EMI's Beatles Box In Perspective

A woman walks into a butcher shop. She says "Can I see that chicken?" The butcher hands it to her. She smells it in front, she smells it in back, she smells it all over and then hands it back to the butcher saying "Mister, this chicken stinks!" The butcher replies "Lady, could you pass a test like that?"

No chicken could pass that lady's test.

My point is that I felt obliged to take this Beatles box apart and examine it more closely than was probably necessary and be as critical as necessary, from my perspective, which might not be the same as yours.

Had I done all of the listening and writing first, it would have been old news by now, so I chose to go album by album. Now let's put it all in perspective in terms of concept, presentation, sound quality and value.

Clearly the concept here was not to reissue the original albums as heard in 1963-1970. Were that the case, they would sound far closer to the originals than they do. Clearly they don't as I demonstrated to myself comparing a CD made from the Sgt. Peppers... master tape with the original Parlophone pressing. They sounded remarkably similar. Not so the reissued LP.

A reissue in the strictest sense would be as close as possible a reproduction of the original. It would be done in the analog domain and every attempt would have been made to match the original LPs' EQ. Mistakes would not be corrected, the 'de-essing' would be done using the old school real time method as it's done when necessary today by the guys who cut from analog tape.

Mistakes—all of them—would be left in, including popped "p"s etc. just as did Kevin Gray's Nat King Cole reissues for Analogue Productions.

The goal here was to improve the originals without upsetting their essence. It was more a "re-imagining" of the Beatles catalog than a "reissuing." The best way to do that, the producers felt, was to digitize at high resolution and use that as the starting point for the "restoration". There are those who argue that EMI insisted on attenuating bass on pop and rock records as a matter of sonic policy and that bass was rolled off on Beatle albums so why not restore it on the reissues?

Clearly there's more bass, in my opinion a lot more bass, throughout this reissue set. Sometimes it sounds welcome but at other times it sounds heavy-handed. Because forty and fifty years of playing these records have worn grooves in my mind as to what they should sound like? Or because the mastering engineers went overboard?

Without hearing the tapes I'll never know. How these reissues sound to you in that regard will depend upon your system's bass performance. Overall, a majority of the EQ choices produced improvements, but sometimes not. When mono mixes were substituted for "reprocessed for stereo ones", well no argument from me!

Clearly the engineers feel that digitizing analog at high sampling and bit rates is essentially transparent to the source or they might not have done it. And once they had the music captured at 192/24 bit they also felt down-converting it to 44.1/24 wouldn't diminish the sonic quality.

Here, I definitely differ with the producers! There's a definite loss of transparency and "believability" on these albums compared to the originals. There's a definite loss of image solidity and coherence compared to the originals. You can "see" each Beatle in the original pressing's sonic picture with great clarity and precision that you simply can't on the reissue, even when the EQ makes for a much more appealing tonal balance.

Not everyone cares about this stuff, just as some will find the Rhino Doors box cut from digital masters more than adequate while others upon hearing the double 45s issued AAA will never want to go back to the box so profound are the differences and is the listening experience.

Much of this box set sounds very good on the terms set by the mastering team. However, in my opinion both Abbey Road and The Beatles are serious sonic failures, particularly the former. If you don't think so, you've not heard a UK Apple original. In the cases of those two albums, particularly Abbey Road every attempt should have been made to duplicate the originals. Abbey Road was perfect: open, transparent, soaring. Now it's heavy and thick. It plods instead of soar.

I hope in the future someone can license that tape for an AAA reissue plated and pressed at one of the top pressing plants. The Beatles original pressing is a bit hard and perhaps lacking somewhat on bottom, but the sense of being in the room and "seeing" the performers in the studio on the other side of the microphone is palpable. Not so on the reissue.

Probably were the engineers responsible for the reissues to read this they'd think I'm plain nuts. I accept. This box wasn't aimed at purist audiophiles. It was aimed at Beatles fans. Most of them will think these the best sounding Beatles albums they've ever heard, especially if Capitol's were there only reference.

Speaking of pressing quality, overall I think Rainbo did an excellent job. If I had to rate them out of 100%, they'd get a 90+% from me.

While even the best pressing in my box was not as drop dead quiet as what RTI, QRP or Pallas is capable of, Rainbo's pressings were quiet with but a few minor fleeting defects. None of the aforementioned plants are capable of perfection either. My box was bought as yours was. It wasn't a "special" reviewer sample. I paid my monies and tooks my chances.

