"The Beatles": Why Don't We Throw It in the Road? (When Everyone is Watching)

I've fed you another piece of misinformation fed to me by someone involved in this project but I can't remember who: at first I was told RTI pressed these records. But that had to be walked back. Then I was told, no Rainbo pressed but RTI plated. Now I've been told by RTI's Don MacInnis that, no RTI didn't plate them either. Sorry about that.

First now let me tell you about my original copy of The Beatles No. 0441033. I was at Cornell November of 1968 and working part time at Record Runner, a record store in "Collegetown", defined as a small area adjacent to the Cornell campus.

The store owner, Rick Mears imports a few hundred U.K. copies that land at the docks on New York City's Westside docks a few weeks before the American version's release. When the call came in early one morning that the records had landed, he handed me the keys to his white Volvo P18 coupe.

My job was to drive the nearly five hours from Ithaca to Manhattan, pick up the records and drive back the same day. It's a three and a half hour drive now (max) but back then the Route 17 highway hadn't yet been completed.

I got in the car around 10:15AM and drove as quickly as I could (which was pretty fast!) to NYC, picked up the records and drove back, arriving in the early evening on a very cold evening. As I approached the store I noticed a line had formed around the block.

Word got out that a shipment of two hundred copies of The Beatles was arriving from NY by car that afternoon and at least a hundred and fifty kids had lined up and were standing in the cold waiting. I drove behind the store and before getting out of the car, I opened a box and removed the one on top, No. 0441033.

When the kids closest to the door saw the records being unpacked from the cardboard boxes, they started cheering. You could hear the excitement spread down and around the block. All two hundred copies were sold that evening.

I played that copy in Ithaca, then I played it in Boston, first in a basement apartment at 10 Beal Street, Brookline the street on which J.F.K, was born, then at 1404 Commonwealth Avenue, down the block where the unknown Aerosmith hung out, then at two other Beantown apartments then in Venice, CA, then Hackensack-ak-ak-ak-ak, Glen Rock and finally where I live now.

Same copy played can you imagine how many times? I picked up a second U.K. copy in the Islington area of London back in the early 2000s. The store had eight copies in varying conditions priced from around $50 to $100. I didn't know how to read the EMI pressing codes at the time so I was buying blind, at least in terms of how early the pressing really was. I bought a very clean copy for around $70. I also bought a German original at I think Saturn in Haight-Ashbury. The record looked pristine and that's how the store described it but I am sure they knew there was a pretty nasty scratch in "Blackbird". That's the way it goes.

So first I played this reissue, noting that EMI had passed on the original U.K. "top loader" jacket configuration. No big deal. The color was way too white, too. The original was a graceful eggshell color. I have to tell you, running the original through my hands and reflecting on where it's been and where I've been with it over the past forty four years I thought about kids who only know music as files and what they will be missing one day.

The reissue's poster is very well done. Did you know that Capitol "censored" the poster? If you have an original Capitol and this box compare Lennon's squiggly line drawings of himself and Yoko. Capitol airbrushed out Lennon's genitals and Yoko's pubes. Swear! And they also airbrushed Paul's pubes in a split panel photo. On my Capitol copy there's a black blog next to John on the telephone. On the U.K. copy it's Yoko. Of course that could just be sloppy printing but I doubt it!

Then I played this remaster, which is so far the worst in the box. If this double record sounds good to you, well then you just have no idea what you're missing. For some reason, someone in the reissue chain went really soft here. I mean what should be sharp transients, like Ringo's snare, are just cotton ball soft.

This mastering has softened overall transients to an almost shocking degree. After forty plus years playing this double album on a wide variety of systems there are certain expectations and this record was in many ways unrecognizable.

This record can sometimes be bright, but transients are so right, particularly on Ringo's drums. His snare has a distinctive sound on record and on this reissue it was way too soft and barely recognizable. Acoustic guitars were also soft and sometimes tonally recessed. Depth was flattened on everything, producing a two dimensional curtain of sound between the speakers. Voices lacked believability because of a textural discontinuity and vague imaging.

