Jeffrey Roberts a VGM archivist had a live panel at the vgmtogether 2022, named “What You Are Missing When Listening to VGM Rips on YouTube”. On this panel, he goes through the nuanced reality about the quality of both official and unofficial releases.
As is demonstrated, there are several not so great popular fan rips on platforms like YouTube, but this issue isn’t isolated to only unofficial releases. There are demonstrations of official soundtracks done wrong as well as highlighting importance of community efforts for VGM preservation, even if its not perfect.
Emulator rips are often disregarded due to their reputation about inaccurate results but this is not necessarily true, thanks to efforts of people like David Viens of Plogue and it’s virtual instruments like Chipsynth porta FM, SFC and MD, Artemio Urbina and his MDFourier and 240p Test Suite, nukeykt’s cycle accurate emulators of YM2612, YM2413 and VRC7 and many more. In case of something like Phantasy Star as part of Sega Ages shows official inaccurate music because of the emulation solution, that was chosen. There are also cases of vinyl soundtracks gone wrong, like the official release of Castlevania and both official releases of Battletoad.
Jeff also highlights his work for the Ship-to-Shore releases for Phantasy Star II, MegaMan Legends 2 and Gimmick and what kind of challenges you might encounter and how you would need to adapt, whether its performing a new rom-hack due to bug in game’s sound test, reverse engineering the compression used in game, bypassing the cartridge amplifier of Gimmick and wiring it directly to the console or even modifying the NES in such way, that it disables video altogether so you can lower the noise floor for audio output.
There is a lot more covered in Jeff’s panel and I can only highly recommend it with any interest into music or even software and hardware retro modding.