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Beatles Entire Catalogue Remastered and Released - 09-09-09


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Apple Corps Ltd. and EMI Music are delighted to

announce the release of the original Beatles catalogue, which has been

digitally re-mastered for the first time, for worldwide CD release on

Wednesday, September 9, 2009 (9-9-09), the same date as the release of

the widely anticipated “The Beatles: Rock Band” video game.  Each of the

CDs is packaged with replicated original UK album art, including

expanded booklets containing original and newly written liner notes and

rare photos. For a limited period, each CD will also be embedded with a

brief documentary film about the album. On the same date, two new

Beatles boxed CD collections will also be released.

The albums have been re-mastered by a dedicated team of engineers at

EMI’s Abbey Road Studios in London over a four year period utilizing

state of the art recording technology alongside vintage studio

equipment, carefully maintaining the authenticity and integrity of the

original analogue recordings. The result of this painstaking process is

the highest fidelity the catalogue has seen since its original release.

The collection comprises all 12 Beatles albums in stereo, with track

listings and artwork as originally released in the UK, and 'Magical

Mystery Tour,' which became part of The Beatles’ core catalogue when the

CDs were first released in 1987. In addition, the collections 'Past

Masters Vol. I and II' are now combined as one title, for a total of 14

titles over 16 discs.  This will mark the first time that the first four

Beatles albums will be available in stereo in their entirety on compact

disc.  These 14 albums, along with a DVD collection of the

documentaries, will also be available for purchase together in a stereo

boxed set. 

Within each CD’s new packaging, booklets include detailed historical

notes along with informative recording notes. With the exception of the

'Past Masters' set, newly produced mini-documentaries on the making of

each album, directed by Bob Smeaton, are included as QuickTime files on

each album. The documentaries contain archival footage, rare photographs

and never-before-heard studio chat from The Beatles, offering a unique

and very personal insight into the studio atmosphere.

A second boxed set has been created with the collector in mind. 'The

Beatles in Mono' gathers together, in one place, all of the Beatles

recordings that were mixed for a mono release. It will contain 10 of the

albums with their original mono mixes, plus two further discs of mono

masters (covering similar ground to the stereo tracks on 'Past

Masters').  As an added bonus, the mono “Help!” and “Rubber Soul” discs

also include the original 1965 stereo mixes, which have not been

previously released on CD.  These albums will be packaged in mini-vinyl

CD replicas of the original sleeves with all original inserts and label

designs retained.



Re-mastering the Beatles catalogue

The re-mastering process

commenced with an extensive period conducting tests before finally

copying the analogue master tapes into the digital medium. When this was

completed, the transfer was achieved using a Pro Tools workstation

operating at 24 bit 192 kHz resolution via a Prism A-D converter.

Transferring was a lengthy procedure done a track at a time. Although

EMI tape does not suffer the oxide loss associated with some later

analogue tapes, there was nevertheless a slight build up of dust, which

was removed from the tape machine heads between each title.

From the onset, considerable thought was given to what audio

restorative processes were going to be allowed.  It was agreed that

electrical clicks, microphone vocal pops, excessive sibilance and bad

edits should be improved where possible, so long as it didn’t impact on

the original integrity of the songs.

In addition, de-noising technology, which is often associated with

re-mastering, was to be used, but subtly and sparingly. Eventually, less

than five of the 525 minutes of Beatles music was subjected to this

process. Finally, as is common with today’s music, overall limiting - to

increase the volume level of the CD - has been used, but on the stereo

versions only. However, it was unanimously agreed that because of the

importance of The Beatles’ music, limiting would be used moderately, so

as to retain the original dynamics of the recordings.  

When all of the albums had been transferred, each song was then

listened to several times to locate any of the agreed imperfections.

These were then addressed by Guy Massey, working with Audio Restoration

engineer Simon Gibson.  

Mastering could now take place, once the earliest vinyl pressings,

along with the existing CDs, were loaded into Pro Tools, thus allowing

comparisons to be made with the original master tapes during the

equalization process. When an album had been completed, it was

auditioned the next day in studio three – a room familiar to the

engineers, as all of the recent Beatles mixing projects had taken place

in there – and any further alteration of EQ could be addressed back in

the mastering room. Following the initial satisfaction of Guy and Steve,

Allan Rouse and Mike Heatley then checked each new re-master in yet

another location and offered any further suggestions. This continued

until all 13 albums were completed to the team’s satisfaction.

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Too bad they're not putting the same effort into remastering the mono mixes.

I guess it's decent of them to release the mono catalogue though.

Mixing mono demands that sounds don't compete for a space in the sonic spectrum and it's getting rarer as time passes that engineers and producers demand a mono translation of even a stereo mixed product...maybe the big shots do, but it'd be very understandable to rarely find anybody struggling with a middle class wage in the biz that mixes mono.

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