Origin of the Species: The Evolution of the Beatles on Vinyl March 03 2016, 0 Comments

Dating myself a bit here, but sitting at my desk on a Saturday morning in early January 1964  listening to AM radio a song transformed my life. WCAO, the rock station in Baltimore, played for the first time I Want to Hold Your Hand. I was hooked…

The next stop was my first day of college at Penn State a few years later and getting invited into a senior’s dorm room across the hall. He had a real stereo system revolving around an AR turntable – it was completely manual and only played one record at a time! But he was playing Rubber Soul. I had listened to the album plenty of times on my GE portable record player, but this was the first time I actually heard it. When I returned for my sophomore year I had my own AR turntable…

With the savings from my summer job, I could buy two records a week and still survive the entire school year. There was a record shop on College Avenue where I could actually listen to records before purchasing them. One day the owner said to me – “ I have the Beatles on British import…”

It turns out that Capitol Records, by putting fewer songs on each record, could create more Beatle albums to sell. But to me that was not the real difference. The British records sounded better due mostly to the better quality of the vinyl itself. The surfaces were quieter, the music more vibrant to an astonishing level. Could life with the Beatles get any better…?

Later, while working in a stereo store, the manager of the record store down the street asked if we would lend him a stereo system so his customers could hear good sound. He offered to sell us records at cost. Was this heaven? Then David stated – “ Ben, I have the Beatles on Japanese import…”

The Japanese are wonderfully obsessed with music’s recorded sound quality. Their discs are heavier and hence flatter, the vinyl purer. The Beatles sounded even better – better imaging, better separation, better bass response. Certainly this was the best the Beatles could be…

At our stereo store, we decided to carry records from a new audiophile label called Mobile Fidelity. They mastered at ½ speed and used only virgin vinyl. Albums from Steely Dan and of course Pink Floyd were significantly better sounding than the normal commercial releases. Then the Mo Fi rep said, “The Beatles are coming out on Mobile Fidelity in a box set…”

It is hard to overstate the value of silence in music on vinyl. The lack of noise behind the music allows a clarity to come through that truly enhances the listening experience. Yes, the dynamics of the ½ speed mastering were better (and appreciated) but the silence behind the Beatles is truly what made the experience transcendental…

Now in the 21st century the Beatles have been remastered in both stereo and mono box sets and on 180 gram vinyl. To some, the mono recordings represent the ultimate in original fidelity but somehow I always find myself listening to the stereo versions. They both can be purchased at Elusive Disc or at your local record shop.

It is time for a short Mooo Mat ad. The Mooo Mat, a cowhide + cork turntable mat, was created as part of our pursuit of better sound. By isolating the phono cartridge from the spinning platter’s vibration the Mooo Mat enhances the silence behind the music that I talked about earlier on every record you own. Browse our Mooo Mats now.

Please go and listen to some Beatles music for me…