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Remastered Beatles Stero box  Remastered beatles mono box


His reMastered Voice 

The Beatles in Mono: (13 CDs; 185 songs). All ten original UK mono albums plus 2-CD collection of the singles and EP tracks. Digitally remastered by Abbey Road, London, pressed in Japan (released 09/09/2009). Help! and Rubber Soul CDs include 1965 stereo mixes. CDs are presented in Japanese “mini-LP” format with repro miniature original vinyl inner sleeves. 44-page booklet in white carton. Six albums (from Help! to “The White Album”) are released on CD in mono for the first time.

The Beatles: (DVD + 16 CDs; 217 songs). All thirteen original UK stereo albums plus 2-CD collection of the Beatles singles and EP tracks. Digitally remastered by Abbey Road, pressed in EU (released 09/09/2009). All CDs presented in wide gatefold format enhanced with mini documentary video (for PC) and DVD (Region 0; 49 minutes). Four albums (from Please Please Me to Beatles for sale) are released on CD in stereo for the first time.

Purchase details

All 13 original stereo UK albums (16 CDs) also available separately. *Albums omitted in the mono presentation set; **mono CD which adds stereo versions of the album.
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; Magical Mystery Tour; “White Album”; Yellow Submarine*; Abbey Road*; Let it Be*; 2-CD collection of singles and EP (non album) songs.
Remastering engineers credited: Guy Massey, Steve Rooke, and Sam Okell, with Paul Hicks and Sean Magee (stereo); Paul Hicks and Sean Magee with Guy Massey and Steve Rooke (mono).
Timings are not expressed by the manufacturer, respecting analogue LP tradition.

Selected comparisons:
Original LPs: With the Beatles (mono and stereo); Sgt. Pepper; Abbey Road.
Original CD’s: With the Beatles; Revolver; Sgt Pepper.
Remastered LPs: Abbey Road; 1.
Remastered CDs: 1; Let it Be … Naked; Let it Roll (2009, George Harrison).

Recommended Reading:
The Complete Beatles Chronicle, Mark Lewisohn, 1992
Revolution in the Head, Ian Macdonald, revised ed 2005 



PART ONE: REVOLUTION IN THE HEAD 
Aaron Copland supposedly said that in order to understand the sixties you must listen to the Beatles’ music. It is hard (for ageing hippies) to believe that the band was formed almost fifty years ago and dissolved in 1970 producing twelve studio albums in only seven years. Of “the Fab Four” only two survive. Harrison hopefully has found nirvana and Lennon is probably still arguing with St Peter at the pearly gates. Whatever he had in mind the claim to be more popular than Jesus angered many but highlighted a dilemma. While the Church declined, a new generation - for better or worse - sought a guru from the psychedelic age. The Beatles changed the British mindset much more than the most popular Blues singer or rock band affected the more conservative American culture.

In 1967, Lennon’s intellectual counterbalance in the group, George Harrison, introduced the sacred element from the Hindu tradition via the Maharishi’s school. Thus we had the antidote to drug culture which the American Right grasped and bankrolled, a contradiction which caused me to leave the infiltrated organisation around the early ’seventies and make my career, by default, as a Hi-Fi Dealer.

I hope this qualifies me because (for once) this review it is not about music or performance. These are inseparable and they are well-known. My opinions and favourites are no more authoritative than yours. I approach The Beatles Remastered as a review of technology - how it serves and preserves this heart-tugging and perennial music. Does it bring these performances home? Have Abbey Road captured them faithfully and do EMI offer value for money? Most of us have bought older copies given that Beatles sales are said to approach a billion discs worldwide.

The pre-release speculation over The Beatles Remastered concerns (1) the relatively primitive recording equipment of Abbey Road used in the early albums; (2) in later years their alleged abuse of multi-miking and multi-tracking, plus post-production; (3) what the studio has done over the past four years to correct these shortcomings for the 2009 edition; and (4) - the price. On Amazon we are asked to pay £46.95 for Sony’s remastered Mahler symphonies with Leonard Bernstein on 12 fully-filled CDs review but £169.90 for 16 EMI CDs (or a penny under £200 for 13 in mono). EMI’s pricing anomaly is great considering the fact that Mahler (another ’sixties phenomenon) will sell a lot less than the Beatles to recover a single and similar re-mastering cost. Sony have proved to be responsible custodians and sonic saviours of their musical heritage. Abbey Road are prominent in sound refurbishing; they offer this service to labels worldwide. It is a big business with much recorded material over fifty years old now free from copyright. Re-mastering establishes a new term of property right.

Returning to the present reissue, Beatles Remastered , EMI’s mono alternative highlights an “authenticity” issue they were unable to resolve. It falls within topic (4) above: the post-session production and final mix. Were the Beatles’ songs crafted in mono, mindful of home and car radio sets? Was stereo an artificial enhancement or the true recreation of the studio’s space and ambience? If so, why not offer SACD hybrid discs which would offer extended resolution stereo and surround to those who have 5.1 home-cinema loudspeaker systems? It was done for the Rolling Stones catalogue in 2002.

