Advice on purchasing new vinyl records from digital source material - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 9 Old 07-21-2013, 12:40 AM - Thread Starter
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I understand the entire Beatles catalog was reissued in 2012 on vinyl records. And while the descriptions indicate they used the original source material, they also report that they have digitized the material to 'clean things up a bit' as it is stated in the description. What I'd like to know is the following. Do these reissued records (now from a digital source) maintain the integrity of the originals? Or are they so inferior as to make it a waste of my time? I really prefer to stick with reissued vinyl records where the reissued source is from the same analog/source material without any digital affects. Unfortunately, I understand that is not possible with the reissues of the Beatles reissues.

I am closely looking at the 2012 reissue of Abbey Road by the Beatles (originally released in 1969). Is it worth my time or am I likely to be disappointed if I purchase this reissued item? Has anyone else on here gotten a grasp on the reviews of these reissued Beatle records? For the 2012 vinyl project, it seems EMI decided to use the digital remasters from 2009 when the CDs were reissued.....which doesn't exactly thrill me, but I guess they had their reasons for digitizing the analog/source. But I keep wondering how the sound on these reissues compares to the original vinyl records. Has anyone on here checked into this? I am tried to do some research on this, but feel as confused as ever. And are the UK pressings better than the US pressings....even with these reissues?

I invested in a turntable over a month ago; and I am trying to collect a smaller number of old records. I just don't want to be disappointed with the Beatles Abbey Road reissue. I know I can check on Ebay for any possible original pressings from 1969. But that might be a shot in the dark....and may also cost a fortune to find one in top/mint condition. I really want to buy a new/reissue from Amazon if I can get some assurances that the reissues are generally acceptable. Thanks for any feedback on this topic.
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post #2 of 9 Old 07-21-2013, 04:59 AM
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The beatles vinyls were cut from the 44.1/24 bit masters that was created during the 2009 mastering process. They were not cut from the original analog tape. Apparently a 192/24 master exists, but that was not used for whatever reason.

I think you'd be happier if you could get your hands on one of the beatles usb apples which is their entire catalog in 44.1/24.
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post #3 of 9 Old 07-21-2013, 08:51 AM
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Analog masters are probably not usable by now... Tapes used back then don't last that long without loss of magnetization and every subsequent run trough the reading heads will remove a layer of material, with the associated high-frequency components (that are recorded closer to surface).
The 2009 digital copies might be the best quality that we can have. Original analog quality was never that high anyway, especially for the first albums - analog technology back then just wasn't that good. The 44.1/24 multi-channel masters (attention, I am not talking about the mono or stereo mix) exceed that with ease.

Also, 'original' LP pressings from 1969, from eBay, might be worn out below any decent quality level...
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post #4 of 9 Old 07-21-2013, 01:16 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by SoNic67 View Post

Analog masters are probably not usable by now... Tapes used back then don't last that long without loss of magnetization and every subsequent run trough the reading heads will remove a layer of material, with the associated high-frequency components (that are recorded closer to surface).
The 2009 digital copies might be the best quality that we can have. Original analog quality was never that high anyway, especially for the first albums - analog technology back then just wasn't that good. The 44.1/24 multi-channel masters (attention, I am not talking about the mono or stereo mix) exceed that with ease.

Also, 'original' LP pressings from 1969, from eBay, might be worn out below any decent quality level...

I guess in a lot of cases they just don't want to allow the original source material to be used for a variety of reasons. But it is interesting that there are many old classics where they do (reportedly) use the original master tapes without any digitization for a reissued vinyl record. A couple of examples (that come to mind) are the vinyl reissues from Patsy Cline's greatest hits or the reissues of Neil Young's best material in the late 60's or early 70's. Those are just a couple of examples among a number of them out there. I've noticed when they do a direct transfer from the original analog master tapes, they always seem to use that as a big selling point in the product description. When nothing is mentioned about the transfer process in the product description, it seems inevitability to be from a digital source.

