Michael Jackson – Thriller – Full Review (vinyl, CD, Cassette, SACD, MOFI releases, Qobuz, Tidal, Amazon Music, Sony 360 RA, from 1982 to 2022)

After the review of the 40th anniversary special edition, here is the comparison with the other editions (vinyl, CD, Cassette, SACD, Streaming, space sound), including the original versions, the 25th anniversary versions and the MOFI versions in SACD and UltraDisc One-Step vinyl. No less than 21 versions are compared in this review.

We will review 21 versions including vinyl, CD, Cassette, Streaming Qobuz Hi-Res, Amazon UltraHD, Tidal Master, Tidal 360RA, from 1982 to 2022, with MOFI releases.

The review of the album Dangerous (1991-2021) is also available.

Below you will find the description of the different editions, as well as the measurements of each edition in the following chapters.
The synthesis of the review and the samples are available here

The album is composed of 9 tracks:

  1. Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’
  2. Baby Be Mine
  3. The Girl Is Mine
  4. Thriller
  5. Beat It
  6. Billie Jean
  7. Human Nature
  8. P,Y,T, (Pretty Young Thing)
  9. The Lady in My Life

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 : Spatialization

Part 6 : Summary, scoring and Sample

Part 1: presentation of the editions

Ed 1: Vinyl Thriller 40 – 2022
Presentation

The 40th anniversary vinyl reissue features the 9 tracks of the original album (ref: 196587145118), but no bonus tracks present on the CD and Streaming version.

Ed 2: CD Thriller 40 – 2022
Presentation

The 40th anniversary CD reissue is a double CD (ref : 196587345624). The first CD contains the 9 tracks of the original album and the second CD contains 10 bonus tracks. The content of this CD edition is less rich than the streaming version with its 26 bonus tracks!

Ed 3: Qobuz Thriller 40 – 2008
Presentation

The Qobuz streaming version includes the 9 tracks of the original version and 26 bonus tracks. This is the most complete edition. This edition is presented in Hi6res 24 bits 44.1 kHz, unlike the previous editions at least available in 96 kHz for the 25 years anniversary version.

Qobuz Thriller 40 – 2008
Ed 4: Tidal 360 RA – 2022
Presentation

Available for the first time in the Sony 360 RA (Reality Audio) format, this remixed version concerns the 9 original tracks of the album Thriller. It is available in 360RA on Tidal and in Dolby Atmos on Apple Music.

Tidal 360 RA – 2022
Ed 5: Vinyl EU – 1982
Presentation

This EU vinyl is the European French version of the album released in 1982 (ref : BL38112 — EPC 85930 CB 281).

Ed 6: Vinyl US – 1982
Presentation

This US vinyl is the 1st US pressing of the album released in 1982 (ref : BL38112 — 07464381121). This vinyl has the particularity to not have mentioned on back over that Michael Jackson is co-producer.

Ed 7: Vinyl Japan – 1982
Presentation

This Japanese vinyl is the Japanese repressing released in 1982 (ref: 25-3P-399).

Ed 8: Vinyl Master Sound – 1984
Presentation

This Japanese vinyl is the Master Sound DM Digital Mastering version released in 1984 (ref: 30.3P-431). This vinyl has been mastered digitally from the analog tapes.

Ed 9: Vinyl Thriller 25 – 2008
Presentation

This is the European vinyl version for the 25th anniversary of the album Thriller in 2008 (ref : 88697233441). This vinyl has been mastered digitally from the analog tapes. This album contains 2 lp with 7 bonus tracks.

Ed 10: Cassette EU – 1982
Presentation

This is the European cassette released in 1982 (Epic – 40-85930).

Ed 11: CD Japan – 1983
Presentation

It is the first version of the CD released in 1983, this Japanese CD ref: 35.8P-11) was encoded using the principle of pre-emphasis which increases the level of the treble before the digitalization. A reverse correction is operated during the reading to reproduce the original.

Ed 12: CD Special Edition – 2001
Presentation

This is a special edition of the CD released in 2001 (ref 5 099750 442227) including the bonus tracks: Billie Jean (Home Demo 1981), Voice-Over Session From “Thriller”, Carousel and interviews.

CD Special Edition – 2001
Ed 13: CD Thriller 25 – 2008
Presentation

The CDversion of the 25th anniversary album Thriller is proposed with bonus tracks and a DVD included the famous clips Billie Jean, Beat It and Thriller.

