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The Beatles Stereo LP Box Set
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A number of points raised their heads during this test. Firstly, the original masters are poor in audiophile terms. Aimed at the Dansette generation, compression and brightness was the order of the day back then. 

   Another point of interest is that a mastering engineer’s client can have a significant effect on the final product. If Apple was not so set on retaining the original EQ, I think that the Abbey Road engineers would have produced an even better sounding suite of albums. But then, we wouldn’t be listening to The Beatles as we know them. For the audiophile, is that a bad thing?

   What will be shocking to some, however, is the realisation that the source is not the be-all and end-all for a good quality vinyl cut. That became obvious in my comparisons. Both the original issue and the 1978 master used the original master tapes but both were significantly inferior to the new pressings, that use ‘mere’ 24bit/44.1kHz digital files as a source. 

   The critical variable is a human one: the mastering engineer. Mastering engineers can make or break an LP cut. I feel the Abbey Road engineers have done a fine job with this new Stereo box set. Beatles fans around the world will hear the original balances, but with much improved audio quality, fit for today's hi-fi, rather than yesterday's Dansettes! 




An LP cutting lathe at Abbey Road studios, part of the LP production process.

It cuts the groove into a soft 'lacquer'.  This is then plated to produce stampers

for the pressing machines. Note the B&W 802 monitor loudspeaker in the 

background, used for sound quality checks.



The early mono mix downs for radio and TV took precedence at Abbey Road and are considered definitive.

Less time was spent on the Stereo mixes, made after the Monos.

The Monos are for true fans and collectors – and we will be reviewing them. See Paul Rigby’s column, p73, for more.



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