Imagine what a job it was to press so many records, collate them, package them and box them. it must have taken the better part of a year and filled Rainbo's plant to capacity with boxes, books and jackets—while they simultaneously pressed other projects. Yet the box I opened was physically perfect in every way. They get my applause.

My phone friend Guy Hayden at EMI who oversaw the project promised to send me an Optimal box to compare but I haven't seen it. Perhaps after reading how carefully I smelled that chicken he's decided I didn't deserve it. Or perhaps he forgot so I can't at this time tell you how the two boxes compare.

As for the book. I can't believe no one's commented on the book. It's spectacular. The presentation, the paper stock, the binding, every aspect of it makes it among the, if not the best book about The Beatles ever. It may not be the most comprehensive but it surely is the smartest in terms of concept and execution.

You get an album by album "history" giving you the most salient aspects of what was happening in The Beatles' lives, set against what happened in the studio all accompanied by the most sumptuous photo spreads. Really, the book alone is worth $75-$100. It's something I'll treasure whichever versions of the albums I choose to play. My only criticism is that it's heavy. My arms got tired!

Ironically, Mr. Hayden told me a few years ago that it was the book not the record production that kept delaying the box's release. It was worth the wait because the book is a 100% success. I wish as much attention had been lavished on the pressings and especially upon the jackets! In the ideal world they would be laminated "fold overs" like the originals. What that would have done to the cost I don't know but I imagine it would have hiked the box's cost by around $100 so I understand why it wasn't done.

The questions are: why was RTI not used at least for the plating? RTI plated the first five albums but apparently only a few plated lacquers ended up being used for production. Not even RTI's Don MacInnis was aware of that. And why was RTI not used to press the records (QRP didn't have the capacity and wasn't even up and running as the job was being contemplated)? Was it cost? RTI's inability to cope with the pressing demand? We'll never know but clearly Rainbo lived up to EMI's expectations if not ours, and if you got a few bad pressings hopefully replacements were made available.

Finally there's the issue of value. Considering that a clean original UK pressing of The Beatles will set you back almost the cost of this entire box (around $300), and this box gives you the entire collection including Past Masters, which otherwise doesn't exist, this box of 180g LPs plus super book has to rate as a very, very good value. Of course I still that like The Doors AAA reissues, at some point someone will offer EMI and Apple and the surviving Beatles and the estates of John and George enough money to entice them to let the tapes have another pass while lacquers are cut directly from them. At least for starters Abbey Road should be so produced.

Yes, I smelled the chicken, but unlike that lady at the butcher's, I paid for and took home the chicken and I'm sure glad I did! Despite my clucking, it's a pretty tasty meal! P.S.: I thank everyone for their thoughtful comments along the way. I learned a lot and that's one of the best parts about having this site!

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Comments
drummer808's picture
Sorry, but...

I REALLY wanted to like the EMI Beatles Box, but I just don't want to deal with it any longer and it's going back to Amazon.  With a VERY noisy "Abbey Road," a skip in the opening track of "Magical Mystery Tour," and inconsistent pressings in general (and I still have a bunch of them to crack open), I've had enough.  I'll really miss the book, though - THAT is very much a 1st class job!

1kw's picture
I have listened to all of the

I have listened to all of the albums so far except for  the white album from the box set and all I can say is I am even a bigger Beatles fan now .   What a fantastic body of work !  Rather than try and analyze the  records I found myself loving the music  which is what this hobby is all about.  These albums will not just be sitting on my shelf smiley  My stereo system (JA Michelle Gyro SE/ SME 309 with Shelter 501 MKII, Mcintosh Mc2301, Mcintosh Mc501's and Sonus Faber Elipsa) is modest compared to others here but these albums sound very good to me yes    MF thank you for write up and opinions of these new LP's although not the holly grail, I agree they are still enjoyable and the book is really excellent .   By the way Rolling Stones magazine, did a special release a few years ago when the 2009 CD's came out and is also a interesting read about each album. 

Metboy65's picture
Rainbo - 90%????

I think you are off-base by giving Rainbo a 90% grade. You were very fortunate to receive a decent box. I can't say the same for myself. My records were warped, had fingerprints, scuffs and were pressed off-center The replacements I sought out were worse. Several copies of Abbey Road had major distortion issues for long passages on both sides.

