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Beatles' label says they worked to preserve mixes used in new 'U.S. Albums' box

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Capitol Records said Dec. 12 they took great care to preserve the original and unique mixes of the American-issued albums on the new “The Beatles: The U.S. Albums” box set release, coming in January.

“These albums were originally issued between 1964 and 1970 by Capitol Records, Apple Records, and United Artists in the United States,” a statement said. “These new releases seek to replicate the unique listening experience heard by Americans at the time by preserving the sequences, timings, and artwork found on the albums. Capitol’s engineers in the 1960s took great care to produce what they believed to be the best possible sound for the playback equipment in use at that time.”

“Due to the limitations of the record players of the day, engineers often compressed the sound by raising the volume of the softer passages and lowering the volume for the louder parts of the songs. They also reduced the bass frequencies since too much bass could cause the record to skip. In some cases, reverb was added to the tracks to make them sound more 'American.'

“In the 1960s, albums were commonly released in both mono and stereo formats. If no stereo mix was available for a particular song, Capitol followed the industry practice of the day by creating a simulated stereo mix. This was accomplished by running the mono signal through two channels, boosting the bass in one channel, tweaking the treble in the other channel and then running the channels slightly out of sync and in some cases adding reverb. These were often called 'duophonic' mixes. In some cases duophonic mixes were created even when actual stereo mixes were or would soon be available in the U.K. This was most likely due to production timelines and the availability of the original analog tapes. Five Beatles albums were released by Capitol in 1964 alone!

“For some mono songs Capitol’s engineers created fold-down mixes from the stereo mixes by blending the two discrete stereo channels into one mono master, believing that doing so would add more punch to the sound. It is also conceivable that they created fold-down mixes because a stereo master was all they had on hand. These so-called Type B Mono mixes were used for some of Capitol’s early Beatles albums, including many of the tracks found on 'Meet The Beatles!,' 'The Beatles ’ Second Album,' 'The Early Beatles' and the 'Help!' soundtrack. Many of the songs used on the original U.S. albums were made from second, third, and even fourth-generation tapes.”

The company says that in preparing the albums for reissue, they decided not to remaster from the original Capitol master tapes.

“While doing so would have been the easiest way to go, it would not have created the best possible listening experience. In an effort to preserve the original intentions of the band and the producers, the masters used are, in most cases, the same as the stereo and mono remasters released in 2009 as part of the Parlophone/Apple core catalog, all approved by George Martin and The Beatles. All of the duophonic mixes have been replaced with the approved stereo mixes when available and some mono mixes in the few instances where no true stereo mix exists.”

Great care was taken to preserve the specific mixes and edits that make these U.S. albums unique, the company said. “These tracks, originally sent to the U.S. by George Martin, have been remastered from the original 1960s U.S. master analog tapes. They have been combined with the U.K. approved masters to reproduce the same sequence, order, and levels as presented on the U.S. Beatles albums. The original U.S. albums were used as models and set the overall direction for the process.”

Besides being available as a box set, many of the albums will be available individually for a limited time.

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