Jump to content

I hear an echo in the last words of Stairway to heaven


Recommended Posts

Hi there!

Yesterday I bought 2 copies of Led Zeppelin IV (vinyl remaster) in a local store here in Spain.

13€ every copy.

1 copy to be listened, the other to be stored as a backup.

I have also a 1982 copy, that preserves an excellent sound quality. But I can notice a difference between my 1982 copy and the new remaster.

In the remaster, just at the last words of stairway, I can hear an echo. Just like that:

 

And she's buuuuying a stairway.. way.......... to heaven ven.....

 

Does anybody hear the same thing?

This echo is not present in my 1982 copy. It's only the remaster.

is it just an echo added in the remastering process? Or it's a pressing error?

thanks!!

Edited by blackorwhite
Link to comment
Share on other sites

The remaster would have been made from an original tape that's been in storage. 

The thing about tape is that it's a magnetic storage medium that is very thin and wrapped around itself doing nothing for the majority of its existence. Over time the magnetic field produced by the stored audio (especially if it was recorded "hot", which can add some desirable harmonic distortion...) influences the storage medium around it, causing a phenomenon called "print through". The longer the tape is stored, the stronger the "print through" effect gets. It gets hidden in music where there's lots going on, but if you've got something really exposed, like a solo vocal, it can become really obvious. 

Here's a bit more info:

http://www.avartifactatlas.com/artifacts/print-through.html

Edited by woz70
Link to comment
Share on other sites

58 minutes ago, blackorwhite said:

Wow, thanks for the info. I had no idea about that.

But this cannot be corrected during the remaster process?

woz70 is very knowledgeable about this topic so await his answer. I will say it's usually not a question of if something can be corrected, it's a question of how much effort and attention the label wants to put into it. Led Zeppelin: The Definitive Collection (1990), also known as The Boxed Set, is a great example. There are many of these sort of outro variations on it. Songs that are cut two or three seconds short, etc. I'm not saying it's a garbage, rather astute listeners such as yourself have identified anomalies in comparison to the original releases. The analog to digital format also lends itself to this sort of thing.

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

4 hours ago, blackorwhite said:

Wow, thanks for the info. I had no idea about that.

But this cannot be corredted during the remaster process?

Remastering generally only involves gain correction, equalisation, compression and/or limiting. 

Artifact removal comes under the audio restoration banner. There probably been quite a lot of restoration going on during the latest remaster series. The technology just wasn't good enough for the 90's remasters. 

There are a couple of things that can lessen the effect of print-through, but they are both contingent on the condition of the tape. 

1: Spooling the tape three or four times (winding and rewinding). This has the effect of demagnetising the print- through to undo it's effect.  (You can do the same thing with a fixed magnet and a piece of steel that's been magnetised.)  It would appear that a lot of Zeppelin's master tapes were in particularly poor condition though and needed baking before they could be played. This means they were extremely fragile and would likely not have survived the spooling process without the oxide layer - which is the recording medium - literally falling off, destroying the recording forever. After baking you get one (maybe two if you're lucky) goes at digitising the audio before the tapes become unusable. 

2: Adding bias to the tape on playback (too complex to go into here), but this can degrade the fidelity of the recording and is generally seen as a last resort. 

 

Why baking? Because the glue holding the oxide layer to the backing tape degrades and becomes gooey over time.  If you try and play it back the oxide comes off onto the tape machine, destroying the recording and gunging up the tape machine.  Baking (low temperature for a long time) temporality stabilises the glue allowing you to very carefully play the tape for duplication or digitising. 

Edited by woz70
Link to comment
Share on other sites

54 minutes ago, blackorwhite said:

The curious thing here is that i've been listening to the 2014 remaster LP and this echo is not present. It's only on the 2020 pressing. Dont know why.

Someone sent the wrong file to the pressing plant maybe? Who knows?! There have been lots of mistakes going on with vinyl pressing during the pandemic. A friend has been waiting for a single to be pressed since last March. The Levellers got a test pressing back to evaluate for their latest album and it turned out to be an Elton John record.... they weren't impressed.  Quality control has gone to shit.

I wouldn't be too trusting of anything pressed in 2020/21.

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I've listened all the album (2020 press) many times and it sounds really good. The only thing is that echo.

To be fair I have to say that this echo is only noticeable when you listen it through headphones with max volume, but hearing that echo caught my attention.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

25 minutes ago, blackorwhite said:

I've listened all the album (2020 press) many times and it sounds really good. The only thing is that echo.

To be fair I have to say that this echo is only noticeable when you listen it through headphones with max volume, but hearing that echo caught my attention.

To be honest, I've not really listened hard to anything beyond George Marino's remasters of the 90's. The end of that version is 'Stairway' has a fairly brutal fade at the end, to the point that the 'ven' of 'heaven' is barely audible, so if there is any print through, it's inaudible. There is plenty to be heard throughout the rest of the catalogue though if you listen carefully. 

I'm definitely not au fait with the various vinyl pressings that are available.

Suffice to say: print through is the cause. If you can hear it in the 2020 pressing and can't hear it on the 2014 pressing there can be only one possible answer - they were made from different masters.

 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

13 hours ago, woz70 said:

To be honest, I've not really listened hard to anything beyond George Marino's remasters of the 90's. The end of that version is 'Stairway' has a fairly brutal fade at the end, to the point that the 'ven' of 'heaven' is barely audible

It probably made George Marino cringe as well, but as I recall they also had to work within the confines of the cd format at the time -- 70 minutes per disc, or thereabouts. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...