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The Who - Who:

UK - 2019 Polydor LP (Indie Deluxe Edition)

Vinyl pressed in Czech Republic. Bonus "Greatest Hits" LP in tan colored vinyl

UK - 2019 Polydor LP (HMV Deluxe Edition)

Vinyl pressed in Czech Republic Same as "Indie" version with HMV OBI. Bonus "Greatest Hits" LP in tan colored vinyl

UK - 2019 Polydor LP (Indie/HMV Deluxe Edition)

Bonus "Greatest Hits" LP in tan colored vinyl

UK - 2019 Polydor CD (Deluxe Edition)

With slipcase (Artwork for jewel case is the same as the other versions). 3 bonus tracks

UK - 2019 Polydor LP (Picture Disc)

A Side. Includes WAV file download from The Sound Of Vinyl

UK - 2019 Polydor LP (Picture Disc)

B Side. Includes WAV file download from The Sound Of Vinyl

UK - 2019 Polydor Cassette

UK - 2019 Polydor LP (Deluxe Triple Color Exclusive Edition)

3 LP @ 45 RPM. Includes 10" "Sand" (Demo). Vinyl pressed in CZ

UK - 2019 Polydor LP (Deluxe Triple Color Exclusive Edition)

Disc 1 from 3 LP @ 45 RPM. Includes 10" "Sand" (Demo). Vinyl pressed in CZ

UK - 2019 Polydor LP (Deluxe Triple Color Exclusive Edition)

Disc 2 from 3 LP @ 45 RPM. Includes 10" "Sand" (Demo). Vinyl pressed in CZ

UK - 2019 Polydor LP (Deluxe Triple Color Exclusive Edition)

"Sand" (Demo) 10" from 3 LP @ 45 RPM. Vinyl pressed in CZ

UK - 2019 Polydor LP (Deluxe Triple Color Exclusive Edition)

"Sand" (Demo) 10" from 3 LP @ 45 RPM. Vinyl pressed in CZ

UK - 2019 Polydor CD (Softpack Edition)

Mini LP cover

UK - 2019 Polydor CD (Softpack Edition)

Inside foldout Autographed by Pete Townshend

UK - 2019 Polydor CD (Exclusive Autographed Deluxe Edition)

Special slip case autographed by Pete Townshend

USA - 2019 Polydor LP

USA - 2019 Polydor CD

With sticker

USA - 2019 Polydor CD (Deluxe Edition)

Exclusive to USA Target stores. 3 bonus tracks. Actual cover art (no slipcase)

USA - 2019 Polydor CD

Japan - 2019 Polydor CD (Deluxe Edition)

Same 3 bonus tracks as the other "Deluxe Editions" with additional bonus track, "Sand" (Demo). Slipcase with regular artwork in the jewel case


WHO

Album: Who

LPs Sampled: Polydor (UK/Czech Republic, UK/Czech Republic (45 RPM 3 LP Version), USA)

CDs Sampled: Polydor (UK, USA, Japan)

Non LP/CDs Sampled: Polydor (UK - HD Download, WAV 16/44 Download), Polydor (Germany) 45, Polydor (USA) MP3 Download, iTunes (USA) MPEG-4 Audio Download, Polydor (UK) CD Single (Promo), Polydor (UK - Cassette)

LP Comments: The LPs sound different than the CDs. The UK/CZ basically sounds like a bad FM broadcast (extremely flat and compressed) and the USA pressing has some fidelity to it. It isn't a huge difference, but enough of a difference to make one want to turn off the UK/CZ LP and to state that the USA LP is marginally better (at the very bottom of the acceptable range). The LPs appear to be playing at a slower speed than their digital counterparts. The "Indie" (Deluxe Edition) comes with an additional LP with "Best of" tracks. Not only is the mastering much flatter than these songs are usually heard, but there's also a distinct volume change when going from "Baba O'Riley" to "My Generation" to "Who Are You" (i.e. "My Generation" is louder than the songs on either end of it). The UK/CZ 3LP version plays back at 45 RPM and sounds slightly better than the 33 RPM version. It is the only source for "Sand" (Demo) on vinyl.

CD Comments: Like the LPs, the CDs suffer from excessive compression (but sound different than the LPs). The USA pressing (vs. UK) seems to have better fidelity (more highs and ever-so-slightly more dynamics) but the compression really screws up the bottom end providing the listener with an unpleasant listening experience. The Japan CD seems to be slightly better than the others sampled to date (and has the most new tracks of all of releases).

