Top Engineers – Geoff Emerick

Should We Follow George Martin’s Expert Advice?

More of the Music of The Beatles

More Reviews and Commentaries for Let It Be

One of our good customers had this to say about the new Revolver pressing and The Beatles in mono:

Hey Tom,

I think the Revolver new thing doesn’t sound terrible. It’s just what you’re comparing it with. Most people are going off original pressings maybe and the acclaimed mono and stereo box stuff that came out in the last 10 years. IF you don’t try one of those Harry Moss records or a 1970s pressing, you probably think the new Revolver is fine or even good. That’s my theory. Who knows.

And as far as mono vs. stereo… you know the answer to this but I’m not sure. Were those earliest records meant to be mono or recorded as if they would be put out as mono and later records – maybe Rubber Soul on – meant to be stereo? I don’t know the answer to that. But maybe that’s why people are so loyal to mono. They feel like “this is how it was meant to be heard by the artist.”

George Martin was very clear about that, the first two albums for sure and really, the first four are, for him, better heard in mono than stereo.

I disagree. I think George heard the playback on studio monitors stuck on a wall five feet from his head. Who cares what that sounds like?  Nobody who isn’t mixing a record would ever listen to music that way, certainly not in this day and age.

More importantly, who are you going to believe, your lying ears or George Martin?

This is so fundamental to understanding everything to do with audio and records.

Richard Feynman summed it up beautifully: Science is the belief in the ignorance of experts.

Watch the Let It Be documentary put out by Peter Jackson, the last part where they play the album back for everyone.

With four monitor speakers lined up left to right and shoved up against a wall.

This is how they listened to the album in order to approve Glyn Johns’ mix and the takes he chose to use?

How can anyone take any of it seriously?

TP


Beatles, Beatles, Beatles

The Beatles in Mono – Why No Hot Stampers?

Please Please Me – Which Is More 3-Dimensional, Mono or Twin Track?

Customers Really Seem to Love Our Beatles Hot Stampers

America / History: America’s Greatest Hits

More America

More Hippie Folk Rock

  • With excellent grades from start to finish, this early Warner Bros. Palm Tree pressing is doing just about everything right
  • These sides are BIGGER and RICHER and have more of the rock solid energy that’s missing from the average copy
  • “Master Tape” sound lets this compilation of gems hold its own against the originals
  • 4 1/2 stars: “History: Greatest Hits perfectly spotlights both the polished and layered production of British studio legend George Martin and the West Coast tones of the band’s folk-pop style. An essential collection for fans who like their ’70s folk with a pop sheen, loads of hooks, and top-drawer arrangements.”
  • If you’re a fan of the band, and what audiophile wouldn’t be?, this classic from 1975 belongs in your collection.
  • The complete list of titles from 1975 that we’ve reviewed to date can be found here.

THE BIG SOUND on both sides lets this Greatest Hits compilation hold its own against the originals. They have plenty of bottom end that drives these songs with energy and life. Listen for the bells on ‘Tin Man‘; they have the correct transients and harmonics.

You never quite get back all of the Tubey Magic of the originals, but the detail and richness should be enough to make you fall in love with this high quality George Martin (re)production.

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Listening in Depth to Abbey Road

More of the Music of The Beatles

Reviews and Commentaries for Abbey Road

Those of you who follow the site (or do your own shootouts) know that it’s much tougher to find great copies of Abbey Road than it is for MMT or Please Please Me. Most of the copies we’ve played just aren’t good enough to put on the site. For whatever reasons — probably because this recording is so complicated and required so many tracks — Abbey Road is arguably the toughest nut to crack in the Beatles’ catalog. 

Most of the copies we’ve played over the years suffer from too much grit and grain, particularly on the vocals. Not the best ones though. We just couldn’t believe how smooth and sweet the vocals were on our shootout winner last time around, especially on side two, without sacrificing any breath or texture.

The Power of Abbey Road

This is the final statement from The Beatles. To take away the power of this music by playing it through inadequate equipment makes a mockery of the monumental effort that went into it. Remember, the original title for the album was Everest. That should tell you something about the size and scope of the music and sound that the Beatles had in mind. 

