CORRECTION! PLEASE READ! Exclusive! New Beatles Box Production Details

Dear Analogplanet.com reader. In an effort to get the information about this set to you from as close to the source as possible, before posting anything about the set I spoke directly with an EMI executive who has been working on it for a few years now. He told me yesterday that RTI was pressing the box set, but he was mistaken. I'm not sure what led to his confusion but I hope to find out, because I just received an email from RTI's Don MacInnis informing me that RTI is NOT pressing the set! I did my BEST to get you the straight poop from someone who should know but something went seriously wrong. I have no idea who pressed it but I hope to find out the truth as soon as possible—Michael Fremer, editor, analogplanet.com

Last night I spoke with an EMI executive about the upcoming Beatles Box Set. While he is setting up an interview for me with Abbey Road mastering engineer Sean Magee that will have to wait until Magee is "off shift," he did provide some useful information.

First and most critical: we don't know where the American box set is being pressed. Optimal, in Röbel, a plant opened in 1995 that uses Swedish Toolex presses (RTI uses American made SMT [Southern Machine and Tool]) manufactures for the rest of the world.

The Milan, Italy based company Pozzoli that has been responsible for many deluxe packaging jobs for both audio and video projects including U2's memorable "Achtung Baby Uberdeluxe Edition," produced the deluxe book, which should be stunning.

While some production details are already available on your favorite vinyl vendor's website, there's still a great deal of ambiguity that we hope to resolve when we speak with Mr. Magee.

What we do know that isn't being mentioned is that Help and Rubber Soulwas sourced from the George Martin 1987 CD resolution mixes. Truly a misguided choice in my opinion—even if George Martin is considered to be the "Fifth Beatle" and I plan to ask Magee about that, but there is some good news!

A MONO LP box is planned for the Spring and that box, like the mono CD box will contain STEREO LPs cut from the original stereo mixes!

As described on vinyl vendor websites, Mr. Magee has done some "clean up" to the digital files to make them cutter head friendly (similar to what "de-essers" do in the analog domain) and we will ask detailed questions about this work to give you a better idea of what's been done.

The most important question my contact could not answer for me is exactly what files were used for the lacquer cuts. We know they were 24 bit, which is good, but there's a chance that the files were the 24 bit, 44.1K sampled files created for the USB "dongle" version of the box set and not the original 192k/24 bit files originally created from the analog master tapes.

Exactly what was used and why are the two most important questions Mr. Magee will be asked.

Ultimately what counts is the final sound and when a box set arrives here, it will be compared to UK originals and we'll let you know what we hear!

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COMMENTS
joeblack's picture

Please

Michael Fremer's picture

if that's what you're trying to do...

gprro's picture

There was a post on SH forums that someone had an email reply from emi claiming a 96khz transfer was made for the vinyl. If it's 44.1 I'll smash something into my head, because what's the point anymore...I might wait to preorder until we find out or sure. See you at Audio Advice..

deckeda's picture

 

“Just for kicks, I sent an email to Abbey Road Studios, regarding the Beatles vinyl remasters, asking:

Simple question – were these mastered using the 24/192 digital masters or 24/44.1?

Thanks!
Dave

“I got this response this morning:

Hi Dave,

Thank you for your email.

For the recent Beatles remasters, The original tapes were copied to digital at 24/192k. The tracks were then remastered at 24/96 and the vinyl was cut from these 24/96K masters.

I hope this answers your question

Regards

Abbey Road Studios”

 

This seems to jibe with what the press release already said: Originals transferred to 24/192, edited for some sibilance reduction and EQ tweaks, saved/converted down to 24/96. LPs cut from the 24/96.

JC1957's picture

That Rainbo is NOT pressing these.

Also I think those '87 George Martin remixes should have been destroyed. Does anybody even like those? Giles Martin certainly doesn't.

Smafdy Assmilk's picture

Thanks for keping up with this, Michael.

BillyBoy's picture

Thanks for the updates Michael.

Paul Boudreau's picture

I must be missing something - why would they even consider using the '87 mixes for "Help!" and "Rubber Soul" - were the tapes damaged at some point?

 

Thanks for all your efforts on this!

firedog55's picture

The 1965 stereo mixes of the two albums weren't done by George Martin or supervised by the Beatles, but by EMI engineers left to their own devices. George Martin didn't like the mixes that were released, so in 1987 when the first remaster for CD was done, he remixed the stereo tapes to his liking, and that version was released on CD in 1987. My personal opinion: his mix also isn't especially good, other than the title track of Help!

For the 2009 remasters, they used the 1987 mix of the 2 albums as the basis for the stereo CD\digital releases. Oddly enough, in the Mono Box, they included not only the remasters of the original mono masters of all the mono albums, but also the original STEREO masters from 1965 of both Help and Rubber Soul. I guess they thought of the Mono Box as the place to release the more "authentic" masters.

As noted above, they apparently plan to release the vinyl the same way.

