Abbey Road 50th Anniversary Remix Full Review!

2012 wasn’t all that long ago and culturally not that much has changed, yet from that year to the September 27th release this year of the 50th anniversary edition of Abbey Road is how long The Beatles made records.

Think about it! Had The Beatles released “Love Me Do” in October of 2012, by this September 27th they would have recorded and released Please Please Me, With The Beatles, A Hard Day’s Night, Beatles For Sale, Help, Rubber Soul, Revolver, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, the Magical Mystery Tour EP, The Beatles, Yellow Submarine and Abbey Road. That’s not just “unprecedented”, it’s kind of insane.

This doesn’t include all of the American releases that contained countless singles that were omitted from the U.K. releases but appeared on American Beatles albums, nor does it include the “Red” and “Blue” double LP collections or the 16 song U.K. hits package A Collection of Beatles Oldies (EMI PCS 7016), the import album that startled many Americans completely unfamiliar with the British originals.

Hearing some of these songs in real stereo for the first time and others not “Capitolized” with gobs of reverb and odd equalization was an ear-opener that caused many fans to seek out the rest of the difficult to obtain U.K. originals. Books have been written about all of this including Bruce Spizer’s vinyl-centric ones and, Hunter Davies’ authorized Biography and of course Beatles scholar/obsessive Mark Lewisohn’s definitive chronologies.

For those of us who grew up with The Beatles (or who were for all intents and purposes already grown up), they were, whether or not they intended to be, more than just a group of musicians who wrote great songs that became the soundtrack to our adolescent lives.

As a group and as individuals they became spiritual and relationship advisors, fashion and personal grooming counsellors, figurative drug dealers, and probably more than anything, for the better part of a tumultuous decade they led us into the future, while simultaneously providing comforting security.

The Beatles were always “there”. There would always be the next Beatles album to guide us into the future. This wasn’t only a teenager’s fantasy wish.

No wonder when the group officially broke up in April of 1970 when Paul publicly called it quits (Lennon left around the time of Abbey Road’s release in September of 1969), fans of all ages felt lost and abandoned, were bewildered and actually became resentful of being “betrayed” by The Beatles!

Poor Yoko Ono was unfairly accused by otherwise rational adults of “plotting” and succeeding in breaking up the group. If you weren’t around back, then you might find this difficult to believe but it’s true.

Let It Be, the “next” Beatles album to be released but of course recorded before Abbey Road, was a mess of a production with multiple producers starting with George Martin, and then moving to Glyn Johns and finally Phil Spector who got the official credit but not before George Martin is reported to have said "I produced the original, and what you should do is have a credit saying 'Produced by George Martin, over-produced by Phil Spector'". Even the distribution was mired in legal controversies but that’s best covered when Let It Be gets 50th anniversary treatment if it in fact gets it!

Even though the album sold well, critical reception went from muted to downright hostile.

Back to Abbey Road! The graphics-free cover broke new packaging ground. The iconic photo said “The Beatles” better than any typeface could and in retrospect the message that the “boys” were exiting the building literally and figuratively couldn’t have been any clearer.

The 50th Anniversary edition is, as most everyone reading this knows, a brand new remix by producer Giles Martin and mix engineer Sam Okell using the original 8 track session tapes. The original stereo mix provided guidance but the remix does effect some changes similar to what was done on the previous Beatles remixes. However, unlike those, recording to 8 tracks required less “track bouncing” than had been used on previous Beatles albums.

With the messy Let It Be events and production staffing behind them, Giles Martin points out in the set intro (all editions) that engineers Geoff Emerick and Phil McDonald were brought back as was his father George to produce and contribute musical arrangements as in “the old days” (two years earlier!). EMI had installed a new TG12345 mixing desk and between it and the new 8 track recorders, the original album’s excellent sound speaks for itself.

So why do a remix of a masterpiece? My inbox was flooded with readers asking that question as many asked about The Beatles double LP, which to many was “perfect” as-is.

That remix was, in my opinion, a complete success because it remained true to the original but made some useful improvements that included restoring the bottom end that had been attenuated on the original LPs to better play on the lesser turntables used by kids back then. Martin’s mix was also a more “in the pocket” edition that produced greater mix coherence and placed everything more tidily than did the original mix. The original U.K. vinyl edition does things the remix doesn’t and vice-versa. It’s nice to have both!

The Abbey Road Remix

I compared to this new remix an original very early U.K. pressing bought within a week of the album’s release (side 1 second lacquer [I assume the first was damaged], 3rd mother, stamper #70, side 2 first lacquer, 3rd mother, 21st stamper), a somewhat later U.K. pressing with a white inner sleeve instead of the black original that has the offset green apple under the side one track listing and other cover art anomalies (same lacquers and mothers but triple digit stampers), three original U.S. pressings one pressed by U.S. Decca that’s super rare and doesn’t include “Her Majesty” on either the jacket or label, one pressed at Capitol’s Winchester, VA pressing plant and a third, the provenance of which I didn’t bother checking out. If you really want to get into the American pressing “weeds” go to the Fab 4 Collectibles website. A mint U.S. Decca pressing must go for stupid money because that site didn’t list the price it sold for, but after listening to these three, I wouldn’t give you ten cents for any of them. The sound is atrocious: bright, grainy and not at all pleasant. I guess if you are a jacket and/or rarities collector, you might enjoy but if sound is important to you, I doubt there’s ever been a worthwhile sounding American pressing.

