Friday, January 7, 2011

1962, September 11: Sources: P.S. I LOVE YOU

“P.S. I LOVE YOU”

General Description. There is only one version, Andy White on drums, Ringo on maracas.

Variations. The Mono mix is designated Variation 1.0. Any mastering differences for "P.S. I Love You” 1.0 have not been designated any new Variation.

The "Re-Channeled Stereo" (Duophonic) mix is designated Variation 1.1 because it was actually remixed this way by George Martin, though it was in fact derived from Variation 1.0.

Squeak. UPDATE February 2, 2011. I now report a loud squeaking sound at about 1:27 into the song, probably Ringo's bass drum pedal.

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AUDIO SOURCES

Sonic Ratings. All recommended sources will receive a subjective sonic rating, either Excellent, Very Good, or Good. This subjective rating is based on various factors, including (1) clarity vs. murkiness, (2) smoothness vs. distortion (including harshness) or peaking, (3) balance vs. over-loud elements (for example, too much emphasis on bass), and (4) comparison to other sources under a particular category (for example, Mono). Any source not given a rating of at least Good will at least be provided explanatory notes (including whether or not I’ve heard that source).

Price Tags. Vinyl sources will include an estimated 2010 price tag in US dollars, taken mainly from completed eBay auctions.

Terminology. "Analog" refers only to vinyl. No tapes were tested.

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MONO

Mix Information. By the time Mono mixing for the Please Please Me album took place, on February 25, 1963, the original twin-track master tapes for "P.S. I Love You” 1.0 had been destroyed (per EMI protocol, we are told). Therefore, George Martin was literally forced to use this song’s Mono mix (on reel E47852) for the LP reel.

UPDATE January 30, 2011. After looking more closely into John Barrett's notes (here), I now believe that "P.S. I Love You" was recorded in Mono, not twin-track Stereo, onto EMI Reel E47852. Therefore, no twin-tracks existed to destroy, nor was any Stereo mixing ever possible. This Mono reel is now missing or destroyed. "P.S. I Love You" 1.0 remained viable through the preservation of the single master EMI Reel TL14063, which also saved "Love Me Do" 2.0 and "How Do You Do It." "Please Please Me" (Andy White Version), also originally included on EMI Reel E47852, remained viable (released on Anthology) by its preservation on acetate. And, though I previously reported that no acetates for "P.S. I Love You" 1.0 had been created, one was auctioned through Sotheby's in 1997.

Mastering Issue #1. As with “Love Me Do” 2.0, certain releases of “P.S. I Love You” 1.0 are said to have a mastering flaw. While in the former the fault was called a swish, the embedded error in the latter is deemed a “buzzing” or, more specifically, distortion, especially on the vocals. According to this information, the cause is the same misaligned azimuth as described for “Love Me Do” 2.0. However, though the vocals are certainly distorted, I perceive that they remain so on every source for this Variation, albeit differently per mastering.

Nevertheless, I shall endeavor to make distinctions on this page between sources which have been reported to carry the "contaminated" master of "P.S. I Love You” 1.0 and those which reportedly carry an "uncontaminated" master. But I cannot say from personal experience that such distinctions are correct.

Mastering Issue #2. Reported also on this Variation has been the same swish heard on “Love Me Do” 2.0, but I cannot discover this either, and I furthermore think that this report is a misapplication.

Mastering Issue #3. Information also that, on the original “red-label” Parlophone 45, "P.S. I Love You" has a drop-out (or some other volume anomaly) at the very end, which was “fixed” for all subsequent releases. I don’t have the original vinyl, but this Variation on Dr. Ebbetts’ UK Singles Collection has no such discernible fault.

UPDATE January 30, 2011. (1) A certain clicking is heard after the end of "P.S. I Love You" on the 12-inch 45, on both the Australia and UK pressings. This clicking sounds to me like a phonograph stylus leaving vinyl. If correct, it means that "P.S. I Love You" on the 12-inch 45 was mastered from a needle-drop. But since the single master EMI Reel TL14063 is ostensibly extant, why a needle-drop? Or, is the clicking on the 12-inch 45 something other than the sound of the stylus leaving vinyl? This same clicking is heard, albeit faded, after the end of "P.S. I Love You" on Dr. Ebbetts' UK Singles Collection. It could mean that Ebbetts used the 12-inch 45, rather than the 1962 UK 7-inch 45, for his needle-drop. Or, it could mean that he used the 1962 UK 7-inch 45, and accidentally recorded the stylus leaving vinyl, replicating the flaw found on the 12-inch 45. Or, it could mean that the 1962 UK 7-inch 45 has this same clicking. If the 1962 UK 7-inch 45 does have this same clicking (I haven't heard the actual 45 yet, only the Dr. Ebbetts needle-drop), it indicates that the 12-inch 45 was mastered from either the single master EMI Reel (TL14063) or the 1962 UK 7-inch 45 itself. (2) This clicking, however, is not found at the end of the 1976 UK 7-inch 45, which could mean any number of things. For example, though my copy of the 1976 7-inch 45 is a second lacquer ("7XCE-17145-2"), and my copy of the UK 12-inch 45 is also a second lacquer ("12R-4949-A-1-1-2"), I can't say whether they are from the same master, since the dead wax catalog numbers are different. If they are from the same master, it would explain their very similar sound, but it would not explain the lack of clicking on the 1976 issue.

