The Original Pressings of Beatles Albums Are the Best, Right?

beatles help labelMore of the Music of The Beatles

Records that Sound Better on the Right Reissue (excluding The Beatles)

Nope. We think it’s just another case of Mistaken Audiophile Thinking.

Back in 2005 we compared the MFSL pressing of Help to a British Parlophone LP and were — mistakenly, as you may have already surmised — impressed by the MoFi. We wrote:

Mobile Fidelity did a GREAT JOB with Help!. Help! is a famously dull sounding record. I don’t know of a single original pressing that has the top end mastered properly. Mobile Fidelity restored the highs that are missing from most copies.

The source of the error in our commentary above is in this sentence, see if you can spot it:

I don’t know of a single original pressing that has the top end mastered properly.

Did you figure it out? If you’ve spent much time on our site of course you did.

Original pressing?

Is that the standard?

Why? Who said so? Where is it written?

Cut It Right

The domestic original Capitol pressings are awful and the original British import pressings of Help NEVER have any real top end. The Yellow and Black Parlophone pressings have many wonderful qualities, Tubey Magic for days being one of the most pleasurable, but frequency extension up top is not among them. Neither is tight, articulate bass. The old tube cutting systems just didn’t have what it takes to cut the highs and lows well.

The middle may be glorious, but the rest of the frequency spectrum is a mess.

Stop the Presses

In 2021 we found an exception to that rule.

In 2022 we found a copy on the original label that was as good as our best 70s reissue pressing on one side.

And in 2023 we found a copy on the original label that was as good as our best 70s reissue on both sides.

To date, this is the only title of an original studio album that can have the highest quality sound on the early label.

We are not ruling out the possibility of other titles being this good, but no other early pressing we have played outside of For Sale has caused us to abandon our belief that such a pressing, so different from the others, would be findable as a practical matter.

We could spend a lot of time and money trying t0 dig up such a superior pressing, but why go to all that trouble when the right reissues sound so good and have beaten everything we have been able to throw at them for decades?

And, just to be thorough, there is one record we’ve always preferred on the Yellow and Black label, this one.

I’ve Been Told…

Now if you’re an Audiophile Record Collector — and by that I mean an Audiophile who is also a Record Collector, not a person who collects Audiophile Records — you may have been told that the original British pressings of The Beatles albums are the best way to hear their wonderful music. They are not. Any Hot Stamper pressing of The Beatles will eat those originals for lunch. The originals are simply not a very good representation of what is really on the master tape, and a good reissue — the kind we sell all day long — should easily convince you of that fact once the needle gets going in the groove. This should not take long.

Bigger Issues

If you own some of these early Parlophone pressings and they sound “right” to you, however you choose to define that term, then you have problems that extend well beyond The Beatles.

There is simply no way a modern, high-quality audiophile system can play those early imports without exposing their flaws.

If you have what we like to call an Old School Audio System, the kind that you could buy twenty or thirty years ago (or today if you go into the record audio salon), then your early Parlophones might sound just fine to you. But you sure don’t know what you’re missing. 

Audio has come a long way. If you love The Beatles’ music you owe it to yourself to upgrade, tweak or modify your system and listening room sufficient to take it to a higher level, a level that will let you hear more of what the boys actually recorded. Not what an “old stereo” will let you hear, but what’s really on those amazing almost fifty year old tapes. That’s the sound that we hear every day on the vinyl we play. There’s no reason that you can’t too. (Our Revolutions in Audio commentary can help get you going in the right direction.)

As of 2021, Help sounds better to us this way:

If you are interested, click on the link below for:

beatles help label

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