The Return of the Fab Four

So far I’ve purchased four of the remastered Beatles albumsBeatles For Sale, Rubber Soul, Revolver and Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band.   The sound quality is amazing.  It reminds me of Super Audio CD (SACD) quality.   I can’t help but wonder what the remastered content would have sounded like on a real SACD disc, which has a sampling rate of 2822.4 kHz compared to 44.1 kHz for the CD, and the storage capacity of 7.95 GB versus the CD’s 700 MB.  Theoretically the difference should be a 7 on the Richter scale, but the reality of blind tests have shown most people can’t tell the difference, and this may be true of the new releases.  I can tell the difference, and I expect anyone who tries, should be able to hear significant differences clearly with the new productions.

To me, comparing the old CDs and the new, the remastered albums sound phenomenal.  The new sound is so clean, so bright that the musical instruments stand out with vastly more texture, and the Beatles’ voices have a richness that makes the old CDs seem faded and muddled.  However, the average person might go, “Ho-hum, what’s the big deal!”  So far reviewers haven’t said that, but I’m expecting some buyers to respond that way.

Evidently, a CD technically provides all the dynamic range that most people can hear.  To hear the difference between the first generation of Beatles CDs and the new remastered CDs, you’ll need to play them on a good stereo at home or in the car, and you’ll need to pay attention.  If music is just the soundtrack of your life played in the background while you bop through your routines, save your money and wait for the MP3 releases.  The new CDs come with colorful booklets, containing far more Beatles photos than the original albums, plus a good bit more background story for the album, but far less content than I was expecting, and each comes with a QuickTime “mini-documentary” – but I was disappointed here too, because “mini” is the apt description. (Here’s a portion of the mini-documentary from Beatles for Sale.)  I guess if they had included a longer film they would have had to cut down on the sonic quality of the music.  I own the wonderful Beatles Anthology so I was expecting the new on-disc documentaries to surpass that standard, whereas they appear to crib from it.

These are A+++ productions, but I was still wanting more from the extras.  I guess it’s bitchy of me to expect so much.  I was hoping each album would come with the definitive documentary, essay and photos that would totally capture for all time each album’s moment in history.  I just can’t get enough Beatles info at the moment.

Because the release of the remastered CDs and Beatles Rock Band are such a media event, I’m finding lots of wonderful reads – check them out:

JWH – 9/10/9

2 thoughts on “The Return of the Fab Four”

  1. I walked into a local coffee shop the other day and they were playing one of the new remastered albums. I walked out of there with a big grin that stayed with me all day.

    Thanks for this primer. It will help me (technical neophyte) in making selections.

  2. I am so glad the sound quality is that excellent and that you are enjoying these.

    I don’t think you’re being bitchy. After the release of the Extended Editions of LOTR and all the glorious extras I expect a lot from other releases and am never satisfied. With something as monumental as these Beatles releases you would think that they would pull out all the stops and just load the package up with everything plus the kitchen sink.

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