What do The Beatles, Pro-Ject turntables and singer Elvis Costello have in common? A 50th anniversary listening party for one of rock's most enduring albums, that's what!
Is The Beatles' "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" the greatest album ever recorded, or is it simply an extended preamble to the best song ever recorded: "A Day In The Life"? Whatever your thoughts on the album there's no denying its effect on popular music. This album defined the term "Beatle-esque" and its influence can be heard from bands as disparate as Pink Floyd, Cheap Trick and My Chemical Romance.
CNET attended a listening party at the House of McIntosh in New York for a 50th anniversary remix of the album. The remix was produced by Giles Martin, the son of the "fifth Beatle" -- producer George Martin. The event was well attended, with musician Elvis Costello joining more than 80 Beatles fans in the audience. The event coincided with the release of two Pro-Ject turntables also designed to commemorate the anniversary.
To get the full experience make sure you put on the album... now.
Martin says the original stereo mix of "Sgt. Pepper's" was done in a hurry after the mono mix was done. He wanted to create a definitive stereo mix for the album, given that most listeners no longer listen to the mono version, using his father's original mono mix as his template.
Martin (right) played the new stereo mix in its entirety, as well as a selection of previously unreleased session recordings from the new Anniversary Edition. It will be available on LP and digital as well as surround and even a Dolby Atmos mix.
Do you really love the album? Snag yourself this limited edition Pro-Ject 2Xperience SB turntable, which is restricted to1,000 pieces. It's available in Europe for1,399 euros. (US, UK and Australian pricing and availability are unknown but that converts to around $1,500, £1,180 or AU$2,035.)
The turntable features an Ortofon 2M Red cartridge.
If the 2Xperience is #2Richforyourblood, the limited edition Essential III Sgt. Pepper's Drum turntable is 499 euros, which converts to $545, £420 or AU$725.
"Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" was released on June 1, 1967 during the so-called "Summer of Love."
The Pro-Ject Debut Carbon Esprit SB Turntable is one of the first Beatles/Pro-Ject collaborations to appear at $650/£550. It's limited to 2,500 units worldwide but is weirdly available at Best Buy in the US.
Read dozens of Beatles clippings and ticket stubs as you spin your copy of "Sgt. Pepper's." The Pro-Ject features a carbon fiber tonearm and an Ortofon 2M Red.
This $499/£429 George Harrison turntable is based on the Pro-Ject Essential III and includes an acrylic platter and an Ortofon OM 10 cartridge.
Singer-songwriter Elvis Costello was at the exclusive listening session and stayed to chat with fans after the album played. Costello wrote and recorded several songs with the Fab Four's Paul McCartney, including the Beatle-esque "Veronica." Of the "Sgt. Pepper's" album, Costello said: "Such a performance!"
Forget what you heard about a Beatles-Stones rivalry. Here, a picture disk copy of The Rolling Stones' "Get Yer Ya-Ya's Out" spins on the $350/£269 Pro-Ject VTE. (It's not sold in Australia.)
Time to get nerdy. As the event was held at the House of McIntosh you'd expect McIntosh gear to figure heavily. Here, Martin has his laptop connected via an Audioquest Jitterbug USB dongle to a McIntosh pre-amp/power amp combo.
In reference to the turntables on display, as well as the album's original format, Martin joked that he was tempted to stop playback halfway through and "turn the laptop over."
The $7,000/£8,995 McIntosh D1100 digital preamplifier accepts a USB input and is capable of decoding 32-bit/384kHz signals and supports native DSD up to DXD 384kHz. Availability is yet to be announced in Australia, but the US price converts to about AU$9,350.