BEATLES CD sound quality....

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by kevin_tomb, Mar 16, 2002.

  1. kevin_tomb

    kevin_tomb Stunt Coordinator

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    Ive recently purchased the beatles "1" collection. The sound quality is unbelievable !! What did they do to make the sound so good?? Compared to my "WHITE" and "SGT PEPPER" it sounds worlds better, even the earliest songs. Or am I hearing just how bad the other albums are since they havent been remastered or cleaned up ever?

    I love the "WHITE" album but have never thought the sound was up to par on the CD release. It seems to be muffled and lacking bass..just bad sounding overall and not as good as the record album. SGT pepper and ABBEY ROAD are better sounding but still not what they could be as compared to the "1" collection. Are they due to remaster the whole beatles collection any time soon????
     
  2. Jagan Seshadri

    Jagan Seshadri Supporting Actor

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    They used more dynamic compression to make the tracks sound 'hotter' and more like today's CD's...which is not a good thing actually.
    When I first got '1' last year I loved how the recordings seemed to be equalized better (you have more 'body' on the rolling drum intro in "Day Tripper"). The noise reduction on tracks is...okay, though it takes away a little bit from the balance of the original mix.
    The thing I've noticed over a year of listening to '1' and comparing its tracks to the 1987 CD releases is that the amount of dynamic compression on '1' makes the mix sound stuffy. It's like taking a song played in a larger room and remixing it in an elevator. Yes, I'm exaggerating the effect for illustrative purpose here but that's what dynamic compression does: by making all the instrument volumes similar, you lose the perception of 'space' and 'air' upon playback.
    Side note: Dynamic compression is used in radio so that the signal doesn't overmodulate, and so that all the music is heard over the rumbling road noise underneath your moving car.
    I record my own tunes and mix them with very little dynamic compression. While this means that you have to turn up the volume to hear it, when the music gets louder, it gets noticeably louder, and transients have good 'snap'. Overall, recordings done this way sound more "organic" and less "manufactured". Most classical music recordings are organic in this way, and such recordings are very rewarding to listen to on a good audio system.
    I still like '1' for its improved EQ, but I wish they'd left the dynamic compressor at home. And I also wish they'd not turned up the bass so loud on "Come Together" as it's a bit over-the-top.
    Then again, '1' was marketed toward the teens of today, so the CD had to sound similar to current CD releases so as not to sound too dated, I guess. And it sounds great in the car [​IMG]
    -JNS
     
  3. kevin_tomb

    kevin_tomb Stunt Coordinator

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    yeah I agree with you about the bass being a bit overdone on come together. I was mainly refering to the equalization of the music...much more forward and brighter usually. I didnt think about them using compression though....but have noticed that the average level is very high. To be honest I mostly listen to it on my computer..lol...with fairly decent powered sony speakers. Its obvious they really boosted the bass quite a bit and who knows what else. I still think its an improvement in clarity even though its compressed dynamically
     
  4. RicP

    RicP Screenwriter

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  5. John Torrez

    John Torrez Second Unit

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    I just got all the beatle's albums on cd. Haven't listened to them all yet but as long as they sound decent I don't care.
     
  6. Greg_Y

    Greg_Y Screenwriter

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  7. Jack Gilvey

    Jack Gilvey Producer

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    On the whole, Beatles cd's are a horror compared to a good LP, or to the sound of music. The exceptions, to my ears, are much of the second and third Anthologies and the re-issue Yellow Submarine. I'd recommend the 8-tracks if you can find them. [​IMG]
     
  8. John Torrez

    John Torrez Second Unit

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    I don't think we will be getting new remasters anytime soon, so the current cd's are my only option. If and when the albums are remastered then I will sell my current cd's and get the new ones.

    Btw, why on a lot of the songs are the vocals coming out of one speaker and the music out of the other? Shouldn't the vocals be coming from the middle with the music on both sides?
     
