Wednesday, September 30, 2009

A Few More Thoughts on the 2009 Beatles Remasters

These 2009 remasters are a quantum leap for CD, and dramatically close the gap between the old compact discs and analog vinyl. There's no question on that. It's now at the point where someone without an expensive turntable and cartridge (to say nothing of the high-priced UK records) can be perfectly happy that they're hearing The Beatles' albums as their creators intended.

Naturally, there will always be differences of opinion. To my ears, the 2009 remasters are spectacular and damn near perfect. I think it's as good as compact discs can possibly sound, and when the new digital masters are released on LP, it will sound even better. My first Beatles records were the "1987 digital" versions, and they were a revelation over the crummy CDs.

Do the vintage analog LPs sound better than the 2009 remastered CDs? I think the Parlephones are still the best, but that gap is far closer than it was before. As for the US Capitol pressings...I think the the new CDs beat the Capitols. I have an early press US Abbey Road that is beautiful, and side one of Magical Mystery Tour sounds really great, but that's about it. Capitol LPs are always so dense and muddy. Even the crown jewel of my collection - the mono Sgt Pepper's on Capitol - is needlessly heavy and dark.

The problem, as I've mentioned before, is that the UK records - especially the mono albums - are very expensive. You can purchase the mono or stereo box sets for much less money overall.

I see this as a win-win for everyone. The audiophiles and collectors will continue to seek out the best UK records and have the best sounding Beatles songs anywhere. But now the rest of us have something that is tantalizingly close. To most people on the street, The Beatles have never sounded better.

My plan right now is to save up for the Mono Box, and then hunt down the LPs one by one. I'm crossing my fingers in hopes that the upcoming vinyl LPs really won't be delayed until next Spring. Yes, they are digital, but they will be higher resolution and without the CD compression. They will sound better.

This is the best digital-analog matchup I've ever seen. I only wish all CDs were created with such care.

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