Parlophone respond to David Bowie ‘Berlin’ box set mastering criticisms

David Bowie / A New Careeer In A New Town 1977-1982 / 13LP or 11CD box

In the last few days there has been mounting criticism from some of the audiophile community about perceived mastering errors on Parlophone’s new David Bowie box set A New Career In A New Town.

In terms of specifics, criticisms levelled include the following points:

  • There is a volume drop during the title track of Heroes at around the 2.50 mark
  • Low has a rather overcooked bass-heavy remastering which spoils side one, in particular.
  • Various issues with the Lodger remaster, including a similar increase in bass some tape/noise flutter being present and an incorrect fade-up on the beginning of Red Sails

Not everyone complaining has problems with all of the above, but there is a general consensus that given the status of the iconic track, the Heroes issue is disappointing and rather puzzling. The accusation is one of sloppiness; lack of quality control.

In fact, the strength of feeling is reflected in the reviews on Amazon UK, many of which bring up these issues. There have been enough complaints for the UK arm of the online retailer to actually stop selling the CD box set for the time being (it’s still available from third party sellers) so this issue is obviously of concern to the record label.

SDE put these criticisms to Julian Stockton, David Bowie’s publicist and and as a result I was invited to Warner’s London HQ this morning to discuss this issue in some depth, with Julian and Tim Fraser-Harding (President, Global Catalogue, Recorded Music for Warner Music Group).

‘Bottom end’ on remastering

During a conversation that lasted close to two hours, the team stressed how much time and energy had gone into both getting the music and the presentation of this set right. I was told, for example, that over 50 vinyl test pressings for just one of the albums in A New Career In A New Town were checked. In terms of the issue around the mastering and the additional bass or ‘bottom end’ on albums like Low and Lodger, the point was strenuously made that Tony Visconti has never been involved in remastering these albums before, and what you hear on these new remasters is how he always wanted them to sound. Back in the 1970s, there was only so much bottom end you could deliver, due to the limitations of vinyl, but this was an opportunity to address that. Visconti of course, was the producer of all four records (Low, Heroes, Lodger and Scary Monsters) and therefore ‘in the room’ when they were being made. He has the credibility to make this call, even if the sound isn’t to everyone’s taste (or what they are used to via previous remasters). This approach was discussed with Visconti and agreed on beforehand. In other words, the object was never to make these sound as much like the original vinyl pressings as possible. Warner Music/Parlophone categorically reject the notion that these sound differences constitute any kind of error or fault with the box set.

Heroes ‘change in volume’

In terms of the problem on the title track of Heroes, it was explained that this is down to an issue on the master tape. It was stressed that for all four albums, the label went back to the original analogue master tapes for new digital transfers (done at 192/24). The issue on the master tape of Heroes is described as a ‘loss of energy’ on that title track that starts at around the 2.42 mark, and lasts for about four or five seconds. Parlophone stressed that they were very keen to maintain the integrity of using the original master tape. So rather than ‘fly in’ a section from another tape generation or source (such as a safety copy) they kept to the original master tape transfer and the track Heroes was given a boost of high frequency during the period of this loss of energy. When this high frequency boost finishes (around the 2.50 mark) the effect creates the impression of a drop in volume but Parlophone insist that this simply isn’t the case. The level is consistent with the start. Again, Warner Music/Parlophone reject the notion that this disc is in any way faulty. You are listening to the original master tape with this slight frequency adjustment for a short period in the middle of Heroes to correct an issue inherent with the master tape itself. I asked why this issue on the master tape hadn’t come up before and was told that it was probably because this was the first time in a very long time that the original master tape was being used and no-one knows when the issue with the tape may have come about.

Tape hiss etc. 

Warner Music / Parlophone emphasised that there was no de-noising at all on any of the remasters within this box set any hiss present is as per the original master tapes.

Above is a summary of the issues discussed at the meeting, but below you can read a statement in full issued by Julian Stockton, David Bowie’s publicist:


Concerning ‘Heroes’ what fans are hearing is not a level drop. This is, through mastering, an attempt to resolve an issue that exists on the original master tape.

On the flat unmastered transfer, there was a temporary loss of energy on the track just before 2.50. During the album mastering some high-frequency automation (in the region of +- 6dB) has been added in order to compensate for this. So to clarify, there is not a drop in volume, there is a high frequency boost for a couple of seconds at the loss of energy which then returns to normal and the track continues to the end at a level consistent to the start.

As the co-producer of ‘Heroes’ Tony Visconti, was both fully involved and approved the remastering of this and all original albums within the set.


The albums contained in A New Career In A New Town are how Tony Visconti, who was not involved in past remasterings, always wanted them to sound. He was previously hampered by the restrictions of vinyl regarding the bottom end.

Any tape hiss on the albums comes straight from the original analogue tapes. For A New Career In A New Town, there was no de-noising as had happened on the previous remastering of these records. The hiss is far more true to the sound of the original analogue tapes which Bowie and Visconti would have heard when making the record.”

461 responses to Parlophone respond to David Bowie ‘Berlin’ box set mastering criticisms

  1. Paulg says:

    Does anyone know if the versions on HD tracks are the fixed versions or the original versions.

  2. John Marshall says:

    I emailed them today and got a response within hours
    I was looking for Vinyl

    The offer for replacement discs of “Heroes” from the David Bowie box set “A New Career In A New Town (1977-1982)” has now come to an end. However, the version of the album with the updated “Heroes” is available from all streaming and download services, as well as on individual CD and LP via all good physical outlets.
    Kind regards,
    Warner Music Customer Services.

    Now disappointed I might have to purchase 3 albums. I’m going to contact and see if they will help…

  3. Pingback:Parlophone call time on the David Bowie ‘Heroes’ replacement programme | superdeluxeedition

  4. JonesTWorth says:

    God, you people complain a lot.

  5. F. Ger says:

    I did receive my Heroes replacement cd.Thank you to Paul Sinclair and everyone on the forum.

  6. Tim says:

    I received my “heroes” replacement cd today. Haven’t seen any mention of any others getting theirs, so don’t know if I’m early or late with this news.

  7. F. Ger says:

    Sami,thanks for the update,can you provide the email address you received the response from?Still trying to contact them with no response

  8. Sami says:

    For some strange reason I Still haven’t received my replacement cd and lp.
    I sent my info to them on the first date that the replacement-program was announced december 8th.
    After then I’ve received few emails, I understand that they originally somehow tried to lessen the mistake, by producing only small quantity of replacement.
    They only sent email that they were waiting for more them to be produced.
    Still, I wonder, how did they originally decide to prioritize on when and where they would send the replacements, since there’s some people who have gotten their many weeks ago.
    Something not quite right there and they should be ashamed and actually compensate this harm much better.
    Last email was on january 31, where they said that I should ask the whereabouths of the replacements in 2 weeks time again, so I sent them email, another, and yet another but no reply.
    Right now I won’t believe any explanations from them, as they should have handled this thing more carefully. It’s now almost 5 months since the boxsets were released and most of us still haven’t received replacements.

  9. F. Ger says:

    Can anyone on the forum provide an update on the corrected Heroes cd? I am trying to reach David Bowie website to inquire about how to receive the replacement disc but have had no response from them.Any help would be greatly appreciated.Thank you.

  10. F. Ger says:

    I’m having trouble getting a response from the David Bowie website on how to get the replacement cd of Heroes.I have emailed them four times in last two weeks with no response.

  11. Pingback:David Bowie / Remastered ‘Berlin’ albums available separately next month | superdeluxeedition

  12. Phil says:

    Received my replacement vinyl copy of “Heroes” from Parlophone in the post at work today. It’s just the LP in an inner sleeve, no outer sleeve, posted in a brown cardboard package. Just need to get it home in one piece to see how it sounds…

  13. F. Ger says:


    Has there been any word on the replacement discs yet?Any update would be appreciated,

    Thank you-

  14. Paolo says:

    Hi Paul – any news on the replacement disc and how to get it. Will Amazon customers just be sent it based on who purchased ? Thanks

  15. Pingback:David Bowie “A New Career In A New Town (1977-1982)” 13 LP box – Part-Time Audiophile

  16. phlmarie says:

    Hello Paul

    Thanxs a lot for your quick reply !


  17. phlmarie says:


    Sorry for my bad english, I’m French…

    I’ld like to buy the CD Box for Christmas.
    But, for the matter, I would prefer to receive the “good” release without errors.

    Do you think that the new sold boxes are ok ? (for example, those sold by Amazon)
    Is it a way to make the difference between the two versions ?

    Thanks for your help,

    • Paul Sinclair says:

      A ‘good’ version of the box (ie fixed) doesn’t exist yet. We’re still waiting to hear from Warners on this.

  18. F. Ger says:

    Thank you for the update-

  19. Mijacmad says:

    New 24bit found available today is glitch free. Replacements possibly incoming.

    • scat-man-biddle-pants says:

      So, if we are to believe Parlophone’s statement regarding the “error” – everything after the rise in volume should be exactly the same as it was on the version with the error (as there is only a perceived drop in volume rather than a real drop). So if they get rid of their +-6db thinger-me-jiggery “fix” for the “loss of energy” the volume after that point will not sound quieter anymore, without having to do anything to the track after that point. Is that the case? I hope that it is – as telling porky pies to your customers isn’t a very good thing to be doing.

      I assume they haven’t done anything about the loss of dynamics due to over-compression, though, have they?

  20. David says:

    Hi Paul – any news on the replacement disc and how to get it. Will Amazon UK customers just be sent it based on who purchased ? Thanks

  21. David Fisher says:

    Use heard the glitch – ouch! I’m a sound engineer and musician and would go crazy if any recording of mine was put out with such an error. Why didn’t they patch it from a snippet from a second generation tape? No-one would ever know.

  22. “Heroes” the LP is 40 years old today! Play your copy! Even better, with the new version you can, at 2:50, truly turn on, tune in and, ahem… ‘drop out’.

  23. Joseph says:

    Is there anything wrong also with vinyls and High Res FLAC versions of this box set?

  24. Marien says:

    Paul there is an appologie from Parlophone.
    There wil be an replacement for Heroes.

    See the official David Bowie site.
    Thanks for all,

  25. Pingback:Parlophone hold its hands up to Bowie box ‘Heroes’ issue and takes action | superdeluxeedition

  26. Lee says:

    Has anyone asked Eno about all this tomfoolery?

  27. Uncle Arthur says:

    It’s back on sale at Amazon UK Prime for £99.99 in stock.
    Seems they have amended the product description to make a virtue of the analog transfer & mastering flaws / mistakes
    in the light of Parlophone rebuttals…?

    “Product Description
    “DAVID BOWIE A NEW CAREER IN A NEW TOWN – “HEROES” Concerning “Heroes” – what fans are hearing is not a level drop. This is, through mastering, an attempt to resolve an issue that exists on the original master tape. On the flat unmastered transfer, there was a temporary loss of energy on the track just before 2.50. During the album mastering some high-frequency automation (in the region of +- 6dB) has been added in order to compensate for this. So to clarify, there is not a drop in volume, there is a high frequency boost for a couple of seconds at the loss of energy which then returns to normal and the track continues to the end at a level consistent to the start. As the co-producer of “Heroes”, Tony Visconti was both fully involved and approved the remastering of this and all original albums within the set. DAVID BOWIE A NEW CAREER IN A NEW TOWN – REMASTERING The albums contained in A New Career In A New Town are how Tony Visconti, who was not involved in past remasterings, always wanted them to sound. He was previously hampered by the restrictions of vinyl regarding the bottom end. Any tape hiss on the albums comes straight from the original analogue tapes. For A New Career In A New Town, there was no de-noising as had happened on the previous remastering of these records. The hiss is far more true to the sound of the original analogue tapes which Bowie and Visconti would have heard when making the record.” ”

    So the corporate line is, “It was intentional, this is how it should sound…!!!”

    Now I would not be surprised if this is in order to refuse any more partial refunds….????

  28. JWL says:

    An interesting article here on the Bowie box from the buy who headed up the Ryko Bowie campaign

  29. Bevan James says:

    Music A+
    Box, CD Packaging, Book etc A+
    Mastering E-
    Parlophone Response to Fan Criticism F

  30. Will says:

    I thought I might chip in with my impression of the new Bowie boxset. I did not pick up on that “Heroes” misstep but certainly went back and listened to it. It’s definitely there and I don’t think they corrected much. From there the recording never seems to get back to it’s building energy as we all know that’s how “Heroes” goes.
    I do have another complaint and I believe it’s worse. I’m not digging that Lodger remix. Some of that reverb stuff is pretty cheezy and I could never see Bowie ever going for that. And the remaster of Lodger is pretty nondescript, it’s almost nonexistent. I’ve seen the improvement of remastering elsewhere in the boxset series where there is better clarity and a sharper sound. This seems to be missing from the Lodger remaster. It’s almost like they’ve dumbed down the Lodger remaster in order to point up the Lodger remix. Again which I’m not impressed with. Possibly Tony Visconti was going to have a bigger role in the upcoming boxsets and they want to promote his contributions to make them more marketable in following releases? I’m not trying to be critical of TV but I really feel the remaster was purposely left flat. There’s plenty of clarity in the Lodger remix, that should be readily apparent in the remaster then if the remix has it and it does! Does anyone have any similar thoughts?

  31. Andy says:

    What are the odds that Parlophone will put out a stand-alone, ‘fixed’ edition of Heroes? It’ll placate those ngry at the dropout debacle, plus it’ll mean more money in the label’s coffers. Cynical much?

  32. F. Ger says:

    I should have said the best way for Parlophone to respond to the criticism would be in a truthful way.Sorry.

  33. Robert says:

    Thank you so much for this in depth article!!

  34. F. Ger says:

    this is a really good forum for discussion,however,the only thing that one could consider “blasphemous” about this box set is the remaster of the album “Heroes.” Mistakes happen,the important thing would be for Parlophone to address the criticism of the “Heroes” album in an objective way.I am enjoying the original “Lodger” very much.

  35. Diego Zapple Imperatore says:

    Hi Paul. So your opinion about Heroes? You’re happy with it?

    • Paul Sinclair says:

      It’s annoying. However, call me blasphemous, but I’ve never really liked ‘Heroes’ as a track *that* much, despite all the historical importance and significance. All the public love for the song is a bit like how everyone loves John Lennon’s “Imagine” which I think is a bit of a dirge, too! Therefore I’m genuinely not that bothered, although Parlophone could definitely have handled the whole thing better, from a transparency point of view.

      • Seth Hollander says:

        If I wasn’t so damned open-minded I would call you blasphemous for that!
        Over the years my Bowie collection has always contained something that for me that transcended mere music listening and induced spiritual feeling and sustenance.
        Starting with side 4 of the Ziggy Sdtk album in the early 80s (my early teens) to side 1 of Scary Monsters (college/late 80s) to Station To Station (CD, no sides!/San Francisco, 90s) to a simple tonic, extremely concentrated, of “Heroes” (album version, Live Aid version, Freddie Mercury Tribute version).
        I was so excited about this box that I almost bought it despite successfully not buying the first two.
        If it had been any other song disfigured, I would have spent the money anyway.
        Imagine saying “It is a great release of Sgt Pepper’s LHCB, despite the error in “A Day In The Life”!”

  36. Uncle Arthur says:

    .. as an aside, I recall the hunt for some of the missing The Move master tapes
    about a decade ago.
    The team involved wrote that during the search they found tapes of other important artists
    stored uncared for in the most deplorable conditions.
    If I remember correctly, Bowie tapes were among them…???

    We’re lucky so many tapes still survive at all, and were not discarded completely after transfer to that new modern Hi Tech audiophile DAT format…

  37. Uncle Arthur says:

    Observing the extreme hissy fit reactions to merely a flawed box set…
    makes you wonder how some of these over dramatic people would cope with a genuine problem in life…!!!???

    [Ok, I admit I sulked for weeks after my parents refused to let me have the money to bunk off school for an afternoon to go see Bowie at Taunton Odeon]

    So right now I now own a bodged CD remaster of one of Bowie’s better post Ronson LPs.
    It may or may not eventually get sorted by Parlophone.
    Hope so.. but if it doesn’t, life goes on…
    Far worse things occur in life at our age, like gout and piles….
    .. and those are just two of the least problems we might have to contend with……..

    • Chris Squires says:

      I had my first tooth out last week and that hurts way more than a box-set that isn’t quite perfect. Hopefully I can stave off the ailments you mention for a tad longer.

  38. Nigel D Day says:

    Well I’ve tried 4 times to get Amazon to pick up my damaged, unwanted box. They keep telling me a courier will be out the next day but no one has turned up I’ve given up now and cancelled my Amazon account. The Bowie box I’ll sell as separates on eBay.

    Anyone got any recommendations as to who I can buy my vinyl/CDs from now ? Anyone reliable ?

    • Paul Sinclair says:

      Wow, cancelling your amazon account is a bit extreme, is it not? Don’t know where you are but in the UK you can just take a return item to a local newsagent that participates in the Collect+ scheme.

      • Nigel D Day says:

        It’s not the first time they’ve screwed up orders. 4th time this year.

        • Paul Sinclair says:

          Fair enough. They are certainly not perfect, but my experience is that Amazon customer service, when things go wrong, is normally a cut above virtually everyone.

  39. Mar Wolfgang says:

    Hi Paul,

    when you began this site a few years back, the comments were much fewer. Now, your site deservedly attracts more viewers and hence more comments, like this section. I wonder if it would be possible to change the order, i.e., having the latest comments showing up first so one does not have to scroll all the way down to see the newest comments. There maybe pros and cons of each order but I do believe that the articles receiving most attention would benefit from the change of order. This is especially relevant when browsing the site on a smartphone.

  40. Michel Bendichou says:

    “Parlophone stressed that they were very keen to maintain the integrity of using the original master tape”

    What a load of nonsense. The objective is surely to accurately portray what was intended and not reproduce clear errors. Plenty of instances of companies selecting the best parts of masters to reissue and surely Parlophone had access to more than one master.

    Glad I didn’t waste my money on this.

    • Paul Sinclair says:

      The objective is not clear at all. It was clearly not to accurately portray what was on the master-tape for instance, or they would have done a flat transfer.

  41. Andrea says:

    There’s at least one thing I really don’t get: if one of the purposes of this remaster was to overcome “the limitations of vinyl”, what about the vinyl version of the new set? Was it mastered differently than the cd version?

    This, together with the “loss of energy” fixed with an added “high-frequency automation” resulting in a perceived drop in volume when the added frequency ends (couldn’t they just leave the “loss of energy” be as it was in the first place, since the result seems to be the same?), makes it seem like they’re bs-ing us, big time. And quite shamefully if I may say so.

    As the co-producer of ‘Heroes’ Tony Visconti, was both fully involved and approved the remastering of this and all original albums within the set.

  42. Ben says:

    Honestly, while I obviously understand many audiophile’s frustration with certain remasters, there is a point where it starts to transcend into fanatical nitpicking over details that only become noticeable with ultra-advanced audio technology that no normal person could get their hands on without selling an arm and a leg.

    True, a bad remaster is a bad remaster (look at the 2007 Genesis remasters/remixes, or the 2010 remaster of Supertramp’s “Breakfast in America”, which had extreme amounts of compression), but at the same time, when you’re trying to refurbish and remaster stuff recorded more than forty years ago, you’re bound to run into issues that cannot be avoided, regardless of how the music was recorded or produced originally, because things age and decay over time.

    And luckily, at least we had the original producer on hand to make these particular remasters, versus handing them off to some random person, who may not understand the needs of the individual pieces of music.

