Are the Beatles groovy again?

The entire Beatles catalog has just been remastered on LP, the Audiophiliac spins the vinyl and reports on the sound.

The Beatles albums, recorded between 1963 and 1970, were made in the analog era. People all over the world enjoyed the Fab Four's music in a 100 percent all-analog state until 1986, when the entire catalog was digitally remastered. That was four years after the CD was introduced, and those not very good-sounding CDs sold in vast numbers in the 1980s, 1990s, and right up through 2009 when the catalog was remastered again in high-resolution 24-bit/192-kHz audio. Great, but the high-resolution versions of the albums remain safely in the vaults. The down-converted versions that were used to master the 16-bit/44.1 CDs in 2009 were used again to master the 14 new LPs on thick 180-gram, audiophile quality vinyl (it was actually the 24-bit/44.1 master that was used for the LPs).

That's strange, but the engineers claim the analog masters are too fragile to withstand the rigors of mastering, but why go with the dumbed-down CD masters?

Whatever, the LPs are what they are, so I eagerly sliced open the shrink wrap and put the new "Rubber Soul," "White Album," and "Abbey Road" LPs on my VPI Classic turntable and listened. Well, they didn't sound like CDs, and that was a relief. The music is still great, but how did the digitized LPs compare with my analog originals? The new ones are different. They're a little warmer, and the new pressings aren't superquiet; there's more surface noise than I'd like. They're also no quieter than my old Japanese, American, or British LPs. Apparently, there have been major quality-control issues with the LPs. Amazon sells the new LPs for $23.98 each, and I don't think the new records justify the premium pricing. I recommend searching out the old all-analog British pressings.

Capitol Records/Apple Corps will host in-store Beatles LP listening events at high-end audio retailers in the following cities. Call to confirm the event is running as scheduled.

Monday, November 26, 7 p.m. at Audio Alternative in Lilburn, Ga.

Tuesday, November 27, 6 p.m. at Audio Concepts in Dallas, Texas

Wednesday, November 28, 7 p.m. at Whetstone Audio, Austin, Texas

Monday, December 3, 6 p.m. at Pro Musica in Chicago, Ill.

Tuesday, December 4, 6 p.m. at Goodwin's High End in Waltham, Mass.

Wednesday, December 5, 7 p.m. at In Living Stereo in New York, N.Y.

Thursday, December 6, 7 p.m. at Community Audio in Philadelphia, Pa.

Friday, December 7, 6 p.m. at Q in Home Entertainment in Fairfax, Va.

About the author

Ex-movie theater projectionist Steve Guttenberg has also worked as a high-end audio salesman, and as a record producer. Steve currently reviews audio products for CNET and works as a freelance writer for Home Theater, Inner Fidelity, Tone Audio, and Stereophile.

 

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