On the original of "Rocky Raccoon," McCartney's three-dimensional voice floats solidly and convincingly in space. The acoustic guitar strums have rhythmic authority. The reissue turns it all to mush.

The original separates each instrument in three-dimensional space, producing a pronounced floating soundstage utterly independent of the speakers. The reissue didn't come close. This reissue also sounds dynamically compressed, mastering engineer Magee's claims to the contrary.

I also listened to the early '80's Japanese box I have as well as the Mo-Fi. In this instance both of them are better than this, though both are on the bright side. Still, that's preferable to this dead pillow, especially since those maintained the correct overall transient attack.

A huge disappointment and easily the worst so far. However, at this point I can say that my box, which I purchased, is pretty well pressed. Not "state of the art," but more than acceptable.

I should have written more about the music, but I'm so disappointed by the sound that I'll pass, except to note that I compared a forty four year old record played hundreds of times and it had sharper, more realistic transients and extended high frequencies compared to a brand new pressing. What is that about?

Music Direct Buy It Now

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Comments
stretch35's picture
The matrix code audiobill has

Up high on the comments , audiobill 's matrix code matches what I have in the blue box bc-13 for the white album.

jump's picture
17amall

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jump's picture
good post

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DrMickey's picture
Collegetown

Thanks for the memory flogger, Michael! I think 1967-1972 was the golden era for Collegetown; weren't there two record stores there?

When I was in IC's communications school, we constantly made forays to Collegetown to get vinyl that WICB didn't have, WVBR didn't play (or that we wanted for ourselves).

I bought my copy of Abbey Road at Record Runner and played it on my Dual 1219...

patunnell's picture
I read the blogs today - Oh, Boy!

So, I have read everything you all have said.   I have the USB Stick and I have compared it the the LP's.  I have found little difference, except where the pressings have their flaws. The only real differences being the styus verses the DA converter.  If you have the USB Stick, or can get one, DO IT!

Everyone here loves Lp's.  But, until a great 32 Bit Blu-Ray comes along, with bonus outakes, including those not on any Anthology, and mastered (not Re-Mixed) with what ever next generation DAC comes along, or you have the original pressings, stick with what you have. 

On the other hand, the new Lp's would sound better than a beat up garage sale Album with masking tape to hold it together.

The thing I find really  magnificent is that we love our Beatles so much that we rip apart anything not worthy of the magic of the original sound we have treasured away in our memories.  Sure, we compare 45 rpm pressings of a jazz artist to the original Blue Note, etc... But nothing to this extreme!

So kudos to our Beatles, no else rates on such a scale of minutia of nit picking!  But don't they deserve it?

I can't wait to hear the Mono Set!

WaxtotheMax's picture
US White Album 2012 Vinyl LP

Just got finished listening to "Long, Long, Long" and it sounds absolutely CRAZY amazing!!! Drums, Vocals, The entire deal...GET THIS RECORD!! MY SYSTEM LOVES IT!! Consider it a different mix at the most, but you need to sit with this one folks! ONWARD!!!

WaxtotheMax's picture
White Album 2012 Vinyl Lp

I am listening to my copy as I post this (side two "I'm So Tired") Side one had some crackle between a couple track but I have yet to give it a proper wash in the VPI. The sound to me so far coming through my HPM 60's and Pioneer/Marantz setup, I think the Lp sounds pretty damn good for the most part on everysong. The "most part" comes fron agreeing with the sound on Ringos drums, especially on "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" and even a bit receded on "Dear Prudence" compared to my UK White Vinyl, but as I begin the intro of "Rocky Racoon" I can say again its pretty damn good to my ears,and the drums frankly for all but WMGGW isn't a big deal for me as an owner of several US pressings (numbered and beyond, but limited to Apple label presses), this new one with the exception of my numbered US west coast copy and the UK White Vinyl of course; blows them away. I will post an overall, but had to chime in with my initial thoughts...Thaaaaankssss Maaaaan P.S. I forgot to mention that I have a Vinyl copy from 2009 or 2010 I'll have to check, and I believe it may be from germany that sounds very nice too.

