The Beatles – Revolver – Our Shootout Winner from 2012

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame.

MASTER TAPE SOUND on BOTH sides of this British White Hot Stamper LP! Having played scores of copies over the years, this is As Good As It Gets as far as we know. Want to be blown away by Beatles sound you never imagined you would ever have the chance to experience for yourself? Drop the needle on Taxman on this very side one — that’s your ticket to ride, baby! We were blown away and we guarantee you will be too.

Both sides of this killer pressing have all the qualities we look for on this album: vocal presence, Tubey Magic, huge weight to the bottom end, and most importantly of all, SERIOUS ENERGY. It’s also very smooth, sweet and above all analog-sounding — the grit and grain that ruin the typical pressing are nowhere to be found here.

Life As We Know It

This knockout copy clearly had the most ENERGY of any copy we played. Unlike so many copies of the album, the band here is enthusiastic and rockin’ like crazy. Right off the bat the electric guitar transients were just jumping out of the speakers in a way that no other copy managed to achieve. This copy brings the music to LIFE in a way that no other we have heard could. That’s our definition of White Hot Stamper sound in a nutshell.

Side One

A+++, super clear and clean and rockin’ like you will not believe. Zero smear. Zero distortion. As BIG and SOLID as a rock record can sound. Not as Tubey-Magical as some other copies we heard, but is that sound really on the tape, or is that a mastering coloration? We don’t know, no one does, but we love the fact that this copy has ZERO coloration. It lets us think we are sitting in the control room for a playback with Geoff and George.

Side Two

A+++ again, but not in the same way. This side is richer than side one, but every bit as big and clear. I was tempted to award it our famous Four Plus grade, but what the hell, Three Pluses is supposed to be As Good As It Gets, and this side is definitely that.

Listen to how grungy and smooth the guitars are on And Your Bird Can Sing — they are perfection! My notes say this copy is by far the best side two we heard, and that pretty much says it all.

The Revolver Revolution Beginning in 2007

Finding amazingly good sounding copies of Revolver used to be almost impossible. The typical British Parlophone or Apple pressing, as well as every German, Japanese and domestic LP we played a few years back just plain sucked. Where was the analog magic we heard in the albums before and after, the rapturously wonderful sound that’s all over our Hot Stamper Rubber Souls and Sgt. Peppers? How could Revolver go so horribly off the rails for no apparent reason?

We Were Stumped

We’d been asking ourselves these very same questions for years. No amount of cleaning seemed to be able to bring out the sweetness and Tubey Magical qualities we heard in the rest of The Beatles catalog. There was a gritty, opaque flatness to copy after copy of Revolver that wouldn’t go away no matter what we did.

Little by little over the course of the last few years things began to change. We came up with a number of much more sophisticated and advanced cleaning techniques. The ruler-flat, super-clean and clear Dynavector 17d3 replaced the more forgiving, less accurate 20x.

The EAR 324 we acquired at the beginning of 2007 was a big step up over the 834p in terms of resolution and freedom from distortion / coloration. And the third pair of Hallographs had much the same effect, taking out the room distortions that compromise transparency and three-dimensionality. A big studio opened up between the speakers that had only been hinted at on Revolver in the past. With the implementation of a number of other seemingly insignificant tweaks, each of which made a subtle but recognizable improvement, the cumulative effect of all of the above was now clearly making a difference. The combination of so many improvements was nothing less than dramatic. Revolver began to come to life.

Dead Wax Secrets That Will Stay That Way, Thank You Very Much

Now all we needed was to find some good copies. Without risking priceless trade secrets, let’s just say that over the last few years we’ve noticed certain markings in the dead wax of the Beatles records that tend to correlate nicely with better sound. Most of our top titles have them, and few of the bad sounding copies did. In our world that’s the vinyl equivalent of the Rosetta Stone. It gives us a big leg up when doing these Beatles shootouts. Of course we still have to clean the records and we still have to play them to see how they sort out, but knowing which stampers have the best chance of actually being good is a huge help in the battle against mediocre mastering.

We can tell you this potentially helpful piece of information about Revolver pressings: no original Yellow and Black British pressing has ever fared well in a shootout we’ve conducted. The better your stereo gets, the more bandwidth-limited, distorted, compressed and congested the originals will reveal themselves to be.

At the risk of being definitive about things that are better left ill-defined, I would say that the Number One quality we look for in a pressing is that element of Life or Energy. We can put up with many shortcomings, even including tonality problems, but when a record fails to convey the spirit and enthusiasm of the musicians, it’s pretty much over. You might as well be playing a CD.

More Audiophile Bashing

The most serious fault of the typical Half-Speed Mastered LP is not tonal incorrectness or poor bass definition, although you will have a hard time finding one that doesn’t suffer from both. It’s Dead As A Doornail sound, plain and simple. And most Heavy Vinyl pressings coming down the pike these days are as guilty of this sin as their audiophile forerunners from the ’70s. The average Sundazed record I throw on my turntable sounds like it’s playing in another room. What audiophile in his right mind could possibly find that quality appealing? But Sundazed and other companies just like them keep turning out this crap; somebody must be buying it.

So how does the famous MoFi pressing of Revolver sound? In a word, clean. Also not as crude as the average British import, and far better than any Japanese or domestic pressing we heard. But it’s dead, man. It’s so dead.


Side Two

Good Day Sunshine
And Your Bird Can Sing
For No One
Dr. Robert
I Want To Tell You
Got To Get You Into My Life
Tomorrow Never Knows

AMG 5 Star Review!

All the rules fell by the wayside with Revolver, as the Beatles began exploring new sonic territory, lyrical subjects, and styles of composition. It wasn’t just Lennon and McCartney, either — Harrison staked out his own dark territory with the tightly wound, cynical rocker “Taxman”; the jaunty yet dissonant “I Want to Tell You”; and “Love You To,” George’s first and best foray into Indian music. Such explorations were bold, yet they were eclipsed by Lennon’s trippy kaleidoscopes of sound.

His most straightforward number was “Doctor Robert,” an ode to his dealer, and things just got stranger from there as he buried “And Your Bird Can Sing” in a maze of multi-tracked guitars, gave Ringo a charmingly hallucinogenic slice of childhood whimsy in “Yellow Submarine,” and then capped it off with a triptych of bad trips: the spiraling “She Said She Said”; the crawling, druggy “I’m Only Sleeping”; and “Tomorrow Never Knows,” a pure nightmare where John sang portions of the Tibetan Book of the Dead into a suspended microphone over Ringo’s thundering, menacing drumbeats and layers of overdubbed, phased guitars and tape loops.

McCartney’s experiments were formal, as he tried on every pop style from chamber pop to soul, and when placed alongside Lennon’s and Harrison’s outright experimentations, McCartney’s songcraft becomes all the more impressive. The biggest miracle of Revolver may be that the Beatles covered so much new stylistic ground and executed it perfectly on one record, or it may be that all of it holds together perfectly. Either way, its daring sonic adventures and consistently stunning songcraft set the standard for what pop/rock could achieve. Even after Sgt. Pepper, Revolver stands as the ultimate modern pop album and it’s still as emulated as it was upon its original release.