The MoFi LPs were not done at Abbey Road, I don't think. My understanding is that Stan Ricker cut
them, half-speed, at the JVC Cutting Center in California. Now what I don't know is, did they use
EMI masters or the copies sent to Capitol in the 60s? Apparently, there was enough of a difference
that EMI/Capitol issued multi-CD box sets of the Capitol mono and stereo versions, made from the
tapes in the Capitol vaults. I think it was more than just different LP sequences up to Sgt. Pepper,
but it may have been as simple as second-generation dubs vs the first-generation mix-masters in
England. I admit not being a Beatles triviatic enough to know those details, but apparently there
was enough demand to have two separate sets of pre-Sgt. Pepper CDs before 2009.
These new LPs were cut from a similar source and their intent is similar to what UMG did with the
6LP Mercury box set. The intention there was for the LPs to sound great, first of all. But also, the
intent was not to mimick the sound of the original LPs but rather to get as close to the master
tapes as possible, via the CD masters, which were direct 3-2 mixes from the master tapes. In the
case of the Beatles, they are using new digital sources that are judged to be closer in sound to the
master tapes than the original LPs were. There are variety of reasons this can be so, the most valid
one being better playback equipment in the modern era, better vinyl manufacturing so therefore less
need to cut records super-loud (which then allows for more dynamics, more conservative margins and
depths, and thus better tracking on a wider variety of systems) and transparent or near-transparent
digital transfer and storage of the original master content. In short, today you don't need to
achieve an excellent analog tape playback at the same time you are working to achieve an excellent
analog disk-cutting, so no compromises need be made, signal chains can be kept very simple, there is
no reason for a tape-delay or lower-quality digital delay, etc.
Bottom line, for Beatles fans, if you didn't like the 2009 CDs, you probably won't like the 2012
LPs. To my ears, the 2009 CDs were better-sounding than previous CD issues, particularly with the
good solid base and also the stereo imaging on the Abbey Road and The Beatles. The mono box set
sounds vastly superior to any original-issue mono LPs I have, especially the Capitol ones. The MoFi
stereo LPs sounded different from the original-issue Parlophone and Capitol stereo LPs, and they
sound different from any of the CDs. I would say different, not better or worse, just a very
different version of some things, less different of most things. If these new LPs sound like the
2009 CDs but with 3dB less compression and the same rock-solid bass, I'll be very happy. That said,
I can see how someone not very much into the Beatles would stick with the regular-priced 2009 CDs
and be very happy. What you should do, if you like the music at all, is compare the 2009 CDs to any
of the original LPs and also to the earlier CDs. You may find you want to upgrade, very much.
-- Tom Fine
----- Original Message -----
From: "Michael Shoshani" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Wednesday, November 14, 2012 4:13 PM
Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Interesting details on new Beatles LP reissues
> On 11/14/2012 02:33 PM, Tom Fine wrote:
>> 4. I like the fact that Magee spanks down Fremer about the Beatles and
>> dynamics compression. The Beatles LPs were SUPERLOUD in their day.
>> Original Capitol monos will overdrive any lesser preamp, only slightly
>> less so with Parlophones because they cut slightly lower peak levels to
>> fit more time on the sides. The only cuts I've ever heard that weren't
>> dynamics-compressed, stereo or mono, were the Mobile Fidelity reissues.
>> Supposedly those are not compressed, cut at half-speed from the master
>> tapes with no EQ or compression. These new cuts are supposed to have no
>> additonal compression beyond the master tapes. I'll be interested to
>> hear when my set arrives next month!
> Sean Magee has touched on the subject in a thread on the Beatles vinyl reissues on the Steve
> Hoffman forums. You won't be able to read it now because the forum software is being upgraded and
> it's been down for days; however he does say something in the thread that he may also say in this
> article (which I haven't clicked on), and that is that the new vinyl is not intended to replace
> the originals. The goal he and his team have with the remastered CDs and now LPs is not to
> replicate the sound of the records, but the sound of the actual master tapes.
> He also talks about limiting, how limiting is required for the CDs, and how the vinyl doesn't have
> that limiting, but then qualifies it by saying that the 24 bit masters had to be reduced to 16 bit
> for the CDs. So really he's talking about *dithering*, not limiting.
> So far as MoFi not having additional compression beyond the master tapes, my understanding of
> Abbey Road practice - and I know that Peter Mew is on the list, so hopefully he can clarify - is
> that they cut their lacquers directly from the first generation mixdown tapes, applying
> compression, limiting, EQ, etc as needed to the signal chain before it reached the cutting head.
> Other EMI operations, such as Capitol in the US and Odeon in (West) Germany, cut their lacquers
> from duplicate masters to which all the necessary EQ adjustments had been printed. The remasters,
> in all formats, were prepared from these same mixdown tapes which, given their age, rightly should
> be retired as accurate digital raw copies do exist. (In the Hoffman thread, Magee also discusses
> digital vs analog, and how even at 24 bit/ 44.1khz the signal is already pushing what the cutting
> head can comfortably handle, and that higher resolutions would be a waste for that purpose.)
> Michael Shoshani