Ed 14: SACD – 1999
Presentation

This SACD was released in 1999 (ref 0 7464-38112-6 2), it was engineered by Bernie Grundman and authoring engineer Stephen Saper. This SACD can only be played on an SACD player, it does not have a CD layer.

SACD – 1999
Ed 15: Qobuz – 1982
Presentation

The Qobuz version of the album Thriller is proposed in Hi-Res 24 bits 176.4 kHz.

Qobuz – 1982
Ed 16: Qobuz Thriller 25 – 2008
Presentation

The Qobuz version of the 25th anniversary album Thriller is proposed in Hi-Res 24 bits 96kHz. It is the Super Deluxe Edition which includes 22 additional tracks (music and interviews).

Qobuz Thriller 25 – 2008
Ed 17: Vinyl MOFI
Presentation

The Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab (MOFI) vinyl is made according to the UltraDisc One-Step principle (ref UD1S 1-042). The vinyl was made from the digital recording in DSD256 of the analog master tape in 1/2″ / 30 IPS (76 cm/s). This special edition will be produced in 40000 numbered copies.

Ed 18: SACD MOFI
Presentation

The Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab (MOFI) SACD is made according to the Ultradisc UHR principle (ref UDSACD 2251). The SACD has been realized from the digital recording in DSD256 of the analog master tape in 1/2″ / 30 IPS (76 cm/s). This special edition is numbered and contains a 12 pages booklet.

Ed 19: CD from SACD MOFI
Presentation

This CD is the CD layer of the Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab SACD (ref UDSACD 2251).

CD from SACD MOFI
Ed 20: Amazon Music UltraHD
Presentation

This is the Amazon Music version of Thriller dated 2022, but not labeled Thriller 40 or Thriller 25 in UltraHD 24 bit 96 kHz format.

Amazon Music UltraHD
Ed 21: Tidal 1982 Master
Presentation

This is the Tidal version of Thriller dated 1982, but not marked Thriller 40 or Thriller 25 in Master 24 bits 96 kHz encoded in MQA and decoded with Audiravana.

Tidal 1982 Master

Part 2 : Waveform and dynamic comparaisons

Waveform

The waveform represents the 9 tracks of the original album.

Thes graphs below represens the waveform of the vinyls version Thriller 40 and Thriller 25. These versions are dynamic but without the peak of level present on the beginning of the 5th song of the album “Billie Jean”.

The waveforms of the 5 vinyl editions (1982 EU, 1982 US, Japan SoundMaster, 1982 Japan and MOFI) below are the most dynamic vinyl versions, which is visible on the beginning of the 5th track “Billie Jean” where an important level peak is more marked.

The CD and Qobuz Hi-Res of Thriller 25 and Thriller 40, like the CD of 2001 and Amazon and Tidal Master below raises the use of the sound level almost to the maximum and with the use of a limiter Brickwall which caps the levels as indicated in the white zone. We find for these versions produced since 2001, the impact of the war of the loudness.

The waveforms of the digital editions below (CD 1983, Qobuz, SACD 1989, SACD MOFI, CD from SACD MOFI) are not compressed in dynamics like the previous digital versions. We see however, that the beginning of the 5th track of the album “Billie Jean” is less strong in level than on the other editions.

The waveform of the cassette is more dynamic than the latest digital editions which suffer from loudness war.

The 360 RA binaural version is more dynamic than the CD and Qobuz versions of Thriller 40, the graphic is closer to the vinyl version Thriller 40, which will result in a dynamic listening experience

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 21 editions reviewed have obtained the following Dynamic Range (DR) :