This is the “super rare” version of the American album, description on that website.

This is a more common version. There are so many variations you’ll wonder how that was allowed to happen! At least I did.
I also listened to the Toshiba “Pro-Use” Japanese pressing (EALF-97001), the Mobile Fidelity box set version with the “smiley face” equalization and especially to the 2011 box set version cut from the digital master used to produce the CD and I gave the USB stick 24 bit version a quick listen. Oh, and I fired up the Nakamachi BX-300 and played the original cassette that I happen to have.

Of course all are from the same original mix, though they are sonically very different. The Mo-Fi is very “clean” and well-detailed with black backgrounds but with the midband life sucked out if it. The Toshiba is similarly kind of dry and sterile but with more midband life.

I haven’t played the 2011 box set version since I reviewed it so I went back and at first it sounded ‘okay’ but as it played it got really annoying and by “Oh Darling” I couldn’t take any more of it and I’ll spare you why. The stick was similar but with a “bit” more (actually 8 bits more) resolution and life but still sterile.

The only truly exceptional sounding original I found here was the early U.K. pressing, with the second somewhat later pressing cut from a much later stamper coming very close.

I’ll leave it at that, which means most Beatles fans have never really heard a great original pressing of Abbey Road.

I brought a digitized version of the original pressing to the audio show in Tampa last winter and played to a full large room side 2 on a big rig and no one got up for the duration. When it was over there was applause and some people were weeping. I’m not kidding!

Young people getting into vinyl who bought the 2011 LP are “ripe for the picking” if this new mix is any good.

ARTICLE CONTENTS

COMMENTS
bkinthebk's picture

No further comments till i hear the album.

Jack Gilvey's picture

Thank you. I was 2 in '69 so missed the events as they unfolded but was given this on 8-track in '78 and have been ingraining it in my DNA ever since. Certainly not a Luddite, though, and very much looking forward to the new perspective.

bill lettang's picture

Hi Michael...like your comments on Ringo's snare sound on Road. I myself never much cared for the original sound. Very "papery" and lacking punch and weight. The remix tracks I've heard so far only makes it worse. I love the White Albums snare sound. Glass Onion, Cry Baby Cry, I'm So Tired and Happiness is a Warm Gun are a few standouts. In closing I'm not quite sure what you mean by bass drum hits on Sun King....I hear mostly towel covered tom toms, hi hat on 2 and 4, and light cymbal crashes. I do love your observation of the remix being a listening into rather that a coming at you mix

Michael Fremer's picture
you played the files through a system with good bottom end? The original sound on the U.S. pressing was "papery" and lacked punch and weight but the U.K. pressing has those plus what I think is a very convincing snare sound. The remix's snare is somewhat soft which is strange since the bonus tracks have plenty of what's missing from the remix....
bill lettang's picture

thanks for your reply Michael. It's true I only have the U.S. pressing of AR, and I do have a system that deliver's good bottom end. Gonna have to get a UK edition.....Bill

dmitry's picture

Hello Michael, I really enjoy reading and viewing your posts and I also collect LPs. And wanted to ask your opinion on which set is better to purchase the one pressed in the US or in the UK. Which one do you think is better? Or should I purchase both?
Thank you, Dmitry

Stephen needam's picture

I have never heard a US Pressing of AR bu both my UK pressings have punch and dynamics. One of the best sounding LP's I own. The bass kick in on Here Comes The Sun is majestic.

2_channel_ears's picture
Definitely a big difference. I find the remix more "spatial" in an almost gimmicky sounding way. And it does lose the cymbals. Still, gotta have it.
Stephen needam's picture

I Want You (She's So Heavy)
Submitted by Stephen needam on Tue, 2019-09-24 10:31
Hi Michael

Superb review as always. Just a quick question. Is the distortion in John's voice on "I want you" towards the end of the song still there or has it been fixed. It was removed on the 2009 remaster which pissed me off. I have two UK originals, One a first Pressing and an early 70's repress. Both distortions are present and it adds so much to the emotion in John’s voice.

Thanks in advance.

Michael Fremer's picture
I didn't notice that one. I"ll have to go back and listen..
Maximus0ne's picture

Distortion increases inherently toward the end of a record and can be even worse if your cartridge is not aligned properly.

randybass's picture

John's vocal distortion has been fixed like in the 2009.

Doug in CT's picture

Not "the Sun" as in your note. Posting here because something is wrong with the comment box in the Burritos post. It clicks through to the Intervention Records sales page.

Michael Fremer's picture
Brain fade...
Grx8's picture

Just two pages? Come on, your review should be included in the deluxe edition.
Great Mike, waiting for my copy to arrive

FAB

Mike Mangold's picture

After watching the video, I decided to buy the single vinyl, in addition to the Blu ray/CD set I had already ordered. I have a first pressing UK vinyl, and a "Black Triangle" CD, plus the stereo box CD, and the USB stick.

DaveyF's picture

Isn't this new Abbey Road vinyl pressing sourced from their 192/24 file? If so, what's the point of buying a digital recording pressed onto vinyl?? Inquiring minds and all that!

isaacrivera's picture

..."the original 8 track session tapes."