Rainbo did a terrible a job. The EU pressings are better, although they have some QC issues as well.

I don't agree with some of your reviews. Granted, I do not have an uber expensive system, like you, but mine is decent. I think you were partciularly harsh on With The Beatles. I find it to be an enjoyable listen. IMHO, it betters the original Yellow and Black stereo Parlophone pressing that ends with -2/-2 matrix numbers. To me, that pressing is a mess. Could it be the mastertape? WTB was recorded on a two-track machine and the Beatles double-tracked most of their vocals.

I certainly don't think the White Album is a stinker. Do I prefer it over a 1st press UK stereo or the UK white vinyl pressing? No. However, I like the tone of it.

I don't find the new Revolver to be lifeless either as others have posted, although the remastering team botched She Said She Said.

Metboy65

39goose's picture
The ONLY guy for the job

Chad Kassem,

Maybe i'm prejudiced having grown up with Chad, having worked for him from 1990-1996, having seeing him at his worst and his best. He has been on the latter for 29 or 30 years........he is preceeded by his passion and attention to detail. If the "estates" of John and George, along with Paul and Ringo are to be properly honored, now is the time to license the "rights" to the master tapes to Chad.

It's only a matter of time until thy "will" be done.

Wish we had an address to email EMI on requesting an AAA from Analog Productions/Chad and a 45rpm to boot.

Hope the Original Master Tapes survive the wait....................William.

goblin141's picture
I agree

that the set has afew weaknesses yet it beats my parlaphone Hard Days Night and all the capitols.  I havent compared the Abby Road yet will do this weekend,  My records are flat, quiet and shiny just as others pressed elsewhere.  For the price, if you dont have all the records, its a great buy.  When the monos come out I want to buy the Rubber Soul to compare to my UK, paid 25 cents and it has some scratches.  People who here it cant beleive it a mono record.

boulderskies's picture
Beatlephile and Vinyl Rematers Musings

Michael,

Great write-up! Keep up the good work!

First and for the "record," I didnt buy any of the vinyl remasters simply because I dont own a turntable anymore. But I did at one time and for a long time. During that period, I purchased Bob Dylan's Nashville Skyline Rag from Sundazed. It was terrible! To my ear, it flat, muddy and lifeless. I returned it and since have been fairly jaded on vinyl "remasters."

Second, I dislike labels but if "audiophile" means someone who listens closely and spends time "in the music," that's me. As most others on here, I've spend uncountable hours with the Beatles, most recently with the newly remastered CD versions (not the '87 George Martin releases) of Abbey Road, Revolver and Past Masters. Truthfully, I find them excellent with more life, detail and clarity than I've ever heard.

So, even if I did posess a turntable, I wouldnt invest in the new vinyl versions. Dont mean to sound ignorant, but how many ways can we listen to the same music,especially when we've got a pretty damn good version already?

Scott

wandique's picture
The Beatles : The Collection

Mr. Fremer,

What about the reissue released by MFSL in 1982? How do you compare it with the 2012 "reissue" ?

My best regards,

Wandique

Michael Fremer's picture
Mo-Fi Box?

The Mo-Fi box was sourced from the tapes, was cut all analog and pressed on JVC "Super Vinyl". Unfortunately, the EQ was heavy handed and could be called "grotesque".

Bass and treble were boosted, ala "car stereo EQ syndrome" which thinned out and bleached the midrange, leaving a thin, hollow sound.

I played the Mo-Fi box's <i>Sgt. Peppers...</i> for Geoff Emerick who should know what it's supposed to sound like since he engineered it, and he made me take it off. He was disgusted and declared it "rubbish." 

my new username's picture
Fans vs. audiophiles

This irks me. Sure, I understand the situational description but doesn't the situation sound a bit unecessary and arbitrary?

Why couldn't they be one in the same? I know a few original LPs that satisfy both criteria.

Seems to me they made them for the Compact Disk generation. Without obvious flaw, without inner beauty. And there's at least a whole generation who'll still never know the difference, and let's be honest, EMI/Apple doesn't really care. 

Michael Fremer's picture
Without obvious flaw...

I can't disagree with you so I won't. I don't think they cared about us. They cared about the vinyl buying population at large...but mostly they cared about the CD box set. The vinyl was an afterthought because by the time Sean Magee got to it, the files had already been prepared for the CD. All he could do was use the 24 bit "masters" and watch out for sibilants.  

thomoz's picture
Wally Capitols and upcoming mono box

As a reply to this post:

http://www.analogplanet.com/content/emis-beatles-box-perspective#comment...