  9. Jagan Seshadri

    Jagan Seshadri Supporting Actor

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    Does anyone know if the remix/remaster of John Lennon's album "Imagine" has been done in a way similar to Beatles '1' ??
    Oh, and look at what I found
    here.
    -JNS
     
  10. Rick_Brown

    Rick_Brown Second Unit

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    "Btw, why on a lot of the songs are the vocals coming out of one speaker and the music out of the other? Shouldn't the vocals be coming from the middle with the music on both sides?"

    Because that's how The Beatles released them. Some albums only had a vocal track and an instrumental track, not separate tracks for each instrument. In others, these were early days of stereo for pop music, and they had wierd ideas about where to place the sounds in the stereo spread. The idea of presenting a "soundstage" just wasn't happening yet.
     
  11. Patrick Sun

    Patrick Sun Studio Mogul

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    Am I the only that gets annoyed by how the voices are mixed into one channel, and the music in the other? (I know that's how some of the early stuff was recorded, but it just sounds weird to me).
     
  12. Jagan Seshadri

    Jagan Seshadri Supporting Actor

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    I only find it annoying when listening on headphones. It's not so bad through loudspeakers.

    -JNS
     
  13. John Torrez

    John Torrez Second Unit

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    Guys, Rick addressed that above. By the way, thanks Rick.
     
  14. Ken_McAlinden

    Ken_McAlinden Producer
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    Drifting off topic, one of my favorite 60s wide stereo mixes is the Flying Burrito Borthers' "Gilded Palace of Sin". It features tight two-part harmonies on a lot of the tracks with each vocalist (usually Gram Parsons on the left and Chris Hillman on the right) getting their own stereo channel. Ahh...if only the Beatles had done it that way.

    Regards,
     
  15. Anthony Hom

    Anthony Hom Supporting Actor

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    Let's set the record straight regarding the left right stereo separation on Early Beatles albums.

    Up through Rubber Soul, there has been a left-right issue, but let's first look at the first two albums.

    PPM and WTB were recorded in two-track tape for one reason: They had no four-track. This was Parlophone records at the time they were in EMI studios, and they did not have the technology at the time. So both were recorded in two track with the intent on a mono - mixdown. The stereo recordings were just the two tracks, so what can you do? Also, if you have a stereo PPM, there are some mono only tracks because they were recorded in mono.

    Onto AHDN and BFS - They seems to be using four tracks at this point because if you ever find the stereo versions of these tracks, the vocals are in the center.

    Help and RS. - An oddity here. Help is also has center vocals, but Rubber Soul does not, it has left and right vocals. What was Geroge Martin thinking? He tried to change that in the CD of Rubber Soul, but on comparison, I'd rather have the original, it sounds much cleaner.

    My source for this is the MFSL LPs that came out in a box set and are the best stereo copies of the Beatles Collection.

    Don't expect the collection to be remastered soon, until sales drop dramatically. There are too many hands in the Beatles recordings (Paul, Ringo , Yoko, Olivia, Apple, EMI, Sony, Michael Jackson, etc.)
     
  16. Rick_Brown

    Rick_Brown Second Unit

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    Thanks, Anthony, for laying it all out for us. I agree, Rubber Soul is the strangest of the bunch! I especially get a kick out of "The Word". Near the end, we hear 3-part vocals out of one side, and then all of a sudden we hear this falsetto harmony out of the other side, all by itself. Turn the balance control that way for some fun...
     
  17. Gary_E

    Gary_E Second Unit

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    IMHO,
    The 5.1 audio tracks from the Yellow Submarine DVD, are the best presentation of THE BEATLES I've ever heard, followed by the tracks from the Anthology LD.
    -Gary
     
  18. Keith Paynter

    Keith Paynter Screenwriter

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    Anthony has his facts in good order, and here's a few more tidbits to fuel the fire. WARNING - this is very long...

    The Please Please Me album featured fake stereo versions of the tracks from the first two singles, but the stereo version of PPM (the single) that appeared on the album release was a different edit than the mono single. If you can, compare the last verse of the stereo version to the mono version. The stereo one uses a different edit where a vocal flub leads to a giggle by John during the line 'Come on, come on', plus the last chorus and harmonica break are treated to a multi-tap delay sound for the entire track.

