The Police – Greatest Hits – Review (LP mastered At Abbey Road Studios, Qobuz, Amazon, Tidal and CD)

The Police’s compilation album “Greatest Hits” was released in September 1992. It contains 16 tracks that are only hits of The Police released between 1978 and 1984.

The review includes 5 editions (Vinyl , Streaming Qobuz, Amazon , Tidal and CD) of this album.

Below you will find the description of the different editions, as well as the measures of each edition in the different chapters and the samples of them here.

This album includes 16 tracks reviewed: 

  1. Roxanne
  2. Can’t Stand Losing You
  3. So Lonely
  4. Message In A Bottle
  5. Walking On The Moon
  6. The Bed’s Too Big Without You
  7. Don’t Stand So Close To Me
  8. De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da
  9. Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic
  10. Invisible Sun
  11. Spirits In The Material World
  12. Synchronicity II
  13. Every Breath You Take
  14. King Of Pain
  15. Wrapped Around Your Finger
  16. Tea In The Sahara

First we will analyze each edition in detail (technical and qualitative analysis) then we will compare the successive editions with their dynamics and assign a final score and you will be able to listen some samples.

The streaming versions may evolve over time, those presented here correspond to the version tested at the date of publication, or update of the review.

Review of the editions:

Part 1: Presentation of the editions

Part 2 : Waveform and dynamique comparaison

Parts 3 : Spectrum comparisons

Part 4 : Spectrogram comparaisons

Part 5 : Summary, scoring and Sample

Part 1: presentation of the editions

Ed1 : Vinyl remastered ref 358 717-6 – 2022
Presentation

This is the vinyl mastered At Abbey Road Studios (in Half Speed Mastering) and presented in a gatefold sleeve.

LabelPolydor Ltd. (UK)
Reference358 717-6
Format (speed)Double vinyl Gatefold
TypeLp 33 rpm 180g
MasterDigital
Mastering/PressingMastered At Abbey Road Studios – Half Speed Mastering
Original recordinganalog
StateEurope
Year original1992
Year production2022
Ed2 : Qobuz – 1992
Presentation

This is the streaming Qobuz presented in 16 bits 44.1 kHz

LabelA&M Records Universal Music
ReferenceQobuz
Format (speed)Streaming loosless
Type16 bits 44.1 kHz
MasterDigital
Mastering/PressingDigital from original records
Original recordinganalog
StateUS
Year original1992
Year production1992
Ed3 : Amazon HD- 1992
Presentation

This is the streaming Amazon presented in HD 16 bits 44.1 kHz.

LabelA&M Records Universal Music
ReferenceAmazon HD
Format (speed)Streaming loosless
Type16 bits 44.1 kHz
MasterDigital
Mastering/PressingDigital from original records
Original recordinganalog
StateUS
Year original1992
Year production1992
Ed4 : Tidal – 1992
Presentation

This is the streaming Tidal presented encoded in 16 bits 44.1kHz.

LabelA&M Records Universal Music
ReferenceTidal
Format (speed)Streaming loosless
Type16 bits 44.1 kHz
MasterDigital
Mastering/PressingDigital from original records
Original recordinganalog
StateUS
Year original1992
Year production1992
Ed5 : CD SHM-CD Ref UICY-90828 – 2008
Presentation

This is the CD SHM-CD released in 2008.

LabelA&M Records Universal Music
ReferenceUICY-90828
Format (speed)CD SHM-CD (Super High Material CD)
Type16 bits 44.1 kHz
MasterDigital
Mastering/PressingDigital from original records
Original recordinganalog
StateJapan
Year original1992
Year production2008

Part 2 : Waveform and dynamic comparaisons

Waveform

The waveform represents all the 16 tracks of the album.

The graphics below represent the album in vinyl version. The vinyl version is very dynamic with big differences in sound level for all the songs.

Waveform Ed1 : Vinyl

The 4 graphics below represent the album in stereo version (Qobuz, Amazon, Tidal Master and CD). The 4 versions are very dynamic with great variations of the sound levels. These variations of sound level are a little more marked than on the vinyl version (Ed1). This is certainly due to the higher level of the treble in the digital versions compared to the vinyl (see the analysis of the spectrum).

Waveform Ed2 : Qobuz
Ed3 : Amazon
Ed4 : Tidal
Ed5 : CD

Dynamic

Dynamic represents the ability to reproduce a wide range of sounds from the softest to the loudest. The target is to compare the dynamics of the music and not of the media (CD, digital files or vinyl).