The Wally Traugott analog cut Capitol pressings from 1978-80 are NOT cut DMM, but the UK/German vinyl available of the UK titles since 1988 is.

and then a reply to this comment:

http://www.analogplanet.com/content/emis-beatles-box-perspective#comment...

As for 1kw looking for the mono set to be 24/96, it is already stated that it won't be so. Further, the records are in the test pressing stage or later already (as revealed by Sean Magee on the Steve Hoffman site and elsewhere)

vinyldaze's picture
Kool Aid Consumption

I have no intention whatsoever to be disrespectful. That being said, it is bewildering that you could give Rainbo a 90+ on the pressing based on one box set. If one bothers to look at Amazon, the Hoffman forums, etc..... there are legions of people with warped records, with scratches, skips, gouges, distortion, pearls straight out of the box on and on.... there was obviously zero to little quality control before placing the records in their sleeves. It is a disservice to talk out of both sides of the mouth regarding sources used, pressings, DAC converters used and sonic quality to justify this sloppy mess of a vinyl reissue. I have seen other reissues nailed to the wall unforgivably and rightfully for far less. People need to know if they are going to dip their toes in the water for this box set, that it is a gamble and a crap shoot. They may get a good box like yours or a box of horrors. That is the elephant in the room. 

Michael Fremer's picture
Go ahead! Be disrespectful!

I understand your point. However, on the forums and other public venues you are mostly going to hear from those who got some badly pressed records. Inevitably when you're pressing this quantity, there will be some crappy records. This was an enormous undertaking.

The box I got was uniformly decent to very, very good for commercially pressed records. I assume those with lousy pressings were able to get replacements.

While I didn't "nail it to the wall," I feel I dissected in pretty good detail each individual record and only then did I write an overall perspective of what was done from the "big picture" point of view.

No it was not what we'd hoped for, but neither was it a total disaster like some haphazardly done reissues can be.

The European Union is forcing UMG to divest itself of EMI and Warner Brothers is in the hunt. We know how they do reissues: from analog tapes when possible. So if W-B buys EMI perhaps the cost will drive them to do what The Doors' catalogue owners did: when offered enough money, the tapes were forthcoming for an all-analogue cut.

The cost of such a set, especially if it's done at 45rpm will be "audiophile prohibitive" but then those of us who want an AAA set, price be damned, might be served!

Just a pipedream or a vaporizer dream.....but I'm holding on to it!

Tullman's picture
Hoping Warner Brothers makes things right.

I'm with you on this one. They could start with one title and go from there.

Martin's picture
Price segmentation...

is the way to go.

For a lot of people, the box set as produced is great. Decent sound, slabs of vinyl to bring back memories.

For super duper sound, proper AAA 45rpm vinyl is the way to go.

I think a lot of people would buy a big box set like that. A lot of people who grew up with the music from that era, particularly the Beatles are not price sensitive.

I'd buy a 45rpm AAA box set without thinking twice.

randy's picture
Using Rainbo pressings, original UK, etc.

 

"There's a definite loss of transparency and "believability" on these albums compared to the originals."

"I hope in the future someone can license that tape for an AAA reissue plated and pressed at one of the top pressing plants."

Michael, I'm sure you know how great a job you did with what could never be a review of Abbey Road (or any other Beatles title) that would satisfy everyone. Your comments above sum it up for me. And I compared both Rainbo and Optimal pressings to UK originals, '70's reissues - UK, Dutch, and German - as well as the MFSL. While I believe these are satisfactory reissues for the most part, in my mind there still remains a legitimate reason for The Beatles catalog to be reissued again.

randy's picture
Thanks

Michael, thanks for the work you did on these. Happy holidays!

1kw's picture
Please Clarify ?

I guess I have been doing too much reading about this box set which has resulted in some confusion.  On one web article about the box set from the absolute sound it says the vinyl reissue's were cut from 24/96 according to a email they received from apple studio's; while I have read here that it was 24/44 ?  I already ordered my box set and am waiting for it to arrive so I guess at this point it does matter but a little clarification would be great.  Thanks in advance.

Michael Fremer's picture
Que Resolution?

The Absolute Sound's website claims an email from Abbey Road Studios says 96/24? Well, if studios could talk, then maybe that's a credible source.