Non LP/CDs Comments: The Germany 45 seems to have excessive bass (most likely created by the compressed mastering) but better definition than its CD counterpart. The HD version seems to have too much distortion. Mostly curiously, the MP3 download and iTunes download sound better than the other versions (but still too compressed and with elements of distortion). The WAV 16/44 download has similar characteristics as the HD download. 

Other Comments: There is too much compression in the mastering of this album and it seems to have adverse effects on the various different versions. The compression, distortion and excessive bass detracts from what is an otherwise brilliant album. Imagine trying to view a piece of art in a museum, but the glass protecting the artwork has a layer of thick dust. You know there's great art underneath, but you strain to see the art because the dust is in the way. The compressed mastering is analogous to listening to a CD with ear plugs.

Most of the songs have a fresh sound to them as well as some familiar themes and elements. "Street Song" has some elements which made me feel I was listening to "Fragments" here and there. The "Deluxe Edition" bonus track, "Got Nothing To Prove" seems very similar to "Inside Outside USA", an unused demo for "The Who Sell Out". (It appears to be a circa 1967 recording that was updated with this album). The 1965 "Sand" (demo) is a bonus track on CD to the Japan "Deluxe Edition" as well as several of the LP "Deluxe Editions." However, the version on this album has clearly been updated, and you will probably like this better (compare versions below).

Note: These reviews are a work-in-process. As new versions arrive and get compared, this page will be updated accordingly.

Reviews From The Internet:

"The sound quality is very poor. Compressed and just annoying. Wonder what a Who album would sound like with full dynamics would have been unbelievable. Really a waste."

" 'Who' is overly compressed to the point of being unlistenable. Certainly cannot be played at the volume the band deserves. A shame because the material is so good. The high-hat, cymbals and snare are are so low/clipped as to be unheard. The bass is marginal and the bass drum is missing. Everything seems to be pressed into a flat, boring mix. How could they release this?"

The Who - Who - 2019 Who Album - David SardyThe Who - Who - 2019 Who Album

The above is an illustration which <unfortunately> helps articulate the sonic qualities of the new album... 

Compare for yourself!

Below are 30 second WAV samples of "Ball And Chain" from the various pressings of "Who" as described above.

2019 UK HD Download (Deluxe Edition)   2019 UK WAV Sound Of Vinyl Download   2019 UK CD (Deluxe Edition)   2019 UK CD Single (Promo)   2019 UK/CZ LP   2019 UK/CZ 3LP 45RPM Color Version   2019 UK Cassette   2019 USA CD   2019 USA CD (Target Deluxe Edition)   2019 USA LP   2019 USA iTunes MPEG4 (Converted to WAV)   2019 USA MP3   2019 Germany 45 (Exclusive Rolling Stone Magazine Version)   2019 Japan CD 

Bonus:

Guantanamo * (From Pete Townshend's Truancy Album):

2015 USA CD

Sand (Original 1965 Demo vs. 2019 Bonus Track Update Version vs. Japan CD - Remastered Work-In-Process) **:

1965 UK Demo   vs.   2019 Japan CD   vs.   2019 UK/CZ 3LP Color Version   vs.   2019 Japan CD (Remastered Work-In-Process)

Street Song (Chorus) vs. Fragments (Chorus):

2019 UK WAV   vs.   2006 USA CD

I'll Be Back (Japan CD) vs. I'll Be Back (Japan CD - Remastered Work-In-Process) **

2019 Japan CD   vs.   2019 Japan CD (Remastered Work-In-Process)   vs.   2019 HD (Remastered Work-In-Process #2)

Beads On One String (Demo) vs. Beads On One String (Japan CD)

2018 UK Demo   vs.   2019 Japan CD 

Break The News (Demo) vs. Break The News (Japan CD)

2018 UK Demo   vs.   2019 Japan CD 


* "Ball And Chain" was originally titled, "Guantanamo" and then briefly renamed, "Big Cigars"

** My own project (not an official one)


Note: Sound comparisons are only as good as your ears and the equipment you are listening to the music with.

Summary: The LPs, CDs and HD are all problematic and distract from the listening experience. This is extremely sad since so many people looked forward to this release only to have it spoiled by extremely compressed mastering, excessive bass and distortion. The MP3s and iTunes seem to be tailored to be played on a computer, portable, etc. and in listening to them in that fashion, seem OK sounding. However, if you intend to release music in other formats, the mastering is inappropriate. I hope that the powers to be recognize this mistake quickly and provide new masters (for each format) to the record company to use in production.