DaveyF's picture

8 track session tape recorded 192/24 and then pressed onto vinyl....So, IOW a digital recording.

isaacrivera's picture

But I have not seen that stated anywhere--which does not mean a thing. However, I have seen them attributed as "sourced directly from the original 8-track session tapes". It would be nice to get clarification...

https://store.acousticsounds.com/d/144758/The_Beatles-Abbey_Road-180_Gra...

Michael Fremer's picture
Many reasons! First of all, compared to CD, higher resolution, wider frequency response and while the 'rage' these days is to seriously compress CDs, not so this vinyl, which was prepared by Miles Showell. I didn't analyse the CDs. If you buy the CD/Blu-ray box and extract the hi-rez files and that's how you listen, you could make a case but most of us have set up our analog "front ends" to sound as we want records to sound. With the files, you are stuck with whatever it is (and believe me, 'accurate' isn't accurate!) and whatever quality is your DAC. I suspect Abbey Road Studios uses a better DAC than you have at home, but maybe not!
DaveyF's picture

Personally I have little interest in acquiring a digital file pressed onto vinyl. If I want the digital file, i either buy the CD or the download hi rez file( typically at a lower price than the vinyl). Albeit, if the Abbey Road release was AAA sourced that would be another thing, and I would be willing to pay more for that on vinyl. Since it is a digital file on vinyl, no thanks....YMMV.

Johnnyjajohnny's picture

I'm not trying to be offensive or anything, DaveyF, but your comments are a good example of why the pro-digital people (or the people who don't care so much) are sick and tired of the analogue fanboys, because of attitudes like yours: "If something has been digitized I will never touch it".
Digitizing something doesn't change the sound at all, unless you use faulty equipment (and some very expensive equipment, especially playback equipment, is faulty), and most pro-gear nowadays, even cheap products like Focusrite, are completely transparent well within the threshold of audibility.

DaveyF's picture

Neither am I. But your post ( comment) assumes that i cannot hear the difference between great digital ( and i believe there is such a thing) and great analog. To my ears, there is still a wide difference, one that I clearly hear regardless of the playback system. To my ears, all analog is still very much more 'palpably realistic' sounding. Again, YMMV.
BTW, I did NOT state 'I would NEVER touch it' if it has been digitized, what i am saying is that I don't need to pay the extra $$ for a vinyl pressing that is digitally sourced. Too many great AAA vinyl pressings out there...and only so much $$ to acquire them.As an aside, I own an Esoteric SACD...I very much enjoy its presentation and it sounds great, but it still isn't up to my analog rig.

Johnnyjajohnny's picture

Yes, you can hear a difference between your vinyl rig and your digital rig. So can I, on both my own rig and on your rig, even though I've never heard it, but I'm confident I could hear the difference. So could most people. I'm not disputing this at all – quite the opposite. I'm just saying there's an explanation to why this is.
Your original point was: If "Abbey Road" had been AAA you might buy it, but now that it's been digitized you certainly won't buy it. The assumption I then made was that you claimed that digitizing something completely changed the sound, and then also that you would only want a vinyl record if it was AAA since the sound hadn't been changed by digitizing.
So my point is: If you digitize an analogue signal it will be audibly indistinguishable from the original analogue signal unless you use faulty equipment. Try digitizing a vinyl record and do a level-matched blind test. As this might not be as easy it sounds (mainly because adjust the volume level can be difficult), to make it easier on yourself you could record a vinyl record and then do a loop-back recording of that digital file and do a level-matched blind test. You can then do the same loop-back recording of the resulting file and do the blind test again if you like. Just make sure the ADC is capable of this test, as not all are. The Focusrite Scarlett 8i6 is just one example of a cheap (but great) converter than can do a loop-back test.
I've done more than 800 comparisons between vinyl and CD, and there was almost always an audible difference, no matter what equipment I used (as you also say). But the difference is not because digitizing something changes the sound, but because the analogue playback system does: No cartridge in history has had as flat a frequency response as that of almost all CD players/DACs (within +/- 0.1 dB). Usually deviations from flat are at least 1-2 dB on any cartridge. Although less common, phono preamps also sometimes have greater deviations than 0.1 dB from flat.
So if you compare a vinyl record to the official CD, even if they were made from the same master, whether analogue tape or a digital file, they will sound different because the frequency response of the cartridge changes the sound.
Add to that the most expensive and coveted phono cartridges usually (but not always) have even bigger deviations from linearity than certain cheaper alternatives (like the Goldring Elite and Nagaoka MP-500, which are some of the most linear carts that I've come across), and this non-linear frequency response is exactly why they're coveted. Lyra, Zyx, Ortofon, Top Wing Red Sparrow, Sumiko Blackbird, certain (and only certain) Koetsus, etc. all have light dips in the harshness region, which will make the sound a bit more relaxed, followed by a rise that either peaks around 10-12 kHz or keeps rising all the way towards 20 kHz and beyond, which will add air to the sound. Sometimes they also have a slight boost in the bass, and if they don't, then rumble often adds that boost (although some turntables and/or phono preamps are able to attenuate this). And the people who buy these carts love that particular sound - that's why they shell out so much for something so inaccurate. I freely admit that I also like this sound for many recordings, and I also bought a cartridge with this particular sound as it made especially 60s/70s records sound much better. I also bought an amplifier with a certain sound that I liked. I had the Goldring Elite for a while, but it made many of my records sound poor, simply because it was so linear, especially in the harshness region. So then I bought a less accurate cart, and now my records sound great.
Other cartridges, for instance many Grados and EMTs, have a bigger dip, and many vinyl lovers instead prefer this "darker" sound, and they describe it as "warmer" and "less shrill", etc.
Using an equalizer on a CD player would create the same effect. I have also remastered a lot of music, and made it sound better, simply by using an equalizer, and often the change I make resembles that of a cartridge's frequency response. Too much music has too much energy in the harshness region.
So the point is two things:
1: With vinyl record you can create exactly the sound you like, whether this is "relaxing, yet airy" or "warm and slightly dark". And that's okay if you like that, as long as it's stated as a preference, because it's not more accurate than digital.
2: Analogue lovers claim digital isn't transparent to the source and that analogue is a better technology, when the opposite is the case. Analogue tape recording changes the sound, not only by having a non-linear frequency response, but also by introducing more distortion and noise than digital (which will be less audible than the change in frequency response). Vinyl playback changes it even more. And that's perfectly fine if you like that particular sound.
And if you like certain AAA records more than certain ones that were digitized at some point that's fine too, but it's not because the signal was digitized - you just happen to prefer how that particular record sounds due to the recording, production, mastering, etc. (you could confirm this by digitizing your AAA records and do a level-matched blind test and hear that they sound identical) :-).
Again, I'm very sure you can hear the difference between your analogue rig and your digital one - because the analogue rig changes the sound, and you just happen to like that change. And that is okay, as long as it's stated as a preference and not as a claim that analogue technology is technically superior :-).

