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Hello, I'm knew to the forum. Led Zeppelin are one of my favorite bands and just recently was readingabout a new box set released last year called the DefinitiveCollection. It contains all their cds with packaging that replicatesthe artwork and packaging of the original vinyl. They are also supposedto be remastered. Has anyone heard of these? Is this really an improvedsound? Also, I've read that their are 2 different versions. A NorthAmerican version from Rhino records and a version from Japan on SHM-CD.The one from Japan is supposed to sound better. What is SHM-CD? Andwhat is this loudness issue I keep reading about with currentremasters? I'm sure their are some audio wizards on this site and I would reallylike your input as this box set is very expensive. I would like to upgrade all their cd's and would like the best sound possible. I guess I'm just wondering what the best version is? The previous box set, this box set or maybe something I haven't mentioned.

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I haven't heard those particular releases, so I can't comment on them, but I'll try to explain the "loudness" issue.

A piece of recorded music has a dynamic range from the softest to the loudest parts of the music. Compression is a type of signal processing whereby the loudest bits are squashed to reduce their volume. The whole piece of music can then be pressed to disc louder than if it were uncompressed. Done subtly this can be un-noticable to the listener, and results in more level on the disc. In the days of vinyl this was particularly important as it meant more sound quality. So in basic terms: make the loud bits quieter, turn the whole thing up, the loud bits seem as loud as they were to begin with, but the quiet bits are louder than before.

The problem is when this is done un-subtly. Radio stations started to heavily compress their broadcasts so that there would be less drop in volume during the quiet bits: you could listen to the station in the car & still hear it all over the engine noise. Also it made the station seem louder than its competitors. Sounds ok in principle untill you realise that this is removing the dynamics of the music. All of the careful work the musicians did to introduce contrasts in their performance is underminned.

So then the record companies got in on the act too: they began to over-compress their output to make it seem louder on the radio...

This is "The Loudness Wars" where recodings are compressed to the point of distortion (the bad kind) in order to squeze more volume out of the disc, loosing nall their dynamics on the way.

Input "loudness wars" into Google & you can find lots of info. There is a very well researched article where Rush's catalogue is analysed, and you can see in the waveforms how each new release had less range than the one before, and then see where the compression starts to introduce its own distortion to the music.

Metalica fans made a lot of noise when Death Magnetic was released for the same reason - it was mastered for loudness, not dynamics.

Closer to home, when Zeppelin released Mothership it quickly came out that there was some heavey compression at work there too. People were complaining for instance that the accoustic guitar at the beginning of Stairway... was almost as loud as the guitar solo, where the whole band are blazing away.

If a particular label has a reputation for "Loudness" issues, then personaly I'd be considering what other alternatives were available.

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