Michael Fremer's picture
Carl Again

Dear Carl: My body of work is 30 years of writing about music and sound and an Academy Award nominated soundtrack that I produced.

Stop being a douche bag.

I never said I was The Beatles.

jpg r's picture
my eu pressed white album sounds fine

i have about 30 different copies on lp of the white album. this new one is not the best but it certainly sounds good.  one just has to turn up the volume a bit.

WaxtotheMax's picture
my eu pressed white album sounds fine

Agreed..Same goes for the US version

Audiobill's picture
Curious about my UK Pressing

I hope this is an OK topic for this forum, but since most of the posters seem to have older vinyl, I thought I'd ask about mine. I bought my copy of The BEATLES at a high-end shop in the mid-to-late-80's. It was sold as being new and was unopened. The type on the spine reads Stereo PCS 7067-8 and Mono PMC 7067-8. The labels are marked "STEREO PCS 7067 [P] 1968" for record 1 and STEREO PCS 7068 [P]1968" for record 2. The stamped codes are D and YEX 709-5C-1-1- on Side 1 (with YEX.709 on the label), 7 and YEX 710-5 on Side 2 (with YEX.710 on the label), | and YEX 711-2 and () on Side 3 (with YEX.711 on the label), and YEX 712-3-1-:.` and () and HTM on Side 4 (with YEX.712 on the label. Some of the markings I have listed are not exact since I cannot simulate them with a standard keyboard. All the labels are marked ("An E.M.I. Recording") 33-1/3 Mfd. in U.K.

If you cannot identify this pressing for me, could you point me to a web site that would allow me to decipher the EMI pressing codes?

By the way, this copy has one very slight defect that was there when I first played it. Band 2 of Side 1, "Dear Prudence," has surface noise that you can hear throughout the track in the quiet parts. It almost sounds as if the track was a dub made from another LP. It's not all that noticeable. I only mention it because all the other tracks on these two records are pristine.

The poster does not have John's genitalia removed and includes what looks to be some sort of jewelry on Yoko's pubes. However, the photo of Paul that crosses the panels is blacked out at the bottom but retains the --> 16 marking on its edge. Yoko is clearly visible, though in shadow, in the phone photo. The album jacket is side-loaded,

Michael Fremer's picture
EMI Stamper Codes

What's written on the labels isn't critical in determining the date of these LP's release. EMI's original stamper codes are as follows:

lacquer # is the dash after the matrix #

So on the earliest issues it was YEX 709(or whatever #)-1 for first lacquer. -2 second lacquer, etc.

The number at the "9 o'clock" position in the lead out groove area is the mother #:

1 is the first mother, 2 the second, etc.

The number in the "3 o'clock" position is the stamper # based on the following:

G R A M O P H L T D

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0

 

So if the letter is "G" that means first stamper

if the letter is H that means stamper #8

if the letters are RHT, that means stamper #279 (etc.).

By the time your record was pressed, clearly the codes had changed if your lacquer number was -5C-1-1. It is a system with which I'm not familar.

If there's a "D" on every record at the 3'oclock position that would seem to mean EMI changed the system, because in the original system the "D" was only used as a decimal marker (GD is 10, GDD is 100, etc.) since "D" by itself would mean stamper zero!

That's the best I can tell you. However I would figure that your copy is going to be closer to the original first press than is this reissue.

Some of the feedback indicates people like the reissue version.

Glotz's picture
And will people fall out of love with their music?

"I have to tell you, running the original through my hands and reflecting on where it's been and where I've been with it over the past forty four years I thought about kids who only know music as files and what they will be missing one day."

Without those connections and ongoing reinforcement to the 'physical' world, is it possible people will more easily fall out of love with their current musical favorites, 10 or 20 years from now?

brucej4's picture
Maybe the mono LP will be better...

I had never heard a mono version of the White Album until I bought the mono CD box.

I was surprised to find that I preferred the mono CD over any stereo version of the album, vinyl or CD.  The mixes are better.  Here's hoping that there will be a decent mono LP release.

dobyblue's picture
Where did you see them claim

Where did you see them claim that the USB stick files had no DRC? That's simply not true, the USB files were just 24-bit versions of the CD files and absolutely had limiting. So it's not true that they just took the USB stick files and cut the vinyl, as the new files had no limiting. Sean has stated this quite clearly on the Hoffman forums.