For our 5 editions we have obtained the following Dynamic Range (DR) :

 Ed1: VinylEd2: QobuzEd3: AmazonEd4: TidalEd5: CD
GLOBALDR14DR15DR15DR15DR15
MinDR12DR13DR13DR13DR13
MaxDR16DR17DR17DR17DR17
RoxanneDR14DR14DR14DR14DR14
Can’t Stand Losing YouDR14DR15DR15DR15DR15
So LonelyDR12DR13DR13DR13DR13
Message In A BottleDR14DR15DR15DR15DR15
Walking On The MoonDR15DR17DR17DR17DR17
The Bed’s Too Big Without YouDR15DR16DR16DR16DR16
Don’t Stand So Close To MeDR16DR16DR16DR16DR16
De Do Do Do, De Da Da DaDR14DR17DR17DR17DR17
Every Little Thing She Does Is MagicDR13DR15DR15DR15DR15
Invisible SunDR13DR15DR15DR15DR15
Spirits In The Material WorldDR14DR16DR16DR16DR16
Synchronicity IIDR13DR14DR14DR14DR14
Every Breath You TakeDR14DR15DR15DR15DR15
King Of PainDR15DR15DR15DR15DR15
Wrapped Around Your FingerDR15DR15DR15DR15DR15
Tea In The SaharaDR16DR17DR17DR17DR17

It’s a very dynamic album with a DR14 or DR15 on average. It is a very good dynamic. The difference between the vinyl and the digital versions is certainly due to the important difference of level in the treble (cf Spectrum).

As a reminder, the scale goes from 0 to more 20, but the dynamics are considered good from 12, quite good between 10 and 11, and deteriorate below 10.

Part 3 : spectrum comparisons

Spectrum

The Spectrum allows to check the tonal balance of the music (balance between treble, medium and bass sounds) and to detect process that may have been carried out during the recording, the mixing, mastering or manufacturing phases. It is also possible to detect frequency interference issues.

The curve represents the average frequency distribution over the sample “Message In A Bottle”.

The interesting features on this curve Ed1 Vinyl (white) vs Ed2 Qobuz (blue) are the following:

  1. The two curves are superimposed between 200 Hz and 3kHz.
  2. The yellow area shows a slight decrease in the highs of the vinyl compared to the Qobuz version with a drop of more than 10 dB above 10 kHz
  3. The green zone represents an increase in the bass level below 200 Hz with 4 dB between 50 and 100Hz.

These differences in the highs and lows change the rendering of the album, with a tonal balance descending for the vinyl.

Spectrum Ed1 Vinyl (White) vs Ed2 Qobuz Hi-Res (Blue)

The curves of all the digital versions are identical up to 20 kHz.

Spectrum Ed3 Amazon (White) vs Ed2 Qobuz (Blue)

Only the Tidal version shows a small peak at 22 kHz which is not present on the other digital versions, and which remains without explanation.

Spectrum Ed4 TIdal (White) vs Ed2 Qobuz (Blue)

The frequency response curve of the Ed5 Tidal and Ed2 Qobuz editions is perfectly smooth up to 22 kHz.

Spectrum Ed5 CD(White) vs Ed2 Qobuz (Blue)

For all versions, we notice that the bass drops very quickly below 50 Hz which is due to the original recording on tape, this explains the specific sound of this 80’s album.

Part 4 : Spectrogram comparaisons

Spectrogram

Spectrogram is another representation of frequency versus time of a track. For each channel (right and left), horizontal axis represents time, and the vertical axis represents frequency. The amplitude is represented by the intensity (brightness) of the color of each point in the image.

The spectrum beloow représente the vinyl release (Ed1). The signal increases above 20 kHz (yellow arrow), the white arrow represents the frequencies comprising the audio signal and also the distortion of the vinyl playback. The black arrows show interfering frequencies that are present above 20 kHz and only on certain tracks, indicating the presence of a high definition or analog master.

Spectrogram Ed1 : Vinyl

For Qobuz (Ed2), Amazon(Ed3), Tidal (Ed4) and CD (Ed5), we find the same representation with a maximum frequency of 20 kHz. The black area (white arrow) shows that there is no signal above 22 kHz, which is normal for a 44.1 kHz sampling rate.

