Unbiased reviews of new vinyl releases, audiophile reissues, and more
Monday, September 21, 2009
In 1966, The Beatles released their seventh studio album, Revolver. Heralded as one of the first psychedelic albums, Revolver features the use of reverse guitar, tape loops, and other effects on songs such as Tommorow Never Knows and I'm Only Sleeping. Revolver may also be the height of George Harrison's influence, featuring three songs written and sung by him.
Unlike the stereo version of their previous album, Rubber Soul, which features hard-panned left-right placement of vocals and instruments--and a hole in the center, the stereo Revolver features a more natural stereo mix. Today, Myvinylreview reviews the remastered stereo compact disc, which is found in the Beatles Stereo Box Set and can also be bought as a single cd.
(The Beatles, 1966)
In preparation for this review, I listened to a tube cut vinyl (-1/-1) stereo pressing, a Blue Box era (2-box) solid state cut U.K. vinyl stereo pressing, and compared them to the 2009 remastered stereo cd. As with all of the comparison reviews in this Beatles series, I have primarily listened to complete album sides, occasionally doing song-by-song shoot-outs as needed to confirm my initial impressions.
The overall treatment given to the 2009 remastered stereo Revolver is similar to what was given to the Abbey Road remaster (reviewed here). It sounds a bit more modern than either of the vinyl copies, and once again, while there is no evidence of the use of noise reduction, there is a pumped-up quality to the bass that suggests the use of some compression/limiting and EQ adjustment.
The tube cut vinyl has the most natural presentation of the three, with a full midrange that is particularly rich in the lower end of the mids. Vocals are full-bodied, and everything flows together very nicely. On the other end of the spectrum, the 2009 remaster brings a bit more detail to the mix, with stronger bass and more extended highs and upper-midrage clarity. But at times, this greater detail comes at the expense of the cohesion of the song.
On the 2009 stereo remaster of Got to Get You into My Life, McCartney's bass sounds like he's playing it with a hammer--the bass and drums dominate the mix, detracting from the horns, which are the focal point of this Motown-inspired song. It isn't all bad, however, as during the guitar break of the same song, the accentuated upper-mids and highs bring greater excitement to the moment compared to the smoother, lower-midrage sweetness of the original. Similarly, the remaster accentuates McCartney's bass during Taxman, but loses some of the realism heard on the tube cut vinyl in doing so.
(From left, George Martin and The Beatles in studio)
The Blue Box era solid state cut vinyl stands somewhere in between, having neither the gooey, lower-midrange richness of the tube cut, nor the increased clarity and bass of the remaster. While I'm not suggesting that you immediately sell your Blue Box copy, this 2009 remaster compares very nicely and serves as a nice alternative to the at times anemic-sounding solid state Parlophone cut vinyl--and for those bothered by surface noise or inner groove distortion, the lack of these nuisances may be reason enough to buy this remastered cd.
Remastered vinyl versions of these albums are forthcoming. While details have not yet been disclosed, I believe there is the potential to better these compact discs, especially if they're mastered without any compression/limiting, in the style of the Beatles in Mono Box Set. In the meantime, even if you are primarily a vinyl listener and are waiting for the remastered vinyl, this new disc sounds markedly better than the 1987 cd, and whether you're in the car, or listening on your Ipod at the gym, your ears will thank you.
RELATED: Second Listen: Beatles in MONO (Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Heart's Club Band) Remastered Cd Review and Comparison to U.K. Mono Vinyl
First Listen: The Beatles in MONO Box Set (The White Album) remastered cd review and comparison to U.K. vinyl
Beatles Abbey Road Remastered Cd Review and Comparison to U.K. Vinyl
Beatledrops -- Samples of Beatles Mono and Stereo Vinyl, Remastered cds
Vintage Vinyl Spotlight: The Beatles Blue Box (BC-13)
Posted by My Vinyl Review at Monday, September 21, 2009