The Second Disc

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Completely Fab: Beatles Remasters, Debut Single Coming to Vinyl (UPDATED)

with 16 comments

The wait is over.

This holiday season, vinyl enthusiasts and Beatlemaniacs everywhere will finally have a chance to hear 2009’s long-awaited Beatles remasters on 180-gram vinyl.

All of the albums in The Fab Four’s official discography – 1963’s Please Please Me and With The Beatles, 1964’s A Hard Day’s Night and Beatles for Sale, 1965’s Help! and Rubber Soul, 1966’s Revolver, 1967’s Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band and the U.S. Magical Mystery Tour LP, 1968’s self-titled “White Album,” 1969’s Yellow Submarine soundtrack and Abbey Road, 1970’s Let It Be and the 1987 non-LP singles collection Past Masters – are getting pressed on vinyl and released in one deluxe box.

We’ll let the press release detail the remastering and vinyl transferring process:

At the start of the restoration process, engineers conducted extensive tests before copying the analog master tapes into the digital realm using 24-bit/192 kHz resolution and a Prism A-D converter. Dust build-ups were removed from tape machine heads after the completion of each title. Artifacts such as electrical clicks, microphone vocal pops, excessive sibilance, and poor edits were improved upon as long as it was determined that doing so didn’t at all damage the integrity of the songs. Similarly, de-noising technology was applied in only a few necessary spots and on a sum total of less than five of the entire 525 minutes of Beatles music. Compression was also used sparingly and only on the stereo versions to preserve the sanctity of the dynamics.

In cutting the digital masters to vinyl, stringent safeguards and procedures were employed. After cutting to lacquer, determined to be warmer and consistent than cutting to DMM, the next step was to use the Neumann VMS80 cutting lathe at Abbey Road. Following thorough mechanical and electrical tests to ensure it was operating in peak condition, engineer Sean Magee cut the LPs in chronological release order. He used the original 24-bit remasters rather than the 16-bit versions that were required for CD production. It was also decided to use the remasters that had not undergone ‘limiting,’ a procedure to increase the sound level.

Having made initial test cuts, Magee pinpointed any sound problems that can occur during playback of vinyl records. To rectify them, changes were made to the remasters with a Digital Audio Workstation. For example, each vinyl album was listened to for any ‘sibilant episodes.’ vocal distortion that can occur on consonant sounds such as S and T. These were corrected by reducing the level in the very small portion of sound causing the undesired effect.

Similarly, any likelihood of inner-groove distortion was addressed. As the stylus approaches the center of the record, it is liable to track the groove less accurately. This can affect the high-middle frequencies, producing a ‘mushy’ sound particularly noticeable on vocals. Using what Magee has described as ‘surgical EQ,’ problem frequencies were identified and reduced in level to compensate for this.

The last phase of the vinyl mastering process began with the arrival of the first batches of test pressings made from master lacquers that had been sent to the two pressing plant factories. Stringent quality tests identified any noise or click appearing on more than one test pressing in the same place. If this happened, it was clear that the undesired sounds had been introduced either during the cutting or the pressing stage and so the test records were rejected. In the quest to achieve the highest quality possible, the Abbey Road team worked closely with the pressing factories and the manufacturers of the lacquer and cutting styli.

Lest you think that’s not lavish enough treatment for one of the most influential discographies in popular music history, the box will also come with a 252-page illustrated book written by Beatle authority Kevin Howlett, featuring chapters on each album as well as a discussion of the remastering and vinyl preparation process.

This set, limited to 50,000 copies worldwide, has a suggested retail price of $449.99, but Amazon has it for a cool $400.

(UPDATE 3:30 p.m.) Also announced today is a replica reissue of Parlophone single R-4949 – The Beatles’ first U.K. single, which featured “Love Me Do” backed with “P.S. I Love You.” (This version of “Love Me Do” was replaced on the Please Please Me album with a different take featuring session drummer Andy White; Ringo’s playing did not immediately impress George Martin, who relegated him to tambourine duties on that take!) This 45, to celebrate 50 years of Beatles on vinyl, will be packaged in the same “fruit stripe” paper sleeve that the original was contained in. It will be limited to only 4,400 copies and will hit stores October 5 – exactly 50 years to the day the original single was released.

Written by Mike Duquette

September 27, 2012 at 12:14

16 Responses

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  1. The wait is over?!? I never was waiting. This is yet another expensive cash-grab – pass.