Vinyl Thriller 40 – 2022CD Thriller 40 – 2022Qobuz Thriller 40 – 2008Tidal 360 RA – 2022Vinyl EU – 1982Vinyl US – 1982Vinyl Japan – 1982Vinyl Master Sound – 1984Vinyl Thriller 25 – 2008Cassette EU – 1982CD Japan – 1983CD Special Edition – 2001CD Thriller 25 – 2008SACD – 1999Qobuz – 1982Qobuz Thriller 25 – 2008Vinyl MOFISACD MOFICD from SACD MOFIAmazon Music UltraHDTidal 1982 Master
GlobalDR12DR8 DR8 DR13DR15DR15DR15DR14DR13DR12DR13DR9 DR8 DR14DR13DR7 DR14DR13DR13DR7 DR8
MinDR11DR7 DR7 DR12DR13DR14DR13DR13DR12DR11DR12DR8 DR7 DR12DR12DR6 DR13DR12DR12DR6 DR7
MaxDR13DR8 DR8 DR15DR16DR17DR16DR15DR14DR13DR14DR10DR9 DR16DR16DR8 DR15DR14DR14DR8 DR9
Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’DR12DR7 DR7 DR15DR14DR14DR15DR13DR13DR12DR12DR9 DR7 DR12DR12DR7 DR13DR12DR12DR7 DR8
Baby Be MineDR13DR8 DR8 DR14DR15DR15DR15DR14DR14DR12DR13DR9 DR8 DR13DR13DR7 DR14DR13DR13DR7 DR8
The Girl Is MineDR11DR8 DR8 DR13DR13DR14DR13DR13DR13DR11DR12DR8 DR8 DR13DR13DR8 DR13DR12DR12DR8 DR9
ThrillerDR13DR8 DR8 DR12DR15DR15DR14DR13DR14DR12DR13DR9 DR8 DR13DR13DR7 DR13DR12DR12DR7 DR8
Beat ItDR12DR7 DR7 DR13DR14DR14DR14DR13DR12DR12DR13DR8 DR6 DR14DR13DR6 DR13DR11DR11DR6 DR7
Billie JeanDR12DR8 DR8 DR13DR16DR17DR16DR14DR13DR13DR14DR8 DR7 DR16DR16DR7 DR15DR13DR13DR7 DR8
Human NatureDR12DR8 DR8 DR12DR14DR16DR14DR14DR13DR12DR13DR10DR9 DR13DR13DR7 DR14DR13DR13DR7 DR8
P,Y,T, (Pretty Young Thing)DR12DR8 DR6 DR14DR14DR15DR15DR13DR13DR12DR13DR9 DR8 DR13DR13DR7 DR14DR13DR13DR7 DR8
The Lady in My LifeDR13DR8 DR8 DR13DR16DR15DR15DR15DR14DR13DR14DR9 DR9 DR14DR14DR7 DR14DR14DR14DR7 DR9

We find 2 great categories at the level of the dynamics of the editions, the dynamic versions which go from DR12 to DR15 which concerns the digital versions, vinyls, Cassette, CD, SACD and 360RA, and the digital versions with a DR between DR7 and DR9 (CD 2001, Thriller 25, Thriller40, Amazon UltraHD and Tidal Master) which undergo a compression of the dynamics to increase the average sound level of the album, as confirmed by the analysis of the waveforms.

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 spectrum of the vinyl version Thriller 40 (white) is superimposed with the Qobuz version Thriller 40 (blue) up to 22 kHz (yellow arrow), frequency limit of the Qobuz version due to its sampling frequency of 44.1 kHz.

The spectrum of the Qobuz Thriller 40 (white) and CD Thriller 40 (blue) versions overlap perfectly. We find the same limitation at 22 kHz due to its sampling frequency of 44.1 kHz.

The spectrum of the Tidal 360 RA binaural version and the Thriller 40 CD are very different (green and yellow zone), this is due to the different mixing between the two versions and the use of the binaural conversion. The Tidal 360 RA binaural version has a maximum frequency that is limited to 18 kHz (yellow arrow) compared to the CD version limited to 22 kHz. This is due to the MPEG-H encoding used for the 360RA with a bit rate of about 667 kbps.

The spectra represent the EU vinyl version (white) and the US vinyl version (blue). Both versions are similar, with small variations like in the green area (1 dB difference). But it’s mainly in the high end of the spectrum that there are differences, the EU version has a treble boost of more than 7 above 18 kHz, while the US version has a high frequency limitation at 18 kHz.

The spectra represent the 1982 Japanese vinyl version (white) and the US vinyl (blue). Both versions are similar except below 600 Hz up to 3 dB (green area) and above 6 kHz up to 5 dB (yellow area). We find the 18 kHz limitation of the US vinyl.