THE BEATLES REMASTERED - (1) 1987
When the analogue tapes were first transferred to CD the opportunity was taken to standardise the Beatles catalogue globally by following the British albums (except for Magical Mystery Tour). In the following year two CDs (Past Masters Vol 1 and 2) were issued to round up the non-album singles and EPs. However the Beatles Remastered story begins in 1979 when the newly formed Mobile Fidelity label in USA issued Abbey Road (catalogue 1-023) in audiophile quality vinyl. It was transferred from an original master (which many believed at the time to be the first generation studio tape but in fact was sourced from Capitol, EMI’s US subsidiary.) It sounded far superior to the High Street product. MoFi used high-end equipment, half-speed lacquer cutting, and 180 grams of JVC’s virgin vinyl (compared to the wafer-thin 100 grams). MoFi followed with other Beatles culminating in a limited edition 14-LP box set (BC-1) released in October 1982. I retailed six of these sets, much delayed from Japan, and can confirm the fact that many were purchased for £199.99 for investment. In sealed cartons they will today fetch at least three times the cost.

By the mid-eighties Compact Disc was taking over. EMI compiled fifty-four songs on two double CD sets “the red album” (1962-66) and “the blue album” (1967-70). The eighties were well named grey and the Beatles sounded as bland as the boxes looked; of course they were premium-priced. The digital re-mastering of 1987 was attributed to one Mike Jarratt at Abbey Road. One cannot blame him for the result: 16-bit processing was in its infancy and the studio was not well-equipped in those days. In 1991 a new digital archive of the analogue masters was made by EMI for back-up and safety.

THE BEATLES REMASTERED - (2) The Millennium Collection
During the ’nineties the pressing issues (pun intended) concerned discussions and comparisons of, say, German direct-cut records with Japanese releases, but these are matters of mastering; re-mastering is (or should be) about the revisiting of the first generation of studio tapes with authentic or advanced retrieval techniques.

In 2000 the inspired “1” was issued by Apple/EMI on CD and vinyl (2-LP set). Twenty-seven songs, every No. 1 hit the band made, twenty-four in glorious living stereo; re-mastered at Abbey Road by Peter Mew. At last here was re-mastering to delight the audiophiles and collectors who, the major labels had learned, would buy the same material every decade if “re-mastered.” 1 was like a pristine vintage car and EMI was rewarded. The Beatles had been reborn and the cash registers outpaced the disc stampers: 3.7 million discs sold in the first week and 12 million in three weeks worldwide, way beyond critical or commercial expectations. Thirty years after Paul McCartney wrote to dissolve the partnership, the Beatles had refused to die. 1 was Number One in thirty-five countries and became the fastest selling album of all time. 

THE CLASH OF THE MASTERS - (3)
Get Back, Spector and the return of Sir George
Lessons learned. How to get rich quick. The next Beatles album EMI considered for reissue was the group’s final album. The most radical example of the word re-mastering: Let it Be had been recorded in 1969 but issued by EMI after the band’s dissolution. Post-production was out of the hands of the Beatles; the label had handed the tapes to Phil Spector to apply his wall-of-sound trademark. Three years after 1, Let it Be … Naked was finally issued “as it was meant to be.” Abbey Road had revisited the studio tapes and cast aside the American producer’s after-sessions mix.

Presumably George Martin relished the revenge when his employer restored the only Beatles album he had not produced. Remember that Martin, “the 5th Beatle,” was the man who not only signed the group after many producers at EMI as well as Decca turned the lads away; he was also their muse. When the Beatles strove for progress and influence, the biggest direction came from George Martin. Classically-trained, the strings and string quartets, the orchestras and the instruments of the orchestra were introduced by Martin.

By 2001, he set out with his son Giles to re-work twenty-six songs with audiophile clarity and orchestral arrangements - The Beatles Love. Whatever one thinks of the hybrid post-production (and I don’t like it) it is a well-made piece of work. But it isn’t the Beatles.

THE BEATLES REMASTERED - (4) 2009
From 2005 word began to leak of an ambitious project which was officially announced by Apple Corps/EMI on 7th April 2009 … The Beatles Remastered (as it would be called). Almost four years of rethinking aims and preparing methods before the play buttons were pressed and (I hope) the first generation studio tapes were threaded in restored original decks. The analysis was radical: this was to be EMI’s definitive digital mastering with 24 bit/192kHz sampling of the analogue tapes using a Prism A/D converter. The analogue tapes would not last forever without deterioration although EMI claimed that their own magnetic tape of the time did not shed oxide. As we all know, digital is perfect and lasts forever but the 1991 archive would be way below state-of-the art digital by today’s engineering. 

Re-mastered, but not re-recorded. What could be done about the relatively primitive recording equipment of Abbey Road used in the early albums; even if the post-production problems had been addressed? During the ’sixties Abbey Road’s pop studios were second-class and segregated by the snobbish classical engineers and producers. While the latter were creating a golden age of audiophile recording using simple but quality valve equipment, the pop studios were manufacturing products for the masses. Well into the ’eighties, when investment in new equipment came, it was solid-state with complex signal paths which degraded the sound; the engineers were not audiophiles and the demand for Hi-Fi sound was not acknowledged until well into the ’nineties. In a nutshell, and in common with almost all the majors, EMI produced rather bland studio tapes. If the exception proves the rule, Pink Floyd had enough awareness and clout to make EMI produce vivid tapes from their sessions.

