The Beatles With the Beatles on 180g LPMastered from the Original Source Material: Album's North American LP Debut in Stereo
Cut at Abbey Road Studios by a First-Rate Team of Producers and Engineers: Stringent Procedures and Safeguards Ensure Optimum Sound
1963 was a very good year. Made in short order after Please Please Me, With the Beatles jumps with electricity and verve. While the band still reflects its penchant for raw rock and roll, the quartet ups its songwriting quotient with melodic tunes such as “Not a Second Time” and “Don’t Bother Me.” And even as no one could predict how the Beatles would revolutionize music and production within the next two years, With the Beatles makes clear that the group was far beyond any of its peers and pushing for more.
Part of Capitol/Apple’s quintessential Beatles catalog masters series on LP, With the Beatles has been remastered by a dedicated team of engineers that includes Guy Massey, Steve Rooke, Sam Okell with Paul Hicks and Sean Magee. Proper care and a painstaking series of steps were taken to ensure that music lovers would hear the Fab Four in all their glory with sublime clarity and transparency.
Recorded in much the same fashion as its predecessor, With the Beatles sparks with rollicking liveliness and a greater sense of tonal depth. Paying homage to Motown, the band sends up “Please Mister Postman,” “Money (That’s What I Want),” and “You Really Got a Hold On Me” with equal parts ragged urgency and poignant emotion. A batch of rich originals spans bittersweet ballads (“All I’ve Got to Do”) to shout-out-loud rock classics (“It Won’t Be Long”).
While this set has been criticized for some for containing too many covers, it’s a snapshot of the Beatles during the band’s last connection to its Cavern Club days and avoids any dull moments. Again, the production emphasizes an in-the-studio feel, with minimal effects and few baffles. Now, hear just how hard the Beatles rocked in what’s the equivalent of 3D sound. The strings of the band’s guitars and pop of Ringo’s 20-inch Ludwig kick drum resonate with punch, drive, and true-to-life imaging.
With EMI’s legendary Abbey Road Studios providing the backdrop, the four-year restoration process combined veteran expertise, state-of-the-art equipment, vintage studio gear, and rigorous testing to net what is without doubt the highest fidelity possible and authentic, jaw-dropping sound guaranteed to rival the original LPs. There is no longer any need to pay hundreds of dollars for Japanese pressings.
At the start of the restoration process, engineers conducted extensive tests before copying the analog master tapes into the digital realm using 24-bit/192 kHz resolution and a Prism A-D converter. Dust build-ups were removed from tape machine heads after the completion of each title. Artifacts such as electrical clicks, microphone vocal pops, excessive sibilance, and poor edits were improved upon as long as it was determined that doing so didn’t at all damage the integrity of the songs. Similarly, de-noising technology was applied in only a few necessary spots and on a sum total of less than five of the entire 525 minutes of Beatles music.
In cutting the digital masters to vinyl, stringent safeguards and procedures were employed. After cutting to lacquer, determined to be warmer and consistent than cutting to DMM, the next step was to use the Neumann VMS80 cutting lathe at Abbey Road. Following thorough mechanical and electrical tests to ensure it was operating in peak condition, engineer Sean Magee cut the LPs in chronological release order. He used the original 24-bit remasters rather than the 16-bit versions that were required for CD production. It was also decided to use the remasters that had not undergone ‘limiting,' a procedure to increase the sound level.
Having made initial test cuts, Magee pinpointed any sound problems that can occur during playback of vinyl records. To rectify them, changes were made to the remasters with a Digital Audio Workstation. For example, each vinyl album was listened to for any ‘sibilant episodes.' vocal distortion that can occur on consonant sounds such as S and T. These were corrected by reducing the level in the very small portion of sound causing the undesired effect.
Similarly, any likelihood of inner-groove distortion was addressed. As the stylus approaches the center of the record, it is liable to track the groove less accurately. This can affect the high-middle frequencies, producing a ‘mushy’ sound particularly noticeable on vocals. Using what Magee has described as ‘surgical EQ,’ problem frequencies were identified and reduced in level to compensate for this.
The last phase of the vinyl mastering process began with the arrival of the first batches of test pressings made from master lacquers that had been sent to the two pressing plant factories. Stringent quality tests identified any noise or click appearing on more than one test pressing in the same place. If this happened, it was clear that the undesired sounds had been introduced either during the cutting or the pressing stage and so the test records were rejected. In the quest to achieve the highest quality possible, the Abbey Road team worked closely with the pressing factories and the manufacturers of the lacquer and cutting styli.
For this project, there was no such thing as too many cooks in the kitchen. Yes, it took a village to get it right.
The Beatles With The Beatles Track Listing
1. It Won't Be Long
2. All I've Got To Do
3. All My Loving
4. Don't Bother Me
5. Little Child
6. Till There Was You
7. Please Mister Postman
8. Roll Over Beethoven
9. Hold Me Tight
10. You Really Got A Hold On Me
11. I Wanna Be Your Man
12. Devil In Her Heart
13. Not A Second Time
14. Money (That's What I Want)