The spectra represent the Japanese vinyl version of 1982 (white) and the Japanese cd of 1983 (blue). Both versions are almost identical, with just a small attenuation below 80 Hz for the vinyl. The yellow arrow shows the 22 kHz limitation of the CD due to its sampling rate, while the vinyl signal continues beyond that. This is the closest vinyl version to the original digital version.

The spectra represent the 2 Japanese vinyl versions from 1982 (white) and the US vinyl (blue). Both versions are similar except below 600 Hz up to 3 dB (green area) and above 6 kHz up to 5 dB (yellow area). We find the 18 kHz limitation of the US vinyl.

The spectra represent the Thriller 25 vinyl version (white) and the MasterSound vinyl (blue). The two versions differ in the lower end of the spectrum below 100 Hz with up to 5 dB more for the MasterSound (green area), and up to 5 db more above 2 kHz for the Thriller 25 vinyl (yellow area). We also notice a 10 dB drop at 18 kHz, then a rise of more than 12 dB at 20 kHz (yellow arrow).

The spectra of the cassette (white) and the Japanese Vinyl (blue) are similar with an accentuation for the cassette of the level below 500 Hz (up to 4 dB) and above 3 kHz (up to 5 dB). We notice that the bandwidth of the cassette is less extended, with a limitation towards 18 kHz. This will give a sound with a good presence of the bass and the treble.

The spectra of the CD of 2011 (white) and the CD of 1983 (blue) are similar but the remastering of the version of 2001 brings with it an accentuation for the cassette of the level below 500 Hz (up to 4 dB) and above 10 kHz (up to 4 dB). We find the limitation at 22 kHz due to the sampling frequency of the CD.

The spectra of the CD thriller 25 (white) and the CD of 2001 (blue) are really very close with a difference in the bass where the version of 2001 has a fear more bass 3 dB) below 100 Hz. We find the limitation at 22 kHz due to the sampling frequency of the CD.

The spectra of the 1999 SACD version (white) and the Qobuz version (blue) are identical, except for the filtering in the high frequencies above 50 kHz (yellow arrow). Both versions are from the same master, the Qobuz version uses a SACD master converted to 24 bits 176.4 kHz PCM.

The spectra of the Thriller 40 CD (white) and the Thriller 25 CD (blue) are very close with small differences below 100 Hz and above 15 kHz. We find the limitation at 22 kHz due to the sampling frequency of the CD.

The spectra of the Qobuz Thriller 25 version (white) and the Thriller 25 CD (blue) are very close with small differences below 200Hz. We find the limitation to 22 kHz (yellow arrow) of the CD version, and the Qobuz version which continues until 48 kHz (green arrow) due to the sampling frequency of 96 kHz.

The spectra represent the MOFI vinyl version (white) and the MOFI SACD (blue). Both versions are from the same original analog tape, but the mastering done on the two media is very different, as shown by the small differences in the bass (green area) and the midrange (purple area). But it is especially in the highs (yellow zone) above 12 kHz where the difference is very important, up to more than 7 dB more for the vinyl, and this until 30 kHz.

The spectra represent the two SACD versions, MOFI in white and the 1999 version in blue. The two versions are similar, but with differences in level below 200 Hz and between 2 and 15 kHz due to the difference in mastering between the two versions.

The spectra of the CD layer of the SACD (white) and the 1983 CD (blue) are similar but the remastering of the MOFI version from the original master brings some differences in the lower part of the spectrum below 400 Hz and aissi from 12 kHz. We find the 22 kHz limitation due to the sampling frequency of the CD

For the Japanese CD of 1983, here is the comparison between the raw CD and the CD after de-emphasis correction (attenuation of the high frequencies).

The spectrum of the Amazon UltraHD and Tidal Master version overlaps perfectly with a 48 kHz cutoff due to the 96 kHz sampling rate.

The spectrum of the Qobuz Thriller 25 and Tidal Master version overlaps perfectly with a 48 kHz cutoff due to the 96 kHz sampling rate.

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 spectrograms below represent all the vinyl editions and show that the frequencies rise above 20 kHz (yellow arrow). Above this frequency (white arrow), we find a signal which is composed by the music and the distortion generated by the vinyl playback principle.

The spectrograms below represent all the CD editions and the Qobuz Thriller40 version. These spectrograms show a frequency limitation at 22 kHz (yellow arrow) due to the 44.1 kHz sampling rate. There is no signal above this frequency (white arrow).