Personally, I am not sure I understand the point in digitizing music that was originally in an analog format *if* the reissued product is going to be on vinyl record. It seems to take away from the character of the original issue. And sometimes the label that puts out reissued vinyl material is very suspect. I had a recent bad experience with the reissued vinyl album of Zenyatta Mondatta by the Police. The so called label company for this reissue is called Back to Black. Long story short, two brand new (reissued) pressings that I received were both defective with audio problems on a couple of tracks. It seemed ridiculous for a brand new (reissued) pressing. But fortunately, I got my money back and purchased the same (original) album (used) from a local/used record store which plays fine on my new turntable. So I've learned (in the short time I've been collecting vinyl records) that it's not like the old days. When buying new vinyl, you must consider various factors such as the source material of the reissued pressing and the reputation of the current label putting the material back on vinyl. And I guess (most importantly) the reviews from other buyers of the material.
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post #5 of 9 Old 07-21-2013, 01:24 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by glangford View Post

The beatles vinyls were cut from the 44.1/24 bit masters that was created during the 2009 mastering process. They were not cut from the original analog tape. Apparently a 192/24 master exists, but that was not used for whatever reason.

I think you'd be happier if you could get your hands on one of the beatles usb apples which is their entire catalog in 44.1/24.

Yes, given that they are only using digital sources for the Beatles reissues, the Beatles USB Apple is undoubtedly the best choice for audio quality. And I am sure it sounds very good. Although it's not something I can play on my new turntable, it would be nice to own the usb.
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post #6 of 9 Old 07-21-2013, 04:53 PM
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I would suggest you look for a 1970's UK pressing of Abbey Road or the MFSL pressing. I have my original US copy purchased in 1969 and the MFSL and UK copies sound better IMO.

Mark

There is a very thin line between "hobby" and "mental illness". - Dave Barry
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post #7 of 9 Old 07-21-2013, 07:14 PM
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Originally Posted by evan237 View Post

Personally, I am not sure I understand the point in digitizing music that was originally in an analog format *if* the reissued product is going to be on vinyl record. It seems to take away from the character of the original issue.
No, it does not. You have the multitrack masters in digital form. Those are 8-16-24 tracks raw, pure, not compressed. The CD mix can be made "hot", compressed, fit to play in a iPod or boombox. But the LP mix, from the same digital masters, it cannot physically be made as 'hot', plus it is targeted to a different user/systems. It will sound identical as the analog mix.
Now, some fly-by-night companies will probably take shortcuts and cut on vinyl the CD master because they don't want to pay for re-mastering from multitracks. But that's not the 'digital' fault per se.

Like I said there are some analog tapes that, due to age or storage or manufacturing faults, are not possible to be used. For example, Roxy Music's Avalon analog masters where destroyed at the last digital conversion - and engineers where aware that this will happen:
http://www.highfidelityreview.com/roxy-music-avalon-an-sacd-review-by-patrick-cleasby.html
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“In 1995, after EG Records was sold to Virgin, they decided to make digital safeties of all the Roxy stuff. Unfortunately when they tried to play the analog masters it was found that they wouldn’t play, which is a common problem occurring with Ampex tape manufactured during the late 70’s and early 80’s. I believe this is due to an organic lubricant they used at the time that goes bad after a number of years. The tapes were baked, which allows them to be played once or twice after which they become useless. They were then immediately copied to a modified Sony PCM 3324 digital 24-track tape recorder with Apogee filters. Subsequently the analog tapes were lost, although we probably wouldn’t have been able to play them anyway.
“It was unfortunate that all we had to work from was the 16-bit safeties as there is some loss because of the 16-bit conversion, but keep in mind that during multi-track transfers and/or recordings, the signal to noise ratio is usually at its optimum. Each track is recorded to its maximum level, since balance is not an issue yet – that comes in the mix. Therefore the full dynamic range of 16-bits has been utilized. The true subtlety is in the mix. Not every fader is set for full level, so the dynamic range of a mix is much larger then the individual instruments and tracks.
“The existence of this problem is being underlined by the fact that every digital mixer has an internal bit depth varying from 24- to 48-bit fixed rate or 32-bit floating point. So capturing a mix properly is a most difficult and delicate procedure and therefore requires the best conversion and storage method.
“This statement can be illustrated by looking at the history of music recording and mixing. Capturing of the mix has always been more advanced then the multi-tracking part. Analog 24 multi-track and Ѕ” two track for the mix master, followed by 24 track analog and 16-bit PCM for the mix, which was followed by 16-bit multi-track and 24-bit two track and currently it is very often 24-bit multitrack with 2 channel or 5.1 24-bit at sample rates of 96kHz, 192kHz or DSD (SACD).
“A fortunate accident that occurred during the transfer to 16-bit was that, apparently due to the engineer’s apparent unfamiliarity with the Sony Dash machine, the transfers were made with the varispeed control engaged and cranked to its maximum speed of +12%. As the sample rate was set to 48kHz, the increased 12% speed/clock rate gave the transfer an effective sample rate of 53.760kHz, which obviously gave us higher resolution safeties once we duplicated the tape speed “error” upon playback.
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post #8 of 9 Old 07-26-2013, 07:01 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SoNic67 View Post

