.

The main point I'm trying to make is that for whatever reasons, these particular U2 songs were mastered at a louder volume for their soundtracks at the time, and are at least as loud as the 2018 remasters. The Wanderer from the FSC soundtrack, IMHO, sounds better than both the 2018 remaster of the original album version AND the original 1993 mix (sound quality-wise; i prefer the original album edit).

The volume level of HMTMKMKM from the CD single perfectly illustrates how good major-label mastering from that era still holds up (in this case, from a 1995 Warner Brothers soundtrack album).

In general, I guess what is disappointing to me—someone who prefers 90s-era U2—is that all of this seems on par with the band's efforts to dismiss that era in general. I loved their funky and dance-oriented pivot, including the improved bottom end sound of the rhythm section that came with it. The sterilization of Pop via the Best of remixes (anyone who prefers those versions to the originals either never got the 90s and/or prefers 00s-era U2), and the sparse appearance of songs from Zooropa and Pop in 21st century setlists, is a sad reflection of their most vital period. Back then, they relegated their Rattle and Hum songs to the light-hearted, acoustic portions of their set against the backdrop of their cutting edge new material. The reverse now seems to be true: U2 has been promoting R&H-era bombast for the last 20 years and barely hinting that they actually did become alternative in the 90s.
« Last Edit: November 11, 2019, 10:15:26 AM by zooguitar »



Offline laoghaire

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Re: 10.16.2019 – UPDATED NOTES ON Z00R0PA 2018 REMASTER (WAV FILES) REVIEW
« Reply #1 on: October 20, 2019, 08:42:16 PM »
Great post, thanks for that.

Offline ian ryan

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Re: 10.16.2019 – UPDATED NOTES ON Z00R0PA 2018 REMASTER (WAV FILES) REVIEW
« Reply #2 on: November 05, 2019, 10:18:25 PM »
The general impression I've got from how they've approached their re-releases and vinyl releases is that they felt their material after Achtung Baby didn't need much additional work. Is that accurate?

Regarding their '90s work, it was absolutely special. But one thing I don't think we give them credit or patience for is how much energy it probably took for them to maintain all of that at the level they were doing it at. So many other bands had similar ongoing periods of creativity, but they were required to maintain it at such a lower level. You can be a smack addict playing cool clubs in New York doing crazy new work, or you can be on a 200' stage coming out of a mirror ball lemon doing crazy new work. I can see how the latter would burn someone out. The only band (and I do say band on purpose, because it's different from a solo artist) who even tried to compete with U2 at such a big scale at the time was REM, and they collapsed after five years and still didn't match what U2 produced in the '90s. I would have loved to see U2 continue to explore, but I can also understand how draining it must have been. Just because the art they made them motivates me doesn't mean I'd automatically expect it to do the same for them.

Offline zooguitar

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Re: 10.16.2019 – UPDATED NOTES ON Z00R0PA 2018 REMASTER (WAV FILES) REVIEW
« Reply #3 on: November 16, 2019, 08:13:07 PM »
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The general impression I've got from how they've approached their re-releases and vinyl releases is that they felt their material after Achtung Baby didn't need much additional work. Is that accurate

IMHO, the general issue I have with all of the remastered albums from 1980-1997 is the same: they need to slightly eq the bottom end and increase its presence more, instead of just raising the treble eq on Edge's guitars. I have the remastered versions of "Violator" and "Monster" for comparison, and the bass tones/guitars and drums have much more presence as befits improved compression and tools to preserve the original analog master tape during transfer. The U2 remasters sound flat by comparison. Zooropa and Pop, in particular, lost a significant amount of bass mids and lows.