by Jake Topp
The most important thing about The Beatles In Stereo box set to me is how great these 16 CDs sound. They are a huge improvement in sound quality over the old CDs which were first released in 1987. But the great sound quality isn't the only great thing about the set.
There's also the completeness of it. It includes every album the band recorded and released from 1962 to through 1970. On top of that there's the fantastic packaging which is also a huge improvement over the old CD packaging. Plus there's an exclusive DVD which contains a documentary on the making of each of the band's 13 albums.
Audiophiles will be happy to know that the mastering job done on these CDs was not oppressive. They were not limited to death and these CDs do not participate in the "loudness war" which is destroying the sound quality of so many CDs these days. Yes, these CDs are louder than than the 1987 CDs but it's not at the expense of the dynamics.
And I think all Beatles fans will be very pleased by how "warm" and "clear" these CDs sound. They managed to really get the mastering just right because not only did they make them a bit louder (which is nice) but they also managed to capture more of the original "analog warmth" from the tape machines than they did with the old CDs. According to Paul McCartney these new CDs sound like "being in the studio with the band." He thinks it's the best The Beatles have ever sounded, and I agree.
While keeping that "warmth" they also managed to make each instrument and each vocal part sound more distinct! This is really a great feat because often times when a CD is made more "clear" it's at the expense of some of the ambiance that makes the record sound good in the first place. But with these remastered stereo CDs (and there are 16 total discs in the set) they really were able to get the best of both worlds.
There are plenty of sounds in these recordings that I'm really hearing for the first time clearly even though I am a huge Beatles fan who has listened to all of their albums on many occasions. Possibly my favorite example of this so far is the percussion in "I'm So Happy Just To Dance With You" (from A Hard Day's Night.) It really jumped out at me as soon as I put the new remastered version of the song on, but I had never really noticed it in all of my times of listening to the old version.
Another great example of how much better the new remastered CDs sound is "Long Long Long." In fact when you first get this box set on, I'd put that song on first because it should really blow your mind and get you excited about hearing the rest of the set!
Jake Topp recommends http://www.MusicByDay.com as the best music blog for Beatles fans to read.