Re-mastering a CD: how much art, how much science?

When Miles Davis released his album, Sketches of Spain, back in November 1959, I’m guessing the recording technology then used was state of the art.

In the early 90s, 20-bit remastered CD’s started hitting the shelves. Then came 24-bit CDs. Then 28-bit CDs. And now, Google just told me that Aerosmith has issued a 32-bit CD. Who knows? Britney Spears might be working on a 36-bit CD project. :rolleyes:

A Few Questions:

  1. How much control does the studio guy have in tweaking the original LP? I mean, can he remove this pop and that hiss–and, if so, can he do it so transparently that it doesn’t harm the non-noise sources?

  2. Does the remastering process often involve push-button technology, like the old Dolby button you’d push and then static would be greatly reduced?

  3. Just how many information can you get from an analog (circa 1959) source? I mean, there’s got to be an upper limit on how much information you can extract. For instance, could someone theoretically get a 32-bit remastered version of Sketches of Spain from a 1959 LP, or should we assume the studio techs were doing their best work?

  4. Does it cost the studio that much more getting, say, 32 bits of information from an original source compared to 20 bits? In other words, why not shoot for the max?

  5. How laborious is this process? Is it a matter of hours, days, weeks?