    Interestingly, I rarely see this sort of intense nitpicking and debate in the classical music genre, which seems to have generally good audio. Probably because of the nature of classical music versus pop music, since recording a Beethoven symphony or a Shostakovich string quartet is going to present radically different challenges to recording stuff like The Beatles or Led Zeppelin, or Muse or Coldplay or Katy Perry or what have you.

    Also, on a final sidenote, I personally felt the mastering on Blackstar was quite good. It managed to have a decent kick to it, without tripping into ear-bleeding territory, and was able to capture the dynamics of the jazzy style of the music (particularly on Lazarus and the title track, which are both masterpieces). Also, it’s entirely possible that Bowie might have chosen a more dense mix on some songs deliberately. Who can say.

  43. F. Ger says:

    Yes,maybe we could get a new and corrected remaster of the entire “Heroes” album mailed out to everyone who bought the box set.That would be great.

  44. Daniel Lalla says:


    Remaster that disc
    New copies of the box get the new version
    Also press a promotional single of the corrected version (throw in Helden on B side)
    Others with the old box get a corrected version of that track on a single by mail and have an EXCLUSIVE BOWIE COLLECTIBLE. PEople will be happy now.

  45. 7 says:

    “Thin Line Between Love and Hate”?

  46. Uncle Arthur says:

    Nitpicking OCD details aside…
    At the price demanded for these box sets, the HD tracks should have been included as a disc or download voucher.

    The two HD tracks sets are an outrageous rip off !!!

    [ and yet again – incomplete ]

  47. nora says:

    Heroes drop out is ridiculous!!!

  48. J says:

    Amazon USA Update
    1) The number of 5 Star ratings sits @ 14% (down 1 point from the previous 15%)
    2) The number of 1 Star ratings is now 54% (Down from 61%)
    3) I did get to hear this yesterday for the 1st time & I really like the Low mix a lot, the first lodger disc to me sounds better than my Ryko issue, the second Loder disc is definitely different
    4) The Top Postive review mentions SDE by name. This a repost and this gentleman’s opinion differs from mine or SDE Paul
    5) If all 3 were the same opinion then we would not need @ least 2 of them
    6) Heroes is a mess. You think that when the producer listened to the music without the vocal track (which is why they get paid) they would have noticed all the VU meters going spastic. Amazing to me that this would be released to the public
    7) The box set itself is beautiful
    8) One bad apple doesn’t spoil the whole bunch. On the whole, this is a great set

  49. Alexander Supertramp says:

    Only just listened to the ‘pigs ear’ that is Heroes …..the ( 2017 second half recorded in the bathroom with the door closed mix).

    The PR guys are missing a trick , simply pull the box set to fix it ……and we will all want to make sure we have our copy of this rubbish for posterity .

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  51. Kevin says:

    I have been listening to David Bowie and buying his music since 1972. It has always been about the music. I have to say for my generation it is becoming tiresome the way all the major artists companies keep rehashing, rereleasing, re-mastering, producing deluxe editions et cetera, which are out of the reach of many peoples pockets. Putting that aside I have bought all three of the recent Bowie box sets and I have bought them for the my love of the music. I started buying vinyl again a few years ago and made the mistake of looking at forums. This made it quite clear to me that there are people who are obsessed with the technical aspects of music i.e. the equipment and look to finding fault with the equipment and the music produced and released in an obsessive way. I have no intention of returning the latest ANCIANT boxed set and I’m enjoying working my way through it on CD. People really do need to get a life and appreciate the brilliance that was and still is David Bowie and appreciate the actual music itself.

  52. Dean says:

    Maybe people can now relax and simply enjoy some very very good music.

  53. K. Thompson says:

    Proof positive that Steve Hoffman should have been hired to oversee remastering of the entire Bowie catalogue.
    Producers should stick to what they know.

  54. Torben Pilgaard Madsen says:

    Bowie-fan since 1980 here, so I have the WG RCA’s, the Japan-US RCA’s, the Ryko’s, the 1999 EMI’s and these Parlophone 2017 editions for reference. And I have to say, to these ears, the Parlophone’s are doing a solid job: Better than the 1999-editions, generally better than the Ryko’s and generally much better than the revered, but sourced from inferior masters, RCA’s.

    Yes, “Heroes” has an issue. I find it easier to see than actually hear though, and basically I have zero interest in going down the Hoffmann Forum waveform path. (And speaking of issues, the Japan RCA cut the first second of “Beauty and the Beast”!) In other words, I can live with the issue. The package as a whole is still amazing imo.

    The slagging of Tony Visconti is not warranted in my book. Neither are the assumptions that he treats this as “his gig”. I would be hard pressed to find another Bowie-collaborator better suited for the job.

    It’s all subjective in the end, of course. Apart from keeping a sober tone and refraining from slinging mud at people. That’s not being subjective, that’s forgetting one’s manners.

    Paul, thank you for a great site and for keeping things in perspective. SDE is a truly great ressource.

    • Paul Sinclair says:

      Thanks Torben.

    • Roland K. says:

      Toni visconti, it’s you!! Toon, please listen your remastering through fine speakers and a fine audio set instead of ear plugs and a transistor….

      • Torben Pilgaard Madsen says:

        Haven’t listened through earplugs yet, though I do like my Fidelio S2’s. Listening on quite nice speakers and equipment, and stand by every word. Don’t believe I have any transistor of any kind.

        “Tony Visconti, it’s you….”. Cracks me up every time. Or not. But then humor is another subjective thing, hmm?

  55. Nass Khan says:

    So far I have played Low/Heroes/Lodger/ Scary on on Lp & only Low on Cd. Low is not brickwalled. The late 70s Bowie were never Audiophile in sound. Neither is Lust for Life the Idiot. More Songs About Building & Food, Fear of Music, Remain in Light.

    They sound good to me & if I am being honest maybe Bowie fans are more acquainted with the Ryko/EMI 1990 brighter sounding as a reference than the original orange RCA lps.

    Shock horror I didnt like the Lodger remix

    My personal preference are the green RCA international Lps.

    Ok shame about Heroes but personally I am a Bowie nut so plenty of go to copies.

    Stop moaning folks the 3 Bowie boxes are good and corrects the abysmal 1999 masters.

  56. F. Ger says:

    I bought my set at a Barnes and Noble bookseller in The United States so I dont really know how I would go about getting a partial refund.I would like to get one.

    • J says:

      F Ger
      Give it a try they might give you a discount on your “NEXT” purchase. All retailers are aware that something is amiss here

  57. Greg Clow says:

    I noticed the issue with “Heroes” before reading this article, and hadn’t thought of approaching Amazon UK for a refund until I saw the comments here. I hit them up on chat and was told that I’d have to return it for a full refund, but I didn’t want to do that – partly because the “Heroes” volume drop is the only one of the identified issues that really bothers me, so I’d prefer to keep the set; and partly because returning if from Canada would be expensive. So they offered me a £15 partial refund, which I consider fair given that I paid around £75 for the set (lowest pre-release price less VAT) – and I can just pull out my Ryko copy of “Heroes” when I’m in the mood to listen to it.

  58. F. Ger says:

    I have have gone back and tried to play the “Heroes” disc again and I just can’t make it through the whole cd.It is mastered so poorly as to be unlistenable to my ears.I have compared it to the 2007 Japanese release of “Heroes” which sounds much better to me.The drop in volume during the song “Heroes” is stunning and a true shock,what happened? As for the rest of the set,it seems passable now that I’ve had a chance listen to the discs a few times.”Low” is fine,the new 2017 remix of “Lodger” is interesting,and the original “Lodger” remaster seems ok.” Heroes”should be done over though,it’s horrible.

  59. Kevin says:

    I’m listening to ‘”Heroes”‘ on Spotify again; it sounds different than when I first listened a few days ago after first reading this article. The significant apparent change in volume after the part they “fixed” is no longer apparent. I’m wondering if they decided to quietly fix the digital streaming edition (and, presumably, the digital download editions as well) as a way of having to deal with the matter while still being able to stick to their original position with regard to the physical editions…

    • Greg Clow says:

      I’m still hearing the drop on the Spotify version – but I’ve also got the whole set synced to my phone, so it’s possible that I have the older version downloaded. I’ll see if I can force it to refresh. And if they have indeed fixed the digital version, that really pokes a hole in their “it’s supposed to sound like that!” argument…

  60. Wayne Klein says:

    A comment earlier about nitpicking the previous sets–of course audiophiles are going to do that because it’s ALL about the sound and what might bother one person wont bother the average Joe.

    I felt, for the most part, that the previous sets were pretty good although they had their flaws. The worst being using the awful sounding pumped up, compressed anniversary edition of Aladdin Sane in the second box. There were some issues with one track cutting off the beginning of one track and other miscellaneous issues but I don’t think anything has been handled this badly–especially the response– for any of,the other sets. I can overlook some decisions madden there but this set there’s no excuse.

  61. fish says:

    I really wish I had your job Paul. I would love to be doing this for a living!

  62. Neil says:

    I’m still waiting for my refund from Amazon for the dozen or so albums that i have bought from them over the years that had errors on them. I would like to know what makes this box set so special that people are getting refunds left, right and centre and as for the error on Heroes Parlophone are just doing the same as EMI did with that Duran Duran debacle burying their heads in the sand.

  63. J says:

    Amazon USA update
    The 5 Star rating for this release is now to 15% (up from the previous 10%)
    The 1 Star rating is now 60% (down from the previous 61%)
    Now that people know what this is (A REMIX) folks might be a little more open to the content.
    A friend of mine is bringing his copy by this weekend so I can put it on the big rig & see what we have here. He falls into the mortified group

    • confusedface12 says:

      It’s not a remix it’s a remaster – it’s a very bad remaster, which is why it sounds like a remix. Compression, Eq & Limiting can and generally do all take place when mastering or remastering an album. If only David Bowie had written “cut it flat” on the multis like the beatles did on sgt pepper maybe we’d not be having these discussions – although saying that, they’d probably have gotten some tipex out and done a little rewriting history anyway.

  64. Leemer says:

    Is there any way to get Warners/Parlophone to address this defect in Heroes? I would be interested in joining a letter writing campaign or something. That said, I am keeping by box set b/c Amazon was kind enough to discount it and the records are so beautiful. Really kind people there at Amazon. I only wish that the keepers of the Bowie archives would stand up and remedy their failing.

  65. Chris M says:

    This is simple, everyone knows the difference between a Remix and a Remaster (at least I hope everyone does). This set is a remix not a remaster. A lot of people have remixed DB stuff before, some great some awful. If they’d said “here’s a new drum ‘n’ bassy remix of Low for you to listen to”, we could have said “interesting I love it” or ” interedting I hate it”, both completely valid views, but anyone who thinks this is a remaster doesn’t know what a remaster is. They did it with the Lodger album and you can make up your own mind. Personally my 1979 version sounds far better than the remaster here but that’s personal preference and I quite like the remix as a curiosity, but it is honest. Honesty please that’s all we need, not this guff from Parlophone and their cronies.

    • Martijn says:

      Interesting that you state that everyone knows the difference between a remix and a remaster and that your next statement about this set is then incorrect. The albums in this set have been remastered, not remixed. The only exception is Lodger, as also a remixed version is included (next to a remastered one).
      So yes, this set is a remaster. Tony Visconti & Ray Staff did not go back to the multitracks and made new mixes of the albums (Lodger excepted, etc.). They used the original album masters, the already mixed songs, and tweaked them (thus, re-mastering them) for this release. Bringing forward the lower frequencies (the bass, not the instument but low tones in general), adjusting the mid-range, higher frequencies, etc.

      In short, the new set IS a remaster. And considering the albums have not sounded really good in the past 30-or-so years it is disappointing that this time they again did not get it right (and with all the compression may be even worse than the previous versions).

  66. mm says:

    Coming next year in an alternative universe -”CHUNKY BRICKWALLY” deluxe edition and ”CIGGY BRICKWALLDUST”,both in deScottified’ mixes.

  67. Andrew r says:

    My last words on this as its time for me to move on. Echoing Ryan’s comment above about respect.
    Leaving the issue of the sound to one side. Consider the level of work that went into this box set and the previous two. the fan club insert, the duplicate period correct inners the sticker for the rear of Low speak volumes for the care and respect for Bowie’s work by all involved. The risk in future is that faced with this level of vitriol a major company will look at a project like this and say “nah” “why bother ? sell them the old stuff again and don’t bother with care and detail as they(the fans) obviously don’t appreciate it. Last thought when i was younger the idea of boxsets such as these were the stuff of dreams, are we all spoilt by an embarrassment of riches these days and as a result become navel gazing nit pickers? Finally i would like to thank Paul for his open minded stewardship of this thread you have done a brilliant job sir .

    • confusedface12 says:

      the other option is that they pull their finger out and actually deliver on the sound, rather than polishing up the old proverbial t-word in the hope that nobody will focus on the sound quality.
      there wasn’t the same level of complaint about the other 2 sets – so they mostly got positive reviews – they both have their mastering faults too, but not to same level as this set. that is why this set has received “the level of vitriol” it has, otherwise the level of nitpicking would have been just the same for the other sets. a lot of people think they’ve done a terrible job and so they are calling them out on it – how is that any more or less valid than vapid praise?

  68. Ryan says:

    I am a mastering engineer, I had no involvement in this project, but know the people that did.
    So, what are we supposed to do? People complain when we don’t use analogue masters and now you complain when we do.
    No matter how well analogue tapes are stored, they will degrade after time. Trying to repair loss of energy is incredibly difficult.
    I have been a mastering engineer for many years working at some of the the very top studios in London and I cannot recall any project where so much effort and dedication has been given.
    I can understand that the result may not be as people expect and that they may not realise the issues time causes to analogue tapes, but it is unfair to belittle the effort, time and skill this project has received.
    I wish I had been chosen to work on it.

    • Paul Sinclair says:

      Thanks Ryan.

    • confusedface12 says:

      Does this then mean they won’t be remastering these every again – so as to not degrade the tapes still further? It would be very irresponsible to just detroy them to keep churning out new remasters to resell to the public. Although, maybe the next set will employ the new “technology” to repair damaged tape used for the new Moody Blues release (mentioned in another article). I do have a sneaky suspicion they will come up with some way of ‘improving’ on this.
      Can you point to other examples of new remasters with these sorts of flaws? And if not, does that mean the methods used to fix them weren’t very good or whoever is looking after the tapes is not storeing them correctly – resulting in them being far worse than all other major artists master tapes.
      Although, I suppose it will be remixes next anyway, that seems to be the way these things go – will be good if they add the “analogue transfer master” on the next standalone box sets (like they did with station to station). That edition was brilliant and far better than the WCABN box set version.

      • Paul Sinclair says:

        They don’t need to go back to the tapes again. They have the digital transfers and Visconti’s remasters.

        • confusedface12 says:

          so the transfer process will not continue improving, warranting a new transfer? i’m fine with that, as the transfer process improving (in regard to this) has somehow resulted in the end result lowering in quality, but i find that very hard to believe.
          let’s hope this site is still around (it is a great site for info on new releases etc…) if things change in that regard, and you then quickly point out the lack of need in doing so!

        • Kevin says:

          Well, until the next advance in technology! ;)

    • Danny Gromfin says:

      Ryan – I have been wondering what exactly does “loss of energy” mean in this context? I’ll take my answer off the air, thank you. ;)

    • Punk Anderson says:

      Hey Ryan,

      I certainly respect your passionate defence of your acquaintances and their work, not least when attempting to repair the energy loss in “Heroes”, but … do you actually think the final result was a success?

      To someone who has never operated a mixing desk in his life, it still seems unbelievable that the overall volume of a track could not be adjusted during or after mastering …

      Same goes for cutting the ‘Red Sails’ intro short, by the way.

  69. Chris Hanington says:

    WOW, this set is amazing!!!
    This is my follow up since I finally received the set yesterday morning. I have gone through the entire set and I give is a six star review!! I loved everything about this set as it brought back so many great memories as I went through LP by LP. I was prepared to be disappointed from all of the reviews here but in fact was totally blown away with Low!! The Lodger remix is like hearing and old favorite for the first time again…love the different ideas Tony has put in place. Everything is exactly what I was hoping for and more!! I have all of the original RCA LP’s and CD’s, the Ryko CD’s and of course the EMI versions including the Japanese mini LP’s and this set is my favorite for sure!! I thing this set closely resembles the original pressings over everything else. Sit back, listen and enjoy everyone!!

  70. Schu says:

    It appears that some are trying to sensor the site based on comments they don’t agree with. I think Paul has done an exemplary job in keeping this an open and honest discussion that admittedly includes some very passionate opinions that land on both sides of the issue. At a minimum, this has been a very interesting read and gives the consumer more data from which to make their own economic decisions.

  71. Todd says:

    I really don’t begrudge anyone for buying (and actually enjoying) this set. I personally find the various issues more dissapointing than riot-inducing.

    The deal breaker for me is really the aggressive compression and brick-walling, not the flutter/tape damage or Heroes issue. I’m definitely not going to pay a premium price for CD remasters that are arguably not as good or better than what we have. I might have been tempted by the vinyl if I didn’t already have decent original pressings – but “okay to good” digital pressings just can’t justify the cost for me. If these were done right, AAA etc. I would have bought it without hesitation.

    I have a feeling that people who might feel the same as me don’t translate into enough lost sales to make the label care enough to change their approach, but it’s a shame. Unfortunately all the complaints about the other problems (although justified) is probably overshadowing the fact that some people are not buying this mainly because of the brickwalling.

  72. Dave says:

    Thanks Paul! I received the set yesterday and after reading the comments, I was prepared to be disappointed.
    I just listened to the entire set and I love it. These CDS sound great to me. And the new Lodger is incredible as I’m hearing little things I never noticed before even though I’ve played that album 100s of times.
    Don’t let the nitpicking or the insults get you down.
    I look forward to your Lodger review!

  73. Milton says:

    Funny how they explain away the bottom end issue by saying they were not attempting to recreate the original. Then to explain the Heroes/hiss issue they say that’s just the way it was.

  74. William K says:

    I like David Bowie.
    I like Tony Visconti.
    I like the box set.
    I like the 2017 remix of Lodger apart from ‘Move On’.
    I like the remastered Low, bass and all. It reminds me of when I first heard it in 1977.
    Peace and love to all.

  75. Chris Squires says:

    If that’s “a little bit of politics” then thanks but no thanks Ralph. Cannot and will not see a connection between Blue Vinyl Elvis or Bowie Box sets and what I think you are driving at. One of the nice things about here is that *most* people check their politics in at the door. It’s tiresome, distracting and ultimately pointless as not one soul will ever change their mind in a politics debate. Either way.
    Paul, another of the good things about this site is that you post all comments, even if they are against you, the website or your opinion. I am not sure I would be so generous of spirit. Hyperbole is the way of the ‘net. Some people and media outlets don’t feel able to say something is OK, or it’s not so bad, or could be a tad better. 0 or 10 are the only marks on some palettes with nowt in between. It has to be “the worst ever” or “he’s rubbish and tone deaf and everything he’s done is crap” I don’t know what it is but the middle is getting lost. Sadly. As with genuine insight, positives and negatives weighed up against history, expectation and that most deadly of things….. hope. This site treads that fine line, perfectly for most of us it would seem. As with most things in life, the answer and the truth is usually somewhere in the middle, as it probably is with this box set. A shame some only feel alive on the extremes.

  76. Ralph says:

    How comforting that you all care about a “change in volume” but are deaf for the cries for help from people in need.

  77. Andrew r says:

    “and” sorry

  78. Andrew r says:

    Tony Visconti is asd was a certain sort of producer .None of his work is
    what one would call Hi fi quality(name a well recorded Bolan album?)
    He is more an ideas man an enabler, a partner .David Bowie was a man of singular ideas
    i would imagine you steered him rather than fitted your sound to him.
    He trusted Visconti with his legacy . we should too!

