In 1994 David Thomas and Paul Hamann used Suma's custom built 20-bit Analog-to-Digital Processor to transfer the entire Ubu back catalog from the original quarter-inch mix tapes to a digital format. They processed the signal using the Sumex equalization software, making every effort to remain true to the intentions of the original mix while enhancing detail, imaging and clarity. They A/B'ed the processed signal with virgin copies of the original vinyl and once or twice actually degraded the digital signal in order to stay true to the intentions and spirit of the original. They checked their progress using the same speakers in the same acoustic space that the original material was recorded and mixed in. There was no remixing involved. It was a process of restoration.
The Rough Trade cd reissues of the late 80s, by contrast, sound inferior because they are flat transfers. When songs are mixed they reflect the bias of the speakers on which they're mixed and the technology of the time. Older material tends to suffer from a more severe bias. A flat transfer doesn't account for this bias and can, therefore, do a disservice to the music.
Judge our disappointment with the sound of the original vinyl releases by comparing what we were hearing in the studio 20 years ago (as represented on the box set) with what was surviving the vinyl process. There's alot of nonsense spoken about vinyl. It's a hideous medium
. Ubu never translated well to vinyl. We avoided signal compression, we flooded the mid & low mid-ranges, and the EML was and is an untamable sonic beast throwing spikes every which way. Indifferent corporate pressings and the Ubu laissez faire attitude to detail only made the situation worse.
All vinyl issues of the Ubu catalog are disappointments to a greater or lesser degree. The Hearpen singles were some of the best vinyl pressings we had. Cleveland Recording / Suma did the cuts. The pressing plant returned the "30 Seconds Over Tokyo / Heart of Darkness" tapes saying, "There's a lot of noise all over these tapes, maybe you better send us another copy." We had to assure them that the noise was intentional.