The 3 spectrograms below represent the SACD versions of 1999, SACD of MOFI and the Qobuz version. We notice for these 2 versions that the high frequencies go up above 22 kHz (yellow arrow). However, the red arrows show a rise of the background noise above 30 kHz, this is due to the principle of encoding in DSD64. This means that the Qobuz version is derived from an SACD version that has been converted to 24-bit 176.4 kHz PCM.

The spectrograms of the Qobuz Thriller 25, Amazon UltraHD, Tidal Master version show a frequency limitation at 48 kHz (yellow arrow) due to the 96 kHz sampling rate. There is no signal above this frequency (white arrow).

The spectrogram of the cassette version shows a limitation of the high frequencies around 20 kHz (yellow arrow), with a strong attenuation from 18 kHz. The white arrow shows the noise of the cassette played on a Nakamichi LX3 deck.

The spectrogram of the Tidal 360RA Binaural version shows a frequency limitation at 18 kHz (yellow arrow) due to the MPEG-H compression algorithm. There is no signal above this frequency (white arrow).

Part 5 : Spatialization

Spatialization allows you to define the sound distribution of the music on all the channels. The spatialization indicator and the description of the graph are described here.

The Tidal version using Sony 360 Reality Audio (RA) is a real surprise for this 40th anniversary edition of the Thriller album. The mix of the 360RA version brings a very successful spatialization that exploits all the channels to take full advantage of the spatialization while keeping a sound balance consistent with the original version. Listening to the track Thriller, one would think that it was designed for a spatial mix. The richness of the music and the original sounds allow a very rich remixing that brings a new way to listen to this album, a real success.

The distribution is uniform over all channels, an example of spatial mixing

Spatialization : ●●●●●●●●oo (7.9)

Part 6 : Summary, scoring and Samples

The listening of the different versions was done with Didier ( WVaudio ), thanks for his participation.

Ed 1: Vinyl Thriller 40 – 2022

The vinyl brings a dynamic with more fineness and precision compared to the digital stereo versions of Thriller 40. The rendering of the sound space is also a little wider.

Rating:

  • Dynamic: ●●●oo (3.5)
  • Bandwidth: ●●●●o (4)
  • Surface noise: ●●●●o (4)
  • Restitution: ●●●oo (3.5)

Sample : ”Beat It” 24 bits 88.2 kHz:

Ed 2: CD Thriller 40 – 2022

The CD of the Thriller 40 version is in the continuity of the CD of the Thriller 25 version, we find a version reduced in dynamics with a DR8, thus far from the rendering of the original. Moreover, this double CD does not contain all the tracks present in the streaming version. Too bad for an anniversary version.

Rating:

  • Dynamic: ●●ooo (2)
  • Bandwidth: ●●●●o (4)
  • Restitution: ●●ooo (2.5)

Sample : ”Beat It” 16 bits 44.1 kHz:

Ed 3: Qobuz Thriller 40 – 2008

The Qobuz version of Thriller 40 is similar to the Thriller 40 CD edition, with a dynamic range reduced to a DR8, so far from the rendering of the original. We regret the use of a sampling frequency limited to 44.1 kHz, whereas it was 96 kHz for the Thriller 25 edition. What saves this version is the presence of 25 bonus tracks.

Rating:

  • Dynamic: ●●ooo (2)
  • Bandwidth: ●●●●o (4)
  • Restitution: ●●ooo (2.5)

Sample : ”Beat It” 24 bits 44.1 kHz:

Ed 4: Tidal 360 RA – 2022

The Sony 360 Reality Audio (RA) version is the real good surprise of this 40 years anniversary edition by proposing us a very rich spatial mix which suits perfectly this album. We find here one of the best remixes in 360RA of an album dating from 1982. It is necessary to say that the richness and the quality of the original multi-track recording allows a dynamic and very spatial rendering of the music. It is a true success for a listening in 7.1.4. In binaural listening, despite the spatialization aspect, this version does not manage to reproduce the finesse and energy of digital lossless versions or vinyl with a very high quality stereo mix.

Rating:

  • Dynamic: ●●●●o (4)
  • Bandwidth: ●●●●o (4)
  • Restitution: ●●●●o (4)

Sample : ”Beat It” 24 bits 48 kHz:

Ed 5: Vinyl EU – 1982

The pressing of this vinyl is of good quality, we find a dynamic and alive rendering of the album. A nice edition.