But studios cannot talk! So the question is, who at the studio made the claim?

Sean Magee, who mastered the set to lacquer says he used 44.1k/24 bit files. You can stream on this site the interview I conducted with him about the box.  

I too at first had been told 96/24 by the executive in charge of the project and I reported it but after speaking with the engineer in charge, I corrected it.

John Macca's picture
And the next chicken???

Well, I´m waiting for the mono edition, AGAIN! On vynil, of course.

4insure's picture
For some reason that makes me

For some reason that makes me think of Slim Gaillard (or Louis Jordan) but all I can say is thanks much for all your listening, analysis and comments on the new Fabs box. And I still want the book! college

jstro's picture
MF is the best reviewer...

I have to admit that I was skeptical about this box set since I have many very nice UK and Capitol pressings of every Beatle lp and was concerned about the digital files et al. While I will not buy the box I did get AHDN and think it sounds amazing. (your personal tales are worthy of a book) BUT I also enjoy the mono United Artist pressing and Capitol Something New including instrumentals. I am of a different opinion on the Capitiol pressings from most on this forum. Perhaps my vintage kit lends itself better to those pressings. What I enjoyed most about Michael's review process was the anticipation of not only what he thought about the LP but also which one was he going to review next. I clicked on AP "fav" link daily (or more) to read any updates. It has been very enjoyable to also read everyones feedback. Michael is a treasure to Anolog Planet (universe) and really should be consulted by every label when they want to remaster. I think his insights and depth on sound would help bring out the best of every recording. Having said that it would be great to see MF work (assist) with Jimmy Page on any future projects.  MF is truly an ANALOG MF!!! THANK YOU 

Moodeez1's picture
Using the originals as a reference

I spent too much time and money investing in several of the Parlophone and U.K Apple originals. They were all in near mint condition. However, with the exception of "Abbey Road", they were very disappointing sonically. I have since sold them off and replaced them with 70's reissues which blew my originals into the weeds. If MF is using original pressings with which to compare the sonic merits of each of these new reissues, I'm only assuming that he must have some wonderful copies but that wasn't my experience. I learned the hard way that there are a multitude of variations in mastering and pressing quality from LP's, even original so-called first pressings. Quality control can be a bitch! I had all the right matrix numbers and labels but the sonics left me cold. You know when an LP doesn't do it for your ears; it stays on the shelf for years without being played.

MF made an astute and critical point about the new box; it wasn't created for audiophiles so no one should be too disappointed that it doesn't measure up. The good thing that has come from all this controversy is that maybe, just maybe, there will be a complete set of these LP's remastered in the analog domain some day. Even if it costs twice as much as these impostors, audiophiles will step up and buy them. I'm sure they'll sound a hell of a lot better.   

davidmreyes77's picture
Thank you

The reissue albums I purchased from the set, Beatles for Sale, and every album after, sound decent on my set-up. Every copy of Magical Mystery Tour that I picked up over the years was plagued with groove damage or the booklet was seperated from the jacket, etc.  I am thankful that my local record store got a "good batch" as all the reissue albums and were devoid of non-fill and other pressing matters that plagued others in the US (at least the ones I purchased were!)

But at the end of the day, when all is said and done about this reissue set, is that I never thought that in 2012 I'd be able to walk into a US record store and purchase a  new Parlophone copy of Sgt. Peppers for only $19.99.

1kw's picture
Box set point of view

I bought some to the cd's in 2009 and was pleased with the redbook quality.  Like others I would have prefered 24/96 pressings but if the Sgt . Pepper ( I purchased this as a test after reading the review here) is a indication of the quality then the box set is worth having.  Where are you going to find mint like new condition vinyl of the beatles for the price of the box set.  Its like getting the book for free. While I have been on the fence about buying the box set because I am hoping the mono versions will be 24/96 , it seems like a fun conversation piece to have in ones collection. 