Mastering Issue #4. Despite some reports, I found no additional reverberation on any example of this Variation.

UPDATE January 30, 2011. Investigation into the clicking sound caused me to revisit whether "P.S. I Love You" had more reverberation on any particular source. I think there is now cause to amend my statement, for testing the very end of the song ("I love you--------!") showed differences. On Dr. Ebbetts' UK Singles Collection, the song ends with a small amount of soft reverb (call it "one wave"). On my copies of the 1976 UK 7-inch 45 and the UK 12-inch 45, there was a bit more reverb (call it "two wave"). On the US 45 (all releases), there was a little more reverb (call it "three wave"). All of the EP sources upped the reverb a tad more (call it "four wave"). Finally, all of the LP sources (including CD, red wax, and 2009 Remasters) and the CD 45 had the most reverb (call it "five wave"). In my opinion, the differences from source to source are the result of increased compression rather than any added echo. However, I am designating no new Variation for any of these differences because they are difficult to perceive during the song proper. But I will note for each source a "wave" reverb type.

Imbalance. While futilely attempting to uncover other mastering issues, I did rather discover that "P.S. I Love You” 1.0 has mastering imbalances of several varieties, differing from source to source. In cases where I was able to test for such imbalance, I provide details.

But whether any mastering imbalance has something to do with a buzz (and/or swish), I cannot say, for I heard and saw the one but not the other. Further rejecting such a corollary is that I discovered on the same source (for example, the CD LP) imbalance in tracks which have no report (or expectation) of a buzz (and/or swish). Imbalance also does not necessarily dictate an inferior sonic experience.

Terminology. For our purposes, I shall call those examples of "P.S. I Love You” 1.0 thought to have a buzzing sound (the "contaminated transfer") a "wet master" (“wet” meaning with some additional processing, which, for this Variation, was unintentional), and those thought to not have a buzzing sound (the "uncontaminated transfer") a “dry master” (“dry” meaning without additional processing). By using these terms, I am not confessing their truth, only that reliable persons (audiophiles) have reported a buzz. I remain unconvinced.

"FLAC signature" and "Channel Duplication Solution" are terms under the subject of imbalance, discussed: here.

End of Song. Reverb varieties, as previously detailed.

DRY MASTER: ANALOG

UK 7-inch 45 (1962-1967)

$50 up

General. There were apparently four pressings of this single (Parlophone R-4949), first on a red label and subsequently on a black label, manufactured until 1967. Photos and information: here and here. Specific pressings (first press, etc) can be identified by a "tax code" (also in the dead wax). Photos and information: here and here.

My Source: Dr. Ebbetts’ UK Singles Collection FLAC.

Mastering Issues. Ebbetts: "one wave" reverb, click (faded) after the song.

Imbalance. Ebbetts, none.

Sonic Rating. Vinyl, pending.

Ebbetts, VERY GOOD. Good: A nice balance of elements. Bad: Gained just a tad high, for some distortion, especially on the vocals.

UK 7-inch 45 (1976)

$5-10 single; $110-200 box set

General. This 45 (Parlophone R-4949) was also part of the "Green Sleeve" box set (aka "The Black Box"), released by World Records in 1977. The lacquer ("-2") was cut on a Neumann lathe.

My Source. Vinyl box set.

Mastering Issues. "Two wave" reverb.

Imbalance. Untested.

Sonic Rating. VERY GOOD. Good: Drums and vocal stand out, with a decent bass. Bad: Bit sibilant while also seeming darker.

UK 7-inch 45 (1982)

$5 or so single; $200-250 box set

General. This (Parlophone 45-R-4949) was a 20th-Anniversary issue , and also part of The Beatles Singles Collection (EMI BSCP1), released 1982. This is the still the first mother ("1") from the same 1976 transfer (lacquer "-2").

