To make this more interesting I'm going to compare both to the original vinyl (german pressing, near mint) and also to the remastered edition (new). So both original and new versions in both cassette and vinyl.
vinyl release (german pressing).
This is the remastered new release (well, from 2003)
So I powered up my SONY TC-K909ES and put in both tapes to capture their sound. I used professional audio software (Adobe Audition CC) and my Creative X-Fi Elite card's Aux inputs.
So, let's hear them:
CASSETTE AUDIO SAMPLES
Well as you can see, the new release has a very bright sound. Excessively bright to my taste. The recording levels are excellent, not even reaching Dolby mark, but always 1dB below, which makes me think they tried to avoid any kind of tape distortion or saturation at any cost, which I like. Vast majority of prerecorded cassettes with rock music have been recorded at high or very high levels, which seems that was a common mistake. This adds more distortion to the music. Yes, rock music uses distorted guitars, but this adds much more distortion to them, and also to the voice, drums...
So this new cassette is excellent in this regards. but the problem is that it barely has any bass. The sound is tiny and without the necessary energy that comes from the drum. AC/DC is all about strong rythm that comes from the drums, and with this release it's partially lost. The old cassette sounds better in this regards. Not a big difference, but it's clearly noticeable.
To capture the old one I turned Dolby B on as required.
The soundstage is another story, though. The new one has clearly a wider image, while the old one sounds narrower.
Now, let's hear the vinyls.
VINYL AUDIO SAMPLES
Whoah! Vinyl sounds much better in this case. The old vinyl sounds way better in terms of bass-mids-treble balance. At first hearing, after the cassettes, it sounds too thick but after some seconds it sounds much more balanced. Maybe a bit dark to some people; a bit of crisp in the highs won't do any damage, indeed.
Also there is some strange unbalance to the right (right channel sound higher than left one) but I tried to correct it in Audition. It's not an issue of my gear because the new vinyl doesn't have it, so it's something related to this german pressing.
The new vinyl sounds a bit brighter and
with no channel unbalance. Both have a very wide and pleasant image scene and a well balanced sound, both in terms of frequency response and channel level. The old release has a stronger presence in the middle, while the new one has a less focused image, but both sound very well.
I think I'd prefer the old one over the new one.
So, to my ears and taste, the order will be the following:
Old vinyl > new vinyl > old cassette > new cassette
Funny, huh? Of all four releases the new cassette is the worst, and the best one is the old vinyl.
Yes, the levels have been very carefully set and that is a very welcomed feature, but the unbalanced frequency response ruins the result. I guess if you put this cassette in a low end walkman, with a poor treble response it will try to compensate the highs loss, and you turn on bass enhancement (Mega Bass, Super Bass, etc...) it will try to compensate it
but the result won't be any good either.
So, I'm sorry to say but this new released cassette doesn't sound any better than the other existing releases, even than the 38 yr-old cassette. Isn't it ironic? 38 years later and they couldn't release a cassette that sounds better. Why?