About: Who
 
A great album, which sounds horribleÖ
 
Let me try to explainÖ
 
The music and vocals were recorded brilliantly. Great songs. In fact, it is filled with great songs from end to end (the bonus tracks (including "Sand") on the ďDeluxeĒ versions are a must).
 
What exactly does this mean?
 
Depending on what equipment you are playing this album on, it either sounds OK, absolutely horrid or somewhere in-between
.
 
Reading all of the conflicting reviews around the internet has been interesting. A percentage of folks are very complimentary of WHO and an equal percent, not so. Why?

Chances are if you are listening to an MP3, iTunes (or similar) version through your computer or ear buds, you will be on the OK side of this. However, if you are using a real stereo system, good car stereo, etc. the sound can be absolutely horrid
.
 
Why?
 
The problem isnít the recording, but the post-production (mixing and mastering after the recording) which is all fucked up.

I canít say for certain if the bass levels are too high from the mix, the mastering, or a combination of both (because I havenít yet heard an unmastered copy). Itís clear that the mastering does not compliment the mix. If it did, this review would probably be very different.

An album MUST sound good to enjoy it and encourage repeat listening. Where would Tommy or Quadrophenia be if they sounded rotten? (Long forgotten.)
 
The main issue with the sound quality is the excessive bass. The album doesnít have a little extra bass, itís drowning in bass.

Once you turn the bass way down, you can almost enjoy the music. However...

The excessive bass is only part of the problem. Turning it down helps to make it listenable but there are other post-production issues plaguing the album...

  • Distortion - lots of it and not for any good reason. It doesnít work on any level and is only a negative.

  • Ambiance - Completely missing. Needs a smidgeon of reverb (or something). Too brittle, harsh and/or flat in some areas. Smooth and pleasant is good.

  • Drums - The drum sound is inconsistent throughout the album. This should be able to be fixed via re-mix.

  • Peteís guitars - Buried guitars, no guitars, incorrectly mixed guitars. I would think this would really bother Pete. Typically, Pete wants his guitars much higher and distinct in the mix. The way this is mixed, Pete's guitars seem to be mostly an afterthought.

  • Other - ďHero Ground ZeroĒ has an orchestra background. Iím sure a lot of time and money went into this recording. Completely wasted on this mix. It causes you to stop and think... Is that an orchestra? Is that a flute? Lots of distortion, mix and mastering problems. If you heard the song live, you know how potentially great the song could sound. This sounds nothing like that.

This is a potentially GREAT Who album. But it will never reach "Great" status sounding as bad as this. It needs to be fixed so that everyone can enjoy it for what it should be.

 

Track Listing: All This Music Must Fade, Ball And Chain, I Donít Wanna Get Wise, Detour, Beads On One String, Hero Ground Zero, Street Song, Iíll Be Back, Break The News, Rockiní In Rage, She Rocked My World  

Track Listing (CD Deluxe Version): All This Music Must Fade, Ball And Chain, I Donít Wanna Get Wise, Detour, Beads On One String, Hero Ground Zero, Street Song, Iíll Be Back, Break The News, Rockiní In Rage, She Rocked My World, This Gun Will Misfire, Got Nothing To Prove, Danny & My Ponies  

Track Listing (LP Deluxe Audiophile Version - 45 RPM): All This Music Must Fade, Ball And Chain, I Donít Wanna Get Wise, Detour, Beads On One String, Hero Ground Zero, Street Song, Iíll Be Back, Break The News, Rockiní In Rage, She Rocked My World, Sand (Demo)  

Track Listing (Japan CD Deluxe Version): All This Music Must Fade, Ball And Chain, I Donít Wanna Get Wise, Detour, Beads On One String, Hero Ground Zero, Street Song, Iíll Be Back, Break The News, Rockiní In Rage, She Rocked My World, This Gun Will Misfire, Got Nothing To Prove, Danny & My Ponies, Sand (Demo)  

Track Listing (Indie Deluxe Version LP): All This Music Must Fade, Ball And Chain, I Donít Wanna Get Wise, Detour, Beads On One String, Hero Ground Zero, Street Song, Iíll Be Back, Break The News, Rockiní In Rage, She Rocked My World, Baba O'Riley, My Generation, Who Are You, Behind Blue Eyes, Pinball Wizard, Won't Get Fooled Again [Single Edit Version], The Seeker, Eminence Front    

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