Beatles remasters – the last gasp of the CD format?

The Beatles Sgt Pepper remaster

It’s been impossible to avoid the news of the Beatles remasters and much debate has ensued within the office. Primarily, why the mono boxset has less content, no DVD, but costs £30 pounds more than the stereo boxset and which individual albums would we be buying (White Album most popular so far, followed by Abbey Road).

Although you can buy individual albums remastered in stereo, the  mono ones are only available as a set which is clearly aimed at completists. This is a shame as for the most authentic listening experience you would arguably want the albums up to Revolver in mono and the following albums in stereo.

Page after page of glowing, swooning purple prose has already been written by writers who’ve experienced epiphany after epiphany whilst reviewing the complete works of the world’s most famous band. Almost unanimously they feel as if they are hearing the music as if for the first time which is unasailable evidence of how good a job has been done given the ubiquitousness of the music and the usual cyncism with which music jouralists often greet music.

One of the most enjoyable reviews is David Cavanagh’s 3 page epic in this month’s Uncut magazine which at the same time has to be discounted due to his review being based on a 14 hour session at Abbey Road listening to the newly revealed masterpieces  (through our speakers I can only assume) as this sadly won’t be the listening experience of everyone else.

I am not going to attempt a review here, there is no need as Bob Gendron’s  exhaustive review for Tone Audio tells you all you need to know. It’s particularly good on the stereo vs mono debate for the earlier albums (coming clearly down on the side of mono)  and as he says:

“If the Beatles remasters signify the last great hurrah of the compact disc, at least the format is going out in style.”

We’d love to know if any of you have already bought one or both of the boxsets and what your thoughts are…

3 Comments

  • Tito says:

    Simplemente fabulosos, compre ayer la última caja, busque en 3 lugares diferentes y en la última tienda encintré la caja negra en stereo, llegue a casa y escuche los 2 primeros albuns, maravilla, claridad, nitidez, agudos, graves y la voz, guau !11, también tiene que ver que mis bocinas son unas 802D, pero es un trabajo excepcional, Felicidades a Abbey Road.

  • Justin N. says:

    My local Best Buy broke street on them and was sold out of the sets for the small cluster of fans who congregated for them yesterday (myself included, despite only being 22). Still, I’ve ordered the Stereo Box Set through Amazon, and after playing through The Beatles: Rock Band in a single, non-stop session, I’m now pondering the mono set as well.

    And for what it’s worth, the 5.1 “Live” mix Harmonix did for Rock Band is superb as well.

  • Dave Cochrane says:

    I absolutely love these new Beatles remasters. My biggest fear was that they would be over-compressed (like 99% of all masters these days) but these fears were unfounded. The masters have retained all the dynamics of the originals, so the music breathes and moves.
    I have to say, on a related note, that the first two FLAC24 downloads I took from this site (Charlie Wilson, and David Rhodes) I deleted very quickly, because the mastering is so awful. What’s the point in having 24-bit quality, only to squash it into a tiny dynamic range? Very disheartening. But not so The Beatles! Highly recommended. I would say the Stereo ones have the nicer sound to my ears – the monos seem to tail off at the top end a bit too drastically – but both still sound magnificent, and dyNAmic, and the packaging is very classy too. L look forward to the 5.1 remixes sometime in the next twenty-to-forty years. 10/10.

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