In 2005, in belated recognition of the challenge presented by the much inferior Beatles tapes, EMI began a four year project with an analysis of the objectives and the material at hand. The object, you might think, was to reproduce at home a vivid recreation of original performances, but this is a simplistic Hi-Fi myth. The Beatles quit touring because live concerts were badly organised and even hazardous (I believe Lennon foresaw his demise) and the Beatles were innovative musicians. They saw recording as the 20th century’s potent medium or place to be. Electronics had gone beyond capturing a live (musical) event. The Beatles’ biographers and historians refer to the years from 1966 as “the Studio Years” and they perceptively state that the Beatles used the studio as an instrument. Abbey Road was open to them 24/7 and they used all kinds of musical, electronic and “concrete” sounds to push the boundaries.

By drugs and meditation the Beatles created. There is no acoustical event to recreate, only a soundscape. Music and lyrics heard within the mind. It was a Freudian dreamscape which was limited by EMI’s primitive engineering, not only in the early days. As multi-tracking equipment and solid-state processors proliferated in Abbey Road, the sound became, for a time, sterile and muffled.

The mono argument, referred to above, is an example of EMI’s need to define the objectives of the new 24/192 re-mastering. If the Beatles and their engineers focused on mono mixes because these were what 99% of the population would hear on their radios then was mono the “director’s cut”? In modern audiophile circles, there has been a return not only to valves and vinyl but to mono vinyl! These people think that stereo is artificial and depletes the energy of a single channel. I have heard the past and it works!

The problem of the Beatles stereo is that it is not stereo; it is very artificial use of multi-miking and multi-channels. The result is vocals from the left speaker and instruments from the right. EMI will face the problem of whether they have tracks that can be remixed. The decision announced in April 2009 (to release mono) may hint at the answer. EMI also announced that the stereo CDs, but not the mono, would be subject to some compression, but not the excessive compression of their previous discs. What is compression? It is the enemy of dynamics; all commercial records are squashed because an orchestra or a rock band would otherwise destroy your loudspeakers!!

EMI, in their well-organised product launch, withheld review copies but invited a few journalists to hear the re-mastered CDs at Abbey Road. On their own equipment the result was bound to impress - and the reports have been favourable.

My worry is that possibly, just possibly, EMI will fail. The George Harrison 2009 Remaster Let it Roll (CD already issued in June but with much less fuss) was not worth buying for improved sonics if you already own the material.

Sop Part One concludes. My aim is to prepare the most useful consumer assessment of the re-mastering rather than the earliest. The sets are very costly and offer the choices of mono and stereo sets, or individual stereo albums separately.

In Part Two (under preparation) I hope to compare the Beatles originals and prior re-masters using a wide variety of domestic High-Fidelity systems. From popular and portable systems through to three “high performance” stereo systems of different traditions. Are The Beatles voiced for a west-coast [JBL] sound, or for European [Tannoy or BBC] loudspeakers, and, finally, how do the restored Beatles sound on a Gryphon Poseidon system, probably the world’s ultimate Hi-Fi - a quarter of a million pounds and two thousand watts over a thousand kilograms of speaker towers. This system is probably more ruthless in revealing flaws - or thrills - than anything used at Abbey Road. How does each system put the musicians and the performance in the room. Sadly, product placement has clouded the issue; EMI engineers keep their favourite monitors a secret but to achieve the best results you don’t develop Kodak film with Ilford chemicals!


PART TWO: MUSIC’S GREAT SECRET

The big corporates are control freaks when it comes to cash flow from celebrity exclusive artistes. On, or just before, 9th September 2009 EMI delivered to their retailers but the rumoured sell-out was confirmed by a failure of further deliveries … including mine. Worldwide, the Beatles in Mono (made in Japan) was definitely sold out. After seven days I panicked and set out on a round trip of the three Glasgow city branches of HMV. Two had three mono sets each and the third had “put aside” one of only two stereo sets received that day.

Three hundred and seventy pounds lighter I headed home with two boxes and a smile; Part Two of my review could begin. Within minutes the bottom line became clear: the boys at EMI have done a great job, in fact quite unimaginable. Gone is the congested sound of the sixties made worse by the sterile grey of the eighties CDs. Truly, it is possible to re-appraise and rediscover just why the thrilling three are amongst the greatest songwriters of the 20th century and why the five were amongst the greatest musicians … because George Martin emerges as such; more on this later.

Your favourite songs emerge pristine; others emerge as new favourites. But before we get high on it, let’s rationalise the sound quality which EMI offer and you can buy. (1) Mono or stereo? (2) Analogue or digital sound? (3) 24 bit masters published on 16-bit resolution CDs?

(1) MONO OR STEREO?

The collectors’ mono set is packaged in a stout white carton containing authentic mini-LP presentations; they are complete with original inner sleeves and protective rice pouches. As I complete this review, it transpires that the Japanese Mono set will be an edition completed by a second print, on sale around the third week in October (six weeks after 090909). The ongoing stereo set is a larger but flimsier black cardboard box. Individual discs are presented in arty, extended gatefold sleeves, high on photos but low on protecting CDs from dust or scratches.

I guess that EMI made the mono master tapes for a future in which CDs may play a small part. As in the sixties, and again, and always, music is for “people in motion” - once for radios and record changers, now for mobile phones and palmtops; and for shopping malls and MP3 - today as before people are neither seated nor centred as the mixing engineers (with John and Paul breathing down their necks) … or the audiophiles (with wife and kids tugging).