Rating:

  • Dynamic: ●●●●o (4)
  • Bandwidth: ●●●●o (4.5)
  • Surface noise: ●●●●o (4)
  • Restitution: ●●●●o (4)

Sample : ”Beat It” 24 bits 88.2 kHz:

Ed 6: Vinyl US – 1982

If we technically compare this vinyl to the 1982 vinyl stars, we notice a reduced bandwidth in the upper spectrum. However, it gives a good result to the listening, unfortunately, the quality of my copy does not allow to classify it among the best versions.

Rating:

  • Dynamic: ●●●●o (4)
  • Bandwidth: ●●●oo (3.5)
  • Surface noise: ●●●●o (4)
  • Restitution: ●●●●o (4)

Sample : ”Beat It” 24 bits 88.2 kHz:

Ed 7: Vinyl Japan – 1982

With a very high quality pressing and a reduced surface noise, we find in this edition all the dynamics, all the detail of the album Thriller, it retranscribes very well the richness of the original mix.

Rating:

  • Dynamic: ●●●●o (4)
  • Bandwidth: ●●●●● (5)
  • Surface noise: ●●●●● (5)
  • Restitution: ●●●●● (5)

Sample : ”Beat It” 24 bits 88.2 kHz:

Ed 8: Vinyl Master Sound – 1984

We find here a pressing of very good quality, with a reduced surface noise. However, when listening, the vinyl has a less dynamic rendering than the 1982 versions, with a sound balance favoring the bass a little more.

Rating:

  • Dynamic: ●●●●o (4)
  • Bandwidth: ●●●●● (5)
  • Surface noise: ●●●●● (5)
  • Restitution: ●●●oo (3.5)

Sample : ”Beat It” 24 bits 88.2 kHz:

Ed 9: Vinyl Thriller 25 – 2008

This anniversary edition is composed of two discs. The pressing is of good quality, but it does not match the other vinyl versions because of its slightly less dynamic rendering.

Rating:

  • Dynamic: ●●●oo (3.5)
  • Bandwidth: ●●●●o (4)
  • Surface noise: ●●●●o (4)
  • Restitution: ●●●oo (3.5)

Sample : ”Beat It” 24 bits 88.2 kHz:

Ed 10: Cassette EU – 1982

The cassette released in 1982 is dynamic with a warmer sound due to its sound balance. But, this cassette cannot rival the finesse and clarity of the vinyl and SACD versions.

Rating:

  • Dynamic: ●●●●o (4)
  • Bandwidth: ●●●oo (3.5)
  • Surface noise: ●●●oo (3)
  • Restitution: ●●●oo (3)

Sample : ”Beat It” 24 bits 96 kHz:

Ed 11: CD Japan – 1983

This first CD edition is very faithful to the original version in spite of the use of the pre-emphasis, we find all the dynamics and the sound balance of the album Thriller. A very beautifull CD.

Rating:

  • Dynamic: ●●●●o (4)
  • Bandwidth: ●●●●o (4)
  • Restitution: ●●●●o (4.5)

Sample : ”Beat It” 16 bits 44.1 kHz:

Ed 12: CD Special Edition – 2001

This CD has fallen into the loudness war, the album is compressed in dynamics, which does not enhance the quality of the mix.

Rating:

  • Dynamic: ●●ooo (2)
  • Bandwidth: ●●●●o (4)
  • Restitution: ●●ooo (2.5)

Sample : ”Beat It” 16 bits 44.1 kHz:

Ed 13: CD Thriller 25 – 2008

In the continuity of the CD of 2001, this CD is also compressed in dynamics, too bad for an anniversary CD.

Rating:

  • Dynamic: ●●ooo (2)
  • Bandwidth: ●●●●o (4)
  • Restitution: ●●ooo (2.5)

Sample : ”Beat It” 16 bits 44.1 kHz:

Ed 14: SACD – 1999

Very beautiful digital edition of the album, the SACD format allows to surpass the CD in fineness of restitution. Here, no problem of dynamics, it is clean, precise. When listening, we are immersed in the music.