Spectrogram Ed2 : Qobuz
Spectrogram Ed3 : Amazon
Spectrogram Ed4 : Tidal
Spectrogram Ed5 : CD

Part 5 : Summary, scoring and Samples

Ed1 : Vinyl remastered ref 358 717-6 – 2022

Very nice pressing of the vinyl that produces a very low surface noise. The packaging is also very successful. The music has been remastered, the measurements confirm what we feel when listening. The rendering of the new mastering of the Abbey Road studios is more balanced, more adapted to the current listening. We lose the accentuated highs of the songs released in the 80s, which was also accentuated by the extreme low register is cut below 50 Hz..

  • Rating:
    • Dynamic: ●●●●● (5/5)
    • Bandwidth: ●●●●o (4/5)
    • Surface noise: ●●●●o (4.5/5)
    • Restitution: ●●●●o (4/5)
  • Sample : “Message In A Bottle” 24 bits 88.2 kHz:
Sample Ed1 Vinyl
Ed2 : Qobuz – 1992

The Qobuz version keeps all the dynamics (DR15) and the tonal balance of the original version, the highs are present and detailed, which can be aggressive on a system that already favors high frequencies.

  • Rating:
    • Dynamic: ●●●●● (5/5)
    • Bandwidth: ●●●●o (4/5)
    • Restitution: ●●●oo (3.5/5)
  • Sample : “Message In A Bottle” 16 bits 44.1kHz:
Sample Ed2 Qobuz
Ed3 : Amazon HD- 1992

We find the same dynamics and the same balance as the Qobuz version, to the listening, the new master of Abbey Road Studios brings a better balance, even if we lose a little precision in the treble.

  • Rating:
    • Dynamic:  ●●●●● (5/5)
    • Bandwidth: ●●●●o (4/5)
    • Restitution: ●●●oo (3.5/5)
  • Sample : “Message In A Bottle” 16 bits 44.1kHz:
Sample Ed3 Amazon
Ed4 : Tidal – 1992

The Tidal version is similar to other digital versions.

  • Rating:
    • Dynamic:  ●●●●● (5/5)
    • Bandwidth: ●●●●o (4/5)
    • Restitution: ●●●oo (3.5/5)
  • Sample : “Message In A Bottle” 16 bits 44.1kHz:
Sample Ed4 Tidal
Ed5 : CD SHM-CD Ref UICY-90828 – 2008

The version released on CD in 2008 is identical to the streaming versions, we find the same dynamics and the same tonal balance.

  • Rating:
    • Dynamic:  ●●●●● (5/5)
    • Bandwidth: ●●●●o (4/5)
    • Restitution: ●●●oo (3.5/5)
  • Sample : “Message In A Bottle” 16 bits 44.1kHz:
Sample Ed5 CD

Very beautiful vinyl edition which brings a new mastering realized at Abbey Road studios. The rendering is more balanced, the listening is more pleasant, without aggressivity in the treble.The remastering of this album puts it back to the current listening standards in 2022. The quality of the pressing allows a listening without any problem (click or noise). Some may prefer the original version, but the samples will help you to make your own opinion.

Detail of the ratings :

  • Dynamic :
    1. Significant dynamic compression, DR less than 7
    2. Compression of the present dynamics, DR between 7 and 9.
    3. Correct piece DR >=10
    4. No dynamic compression (DR >12), dynamic rendering
    5. No dynamic compression, high DR and very dynamic sound rendering
  • Spectrum :
    1. Spectrum cut and less than 15 khz
    2. Spectrum cut at 15 khz
    3. Spectrum not conforming to the original and cut (not HD) or original but limited bandwidth (but less than 20 kHz)
    4. Spectrum conforming to the original (but not HD)
    5. Spectrum conforming to the original with HD resolution (higher than 24kHz)
  • Surface noise (only for vinyl):
    1. Continuous audible noise
    2. Audible surface noise except on passages with a high level of noise
    3. Reduced surface noise, barely audible on low level crossings
    4. Low surface noise, very good quality
    5. Very low surface noise, no defects, almost inaudible on the quiet passages (exceptional disc)
  • Spatialization :
    • Between 0 and 5 for 5.1 or 7.1 channels configuration
    • Between 0 and 10 for Atmos configuration (7.1.4)
    • For more information on spatialization, you can read the article describing this parameter here.
  • Restitution :
    1. Low quality of the restitution mixing dynamics, clarity, separation of voices and instruments.
    2. Average quality of the restitution mixing dynamics, clarity, separation of voices and instruments.
    3. Quality of the restitution mixing dynamics, clarity, separation of voices and instruments. Good record.
    4. High quality of the restitution mixing dynamics, clarity, separation of voices and instruments. Very high level disc.
    5. Maximum quality of the restitution mixing dynamics, clarity, separation of voices and instruments. Exceptional disc.

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