But for serious listening, I must reject the arguments suggesting the superiority or authenticity of mono. In 1962 stereo was well established, at least as the studio master format. All Beatles albums were mixed as stereo and released as stereo. The mono LPs Please Please Me and With the Beatles were folded down from two-track tapes because the majority of youngsters listened on trannies rather than Hi-Fi in the home, or car, or headphones, etc. As the Beatles became a recording group and studio effects took over from the concept of a captured club or live concert, stereo became an important element of the Beatles’ art.

That is my argument subject to a detour in which we must define stereo. It was invented in the early 1930s by Alan Blumlein, a genius who worked for none other than EMI. Blumlein’s discovery was 2C-3D, in other words, two channels like two ears can reproduce a three-dimensional soundstage. This enigma was never fully grasped by engineers or the record-buying public.

At EMI during the sixties purist classical engineers used simple, paired mics and established a golden era of recording quality with simple, tubed amps. The audiophile art is all about minimal signal path and first generation tapes! Down the corridor at Abbey Road the pop engineers used multi-mike and multi-track tapes, so the Beatles so-called stereo is not stereo. It is an open effect which is nevertheless very pleasing. On most Hi-Fi systems I tried, the excellent Japanese pressings and a few points in favour of the early mono mixes are left behind by these revealing multi-channel effects which were an important part of the way the Beatles used so many electronic, admittedly artificial, means of generating psychedelic sound!

During the late sixties Abbey Road’s pop studios re-equipped slowly but unfortunately the complex solid-state equipment combined with anti-audiophile engineers arguably degraded the sound of the next few albums. On 31st July to 2nd August 1968 the Beatles founded Apple and recorded Hey Jude at Trident Studios rather than Abbey Road due to superior equipment and engineering techniques. Was it coincidental that this song became their biggest selling single and stayed at number one for their longest run of nine weeks?

(2) EARLIER BEATLES REMASTERS - analogue or digital? 
The 2009 remastered mono and stereo CDs sound so good that we forget they are issued on 16-bit format, already passé in 2009, and we forgive them for bypassing SACD. That is, until one turns to the Mobile Fidelity 1980-82 half-speed mastered issues on vinyl (14 albums or Box Set). All analogue, it makes an eloquent, passionate, and unassailable statement against digital. In fairness, behind the sound of the 2009 CDs we can hear the hints of more clarity and detail -- crisp and clean compared even to the vinyl, and certainly without any of the tragedy and travesty of the original CDs which condemned the format forever in the ears of the enlightened. Vinyl, in comparison to state-of-the art CD, is not just warmer, but more real, vivid and solid.

EMI released both 1 and Love on 2-LP sets. If the Beatles mastertapes are issued on vinyl, EMI will get my money like an addict pays a pusher … but only if they are pure analogue. However, the subject of this review is the Beatles on CD.

(3) PREVIOUS BEATLES REMASTERS ON RED BOOK DIGITAL 
As stated in Part One, the George Harrison compilation Let it Roll, 2009 remastered on CD, issued three months earlier, did not reach the sonic engineering of 1. Previously, in 2003 Let it Be … Naked was issued to show what could be done and to remove the controversial wall of sound post-produced by Phil Spector. At the time the Beatles disbanded this was the only album EMI gave to a producer who was not named George Martin. I found that the 2009 version has even better transparency, presence, for example the cymbals are so alive and vibrant.

But George Martin already had taken his revenge when he remastered and reissued 26 Beatles songs in the album Love in 2006. At the time, I was put off by talk of tampering with the original music and I shelved the CD after hearing less than two tracks.

 
   
“The Beatles LOVE” -- 26 songs “reworked” says EMI, but more remastered than re-arranged (by George Martin in 2006). Pictured here in CD, 2-LP and DVD-audio formats (do not confuse with the DVD film). The DVD-a states compatible with all DVD players but few will access 24-bit/96kHz PCM layer embedded on the DVD-audio as opposed to the 5.1 Dolby and 5.1 DTS which are lower resolution. The 24/96 is the reality glimpse into the future of sound.”  

The best discoveries are sometimes made upon revisiting. This one became a revelation. Why? At first I simply played it through, unable to press stop. Then I rationalised the purism and genius of Mr (sorry) Sir George; the fifth Beatle, the man who produced their albums. The essence of the group genius was not only five heads better than one but the spontaneity: there were no hard lines drawn between the composing, the performing, and the arranging. And there was no one better to reproduce a Beatles album than the Beatles producer. If that is not enough, Love boasted the participation and imprimatur of Paul, Ringo, Yoko, and Olivia.

For this review, I returned to it unprejudiced and Loved every minute of it. Even the arrangement of my favourite Harrison ballad, While My Guitar Gently Weeps (for which Martin scored strings just as he had done forty years before (Yesterday, 1965) and it was unobtrusive and just as successful.

And then the discovery struck me. Could it be? How could it be? The original Beatles in Better Sound in 2006 than 2009?? Oh, Sir George, the naughty boy who knew where to find the sweeties in the cupboard. I am guessing that he has used some earlier generation takes before dubbing degraded their pristine purity. Far from 60s sound plus 21st century orchestration it is all so vivid. The post-production is very simple and sympathetic. The original sound is so new I ask myself (jokingly) if they recruited a Lennon double and had a new drummer remake Ringo!! Listen to Eleanor Rigby. I am the Walrus on the Love CD is a living mammal! Somehow the 2006 sound smoothes over the artificial multi-tracking (the annoying left, right and hole in the middle): here it sounds like three-dimensional stereo, more than the 2009 issues.