DaveyF's picture

My goodness, so much written to defend that you have a preference for digital! Your OP accused me of being a 'analogue fanboy'...I submit that you are somewhat disingenuous. Why, because while i hate to say it...your last post proves to me you are a 'digital fanboy', question is whether the analogue fans are 'sick and tired' of 'digital fanboys' because of attitudes like yours, LOL.
So, to keep my post as concise as possible, let's just say that you have your opinion of digital and I have mine. My ears tell me one thing, yours another. BTW, re-read my prior posts, you clearly misunderstood my points.

Johnnyjajohnny's picture

This is what you wrote:
"8 track session tape recorded 192/24 and then pressed onto vinyl....So, IOW a digital recording."
"Personally I have little interest in acquiring a digital file pressed onto vinyl. If I want the digital file, i either buy the CD or the download hi rez file( typically at a lower price than the vinyl). Albeit, if the Abbey Road release was AAA sourced that would be another thing, and I would be willing to pay more for that on vinyl. Since it is a digital file on vinyl, no thanks"
Would it be correct to say that what you were trying to convey was that if something has been digitized before being pressed onto vinyl you (usually) don't want to buy it, and only, or almost only, if something comes from a fully analogue signal chain will you buy it on vinyl?
If that is correct, then I took this to mean that if you don't want to buy a vinyl record that at some point has been digitized it is because you believe digitizing something ruins/degrades the original signal. In other words, analogue is a better technology than digital: digital degrades the signal; analogue doesn't.
If you didn't believe that digitizing something ruins the signal, what other reason could you possibly have to oppose digitizing the "Abbey Road" tapes before putting them on vinyl?

You can call me a digital fanboy if you like, but I didn't write what I wrote to say that I have a preference for digital. I wrote what I wrote to say that digital recording is a better technology than analogue recording because it doesn't change the sound of the signal (unless you use faulty equipment), no matter what your preference is. If someone has a preference for the sound of analogue that's fine (it's a colourization, which can be pleasant), as long as it's stated as a preference, but the claim that analogue is a better technology than digital and that digitizing a signal ruins it is demonstrably false. That was my point. It's not about preferences but about the technology.
What I've done is educate myself on the topic of how digital audio works, and I've taken the relevant tests. I don't think that makes me a digital fanboy. So no, we can't agree that I just have my opinion of digital and you have yours.
As for me being a digital fanboy, I bought my first vinyl record in 1998 and my most recent one exactly a week ago today. Since 1998 I've probably bought around 2-3000 vinyl records for myself. I've sold most of them again since I found out that I didn't like the music. Before starting to go digital, and selling certain records, my collection was around 950 records. Now it's around 4-500 I think.
Even though I mostly listen to digital nowadays, I have many reasons to choose a vinyl record instead of the CD, such as a different master, the CD coming from a poor source (I have heard some that I believe came from cassette tape) or because it was poorly mastered, nice artwork for the LP, or simply because the colourization that my equipment imparts on the sound is pleasant to my ears.
So, again, my point was not about preferences but about facts.

DaveyF's picture

Not to be too unpleasant...but the last time I looked this forum is called AnalogPlanet...not DigitalPlanet!
Since you are convinced that digital recordings are superior in every way to analog, I don't think we can do anything but agree to disagree.
My main point is this..personally I have no interest in paying for a digital recording pressed onto vinyl at a higher price than a download, or file, or CD...all of which supply me with a digital recording of the exact same material. I can see what Mikey says about why one might consider a digital pressing on vinyl, assuming that there are NO better options for the recording ( that are AAA sourced), but again, personally I would not pay extra $$ for the vinyl vs digital release. ( in that instance). Your belief that digital recording is superior to analog recording ( analogue..are you a Brit? ) simply isn't my experience and I do NOT believe that to be the case...at all! Like I stated before,YMMV.