  79. Trash says:

    “Visconti is a liability. He is quantifiably bad at his job and has been bad at his job for decades. He is single-handedly ruining Bowie’s legacy with his remastering. ”

    I honestly have to say that this qualifies as the most over-the-top statement I have read in a long time.

    Wow! Just… Wow!

  80. Max Bisgrove says:

    The explanation from Parlophone regarding Heroes is complete BS I’m afraid. I compared the newly remastered Heroes with all previously released versions and the drop in volume on the new version is massive. It does not exist on any other released version. I also studied the waveform and there is a very visible drop in amplitude at 2min 50sec. This is not a problem with the master tape. Magnetic tape can be prone to dropouts or changes in frequency response if not stored correctly but there is no change in the overall sound, just a big drop in amplitude. In fact what really happens is just before the drop in volume it actually gets a bit louder (I can visibly see this) and then suddenly drops down. It actually sounds and looks like somebody (a tape op to scared to own up per chance?) accidentally pushed up a fader during the mastering process then panicked and quickly pulled it down again, overcompensating WAY TOO MUCH!! (I have posted the waveform of this section of the track below.) I am a professional sound engineer with over 30 years experience and I know that if anyone had noticed this issue after mastering it would never have been released as is. Incredibly sloppy and the reason/excuse given just doesn’t add up I’m afraid. Just a poor bit of damage limitation. I’d love to hear what Tony Visconti has to say about it.

  81. Rich L says:

    I have no problem with the set’ I bought the CD edition. I noticed the “Heroes” volume change right off, but it did not bother me. The explanation given by Parlophone should have been included in the book, but the essays in the book were either by Visconti or long-ago reviews. As with virtually every remaster release by any artist, there were no recording notes such as there were with The Beatles remasters. That is more a testimony to the resources The Beatles have at their disposal than any inadequacy on Parlophone’s part.

    What I really have I have problems with is the ad hominem attacks on Tony Visconti ad nauseum . They are the essence of what is wrong with the Web today, along with the hysterical responses from posters here, on hoffman, on Amazon, and on Discogs. If I were not already familiar with and utterly disgusted with the phenomenon, I would have had a hard time not thinking it was a poor attempt at over-the-top sarcasm.

    Look. We were all reminded two days after this set came out what is really worth getting upset about, just as we were suddenly jarred two days after Blackstar came out what losing David Bowie meant.

    Step back and breathe.

    • William says:

      “ad hominem ….ad nauseum”

      I see what you did there. However, your claims of a fallacious attack is….fallacious.

      If a footballer plays a bad game, makes mistakes, is unprofessional etc. then the footballer and relevant parts of his character and actions that led to the performance and are rightly criticised.

      Nobody is making ad hominem attacks on Visconti. The “attacks” are on his capabilities as a professional record producer, nothing else.

      And that’s fine.

      All professionals should be judged on their capabilities. If you are bad at your job, your boss will tell you that you are useless and sack you.

      Visconti is a liability. He is quantifiably bad at his job and has been bad at his job for decades. He is single-handedly ruining Bowie’s legacy with his remastering. But we are supposed to give him a free pass because of some records he produced 40 years ago.

      I would very much like to see a younger, fresher, more talented engineer and producer remaster and remix Bowie’s work.

      To stretch the footballing analogy, a manager is only as good as his last match.

      • Paul Sinclair says:

        I look forward to you finding this “more talented” young producer that’s better qualified to work on DB’s archive than the man that Bowie had a close working relationship during almost his entire professional life.

        • William says:

          it’s not my job to find this person! Dr Toby Mountain, in his 40s back when he did the Ryko masters, did a good job. There would have been thousands of engineers equally qualified and talented. The music industry is full of such talent!

          Bowie certainly had a relationship with Visconti over his life; but not “during almost his entire professional life”

          If TM, TM2 ad BOS are considered Bowie albums (and why not) then out of 28 studio albums, Visconti produced the grand total of 2; and was a co-producer on 9.

          That’s not almost Bowie’s entire professional life. It’s much less than half.

          It’s still significant, notwithstanding the fact that we do not know what the share of labour was in these co-productions.

          The world is full of amazing and talented young engineers producing amazing work that knocks Visconti’s into a cocked hat. To even contemplate that Visconti is near the top of that particular totem is absurd. The Emperor has been naked for decades! He got lucky with Bowie and was in the right place at the right time. Fair play to him. But because he was around amazing talents 40 years ago means nothing today. Frankly, he ain’t that good, and a quick browse of his work in the past couple of decades shows it.

          • Paul Sinclair says:

            I’m checking out of this conversation. In fact I might close comments completely on this post soon. Tony Visconti will go down as one of the greats…it’s not even up for debate. It’s a fact.

          • Rich L says:

            William: If you won’t listen to a reasonable point and temper your criticism, I’m not going to engage any further except to ask you ask you what your audio engineering credentials are, who you have worked for, and have we heard any of your albums, especially your ’60s and ’70s work when audio engineering was moving forward so quickly.

            Me? I have no audio engineering credentials. I admire the professionals who do the grinding and often tedious work and receive a boatload of complaints for their endeavors. I am a seasoned professional in another, entirely unrelated field. If anyone said about me what has been said about Visconti, I would treat them as they should be treated: uncivil, uninformed and not worth my time to respond.

            Over and out.

        • betty davis says:

          yeah – this is the best it’s ever going to get! sadly, it’s all downhill from hill guys.

  82. F. Ger says:

    well,this is the first of the Bowie Box sets that I’ve bought because this is the one I was patiently waiting for.I did purchase the 2016 remaster of “Station to Station” which I felt was a brilliant remaster.I thought it was a big improvement over all other CD releases of that album and so felt that this set would have comparable remastering and care put into it.I don’t hear the same care and precise remastering on ” A new career in a new town” though.Not sure what happened,but disappointed with the sound here.sorry.

  83. Andrew r says:

    Perhaps they should have presented the “trilogy ” as double discs one original one 2017 master?
    It would have quietened the hoffman roar !

    • Rich L says:

      Nothing will quiet the hoffman roar.

      • Roland K. says:

        Funny to read some people here are so negative towards the SHTV forum. They have there the same discussions about this box set as here with the difference some of them are showing proves the critics werd right.

        Believe me, far the most at SHTV are just passionate Bowie fans, just like the readers here.

        • Rich L says:

          Not negative, I’m a member myself. I’m not an audiophile, having neither the ears nor the equipment. I hang out there because there are smart people there.

  84. Jamil Ahmad says:

    Firstly, I would like to thank Paul for all his time and dedication regarding this matter. He has brought forth light! Thank you.

    I purchased both the CD and Vinyl Box Sets. I have to say that “Heroes” is the only issue that concerns me. One could liken the problem to experiencing and appreciating a painting…a masterpiece! One is quite simply immersed in its profound beauty only to be disturbed by a “Fly” landing on the painting and remaining there! It disturbs the song! That’s how it is for me! What I can’t understand is why Parlophone did not mention this “obvious” problem in the enclosed book… it is unbelievable, especially so, because it is Heroes!

    May I suggest, that it would be right and proper of Parlophone to offer customers the opportunity to send their Heroes CD/Vinyl (without the covers, etc) back to them and in return, customers would receive a repressing of Heroes with the issue corrected. This would obviously mean that they would have to source Heroes from a different master tape!

    Regarding the other complaints, I’m pleased to say that I have not been conditioned by all the negative criticism pertaining to Low and Lodger. I think they are brilliant! Whether one likes them or not is purely subjective!

  85. Chris Squires says:

    Got mine last Friday, Vinyl edition…. and thought I’d wait until I had actually listened to it before doing what the internet does best, bullying and band-wagon jumping.

    I admit I am not the biggest Bowie fan out there but have been an interested, casual listener over the years.

    I have to say it sounds fine to me. The “drop” that I heard during Heroes is nothing like I was expecting. I half thought it would go silent for 45 seconds with only the sound of Tony Visconti laughing with a rickety old-age cough to be heard the way some were going on. If taking offence were to be an Olympic sport the internet would have it’s own team.

    To me, most editions are part of a journey that will never end because the journey can’t end. All we have to decide is whether we want to jump on or off at any point by buying or not buying. There is no definitive edition of anything because how would we know it couldn’t be bettered. It’s something different and I applaud it for that. Each to their own of course and one might have a favourite version but no-one can state one version is categorically better than another, it’s just opinion.
    By the way I have never been to the Hoffman group or whatever it is and I pray I never will, talk about taking the fun out of life and reducing it to specs on a graph (You were 3% happier this time last year and 1 % fatter). Give me Paul’s humanity site any day, look at the art not the numbers. These are pieces of art which can never be turned into Nurses or hip-replacements by pure Math. (Or mortgages and car insurance in my case).

    The German 3for2 almost broke me but I don’t care, reduce it all to money and figures and it is rendered pointless. Who needs insurance when you have Slade – yeah!!!

    Long live SDE!

    • Paul Sinclair says:

      Ha! Thanks Chris, for making me laugh with your third paragraph. Not sure which side is ‘winning’ in this extended dicussion, but great to read all the opinions. A bit of humour and perspective is always going to go down better than anger and insults!

    • Trash says:

      @Chris – couldn’t agree more…

      Reminds me of when I was young and used to read hifi specs to see which turntable had 0.01% less Wow and Flutter than the others. Then my dad pointed out that all the old stuff he used to play me (as a small child) was all on ropey 8-track cartridge and it never stopped me from enjoying it. It kind of put things in perspective.
      Of course I wouldn’t want to go back to those days :-)

      • Chris Squires says:

        Hey Trash, nothing ever matches up to memories. I learned to drive around Birmingham in my Dad’s 1972 Morris Marina (by now 12 years old) – The awful brown colour and I thought it (and I) was just THE business. It would handle, and feel like crap now, but my memory of it was pure adolescent perfection. Probably the same goes for records. Nothing, not even 1/2 speed mastered 45rpm onecut (or whatever it is) virgin vinyl will match the memory of putting Ommadawn on for the first time in 1979, dust’n’all.

  86. Andrew r says:

    Sorry cocked up the statement but was the same explanation
    they gave paul.

  87. Andrew r says:

    just received this from burning shed . Parlophone not for turning it seems
    Those of you that got a discount from amazon were lucky it seems!Hi

    We have received a couple of queries about a “fault” on this box set as a result of poor reviews on other sites.

    Warners have issued the following statement:

    “Please see below from Parlophone regarding the perceived issues with the new David Bowie box –

    Please see below the statement that will be shared on Bowie’s official channels. NB we will not be sending out replacement discs to anyone as this is NOT an audio fault.

  88. F. Ger says:

    This box set needs to be recalled.The sound quality is very poor and in some instances is unlistenable.This is a very expensive set.The problem with the “Heroes” track is horrible and the mastering throughout the other cds is very bad.Only “Low” sounds a little bit enjoyable to my ears.Parlaphone please correct this for the people who have bought this set.Thank you.

  89. Trash says:

    Just wondering if ANCIANT-Gate is even bigger than Flowers in the Dirt-Gate…

  90. Derek Langsford says:

    I don’t have the set, and don’t plan to get it, but this discussion piqued my curiosity so I went to Spotify to check out Heroes to hear what the issue was all about.

    Yes, there is a slight increase in volume at 2:42, but then a sudden drop at 2:50 that sounds like the song is fading out but holds until the end. It is not just an audio illusion, it is real, as one can skip from the first half to the second half of the song and hear a difference.

    While the mix up to 2:42 sounds rich and full compared to the other’s available, the volume drop in fullness at 2:50 is gutting. On one run through of the track I manually increased the volume at 2:50 and made it sound more consistent and listenable than the original. Seems like it could have been an easy fix with today’s technology.

    I can’t be sympathetic to Parlophone as they are trying to pull the wool over our eyes. It is disingenuous to assert it was the master and that the post-2:50 volume is the same as the pre-2:50 volume when it is demonstrably different. Does no one believe in integrity or quality control anymore? It’s quite sad as the mix could have been the definitive one without the flaw. I hope Parlophone see the light, admit their mistake, fix the issue, and replace the bad LPs and CDs for those who have paid the high price fro this set.

  91. memoryboy says:

    OMG!! The Drama!

  92. Demetrios Patsiaris says:

    The audio drop in Heroes is no longer present in the Spotify version. I’ve now listened to it twice.

  93. Darren Briscoe says:

    Well I’ve now listened to my vinyl box and I LOVE it!!!! The new Lodger mix is wonderful and the revised Stage tracklist makes it feel more like a concert. As for all these sound problems… 50 year old ears haven’t noticed them …but they DO recognize great music when they hear it!.
    And Paul…..thank you! For this article……for the deal alerts….. For being the first site I visit each morning…. And for being a nice bloke in general.

  94. Mick says:

    Paul – thank You for Your tireless effort on the behalf of we, the consumers.
    The excuse that the master tapes were used here for the first(?) time being the reason for the level drop in “Heroes” is feeble. What is the point of mastering in the first place? Mastering is often a last stop chance to correct sonic deficiencies. It was apparently done on most/all previous releases of this song…and should have been done here as well.

    I have no problem with Mr. Visconti’s re-imagining of the mixes (I’m a bass player, so I love a lot of bottom end in mixes). These Berlin-era albums would naturally be bassier than previous Bowie albums. Keep in mind that on the Ziggy-era recordings Trevor Bolder used a Gibson short-scale bass guitar, which are notorious for lack of bottom end. So subsequent recordings with different bass players using different guitars would yield a more traditional bottom end.
    My problem here is the low DR/brickwalling. The Visconti remixes on these box sets are significantly louder/lower DR than the original mixes. In fact, this ENTIRE box is lower DR/sound quality than the previous boxes as a whole. Paul – You said “Parlophone denied that these are overly compressed – that was mentioned in the conversation.” This tells me Parlophone are in complete denial mode (rather than damage-control mode) so, subsequently, we can whistle “Dixie” before we see any replacement discs/masterings.
    Sad. I own all three sets as hi-res FLAC downloads, but so far I have none on CD. I was planning on taking advantage of the Amazon Germany buy 2/get 1 deal on all three CD sets – but this ANCIANT debacle has kaboshed those plans. Congratulations Parlophone – my hard earned $$ will be spent elsewhere.

    • Martijn says:

      Just to clarify, apart from Lodger (the new 2017 Remix) the albums in this set have not been remixed by Tony Visconti. He oversaw the remastering (in which apparently a boost of the lower end was applied plus lots of compression), but there are no remixes of Low, “Heroes” or Scary Monsters in this set. And the original Lodger is also not a remix.

  95. Punk Anderson says:

    A lot of somewhat misleading comments here about “wanting perfection”. That’s not the point at all. I’d happily live with a sub-par phase of “Heroes” of a few seconds where the master tape was damaged. And I absolutely respect any decision to stick with the original master.

    Thing is, they didn’t stick with that flawed but still legendary master. They tried to fix the thing. And they made a meal of it. On the most iconic, unforgettable song of the entire album.

    Of course, Parlophone telling us we’ve all heard wrong, there’s no volume drop at all, doesn’t help either. But nah, no one demands perfection, a few of us just don’t appreciate hapless masking of IMperfection.

    Especially when the darn thing costs a fortune on vinyl.

    • Kevin from Edinburgh says:

      The comments on sound now run to nearly 300.

      Is now the time to start discussing the fact that the new box isn’t laminated?

      ‘Laminate-gate’ anyone?

  96. Daniel Wylie says:

    From Paul’s, piece on the Moody Blues reissue:
    ‘Technology’ has allowed the repair of the audio from the original tapes. Wake up Parlophone.

  97. Leo says:

    The statement from parlaphone is pure rubbish, trying to fool people into believing that this is how it should be done ?? I have my opinion and i have my ears, this is the only Heroes release that has this problem ! then we have Low, it sounds like it’s being played in a trunk of a car, plus glitches and drop outs galore on all the other records and the recall3 album full of stuff we don’t need??? Last but not least two versions of stage , oh yeah fantastic job !!

  98. noyoucmon says:

    Can’t speak for the ANCIANT box, but I bought the standalone Parlophone vinyl edition of Aladdin Sane and the sound is such a disaster on it that I’ve got no need for further new Parlophone editions of Bowie’s work. Pity.

  99. Brian says:

    Whew I’m glad I didn’t rush out and spend my hard earned cash for something of its price now. If any of you aren’t happy with your boxset and are willing to sell your boxset at a greatly reduced price, please let me know and I will gladly take it off your hands.

    • Will says:

      Sure I’d gladly sell you mine so you can take advantage of my loss. UNREAL that you would openly express relief at not having bought the boxset and then soliciting someone to sell to you one cheap!

  100. Bobbyjean says:

    Paul has his opinion and people are forgetting that he’s entitled to it.I like the box set personally and the heroes thing doesn’t affect me.I have the original heroes but I prefer this sound drop or not.Paul isn’t the spokesperson for this box set so why keep going on to him about it.he got you the answer from the record company .anymore problems and im sure people should write to them or send them a want answer’s Paul simply can’t give.keep up all the good work Paul

  101. A New Excuse For A New Box Set. says:

    I`ve sent my vinyl and CD box sets back. I ain`t takin` in no Parlophone bollox.

  102. Paulix says:

    In regards to people complaining about being able to hear tape hiss
    Personally I say leave it alone, don’t use noise reduction in any way.
    It tends to cut the natural sound and decay around instruments/vocals , suppressing some high frequencies and deafening the overall sound.
    Yes technology has moved on in regards to noise reduction software for studio use but it’s effdfts are audible, certainly around pianos
    Listen to some of the remasters of Elton John for example and compare them with the originals where you can hear a notes decay cut short from the use of such systems.

  103. Paulix says:

    Everyone is talking about the volume drop on the track “Heroes” at 2:50 but has no-one heard the volume increase at 2:42?
    Very noticeable.
    I must say though that the album “LOW” is clearly better quality than any RCA / RYKO /EMI etc etc issues out there in comparison.
    It definitely sounds like it’s from the original master tape.
    Makes you wonder just which master “copy” has been used previously.

    • William says:

      Paulix – Ryko used the master tapes held by Bowie.

      The ANCIANT release of Low has the lowest dynamic range of any issue of the album.

      The Ryko release has the highest dynamic range.

      It’s sad (to me) that the most compressed issue of the record can be considered the best. Has the loudness war really changed the way we expect to hear popular music?

      Horses for courses, but I’ll stick with my rykodiscs!

    • cmcintyre says:

      Paulix, you’re correct – there is a very noticeable volume increase after @2:42 ( followed by a drop). Here is an excerpt of one of my posts on the SHMF that identifies that, and attempts to explain why there is a “perceived” volume drop. In summary, the vocal level immediately before and after the rise is quite different, even though on all previous editions this is not the case – the vocal level remains constant.

      ” there are two basic vocal sections – the first (with just a close mic) and the second when Tony Visconti employed a gating system (as David sang louder and louder two mics would open up, one at a time, capturing the room reverb).

      What surprised me when clicking back and forth on earlier digital versions, is in the second section, the vocals, while sung louder and with more reverb, are not recorded louder than vocals in the first section. The effect is louder, but strip away that reverb and I’d say the main unadorned vocal line in the second section is actually a little quieter. A very clever audio illusion by Tony Visconti, that’s been there all along. The original master of “Heroes” was /is a very finely tuned balance of illusion and sound.

      The problem with the volume drop is there, but now I can describe it succinctly and why it’s sticks out so much – the last vocal line of the first section “just for one day”, which occurs after the change (small rise and fall @ 2.46/7) is at a softer volume than the section that precedes the change. That is not how it is presented on earlier releases – that vocal line is at the same volume as the preceding section on earlier releases.

