Go High-Res For The Holidays

Here’s the thing: Dave and I have always been skeptical about high-res.

First off, the whole concept is somewhat nebulous since the industry can’t really standardize on a formal definition of it. As a result, many labels have taken advantage of that fact by advertising a record as “high-res” when in fact it’s just an upsampled version of the original CD.

Secondly, even though most audiophiles equate any format with a greater than 16-bits/44.1kHz sampling rate with “high-res,” a higher sampling rate in itself can’t compensate for a poorly produced master because ultimately no amount of oversampling is going to repair the mistakes that were made in the studio.

Finally, one needs to have a system capable of high-res playback to begin with to truly reap the sonic rewards of the “format.” So if your main playback system is an iPhone connected to a pair of AirBuds, the added cost of high-res is probably not worth it.

Yet despite all that, both Dave and I are still fervent supporters of the high-res movement anyway, both as an archival format as well as a release vehicle for labels to right the wrongs of the past. To be clear, what we would like to see is that instead of just higher sampling rates as a means to an end, the movement instead focuses on encouraging artists and labels that want to release their material in high-res formats to do so with fidelity not loudness as the primary goal. We think then and only then can the real benefits of high-res music be had.

HDTracks of course has been on the forefront of the high-res movement since its inception, and for this holiday season they are offering all Metal-Fi readers a 20% discount on any metal release till the end of January. Just use the code ‘HDMETALFI20‘ at checkout to get your discount. That’s mighty metal of them if you ask me.

If you are still wondering however how you should use that discount code wisely, fear not, we’re here to help. Here are a few high-res metal titles that do indeed offer more than just a bump in sampling rate.


When I was growing up, Sepultura were Gods. And to this day I still consider their early albums, particularly Beneath the Remains and Arise, as thrash canon. But it was really with Chaos A.D where the band came into their own, deviating from their prototypical thrash formula by injecting a heaping helping of Brazilian groove into the mix. This shift eventually culminated in their controversial though aptly named 1996 release, Roots. Rhino has recently released remasters of both as part of their expanded edition series.

To make a very long story short, I think Roots is definitely a must buy where as Chaos A.D. is a mixed bag depending on what version you own. The remaster of Roots is the most dynamic to date, clocking in at healthy DR9 and sounding glorious. Chaos. A.D. on the other hand is a lightly compressed version of the reissue and doesn’t fair nearly as well. However, I do prefer the remaster over the post-1993 reissue as the remaster does sound punchier despite having a point less in dynamics. Another big downside is that neither of these high-res remasters come with the extra live and cover tracks as the standard expanded edition CDs. But at 20% off, they are still definitely worth checking out.

 

Pantera of course need no introduction. They are one of the most influential metal bands of all-time. Last year Rhino released The Complete Studio Albums: 1990-2000 boxset, which contains the five records most people associate with the band [No Metal Magic? For shame. -Dave]. I am happy to tell you that the high-res remasters are fantastic and available on HDTracks as both a boxset and as individual albums. Minimally, every single one of you should own a copy of at least Cowboys as it still remains one of the greatest metal albums of all-time. And again, at 20% off this is a sweet deal anyway you look at it.

I already did an in-depth review of Black Sabbath‘s Heaven and Hell here. With that said, the fact is the high-res remaster offered by HDTracks is one of the best sounding versions of this seminal classic and I would be remiss to not mention it here as well. I own no less than four different versions and the high-res one has grown on me over the years that it could quite possibly be now my favorite (though I still love those Castle originals too).

Avenged Sevenfolds The Stage is one of the best recorded albums of the last few years, and there are very few metal albums that can really compete with its shear engineering pedigree. This is modern production done right. Recently, the band has released an expanded edition which features a few live tracks from their Live in London show they did last year. If you still haven’t picked this puppy up, HDTracks is currently selling the definitive version of it n 24-bit/96kHz form. This is indeed the original master before it got dithered down for the CD and an absolute must buy for any A7X fan.

Neurosis‘ last record, Fires Within Fires, is not only a return to form, but one of the best sounding albums they’ve ever recorded. Clocking in at DR8, it seems the band finally hit their recording stride with this one as all of their slow burn is on full display on this dynamic and vibrant master. Huck’N’Roll’s fantastic review also makes a strong case that this is the kind of record that deserves a high-end headphone setup to fully realize an immersive listening experience. If you don’t already own Fires, the HDTracks high-res version would be the one to pick up.


So there you have it. If you do happen to buy any of these albums or something else off of HDTracks in the next month, please post what you bought down below, and for browny points also give a short review.

Happy Holidays!