Tubemaniac's picture

I have a Blue Box set of the Beatles albums I purchased in about 1982-83 new from a US retailer.  The black labels show EMI and Parlophone thru Sgt. Pepper.  What are these?  They sound great and I compared them to the CD release from a few years ago and I liked the vinyl better.  I have the new albums on pre-order...so the box I win from Michael will be a back-up...or something for my daughters to fight over.

deckeda's picture

Lucky you.

What you have is widely considered to be one of the best, if not the best, vinyl box set for overall quality. 

The MFSL UHQR box set that came out around the same time has some successes within it, primarily Sgt. Pepper but even that suffers from overenthusiastic EQ choices, as many MFSL discs from that era do. The MFSL Magical Mystery Tour in particular is pretty nasty. From what I've read MFSL wasn't provided the original tapes, either. 

Of all the previous stereo releases and reissues in comparison to the upcoming set the wildcard is whether or not the 1973 reissue of Magical Mystery Tour on the German Horzu label can be bettered. It's better than any of the others. I don't know the history behind it but they must have been shipped the orig. tapes by accident.

JC1957's picture

specifically requested true stereo mixes of Penny Lane, Baby You're A Rich Man and All You Need Is Love for their version of the Magical Mystery Tour LP. Obviously they had more of a hankering for quality than Capitol or MFSL.

wao62's picture

I've not seen much discussion on the cover art.  Will this set have laminated covers with the original 'flipback' construction? How about the resolution of the original artwork.  Will it look like it came out of a time machine from the 1960's (perhaps not at $23.00 per album!).       

Bigrasshopper's picture

I'm wondering whether it makes any sense to order the box from the UK.

I don't have any of the vinyl that's on Optimal Media's website,  so I can't personally

judge the pressing quality, but if the US plant remains a mystery, I may.  Of course

that assumes that we really know the non- US releases were pressed at Optimal.

Im not convinced that we do, yet.  Frankly, it seems really odd to me that no one

seems to know or seems willing / able to say.  Currently with the pound conversion 

Amazon is charging about $408.00 US dollars, with the pre-order discount.

What do we know about Optimal, beyond that it's set in the land of "German

engineering"?   Even if that's all we know  I'd be inclined to go with the Euro box.

I can't recall if Micheal visited there in his DVD.

I assume Micheal will only review the the US version.  If they're well pressed maybe

that's  all he needs to review.  I wonder how long it will take to sell  50,000 copy's ?

 I'm going to be working away from home (stereo) until Christmas,  so I'll be that much

more I interested in the review.  I don't want to get home to find that my US box  is noisy

and the Euro version is sold out.  I think I'll relax and see what unfolds.

gprro's picture

With the lack of definite info available, and you know people are wondering!?, people can only start to think these are indeed going to be 44.1k mastered and at least for the US pressed at rainbow, there's already another thread saying rainbow is backed up now because of these...

No preorder until we hear otherwise...

deckeda's picture

Why would anyone think they'd be made from 44.1k masters? Because all of the claims --- from EMI, from the beatles.com, about being cut from 24/192 masters is automatically wrong until somehow proven with some anonymous Internet poster's Audacity spectrum screenshot?

steezebe's picture

I'm not one to notice the difference between 44.1 and 96 without actually listening for it really, really hard, so I'll be happy either way as long as I get mine! :) These will be listened to.

wgb113's picture

Mikey,

 

Any word whether the mono versions will be available individually or as a set only?

 

Bill

mdevries's picture

Why would they do this???!!!

thomoz's picture

Why cut from 96khz digital? There is nasty sounding treble on vinyl cut from 44.1khz files..

I personally can hear this *all the time* on vinyl that is cut from a 44.1khz digital source. The character of this treble, once heard, cannot be un-heard, unfortunately. If you want a perfect example, get the US 2008 pressing of Coldplay's X&Y and listen to the treble (bells, cymbals, etc).  If you don't find it harsh and annoying, then ANY vinyl cut from digital will suit you. 

Recent vinyl pressings of 'Delaney & Bonnie On Tour', Yardbirds' 'Roger The Engineer' and the mysteriously well recieved recent cut of 'Exile On Main Street' all are obviously cut from inferior digital sources.  Buyer beware!

JC1957's picture

I'll have to play my Rhino copy again. I never noticed digital arifacts but I'll have to find a clean Atco original for comparison.

gprro's picture

getting pretty sure these are pressed at rainbow after chatter on livewire... hope they can get their act together

DBKDMND's picture

So the question is should we purchase this version or wait till the mono version next Spring?

dobyblue's picture

It's been confirmed by Sean Magee via SH Forums that the source is 24-bit/44.1kHz unlimited files. He also says the cutter isn't capable of cutting over 24kHz anyway, and that it starts rolling off after 14kHz.

He confirmed the mono sets next year will also be from 24/44.1, they will obviously be unlimited given that the Mono CD set was.

He has no idea whether high resolution files will eventually come out on Blu-ray Audio or SACD, but if they go back to the 24/192 masters to create a high rez copy at some point, that will be for me.

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