Johnnyjajohnny's picture

So then what I said about your statements seem to be accurate:
You believe that digitizing an analogue signal ruins it.
You can believe whatever you want, but in the words of Richard Feynman:
“It doesn't matter how beautiful your theory is. If it doesn't agree with experiment, it's wrong.”
And the only experiment you seem to have conducted is comparing a vinyl record to the official digital release, and as I said before the difference you then hear is how the analogue playback equipment changes the signal, especially by an altered frequency response (as well as other things, but that is the most important thing).
I've already stated what a proper test would look like, and you don't seem to have conducted that test, nor do you seem to be interested in doing it. And therefore you get a misleading result.

DaveyF's picture

With a statement like that! What I believe is what my ears tell me...not what some 'experiment' tells me that is contrary to what I hear. ( a proper test????what's that if it disagrees with what my ears are telling me????)
My ears tell me that when I listen to a well done AAA recording it is far more 'lifelike' than when i listen to a digital recording. You don't hear that, or maybe you don't want to believe your ears.

DaveyF's picture

You bought your first LP in 1998...nice.
I bought my first LP in 1965...if that tells you anything. Have a few more LP's than CD's...like maybe 20K!! Have to say this for digital, it is TON easier to store...and it is a TON less weight, LOL. That's about it though.

Johnnyjajohnny's picture

Every time you write something it shows to a larger and larger degree that sticking to the mantra of "analogue good, digital bad" is more important than knowing the truth and figuring out if your hypothesis is correct or not.
There is actually nothing offensive about the hypothesis that digitizing a signal ruins it, but this hypothesis can fairly easily be tested. But as you said, if the experiment doesn't agree with what you already believe, you would rather not do the experiment.
As expected: You're not willing to put your statements and beliefs to the test.
In conclusion: Analogue good, digital bad.

DaveyF's picture

It is Digital the best and Analog is second rate. Does digitizing a pure analog signal ruin the SQ?... in my experience it diminishes the sound quality...does it 'ruin' it, I wouldn't put it that way; but it sure diminishes the SQ to my ears....and clearly NOT to yours! You keep asking about putting my beliefs to a test, I ask you...what test is better than what your ears are telling you, when it comes to sound quality. I ask you this...your 'test' shows you that your ears are wrong and that the SQ, according to your 'test' is superb. What do you have faith in, your ears...or your test? I guess in your instance, it is your test, right?? ---:0(

Johnnyjajohnny's picture
Johnnyjajohnny's picture

You're repeating yourself and you keep stating that "if my ears tell me one thing and a test shows me another, the test must be wrong, because my ears are infallible and I could not possibly be deceived".
Everyone can be deceived. Everyone has been deceived at some point. I have, you have, we all have.
I've already mentioned how a proper test would look like, yet you keep stating that your flawed test backs up your claim, but it doesn't.
If that's how you wanna play it, fine - I'm just not gonna waste more time arguing with you then.
But before putting this to rest I will be a good sport and show you what I mean:

One of my claims is that not all phono preamps sound the same (partly due to frequency response).
So I'm backing up my claim: I did a level-matched ABX test of the Parasound Zphono vs. the Lejonklou Gaia. Here's my result:

foo_abx 2.0 report
foobar2000 v1.3.7
2015-10-06 13:17:47

File A: side 1 UDDRAG.wav
SHA1: 9ccf3ce0d2a31dbb34a2aed114702eb5288d34db
File B: Burzum - Det som DÅRLIG side 1 UDDRAG.wav
SHA1: 4d8c084287e6b3f31d1a5af67e5e9662c701142f

Output:
DS : Primær lyddriver
Crossfading: NO

13:17:47 : Test started.
13:18:34 : 01/01
13:18:51 : 02/02
13:19:07 : 03/03
13:19:35 : 04/04
13:19:45 : 05/05
13:19:57 : 06/06
13:20:09 : 07/07
13:20:16 : 08/08
13:20:26 : 09/09
13:20:37 : 10/10
13:20:55 : 11/11
13:21:05 : 12/12
13:21:14 : 13/13
13:21:37 : 14/14
13:21:50 : 15/15
13:22:29 : 16/16
13:23:09 : 17/17
13:23:50 : 18/18
13:24:03 : 19/19
13:24:14 : 20/20
13:24:14 : Test finished.

----------
Total: 20/20
Probability that you were guessing: 0.0%

-- signature --
f6ffb9de2b47498c7381a271ff9db90bf942d90a

Then I did the same test with the Parasound Zphono vs. the Cambridge CP1. Here's my result:

foo_abx 2.0.2 report
foobar2000 v1.3.10
2016-07-03 09:39:16

File A: Fleetwood Mac Cambridge BØJET pickup - oprindelig justering.wav
SHA1: b0c9656b8820fe8ea94af52706316e627e6e2966
File B: Fleetwood Mac Parasound JUSTERET PICKUP.wav
SHA1: b79c8cdf744c1b6f6554af5d57559469f943195d

Output:
DS : Primær lyddriver
Crossfading: NO

09:39:16 : Test started.
09:43:21 : 01/01
09:43:51 : 02/02
09:44:33 : 03/03
09:45:09 : 04/04
09:45:56 : 05/05
09:46:35 : 06/06
09:47:14 : 07/07
09:47:51 : 08/08
09:48:17 : 09/09
09:49:44 : 10/10
09:50:21 : 11/11
09:50:40 : 12/12
09:51:13 : 13/13
09:51:54 : 14/14
09:52:29 : 15/15
09:52:40 : 16/16
09:52:40 : Test finished.