    Bill Janowski

    September 27, 2012 at 12:18

  2. I’ve already got plenty of Beatles vinyl, so I would be interested to know to what extent the packaging reproduces the 1960’s album covers, and, in particular the methods by which they were fabricated for the earliest editions. As for Beatles vinyl L.P.’s, I’ve got all of the 1960’s Beatles albums either on Mobile Fidelity L.P.’s or Japanese Toshiba-EMI Odeon editions, or, for many of the albums I’ve got both, plus a complete set of the 1981 Japanese Red Vinyl mono editions.
    I would think though, that this will be the last time that we will see Beatles L.P.’s with the Parlophone name & logo on the label.

    Philip Cohen

    September 27, 2012 at 12:55

  3. The question I’ve always had is…did the vinyl versions of the Beatles albums ever go out of print? I mean–ever? Since 1964? One wouldn’t think so…

    Hank

    September 27, 2012 at 13:10

    • Hank,

      In recent years, Only “Abbey Road”, “Yellow Submarine Songtrack” & the hits compilation “1” were available on vinyl.

      Philip Cohen

      September 27, 2012 at 14:07

  4. Lovely set, but since I’ve got all these albums already (80’s and 90’s pressings), plus the remastered mono and stereo CD sets, and loads of other Beatle type stuff I’ll give it a miss. At £445 it’s also way out of my league!

    Simon Franklin

    September 27, 2012 at 16:01

  5. I may have missed it, but are the early classics in mono or stereo on this edition? They should be mono!!

    I think the tag for this product should be “Limited to 50,000 copies or 50,000 years, whichever comes later”

    After the fiasco with saying the CD edition would be a limited edition to push the sales (still available at half the price), they should not “press” their luck (pun intended

    Kevin

    September 27, 2012 at 16:22

    • If you look at the pic Please Please Me definitely has ‘stereo’ on the cover. The mono box will probably come out when the Visa cards for this are paid off :p

      Mylene

      September 27, 2012 at 18:52

      • Well if the early LPs are stereo, this is a wasted effort. Why bother?

        Kevin

        September 28, 2012 at 07:52

    • According to Mojo Magazine there will be a mono-version of this box next year.

      Magnus Hägermyr

      September 29, 2012 at 13:09

  6. I think the only way to collect The Beatles vinyl is on “original issues”. I am not saying they have to be the very first day of release pressings. But there is something special about having vinyl records from their time. So just get Beatles vinyl from the 1960’s. They have more meaning, whether in mono or stereo, or from any particular country. I’d rather have a somewhat scratched and used copy from 1964 than a mint new virgin vinyl pressing from 2012.

    Kevin

    September 27, 2012 at 16:27

  7. Kevin is right, as usual. Original ‘60s vinyl is a good compromise. Of course, the only true way to listen to the Beatles is having them play in your living room, but presently this is very difficult to be arranged, for a number of reasons. So I guess ’60s vinyl will have to do, provided it’s unplayed and it’s been stored in a climatized facility for the last 50 years.

    Andrea

    September 28, 2012 at 09:21

  8. I was fooled into spending $280 for my mono CD box the day it came out, under the impression it was “limited.” This vinyl box is appealing to me as I’m sure it’ll be a nice set overall, but when I think of spending $400 on The Beatles, I’d rather INVEST $400 on a true collectible. I have fantastic original mono copies of Meet The Beatles and The Beatles Second Album on Vinyl that were both over $100, but I felt it more of an investment since they’ve stood the test of time and now it’s up to me to keep their condition maintained. I find it hard to think with all the Beatle merchandising going on that any of it is truly “collectible” like original pressings and such.

    musicbybradleyjames

    September 28, 2012 at 14:02

  9. I really don’t need/want the vinyl but I hope they sell the book separately. I’m guessing there is going to be a lot of overlap with the “historical/recording notes” but I’m actually pretty interested in the remastering info.

    Anth

    September 28, 2012 at 15:53

    • Yes, put the book out seperately. I would definitely go for that!

      Simon Franklin

      September 28, 2012 at 17:40

  10. yes i have the 60s original pressings you can buy them pretty reasonable on ebay.cheaper than this set.
    also the 60s ones are not sourced from a digital master ether.if u are gonna do a vinyl reissue dont use digital tapes copy straight from analogue source tapes only.record companies are stupid if they use digital source copy tapes.ANALOGUE ONLY NOT SOURCED FROM DIGITAL CD MASTERS!!!!!!

    tw

    September 29, 2012 at 20:24

    • But every time they play the original analogue 2-track stereo mixdown masters(excepting “Help” & Rubber Soul” which are 1987 digital remixes), engineers risk wearing them out or damaging them, and besides, getting permission from Yoko,Paul,Olvia & Ringo for the 2009 remasters was very difficult. This was the only way that EMI could make these vinyl reissues happen without 10 to 15 years of negotiating.

      Philip Cohen

      September 30, 2012 at 07:21


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