Mastering Issues. Unknown.

Imbalance. Unknown.

Sonic Rating. Pending.

UK 12-inch 45 (1982)

$10-15

General. This 20th-Anniversary issue (Parlophone 12R-4949) is possibly from the same 1976 transfer.

My Sources: (1) Vinyl, Australia pressing. (2) Vinyl, UK pressing (mastered by Harry T. Moss, -2 lacquer)

Mastering Issues. "Two wave" reverb. Click after the song.

Imbalance. Untested electronically. Mono summing produced no audible change.

Sonic Rating. UK pressing, VERY GOOD. Good: Drums and vocal stand out, with a decent bass. Bad: Bit sibilant while also seeming darker.

Australia pressing, EXCELLENT. Good: Wide dynamics, focusing on vocal and guitar, but bass apparent as well. Bad: Not much.

UK 7-inch Picture-Disc 45 (1982)

$15-20

General. This 20th-Anniversary issue (Parlophone RP-4949) was possibly derived from the same 1976 transfer.

Mastering Issues. Unknown.

Imbalance. Unknown.

Sonic Rating. Pending.

UK EP All My Loving (1963)

$5-50, the lower price for the reissue from the vinyl box set

General. This (Parlophone GEP 8891) is also part of The Beatles EP Collection 1981 vinyl box set. For now, I am calling this the dry master.

My Sources: (1) Vinyl box set, lacquer -2, mother 2, stamper 5. (2) Pbthal FLAC from vinyl.

Mastering Issues. Vinyl and FLAC, "four wave" reverb.

Imbalance. Vinyl, unsure. Pbthal, FLAC signature.

The CDEP is reportedly remastered differently (see below).

Sonic Rating. Vinyl, GOOD. Good: Decent mid-range. Bad: Harsher, with a bit of sibilance.

Pbthal, VERY GOOD. Good: Extremely like the 2009 Mono Remaster, only less loudness. Bad: This seems to be a bit short on the high end, which causes the vocal and rim shots to sound distant. Bass, too, is a little hesitant.

Dry Master: Analog, Notes

(1) Originally, I thought Tollie 9008 to be a dry master, that is, from the original Mono mix. This I concluded from hearing the terrific dynamics on that 45, and noting no mastering issues. I was furthermore persuaded by policy reports which said that EMI had sent to Vee-Jay the LP (wet) master of Please Please Me for the first version of Introducing the Beatles, but delivered separately the 45 (dry) master of "P.S. I Love You” 1.0 for this single (Tollie being a Vee-Jay Records subsidiary). However, by the time Tollie 9008 was pressed, in April 1964, Vee-Jay was already embroiled legally with Capitol Records, making it I think highly unlikely that EMI would have been in a position to continue business-as-usual with Vee-Jay, even had they desired so. Therefore, though my ears tell a different story, I have placed Tollie 9008 under the category of "Wet Master: Analog."

(2) Regarding the American version of the 1982 20-Anniversary 45 (Capitol B-5189), I assume it is a dry master, but an inferior (Capitol) pressing. I haven't heard it yet.

DRY MASTER: DIGITAL

CD EP All My Loving (1992)

General. This is from the CD EP box set, although it can also be found at auction as a separate CD.

Whether this is a remaster from the LP master (that is, either a type of digital fold-down or a channel replication), or if it is a brand new transfer from the Mono mix reel (as ostensibly was the 1976 UK 45), I do not know.

My Source. CD box set. Note. Dr. Ebbetts' UK EP Collection (2000 edition) used the CD EP, not vinyl, for this track (checked with Audacity).

Mastering Issues. "Four wave" reverb.

Imbalance. None.

Sonic Rating. VERY GOOD. Good: Nearly identical to the Mono remaster until about 18 KHz; also, a boost in bass frequencies. I think the maracas benefit from this increase in lows, sandier. Very full with no distortion or murk. Bad: Possibly limiting used, although it could be frequency crossover fooling me.

WET MASTER: ANALOG

UK LP Please Please Me (1963) - Mono

$20-1000.

General. Details for various incarnations of this album are: here.

Mastering Issues. "Five wave" reverb.

My Sources:

First lacquer, 4th pressing WAV.

Imbalance. Full-spectrum Stereo artifacts to about 16 KHz, peak about -36 db. Not a big deal.

Sonic Rating. VERY GOOD. Good: Original intent. Plenty of treble. Bad: I think it’s a little bright, which spectrum analysis shows.