----------
Total: 16/16
Probability that you were guessing: 0.0%

-- signature --
96dd782fe77de0830762d5e78d9a11dda41eb60e

Here's another claim: Matching volume levels is crucial, because even a tiny volume level difference can produce an audible difference. So I tested a volume level difference of 0.2 dB. Here's my result:

foo_abx 2.0.2 report
foobar2000 v1.3.10
2017-03-07 18:50:58

File A: 05 The Big Time - 2 volumen sænket med 0.2 dB.wav
SHA1: 8aa8e1756409c06a2ae03ff7bdaa1549b47b0f02
File B: 05 The Big Time - 2.wav
SHA1: e0ab4d34d7a4eb3949002c8fbec3f0a70b5e73bd

Output:
DS : Primær lyddriver
Crossfading: NO

18:50:58 : Test started.
18:53:56 : 01/01
18:54:49 : 02/02
18:56:17 : 03/03
18:57:29 : 04/04
18:58:45 : 05/05
18:59:44 : 06/06
19:01:02 : 07/07
19:02:29 : 08/08
19:05:18 : 08/09
19:30:36 : 09/10
23:42:59 : 10/11
23:44:19 : 11/12
23:46:27 : 12/13
23:47:57 : 13/14
23:49:58 : 14/15
23:52:10 : 15/16
23:52:10 : Test finished.

----------
Total: 15/16
Probability that you were guessing: 0.0%

-- signature --
532d0fe475741c73f1c085c81a4dbee3fad80e70

Then I have another claim: With many cartridges different alignments can change the sound. So here's Baerwald vs. Stevenson:

foo_abx 2.0.2 report
foobar2000 v1.3.10
2017-07-08 22:33:41

File A: Stevie Ray Vaughn - In Step - Riviera Paradise.wav
SHA1: 7b4c524c12fa6a1fbf908c49c27293afafa15d8e
File B: Stevie Ray Vaughn - In Step JUSTERET PICKUP + Justeret modvægt til 1,75 gram.wav
SHA1: f44cdca1ebcb49422242355b6127477c72f5eec1

Output:
DS : Primær lyddriver
Crossfading: YES

22:33:41 : Test started.
22:36:08 : 01/01
22:36:18 : 02/02
22:36:27 : 03/03
22:36:41 : 04/04
22:36:52 : 05/05
22:37:18 : 06/06
22:37:35 : 07/07
22:38:21 : 08/08
22:39:02 : 09/09
22:39:21 : 10/10
22:39:36 : 11/11
22:39:50 : 12/12
22:40:08 : 13/13
22:40:23 : 13/14
22:40:41 : 14/15
22:40:53 : 15/16
22:40:53 : Test finished.

----------
Total: 15/16
Probability that you were guessing: 0.0%

-- signature --
f89510a45265cbacac346e4ae3d08581717c0a1d

Here's another claim: With some cartridges changing VTA can change the sound. Here I changed the VTA by 8 mm on a Zyx cartridge:

foo_abx 2.0.2 report
foobar2000 v1.3.10
2018-04-21 14:42:37

File A: Marilyn Manson med NAD på lidt under halv lydstyrke og 36 på computerens volumenkontrol og 2,00 gram modvægt (tiende optagelse overhovedet) - PICKUP RETTET LIDT TIL (MERE LIGE) - uden måtte (VTA sænket med 3 mm) - klippet til.wav
SHA1: 6da003b141bc9e4fd23e9dcad2341ff900941772
File B: Marilyn Manson med NAD, 2,00 gram modvægt (tiende optagelse overhovedet) - PICKUP RETTET LIDT TIL (MERE LIGE) - med to ekstra plader under (VTA hævet ca. 5 mm) - klippet til.wav
SHA1: a31f3c6b2c272164b998ebff2725d8698ef7f90d

Output:
WASAPI (push) : Højttalere (ODAC-revB USB DAC), 16-bit
Crossfading: NO

14:42:37 : Test started.
14:43:20 : 01/01
14:44:12 : 02/02
14:44:41 : 03/03
14:45:12 : 04/04
14:45:36 : 05/05
14:45:50 : 06/06
14:46:03 : 07/07
14:46:20 : 08/08
14:46:35 : 09/09
14:46:51 : 10/10
14:47:08 : 11/11
14:47:26 : 12/12
14:47:39 : 13/13
14:48:07 : 14/14
14:48:37 : 14/15
14:49:23 : 15/16
14:49:23 : Test finished.