      Bring the volume up in the second section so the final vocal line (“just for one day” @ 2:54) in the first section is at the same volume as the earlier verses and it’s about where it’s meant to be. (“Meant to be” = presented on all previous editions).

      In addition to any tape faults – I suspect I know what’s caused/contributed to it too – the compression that’s been added. The squashing down of the dynamics has resulted in a shift of the vocal level in both sections, and because they are at different levels in the first place, the difference has been amplified.

      Am I suggesting that the perceived fault is OK? No, not at all – but perhaps it will be easier for someone related to the project to understand what it is exactly, where to ‘measure it’ and how to correct it.”

      For people following that vocal line – (end of the ‘dolphins’ verse – “just for one day”) – they will find the volume drop of the vocal jarring. I believe that’s the trigger for the response we’ve observed (about the drop in volume on “Heroes”).

      Hope that is helpful.

  104. regan judson says:

    Paul, you run a great site here! It makes me a bit Ill that Some feel the need to drag your name into this Bowie mess, as if you are some mouthpiece for the label. Nice job even getting them discuss it! Keep up the good work! We appreciate your honest assessments.

  105. David says:

    I do not get this….”Heroes” sounds like a joke now. End of discussion. The label can say what it wants. The thing itself really annoys me but this “but it all looks so nice” and “they even explained it, so it’s all good now” stuff is killing me. Yes it’s a beautiful set, but they slaughtered the title track and don’t even admit it!!!!

  106. William says:

    Rob Jones –

    Companies that succeed take customer satisfaction very seriously. Ones with the attitude “if you don’t like it, don’t buy it” tend not to succeed.

    This is the umpteenth re-issue of this music in several years. The law of diminishing returns has led Parlophone to maximise the profits of a small number of sales. The days of best-ofs like ChangesBowie selling millions and being in the top forty for a year are gone.

    So I don’t think the “don’t like it don’t buy it” attitude is the correct one in this case either for the company, which is selling to a tiny subset of a dwindling customer base; nor that subset, who want, at last, the best possible versions that technology allows. It’s not the correct attitude because, with this set, I am sure we are in the “don’t buy it” territory.

    The news of this balls-up is everywhere. The early-adopters and pre-orderers are essentially where the sales for these boxes are at. There’s a long shallow tail in sales, and these things sit on the shelf for years. These threads are not helping sales, the terrible reviews on Amazon will be crippling. It’s all over social media. Of all the songs on that set, there is one that you just have to get right. They got it wrong. It got the punters going through the rest of the set with a fine toothed comb.

    I think it’s perfectly valid that the lifelong fans that are buying these products should be able to complain, whinge and moan when the company gets it wrong. And it is right that the company should listen and make things right. I don’t think there will be a recall, but am pretty sure that the wheels are in motion to get that particular song remastered, the discs repressed and replacements sent out.

  107. Rob Jones says:

    Had to skip a lot of responses on this thread just to put in my two P’s worth.

    It’s the snobbery that’s crushing me.

    There seems to be a lot of people with a little remastering experience (and noticeably younger ears) who are thinking they will get the remastered version that THEY want if they scream & complain about it loud and often.

    Personally I prefer the original recordings and I don’t see much can be done to improve or disimprove(?) my enjoyment of a track like Heroes or an album like Lodger. So re-mastering doesn’t affect me so I have no need to own it.

    If however you think there was a problem with the originals or subsequent remasters or a completist looking for your own personal mix, I feel you really are chasing a unicorn.

    Bowie has gone and any subsequent work isn’t wholly his, so just don’t buy it if you’re not happy that someone else is twiddling the knobs.

    • Martijn says:

      Which ‘original recordings’ are you talking about? And how can we get those?
      The point why many are now loudly complaining is that, with the chance that with this reissue this time they finally can get “Heroes” to sound good, they again mess it up. While the EQ of the remaster might be OK, its dynamics are crushed so it doesn’t sound good (certainly not at reasonable to high volume). Plus, on one of Bowie’s most iconic tracks they overcorrect some issue in such a way that you have a noticeable drop in volume for a large part of the song.
      So yes, people will be disappointed. And complain loudly so hopefully this can be done right.

  108. Auntie Sabrina says:

    So, The Moody Blues original tape from 1967 can be repaired and used for their Days Of Future Passed, but tapes for later recordings like Heroes cannot receive the same treatment..?

    Looks like you’ll be needing a bigger blog

  109. Scott says:

    Thanks for the YouTube link to the Heroes glitch. Now that I hear it I think you are being fed a load of nonsense. That is no tape fault. If there’s a problem with a master it usually sounds like a fluctuation between channels or on one channel, i.e. a tape crimp or damage. Tapes just don’t drop evenly in volume without additional anomalies, unless it was done during the original mixdown but then you would have heard it on all previous editions. Perhaps someone decided to bump down the volume because of the excessive compression that was happening, but did they think no one would notice? This is a very easily rectified “fault”. I once spent a total of 10 hours remastering one song (granted, it was from a very damaged acetate test pressing), but when people have the luxury of master tapes, One would think they would at least pay attention for a few minutes and correct something if they hear it, especially something this simple.

  110. brickwalled-billy says:

    that should say “can” not “can’t” – quick put a +-6db automation on that sentence before anyone notices!

  111. Bob M says:

    My CD box hasn’t arrived yet and I wish I hadn’t seen this whole thing – sorry Paul – really appreciate all you do for us music fans and collectors! But after going through all these comments, where indeed some people like it, more not, I have to wonder about the unspoken stuff. Firstly, what kind of kit you have, then how is your room acoustics, and then, your overall taste in bass and treble ratios. For example, I checked out a list on What Hi Fi of the best CDs for audiophile testing. I happened to have some of them, and checked them out with “new” ears. Some were indeed well recorded and sounded sweet on my system, but then some were average at best and one was just plain awful. To be honest, I stopped going to Hoffman as so much was about technical measuring and loudness and all this stuff when in fact you can’t claim to have the “right” opinion when others don’t have the same listening conditions. If there is an actual fault on the recording, that’s a different ball game and should be addressed properly.

    • Paul Sinclair says:

      Mastering discussions obviously form part of assessing the merit of box sets that feature reissued music, but I have no desire to go down the Steve Hoffman Forum route with graphs, white coats, measuring how thick the granite is that you place your speakers on and deciding one CD sounds better than another because some software told you it has DR rating of 9.2 and not 8.7. I have reasonable kit – OPPO 105, Rega Planar 3, etc. – but I’m not obsessed with hardware. I probably enjoyed Kate Bush’s Hounds Of Love MORE when I was 15 listening to it on the original cassette tape than I have ever done via the Audio Fidelity vinyl remaster when in my 40s. Music is about passion, enthusiasm, discovery, connecting with people (who like the same thing) and can be truly life changing. A slightly better sounding remaster has never changed anyone’s life.

      • William says:

        Paul, I agree 100% with you when you say that we should not decide A sounds better than B because some software told us.

        But I don’t think that is happening (at least for me, and a lot of people from what I gather from review and forums).

        What is happening is that flaws (and there are many of them) have been noticed by listening to the records; and that audiophiles with their software have confirmed what we can all hear.

        Nearly everybody has heard the volume drop on Heroes for example. We do not need software to tell us. The record company then lies that there is not a volume drop and offers some waffly BS and a wave of the arm. So the audiophiles prove it with their software. It’s sad that it has to come to that. The honourable thing would have been for the record company to admit what the fault was (instead of lying and telling us what it wasn’t) and offering replacement discs etc. I will be gobsmacked if this doesn’t happen soon.

      • J says:

        Agreed. Hoffman is a trail not worth traveling. They are still mad @ me since I built a stage & put nine (9) JBL monitors on it. Although twisted it sounds great & can break (crack) windows. What fun!!!!

      • Andrew r says:

        +1 bravo Paul its the distance from its release+ how much older you are
        that really counts.

    • brickwalled-billy says:

      the steve hoffman forum have had issues with all three sets and it’s mostly gone unnoticed outside of the site – the fact that this one has spilled over into the rest of the internet means that the errors are far more obvious for most listeners. everyone can hear the problem with heroes, you’ve got to be hard of hearing not to notice that.

      paul likes to point out the packaging and original artwork etc… which is perfectly fine, nobody says he’s nitpicking when he says a cover design doesn’t look right or authentic. i don’t understand why the same shouldn’t apply for those who do the same with the music – using audiophile like it’s a dirty word – phile means a liker or lover of something.

      so rather than people saying “i’m no audiophile!”, or “i’m tired of these audiophiles” maybe they should say “i’m not really a great lover of audio myself” etc… instead

      • Paul Sinclair says:

        Packaging isn’t as subjective as mastering. If the repackaging of a vinyl record is shoddy, most people will agree – photo is not sharp, they haven’t used the right font, etc. etc. But with remastering it’s just constant arguments and one person saying ‘brickwalled’ and another saying ‘it sounds great’. A never-ending loop of noise.

        • William says:

          Thing is Paul, when one person listens to the music and thinks “brickwalled”, they can at least show evidence that it is: that is – empirical evidence that is independent of their subjective hearing. A completely deaf person, would see the evidence (say a waveform) and say, “yup, brickwalled”.

          “Sounds great” is, as you say, a subjective never-ending loop of noise. Some people prefer “brickwalled” records (this is obvious, or it would not be the current vogue); some people prefer a larger dynamic range. I tend to find brickwalled recordings fatiguing. I cannot listen to the Next Day all the way through for example.

          Most hardcore fans – the ones buying expensive box sets rather than listening to brickwalled remasters through youtube on a laptop – would tend to prefer the larger dynamic range, because most of us have pretty decent sound system in which the dynamic range is pleasant and gives the music some dimensionality. Others prefer that everything is now the same volume, and the previously quiet sax’s are as loud as the lead guitars.

          • Paul Sinclair says:

            True.. but it’s the “why-do-you-think-this-sounds-good-when-I’m-showing-you-a-graph-that-proves-it-doesn’t” that I object to. It verges on bullying at times. Ears always trump data as far as I’m concerned. I’ve heard masterings which sound awful and you do a bit of research and everyone agrees. But I’ve also heard stuff which I don’t mind (probably somewhere in the middle) and you get people aggressively telling you it’s a “brick-walled mess” and they’ve got the “empirical evidence” to prove it. Bugger off, is my response to that.

        • brickwalled-billy says:

          what would your opinion be if, say for example, peter blake was to step in on the last sgt pepper reissue and say – “back in 1967 i actually wanted to make the cover 3d, but we didn’t have the time – so now here’s the new sgt pepper cover as i always intended!” – would you feel that this was acceptable as he was the cover designer?

          • Paul Sinclair says:

            Revised covers are actually a thing. See The Queen Is Dead, or Phil Collins’ reissues, or kd lang’s last reissue!

          • brickwalled-billy says:

            i asked if you are ok with it rather than if it’s a thing. you pointing that out does, in itself, shows that there can be a subjective element to cover art etc… it’s not a cut & dry subject either. you yourself point out things on these covers that are not exact (logo obviously – although i don’t think they had to do that – slight colour change on heroes etc…).
            these sets really have me promoted as replications of the albums – the cover art, the fan club leaflets and inserts etc… and the music up until this new press release was that they were giving the public the original albums in upgraded sound. they’ve refused to use anything that was not released at the time and have doubled up on a number of albums for authenticity. absolutely nothing about these sets has suggested anything other than releasing the work from the period as it was made at the time. so if they’d done something odd with the artwork i am sure you’d very quickly pick them up on it. which is why in terms of audio content – the press release about adding more bass to low because that is what they wanted at the time (and that bit about “what they wanted at the time” is really the important bit) doesn’t fit in with that ethos at all – it’s just one of the excuses which makes no sense, it’s nothing to do with being an “audiophile” to see the inconsistency in what they are saying.

          • Wayne Klein says:

            Well they did that on the deluxe Pepper. ;)

        • Eric says:

          “Brickwalled” is a description that can be visually identified/demonstrated, though, whereas our enjoyment is indeed subjective. Brickwalling is more likely to induce listener fatigue and take away some of the nuances at louder volumes, but equally it is not automatically going to sound bad to some people.

          Waveforms and other data can reveal a lot about a recording, but ultimately it’s our ears which tell us whether it’s a pleasant experience to listen to it or not.

          (As for “Heroes” debacle, that’s another thing entirely, I’m just musing on remastering in general).

        • Kevin says:

          The problem with brickwalling is that both can be true. Often, louder initially does sound better; it is with continued or repeated listening that the drawbacks of brickwalling (i.e., listening fatigue due to the lack of dynamic range) become apparent.

  112. Jakob says:

    Honestly, I’m not sure I’d notice the “loss of energy” or thought much about it if I hadn’t read this story. I’m not enough of a Bowie-phile to think more than “Oh, funny I never noticed that before” and just assume it’d always been there. Now, can I unhear it now that I know it’s there? Yes, I think so.

    • brickwalled-billy says:

      why would you notice a “loss of energy” now, that’s the issue they’ve said they’d fixed. they’ve fixed the loss of energy with an increase in volume, followed by either a perceived (if you take the execs words as fact) or real (if you view the wav file) loss of volume straight after it.
      i think you’re gettin confused about what’s going on, i can’t quite understand why – based on the pr response, though.

  113. Mikey Roberts says:

    Paul – I think it’s really great that you care so much about the music and about your SDE audience that you have taken the time to get stuck into this. Thank you!

    FWIW – as for the box, I have the CD version and am thrilled with it – ‘Heroes’ sonic fudging notwithstanding.

  114. Mark Sach says:

    The shame of the Heroes track is that, despite this ‘loss of energy’ blip, the dynamics of the song has been altered too. The original as per vinyl, cd, etc, gradually builds in volume as the track becomes more dense, until just after the said 2.50 mark, it really kicks up a gear, especially volume wise. Now, it has been flat lined, which has resulted in crap dynamics.
    The rest of the set sounds fantastic, especially in Hi Resolution.

  115. Jeff S says:

    Heroes is the crown jewel here, shame they couldn’t get it right

  116. Todd Rawson says:

    Sorry Parlophone – not buying your explanation or this box. What’s the point of preserving the “integrity of the master tapes” when the entire thing is a horrible brick walled mess? Has Tony Visconti gone deaf? Stop brick walling remasters and I’ll start buying them.

  117. Bobbyjean says:

    Has anyone noticed that if your drunk and you play heroes backwards you don’t notice any dip in sound.but it does sound different

  118. Tom R says:

    I am with Visconti on this one. Those Bowie records sounded overly tinny to me at the time even if you didn’t buy those wafer thin Portuguese pressings from a pile em high sell em cheap jeans store. I have bought every iteration on cd and this new (though surely not the last) version now sounds like the record I thought I had been listening to all along.

    Anyone who saw Bowie play any of these songs live in that ere would have a pretty good idea of how they were meant to sound and although there was a lot of “wild mercury” in the top end of things there was plenty of dance floor bass too.

    So I am glad that “Low” in particular has had the “Metal Box” treatment – in sonic terms at least. Though it would actually be interesting to have that record on three or four 12″ singles. Heresy for many, I know, but I am more interested in the overall experience than whether there is a minor sonic hiccup somewhere.

    Maybe someone should ask Eno what he thinks of them?

    Now if you want to talk about what is really missing from these sets lets talk about the tracks that should and could have been included.

    • Andrew r says:

      Finally a voice of sanity.They were never very good sonically to begin with
      the changes people want are imaginary .What next a sonically lush Clash lp?
      remixed with synthesizers?. People want perfection from an imperfect medium.

  119. Lee Lewell says:

    I have just listened to Heroes and it just sounds plain wrong… surely the whole point of the remaster is to have it sound “better”? give it to Steve Wilson to fix

  120. Trash says:

    I’m pretty shocked by some of the comments on here regarding Mr Visconti. I don’t necessarily always like his production (The Next Day and Heathen have never been to my taste) but Bowie chose to work with him. Bowie who had a very very critical ear and a great sense of what he wanted, sanctioned those albums and how he wanted them to sound. For that reason alone Visconti deserves a lot of respect (and that’s ignoring all the other production work he has done over the years).

    As for the boxed set. No, I’m not happy about Heroes (whatever the whys and wherefores mayb be) but I’m not going to let it ruin my enjoyment of what is one of the greatest periods of work by one of our greatest artists (imho) or, for that matter, let it ruin my day.
    As someone else said on this site – unfortunately remasters always seem to be a gamble. Lloyd Cole and Andy Partridge seem to be able to get them right but they personally put a lot of care and attention into the process. Not all artists seem to have the time or the inclination (and we, the fans, are also notoriously hard to please).

  121. Pingback:Review: David Bowie’s Lodger. 2017 Remaster vs 2017 Visconti Remix | superdeluxeedition

  122. Martin says:

    Complained and was given 30%refund so will take that I guess

  123. Daveyman says:

    To be honest i’m a bit lost in all this (and with other releases which have raised issues) – what exactly is either the fan/consumer and the artist (or curator if so required) actually wanting to present or hear when more reissues/remasters of their favourite albums come out?

    Is it:
    1. Sonic clarity with no hiss/drop outs/mistakes etc – meaning either a full remix using the multi-tracks or at least a full digital clean up/correcting of the original master tape?

    2. The album as the artist originally intended it to be heard- which means to me an exact copy of what we got as either vinyl or CD from day 1 release/pressing – which is in my humble opinion is what we all remember and cherish anyway?

    3. or this strange term ‘ like you are hearing it live in the studio’ which to me is complete nonsense and would have no bearing on what the final record would be anyway, especially after mastering and cutting etc processes have been involved?

    Personally i’d prefer to hear new remixed versions (á la new Lodger 2017) of the albums than yet another remaster – as at least then we are hearing something new from the original, and will gladly live with this and enjoy as such – the original staying preserved as is without all the unnecessary modern compression gubbins etc added…

    In summing up, i’m confused as hell as to what we want/expect most of the time – to me these box sets (and many others like them) are an exercise in presentation with nicely included books etc to which the albums are added.

    Nothing wrong with that, but all the hullabaloo about one track error – which could have been rectified at the time in all honestly – just makes me wonder what exactly are we wanting?

    there, done…as you were :-)

  124. John Barleycorn says:

    Talk about kicking a label when they are down but… I was listening to the previous box (‘Who Can I Be Now? 1974-1975’) last night and played the ‘David Live (2005 Mix)’ discs but noticed that the hardback book track listing did not match the one printed on the disc gatefold sleeve itself.
    Book says disc 1 has 12 tracks ending with Knock On Wood but disc 1 actually concludes on track 11 which is ‘Watch That Man’.
    It’s a crummy error for sure.

  125. J says:

    Nice work. As of now on Amazon USA you can buy this for $109. There are 52 reviews. 10% 5 Star and 61% 1 Star. Never seen that before. Super snarky comments. In the mid-90s people like Dr. John W.C. Van Bogart (yes that is a real person) studied tape life. 1st gen master is thought to last 30 years with about 8 to 12 percent degradation. The change is audible. RCA knows this. I do not believe TV would do anything to harm David’s legacy. I think Tony & David bought a 6 pack turned up the bass and found it to be very cool. I actually like it even though it is different.

  126. Andrew r says:

    Realistically the only versions of anything worth having are the originals
    The copies that were manufactured when the artist was
    a) alive b) still involved in the process c) young enough and enthusiastic enough
    to care .Finally all this pop ephemera was never designed to be a great everlasting work of art like classical music .It was disposable, meant to be listened to on whatever “player” you had to hand ,before moving on to the next “flavour” to paraphrase mr A Ant . Maybe its the lack of new “heroes” that makes us set impossible standards for the old ones? All i know is Bowie’s back catalogue was never designed for so much chin stroking punditry it was “pop” art of its time.