Michael Fremer's picture
DRC on USB stick?

Did you stream my interview with Sean on this website?

Alex's picture
Not only that, the eq'ing is

Not only that, the eq'ing is entirely different from both the cd and the USB...

Michael Fremer's picture
USB Used to Cut Vinyl?

Where did I claim the USB stick was used to cut the vinyl? If I did, that was in error but I don't recall having written that so I'm not going to go through everything I've written to look for something I don't think I wrote. If I wrote they took the USB stick resolution files and used them to cut lacquers that would be true. If I left out "resolution files" that would simply be an issue of clarification, not fact.

But your claim that the EQing is different on the LPs compared to both the CDs and USB stick is contrary to what Sean Magee told me.

Again, I urge you to stream the interview. He states that he did not alter to EQ other than as needed to deal with inner groove issues and sibilants.

thomoz's picture
USB stick vs the vinyl

thru the Dragonfly DAC the 24/44.1 versions sound a bit dryer and flatter than the new vinyl (my cart is a Grado Reference wood-body). The compression on the 24/44.1 files is quite audible, but the 24 bit versions do sound wider and deeper than the cds, which really sound processed and reigned in.

 

I was at the Atlanta vinyl listening event and heard the WA there on Alan's all-Rega setup (put together for the show) and appreciated the dynamics of the new pressing - the vocals sounded dark to me in only a couple of spots - I did notice that "Bungalow Bill" sounded flatter - more forward than the rest of that album side. I do not plan to replace my black vinyl 'Deutches Schallplatten' stickered pressing any time soon.

Biff's picture
It's a damn shame....

...that EMI couldn't have done something like the 45RPM Doors reissues mentioned by MIkey. Those are astounding.

Paul Boudreau's picture
Real Money!

Not that I expect you to tell us, but I'd be interested in knowing what "REAL MONEY" Chad Kassem had to pony up to get the use of The Doors' analog tapes.

As an aside, I received the chunky Neil Young & Crazy Horse "Psychedelic Pill" set yesterday (3 LPs, 5 sides) and the litte booklet says they are AAA.

http://www.soundstagedirect.com/neil-young-and-crazy-horse-psychedelic-p...

marmaduke's picture
On the radio

An intrepid university radio station here in Baltimore MD., WTMD played the entire vinyl set on the air yesterday.

Real vinyl, real turntable, all day.  Typically a side at a time w/o interruption.

Pretty gutsy.  Pretty enjoyable for the listener.

I am sure varying degrees of reception and the quality of the transmission itself helped mask any of the vagaries spoken of here and elsewhere, but as I was driving, it struck me that this is the way to listen to this set w/o disappointment and likely the way we first heard the music anyway.

Where are those Towne cars with the phonographs in the dash when you need them?

I will admit however that each time the station made a pitch for contributions in order to enter a drawing for a new sealed Beatles' set on audiophile quality vinyl, I cringed.

JC1957's picture
What a letdown

Guess I'll be sticking to my -1/-1/-1/-1 stamped Danish pressed LP and my Dutch 80's reissue.

There's better vinyl reissues more worthy of $35.

WaxtotheMax's picture
What a Letdown

I like mine really, it sounds really good. I think you will be glad to have it, it has some ammazing moments.

Paul Boudreau's picture
Vinyl Box Vs. USB Apple

"Now, to produce the LPs, they took the USB stick files converted the digital to analog and cut lacquers. The lacquers went to plating and pressing plants and that's what we now have."

I've been a record nut for decades so this isn't an an anti-vinyl comment but given what you say above, what's the point of having the new vinyl box if you have the Green Apple USB files?  Doesn't the old aphorism "You can't make a silk purse out of sow's ear" apply?

Michael Fremer's picture
What's the Point?

I agree: there's no point other than to have the very nicely done book that comes in the box. Sean Magee says he used little or no dynamic compression that was used on the CDs, but he was less clear about whether or not the USB stick edition was similarly compressed. 

