Saga’s Heads or Tales: Is It Flawed?

2012‐08‐14

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I recently bought the 2003 Steamhammer/SPV remaster (cat. no. SPV 076‐7439A CD) of Saga’s Heads or Tales album. It exhibits seriously exaggerated treble. It actually sounds like my 1994 Polydor CD (cat. no. 815 410‐2) without de‐emphasis applied to it (one of the very few CDs with pre‐emphasis that I own), only even worse, and with increased loudness. It seems like they’ve been working with pre‐emphasized audio during the remastering without knowing it.

I’ve listened to my 1983 Bon Aire vinyl (cat. no. 208 477), and it sounds awfully similar to the remaster, although not quite as bad. Is it possible that they’ve been using pre‐emphasized audio on the vinyl as well?

I’ve recorded two samples from the Bon Aire vinyl:

The Flyer
Social Orphan

and applied de‐emphasis to them:

The Flyer
Social Orphan

The de‐emphasized versions sound very similar to the 1994 Polydor CD:

The Flyer
Social Orphan

I don’t have the best turntable in the world here (it’s a 35 year old Luxor Dirigent 3000 with DIN level output), but it will hopefully be enough for this “demonstration.” Proof or not? It’s an interesting discovery nevertheless. I’ve also listened to a Bon Aire CD (cat. no. 258 477) that uses pre‐emphasis just like the Polydor CD. They sound very similar. If the treble‐exaggerated sound on the vinyl was intentional, why wouldn’t they be consequent and make the CD sound the same? Perhaps the Polydor vinyl is OK in this regard, I haven’t had the opportunity to listen to it.

To make things clear, I should perhaps add that Saga is, and has always been, one of my all‐time favorite bands. If they weren’t, I wouldn’t put my energy into this in the way that I’ve been doing.