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Customer Review

11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars There's A Crack In The Mirror, 8 April 2007
This review is from: Abacab [Hybrid SACD + DVD] (Audio CD)
Anyone who has read my individual reviews for the other four re-releases will see that I have been largely favourable to the new stereo mixes (I have not heard the 5.1 mixes), if critical of the zealous use of mastering-compression. Unfortunately, with this album there was always little to be gained over the brilliantly produced original.

IT IS SO DARNED COMPRESSED! The original mix by co-producer/engineer Hugh Padgham (and doubtlessly supervised by the band members) was so dynamic and punchy it blew you away. But that energy has been totally destroyed on this new mix. Collins's drums no longer jump out of the speakers as originally achieved by Padgham, but now the sound is squashed and suffocated, as is the whole mix in general.

A key change in the sound of Genesis on Abacab was the use of 'space' in its sound; the whole 'less is more' approach. This left room for background ambient sounds and atmospherics.

Not now though. No subtle ambience here. Rather than 'less is more' we have 'everything louder than everything else', and it's just a sonic mess. If I was just a bit less emotionally stable, I think I would have cried the first time I heard this mix. As it happens, I managed to get through the new sounding album with a heavy heart, consoled myself by listening to the much-improved 'Wind' and '...Three', then went back to 'Abacab' to re-assess my original findings. And it was no better. Listening again to the original mix only re-affirms what a disaster the new version is.

What is it with mastering engineers' desire to compress everything to the max in order to crank the overall volume up? This just removes all the subtleties applied by the mixing engineer, and results in everything sounding like it is being broadcast on FM/DAB radio, ie. flat.

Turning to the DVD extras, there's the usual 15-minute segment of the band interview (very enjoyable as usual, with Banks and co speaking fondly of the new sound and the album's artwork), and pop videos of the period (all already available on 'The Video Show' DVD with better sound).

If you're a real fan then despite this review you'll buy it anyway. But be warned, as far as the stereo mix is concerned, this is a disaster - a cryme!
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Showing 1-5 of 5 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 13 Dec 2007 04:27:59 GMT
RegF says:
What are you listening to these CDs on??? These CDs sound great and are NOT COMPRESSED at all.

You seem to be a very small minority about this.

In reply to an earlier post on 7 Mar 2008 00:34:31 GMT
Last edited by the author on 7 Mar 2008 00:34:48 GMT
John Smith says:
I'm listening on various systems, including separates system with 100 watt Cambridge amp and Mordaunt Short floorstanding speakers. Also listened through Sennheiser HD650 reference quality headphones and headphone amp. Compared to the original this is much louder at any given volume setting and very very flat.
To say 'these CDs are not compressed at all' is just an untruth. It simply means either your system or your ears or your brain is incapable of hearing it. If this is the case, I refer you to the many amplitude graphs produced by fans (do some googling), which demonstrate that the compression, as an undeniable fact, certainly IS there (whether one can hear it or not) - it's just some can hear it and hate it, some can hear it and don't mind it at all, and some (including you) can't hear it.

Whether or not I am in a 'small minority' is completely irrelevant to the topic. Whether or not it is 'great' is pure opinion, and you are entitled to yours of course, fair enough. Whether or not it is more dynamically compressed than the previous version is not really debatable once the facts are known. Check your facts before writing untrue statements (and in capitals too!).

In reply to an earlier post on 7 Jul 2008 16:29:07 BDT
Last edited by the author on 7 Jul 2008 16:29:49 BDT
J. Milner says:
WHAT? I seriously recommend, Regan Flint, that you have your ears syringed! You obviously have no idea what compression is. Also, I think your sight is suspect too as a quick look through the reviews for all the Genesis SACDs seems to find quite a number of people commenting on the compression issue.

In reply to an earlier post on 2 Nov 2008 17:12:30 GMT
Last edited by the author on 2 Nov 2008 17:14:09 GMT
John Smith says:
And Regan, judging by figures ('is this review helpful'), it is clearly *you* that is in a tiny minority.
To just state these CDs are 'not compressed at all' is just a lie. Sorry to be so blunt - but given that dynamic compression has been used (quite necessarily) on just about every pop/rock recording since the 1950s to a greater or lesser degree, when you say 'not compressed at all' you are a liar.
My only point was these are TOO compressed for my liking. You have no right to argue as you clearly have no idea what you are talking about and so resort to just making up false statements.

Posted on 15 Feb 2016 12:23:40 GMT
Mike Quinn says:
I know I'm about nine years too late in leaving a comment but I am in the process of updating my Genesis CD collection and although these remasters have been out for several years, they should be a lot better than my relatively poor versions.

I have enjoyed your reviews and I thank you for such informative and articulate comments. Having liked Genesis since their early days, it seems silly for me to have waited so long to upgrade some of my collection. My favourite period is the tail end of the Gabriel and start of the Collins eras (i.e. 1973 to 1978) and I agree with you about "Wind And Wuthering", an album I never tire of listening to. Both my original vinyl and CD versions lack power and bombast so I look forward to purchasing the remaster of Wind, as late as this is.

Regarding Abacab, I would like to thank you for your comments on the compression and other facets of this remastering, so much so that I will not bother buying this particular remaster. It seems to me to be a prevalent problem with modern recording techniques that have ruined otherwise wonderful music. There seems to be a lack of breathing space and subtlety so I do know what you mean in your review.

Thank you.
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