    Compression exists on the original two-track recordings because you can hear the instruments leak through on the vocal tracks, and disappear when vocals are present.

    The recordings were continually bounced from two-track to two-track, as evidenced by bootleg recordings of The Beatles overdubbing handclaps for I Saw Her Standing There, and overdub sessions for Do You Want To Know A Secret, where handclaps were scrubbed in favor of Ringo tapping drum sticks together.

    She Loves You will never be issued in true stereo, because the master session tape no longer exists, having been scrapped after the mono mix was finished for the single. When the Beatles were forced to make the German language versions of She Loves You and I Want To Hold Your Hand the first was recorded from scratch, but the Beatles were able to record new vocals to the existing backing track. Even Geoff Emerick had to create a fake stereo mix for it when the time came to create the 1966 greatest hits package A collection Of Beatles Oldies.

    With The Beatles also was not a direct portal of stereo and mono from the same master tape. A good example is the opening of Money - compare the drum playing on both versions.

    Things became more complicated with A Hard Day's Night. several tracks are assembled from different edits. The opening harmonica riff of I Should Have Known Better is solid in the mono version, but the stereo version required John to take a breath to finish the riff.

    And I Love Her is wildly different in the choice of where thedouble tracking Paul's voice occurs.

    Capitol Records had issues with the raw-sounding two-track tapes, and soaked them with reverb, especially for the release of US Second Album. And where did that extra harmonica part come from on the US release of Thank You Girl, in both the bridge and the tail end - from John, or some anonymous studio musician at Capitol Records session musician roster?

    From the earliest Beatle singles up to The White Album, mono was the dominant music format in England. George Martin and associates mixed the stereo albums with less attention to details. The Beatles themselves took a more active role in how their records would sound, especially with Revolver and Sgt. Pepper. Having their stamp of approval, the mono versions of these albums are the true versions, and it is with these facts, it makes it much harder to say which version is better.

    The original CDs need remastering in the worst way. The crown of EMI's recordings sit unrestored while 24-bit remasters of lesser catalogue titles continue to surface.

    When Capitol Records issued The Beach Boys' Pet Sounds in both Mono and Stereo in the same CD package after making the original available in the box set, I had faith that a precedent would be set, beacause it would be a great marketing decision to issue both versions of all the mono & stereo British releases on single CD's or 2-disc packages, depending on the repective album lengths.

    The Yellow Submarine Songtrack album shows the great potential in remastering the Beatles catalogue, because it was done by assembling all session master tapes, from basic rhythm tracks to sound effect overdubs, into extensive multitrack recordings and using 24/96 technology to show off the wide dynamic range and frequency response still left in the original session tapes (as heard on the Anthology CD's).

    The original CD's were issued when DAT masters and CD's were pre-empasized to attempt to correct tapes meant for pressing vinyl LP's. The oversight of EMI in not correcting these CD's for almost 20 years shows a lack of foresight on their part.
     
  19. Jagan Seshadri

    Jagan Seshadri Supporting Actor

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  20. Keith Paynter

    Keith Paynter Screenwriter

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    Pre-emphasis was an early feature of DAT recorders, intended to enhance high frequencies due to the extremely sterile sound of digital recording at the time. It is essentially the digital equivalent of Dolby noise reduction.
    If you were on the ground floor of popular music's arrival on CD, you were in for a real shock - album's like Led Zeppelin 4 were an abomination, full of hiss and created from safety copies or tapes meant for making LP mothers. This occurred at a time when the bulk of product was being made in Japan.
    An early interview with Neil Young showed his dislike for CD's and digital recording in general, and he was adamant about recording his albums on open-reel multitrack tape, beacuse there was more warmth in the analog format. Current 24-bit and 32-bit recordiing technology has come a long way in opening up the sound spectrum, but anybody with a computer and a 16-bit sound card can tell the difference between a 16-bit 48k recording and its dithered 44.1k CD-ready counterpart.
    An explanation of pre-emphasis can be found here:
    and from http://www.ee.washington.edu/consele...l/subcode.html :
     

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