The Beatles Singles Collection Cut Mostly From Original Singles Tapes

I have been assured by co-producer Guy Hayden that this 45rpm box was cut directly from TAPE and that whatever transfers were done (hence the credit) was done as they were for the AAA mono album box, to use as a reference before actual cutting in order to preserve the tapes. There are 3 unspecified singles not cut from tape due to degradation, and of course "Real Love/ Free As a Bird" because those were always digital and on Umatic 1610. Guy is 100% correct that the implication that these were not cut from tape is unfair to Apple, The Beatles and Sean Magee. The other 20 singles I was assured were cut from the original analog cutting masters from the archives, the same tape used for the original UK singles. Hayden claims every effort was made to ensure that they sound as close to their original UK singles as possible, comparing each with an original UK first edition pressing.

I of course stand by my sonic impressions. It's what I heard, but I do owe Sean an apology if I mischaracterized what he said, which I assumed was "on the record", but it's an assumption I should have first cleared with him. It's always my intention of evaluating sonics based upon careful listening and with no "agenda" for or against anyone or any company. I went back and listened again, and I stick with what I wrote. but I also think there's been an overreaction by some readers. I did not charge these were cut from digital. I wrote that's what they sound like for whatever reason or reasons.

AnalogJ's picture

Michael, I appreciate you owning up to your error. It, of course, doesn't explain why they should sound flat and mushy (inverted polarity?). I was hoping to buy this set for a killer sounding set of The Beatles' singles. I'm not sure, at this point.

But I believe, correct me if I'm wrong, you promised to eat something not part odd a normal diet if it turned out these were not digital in some way?

Michael Fremer's picture
I said I liked the packaging so much I wouldn't eat the box!
AnalogJ's picture

I was hoping to buy it for the sound (I have a few UK originals and they're great!), and then get the cool packaging. Now I'm leery.

MalachiLui's picture

so as you mentioned, the Anthology single is from digital (whether that be a file on a computer or the Umatic digital tape). and we also know "Love Me Do" is from a digital transfer of the original 7", so we just need to know what the other 1-2 digital cut are.

MalachiLui's picture

weird typing with this wrist brace on so making a few typos.

Michael Fremer's picture
Right now I want to leave them alone!
Anton D's picture

Freedom's just another word for not having to buy a crap sounding release like this!

Thank you for the warning! Sincerely!

Side note: does anyone know the actual sample rate of the Apple thumb drive that came in an actual apple several years ago?

Puffer Belly's picture

The files on the flash drive are 24-bit depth, 44.1 kHz sampling rate.

Anton D's picture

Is that good?

Puffer Belly's picture

No music style requires a dynamic range more than what 16 bits has -- 24 bits offers flexibility during recording and mixing and is not necessary for consumer delivery -- and the sampling rate is the same as what a CD has. The flash drive would have been more valuable if a sampling rate of 96 kHz had been used, the same as what's been used for the DVD-A and BD-A releases of Beatle material since LOVE. The higher sampling rates require filters that are less likely to give music that harshness that comes from the filters that have a severe cut-off.

Jim Tavegia's picture

The noise floor can be high whether it be 24 bit of 16 bit. ( just times 6 tells little). You would have to look at the wave forms when looked at in some digital audio editor software and see what the noise floor is in the quiet passages. I have seen -60db and higher in 24 bit digital as it can be the inherent noise of the room in a live recording or in the electronics used if just a digital transfer. A higher sample rate is where the benefits can be found for most recordings where you can hear more details if they are there in the recording process.

hanuman's picture

I do remember that the CD singles box set from the '80s sounded shocking and not at all like the CD album releases.

Puffer Belly's picture

and they sound better than the CD album releases from 1987-88, but the digital releases of Beatle music since about 1999 sound better.

Bigrasshopper's picture

Then it’s a mystery, because these then should sound at least as good as the “ AAA mono album box “
I too was hoping these would, at 45 sound even fuller, but obviously something critical really is different. These things don’t just happen, there is a reason and perhaps at some point someone can shed more light on the link in the chain that lead to this unfortunate review. I would very much like to hear from anyone who can add or subtract to Micheal’s impressions because as it stands my order is cancelled.

PeterPani's picture

Why they cannot just put AAA to the analog tracks in their box listing?

arthur63's picture

Perhaps with the passage of time could the 'singles' tapes have deteriorated somewhat affecting the sound quality that Michael has commented on?

samman's picture

Ok Mike, so you had to apologize because they claim nothing was digital. Fine. But Apple and all the connected parties need to explain why you are hearing poor sound quality. Is it your sub- par analog system?? LOL. I think not! I believe your analog front end is better than what they have at Abbey Road Studios, outside of the Reel to Reel players. Are they going to claim you received a defective set? Maybe. Ok, they need to send you another and evaluate the one you had. If the singles tapes are deteriorating as another poster stated, then that would have been noticed upon Apple's comparison to the original singles, correct? Something is fishy here. Pressing plant? Maybe.

mmaterial1's picture

if their reference was original vinyl first pressings, aided by mastering notes, perhaps they were originally EQed for radio play and "kiddy" turntables??
I have a few, first press, early Beatle Parlophone 45 rpm singles and EP's.
The singles sound not so good, but the EP's sound wonderful.

BRODNATION's picture

Have you checked if the Please Please Me/Ask Me Why single included in the box contains the proper single master with the reverb lower in the mix?

Dpoggenburg's picture

Being a fab fanatic, I own excellent to NM original UK pressings of all the 45s. Unfortunately, I hate A-B-ing records (one of the many reasons I love this site so much), so I only compared I Wanna Hold, Hard Day's, and We Can Work it Out. I was going to do more, but I'd rather listen to the new Mofi Dire Straits today.

SO...The original UKs are quite compressed, and especially on AHDN, the bass is virtually non-existent. I found the reissues to be generally wider band (allowing for a LITTLE more instrumental detail). Having said that, Work it Out's top end sounds pretty lopped off on both the original and the reissue.

Given this VERY limited sample, I'd recommend the new singles box IF you want to hear an excellent (and arguably slightly improved) version of the originals. However, in terms of money, time (man, that 2:40 goes by fast and that's a lot of jumping up and down from my chair) and SOUND, go with the 62-70 reissue from a couple years ago. Those sound phenomenal.

Roland's picture

Notwithstanding your disappointment at how they sound, do you think the mono records in this set should be played with a mono stylus or a stereo one? The reason I ask is that I have been told that all 'recent' mono records are in fact stereo records with the same audio on both channels, hence should be played with a stereo stylus and cartridge. Is there any way of telling? I should say that I have the Beatles Mono albums from 2014, and to my old ears, there is more detail revealed - especially the bass - with a mono stylus. But that could be a placebo effect. What are your thoughts/advice, please?

BRODNATION's picture

I would just use a good stereo stylus for any kind of microgroove record (45-45 Stereo, 45-45 Mono or True Mono) because there is no documented evidence that a mono stylus is better than a stereo stylus and the fact that a mono stylus can actually damage a stereo groove.

Roland's picture

Thanks, that seems like sound advice.
One further question - is there any way of telling by examination whether a record is 45-45 mono or true mono?