----------
Total: 15/16
Probability that you were guessing: 0.0%

-- signature --
7248cc2e98d711727ab720e424b31e06035e46ad

Then here's another example: I remastered a song. I first listened to A and B, and then for the test only listened to the first second of X and nothing else. Although you won't be able to see this from the log, you'll be able to see from the timings how quickly I chose one (usually 3 seconds, which includes listening, moving and pressing the mouse and starting the next test):

foo_abx 2.0 report
foobar2000 v1.3.7
2019-09-06 00:54:16

File A: 02 Happy Ending (i den her verden vil jeg ikke være trist) - EQ (kurve gemt som Jens Unmack 1).wav
SHA1: af735cbb96dfedf3cff4b4594fce0f3ba60399c2
File B: 02 Happy Ending (i den her verden vil jeg ikke være trist) - volumen justeret.wav
SHA1: 90cbbb4eb2ee222495d156864362773ef831ebf8

Output:
DS : Højttalere (CA USB Audio)
Crossfading: YES

00:54:16 : Test started.
00:55:18 : 01/01
00:55:22 : 02/02
00:55:25 : 03/03
00:55:28 : 04/04
00:55:31 : 05/05
00:55:34 : 06/06
00:55:37 : 07/07
00:55:40 : 08/08
00:55:44 : 09/09
00:55:47 : 10/10
00:55:50 : 11/11
00:55:53 : 12/12
00:55:56 : 13/13
00:55:59 : 14/14
00:56:03 : 15/15
00:56:11 : 16/16
00:56:11 : Test finished.

----------
Total: 16/16
Probability that you were guessing: 0.0%

-- signature --
59e1d906b27d501e2d33ababd11373200482dc5f

And lastly: Mark Waldrep did a hi-res test recently, which I took. With two songs I believed I could hear a difference between hi-res and 16/44.1, but apparently it was all in my mind, as my result was no better than flipping a coin:

foo_abx 2.0 report
foobar2000 v1.3.7
2018-08-21 21:27:30

File A: Tune_1_A.wav
SHA1: a172a18acd31bde18e70254654eb3d6a62a98869
File B: Tune_1_B.wav
SHA1: 23140e6544890298339f2a1de731f972a0285283

Output:
DS : Højttalere (CA USB Audio)
Crossfading: YES

21:27:30 : Test started.
21:38:15 : 00/01
21:39:02 : 00/02
21:40:15 : 00/03
21:41:35 : 01/04
21:45:51 : 02/05
21:47:17 : 02/06
21:48:20 : 03/07
21:49:10 : 03/08
22:00:04 : 03/09
22:01:08 : 04/10
22:02:23 : 04/11
22:04:27 : 05/12
22:06:39 : 06/13
22:07:30 : 06/14
22:08:32 : 06/15
22:09:46 : 07/16
22:09:46 : Test finished.

----------
Total: 7/16
Probability that you were guessing: 77.3%

-- signature --
215bc93fd1e452bd483b437ca134ee648c1c035a

DaveyF's picture

Good grief, you took how much time to write that drivel, LMAO. (oh forgot, you are a 'good sport!)

Unfortunately, you belong here: www.audiosciencereview.com

Perfect forum for a non-music loving chap like yourself.

Meanwhile, i'm getting back to the music.

Johnnyjajohnny's picture

As expected: You're unwilling to back up your claims, which is why I'm putting this to rest now.

DaveyF's picture

Back up my claims! When I hear a difference, I believe in my ears; you sir, unfortunately do not.
The drivel that you posted with all of your stats shows me that you are NOT a music lover at all...nor a musician. Too bad, as you are truly missing out on a world of enjoyment.
As an ex-pro musician, I would occasionally run into folks like yourself who are only interested in science and trying to tie that to music, never realizing that there is so very much more.

Johnnyjajohnny's picture

You're changing the subject and not responding to the original topic. Your claim was that if an analogue signal was digitized, the signal is audibly degraded. I say "back up your claim, and here's how you could do it convincingly because your current method is flawed", and you failed at that - spectacularly.
And then you think you can weasel out of it by changing the subject and throw insults, even down to how I spell, and then pretend to be triumphant.
Give me a break!

DaveyF's picture

You are claiming that a pure analog signal sounds exactly the same when it is digitized and that there is no audible degradation whatsoever. Is that your position?

Once again, you fail to understand my posts...particularly when it comes to what I put the most credence into. Unlike you, I have complete trust in my ears and my ability to discern what i hear. ( including tonal differences etc., perhaps this comes from professional musical training). Nonetheless, I will rely on my ears over any graph that you care to post. If you measure something that doesn't jive with what i hear, IMO you are measuring th wrong thing, plain and simple. I get that you don't want to accept that--nor do you want to entertain the possibility that you really don't like music. ( BTW, that is NOT an insult, just a case in fact). One of the better known audio designers, who has produced some of the better/best recognized and respected digital DAC's and other gear admits that he dislikes music entirely. Couldn't be more upfront about this...and gains my respect because of it. He enjoys the scientific aspect...and in his case, the pay check for bringing his products to market.
So, I have given you a break...and understand that you solely enjoy the science--without trusting your own ears.

Michael Fremer's picture
DaveyF's picture

Presumably you are disagreeing with the post from johnnyjajohnny?? Nonetheless, it would be interesting to see if this set is going to be released as a SACD. To me, that would make more sense to acquire than a digital pressing on vinyl. The SACD would likely be less $$.

markingr's picture

DaveyF and Johnny,
Forgive me for intruding on your very interesting and detailed discussion, but I wanted to add MHO. I by no means consider myself an advanced audiophile and do not possess the knowledge that both of you seem to own. However, from my admittedly layman's level perspective, I have a very hard time accepting any real benefits of a digital music source other than it's aspects of convenience.