I always say about vinyl from digital, if the studio's D/A converter is better than yours, the record can sound better and sometimes the record sounds better "just because." I mean, compare the new Fiona Apple album on vinyl and CD. The vinyl sounds much better, yet it was mastered from a redbook file. 

But here, Magee says he used a Benchmark DAC1 for the D/A converter. That is hardly state of the art! It's a decent consumer grade DAC. I have no idea why it was chosen.

I could have called any manufacturer and gotten a much better one for this project, so I'm sure so could have Magee. That may be the most mysterious part of this whole process.

Paul Boudreau's picture
The Book

It's true, I do want the book!  Also a good point about different DACs. 

Alex's picture
In defense of the White Album

I agree that overall it does sound ''muted'' or less open that the original pressings. However, I've never liked the sound of this album in any pressing. I've learned to adapt because I love the music so much. Some songs always sounded brighter or harsher than others. The album always sounded incoherent to me as if it had been recorded by different people at different places (I'm not necessarily referring to the individuality of the songs). The positive side to the present reissue is that - in my opinion - it sounds very coherent from one track to the other. The acoustic guitar on Mother Nature's Son doesn't sound bright or thin like a mandolin anymore. There is now weight on the three lower strings which are now distinguishable. Everybody's got Something to Hide now sounds like part of the album. It used to sound extremely bright with no bass. Now there is weight and punch, as there should be. Whenever there's a boost or cut at one end of the spectrum, there will be an offset at the other. The bass boost in this series has made it warmer, and positively so. It's a trade-off, but for me at least, it's a good compromise as it makes me keep one wanting to hear more.

AQ Shane's picture
In Defense of the White Album and the whole set...

Alex, I couldn't agree more. diff'rent strokes for diff'rent folks, but I have an original UK and a Mo-Fi White Album, and the new pressing to my ears compares very favorably to both. On the plus side to me some of the horked up cuts on the original, like My Guitar Gently Weeps, sound much much better on the new pressing. On the downside some of the better cuts like Rocky Raccoon aren't as magical "OMG Paul is really in the room" as the original. But overall, the orignal has more problematic cuts than great ones and the new one is much more consistently good sounding, mostly for the added punch and lack of tinniness. And I didn't have issues with the imaging even if the room sound wasn't quite as there as the original UK.

I'd like to add this. I am reading an overall negative sentiment on this whole box set, which I find to be extremely misguided. I own original UKs of almost all these records and was interested in this set because the orignals, as glorious as they sometimes are, are far from perfect. And not all I've found are as pristine as I"d like. I've listened to almost every record in the set and I am not disappiointed at all. And the US pressings from Rainbo have exceeded my expectations. I think most would be very pleased with these records and I feel even more strongly that this set is an absurd value (the book alone is worth 100 bucks IMO).

For example- a clean Mo-Fi White Album will run you $100 or more, and if you want a UK you're looking at $200 and up for a VG++ or better first pressing. Sgt Pepper proabably more. I am not of age to have bought these when they came out (Ahem, sorry Mikey! not saying you're old, but...) so I collected my UK Beatles pressings over the last couple of years. It was very expensive and time consuming, getting records online that didn't meet their gradings, returning them, etc. There are several individual records in the Beatles catalog that will cost you more than the price of this entire box set if you want a clean, early pressing (mother and stamper, not just a first press, and yes there are sonic differences).   

Give this set its due. Not perfect, but so far I think it's excellent and many of the new pressings I've heard are now my go-to pressings over the originals. I think a lot of people who pass it up will regret that decision.

mdz1000's picture
Can someone explain to me...........................

One would have thought that the reissue of the Beatles on LP would have been handled in such a way that all the LP's would have been mastered with superior sound.  We have waited long enough for this reissue.  With improved technology and equipment you would think that the engineers would have produced the LP's at least equal to what was produced in the 1960's.

Can someone explain to me what happened?

Michael Fremer's picture
Que Pasa?

