Click on the link below to pull up the many reviews and commentaries we’ve written, as well as Hot Stamper copies that are currently available on the site.
Another in our series of Home Audio Exercises with specific advice on What to Listen For (WTLF) on PPM.
The Beatles’ first album is overflowing with sonic qualities prized by audiophiles and music lovers alike: Tubey Magic, energy, immediacy, richness, breathy vocals; in short, all the stuff you will never hear — or not hear to the same extent — on anything but the best vintage analog vinyl LPs.
Please keep in mind that vintage as used here does not mean original; the reissues, well into the ’70s, can sound amazingly good and often win our shootouts. (If you have the MoFi pressing please scroll to the bottom to read about its most glaring shortcoming.)
There’s a subtle smearing and masking that occurs on most pressings. You don’t notice it often because you have no better pressing to compare yours to. But when you have many copies of the same pressing, and you are lucky enough to discover a Hot One lurking among them, you can hear instantly how much better defined all the instruments and voices are. You hear the ambience and presence that’s veiled on other LPs. Dynamic contrasts increase. It all starts to sound right, so right in fact that you quickly forget it’s a record; you’re just enjoying the music.
Disbelief has been suspended.
Plastic or Music?
On the top copies the presence of the vocals and guitars is so real it’s positively startling at times. What started out as a great Beatles recording had turned into a great Beatles album. Now it’s a piece of music as opposed to a piece of plastic.
Just play Baby It’s You to hear what we’re talking about. When the boys all say “Oooooh,” you can pick out WHO is saying it and HOW they’re saying it.
Anna (Go To Him) is another stunner. It’s Tubey Magical with amazing immediacy and presence. The voices are PERFECTION — smooth, sweet, rich, full and breathy. The overall sound is lively and energetic with a meaty bottom end — in other words, it really rocks!
We Love This Music!
The first Beatles record is nothing short of amazing. It captures more of the live sound of these four guys playing together as a rock and roll band than any record they ever made afterwards. (Let It Be gets some of that live quality too and makes a great bookend for the group.)
In-Depth Track by Track Commentary
I Saw Her Standing There
Like any of the boys’ most radio ready singles, this song tends to be a bit bright. If this track sounds at all dull, there’s probably no hope for the rest of this side.
This track should sound lively and punchy. The best copies have excellent bass definition and superb clarity, allowing you to appreciate how the wonderful bounce of the rhythm section really energizes the song.
Anna (Go to Him)
Does it get any better? This is the real Beatles magic baby!
Note that the vocals on this track are not as well recorded as they are on the track above. As a rule they’re a bit edgier and not as transparent.
Go back and forth between the two songs a number of times and we think you will hear exactly what we mean. Although this difference is more audible on the better copies, it should still be noticeable on any Hot Stamper pressing.
P.S. I Love You
Another track with a bit of that “mixed for radio” sound. On most pressings this song tends to be bright, thin, and grainy.
Baby It’s You
Listen carefully to the middle eight section — you can hear the rhythm track levels turned down at the first bar and then back up at the last.
Some of the most Tubey Magical sound on the album — we love this song!
This is the real Beatles All-Tube-Recording-Chain Magic, Parts Three through Seven. Every track from here on out is killer.
Do You Want to Know a Secret
Even richer and more Tubey Magical. How can it be this good!?
If you know someone who doesn’t understand why anyone in his right mind would still bother with a turntable and old records in this day and age, play these songs for him. No CD can begin to do what a Hot Stamper pressing of this album can do.
A Taste of Honey
There’s a Place
Twist and Shout