By Stephen Pate – The Beatles The Original Studio Recordings contains all the original UK studio albums of The Beatles plus 2 CD’s of their singles and EP’s. Each CD has a short video about the album that highlights what’s special about the time and recording.
With the 50th anniversary of The Beatles landing in North America, many of us are renewing our interest in the Fab Four. They were the greatest band in rock and roll and the music is still phenomenal. See The Beatles Are Coming The Beatles Are Coming
While not inexpensive, the Original Studio Recordings is a great value. The CDs cost about $10 each but the sound quality, packaging and extras are fitting for a deluxe box set. So far, I have enjoyed endless hours or pleasure listening to the music, devouring the liner notes, booklets, photographs and videos.
The 17 CDs were digitally remastered in 2009 with slavish attention to detail and the history of each song. There is no better version for sound, unless you are a mono purist or prefer the US original versions, The Beatles US Albums. The Original Studio Recordings won the 2009 Grammy Award for Best Historical Album.
17 CD’s are a lot of music. I ordered the Original Studio Recordings in 2009 along with The Beatles in Mono (The Complete Mono Recordings).
Each CD in the “Original Studio Recordings” has a unique video about the studio recording.
Some of the material in the videos comes from The Beatles Anthology. You can copy the videos to your computer or play them all at once from the DVD in the package.
14 albums plus 2 CD’s of singles and EP’s is a lot of music. Being a vinyl snob, I kept playing my EMI UK vinyl albums thinking the sound was better.
Then I started to AB test the CDs to the vinyl. I was surprised to find the CDs sound better than the vinyl. There is more bass, more definition, and the mixes are louder and have more air. Apart from the vinyl mystique, digital recordings have more dB headroom than was possible on vinyl. For instance, the bass is trimmed on vinyl to keep the needle from breaking through the groove walls.
The art of digital music is so much better than it was 30 years ago that modern digital recordings do sound better than 60s LPs. I won’t be retiring my LP collection but I do rely on the CD’s more and the ripped lossless WAV files on my computer.
Somewhat controversially, all the albums were re-mixed for stereo in this box set.
The first 4 albums of The Beatles were only produced in mono. Some of the stereo mixes were done separately from the mono versions so there are small differences.
Back in the 1960′s only Hi-Fi snobs or your parents had stereo record players.
I didn’t get a quality stereo system until the 1970s. We listened to rock and roll in mono. For some people, it makes a difference: they prefer the mono original versions, which you can get in another box set, The Beatles in Mono (The Complete Mono Recordings).
I have the stereo and mono versions and enjoy them equally. People don’t sit down in front of their speakers and listen intently to music anymore. Some people like to listen on good headphones but personally, my ears get sore. Most people just put the music on and multi-task so all the little niggles about which version has John coming in later on the harmonica is academic. I am fortunate that my office, where I listen a lot, has Dynaudio BM5a studio monitors so I get to hear everything.
The Original Studio Recordings
Here are the original EMI UK albums in the box set.
- Please Please Me (1963)
- With The Beatles (1963)
- A Hard Day’s Night (1964)
- Beatles for Sale (1964)
- Help! (1965)
- Rubber Soul (1965)
- Revolver (1966)
- Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967)
- Magical Mystery Tour (1967)
- The Beatles (1968)
- Yellow Submarine (1969)
- Abbey Road (1969)
- Let It Be (1970)
- Past Masters (1962–1970)
The links are to Wikipedia articles on each album.
Packaging includes a large box, tri-fold replicas of the original album covers, paper and plastic sleeves and a booklet (The Beatles Original Studio Recordings)
The packaging for the box set shows attention to detail. The CDs come in tri-fold replicas of the original albums, with paper and plastic sleeves for the CDs, original EMI artwork on the CD’s themselves, and a booklet with liner notes, historical commentary, George Martin’s recording notes and photographs. The CDs fit in a large black paperboard box with two ribbons to help remove the CD’s. The box has quality sleeve that has survived 5 years without a tear.
The Original Studio Recordings are also available on a USB stick, inside a green apple.
“The exquisitely crafted, apple-shaped USB drive is loaded with the critically acclaimed re-mastered audio for The Beatles’ 14 stereo titles, as well as all of the re-mastered CDs visual elements, including 13 mini-documentary films about the studio albums, replicated original UK album art, rare photos and expanded liner notes. ”
“A specially designed Flash interface has been installed, and the 16MB USB’s audio and visual contents will be provided in FLAC 44.1 Khz 24 bit and MP3 320 Kbps formats, fully compatible with PC and Mac.” The Beatles [USB].
The upside of the USB stick is you will have the best audio quality, don’t have to find shelf space for more CD’s, or spend a few hours ripping the CD’s to your hard drive. The downside is you don’t have any physical media to touch and look at. You also have to find a FLAC player that will to your stereo. FLAC files are generally played on computers or special players, although my current receiver the Sony STR-DN1040 will play FLAC files.
Some Amazon.com customers rave about these Flac versions which are 24 bit/44.1kHz versus the CDs which contain 16 bit/44.1 kHz songs. Some owners complained of related product quality problems. Generally, the sound quality of the USB stick gets rave reviews
As for the quality of the music, I can’t say enough about it. The 24-bit FLACs are absolutely phenomenal. It’s almost as if each track was painstakingly re-recorded as if it was just recorded yesterday. The separation is far better than anything I’ve heard, and I’ve collected Beatles music all my life. The vocals are crisper and cleaner than anything you’ve heard, the instruments sound as if they are right in front of you. Frankly, you can’t get better reproduction than what is contained here. That being said, I have no argument about anything that is contained in this device.
In 2012, Capital released a vinyl version of the Original Studio Recordings. The Beatles Stereo Vinyl Box Set.
For someone committed to vinyl this would be the ultimate box set.
The reviews are generally positive but the overall rating is only 3.7 out of 5.
Manufactured on 180-gram, audiophile quality vinyl with replicated artwork, the 14 albums return to their original glory with details including the poster in The Beatles (The White Album), the Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart Club Band’s cut-outs, and special inner bags for some of the titles. The albums are accompanied by a stunning, elegantly designed 252-page hardbound book in a lavish boxed edition which is being in limited quantities worldwide.
The book, exclusive to the boxed edition, is authored by award-winning radio producer Kevin Howlett and features a dedicated chapter for each of the albums, as well as insight into the creation of the remasters and how the vinyl albums were prepared. The 12&Primex12&Prime book showcases a wealth of photographs spanning The Beatles’ recording career, including many images which were not included in the 2009 CD booklets.
By Stephen Pate, NJN Network