The reissue was keyed around the CDs. That's how most people listen so that was paramount in importance to the "suits." So they did a meticulous transfer from analog to digital using a Prism A/D converter at 192k/24 bit. 

Since the final product would be 44.1k/16 bit, which is the hardly adequate CD standard (but "perfect" among certain measurement/mathematics driven types), it was thought best to decimate down the material to 44.1k but keep the 24 bit depth (which is really critical) before doing the final equalization. 

Once they had nicely equalized 44.1k/24 bit files, they did the final bit of dynamic compression as they decimated the 24 bits down to 16.

Dynamic compression? Why????? Why indeed. However, it's felt that for "modern ears" louder is better and dynamic range is "scary," so they applied the compression.

They claimed that the 44.1k/24 bit USB stick edition, which really does sound better than the CD box, does not have the dynamic compression (or perhaps not as much).

Now, to produce the LPs, they took the USB stick files converted the digital to analog and cut lacquers. The lacquers went to plating and pressing plants and that's what we now have.

The D/A conversion process is critical. You hear the converter in every record just as you hear your phono cartridge. They used a Benchmark model that is at best okay. It's hardly state of the art. 

Hell, if anyone at Abbey Road had asked me, I could have gotten ahold of MUCH better D/A converters as could have many people in the audio industry, but they went with the Benchmark. I don't get that.

Plating is a critical step but they chose to not use the absolute best plating facilities and they chose to not use the best pressing plants in America either. They used one that was merely adequate but if Rainbo also did the plating, that could explain part of the reason these discs, while not bad, are not great.

Great vinyl would be made from the original analog sources, period. That's the point of having vinyl from analog sources.

Rhino issued the Doors catalog using 192/24 bit files produced by Elektra founder Jac Holzman and Door engineer Bruce Botnick.

Those records were plated and pressed at RTI, one of the two top pressing plants in America and those records sound damn good.

BUT, more recently Chad Kassem's Analogue Productions paid BIG BUCKS to get the analog tapes and use them to cut new lacquers. Doug Sax did the cutting, and Kassem's Quality Record Pressings did the plating and pressing.

Listen to the 192/24 bit sourced LPs and then listen to the AAA records cut at 45rpm.

NO COMPARISON.

Too bad The Beatles weren't done that way, but that wasn't important to EMI. Records are seen as a money-making physical product. They see it as a "novelty" appreciated by people for nostalgia or collectibility or something like that because if it was about sound, they would have done it differently.

They claim that getting approvail from the two living Beatles and the estates of the two dead ones would have been cumbersome, expensive and impractical and that's their excuse but I'm not buying. Why?

Because Rhino's excuse for cutting The Doors from digital files was that the tapes were "too fragile."

But guess what? When Kassem showed them the money, and I'm talking about REAL MONEY, suddenly the tapes were useable.

Does that 'splain it well enough?

jlstrat's picture
Absolute Analogue

One of the things you notice when you listen to LPs from Analogue Productions, Original Recordings Group, and so many of those Classic Records pressings is exactly what you describe. One reason the new Who set holds no interest for me is that Classic did such a good--analugue--job on them, improving even on the old pressings I already owned. I picked up the Analogue Productions SACD of Time Out. Bernie Grundman remasted it, and he also remastered the Classic Records LP from 10 or so years ago. Sonically, they're similar, but the LP is all analogue and in all the ways that matter--bass and drum attack, dimensionality--it's just plain better.   

Martin's picture
Telling it like it is

is much better. And refreshing.

Great series of reviews, please, keep them coming.

Maybe a full AAA analog set will be possible. If I was looking at it, I would also say, "no matter what we do, some (many) people will complain". So, we do a cheapie box set first, satisfy the main consumer market, people who like the look and feel of vinyl, like to reminisce and wouldn't hear the difference between 44.1k and 96 or 192. Then a couple of years later, do a AAA release for the top segment of the market. It's also a question of pricing, I can imagine that doing an AAA release, properly pressed, with proper QC of this would have taken at least twice as long (more like three times) and cost two or three times as much.

