UMG received a lot of criticism, led by Mike Fremer at Stereophile (who commands the attention of
many vinyl collectors with money to spend), for the Beatles In Stereo box set of 2012. Those stereo
LPs were cut from the 2009, 44.1/24-bit digital masters. They sound like the USB drive release
(which was the same files, as FLAC), but with the distortions and suface noise of vinyl. The
packaging was quite good, however, and the luxe 12x12 color book was great for Beatles fans like me.
And, to UMG and Abbey Road credit, they did do very good LP mastering on most of the titles. I
prefer them very much to my U.S. Capitol original stereo LPs (even though those were all-analog),
but on a pure sound-quality judgement, I prefer the 44.1/24 FLAC files. I also prefer them over the
2009 stereo CD reissues, which had what EMI claimed was "conservative" dynamics compression but was
actually "toothpaste crunching" because the Beatles masters were already _highly_ compressed and
"louder" by design.
For the mono CD box set in 2009, EMI did no dynamics processing and went back to first-generation
full-track tapes. For these new LPs, they used the same tapes, did not dynamics compression, and I
think did playback on a vintage Studer J37 machine (I could be wrong about that, there was talk of
that early in the project and I'm not positive that it came to fruition).
As for the ill-fated "Capitol Albums" reissues (the two 4-CD albums of a few years ago), the only
reason these had any market at all was because at that time, only the late 80s EMI CDs were in
print. Those were not good, a combination of poor-sounding early-era ADC technology and non-ideal
playback of the tapes. People correctly described them as "washed out," "whimpy" and "un-Beatles
sounding." But the "Capitol Albums" used dubbed US cutting masters, which were usually equalized to
have tonal qualities ideal for AM radio (super-harsh midrange, little bass, squashed treble), so
they sounded dated except on really cheap playback systems. The only U.S. Beatles audio worth
having, in my opinion, is the stuff not released in the UK, like the soundtrack elements to the US
Now, all that said, I'm a dyed-in-the-wool American Beatles fan. I grew up with the Capitol album
sequences and titles. I understand why EMI and now UMG has stuck to the "authentic" and "original"
UK albums and sequences, but the first thing I did when I bought the USB drive with the FLAC files
was re-arrange everything into USA album titles and sequences, and that's how I listen to it and
choose to experience the Beatles. I'll also say that, I'll bet a decent dinner at the next ARSC
conference I attend that if someone tracked down real-deal EMI sales figured, the US Capitol albums
were what sold the most copies, and therefore by that measure they are the "official" sequences and
For more details about this new mono box set, go to Mike Fremer's website www.analogplanet.com and
search Beatles Mono.
-- Tom Fine
----- Original Message -----
From: "Paul Urbahns" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Thursday, September 04, 2014 11:46 AM
Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] hardcore collector object fetishism - Beatles in Mono LP set
> According to Billboard, "The mono records, which will be available as
> individual titles and in a 14-LP/108-page book box set beginning Sept. 9,
> were pressed from the original master tapes, all of which are in superb
> condition after the "Please Please Me" album. New pressings were A/B'ed
> with original British pressings." So it appears they were not digitally
> "enhanced?" in any way. They are the original mono master tapes. That's
> what makes the release different.
> Paul Urbahns
> Radcliff, Ky