The sticker affixed to the shrink wrap on the 2016 reissue of Dark Side of the Moon states it was “remastered from the original analogue tapes by James Guthrie, Joel Plante, and Bernie Grundman.” My guess is Guthrie and Plante remastered the recording in high-resolution digital and Grundman cut the LP from the digital file. Guthrie and Plante have done such good work on digital releases of Pink Floyd’s catalog that Grundman almost certainly had something worthwhile to use for bringing this latest version to vinyl.
The result is different from the original U.K. pressing of the album and more balanced in many ways, with a slightly less aggressive top end. The heartbeat opening “Speak to Me” feels more emphatic in the low frequencies, as does Nick Mason’s kick drum throughout. Roger Waters’ bass is also somewhat fuller, but lacks some of the attack of the earlier pressing.
The swirling keyboards and footsteps on “On the Run” enjoy more room to move around, and voices in the background that occasionally sneak through boast better definition. The tones on Nick Mason’s drums on “Time” are presented with more clarity, but David Gilmore’s voice is out front more on the earlier pressing—and his guitar solo sounds edgier.
By extension, on the latest version, the echoes on Gilmore’s voice are more pronounced on “Us and Them,” and Dick Parry’s saxophone possesses more texture and warmth. The original pressing better keeps its focus on the sections of the tune where the voices and instruments build to a crescendo. Mason’s drums are also clearer.
“Any Colour You Like” is more spacious on the new pressing, which lets instrumental details blossom. The hint of reverb on Gilmore’s voice on “Brain Damage” is sharper, and overall, the music more layered and less compressed.
There are things to like on both pressings, and I didn’t think the digital sourcing on the new pressing especially bothersome until I played the 30th anniversary edition of the album—all-analog and mastered in 2003 by Doug Sax and Kevin Gray. It’s superior in every way than either of the other aforementioned pressings: More natural, with a luxurious and deep soundstage that presents all the instruments and other elements with startling realism.
A quick listen to Dick Parry’s saxophone on “Us and Them” convinces me of the definitiveness of the anniversary pressing. It also impressively maintains its focus during the crescendos of the song. Mason’s snare drum on the entire album is sharper and rings with more force, and the cymbals feature superb sustain. Waters’ bass has all the low-end punch of the new pressing, but with a much snappier attack.
If you can track down the 30th anniversary edition, it’s the one to have. Good luck finding one at a reasonable price. The same thought applies to clean original U.K. pressings. If you don’t have either of these, or you have the abysmal U.S. pressing, the new pressing of Dark Side of the Moon is worth picking up.