    • Will says:

      Yes, but it was so good it transcended those old rules, it became classical music so to speak. It indeed is important music and should be treated as such. The original Impressionists were considered “Fauves” and child like. Imagine if that art was treated as such!

  127. Bogdan says:

    While waiting for my vinyl box set to arrive, I purchased the hi-res download of A New Career in a New Town. To these ears, the sound of the new remasters is spectacular. They sound warm and really bring out the details and they made me feel like the Great Man was standing in front of me, singing. Can’t wait for the box set to arrive! I must say I didn’t care much for the perceived drop in volume in the Heroes title track; when I finished listening to the album, all I could think about was: “that’s such incredible music!”.

  128. elliott buckingham says:

    only wish rhino would address issues so quickly been trying to get in touch with dr rhino about the errors on the pressing for zztop eliminator red vinyl reissue and heard nothing.

  129. Andrew says:

    It’s a shame to read so many disrespectful comments here. People ask for studio masters without understanding the limitations. Generation loss, degradation before you even have to tackle baking the things.
    This is all subjective, what you like, I may not like if that is the case do not buy it. These sets were designed to be a comprehensive collection of all ‘officially’ released recordings. ‘The Gouster’ and ‘Lodger Visconti mix’ must have had approval from Bowie prior to his passing. These are not demos in the sense and I understand the inclusion in these sets. Do I want to hear ‘mix 4a Tuesday the 7th’?? Not really and perhaps only once. Some of the Michael Jackson demos out there are him beat boxing down a phone. Try getting a studio master of that out on a vinyl box set.

  130. Firstly, congratulations Paul on this article. Record companies are usually reticent in talking to the “punters”, but you have done a sterling job on our part. When I heard the title track from “Heroes” from the box for the first time I thought it was a different mix as it sounded so different to what I was used to. Fripp’s guitar parts seemed so much more clearly defined. The volume drop I just took as a change in dynamics of the track and didn’t find it too jarring. It is interesting how it is becoming problematic in using original master tapes now, as they are degenerating. Sometimes best to use copy tapes, or go back to the multis and remix. When I heard the recently remastered ELP track “Fanfare for the Common Man” from Works, it had a drop out near the end which I had never heard before. It did sound like tape wear, so going back to the original source does not always provide the best results.

  131. Roland K. says:

    What’s it all digital versions of Bowie cds are badly done besides the 1984 release of RCA, funny enough done by making use of casette masters… Strange, isn’t it? The best (or: less worst) release is done more than 30 years ago.

    It seems the record industry does hate someone like Bowie – and even more fans of his music.

  132. Plonk77 says:

    I’m ok with most of what has been said but the Heroes explanation is total rubbish. There is no way that should have been released as is and I’m sure there are any number of things that could have been done to rectify it. It’s not as if this set is being marketed as flat transfers of the master tapes or anything like that. Even if they couldn’t fix it, why didn’t they explain it prior to the box release?

    Anyway, I feel they are trying to make up a story to match the facts and that is really disappointing and insulting to the people who shelled out £200 for the privilege. I’m actually enjoying most of the set but the Heroes thing and their reaction is really disappointing.

    • steve carroll says:

      Yes Plonk77. What Parlophone is offering up as a ‘defense’ is indeed rubbish. It is straight out of the corporate play book: “You’re holding your phone wrong”; “We had no idea that some of our engineers were cheating on emission tests” and so on. They should do the right thing and repress and re-issue ‘Heroes’. Someone at a high level decided to release a faulty product because they believed it was a more cost effective option. Do they think we’re deaf or stupid? And now they have the nerve to insult our intelligence with PR worthy of the current Whitehouse.

      • Wayne Klein says:

        Indeed–at least the Heroes issue should be fixed. I also think the original Mix of a lodger needs restoration. Low was a mastering choice (a bad one) by Visconti.

  133. David says:

    Hi Paul again thank you very much for your great site and your love for music. I have been a constant visitor of SDE throughout the last year. And I am fully aware of the fact that some “audiophiles” are nitpicking on every little thing. And insulting Tony Visconti who is such a great man all over the internet is a total disgrace. But you not once stated your opinion about the “Heroes” 2017 remaster. Because for me that’s the only real flaw of the boxset, but so big it really ruins the whole set. And I do not believe that somebody does not here that flaw.

  134. Auntie Sabrina says:

    Mr X, your rights are with the UK seller regardless of whether the boxset is an import from the USA

  135. Steve says:

    Had an email from Amazon saying they had taken the boxset off sale until they’d heard from the manufacturer about the defect.

  136. Mic Smith says:

    My copy of the third CD box is waiting for me when I return from a short trip tomorrow so I’ll have to keep an open mind about the problems mentioned on here and over at the Hoffman Forum until I hear it for myself. Rather than get into a debate over the explanation given by Parlophone it does seem the problem was fixable without leaving the “apparent” drop in volume. I still have the Ryko versions from this set to fall back on if I don’t like the sound of the remasters but that does put a large dent in my decision to get the box set if these are not the go to versions. Parlophone’s reputation for doing right by Bowie fans leaves something to be desired (the dreadful Fashion and Scary Monsters single edits on Nothing Has Changed spring to mind for instance) so this could just be viewed as just another example of that. But I had always hoped that these boxes might be the last word on Bowie’s back catalogue (providing they do some sort of rarities mopping up exercise with the stuff they decided to omit) and it appears that isn’t the case which is a disappointment.

  137. How come the over-compressing and killing of all dynamics (in the mastering stage) on these new discs were never addressed? I understand it’s an artistic decision, but you’d think all parties involved have finally learned. I’m not opposed to some nice compression in mastering, but these tracks have had the life squeezed from them. It certainly does not make this new box set sound “modern” or “competive.” If anything, It actually sounds dated – like 2003…in a bad way. It wreaks of old guard trying to be hip and “stay relevant”. Another missed opportunity to properly present one of the great catalogs in the history of recorded music. My $0.02.

    • Paul Sinclair says:

      Parlophone denied that these are overly compressed – that was mentioned in the conversation.

      • brickwalled-billy says:

        The dynamic range on Low & Heroes, just as two examples, are the worst from ANY release of the album available on the dr-loudness war website:

        It’s an utter lie.

        • William says:


          yup – and the Ryko releases have the greatest DR. Ryko used the master tapes (which were 27 years younger than they are now); and used a stellar engineer, Dr Toby Mountain.

          I’m not usually one to pour over waveforms; but here the use of them as evidence against Parlophone’s lies (yes, lies) are utterly justified.

          Parlophone must realise that a greater part of the audience that is buying this box set knows the music inside-out and that it would be impossible to BS them? I’ve been listening to it for 30 years, many other people, for 40 years. I’ve heard every re-issue (since the Ryko discs) suck the DR out of the music to the point they sound like they were taped from an FM broadcast.

          Now Bowie is dead, surely proper deluxe treatment of his music is required?

          We know what happened to the Heroes bodge – they made a mistake and didn’t notice it. Simple quality control issues. We know what has happened to the rest of the music: fashion for loudness and a producer’s ego that he now knows better than the musical geniuses – and his younger, fresher, self – that made the music all those years ago.

      • I disagree, but thank you.

    • Correction: *reeks not wreaks. I thank you.

    • Schylar Shoates says:

      Typo: *reeks of. Thank ya kindly.

  138. Matthew Hudson says:

    What have you been saying to Amazon for them to give you a partial refund?

  139. David says:

    I really like this site and congrats for creating something like this. Nevertheless I really get the impression that this is more about rehabilitation of the product than the truth. Because that is just not a good explanation from Parlophone. Otherwise they would said something like: we tried the best available source apart from the original mastertape, but the original mastertape was so superior to the best other available source that we decided to go with this flaw. But to say we used a faulty source just on principle makes no sense to me. Furthermore, there must have been a better way to compensate for the faulty tape than that. Just jump between the song sections (before and after 3 minutes) on your iPod they sound completely different!

    • Erik van der Scheer says:

      I do agree with you. I have the first vinyl pressing of Heroes. It sounds perfect. I think Parlophone tries to evade a megaclaim.

  140. Philip Cohen says:

    I’m reminded of the controversy over EMI’s boxed set CD/DVD editions of Duran Duran’s “Duran Duran”(debut album) & “Seven & The Ragged Tiger”, which are extremely shrill sounding, with a digital “stutter” at the start of “Girls on Film”. EMI simply denied that there was anything wrong with the discs, and was quite defensive towards criticism of the mastering engineer. They wouldn’t recall or correct the discs. Subsequently, EMI issued CD/DVD editions of “Notorious” & “Big Thing”, this time mastered properly, but with the mastering engineer’s name kept secret, but by then, the fans were too distrustful to buy them. EMI then petulantly ended the expanded “Duran Duran” series.
    The policy of denying that there’s something wrong, and refusing to put things right is simply an EMI tradition, handed down to their descendants at Warner/Parlophone.

    • Paul Sinclair says:

      The Girls On Film thing was a disgrace, really.

      • Philip Cohen says:

        The Duran Duran CD + DVD sets’ faults were not EMI’s worst mastering issues. The label issued a Manfred Mann 4-CD set (“Down The Road Apiece”) in which, during the first-ever official release of a previously unreleased song (“Let’s Go”), there is a mastering glitch(courtesy of engineer Peter Mew) that causes a skip in the middle of the second verse, causing 15 seconds of the song to be omitted….and that glitch goes uncorrected when the song appears as part of Warner/Parlophone’s Japanese Manfred Mann SHM-CD series.
        Luckily, through my connections, I had access to a cassette of the song without the glitch, and permitted it to circulate amongst fans when it became obvious that EMI would never correct the problem. And, sure enough, they never did correct it.

        • Wayne Klein says:

          Rhino has had a mixed history with fixing stuff. The ZZ Top album boxed set, they replaced the one disc that was audibly distorted due to high compression while the Otis Redding box they never did fix Sitting On The Dock of The a bay and the digital glitches in that disc. The ZZ Top disc wasn’t a mastering error just idiocy at choosing the wrong master for that box.

          They used to be so much better but I should also note that the quality control on these later sets over the last decade have been shit.

  141. Mr X says:

    i noticed that Amazon UK is now selling the USA vinyl boxset and was wondering if anyone knows whether the sleeves are the USA versions or UK?

    Also, does anyone know whether buying this version would invalidate my rights if i want to return it?
    (just in case the issues pointed out on here are as bad as claimed!)

    • Paul Sinclair says:

      The sleeves are all standard, there aren’t any variations. Amazon will let you return it, no problem.

  142. michael59 says:

    i really hope this site will be able to stay as it were: as a way to talk about things without hate, insults or ranting… i understand the points but some post are clearly crossing a line (with mentioning visconti’s age and his inability to hear proberly anymore…)

    “is there so much hate for the ones we love?”

  143. Michael says:

    As newbie to some of these recordings, I fall into the original argument category of “who are these sets made for” as I only had three Bowie discs before and have now bought all 3 boxsets this year (it’s been frightful on the pocketbook!).

    I’ve never heard Low before and to these ears, the version included in this set is incredible. But I do have to agree with the “mob” (ahem) on the forums about the sound on the “Heroes” track as it is really shoddy and the argument of why doesn’t particularly make sense. It just flat out doesn’t sound good. Interested to see where this all goes!

    Keep up the great work, Paul! And as another poster said, awesome that this is the site that record companies come to about reissues and issues with the reissues.

  144. eric slangen says:

    I agree with LE BARON, well done Paul.
    As far as the complaints on the boxset : I think they did a good job. Very good presentation and the music “errors ” I don’t like it but errors can be made and I still enjoy this (and the other two) sets.

  145. Donovan Whittemore says:

    Great work as always Paul! What an excellent service you provide. And this vinyl set sounds great to me. Tony Visconti’s work is excellent, a clear labor of love. How so many listeners can feel obliged to abuse him is a complete mystery to me. Are they just as angry when Mom leaves the crusts on their sandwiches? Do they understand the depth of Tony Visconti’s original involvement in the making of these albums? Did they spend a lifetime working with Bowie? I’m really hoping Mr. Visconti will have a hand in revisiting the 80’s and 90’s albums as well. Have you heard any murmurings about future releases?

  146. 7 says:

    Tony Visconti only over saw the original mastering of these albums, and the 2017 versions. When cutting music recordings to vinyl LPs, low frequencys (bass) always cause mastering engineers difficulties. So most vinyl LPs have some bass roll-off to enable the records to ever be made.

    What if the 2017 CD remasters have for the first time the original (flat) bottom end (bass)? When the past CD remasters were made by engineers they may have mimicked the original vinyl LP version, with bass roll-off?

    It may be the case that we are hearing a sound closer to the one heard in the control room during the mixdown for the first time?

    • Michael says:

      This rerelease illustrates the vinyl/CD distinction quite well. Vinyl doesn’t represent what the musician recorded because of the concessions made in mastering, mainly to reduce bass, as you suggest. So this remaster may well capture what David Bowie would have heard in the studio (that is, listening to the master tape, unaffected by the limitations of vinyl) and therefore what he would have wanted the listener to hear. A listener’s preference for the emasculated sound of vinyl, and later CDs that replicate the same limitations, is simply that: a preference. The warm, rich sound of vinyl is just muffled acoustics and surface noise.

  147. Hello Bongo says:

    Some really good observations here but there’s something rather vile (not to say Age-ist) about Audiophile obsessives like Daniel Wylie and ‘William’ posting above – laying into a venerable record producer for being 73 and insulting his hearing. Get this, we’re all going to age, and one day you might start to lose that pin-sharp hearing which you prize so dearly – so maybe make the most of those ears while you can?

    Ultimately, the Berlin Trilogy and Scary Monsters had a seminal, huge influence on a whole generation or two – probably heard mostly on crappy sound systems, in-car on 8 Track carts or 2nd generation taped copies, or bog standard CD issues played on boomboxes – for the price of the box set you could probably pick up decent early Vinyl pressings and get the sound that everyone heard back in the day – surely that’s the definitive version anyway?

    • William says:

      Hello Bongo
      I’m in my mid 40s and already my hearing is not pin sharp. I get it tested every 12 months for work (its required). Although my hearing is perfect for my age, its not as good as it was when I was 30, and certainly not as good as when I was 20. I’m the first to admit my senses are not as good as a young man’s, and that they are better than an old man’s. That’s life.

      Premier League clubs don’t have 45 year old centre-forwards. 50 year olds don’t run in Olympic track finals. Selecting on performance is never, never ageist.

      Visconti’s hearing cannot be as good as what it was 40 years ago. That is a medical impossibility. Add in that he a musician and it is possible that he has more hearing damage than average for his age. Stating that is not slander, or ageist. Maybe he isn’t deaf and just has incredibly poor judgement now? Because nothing he touches sounds as good as what it did 40 years ago when he first worked on it.

      Everything the man has touched since the remaster/remix of the Ziggy Motion Picture has been brickwalled, compressed, muffled and generally sounded terrible. I recently bought the Hammersmith show’s soundboard recording from the sound engineer on the night. How can this sound better, brighter and more dynamic than a professional multi-track re-mix? Why does Cracked Actor sound flatter (albiet cleaner) than Portrait In Flesh? Why is The Next Day almost unlistenable due to the dense, flat buried multi-tracked vocals?

      And now, we have seen the waveforms, from two independent sources, and we know that the reason stated for the drop out (the transient energy drop) is waffle. If people cannot hear the issue, then they can now see it. A mistake was made, and nobody is fessing up.

      As has been said – if Visconti wanted the record to sound like it did in the studio, and went back to the masters to ensure that; then why is the record now brickwalled?

      Prior to this release, plenty of people on forums were dreading it because of Visconti’s involvement. That fear has been – again – vindicated.

    • Daniel Wylie says:

      Hello Bongo, (not your real name, is it?) Just so you know, my opinion is not vile. It’s my opinion and is as valid as yours . It is based on years of experience of attending mastering sessions with some of the world’s top mastering engineers. You might not agree with my opinion and that’s fine but please refrain from calling me vile. In my opinion, they should have got in someone who is currently at the top of their game in the mastering field…like John Davis, rated in the top 5 mastering engineers today, and who did all the Led Zeppelin remasters from original tapes and did a magnificent job of breathing new life into Led Zeppelin’s catalogue. John is a massive Bowie fanatic who also masters a massive amount of the current music you hear/buy today. Some of these Bowie remasters sound like mush. Especially songs on Lodger.

      • Hello Bongo says:

        Daniel Wylie, I didn’t call *you* vile – I called your opinion vile. You said “Tony Visconti, is an old man in his 70s with worn out ears” – So you’ve seen his medical records have you? You’ve got evidence to prove his ears aren’t as good as yours or your preferred choice of engineer? No you haven’t. You’re making assumptions about the guy purely based on his age, because his work isn’t to *your* taste.

        So what age do you think is the cut-off point for someone to be allowed to do the mastering/mixing job then? What age do you suggest John Davis hangs up his headphones? When should Steven Wilson start checking his pension plans? How old are you? Should we even trust your own hearing of these mixes?
        I’m being facetious, but you see my point?

  148. Chris Hanington says:

    When I say “CD”, I mean the remastered EMI editions…just to be clear. Who really listens to the Ryko versions outside of the bonus tracks anyway? I always thought the Ryko versions did not sound “right”.


  149. Chris Hanington says:

    Very interesting to read all of these comments however I am not enjoying the Tony Visconti slander…some pretty harsh comments have been said that I believe some people will regret their comments sooner than later. I get it, we are all very passionate about these David Bowie releases and I think we have to keep things into perspective. I have not received my box set yet (I’m in Canada and will be receiving these sets on Friday…I will get back to you after I hear them).
    My comments are based on the comments left by Zongadude as I think he is on to something. When is the last time anyone played an original vinyl copy of Low in the last 15 years? We have come use to playing, and hearing the CD and perhaps have come to the conclusion that the CD is the better sounding on the two. I just played my original vinyl copy of Low (UK, Canadian and US versions) and they have tons of bass on the side one! Listening the EMI CD’s, they sound “louder” then the vinyl and if fact, when playing them back to back, my lovely wife started complaining about how horrible the vinyl sounded from upstairs. She asked what was wrong with the stereo! Interesting.
    Anyway, I have nothing but tons pf respect for Mr. Visconti and I sure love this web site!! The Canadian music scene isn’t nearly as exciting as what Paul has done for all of us so a huge “thanks” to you Paul. As for the Heroes sound drop…haven’t heard it yet but again, let’s wait to see what Mr. Visconti has to say before we all start casting stones.
    Love on ya!

  150. Marc says:

    we’ll find out if the drop is really an error when they sell heroes individually. no way they would ship those out with the drop out if that wasn’t what was intended.

  151. gwynogue says:

    I cancelled my order (CD version) but that was due to a finance issue, rather than a quality issue. Despite all the justifiable complaints, the completist in me will still buy this in future. However, there will need to be a serious price-drop.

    One question though…..íf Parlophone are not going to repress/replace any discs, will Amazon start selling it again? I’m not keen on paying nearly £100 for it, but I certainly don’t want to pay DOUBLE for a third-party copy. I’m still gutted about having to cancel my Dead Or Alive box-set and not being able to re-order at a decent price. (I did manage to blag the replacement discs though ;))

    And another thing – I’m quite jealous of the New Zealand poster who got a refund without having to return his copy. I recently got a refund on a box-set (‘Disco Giants 1-10’) but was expected to return it (they couldn’t find another copy to replace it with). I live in Australia and it was a fairly large box-set (20 CDs in 10 jewel-cases) so the cheapest postage was $50 AUD! I was informed that if I didn’t return it, I’d be recharged for the item ($100 AUD). I was tempted to hold onto it and see if they noticed, but in the end I chickened out and returned it. Amazon’s website says they refund postage if it’s their mistake, but I’ll have to wait and see what they consider a ‘mistake’.

