30 Minutes with Tom Scholz of Boston Page 3
All collapsed, basically... Yeah. That's what digital does. It changes the audio waveform. People think digital is an accurate representation of music, and it's not. And because of the phase-angle error, all the things that your ear and your brain do normally to figure out where sounds are coming from to form a mental aural map, if you will, of your audio surroundings - it takes that and completely fools it. It turns something that had enormous depth and was recorded in a natural, beautiful hall and puts it into a little flat thing in front of you. So, as you can see, I've hated digital from the beginning. But it's cheap, and it's got a lot of features, and that's what sells.
If audiophiles had our way, we'd just go back to reel-to-reel tape. I wish! There was nothing as good - and nothing ever will be, probably. But, in the meantime, I think we did a pretty good job of making the adjustments so that those early albums come across really well on CD. And in some ways, because of the improvements we made in the mastering, I prefer the new CD version over the original vinyl.
What compromises did you have to make when you originally mastered the album to vinyl? The compromises in those days were huge. Every song was, basically, "Well, this is the best we can get with what we've got." Even though those mixes were done at what was considered a well-equipped mixing room [Westlake Audio in Los Angeles], there was only so much you could do. We were doing it manually. The outboard gear available for signal processing was really crude by today's standards, so we did the best we could.
But I knew what I would have done if we hadn't had all those limitations, and I finally got a chance to do it. It was a little more difficult working with the 2-track as opposed to being able to take the multitrack and remix it, but I think we made enormous improvements. The tracks have a lot more power. That was the thing I was looking for.
These two albums are all about power. I remember in the days of vinyl, we just used to turn them up as loud as we could go... Sure. A little speaker distortion always helped. [both laugh] Well, the differences in the new masters aren't subtle at all. When you put on album one [Boston], right away, you'll hear a difference in the listenability and the impact of the power chords and the bass instruments. It made a world of difference to me, listening to them. And I think we made even more improvements with Don't Look Back, the whole album.