I would suggest that 1 and Love, CDs now selling at competitive prices, could well be an economic acquisition of the Beatles legacy as both are so finely remastered. In both EMI issued 2-LP sets, boasting quiet surfaces, they show that although CD has progressed the digital master on vinyl brings you a more authentic natural sound from the 24 bit remake. I won’t embarrass EMI and the BPI by expressing in the Table below that my non-audiophile panel preferred the original stereo LPs from the 1960s to the 2009 CDs.

The value, the quality, the authenticity of twenty-six songs on The Beatles LOVE made me wonder if it was not this CD that most challenges the 2009 remasters except for purists, collectors, etc, and then one of my colleagues mentioned a DVD-a which revealed a surprise: there is a layer with 24 bit sound along with the lower resolution 5.1 Dolby and 5.1 DTS. The industry conspiracy is that many DVD players will down-mix these so that you don’t know what you are missing. If you have the right machine, you can access the advanced resolution PCM. Here’s why you would want to do just that.

The limitation of 2009 is that 16-bit CDs cannot reproduce 24-bit remasters taken from the analogue tapes. DVD-audio can but usually doesn’t. The trouble is that, unlike DVD-video the format is confused and limited to an audiophile niche. The major labels either don’t use it or releases dumb it down for compatibility with High Street Hi-Fi and Home Cinema, so it isn’t 24-bit PCM. Can you imagine 2009 on 24 bit resolution? In your dreams, say EMI. But Love is available as CD, 2-LP, and … (drum roll) DVD-audio with genuine 24 bit sound tucked away. One click on Amazon and I was standing at the door waiting on the post the next morning. Yes, I have died and gone to Heaven. The layers on the DVD really offer 24-bit/ 96kHz PCM stereo, or 5.1 surround Dolby and DTS (neither of which I have tried) but stereo done right is as 3-D just as Blumlein said it would be. As Love opens, the birds twitter outside your windows, and you are With the Beatles. John Lennon places his hand on your shoulder; Ringo lights up behind you as you sit at the desk checking the mix. But only if you have the proper equipment. High Street Hi-Fi is for the birds. On CD you don’t know what you are missing. And if you want to find out, let us take a further detour.  

HIS MASTER’S VOICING 
Many EMI CDs carry a product placement which is misleading (if anyone is so naïve). A domestic High Street loudspeaker brand is said to be used in the studios. Speaking to Abbey Road engineers, they smile in eloquent silence.

The problem is that The Beatles Remastered (and all records) are voiced on studio loudspeakers of more than one brand. It used to be JBL or Tannoy but now we have at least four families of sound. The relevance is that you will reproduce at home the authentic sound when using the same monitors at home. There is the American “west-coast” family from Altec which influenced the American James B. Lancing companies, Yamaha of Japan, and Zingali in Italy etc. Then there is the fabulous Tannoy sound, found in many studios of the sixties, and the “cleaner” BBC designs (manufactured by Celestion, KEF, Rogers, Harbeth, etc) and finally the super-clean active and digital loudspeakers. Sadly, the big monitors are more useful in professional fault-finding than enjoying music at home. But what do you get when you combine high resolution vinyl … or DVD-a with (say) a £125,000 / 1,000 watt / 34 drivers / 1,000 kg of 2 metre, 4-tower, loudspeakers forming a surround semi-circle … made by Gryphon of Denmark? You get, The Real Thing!

As promised in Part One, I have reviewed carefully The Beatles Remastered on various Hi-Fi systems from small domestic/ desk-top computers/ lifestyle to larger systems right up to the ultimate, the Gryphon Poseidon. The more a home system emulated the scale of the studio loudspeakers, the more the stereo system reproduced what the boys created and heard in Abbey Road. In stereo it was spooky. It was a high!

For smaller and portable systems and public address, The Beatles in Mono wins because it focuses on a simpler amplitude energy free from acoustics and phase cancellations. The original analogue sixties LPs (on a good turntable) still beat the 2009 CDs, excellent though they are. But when a young lady, just old enough to remember the sixties (!!) heard the high resolution DVD-a on the astounding Gryphon Poseidon system, she shrivelled with the goose-bumps when my guitar gently weeps and she fell on the floor sobbing. Embarrassing, humbling, but professionally very gratifying. This was no audiophile discussing techno crap; this was the acid test!

THE WINNERS 
This is not a review of the Beatles but of the formats. I have avoided describing each album’s historical, musical, or recording merits; this is well-written up elsewhere and the quality of the songs is as much your opinion as mine.

In summary it has been a great pleasure revisiting the Beatles in 2009. It has changed and humbled me. As a result of the 2009 remastering it is a rediscovery: the music will never date. Five strong and talented song-writers exchanged energies over a decade (yes, Martin, Harrison and Starr contributed plenty) and they fused the arts of imagination, performance, social comment, utter nonsense, and studio technology.

Both mono and stereo are great improvements on the first generation CDs which have grey, sterile sound much compressed. We confirmed, in this comprehensive survey of formats, that CD has advanced but vinyl is still superior, especially all in the analogue domain. Mind you, we used the awe-inspiring Brinkmann LaGrange; made in Germany it is a substantial piece of engineering. Its massive platter is a cutting lathe in reverse. The biggest surprise (shock) was the relatively unknown DVD-audio (no video content) whose high resolution shows that in itself digital sound is not flawed. I suggest that you will enjoy the Beatles in any of the top five sonic winners listed below.