    • Phil Wilson says:

      gwynogue, if you email Amazon with a copy of the postal receipt, they’ll refund you for it before they receive it back

  152. KennyR says:

    Hi Paul,
    Thanks for taking the time to to produce this article, it has answered a lot of the questions I had. I got the vinyl box set from Amazon UK and am currently awaiting a replacement as Stage 2017 had a pressing error on disc 1 side a track 1.
    True to form Amazon immediately despatched a replacement, I am hoping that these are okay and the pressing issue doesn’t arise again.

  153. Wayne Klein says:

    Here’s what I think…there was a drop out. Tony approved the master with the drop out maybe even thought it was kind of cool. Now it sounds as if (assuming I’m reading it correctly) that Antony wants it like this.

    Here’s the problem. I realize the tapes are almost as old as me BUT this has never appeared on any version of the album and, when you get a major remastering campaign like this, one expects a restoration of the tapes where possible. I didn’t ask for a warts and all presentation nor did I want one but that’s what I got. What I did expect was a restorative and, if that wasn’t possible, a remix of the song or, using protools to repair the section in question.

  154. Chris Gerard says:

    I’m satisfied w/ the explanation and I love the set. Thanks Paul for looking into this issue – stellar work.

  155. Paul Haze Harrison says:

    I’m with Mark Reed on this. I’m not worried about the so called errors in sound as I refuse to pay £200 for a box of records I already own. The minimal exclusive content makes the expense unjustifiable.

  156. Gisabun says:

    Hmmmm. If you were re-releasing an album and it contained some hiss or whatever else, wouldn’t you remove it? I could understand if it was on purpose [artistically] done for a single track but not a bunch [or a single side].
    Part of the purpose of most re-releases [remastered] is to fix small glitches that were found in the original release – not leave them in as is.
    This one could be right up there with Peter Gabriel’s So and Paul McCartney’s Flowers In The Dirt as the big blunders of box sets.

    • brickwalled-billy says:

      You don’t want to remove hiss from an analogue recording as Noise Reduction doesn’t just remove noise, what’s happened in regard to peopl pointing out hiss is that they’ve compressed the albums tro such an extent that the noise floor with the analogue hiss has been raised to a point where it is now more noticeable for some. What would have been far better is if they’d left the hiss AND left the dynamics – the execs reasonings on all of this is totally contradictory, each statement contradicting the one that went before it, but that is what normally happens when you start telling porky pies to save face. . . .”Always crashing in the same car!”

  157. steve gilmour says:

    Still I’ve heard if you complain to Amazon they provide a partial refund – for me 60 bucks – so that makes the box cost me $120. :)

  158. Eric M. says:

    Thanks for digging into this, Paul. For the record, I would much rather have a fly-in for four seconds than a drop out just so we can hear it “from the master tape”. But I respect where they’re coming from. Reminds me of the issue with a dropout on the beginning of “Girls on Film” from the Duran self-titled remaster. Would have saved all involved a lot of grief if they had done just a minor digital edit to replace the flaw and left well enough alone.

  159. Nick says:

    Great work on getting Parlophone to explain their process, Paul. I’m glad to know now they didn’t do NR of any kind. Also, it’s good to know that with the “Heroes” error, for example, it is not sloppy mastering but something resulting from what is on the original tape. I’m also glad they’ve added some oomph to Low in this edition. If I want to hear it tinny, since this’ll be like the 8th version of Low on my shelf at present (Ryko, Ryko gold, Japan RCA, Virgin, etc, RCA US vinyl) it’s nice to know there’s a listening option with a nice round bottom end.

  160. Wally says:

    I’ve got over three thousand of his songs including this trilogy so I’ll pass on this.

  161. Seb says:

    Parlophone are happy to give us answers for “some” decisions and not others. If they cared about the sound why did they compress the masters and use extensive clipping? To use the original (damaged) master tapes, then deliberately alter the way they sound because Visconti wanted to add base, then also add compression/limiting and therefore altering the sound even further makes no sense. Just use an undamaged back up tape if you don’t intend to remain faithful to the original.

    Dear Mr Visconti, stop re-writing history

    Dear Parlophone, stop compressing and limiting these masters

  162. Kdoc62 says:

    Paul. First thanks for getting this info out. I When I first heard Heroes from the new box set on headphones I didn’t notice the drop out ( maybe I was focus in reading the enclosed book). The second time following reading the brew haha on the Amazon ( US and U.K.) sites, there it was . My attempt for some sort of refund with Amazon US resulted in them sending me a second box ( I don’t think they even read the emails as I mentioned that I didn’t think a second would solve things). So I’ll be giving a friend a nice holiday gift thanks to Amazon. As to the bass issue on Low. I do believe them when they said they wanted to improve the bass. RCA was home to the brilliant idea of Dynaflex vinyl (some of the worst bass response vinyl ever created)

  163. Le Baron. says:

    What I really enjoy is that SuperDeluxeEdition website is more and more seen by record companies as THE reference website regarding official announcements or statements they have to publish.
    Cheaper for them than organising a press conference…
    So proud of you, Paul !

  164. steve carroll says:

    Thanks Paul, I appreciate you spending the time to do what individual buyers of this set could not do. I am extremely disappointed by Parlophone’s respond and it smacks of both BS and arrogance in my opinion. Obviously the party line is to try to explain away the errors as intentional, because fixing them and replacing them has been deemed too costly. As others have pointed out, if these errors were genuinely intentional, they should have been documented in the box’s book / liner notes. Parlophone are going to have a job shifting the next box that is for sure …

  165. JonC says:

    This so called technical excuse literally makes no sense at all if you know anything about EQ.
    “During the album mastering some high-frequency automation (in the region of +- 6dB) has been added in order to compensate for this. “

    What a complete joke this set is.

  166. Marco says:

    Anyone has the little errors (distortions) on Warzawa (2017 Stage)

  167. Robert DuPont says:

    I don’t own the box, as it is just too expensive. I wait for the individual releases.

    But I have heard it on Tidal Hi-Fi, and on the whole, the remastering is good. The Rykos are lifeless, and the 99 remasters are way too compressed, and taxing to the ear. These new masters are more pleasing
    I do notice the drop on Heroes, and that should be addressed. Parlophone should suck it up and fix it, and offer replacements. When the individual CD’s come out, I hope it will be fixed by then.

    • stef1205 says:

      They are far more pleasing than the Rykos and the 99s, but they do in no case sound better than the RCAs. This is due to false mastering decisions and worn out tapes that have not been repaired. A real sloppy job. That given, I like the Lodger remix but where is the guitar solo on Boys keep swinging.

    • Wayne Klein says:

      Part of the issue with the Rykos relate to the overuse of dpnoise reduction. They had superior sources than what came before and the tapes were in better shape as well. It also appears that any issues with the tapes that might have existed were fixed during the mastering stage.

  168. Marc says:

    Maybe I missed it, but has anyone got the same problem as me? My vinyl copy of LOW was very bad on side B. I guess it is a bad pressing, it has some terrible noise in between tracks 2 to 4 and in some quiet spots. Not visible scratches, but it sounds horrific.
    Amazon gave me a refund of 20 pounds, to buy a new copy of LOW when it comes as a stand-alone album (guess it will be issued)

  169. fedge says:

    Curious why they couldn’t bring in that guy who remastered the Smiths and New Order singles, often re-building a song from different sources to bypass errors. Oddly, it’s also Warners that have yet to officially issue these Smiths and New Order singles box sets.

  170. RJS says:

    * Even a Mountain out of a molehill….!

  171. RJS says:

    The “Heroes” issue is a careless mistake. Whatever the execs might have said, I don’t think for one minute it was intentional. However, it’s a two second barely noticeable glitch and people both here and on Amazon reviews are really making a molehill out of a mountain.

    • Will says:

      @RJS – it is not a 2-second issue. That’s what the Parlophone rep claimed. In reality, at 2:50 the compression scheme totally changes, as if by accident.

  172. Charles Ashmore says:

    can someone tell me if the two versions of Lodger are easily distinguishable without playing them. I have just received this set via Amazon and checked contents before playing any of it. photos online suggest the covers are reversed but the two versions I have have identical covers and nothing outside or inside to suggest they are any different. Suspect this is a cockup but wanted to check so I can return before playing. very irritating.

  173. Will says:

    Worth posting the YouTube clip of the volume drop in “Heroes”. Because this is only an excerpt, the volume drops at 37 seconds in to this video (rather than at 2:50).

    Plainly, Parlophone is not fessing up to a major error.

  174. spaceboy says:

    My copy shipped a few days ago so I don’t have it yet, but if Visconti was involved and approved then that’s good enough for me. I’m in a unique position in that I’ll be hearing these albums for the first time, except of course for the hits.

    I will say this about de-noising. I would think if a recording can be made to sound better by removing tape hiss, why wouldn’t that be done? I recently bought 5 of 6 of the 2017 SHM remasters of The B-52’s. Usually modern limiting is applied, which if I’m not mistaken helps to increase the signal to noise ratio. No limiting applied on these so I’ve got them cranked in the car. At the end of a track on the first album you can hear the tape hiss. It would’ve been nice for them to clean that up a bit…

  175. cmcintyre says:

    Firstly, thank you for taking the matter seriously to discuss it with Parlophone. Just focusing on the volume drop in “Heroes”, I wonder if in your discussions what comparison and visual might have been relied on – with all the best intents (on all participants) things may be missed.

    A soundwave posted to the Steve Hoffman Music Forum of the Parlophone CD , shows a number of things happening on the track – a rise and fall around the period that is referred to in the response, as well as a decrease in the overall volume and a decrease in the number of peaks and clustering of peak levels after this ‘rise and fall’ @2;46 /2:47. Prior to the ‘rise and fall’ there are many clustered peaks, much more than after.

    A comparison is made with an earlier mastering (the 1990/1 RYKO), and though they have different tonal qualities – the number of peaks after the “rise and fall” actually increases, not decreases. The clustering of peaks is even throughout the track. The general volume of the RYKO stays constant throughout.

    The soundwave images strongly support what people’s ear having been telling them. I’d respectfully encourage you to do some comparisons yourself.

    Here’s a link to the soundwave images and (my) interpretation, in the light of the official response ;

    • William says:

      thanks for that waveform comparison.

      The drop is obvious, and not transient.

      The horrible loudness and clipping of the Parlaphone re-master is not great either. It shows that this is NOT a clean transfer and master to sound like what Bowie and Visconti heard in the studio; but rather another victim of the loudness war.

      Thankfully, I have a full set of Ryko discs, and high-resolution FLAC rips from them.

  176. JWL says:

    Why didn’t they just cut in the flawed section from the single edit where there is no volume issue? 10 minute edit job and issue removed.

    • cloth-eared-consumer1313 says:

      because that isn’t what’s happened, let’s be honest. if you look at a waveform of the track what they are saying isn’t true.

  177. Zongadude says:

    Thank you Paul for letting the people in charge setting the record straight about all this.
    I just want to mention one thing: the 2017 LOW sounds exactly (to my ears anyway) like the original UK Lp of 1977. I happen to have a very good copy of this original Lp, and I checked both Lps (the 1977 one and the 2017 one) back to back, very carefully, on high-end equipment, and to my surprise they sounded exactly the same !. The 1977 UK LOW album WAS bass heavy. As much as the 2017 one :)

    So to me they actually did a good job in the sens that all these new masterings sounds very much like the orginal albums.

    • Paul Sinclair says:


      • cloth-eared-consumer1313 says:

        it’s most interesting as it goes totally against what the company has said – there is more bass, tony added more on, as he always wanted to do but couldn’t at the time – so zongadude can’t be listening correctly.

  178. Dave S says:

    Has anyone else looked at the “Heroes” waveform using Audacity? I don’t know how to upload a screenshot, but it’s quite interesting to look at; the overall shape changes at the 2:50 mark, and stays changed for the rest of the track.

    • Marc says:

      Yes,i looked at several waveforms and it’s true: The volume drops after 2:50 and never fully recovers. It almost sounds if a lot of compression was used for the first minutes and then it is suddenly switched off at 2:50. Very annoying and unacceptable for me.

  179. christian says:

    Thanks Paul.
    All sound a bit “wrong kind of snow” to me but confirms that Parlophone are not the people to be trusted with Bowie’s catalogue.
    That they are prepared to take the song that perhaps more famously than any other builds in sonic intensity through TV’s series of microphone gates and deliver a version that gets quieter does not surprise me. Of course there were alternative option but they elected not to take them which is an error of judgement in my opinion even if a true reflection of the master tape.

    The fact that they charged AUD$70 for a BOWPROMO lp with channels reversed and running 3% slow shows they are not on the ball. I wish you’d have slipped in a questions about that one!

    Did you put it to them that including a remix of Lodger would appear to suggest that the others would not be tinkered with to suit TV’s preferences these days? Surely if you include a full remix, the others should be presented in their original form.

    Did they comment on the audio issues in the Lodger remaster, specifically the glitch at 1:28 in African Night Flight? They cannot claim that comes from the master because it’s not on the remix and not on any previous edition, and I listened to all four previous cds to compare.

    Thanks again for taking time out of your day to talk to Parlophone.

    • RJS says:

      “and I listened to all four previous cds to compare”

      Well at least you have those four CDs to fall back on whenever you have the urge to listen to Lodger…

  180. Paul E. says:

    @ Paul Sinclair – [apologies in advance for the ego boost – it is necessary though] Over the years your site has absolutely reached number one on my list of favorites visit. It’s been enjoyable watching your professional growth as an editor, reviewer, critic, etc. and you’ve reached new heights in my book by the recent invitation to Warner’s HQ Office. So it isn’t just us, the readers, who admire you- you’ve earned the respect and admiration of the artists, their labels, all the while expanding upon your fandom with SDE. Well done!

  181. Alan Blevin says:

    If they were aware of the inherent fault in the Heroes master and still felt they had to use it then they should have put a corrected full album version of Heroes on the Recall disc or on the multi language Heroes disc.
    Worst part is they are not going to correct it.
    Thanks Paul for your work on this.My copy is still on its way to Australia from Amazon UK and you can guess what part I’ll be listening to first.

  182. WBK says:

    Ok, they remixed Lodger. And they remixed Low. Byt they did nit fix the loss in Heroes to stay true to the analog master?
    Come on, that is totally bullshit!

  183. Kauwgompie says:

    I don’t quite understand why you would keep the “integrity of the original master tape” if that one is deteriorating to a point where there is a “loss of energy” as stated above. If that was Bowie’s intention then that’s one thing but of course it wasn’t. When will they switch to a back up master tape, when the song is barely audible? I mean, where do you draw the line? I think there is only one integrity and that is the integrity of sound. If the sound clearly suffers, you move on to the back up tape. I’m glad I’m not buying these Bowie boxes. Spares me a lot of aggravation.

  184. Jake says:

    Does anyone have a good contact email for Paralphone? I already have Dr. Rhinos. I want them flooded with complaints. They are flat out LYING about the “Heroes” issue (just look at the waveform!!!) and it needs to be corrected.

  185. John Barleycorn says:

    As an addendum to this discussion I would urge you to read an article in the current issue of HiFi News (vol 62 no. 11) called “If it ain’t broke, why remix it?”.

    It features Jakko Jaksyck discussing his own judgment calls when remixing albums for reissue and is particularly interesting when discussing when he took a mixed master to get it prepared for a cutting master and a whole load of compromises there were made so it didn’t sound like it was intended.

    I guess people get to like the “wrong” version and when this is corrected to it should of been it riles them because it wasn’t how they remembered or experienced it.

    It also references Giles Martin and the omni-present Steven Wilson.

  186. Gp says:

    J’ai réécouté mon vinyle original il n’y a pas de baisse de volume, c’est d’ailleurs le cas pour les version française et allemande sur le cd du coffret 2027, l’éditeur se moque de nous

  187. William says:

    so, its a feature not a bug? what a joke.

    If the original master tapes were damaged then they should not be used. The best quality tapes should have been used. To use a damaged tape, and not fix the damage, then dress the damage up as a feature is just absurd. It’s worse than absurd – its bullshit.

    Visconti has never been involved in the previous re-masterings? Well, thank god for that. The man is tone-deaf. He has long lost any range in his hearing. Everything he has touched, going back to the Motion Picture Soundtrack, has been a disaster. All he manages to do is make things worse.

    It is claimed he wants to make the music sound like it did in the studio. But he CANNOT. His ears are 40 years older. At age 73, he cannot listen to the tapes with the same ears as a 33 year old. What he thinks sounds correct sounds terrible.

    He is ruining Bowie’s legacy, and ruining his own legacy.

    Bowie’s estate needs to get the master tapes in the hands of a young, talented engineer. Get a clean, flat digital transfer and get a proper, authentic digital remaster.

    Visconti is a liability.

    • Paul Sinclair says:

      They weren’t saying it was a feature. Also why dump the whole master tape for a rogue 3 or 4 seconds? I get that you don’t rate Visconti’s work on the remastering but he’s surely due a little bit more respect for a pretty amazing life’s work. There are ways of saying things…

      • William says:

        Paul – I never said “dump the whole tape”. I said the best quality tapeS (notice the plural) should be used. Here I include previous digital masters if tapes do not exist. The best quality sources should always be used.

        Frankly, they DID say it was a feature. It was a “feature” of the degraded tape that they deliberately chose to include. If the tape was completely trashed, would they have used it? Of course not/

        If we were having a debate on Visconti’s work 40 years ago – fine, but we are not. I am rating Visconti’s present work, because that is the work that is presented here for to us to buy. And as consumers, we are right to critique that work. Every champion needs to hang up their gloves at some point. To carry on is embarrassing. Visconti does not get a free pass because of past glories. Sorry. This music means a lot to me, and I am sure it means a lot to the millions of fans who will never hear a new Bowie record. This is all we have left of Bowie’s music. It needs to be respected. It needs to be preserved for future generations.

  188. Shane says:

    Well kudos for them being totally upfront about it, but yes, they should have done that from the get-go and not let fan uproar warrant them doing this. Booklet should have the been the place to mention this. But I will never buy this “in order to stay true to the deteriorated master” we chose to not fix it in the best way. I mean, they still did not stay true to the original because it decomposed, so they might as well have flown in seconds of another master of second gen copy. Lesser or two evils!

  189. Ben Williams says:

    I can understand people are upset that the track drops in volume, and considering the price of the box that is a shame. Now knowing that the master was getting old, etc Parlophone should really have added this as a note in the box or promo release notes so that people understand it was a conscious decision to master the discs from the original masters and it wasn’t a drop in quality control.

    This still remains a beautiful looking vinyl box set and the people that have compiled it have meant the best of intentions to preserve an incredible part of music history.

    And thanks to Paul to going to Bowie’s label people about this. Above and beyond – I hope the SDE readers appreciate this.

  190. Diego Polo says:

    I would like to know if this issues pertain to the vinyl box set too? Thanks for the info. Greetings.

  191. Mark Reed says:

    I’m avoiding all the box sets for a number of reasons.

    Firstly, the release of “The Gouster”was only available in the first box set, and I’m not laying out £100-£200 on several items I already own to get one I don’t.

    Secondly, the complete absence of a decent set of bonus material : not even ‘new’ bonus material, but a collected set of existing and released extras, such as the Rykodisc/Sound+Vision era/BowieRare songs that have now been written out of history, as well as the already released bonus discs/mixes of 30th anniversary sets and other box sets.

    Thirdly, poor quality control over “Heroes” and the presentation of alternate mixes of the albums (including the live sets) which seems largely pointless.

    I’d very happily lay down big money for a comprehensive set but not a cherry picked and anorexic selection that barely covers the deep well of Bowie rarities.