When I saw my first CD playing in an appliance store in 1982, I was just amazed at both the portability and what I thought was an advantage in not dealing w/those annoying hisses, pops and skips that vinyl had but also an alleged improvement in overall sound quality. At first I bought into it and over time replaced my vast vinyl collection which I had been adding to since the early seventies. Then, as time wore on I began to notice that something just seemed to be missing, beyond the conveniences of things like no skips/pops and being able to listen to an entire album w/o the need to get off my butt to flip the record over.

So roughly ten years ago, I splurged(at least in my financial world it was a splurge) on a new audio playback system consisting of a: Rega P1 turntable w/an Ortofon cartridge, Rega Brio 3 amp, Rega R3 loudspeakers and lastly, a Rega Apollo-R CD player(which was the most expensive component in the list, I must add). Now I realize that this equipment is considered entry level audiophile yet it garnered high praise from many audiophile communities so I decided to go for it. I have not regretted that decision for a second as the performance of this system has far surpassed my expectations.

The point from this is that in the 10 years I have been playing music on this system, I can honestly say that 95% of the time when I compare the sound quality based on what MY EARS are telling me between the same title on vinyl vs. cd, the vinyl wins. I am talking about comparing old heavily used vinyl from the 70s to CDs cut in the 80s, remastered CDs from the 90s and even the latest remastered work from various sources. Now, granted, there are versions I have heard from masters like Steven Wilson that sound pretty darn good, but to me there is still just an "un-natural" aspect to the whole digital concept. After all, it is a sample, isn't it . . . even though distortion and wow and flutter and many other analog anomalies may cause headaches in that world.

Again, my admittedly layman's opinion may be lacking the empirical/statistical analysis of others, but those are just numbers on paper. As someone in this thread stated, it's all about what our ears perceive as the best in the end.

I do know that I have spent many a frustrating hour trying to figure out why certain artists have accepted how their work has been diminished because of faulty recording techniques. One example that comes to mind is the Rush catalog. Listen to their early 70s analog based recordings of "A Farewell to Kings" or "Hemispheres" and compare that to the later digital chaos of albums like "Power Windows", "Hold Your Fire" or "Vapor Trails". Perhaps it's the artist's choice of content structure that lended to that almost unlistenable "Wall of Sound" affect that is so ever present here and not the recording process itself, but I haven't heard of many engineers who have suggested they should go back and re-master an analog recording of a classic Steely Dan or Eagles recording because they screwed it up and it JUST doesn't sound right. Perhaps examples are out there and I have just never come across them.

I am a guitarist also and have many peers who are constantly telling me to try this new Fractal system or whatever . . . and after hearing them I always say "No thanks, I'll just stick to my Fender Pro Reverb, SLP Marshall, tube screamer and echoplex... BECAUSE IT JUST SOUNDS BETTER!!!" :) So you may want to put what I have said here in perspective because that's the angle I am coming from. :)

Thanks for reading!

DaveyF's picture

Markingr, I can well relate to your post. At the dawn of the CD we were told that the new format was a perfect sound forever, which unfortunately many folk believed. As such, myself and a lot of other ex-pro musicians and a’philes, were able to snap up a ton of great vinyl at more than reasonable prices. Seems like folks like Johnny here bought the Kool-aid....and still drink it. I would suspect that he will be selling his poor sounding vinyl any day now, lol.

Johnnyjajohnny's picture

Markingr, you have a preference for vinyl, and as I've stated repeatedly from the beginning that's perfectly fine, as long as it's stated as a preference.
The claim that we were arguing about was the claim that digitizing a signal audibly degrades it, and that claim hasn't been backed up.
As I explained earlier, comparing a commercially released CD with the same album on vinyl will almost always produce an audible difference, because no phono cartridge in history has had as flat a frequency response as that of almost all CD players/DACs (+/- 0.1 dB).
Although there can be many other causes (different masters, etc.), the most common cause of preference for vinyl is simply that the changed frequency response from the cartridge makes things sound different, which to many people sounds more pleasant - which it often does to me as well. But the difference is not caused by digitizing an analogue signal.

As for your example with Rush, I'm certainly not a fan of the hyper aggressive mastering and production that is so common nowadays, which is also why I have remastered so much music for my own enjoyment.

DaveyF's picture

LOL.

Paul Boudreau's picture

Too right! A piece of pie is not a pie.

Michael Fremer's picture
The claim is absurd that digital done correctly is "transparent" to the source.
Johnnyjajohnny's picture

Fremer, I have a very simple question for you, so hopefully you can also give me a very siimple answer:
What, if anything, could make you change your mind about your claim that digital isn't audibly transparent to the source/that digital audibly degrades the sound (thereby also implying that analogue is a better technology)?

DaveyF's picture

johnnyjajohnny, One could ask you the exact same question that you posed to MF, but in reverse.. What would make you change your mind that analog is superior...and that digital is in fact not audibly transparent to the source. Since you imply that digital is a better technology....lol.

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