Format

Issued

Comments

1

EMI/Apple “Love”
(28 songs - the album states “reworked” but it is much more remastered than rearranged.)

ADD 24 bit
(DVD-audio)
+ free CD


2006

24bit/96kHz with 5.1 Dolby and DTS options but check your system is compatible.


2


Mobile Fidelity

AAA
(LP stereo set or 14 albums available separately)

1980-82

Pure analogue, half-speed mastered, pressed in Japan.

3

EMI/Apple
“1” and “Love”

ADA
(2-LP stereo)

2003; 2006

Excellent analogue from hi-rez digital


4

EMI/Apple
The Beatles Remastered

ADD (16-CD set or available separately)

2009

Subject of this review.


5

EMI/Apple
The Beatles in Mono

ADD
(13-CD set)

2009

Subject of this review.



THE CONCLUSION 
For Beatles fans and collectors seeking authenticity and completeness, the 2009 CDs fulfil their promise to get back closer to the LPs. I doubt if we will ever see remastered pure analogue LPs. For now we are getting the best Red Book resolution.

EMI is the corporate at the Gate of Perception of Heaven and Hell. Experiencing the 24/96 digital archive is EMI’s treasure which it may sell when it pleases. But I know a man with access to EMI’s first generation studio takes. It makes me smile: I have heard the future and so can you. To experience 26 of the Beatles songs, it may be that, in four words … All You Need [is] Love. And a studio grade player which reads the advanced resolution layer of DVD-a discs. The Ayre C-5 is worthy of mention because it can do so, and you don’t need a Ph.D., and a small blue LED tells you that you are currently listening to 24/96, studio level resolution.

Jack Lawson 

Jack Lawson is an audiophile specialist and runs the Townhouse Audio Salon in Glasgow and the Music Room Newsletter


THE ALBUMS: EMI’S WORLD STANDARDISATION FOR CD ISSUES 1987 AND 2009, TRACK LISTING 
PLEASE PLEASE ME
1. I Saw Her Standing There (2009 Digital Remaster)
2. Misery (2009 Digital Remaster)
3. Anna (Go To Him) (2009 Digital Remaster)
4. Chains (2009 Digital Remaster)
5. Boys (2009 Digital Remaster)
6. Ask Me Why (2009 Digital Remaster)
7. Please Please Me (2009 Digital Remaster)
8. Love Me Do (2009 Digital Remaster)
9. P.S. I Love You (2009 Digital Remaster)
10. Baby It's You (2009 Digital Remaster)
11. Do You Want To Know A Secret (2009 Digital Remaster)
12. A Taste Of Honey (2009 Digital Remaster)
13. There's A Place (2009 Digital Remaster)
14. Twist And Shout (2009 Digital Remaster)
15. Please Please Me Documentary

WITH THE BEATLES
1. It Won't Be Long (2009 Digital Remaster)
2. All I've Got To Do (2009 Digital Remaster)
3. All My Loving (2009 Digital Remaster)
4. Don't Bother Me (2009 Digital Remaster)
5. Little Child (2009 Digital Remaster)
6. Till There Was You (2009 Digital Remaster)
7. Please Mr Postman (2009 Digital Remaster)
8. Roll Over Beethoven (2009 Digital Remaster)
9. Hold Me Tight (2009 Digital Remaster)
10. You Really Got A Hold On Me (2009 Digital Remaster)
11. I Wanna Be Your Man (2009 Digital Remaster)
12. Devil In Her Heart (2009 Digital Remaster)
13. Not A Second Time (2009 Digital Remaster)
14. Money (That's What I Want) (2009 Digital Remaster)
15. With The Beatles Documentary

A HARD DAY’S NIGHT
1. A Hard Day's Night (2009 Digital Remaster)
2. I Should Have Known Better (2009 Digital Remaster)
3. If I Fell (2009 Digital Remaster)
4. I'm Happy Just To Dance With You (2009 Digital Remaster)
5. And I Love Her (2009 Digital Remaster)
6. Tell Me Why (2009 Digital Remaster)
7. Can't Buy Me Love (2009 Digital Remaster)
8. Any Time At All (2009 Digital Remaster)
9. I'll Cry Instead (2009 Digital Remaster)
10. Things We Said Today (2009 Digital Remaster)
11. When I Get Home (2009 Digital Remaster)
12. You Can't Do That (2009 Digital Remaster)
13. I'll Be Back (2009 Digital Remaster)
14. A Hard Day's Night Documentary

BEATLES FOR SALE
1. No Reply (2009 Digital Remaster)
2. I'm A Loser (2009 Digital Remaster)
3. Baby's In Black (2009 Digital Remaster)
4. Rock And Roll Music (2009 Digital Remaster)
5. I'll Follow The Sun (2009 Digital Remaster)
6. Mr Moonlight (2009 Digital Remaster)
7. Kansas City/Hey-Hey-Hey-Hey (2009 Digital Remaster)
8. Eight Days A Week (2009 Digital Remaster)
9. Words Of Love (2009 Digital Remaster)
10. Honey Don't (2009 Digital Remaster)
11. Every Little Thing (2009 Digital Remaster)
12. I Don't Want To Spoil The Party (2009 Digital Remaster)
13. What You're Doing (2009 Digital Remaster)
14. Everybody's Trying To Be My Baby (2009 Digital Remaster)
15. Beatles For Sale Documentary