Rating:

  • Dynamic: ●●●●o (4)
  • Bandwidth: ●●●●● (5)
  • Restitution: ●●●●● (5)

Sample : ”Beat It” 24 bits 88.2 kHz:

Ed 15: Qobuz – 1982

The original version presented in Hi-Res 24 bits 176.4kHz is the best of the tested streaming versions, we find here all the dynamics and the smoothness of the original version. This version is issued from a DSD64 version like the 1999 SACD with identical characteristics. When listening, it is the DAC which will also make the difference between a DSD and PCM conversion.

Rating:

  • Dynamic: ●●●●o (4)
  • Bandwidth: ●●●●● (5)
  • Restitution: ●●●●o (4.5)

Sample : ”Beat It” 24 bits 88.2 kHz:

Ed 16: Qobuz Thriller 25 – 2008

Presented in 24 bits 96 kHz, it was an opportunity to present a nice edition of Thriller, but this version is like the CD Thriller 25, affected by the War loudness

Rating:

  • Dynamic: ●●ooo (2)
  • Bandwidth: ●●●●o (4)
  • Restitution: ●●ooo (2.5)

Sample : ”Beat It” 24 bits 96 kHz:

Ed 17: Vinyl MOFI

With a quality pressing, MOFI offers us a very nice vinyl edition. The vinyl is dynamic and very accurate, we can hear many small details in the high end of the spectrum that are not as accurate on other vinyls. This extra detail is mainly due to the remastering and burning with an emphasis of up to 7dB above 12khz. But this enhancement does not respect the balance of the original work anymore.

Rating:

  • Dynamic: ●●●●o (4)
  • Bandwidth: ●●●●● (5)
  • Surface noise: ●●●●● (5)
  • Restitution: ●●●●o (3.5)

Sample : ”Beat It” 24 bits 88.2 kHz:

Ed 18: SACD MOFI

This new SACD edition is issued from the DSD256 digitization of the 1/2 30ips analog master tape and offers a very nice restitution, very dynamic and detailed. It is a pity that we cannot access the DSD256 version for listening.

Rating:

  • Dynamic: ●●●●o (4)
  • Bandwidth: ●●●●● (5)
  • Restitution: ●●●●● (5)

Sample : ”Beat It” 24 bits 88.2 kHz:

Ed 19: CD from SACD MOFI

The CD layer of the MOFI SACD brings the main characteristics of the SACD layer, but without retranscribing the same finesse as the DSD64 format.

Rating:

  • Dynamic: ●●●●o (4)
  • Bandwidth: ●●●●o (4)
  • Restitution: ●●●●o (4)

Sample : ”Beat It” 16 bits 44.1 kHz:

Ed 20: Amazon Music UltraHD

Presented in 24 bits 96 kHz, it was an opportunity to present a nice edition of Thriller, but this version is like the Qobuz Thriller 25, affected by the War loudness

Rating:

  • Dynamic: ●●ooo (2)
  • Bandwidth: ●●●●o (4)
  • Restitution: ●●ooo (2.5)

Sample : ”Beat It” 24 bits 96 kHz:

Ed 21: Tidal 1982 Master

Presented in 24 bits 96 kHz, and indicated as a 1982 version, this version is similar to the Qobuz Thriller 25 version, affected by the volume of the war.

Rating:

  • Dynamic: ●●ooo (2)
  • Bandwidth: ●●●●o (4)
  • Restitution: ●●ooo (2.5)

Sample : ”Beat It” 24 bits 96 kHz:

Thriller is the best-selling album in the world and there are over 600 versions. This test allows us to find some of the emblematic versions of this album. We have the chance with this album to have one of the most beautiful mixes, rich and detailed. It is therefore difficult to choose only one version as the best, because it also depends on the listening mode you prefer. If you prefer to listen to a digital version, the SACD 1999 and Mofi versions sound very good with dynamics and precision. In streaming, only the Qobuz version in Hi-Res 24 176.4 is very close in rendering to the SACD 1999 version. For the vinyl, the Japanese version of 1982 is excellent, as well as the pressing of the MOFI vinyl which brings more details in the top of the spectrum with its specific mastering which makes it less faithful of the original work. Everyone will be able to choose the best version adapted to his listening mode.

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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.

3 thoughts on “Michael Jackson – Thriller – Full Review (vinyl, CD, Cassette, SACD, MOFI releases, Qobuz, Tidal, Amazon Music, Sony 360 RA, from 1982 to 2022)

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