In-Depth Track Commentary (more…)

Listening in Depth to the White Album

Hot Stamper Pressings of The White Album Available Now

Reviews and Commentaries for The White Album

More Albums with Key Tracks for Critical Listening

It’s exceedingly difficult to find audiophile quality sound on The White Album. The Beatles were breaking apart, often recording independently of each other, with their own favorite engineers as enablers, and George Martin nowhere to be found most of the time. They were also experimenting more and more with sound itself, which resulted in wonderful songs and interesting effects. However, these new approaches and added complexity often result in a loss of sonic “purity.”

Let’s face it, most audiophiles like simplicity: A female vocal, a solo guitar — these things are easy to reproduce and often result in pleasing sound, the kind of sound that doesn’t take a lot of expensive equipment or much effort to reproduce.

Dense mixes with wacky EQ are hard to reproduce (our famous Difficulty of Reproduction Scale (DORS) comes into play here), and the White Album is full of that sound, taking a break for songs like Blackbird and Julia.

Some of the Tubey Magic that you hear on Pepper is gone for good. (Play With a Little Help from My Friends on a seriously good Hot Stamper pressing to see what has been lost forever. Lovely Rita would probably work just as well, too.)

TRACK LISTING

Side One

Looks at the lineup for side one. Is there a rock album on the planet with a better batch of songs?

Having done shootouts for the White Album by the score, we can also say with some certainty that side one is the most difficult side to find White Hot stamper sound for. It’s somewhat rare to find a side one that earns our top Triple Plus (A+++) sonic grade, even when all the other sides do. (Actually what happens more often than not is that we take the best second discs and mate them with the best first discs to make the grades consistent for the whole album. But don’t tell anybody.) (more…)

The Beatles / Magical Mystery Touring – Baby You’re a Rich Man

More of the Music of The Beatles

Reviews and Commentaries for Magical Mystery Tour

Below we discuss in detail what we’re listening for on Baby You’re a Rich Man.

If you own a copy of the German MMT, play yours and listen for all the same things that we do.

For those of you interested in digging deeper, our Listening in Depth commentaries have extensive track by track breakdowns for some of the better-known albums we’ve done multiple shootouts for.

Baby You’re A Rich Man

This track is Demo Disc Quality on the best Hot Stamper pressings. As I was playing this song for the beatlmagic_depth_1176424879shootout, the thought occurred to me that if I had one track to play to someone to demonstrate what a thrill it is to have a big, expensive stereo, it would be hard to pick a better song than Baby You’re A Rich Man.

The only other one that occurs to me off the top of my head is Sergio Mendes’ For What It’s Worth off of Stillness. The sound is wall-to-wall and floor-to-ceiling and BIG as LIFE. You can’t do that with screens and you can’t do that with smaller speakers and their smaller drivers.

Once you’ve heard that sound it’s hard to get too excited about any other.


The Beatles – Revolver

More of The Beatles

Hot Stamper Pressings of Revolver Available Now

  • Here is the space, energy, presence clarity and massive bottom end you had no idea were even possible on Revolver
  • 14 amazing tracks including Taxman; Eleanor Rigby; Here, There and Everywhere; Yellow Submarine; Good Day Sunshine; Got To Get You Into My Life and Tomorrow Never Knows (!)
  • 5 stars: “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.”
  • If you’re a fan of the Fab Four, and even if you’re not, this groundbreaking album from 1966 belongs in your collection
  • The complete list of titles from 1966 that we’ve reviewed to date can be found here

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 knocked out by it and we guarantee you will be too. (more…)

The Beatles / Past Masters Volumes 1 & 2 – Digital Remastering at its Worst

Hot Stamper Pressings of The Beatles Available Now

Reviews and Commentaries for the Music of The Beatles

Hall of Shame pressing and another album reviewed and found to be perfectly suited to the Stone Age Stereos of the Past.

The late-’80s import pressings of this album are bright (the tambourine on Hey Jude will tear your head off, for example) and aggressive and very digital sounding.