  192. Scott says:

    There seems to be blinders when it comes to “Artist” or “Producer” approved product. Most artists are not audiophiles, and the ignorance of the artist approved Boomtown Rats reissues from 2005 prove that to the extreme. Visconti may be a great producer but that doesn’t mean he checked out dynamics and scrutinized each aspect of the mastering. Dropouts can many times be corrected with careful effort and a good ear. It sounds like they made a quick and lame effort on the Heroes glitch. I’ve repaired a number of dropouts and it can take some clever experimenting to find the best approach. Tape hiss is something I prefer most releases keep because most attempts I’ve heard at removing it is tragically uneducated and detrimental. It took me a number of years to really find a way to do it with the least impact, and none of these mastering houses put in enough time and effort. It’s not their passion, it’s their job. I’m all for re-EQing old albums, but if it becomes so intrusive that the average person is offended, it must be pretty bad. But of course they are going to stand behind all the decisions made. Corporations rarely admit fault.

  193. Paul Nolan says:

    I just got the Vinyl Boxset today from Amazon and I have to say on first listen I didnt notice any loss in sound on heroes. but listening to it again there is definately a drop in sound around the 2.50 mark.
    Didnt notice any problems on Low at all
    And Lodger I havent listened to yet so cant comment

  194. Mark Borland says:

    3 points….
    The bass on Low would not have been an issue if they hadn’t compressed out all the dynamics. They are the loudest these albums have EVER been, considering how Hunky Dory had it’s dynamics in tact this is not a welcome change of approach.
    It’s a matter of record that the master tapes were used for the 1990 and 1999 remasters so either the issue has happened in the nearly 20 years since the last remaster or they did a better job of fixing the error. What about prioritising the ingrity of the music over the master tape.
    Also no noise was used extensively on previous remasters, not using it on these reissues is a positive (tape hiss is of course is inherent in analog recording) however it’s the extensive compression of the dynamics that is making it more prominent than it would be if the dynamics were in tact.

  195. Andy says:

    My 2 cent’s, I have listened to Low, and like the bass heavy driven side 1 especially on ‘Sound & Vision’ which I always thought lacked oomph on previous issues. In regards to ‘Heroes’, I can’t hear any problem with the track, it ‘drops’ ever so slightly for a mere second or two, but in the end it’s not a problem to my old ears. I guess folk failed to mention the tape hiss on the start of ‘Fashion’ single mix, and a glitch before the start of single mix of ‘Ashes to Ashes’, but in the end this set and others is better than naff all. I have waited along time for a remaster of the Berlin trilogy, it’s here but at least the product isn’t brick walled, thank God. Thanks again Paul for the update. I don’t have no problem with this box set at all.

    • Kevin from Edinburgh says:

      I’m not sure the explanation holds water. They discovered there was an issue (age-related tape degradation) with the original master, attempted a fix by applying a ‘boost’ of energy, and then having heard the result decoded that, ‘yes, that’s better’. I obviously haven’t heard the untampered with master, but I’m struggling to believe it was worse than what we have now. I can’t accept the claim that the volume quickly returns to its pre-boost levels, as normal play doesn’t appear to return until the start of the next track. If it was a case that my hearing has been tricked into interpreting a very brief boost as a drop in volume, I can’t see how that sense of loss (of volume) would last for a matter of minutes.

      Thus the current album version reminds me of the similar experience I had when first hearing the English/German 12” single all those years ago (where the music volume drops once he starts speaking Deutsch).

      All that said, well done Paul for being the one to get to the bottom of this by going to the top.

  196. Luis says:

    Hey Paul, thanks for this, but I think everyone needs your final feedback.
    Now that you spoke with the label creeps …what is your honest feedback about this?
    I cancelled my order yesterday, and I really wanted these albums from my fav Bowie era in my collection, but I refuse to pay big money for something that was not done with the minimum effort to make the vinyl community happy, with the right audiophile consciousness.

    What do you think? should we forget about this release? or should we give it a chance? what would you do?

    • Paul Sinclair says:

      My review of Lodger is coming tomorrow. By the way the “label creeps” thing is a bit pathetic.

      • Luis says:

        “A bit pathetic”..Probably, yeah, but I think it is the only way of venting out my frustrations, after all I have been waiting for this boxset since they released the first one… :(

      • Andy P says:

        I look forward to hearing your thoughts on the remix. Also, thanks for remaining a calm voice of reason regarding this release. I hope this excellent and informative site does not become overrun with comments of hyperbole and Hoffman forum – type ranting and insults.

  197. Nigel D Day says:

    So, I notice these are now either unavailable or being sold for at least £225 !

    Surely they’re not going to become collectors items ?

    And thanks Paul for all your time you put into doing all this for us. It is very appreciated

  198. Murray Robbins says:

    Make that “there”!!

  199. Murray Robbins says:

    Well done Paul! Thanks for batting for us.

    Parlophone clearly should have flagged up this issue. Also their should be no “colouration” of the sound based on the personal preference of the producer based on hearsay about what the artist might have wanted or not.

    I have played back x3 copies of Heroes on vinyl and cannot hear the dropout.

    My worry is for folk that now contact Amazon and complain. I’m assuming they will now “plead the fifth” and duck out.

  200. Jim says:

    I’m sorry, but the Heroes album has been released in many formats over the years without the volume issue. Are you telling me they did not have access to a source without volume issues? Just not buying it.

  201. Who knew we had so many audio experts here… *rollseyes*

    • Kevin says:

      I got a degree in audio production 20 years ago. In the process, I realized I didn’t like working with musicians in the studio, so I have mostly used the education for my own nefarious purposes…

      • Sadsackrobot says:

        Did the same thing! Audio Production degree, and ended up in visual effects. Figure that one out…

  202. Kevin says:

    “He was previously hampered by the restrictions of vinyl regarding the bottom end.” – Does that mean they have found a way of making vinyl better these days?

    • Kevin says:

      I’d say it’s more that current technology provides more ways to compensate for the limitations of vinyl. That, and the quality of vinyl being used is much better these days. 1977 was around the time that album sales were starting to explode (Frampton Comes Alive! in 1976, Rumours, Saturday Night Fever, the Grease soundtrack the following year, etc.), which led pressing plants to shorten pressing cycles (down to 20 seconds per disc in some cases); at the same time, quality vinyl was getting more expensive because of rising petroleum costs, so recycling (often with labels still affixed) was becoming more common, resulting in further degradation of quality. We’re still stuck with a miserly 30-second pressing cycle (45 seconds would be better), but with vinyl now considered a premium product, greater attention is paid to quality in most other respects—one of the benefits being improved sound quality.

  203. gootsy says:

    Thanks for the update. Concerning the box set, I loved the new Lodger mix and the only thing I asked myself was : why didn’t TV remix the entire trilogy? He could have done the mix of those albums the way he wanted it and let original albums with a sound close to what was issued at the time. Concerning the Heroes glitch, they had to make a choice and they did it. What I don’t understand is transferring the master and then applying a patch or applying a patch to correct an aging master both soil the all-saint “mastered from the original master”. IIRC, when the Beatles catalog was remasted in 2009, they recognized that they had to address a few glitches, only a few seconds on the whole catalog, but they had to do it. So they could have fixed the defecting master (instead of keeping it and patching it anyway) for the fans ears (nobody would have noticed anyway) and explain in the book why they had to do that. Just my two cents.

  204. Leo says:

    That is just a Mountain of rubbish, the Heroes track is disgusting, Warner are trying just to Save their face. The masters are pure crap.

  205. greg says:

    I have no problem believing that the 1999 EMI edition of “Heroes” didn’t use the original master, but Ryko made quite a fuss over having used the original masters when they put out the Au20 gold series. (Though I’ll admit that the Au20 of “Heroes” is oddly a little bass-shy) Are they actually claiming that EVERY prior CD release used a safety copy or only every prior EMI edition? Because that’s kind of a significant difference.

    Not having heard the box myself (yet) I’m curious if the flaws with the original mix of ‘Lodger’ in any way match the dropouts in the first pressing Japan-for-US RCA edition.

    • Keith says:

      Some interesting information. According to Jeff Rougvie who did the tape research for the Ryko reissues, all of the US RCA CDs were mastered from the RCA Cassette Masters.

      From his blog.

      “I’m sure there are some readers who have convinced themselves the RCA CDs are the best sounding Bowie CDs. Whatever works for you, but remember this is pure opinion. Recently I was sent a link to a website purportedly featuring an interview with an engineer in Europe who acknowledges that RCA in the USA sent European mastering engineers Umatic Digital Cassette Masters as sources.

      These are the tapes I mentioned seeing in the New Jersey vault, labeled as cassette masters, and referred to as CD sources in the catalog of materials I got from Isolar. These are the sources that both RCA and Isolar insisted were used as the CD masters.”

      • cmcintyre says:

        Keith, your interpretation of “Cassette Masters” is understandable, but incorrect. The concept of cassettes invokes low quality reproduction. Using them for digital reproduction this was not the case.

        At this period of time U-Matic Video Cassettes were used to hold a digital signal that was then used to glass master CDs – very different from using those cassettes with analog signals.

        So, in the example of the RCA CDs, RCA New York prepared digital masters from the analog tapes, and those digital masters (U-matic Cassettes) were sent to Europe for production purposes. The (unsaid) implication is that RCA Europe might have preferred receiving the 2-track master themselves and performing the analog -to-digital conversion in Europe.

        RYKO reportedly used the 2 track masters (though Jeff Rougvie in his blog acknowledges that sometimes they chose the incorrect masters – three tracks on the RYKO Young Americans album are alternative mixes).

        • Noel says:

          Which three tracks?

          • cmcintyre says:

            RYKO used alternative mixes for Win, Fascination and Right.

            Listening casually, Fascination is perhaps the most obvious – quite a bit of extra reverb on the introduction. Win and Right have a different stereo spectrum. Eg, on the original RCA album the saxophone on Win meanders from side to side. Not the case on the RYKO issue.

            The 1990 EMI is the same as the RYKO, the 1999 and later EMI issues use the original mixes.

  206. Gansbarre says:

    Thanks Paul for getting to the bottom of this. Bummer this is happening, and bummer for the goof on “Heroes.” Tricky business with everyone hearing what they’ve heard for over 40 years and it getting embedded in the gray matter–the slight wrinkle will raise the hackles. On a different note, the Visconti Lodger experiment is interesting. I’m particularly chuffed with his “Red Sails” rework and bringing the sax up in the mix. Hearing it transported over me to Roxy Music’s “2 H.B.” –don’t mind that at all.

  207. Paddy says:

    It’s not a volume drop, its after the horrific (3) jumps in volume from 2:42. Same result!!! An insult to a genius and those that revere him. Insulted, much?

  208. Electric Sydney says:

    I wonder if Viscoti made a decision at some point that he would ONLY use the master tapes. It seems to me that the drop off on Heroes could have been fixed with a part or the whole song “flown in” with an explanation of the circumstances. This way it seems like “hopefully no one will notice…”.

  209. Ken Moore says:

    I would imagine their first reaction is to try to explain away the errors as intentional, because doing a fix and replacement disc program has to be very, very costly. I got this box a couple of days ago, but haven’t listened to it yet. The “Heroes” issue is the only one I am really concerned about. The new remixed albums, I figure, like Steven Wilson’s remixing work, is a reflection of how the remixer feels the LP should sound, so I’m a little more forgiving on that front.

  210. artwwweb says:

    I was reading some advice only yesterday with regards to mixing – “it may look technically perfect on screen, but use your ears as the final judge”. I’ve not heard the offending version of Heroes, but it seems from all the comments that though Warners have done what in theory they should to correct the problem, it doesn’t sound right, hence they insist it’s correct and others insist it’s not.

    Re the bass boost. The Beatles remasters were similarly bass boosted, and people (including Paul and Ringo) seemed very pleased with that.

    Having read Visconti’s autobiography, I’m certain he would only do what he thought would be right for Bowie, and I’m sure he did want more bass at the time, so I feel it’s unfair to criticise him. With regards to his hearing, age-related loss is greater in the high frequencies, so if anything he would be upping those if his hearing was affected.

  211. Keith says:

    Returning mine , this sounds like a poor attempt to save their asses

  212. Tom m hans says:

    I decided against this set and purchased the Ryko discs instead. Just received Lodger yesterday for less than 30.00. Same with the 2nd set. Not regretting it. 5 years is great, though.

  213. Joe says:

    Thanks so much Paul for getting a response. You’re the “CD Watchdog” of the current era! I think I’m going to print this out and place it in the box.

    Unfortunately (and predictably) this is not going to appease most hardcore fans. They’ve made up their minds, and nothing short of a full refund and new mastering is going to make them happy.

    I’m happy with the vinyl box. I can live with the drop on “Heroes” and assumed it was an issue with the master tape. And I think Low sounds phenomenal.

    • Mark Y says:

      Thank you for taking this up yet. I was actually about to buy the HiRes version from Qobuz – but discovered that it only has 8 CDs of music (94 tracks£ and does not include bonus material. Would you have any idea why that would be? Thanks

  214. Dean T says:

    Thank you Paul… I will continue to enjoy this fabulous set …just played the Lodger remix ..
    I just don’t understand why some have said that Visconti has butchered it ..he most definitely has not… I personally believe In what Parlophone have stated and people should lay off the personal insults…now onto Scary Monsters…

  215. James Vandegrift says:

    Between two stools on this. At least some people care.

  216. MusicFan says:

    A big problem here is that fans want old recordings to sound like they were made in 2017.

    That is very wrong indeed.

    Sadly fans jump too quickly to assume what they are hearing is a fault when indeed it could be part of the creative.

    For example, on the Prince ‘symbol’ album, there is a drop in once of the tracks. This is because the drummer made an error and it was kept in the recording. If this album was ever remastered then this creative choice to keep in the drop should remain.

  217. Jason H says:

    Top work Paul

  218. Daniel Wylie says:

    I’ve been at mastering sessions with some great mastering engineers over the 13 albums I’ve released and even had separate masters done for the vinyl / CD versions of my albums. One of my albums was mastered by George “A Porky Prime Cut” Peckham and I attended the sessions with the great man. I know what’s possible with modern mastering gear and I know this “dropout” could have been fixed. Regarding Tony Visconti’s age…everyone loses a percentage of their hearing range with age…more so a guy like Visconti, who’s been working in studios for around 50 years…50 years of noise. People should remember also that Visconti was / is a bass player….so of course he’s going to want to have “more bass.” In my opinion, it’s a cop out and folk are being fobbed off with ridiculous excuses.

  219. Bobbyjean says:

    I personally have no problems and I stated yesterday that peopleare going to far.if people like the old heroes well cool you have a choice now of the old or a new version.but let’s move on .keep it or send it back .you have a choice.thanks Paul for your time spent getting to the bottom of this

  220. Kevin says:

    Though I haven’t heard this new master, their approach to fixing the ‘loss of energy’ on ‘“Heroes”’ sounds awfully clumsy, particularly for a major-label box set by a marquee artist. Certainly there was a better way to compensate that would mitigate the problem without leaving an obvious artefact.

  221. Firstly, thanks Paul for looking into this! Interesting that Parlophone didn’t comment on Red Sails starting a fraction too late. For me that’s as annoying a mistake as the one on “Heroes”. Also, I’ve read online that there’s an issue with ‘Neukoln’ too near the end too….

    Thanks again Paul, there are a lot of understandably annoyed people out there who have parted with a lot of money for this box set on CD (and even more on LP) and they deserve a quality product, and if certain issues can’t be rectified (like the one on “Heroes”) then Parlophone should have been more upfront about it right from the start.

  222. Yuri says:

    Thanks Paul for getting involved…
    and shame on you Parlophone, it’s an atrocity what you’re doing with the Bowie legacy!

  223. Wil Vanetie says:

    All critics aside please! It is an awesome box, made with love and excellent remastering.
    All so-called kwowledgeables should have stuck to the original release years ago, if they cannot appreciate any positve Changes for that matter.
    Tony Visconti did an excellent Job. It is a magnificent release bringing new dimensions to David Bowie’s impressive carreer and overall catalogue.
    Sincerely hope more releases Will see the light.
    Can’t get enough of this!

  224. Guy Vitti says:

    First off: I do like the box and am glad that I purchased it. Secondly: I love how you only get a reactionary defensive response from the label when they are confronted by an issue. It would have been more palatable for the fans if the label had proactively notated the remastering process and Tony Visconti’s involvement in the booklet. Parlophone comes off as phony and insulting to the fans that purchased the box.

  225. Auntie Sabrina says:

    Surely some de-noising was used on the previous boxsets? I am familiar with the sound of Low as far back as 40 years ago, maybe they should have done an original and a new mix.

  226. Liz says:

    “During a conversation that lasted close to two hours, the team stressed how much time and energy had gone into both getting the music and the presentation of this set right.”

    Just because you spend a lot if time on something doesn’t necessarily mean it must be fine. And if TV is involved his huge ego might very well get in the way of doing the job properly.

    • Paul Sinclair says:

      True, time doesn’t guarantee getting things right, but the more time is better than doing something quickly (normally). Do you have any specific previous examples of how TV’s ‘ego’ resulted in something poor?

    • bob says:

      Sorry but you are talking rubbish, Tony Visconti does not have a huge ego.

  227. adam shaw says:

    Thanks for this Paul .
    I know I might get hammered here but sometimes I don’t trust what Tony Visconti says .
    I listened to my original copy of Heroes and there’s no loss in sound and that pressing was one of the first .
    So surely Bowie , Eno and Visconti would have noticed it before it went out to the public and nobody ever said there was a problem with the sound at that time . In fact it’s not a long album so the sound wouldn’t have been compromised because of space on the vinyl.
    Visconti was there , and for the other albums so he knew how they sounded and now he wants to changed them to how they should have sounded , well to me they sounded fine back then .

    • Paul Sinclair says:

      The original Heroes has no loss in sound because it was created from a then pristine master tape. 40 years later and it’s a different story…

      • adam shaw says:

        Ok I understand that but your article stated that he wants to make them sound like HE originaly wanted , well that’s not the sound on the originals and I’m sure they were the sound Bowie wanted .

        • adam shaw says:

          I’m not having a dig at you

        • Paul Sinclair says:

          For “he”, I guess you should read “they”. Sadly Bowie isn’t around to confirm, but I doubt Visconti would do something that Bowie would object to. The nearest we have to ‘approval’ is the knowledge that Bowie approved some of Visconti’s Lodger remix, which does have a lot more bass on it too.

          • adam shaw says:

            Ok agree to disagree.
            I still think Visconti like Macca has a few changed memories.

      • Phil says:

        That volume drop took me 5 minutes to correct in protools on my 24/96 file.
        5 minutes man !! ^^

  228. Rob says:

    This is the problem when you go back to the original master tapes. I think the Duran Duran reissues had similar errors. My question would be whether there is any point in all of this. If the previous versions sound alright, why not just reissue them with bonus tracks etc. Remastering seems like a con. A bit like the George Lucas reworkings of Star Wars.

  229. Steve says:

    Heroes jumps out at you. A really obvious issue. I haven’t listened to the others yet. Very disappointing .
    How are people getting a refund from amazon.
    Are you emailing them or has it been automatic?

  230. KennyB says:

    Visconti worked closer than anyone with Bowie and up until his passing was gaining his boss’sapproval as it went along. I’m pretty happy with it, personally I think the more pronounced bottom end is an improvement. Some of the earlier cr releases were quite anaemic and the Davis/Murray groove was lost The remix of Lodger is a triumph there is far more clarity, depth and separation. Each to their own though.