Martin's picture
Nice wrap up

As always, thoughtful, grounded in history, technology, knowledge, experience, folklore, stories and just having heard almost every Beatles pressing under the sun at some point. Plus that system exposing everything on the record, good and bad news. Though the Caliburn is a bit too extreme for me, I'm happy with my SME. Most of my friends think I'm nuts when they ask how much that cost. Until they hear their faves from the 60's played back... Anyway, 

I decided early against buying the set. It wouldn't get played. When you have a complete set of very good UK originals, both stereo and mono, what's the point?. For most of the Beatles stuff, the mono mix is usually the one that gets played anyway. But even for the stereo, why should I clutter up the apartment further on something which adds no value to what I already have??  AAA reissues would be a different story, I would buy the box pretty much no matter what the cost. Say it cost $100 each to do a proper job, plus an extra 100 for the book, then packaging, 100, total around $1800. No problem. I would wait for Michael here to give his imprematur, "Excellent job" and I would pay, no question. 

Would be nice to see some more 45 rpm reissues coming out. With all the recent 45rpm reissues, how long is the wait going to be for some Rolling Stones reissues???  Starting with the Chess stuff. Like, All Of It!!  Some of it is fantastically recorded, like they walked into the setup used for "Folk Singer" and started playing. I always get a laugh when I play the Stereo "I can't be satisfied" recorded at Chess, followed up by a track recorded at RCA. Peoples first comment is "What the F***"  then, "how come that second track is so BAD???!!!".  

Anyway, I've very much enjoyed reading through each review, have learned a lot and am very grateful to Michael for taking the time to do it and do it thoughtfully, so a big thanks. 

Michael Fremer's picture
Thanks!

I wouldn't have purchased the box either because of what I already own, but it's my job...the book is really worth having. I hope they eventually make it available separately.

Jim Tavegia's picture
All of this a great read.

I think that one other thing to keep in mind is Michael's system is the sonic equivalent to the Hubble Telescope...there is stuff he is hearing that I would never hear, and my 65 year old hearing would not be helping either. But, a reviewer should have that system and there will be plenty of people who have made great investments in a system and own a better TTs like the higher end VPI's etc. and have associated equipment to match. 

If you love the Beatles this set is probably worth owning as who knows if the likes of it will ever come around again. That would be a big gamble if this is it in vinyl for the Beatles.

What is does point out is how critical mastering and plating are and probably much more so than most vinyl lovers had considered in the past. I have been moving into this camp more so over the last 3 years as I have become critical of some of the new vinyl I buy at $20 to $30 an lp. 

It may also be that the use of tone controls should be reconsidered now with this set as mastering choices were made that not every listener agrees with and can correct some of them as they wish. I am getting over the use of the "direct" switch on my preamp as the only way to listen any more. I have too many thin sounding LPs from 50+ years of collecting and my main system is not thin sounding overall. 

Thanks for the great work and comments and I look forward to your review if and when you receive the UK boxed set. 

 

Steve Edwards's picture
Excellent Point

I believe Jim brings up a most worthy point regarding Michael's system.  I have been an aspiring audiophile since 14 years of age (I'm now 56).  My system, which includes a Linn Sondek / Ittok LV II arm / Lingo power supply / Sumiko Blackbird MC cartridge and an Audio Research SP9 Mk II preamp, has provided me years of audio bliss.  About a year ago, I had Gary Garfield of Musical Fidelity in Culver City service and rebuild both components for me.  The increased level of detail and imaging was astonishing and I am enjoying listening to vinyl through my Vandersteen 3A Signatures more than ever.  But, like so many of us, I can't help but wonder how much more of that information, embedded deep within the grooves of my 1200+ records, would I hear if I were able to afford, say a Spiral Groove SG1? 

I haven't heard any of this Beatles box yet, but some of the other reissues I've invested in have provided, at least for me, mixed results.  Cisco's version of Aja comes quickly to mind.  Michael raved about it, giving it a SOUND > 10.  While I do find it significantly superior to my ABC Records copy, it doesn't rock my world, as it did Mikie's.  BUT........I haven't heard it through his system!

It is an exciting time in the music reproduction world.  I join Jim, and the list of so many others, in the appreciation Michael's in-depth, revealing and always provocative reviews of these recent projects.

conjotter's picture
Thanks for the individual reviews

Hi Mike.

Your overall score and comments about the box set do not match up with the individual reviews you wrote about each of the LPs in the set.

Why the back pedalling now?

Thanks to those individual reviews I didn't purchase the box, but opted for the few titles that got top marks.

You saved me money and disappoinment, which it part of the reason I read your column.

That would not be the case if I had had based my purchase on your most recent post about the whole set.

Please keep writing objective, tough reviews.

Regards and happy holidays.

CJ.

Michael Fremer's picture
Perspective...