HELP!
1. Help! (2009 Digital Remaster)
2. The Night Before (2009 Digital Remaster)
3. You've Got To Hide Your Love Away (2009 Digital Remaster)
4. I Need You (2009 Digital Remaster)
5. Another Girl (2009 Digital Remaster)
6. You're Going To Lose That Girl (2009 Digital Remaster)
7. Ticket To Ride (2009 Digital Remaster)
8. Act Naturally (2009 Digital Remaster)
9. It's Only Love (2009 Digital Remaster)
10. You Like Me Too Much (2009 Digital Remaster)
11. Tell Me What You See (2009 Digital Remaster)
12. I've Just Seen A Face (2009 Digital Remaster)
13. Yesterday (2009 Digital Remaster)
14. Dizzy Miss Lizzy (2009 Digital Remaster)
15. Help! Documentary

RUBBER SOUL
1. Drive My Car (2009 Digital Remaster)
2. Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown) (2009 Digital Remaster)
3. You Won't See Me (2009 Digital Remaster)
4. Nowhere Man (2009 Digital Remaster)
5. Think For Yourself (2009 Digital Remaster)
6. The Word (2009 Digital Remaster)
7. Michelle (2009 Digital Remaster)
8. What Goes On (2009 Digital Remaster)
9. Girl (2009 Digital Remaster)
10. I'm Looking Through You (2009 Digital Remaster)
11. In My Life (2009 Digital Remaster)
12. Wait (2009 Digital Remaster)
13. If I Needed Someone (2009 Digital Remaster)
14. Run For Your Life (2009 Digital Remaster)
15. Rubber Soul Documentary

REVOLVER
1. Taxman (2009 Digital Remaster)
2. Eleanor Rigby (2009 Digital Remaster)
3. I'm Only Sleeping (2009 Digital Remaster)
4. Love You To (2009 Digital Remaster)
5. Here, There And Everywhere (2009 Digital Remaster)
6. Yellow Submarine (2009 Digital Remaster)
7. She Said She Said (2009 Digital Remaster)
8. Good Day Sunshine (2009 Digital Remaster)
9. And Your Bird Can Sing (2009 Digital Remaster)
10. For No One (2009 Digital Remaster)
11. Doctor Robert (2009 Digital Remaster)
12. I Want To Tell You (2009 Digital Remaster)
13. Got To Get You Into My Life (2009 Digital Remaster)
14. Tomorrow Never Knows (2009 Digital Remaster)
15. Revolver Documentary

SGT. PEPPER'S LONELY HEARTS CLUB BAND
1. Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (2009 Digital Remaster)
2. With A Little Help From My Friends (2009 Digital Remaster)
3. Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds (2009 Digital Remaster)
4. Getting Better (2009 Digital Remaster)
5. Fixing A Hole (2009 Digital Remaster)
6. She's Leaving Home (2009 Digital Remaster)
7. Being For The Benefit Of Mr Kite! (2009 Digital Remaster)
8. Within You Without You (2009 Digital Remaster)
9. When I'm Sixty Four (2009 Digital Remaster)
10. Lovely Rita (2009 Digital Remaster)
11. Good Morning Good Morning (2009 Digital Remaster)
12. Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise) (2009 Digital Remaster)
13. A Day In The Life (2009 Digital Remaster)
14. Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band Documentary

MAGICAL MYSTERY TOUR
1. Magical Mystery Tour (2009 Digital Remaster)
2. The Fool On The Hill (2009 Digital Remaster)
3. Flying (2009 Digital Remaster)
4. Blue Jay Way (2009 Digital Remaster)
5. Your Mother Should Know (2009 Digital Remaster)
6. I Am The Walrus (2009 Digital Remaster)
7. Hello, Goodbye (2009 Digital Remaster)
8. Strawberry Fields Forever (2009 Digital Remaster)
9. Penny Lane (2009 Digital Remaster)
10. Baby, You're A Rich Man (2009 Digital Remaster)
11. All You Need Is Love (2009 Digital Remaster)
12. Magical Mystery Tour Documentary

THE BEATLES (White)

CD 1
1. Back In The U.S.S.R. (2009 Digital Remaster)
2. Dear Prudence (2009 Digital Remaster)
3. Glass Onion (2009 Digital Remaster)
4. Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da (2009 Digital Remaster)
5. Wild Honey Pie (2009 Digital Remaster)
6. The Continuing Story Of Bungalow Bill (2009 Digital Remaster)
7. While My Guitar Gently Weeps (2009 Digital Remaster)
8. Happiness Is A Warm Gun (2009 Digital Remaster)
9. Martha My Dear (2009 Digital Remaster)
10. I'm So Tired (2009 Digital Remaster)
11. Blackbird (2009 Digital Remaster)
12. Piggies (2009 Digital Remaster)
13. Rocky Raccoon (2009 Digital Remaster)
14. Don't Pass Me By (2009 Digital Remaster)
15. Why Don't We Do It In The Road? (2009 Digital Remaster)
16. I Will (2009 Digital Remaster)
17. Julia (2009 Digital Remaster)