  231. Michael Sloanes says:

    So did we really need two versions of Stage in the box?
    Maybe they should have Included two of Low
    (one with the alternative mix boosted bass) and same with Heroes and explained it all before release and put notes in the Book. At least we would have known more about what we were buying

    • Paul Sinclair says:

      I did bring that up funnily enough. With Station To Station they included remaster, RCA version etc. But of course that wasn’t a multi-album set.

  232. MB says:

    Firstly, thank you for taking the time to look into this.

    Secondly, the label concede that the ‘Heroes issue’ should have been explained in the booklet? How about addressing it in the promotional material (so we know what we are purchasing) – e.g. ‘Hear the now flawed original master tape like you have never heard it before!’

  233. Alastair says:

    Thanks Paul for getting an explanation from the record company. It’s very interesting to hear the rationale behind the choices made in the preparation of this set. I will be perfectly happy to buy it now, but won’t ditch my Ryko CDs just yet. I do think it’s a bit it’s a bit disrespectful to have a go at Tony Visconti’s age and hearing – his great work on ‘Cracked Actor’ for example doesn’t bear that out.

  234. David Jones says:

    Customer listening to “Heroes”: oh my god . I don’t like the sound of that”

    Warner : yes you do! Don’t be stupid!

  235. Robert Todd says:

    I’m one of the partial complainers on this. I listened to the vinyl set over the weekend of release primarily to check for clicks, pops and any physical problems. Initially I thought Low was swamped with bass. Going to my rather flimsy RCA issue put me right, the difference between an ancient pressing and the new one is slight. The Heroes volume lowering I missed, probably because I was bopping around. Once it was pointed out it was unmissable. Not the end of the world but there all the same. I posted a one star review but will on reflection amend it and also contacted Amazon customer service to enquiry about a repress. They surprisingly offered me a 10% discount. Shy bairns get nowt as we say in Newcastle. So I took it. Here’s the thing though. I like this set a lot and find some of the rather heated denunciations online to be depressingly offensive and disproportionate.

  236. Sean Hewitt says:

    The excuse re: the title track on Heroes sounds like nonsense to me. I bought the CD set over the counter in Rough Trade and that error ruins the song. Surely it was never intended to sound like that?

    I must say, however, that some of the other “problems” cited don’t bother me at all. I especially enjoyed somebody moaning about the extra dialogue on the Bing Crosby track. As if that is an error!

    Parlophone should replace the Heroes disc but the rest of the box sounds fine to me. I’ve had these albums in various formats over the years and am really enjoying the remasters (apart from that one obvious exception).

  237. Leemer says:

    It sounds as if Warner’s has been reading Microsoft’s playbook: “It’s not a bug; it’s an undocumented feature.” I would like to get a $55 credit!

  238. eMSig says:

    Fine for me, thanks for the clarification, Paul.

  239. Mr. Newton says:

    Is this ‘drop out’ on both the Vinyl and Cd releases? If so I will be returning my
    vinyl box set for a refund. To be honest I don’t know why I bothered purchasing this box set, apart from it being my favourite bowie period. I’m going to be wary of future releases and spend the £200 or so dosh on something more worthwhile.
    Thanks Paul for all your hard work regarding this.

  240. Darren Briscoe says:

    Oh how jealous I am of you all!!! I pre-ordered my Set on 12 July at the bargain price of $159 from Amazon US…and am still waiting for it!!! It will apparently be delivered today….. The good news is that because of all the clusterfuckery I have been given $55 credit effectively bringing total cost including tax to just $119!!!! Can anyone beat this????

    • Danny Gromfin says:

      Darren – I also pre-ordered (here in the US) at $159. Were you automatically given the credit? Did you need to ask for it? Thx.

      • Darren Briscoe says:

        Danny….I have been on the phone every day since non delivery on Friday. Apparently USPS damaged the first set so it was returned…then they were out of stock….then the promised replacement didn’t arrive yesterday…now waiting for FedEx to deliver today….each call gave me more credit…..I do find that Amazon will give credit if asked!!!

        • Danny Gromfin says:

          Ahh OK Darren – thanks. I thought they were issuing credit for the issues people are noting about the mastering! But yes I agree Amazon is very reasonable about rectifying miscues!

    • Nico says:

      I’m un the same position than yours regarding my preorder date and my boxset not even being sent yet.
      Did you complain in any way to get the discount?

    • GaryB says:

      How did you get the discount?

    • Kevin says:

      We are writing to confirm that we are processing your refund in the amount of £65.00 for your Order

      This refund is for the following item(s):

      Item: A New Career In A New Town (1977 – 1982) [VINYL]

  241. Ollie Carlisle says:

    I thought it was just me that was enjoying this set rather than looking for problems l wouldn’t have noticed unless they were pointed out.

    • Lemmin says:

      They’re trying to resell the same albums yet again to essentially the same crowd and can only do that with the intention of improved sound and extras. When the latter has serious errors and your paying $100 or more for it then yeah, people might object as 100% of everyone else beside you have.

      But a larger point is the flaw in trying to release these album sets altogether. Since these issues only affect a few albums it would be easier to address if this set was sold piece meal.

  242. Pekka says:

    Impressive Paul! Really interesting to read this. I don´t own the box, but have listened to it with Tidal (hifi quality). I have to say that I really liked how the albums sounded, huge difference to previous EMI digital remasters. Liked especially how Low was mastered (guess I’ll skip writing to the forums…) and Lodger’s new mix really makes me want to get the vinyl box later. Noticed the drop during Heroes and wondered what it was, but it went back to normal later on… Anyway, it’s nice to read that the described “issues” weren’t production mistakes than artistic statements (not Heroes though). In Visconti I trust.

  243. Mark S says:

    Goes to show that going straight to the master tapes warts and all might not be how fans want to hear things
    When the Stone Roses debut was remastered from original tapes by John Leckie you could argue sonically it was a massive improvement. However it fundamentally changed the “sound” that I’d become accustomed to for years.

    • Paul Sinclair says:

      There are so many remastering philosophies – ‘flat transfer’, ‘make it sound like the original vinyl’, ‘improve the bits that have always been lacking’ – that 100 percent of people are never going to happy, because each of us will have our own opinion as to what the approach should be.


        Dear Paul, your opinion seems the most thoughtful. This audiophile mania on the brink of hysteria denies us the possibility of listening to the essence of music and that even the original versions at the time also had flaws, both in the specific case of Bowie and other artists. As you say, 100% of people will never be satisfied and as all human actions are always susceptible to improvement.

      • Ronny Mount says:

        Yes, but when there is a fault on the tape and you want to use digital tweaking to try to put it right, you can either do it well or you can do it badly. They did it badly. They could have done it better.

    • MFG says:

      Good point Mark S. Personally, I like the remastered sound of The Stone Roses debut, but I can understand why others prefer the original. As long as both versions are in print, or easily available, the audiophile and the casual fan can compare and choose. For Bowie fans, I presume the original albums are still available on CD and vinyl with a mastered sound that does not have the issues in this box set? If so, then yes, caveat emptor, and listen before you buy.

  244. Thom Lieb says:

    Thanks, Paul. Seems they don’t want to concede they made a single error. As someone who was always planning to buy the full run of vinyl box sets, this tells me it is time to stop.

  245. G_Edinburgh says:

    If it sounds bad it is bad. I don’t buy their sorry excuse of an explanation. That volume drop in Heroes is not imaginary and it does spoil my enjoyment of the song, simple as that!

  246. Daniel Lalla says:

    I am not a recording specialist or anything, but being in a band an experimenting with some recording there are a million decisions that affect the sound. The challenges and compromises inherent with original analog sources are even more complex as there is hiss and degradation. This is tape people – it ain’t perfect. Still, many insist it is far more musical. Digital may be more sterile, but it will stay that way forever. Tape degrades, needs to be baked to prevent tape shed in other cases… Remastering decisions such as treble and bass adjustments, compression and so on affect all remastering and nobody will ever get it ‘just right’. Visconti’s involvement makes this interesting: Yes it may be different, but is this what it should have been? My suggestion is that the remastering process always be described: the industry won’t do that because the honest answer often is: compress the crap out of it and punch up the bass and treble until your ears bleed because it sounds louder (and therefore ‘better’ to most untrained ears). Simple Minds / Abbey Road had a great write-up on what they did (and why) with New Gold Dream – it was informative and educational. NB: Sometimes I prefer a different take on mastering

  247. DavidDR says:

    Thanks for staying on top of this for Bowie fans, Paul. Really. Much appreciated. Best site around.

  248. Jon C says:

    Oh brother. This sounds like Apple telling everyone that they’re holding the phone wrong.

  249. fredpostman says:

    There we have it then…the main problem i have with this statement is that Mr Visconti can retrospectively change the sound to suit his tastes really so now technology exists to make ‘Low’ in my view unalienable with that horrible overwhelming bass that swamps the pop song side.was this really the sound Mr Bowie was trying to achieve 40 years ago gut couldn’t?I would love to here Brian Eno’s views on this…..
    Thanks anyway for the [non]clarity though Paul.

    • Not Available says:

      I would also like to hear Eno’s opinion on this. However, Eno is of the same era and age as Bowie and Visconti. Seriously, is there only one Steven Wilson in the world?

  250. Eamonn says:

    Fair play Paul for getting some answers on this. The fact they’re stating that most of the perceived errors are down to digital transfers from the original master tapes is interesting. Isn’t “sourced from original analogue masters” the kind of blurb usually used to sell reissues of iconic records? I can’t remember anything like it mentioned for the promo on this box ( I may be wrong). There was also ample opportunity in the book or the interviews to go with this release to explain the remastering treatment and pre-empt the fan furore. Sounds like they’re trying to cover themselves as much as they can to get out of refunding, Re:Calling(!) and repressing these sets.

    • Paul Sinclair says:

      To clarify… the perceived errors aren’t “down to the digital transfer”. The Heroes error is on the analogue tape. That was then transferred and then the ‘loss in energy’ error was addressed in the digital domain. All new digital transfers were done for this box, they weren’t using old digital transfers. I think the label regret not making clearer the remastering philosophy for this release.

      • cloth-eared-consumer1313 says:

        When they corrected the “loss in energy” are they saying they didn’t bother listening to the rest of the song, which then showed (either in the listeners imagination or in reality) a loss in volume for the rest of the song? What they are saying is that they caused a far bigger problem – whether it’s an auditory illusion or not is neither here nor there, the important thing is that it is a MASS illusion – by fixing a smaller problem.

        It is not a reasonable answer, even if you take everything they are saying as fact.

        Did you show them a wav form of the track Paul, or did they show you a wav form of the track so that you could see there isn’t a volume drop? Also some kind of dynamic analysis would have been nice just to prove that the people the wav form doesn’t complete change it’s dynamics after the “imaginary” sound drop.

        • Paul Sinclair says:

          We didn’t really get into wav forms…

          • cloth-eared-consumer1313 says:

            that would have probably saved you 1 hour of your discussion, though. they said there isn’t a volume drop, they could have shown you an image of the wav form to prove there point. if you look at the wav form it is very easy to see that there is an entirely different level of dynamics before the 2.50 mark to what comes after – the start is more compressed, and therefore louder, and the end is less compressed and therefore lower in volume (or perceived volume – as both parts are peak limited to the same level).

  251. Daniel Wylie says:

    What a cop out. The drop out on “Heroes”, isn’t in previous versions. Tony Visconti, is an old man in his 70s with worn out ears. How he hears it music is not how anyone with good hearing will want to hear it.

    • Paul Sinclair says:

      It isn’t on previous versions because they didn’t go back to the very original master tape. Obviously the original vinyl would have, but I guess the ‘issue’ with the master tape is down to time/age.

      • Andrew says:

        Thank you Paul for making such efforts to get to the bottom of this. A very interesting response from Parlophone. FWIW I got the original album when it first came out in late ’77. Back then I was as pernickety about sound at 16 years old as I still am now at 56 . I played that album on high rotation for the next 15 years+. I can honestly say there was no discernible drop in volume on the “Heroes” track as described here and by numerous Amazon reviewers. (It was a New Zealand pressing so don’t know if that would have made a difference – be interested to hear opinions of other original pressings). If there was age damage with the master tape you would think that it would have been mentioned in the set’s book and/or corrected. Also quite alarming that the original RCA tapes could have been left to get into such states. All seems a bit strange but I guess it’s caveat emptor. As I stated in a post yesterday Amazon UK have been brilliant and given me a full refund (mind you I do spend a lot of $$s with them lol) . I said I would be happy to send the set back to them (which hasn’t arrived yet – I am in NZ), and they said not to worry and that I could keep it or give it away. Cheers

    • Mark S says:

      Didn’t hear anyone complaining about Visconti’s age when he produced Blackstar?

      • Stephen Singleton says:

        Ha ha ha , brilliant comment !

      • Enda Corneille says:

        Nor Mr Bowies’s ahem……

      • Mike says:

        Haha, great comment, quite! I feel bad for TV, he is a real fan as well as the MainMain topcat producer.

      • MCorba/MPatrick says:

        To simplify – there is a mountain of complaint about the Heroes track; Parolophone don’t want to recall (no pun) the whole mass of box sets they have sold, but as Shakespeare may say, something is fishy in Denmark. To save face, they can simply get TV to tidy up the Heroes pressing and get a number of Bowie afficionado high profile people to authorise it. Then let this thing rest! If there are major issues with Lodger such as bits cut out, they need fixing too, so Parlophone, do the decent thing and offer replacement discs for either one or both, please! Simple!

      • William says:

        Blackstar was released just as Bowie died. I don’t think many fans listened to that album with a critical ear.

        In fact, along with The Next Day, it is easily amongst the worst produced Bowie albums. Granted, not as bad as The Next Day, which is a mess.

        • Gary Steel says:

          William, do you mean Blackstar was ‘amongst the worst produced’ or ‘worst engineered’? I’m not even a huge Bowie fan, but Blackstar sounds PHENOMENAL on my audiophile set-up. It’s easily the best-sounding ‘popular artist’ (as opposed to specifically audiophile) release of 2016.

      • Dougie says:

        Well said mate.

      • oli says:


    • BillyD says:

      As you age you lose the high end response in your ears. Tony probably thought the bass boost just made it ‘more louder’.

      • Jack says:

        Hi BillyD, as I understand it, our hearing loses its top end as we age and loud bass sounds become more noticeable. It’s why many older people can’t tolerate loud dance music – the bass is actually painful to hear. I know the loudness wars have also made it difficult to enjoy a lot of “remastered” music: it’s fatiguing listening to music with no dynamic range.
        Well done, Paul, for following this up. I’m still waiting for my box set from Amazon but will be chasing a refund if these faults are obvious.

  252. Electric Sydney says:

    Thanks Paul, but I don’t think this is the end of it. All of those one star reviews on Amazon UK don’t just go away.

  253. Peter says:

    I got mine from Amazon UK, tho Vinyl is coming from Germany.

    Paul you may be aware that Amazon have given out substantial discounts to many many complainees! I got £30 if the pre-order price of £267 for both CD and Vinyl, and that is not the largest, I see some getting substantially more.

    Now given these statements, I wonder if they would be entitled to ask for this to be returned, personally I would have no issue, as tbh they were excellent in handling my complaint

  254. Lemmin says:

    I’ve listened the the first two boxes and didn’t feel they were any improvement over my Ryko remasters so I passed. If your old enough to have gotten them your all set. But these weren’t any better than the ’99 remasters either so except for bonus track completism I would just recommend people buy the last batch of remasters as they have been discounted now and most can be found used now that everyone is selling them off in lieu of the new boxes. Everyone’s hearing is a bit different of course so my opinion could be suspect to others.

    Thank you for doing the digging Paul, your site is an absolute necessity these days.

    • Mark Carroll says:

      Indeed it is….

    • Kauwgompie says:

      Yes I agree, your site is da bomb Paul. When I read the reviews on Amazon I had many questions and all of them are answered in this article. Thank you for always being on top of things for us.

      I agree with Lemmin, I also have all the Ryko remasters and really don’t need the boxsets. The Ryko discs have most of the bonus tracks and I did buy the 2cd versions of “David Bowie”, “The Rise and the Fall…”, “Aladdin Sane”, “Diamond Dogs” and “Station To Station”. The bonus tracks in the boxes are mostly nothing new.

    • Stever says:

      Nice comment Lemmin.
      I never purchased the Ryko remasters as I already had all the RCA original CD’s and could not justify the purchase at the time so I have not heard them at home. However I do have the 99 remasters as well as some SHM Japanese copies (just the Berlin trilogy). In comparing RCA-99-SHM-Boxset i can say that I feel that the new box set is smoooooth. The top end is just like silk. You immediately think something is missing but when you listen it is all there just with sligtly less emphasis. On first listen the bass accordingly seems to be cranked up however it isnt, it just is that to me the top end just lilts a little. However those Japanese pressings that I have to me sound best of all. And to boot I got them when a store was closing down 3 for $12. But nice to have the box set. I swear it is the last copy I will buy though!

  255. Celtic Bob says:

    Thanks Paul.

  256. RobDeighton says:

    The question is ‘what would Bowie have done about this before it’s release?’

    Would he have told them to fix it properly rather than this accept this bodged attempt? Probably… At the end of the day these are Bowies’ albums and not Visconti’s.

    A little buck passing me thinks…

  257. Gary Hunter says:

    By the way Paul well done on taking the issues up on behalf of visitors to this website.

  258. danmac says:

    “50,000,000 Bowie fans can be wrong” seems to be what Parlophone are saying here. Let’s see how it plays out

    • Peter Ratcliffe says:

      Absolutely costly exercise to recall (excuse pun) and replace easier to issue a half baked reply bands of lesser repute material is looked after better if this us the case. Appreciated digital platforms can disclose limitations of original tapes but most of us would prefer to hear them as we all love.

  259. Gary Hunter says:

    So it is CD/Vinyl loving fans that have hearing problems, is that what they are trying to say??

    They insult music fans with their responses and treat them like fools.

    I feel really sorry for people that have spent their hard earned cash on this box set.

  260. Peter says:

    Thanks Paul for getting this explanation from those who make the decisions!. I personally think overall Tony Visconti has done a great job.

  261. Auntie Sabrina says:

    Maybe they ought to let more people know about this via an online statement.p? Is this information included in the 128 page booklet in the boxset, it ought to have been. Well done anyway, nice to see you think so much of your readers concerns.

    • Paul Sinclair says:

      There was a concession from the label that they maybe should have explained the Heroes issue and/or the remastering approach in the booklet.

      • Michael says:

        Many thanks for this info Paul. I personally didn’t/don’t have a problem with the box set, in fact I love it. Love the Lodger remix too.
        I have yet to listen to Re:call 3 and wanted to ask if the single version of ‘Heroes’ is affected by the same problem as the album track.


      • BillyD says:

        I, for one, appreciate the technical details in projects like this.

      • Stever says:

        That is a very sound comment Paul and would have been nice.
        However how many other “age based” errors did Parlophone fix that we have not found.
        Could they have taken up the space of the full length liner notes?
        I personally love the new “bottom end” in Low and Lodger.
        Tony Visconti is a bass player, and whether he knows it or not, would have been listening to that aspect intently.
        It is also very interesting for me that originally both Aladin Sane and Pinups had the worst bass mastering and Tony was not involved originally with those projects. Listen to “the man who sold the world” and you know T.V. was the bass player on that album.

    • Maslov says:

      So it sounds like the PR person or an intern mastered some of these. I understand their response but then why’d o all the older versions of most of these albums (on LP and CD) sound better that these? I had to return my sCD set to Amazon. Even my Rykos sound better but the original LPS are the way to go.

    • william zantzinger says:

      very good point that recording limitations could have been mentioned in the booklet. this has put me off buying despite having the previous 2 boxsets & the back catalogue of CDs and LPs

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