The overall box review is really based on what I think were the goals of the producers and how well they met them as opposed to what I and probably other "purists" might have wanted. Yes, I cut them some slack, but for folks who don't have a "deep bench" of original pressings and can't spend a lot of money for each original, the box is generally worth while. Some titles are stinkers and some are very, very good. 

suteetat's picture
Glad to have this set

I am one of those people who heard and like many Beatles songs enough mainly as a cover by other artists but could not be bothered to really listen to the Beatles because a few Beatles CDs  I bought 20 years ago were unlistenable. I could not  figure out what the fuss was all about. I only got into vinyl may be 5 years ago and finally have some ideas what the fuss is all about and for the first time, the Beatles are fun to listen to. I definitely will try to get the Blue Box and will try to get some mono UK parlophone of the albums that I really like and see what happen. So it took me almost 40 years to really get to know the Beatles and much of that is owed to this new Boxset.

Martin's picture
I had a similar experience

with Bob Dylans "Blonde on Blonde". 

Picked up the CD years ago, listened to it, wondered what all the fuss was about. A few years ago I picked up the Sundazed mono reissue and went "WOW". 

Michael Fremer's picture
Sound did it

A fascinating comment!

suteetat's picture
Don't like to think of myself as audiophile snob

I don't like to think of myself as audiophile snob. Afterall, I do enjoy listening to CDs of Gigli, Bidu Sayao, Tetrazzini, Caruso, Alfred Cortot, Piaf etc. Although recently I found them on LPs to be even more pleasurable to listen to but old Beatles CDs were a challenge. I have not heard the recent CD reissue but no need to get that now, I suppose.

Thanks for an excellent review and all the comment on the music itself. Truely enjoy it.

beetleything's picture
Chicken?

Some serious backpedaling going on here...

Sound 9 - ???? To much bass - veiled etc etc.

Rainbo get 90% ???? 

Seriously?

Michael Fremer's picture
Boxed in

Not at all. First of all my set was well pressed for what it is --- a commercial pressing well done. The sound ratings are for the perspective expressed in what I wrote. I stand by the individual record ratings from my perspective but this overall one is in the context of the box as a whole, value for the $ and the book.... A few titles are very good by any standard ( Past Masters, HDN) and a few are terrible as I expressed but the box as a whole for the $ and compared to what most people have heard of The Beatles on Capitol and on the DMM vinyl cut from CD masters (the bad one from'87), this is a big step up and affordable... The ratings are from that perspective...

ffnz's picture
Michael, Thank you for

Michael,

Thank you for clarifying what seemed to me to be major inconsistencies between this review, and its ratings for sound quality, and previous reviews of the new set.  You note three perspectives for the ratings included in this summary: the objectives of the producers, value, and the listening experience of "most listeners".  

Personally, however, while they are reasonable, I am not interested in these perspectives, but rather in your expert and experienced opinion on sound quality on an absolute basis, i.e., for the medium, and relative to other releases of the same music.  Unfortunately, I can think of where each of the perspectives used in this most recent review, could lead me wide astray.

jlstrat's picture
"87 pressings

Mr. F, Were Wally Traugott's US remasters in '87 DMM? I certainly think the original UK versions in particular are much better, but Traugott's masters were not bad--certainly better than the CDs from the same era. I've had 25 years, with the help of eBay to buy UK pressings (well, I did have a few early ones in stereo) and those are the way to go if you have the time and the scratch (man, have they gone up in price!).   

Anyway, thanks for these reviews. I had a few hours with this set when a friend brought it over, and your reviews, for the most part, mirror my impressions, although I think I like With the Beatles more than you did. Still, I think the individual reviews and this wrap-up should give anyone interested in the set a good idea of what to expect. 

Puffer Belly's picture
Help!

Was Help! reviewed?  I don't remember seeing it.

Michael Fremer's picture
Help?

Oops...I'll get right on the remix....

rockvinyl71's picture
The book

I agree about the book. It is truly beautiful. My Optimal box was also pressed very nicely, with only Sgt Peppers having issues. This has since been replaced with a perfect copy.

I like to think of these as complementing my original pressings and 70's reissues. I don't know yet which ones I prefer to listen to, but it's fun finding out.

Paul Boudreau's picture
"Smell That Chicken!"

For some reason that makes me think of Slim Gaillard (or Louis Jordan) but all I can say is thanks much for all your listening, analysis and comments on the new Fabs box.  And I still want the book!