So instead of having mostly quite listenable box sets affordable to the average listener, around USD 400 a set, the sets would have cost upwards of USD 1,000. Or more. Which would have put them out of range of the average buyer. Who would have howled. And understandably. "Beatles box set unaffordable, price gouging by EMI, what about the little guys!!"

Hopefully in a few years, 45rpm vinyl reissues will happen :-)
People will just have to prepared to pay upwards of $1,000 for the set.

There is still no excuse though for using 44.1k files instead of the 192k files available.

wgb113's picture
Benchmark

Didn't Sean say they compared several DACs and they felt, through their Classe amplification and B&W speakers that the Benchmark imposed the least amount of it's own sound on the finished product?

Also, isn't the DAC-1 a professional unit that's been adopted by audiophiles thanks in large part to Atkinson's touting of it's specifications and sound?

Bigrasshopper's picture
Your so beautiful when your angry

That's the Michael that we know and love talking.  Defender against mediocrity.  Keeper of the sacred flame.  It's nice to see it held aloft and burning bright on this occasion.  Apart from the spectacle, I usually learn a key lesson when something ruffles that aquiline composure.    

Emotionalism aside, the stereo reviews will be over all too soon and then what will there be left to say?  Owing to circumstances, my UK box pressings remain unplayed, so I have nothing to add to add to general din.  Even so, It has been fun.  But then shall we just forget and move on to the next thing, the real deal.  My hope is that what has been learned here can be put to some meaningful purpose.  Besides those forces that seem truly out of our control, we have at least one or two possible directions in which there may be room to push.  New digital to analog conversion, is the first and minimum that could be ask for, when the Mono wheel begins to roll.  Second, and because this set will appeal to a smaller audience, a batch or batches of  smaller more tightly controlled productions, so that audiophile facilaties can be pressed into service.  Let the little big guys show us what they can do.  I would have no complaints paying more for special pressings.  That's all I really have to say, I'm just a member of the choir. 

elliotdrum's picture
Beatles Vinyl 2012

i am sure glad your saying it with Chutzpa- I said basically the same thing but a lot

simpler on Amazon and got some nasty responses from people who bought the box.

If it's not from the original master tapes and pressed at a top pressing plant with great

mastering engineers and the highest quality vinyl then what's the point?

It's the Beatles!

roscoeiii's picture
Compared to the USB?

I am also curious if the problems with the sound on this pressing are also present on the USB release of these albums.

wgb113's picture
Bummed!

This is my favorite Beatles album and to hear that it's the worst (so far) in the box leaves me highly bummed out.  

Thanks again Mike for the thorough job you're doing comparing these to other pressings and even the USB sometimes.

Bill

luvvinyl's picture
I have to agree.

I really have to agree this is the worst out of the box set. I hear exactly what Micheal has heard. I have a 70's german pressing and a late 90's pressing and they both sound so much better than this. I know the 90's pressing is a direct metal master from the CD's but it still blows this remaster away. I bought this box set to have better copies of these albums with no used scratches on them. I've listened to every album and my copies are pristine, but I also clean every album with the Walker Prelude system. That might be the difference. For myself, I have found all the albums after Magical Mystery Tour seem compressed and 2 dimensional. Let It Be has it's moments but still sounds a little 2D on some songs.The Past Masters though, sounds really good to me. It seems to me they spent more time on the early albums and screwed up their later albums. Just my 2 cents I guess.

soundman45's picture
I'm Wondering?

I wonder, if by some chance that this master and if it is the original master, was somehow damaged before the transfer. Has anyone listened to it against the USB stick for tonal comparison? I know that when tapes sit in a vault for forty years they soften, especially on the transients. That's even when there is no shedding. Also, some of these songs were cut at other studios, I don't know if they were mixed as such. I'm just throwing stuff out there. 

Joshua Davis's picture
I might

be in a small my minority on this or any other forum but my copy sounds good to me. I have no way of comparing mine to an original pressing but will say to my 40 year old ears and on my modest system it sounds musical enough to keep me going back for more. Keep the reviews coming Michael. I'm always interested in what you have to say.