1982 Reissue WAV.

Imbalance. Full-spectrum Stereo artifacts to about 14.5 KHz, with a few more in the 15.5 area, peak about -45 db. Not a big deal.

Sonic Rating. VERY GOOD. Good: Original intent, just a little louder. Bad: Still a little bright.

Dr. Ebbetts needle-drop FLAC.

Imbalance. Ebbetts FLAC hiss: link.

Sonic Rating. VERY GOOD. Good: Good solid mid-range. Bad: The bass and vocals are a little less-pronounced here than on other masters.

Pbthal needle-drop FLAC.

Imbalance. FLAC signature.

Sonic Rating. VERY GOOD. Good: Extremely like Ebbetts, with a touch more bass. Bad: A little thinner than Ebbetts in the highs makes for a more distant vocal.

Millennium Remasters Red Wax
Japan LP needle-drop 320 kbps mp3.

Imbalance. Millennium Remasters mp3 signature: link.

Sonic Rating. GOOD. Good: A little less mid-range, and a bit more low and high frequencies makes for a subdued listen, nice powder-puff bass, and no sibilance. Bad: Somewhat of a donut hole, giving it a muffled sound compared with, for example, Ebbetts’ UK 45 FLAC.

Pbthal Red Wax Japan LP (Toshiba EAS-70130) needle-drop FLAC.

Imbalance. FLAC signature.

Sonic Rating. GOOD. Good: Identical to Millennium Remasters until 12 KHz, then some leveled highs, which doesn’t hurt a thing. Bad: The aforementioned donut hole.

US 7-inch 45 (1964)

$5-20


General. This is probably the same master found on the first version of Introducing the Beatles (VJ LP 1062), as well as on the singles Oldies OL 151 (Oldies a Vee-Jay subsidiary) and Starline 6062 (Starline, a subsidiary of Capitol, after taking the helm from Vee-Jay, supposedly re-released "P.S. I Love You” 1.0 from the Vee-Jay masters).

My Sources. (1) "Thin box" yellow-label. (2) "Thin box" black label. (3) "Thick box" yellow label. (4) Ebbetts' U.S. Singles Collection (which claims to use the Tollie single: here) FLAC.

Mastering Issues. "Three wave" reverb.

Imbalance. Tollie 9008 untested electronically, but no audible change when summing to Mono. Ebbetts, none.

Sonic Rating. "Thin box" (black label), VERY GOOD. Good: Big bass shares spotlight with vocals. No sibilance. Bad: Runs a bit slow. A little dark.

"Thin box" (yellow label), VERY GOOD. Same as black box, except a bit brighter. Still a bit slow.

"Thick box" vinyl, VERY GOOD. Same as "thin box" yellow label. Still a bit slow.

Ebbetts, VERY GOOD. Same as "thin box" yellow label. Still a bit slow.

Wet Master: Analog, Notes

(1) I also tested the Mexican EP (EPEM 10035). Not terrible, but low bass output and loudness.

WET MASTER: DIGITAL

CD Please Please Me (1987) - Mono

My Source. CD.

Mastering Issues. Buzz and/or swish reported audible, counter-reported not audible (I don't hear it). "Five wave" reverb.

Imbalance. Yes: link.

Sonic Rating. Lacking bass punch. Spectrum analysis showed a greatly diminished mid-range. Sounds a little like a transistor radio.

CD 45 (1988-89)

General. Also available on The Beatles Singles Collection CD box set (1992).

My Source. CD.

Mastering Issues. "Five wave" reverb.

Imbalance. Yes: link.

Sonic Rating. Clearly derived from the CD LP master, as spectrum analysis confirms, with a bit more loudness.

CD Please Please Me - Remaster (2009) - Mono & Stereo

General. Both the Mono and Stereo Remaster albums utilize Variation 1.0 (rather than the Stereo carrying Variation 1.1).

My Source. FLAC for both.

Mastering Issues. "Five wave" reverb, whether Mono or Stereo. Both Mono and Stereo are a little louder than most other sources.

Imbalance. No audible imbalance. Both Mono and Stereo contained FLAC signature. Spectrum analysis of WAV file from CD showed same characteristics as FLAC signature.

Sonic Rating. Stereo, EXCELLENT. Good: The right recipe of elements, including what I think is the perfect amount of bass. Terrific separation. Bad: Gain is up a little, and vocals consequently peak at times, but nothing terrible.