No, it does not. You have the multitrack masters in digital form. Those are 8-16-24 tracks raw, pure, not compressed. The CD mix can be made "hot", compressed, fit to play in a iPod or boombox. But the LP mix, from the same digital masters, it cannot physically be made as 'hot', plus it is targeted to a different user/systems. It will sound identical as the analog mix.
Now, some fly-by-night companies will probably take shortcuts and cut on vinyl the CD master because they don't want to pay for re-mastering from multitracks. But that's not the 'digital' fault per se.

Like I said there are some analog tapes that, due to age or storage or manufacturing faults, are not possible to be used. For example, Roxy Music's Avalon analog masters where destroyed at the last digital conversion - and engineers where aware that this will happen:
http://www.highfidelityreview.com/roxy-music-avalon-an-sacd-review-by-patrick-cleasby.html

I would not (personally) make the argument or debate that a quality pressed vinyl record (from a proper digitized source) is going to sound inferior to analog tapes. And honestly, (given my limited experience with it) my ears don't hear any difference if it's truly a good reissue. But having said that, I am sure you have heard the other side of the debate from some audiophiles out there. Some will say because sound waves in their natural state are analog......that you cannot truly replicate every tiny aspect of it in a digital format. There are some audiophiles who will say that when you truncate the frequency range of the allowed frequencies (as you must when you digitize an analog source), the contribution of all of the tiny sine waves whose frequencies are above the truncation points are now lost. Some people have said truncating all frequencies above (say) 22.05 KHz does minimal harm to the harmonic structure of most instruments. However, there are those out there who maintain that there is a second impact of this frequency truncation that does more harm to the musical signal. The argument basically goes that any music that has been filtered to remove all of the content above 20 KHz (or whatever it happens to be) is going to suffer some loss of true fidelity due to the impact of this filtering on impulse signals.

But even if one accepts the above statements to be true, I can easily understand some of the great benefits of digitizing analog sources.....if they are performed in the proper manner. And as you have said, there are some analog tapes that, due to age or storage or manufacturing faults, simply cannot be used. And the point that you make about Roxy Music's Avalong analog masters is also well taken.

One thing that I do know that is very true. If one is going to start collecting vinyl records now days, it pays to do a little research ahead of time in terms of attempting to find out who these labels are, as well as determining where the music sources are obtained and a little understanding what kind of experience they have in pressing vinyl records in the modern age. For example, the reissue that I purchased of the 1980 Zenyatta Mondatta by The Police, was just pure junk. I had not one (but two) replacements of this reissue. And both of those brand new reissues were junk. The album was reissued by a label called Back to Black. I know nothing about them, other than this experience with 'two' reissues of this album that I have described. Fortunately, the online music store was willing to give me a full refund, which I appreciated. I then (without too much effort) found a used copy of the original 1980 issue of this album, and there are no issues whatsoever with it.
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post #9 of 9 Old 07-28-2013, 01:35 AM
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Originally Posted by evan237 View Post

[

I would not (personally) make the argument or debate that a quality pressed vinyl record (from a proper digitized source) is going to sound inferior to analog tapes. And honestly, (given my limited experience with it) my ears don't hear any difference if it's truly a good reissue. .

Agreed.

Speaking as a person who has had the opportunity to audition the comparison of numerous occasions a quality pressed vinyl record (and even the lacquer that they are pressed from) does sound inferior to the analog or digital source it is made from. The technical measurements and inherent flaws of the LP format back this up.
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