NRVinyl82's picture
Too bad

It simply seems that the people at the top realized that the majority of the buyers, conditioned to MP3/satellite radio/streaming sound etc., would accept the vinyl remasters as they are.  The average vinyl buyer isn't on this forum or posesses the ear or equipment to realize what they are missing with these.  The Beatles name will move product, and if some of the more discerning customers such as us are turned off, it will have little impact on their bottom line.  Truly a bummer but I doubt those who ran this show were clueless as to what was being done, but approached it in the way felt best for their profits. Guys like Magee who care about the music were put in an impossible position. 

I have the 3 stereo only titles, and, as Mr. Fremer notes, ehhhhh, ok I guess.  Looking forward to his take on Let it Be (shouldn't he apple on the back jacket be red?).  

Anyway, I hope the Mono set will get it right .... but with the sales being strong what will their incentive be? 

Jim Tavegia's picture
Great story, but this whole re-master lp saga is very sad.

It must be that too many incompetent people are still enployed in high places. It sure appears to be so. 

Maybe it is just because I am old, but I too remember the excitement of new releases at Cooks Record Store in Aurora, west of Chicago where I grew up. The little RCA 45 rpm players int the phone booths. How cool was that. Who worried about minty virgin vinly as I know just about every 45 I ever bought was probably played at least once.

The magic is just not the same previewing a "digital download".  

I may end up ordering the UK version of this boxed set.  Michael you're the best on keeping us up to date on all things Beatles. 

I think a new TT may be the ticket as well. It is not about need as I have 3 already that I enjoy. Should be my last one at 65. 

marmaduke's picture
Much ado about Nothing

Terrific, just as I was cheered up that my select UK titles had arrived in terrific shape, this review of one of my favorites.

The lesson here is what?

Forgo the preorder hype and wait for the fat lady to sing?

Leave reissues to the professional niche labels, move on?

Mr. Magee is posting on another forum and he spins a good and I would say a sincere yarn.

How could this go so wrong, unless the goal was not to get a reissue that was a close as possible to the original issue versus the master tape?

Was the original issue incorrect but we like it because we know it and are familiar with it?

Familiarity breeds contempt and that is the reaction a lot of folks are expressing toward this reissue.

Would there. could there, should there be so much difference between versions?

To a simple consumer who is not consumed with Beatlemania (not a bad thing) as are some on this and other forums this is downright mind boggling.

It seems pretty clear to me that for those with access to and familiarity with the original analog sourced copies of Beatle records this reissue will be an overall disappointment, and in absolute terms it likely should be.

In a perfect world this should have been an AAA reissue with superior pressing.  So the real decision is whether to take a pass or avoid disappointment and lower your expectations.

As this is the Analog Planet perhaps this may be an unlikley forum but in order to reduce the angst comparing the sound quality of the reissue LP to its' reissue CD sibling might be less traumatic.  For many buyers or perspective buyers of this vinyl reissue this will be their point of reference, not a UK original.

All in all as far as this reissue goes, I should have stayed in bed.

Martin's picture
Lotsa stories

Cool. It's not a review. But it's still cool.

We now know that this one basically sucks. Which is more than I can say for other reviews I've read. Where sometimes you're none the wiser whether the record is actually any good.

I'll stick to my originals.

Interestingly, one of my copies is a French pressed copy with UK 1st press stampers. It sounds really good.

vinyl listener's picture
Never tire of your Beatles story

 laugh

If this is the worse so far will you be re-rating Rubber Soul which carries a 5 for sound ?

Michael Fremer's picture
Re-rate?

Probably should but since this has been a "linear" exercise I'll just leave it as is.... I guess the real issue is that "Rubber Soul" had no hope of being good given the source. This one did. I don't know why it came out as it did, but remember: the production of this set was a linear exercise too. I'd be interested to know in what order they were produced.... not that it really matters....

Smafdy Assmilk's picture
Heh... and is Sean Magee

Heh... and is Sean Magee upset he's being credited with mastering these Beatles reissues, especially "the worst in the box?" Sean only cut the already mastered files.

Michael Fremer's picture
Mastering credit

True. But there are decisions made in that process as well.