Unfortunately, if you want better sounding versions of these songs, you’re gonna have to buy lots of pressings of the band’s albums and singles and EPs in order to find good sounding versions of them, which is exactly what I did back in the ’80s. It took me years to do it.

In the ’90s, when I was actually selling this awful record (because my system was just too dark and unrevealing to show me how awful it was), I wrote:

These are all the songs that aren’t on the original 13 British albums, so for those of you with the MoFi Beatles box, these 2 LPs give you all the tracks you don’t have.  

This was written so long ago that we actually refer to the MoFi Beatles Box as something an audiophile would own.

To be clear, in this day and age, no serious audiophile who loves The Beatles should have the MoFi Box Set or Past Masters in his collection.


FURTHER READING

New to the Blog? Start Here

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The Beatles – Abbey Road

More of The Beatles

More Top 100 Rock and Pop Albums

  • An Out-Of-This-World UK pressing of The Beatles’ last and arguably greatest album, with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or very close to it on both sides
  • The “medley” on side two in Triple Plus sound? On today’s modern systems, this copy can take you on a trip with The Beatles you could not have imagined was even possible when the record was released
  • The stereo to play it didn’t exist back then, but it does now!
  • This pressing might just give you a new appreciation for one of the Greatest Rock Albums of All Time, The Beatles’ Final Musical Statement, their Magnum Opus (along with Sgt. Pepper, of course)
  • 5 stars, a permanent member of the Better Records Top 100, and a true rock and pop Demo Disc

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Badfinger / Straight Up Trash on 2 LPs

More of the Music of Badfinger

Reviews and Commentaries for Badfinger

This British 2 LP reissue from 1993 was (badly) digitally remastered by a Mr. Ron Furmanek. May his name live in infamy.

It contains alternate mixes of 6 songs at 45 RPM on the second record, with equally bad sound.

The whole Apple series of remastered releases — at least the ones we played — was awful sounding and should be avoided completely. These records are nothing but Audiophile Bullshit.

If you are a record collector and must have those alternate mixes, just buy the CD. The vinyl is terrible, the CD probably sounds every bit as bad, but at least the CD is cheap and plays all the songs straight through.

If you own this record, my guess is it is pristine.

If you played it at all, you played it once and put it away on a shelf where it probably sits to this very day. Good records get played and bad records don’t. If you have lots of pristine records on your shelves, ask yourself this question: Why haven’t I played them?

You may not like the implications of the answer: Because they aren’t any good.

And that means you should never have bought them in the first place.

But we all make mistakes. Owning up to them may be hard, but it is the only way to make any real progress in this hobby.

Record collecting for the sake of record collecting strikes us as a bad idea.

We like to play records, not just collect them, and we like to play records with the best sound we can find. We call those kinds of records Hot Stamper Pressings, and finding them, and making them available to other audiophiles, has been my life’s work.

All the collecting we leave to other people who apparently enjoy that sort of thing.

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Stealers Wheel – Self-Titled

More Stealers Wheel

 More Debut Albums of Interest

  • With solid Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER throughout, this early British A&M pressing of Stealers Wheel’s debut album is doing just about everything right
  • This Brit is Tubey Magical like you will not believe – it’s guaranteed to be a huge improvement over anything you’ve heard, especially the dubby domestic pressings
  • Thanks naturally must go to the brilliant Geoff Emerick – it’s shocking to contemplate the idea that he became an even better recording engineer in the ’70s
  • 4 stars: “…the first LP from the tumultuous Stealers Wheel is a debonair affair comprised of the kind of accomplished and polished pub pop for which impetus Gerry Rafferty would become known as he subsequently rode out the decade…”

Like so many British bands on the A&M label, when it came time to master the album for the domestic market, the people in charge (whoever they may have been) took the easy way out and simply ordered up a dub of the master tape with which to cut the album.

Spooky Tooth, Procol Harum, Fairport Convention, (my beloved) Squeeze and too many others to think about all had their records ruined by sub-generation masters.

But this is the real British-pressed vinyl from the real master tape, and that makes all the difference in the world.

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