CD 2
1. Birthday (2009 Digital Remaster)
2. Yer Blues (2009 Digital Remaster)
3. Mother Nature's Son (2009 Digital Remaster)
4. Everybody's Got Something To Hide Except Me And My Monkey (2009 Digital Remaster)
5. Sexy Sadie (2009 Digital Remaster)
6. Helter Skelter (2009 Digital Remaster)
7. Long, Long, Long (2009 Digital Remaster)
8. Revolution 1 (2009 Digital Remaster)
9. Honey Pie (2009 Digital Remaster)
10. Savoy Truffle (2009 Digital Remaster)
11. Cry Baby Cry (2009 Digital Remaster)
12. Revolution 9 (2009 Digital Remaster)
13. Good Night (2009 Digital Remaster)
14. The Beatles Documentary

YELLOW SUBMARINE
1. Yellow Submarine (2009 Digital Remaster)
2. Only A Northern Song (2009 Digital Remaster)
3. All Together Now (2009 Digital Remaster)
4. Hey Bulldog (2009 Digital Remaster)
5. It's All Too Much (2009 Digital Remaster)
6. All You Need Is Love (2009 Digital Remaster)
7. Pepperland (2009 Digital Remaster)
8. Sea Of Time (2009 Digital Remaster)
9. Sea Of Holes (2009 Digital Remaster)
10. Sea Of Monsters (2009 Digital Remaster)
11. March Of The Meanies (2009 Digital Remaster)
12. Pepperland Laid Waste (2009 Digital Remaster)
13. Yellow Submarine In Pepperland (2009 Digital Remaster)
14. Yellow Submarine Documentary

ABBEY ROAD
1. Come Together (2009 Digital Remaster)
2. Something (2009 Digital Remaster)
3. Maxwell's Silver Hammer (2009 Digital Remaster)
4. Oh! Darling (2009 Digital Remaster)
5. Octopus's Garden (2009 Digital Remaster)
6. I Want You (She's So Heavy) (2009 Digital Remaster)
7. Here Comes The Sun (2009 Digital Remaster)
8. Because (2009 Digital Remaster)
9. You Never Give Me Your Money (2009 Digital Remaster)
10. Sun King (2009 Digital Remaster)
11. Mean Mr Mustard (2009 Digital Remaster)
12. Polythene Pam (2009 Digital Remaster)
13. She Came In Through The Bathroom Window (2009 Digital Remaster)
14. Golden Slumbers (2009 Digital Remaster)
15. Carry That Weight (2009 Digital Remaster)
16. The End (2009 Digital Remaster)
17. Her Majesty (2009 Digital Remaster)
18. Abbey Road Documentary
 
LET IT BE
1. Two Of Us (2009 Digital Remaster)
2. Dig A Pony (2009 Digital Remaster)
3. Across The Universe (2009 Digital Remaster)
4. I Me Mine (2009 Digital Remaster)
5. Dig It (2009 Digital Remaster)
6. Let It Be (2009 Digital Remaster)
7. Maggie Mae (2009 Digital Remaster)
8. I've Got A Feeling (2009 Digital Remaster)
9. One After 909 (2009 Digital Remaster)
10. The Long And Winding Road (2009 Digital Remaster)
11. For You Blue (2009 Digital Remaster)
12. Get Back (2009 Digital Remaster)
13. Let It Be Documentary

PAST MASTERS (VOLUMES 1 & 2)

CD 1
1. Love Me Do (Original Single Version) (2009 Digital Remaster)
2. From Me To You (2009 Digital Remaster)
3. Thank You Girl (2009 Digital Remaster)
4. She Loves You (2009 Digital Remaster)
5. I'll Get You (2009 Digital Remaster)
6. I Want To Hold Your Hand (2009 Digital Remaster)
7. This Boy (2009 Digital Remaster)
8. Komm Gib Mir Deine Hand (2009 Digital Remaster)
9. Sie Liebt Dich (2009 Digital Remaster)
10. Long Tall Sally (2009 Digital Remaster)
11. I Call Your Name (2009 Digital Remaster)
12. Slow Down (2009 Digital Remaster)
13. Matchbox (2009 Digital Remaster)
14. I Feel Fine (2009 Digital Remaster)
15. She's A Woman (2009 Digital Remaster)
16. Bad Boy (2009 Digital Remaster)
17. Yes It Is (2009 Digital Remaster)
18. I'm Down (2009 Digital Remaster)

CD 2
1. Day Tripper (2009 Digital Remaster)
2. We Can Work It Out (2009 Digital Remaster)
3. Paperback Writer (2009 Digital Remaster)
4. Rain (2009 Digital Remaster)
5. Lady Madonna (2009 Digital Remaster)
6. The Inner Light (2009 Digital Remaster)
7. Hey Jude (2009 Digital Remaster)
8. Revolution (2009 Digital Remaster)
9. Get Back (2009 Digital Remaster)
10. Don't Let Me Down (2009 Digital Remaster)
11. The Ballad Of John And Yoko (2009 Digital Remaster)
12. Old Brown Shoe (2009 Digital Remaster)
13. Across The Universe (2009 Digital Remaster)
14. Let It Be (2009 Digital Remaster)
15. You Know My Name (Look Up The Number) (2009 Digital Remaster)

DVD
1. Please Please Me Documentary
2. With The Beatles Documentary
3. A Hard Day's Night Documentary
4. Beatles For Sale Documentary
5. Help! Documentary
6. Rubber Soul Documentary
7. Revolver Documentary
8. Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band Documentary
9. Magical Mystery Tour Documentary
10. The Beatles Documentary
11. Yellow Submarine Documentary
12. Abbey Road Documentary
13. Let It Be Documentary 

 
 


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