Mono, VERY GOOD.
Good: Nearly identical to the Stereo remaster until the high frequencies. Bad: Louder high frequencies cause vocals, guitar, and rim shots to at times seem a bit overpowering, compared to the Stereo remaster.

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RE-CHANNELED STEREO

UPDATE entire section February 2, 2011

Mix Information. Re-Channeled Stereo (a.k.a. Fake-Stereo, Mock-Stereo, Duophonic) is simply a manipulation of an existing Mono mix. Some of these type mixes are well-done, some sound like death. Usually, they come about because there is no existing Stereo mix, and the master tapes are not available. This is the case with “P.S. I Love You.” There is no reason to dismiss this mix completely, since it was created by George Martin for a specific purpose, that is, to fill the gap left by a missing true Stereo mix. Like the Mono, this mix was also created on February 25, 1963.

This mix has normally low frequencies about Center, and high frequencies halfway-Right, approximately thus ("L" = low frequencies, "H" = high frequencies):

Left _______________L___H_____ Right

You can re-create this by playing "Love Me Do" 2.1 from the Stereo Please Please Me LP with the Balance control set to the Left (no new Variation).

Mastering Difference #1. UPDATE February 4, 2011. The second lacquer for German Stereo pressings of Please Please Me, including Die Beatles (details: here), is normally considered to have less processing (to be drier, specifically lacking a perception of echo) than every other Stereo pressing. However, on sources tested (vinyl, pbthal FLAC, Dr. Ebbetts) "P.S. I Love You" 1.1 had no such difference.

Mastering Difference #2. The tracks on Capitol's The Early Beatles Stereo LP is normally with more reverberation (i.e., wetter) than on other sources. For "P.S. I Love You” 1.1, however, I did not notice such a difference.

Sibilant Moment. This Variation on the original UK LP contains a major sibilant moment, on the line "send my love to you" at about 0:54, and also at about 1:26, into the song. This flaw has been "repaired" on several releases, detailed below. No new Variations have been applied either way.

End of Song. Unlike Mono, there are no reverb varieties.

RE-CHANNELED: ANALOG

UK LP Please Please Me (1963) - Stereo

$50-24,000

General. Details for various incarnations of this album are: here.

My Sources:

UK LP, Two-box label, "-1" lacquer.

Sibilant Moment. Yes.

Sonic Rating. Too bright.

Pbthal UK LP "Tube-Cut" needle-drop FLAC.

Sibilant Moment. Yes.

Sonic Rating. At about 1:25 into the song, there is a dropout, ruining the recording.

UK LP from the The Beatles Collection ("Blue Box"), Two-box label, "-2" lacquer.

Sibilant Moment. Yes.

Sonic Rating. Exactly like my UK LP.

Dr. Ebbetts UK LP "Blue Box" needle-drop FLAC.

Sibilant Moment. No.

Sonic Rating. VERY GOOD. Good. Slightly reduced in the frequencies which cause sibilance, but yet a little more emphasis on maracas and guitar. Bad. Not the original intent.

Dr. Ebbetts (original) MFSL Japan LP (MFSL 1-101) needle-drop FLAC.

Sibilant Moment. Yes.

Sonic Rating. An increase in bass frequencies sounds pretty good, but sibilance ruins it.

Dr. Ebbetts (2008 Upgrade) MFSL Japan LP needle-drop 320 kbps mp3.

Sibilant Moment. No.

Sonic Rating. Harshness beyond patience, though the elements were correct. This is actually a bit drier than other sources (no new Variation).

Germany LP Please Please Me (Apple Electrola 1C 062-04219), "-2/-2" lacquer.

Sibilant Moment. No.

Sonic Rating.
EXCELLENT. Good. Original intent (not drier). Clear and delightful. Bad. If anything, just a little thin in the bass frequencies.

Pbthal Die Beatles "-2/-2" lacquer FLAC.

Sibilant Moment. No.

Sonic Rating.
EXCELLENT. Same as vinyl.

US LP The Early Beatles (1965) - Stereo

$10-20

General. This was the Capitol (ST-2309) abridged reissue of Introducing the Beatles.

My Sources: (1) Vinyl (orange label; also, Apple label). (2) Dr. Ebbetts needle-drop FLAC. (3) The Capitol Versions Vol. 2 FLAC (since this is actually digital, I cheated here). The Capitol Versions, even louder than Ebbetts (disqualified from further testing). I am not convinced that Ebbetts did not use the Capitol Versions CD as his foundation.

Sibilant Moment. No.

Sonic Rating. Vinyl, VERY GOOD. Good. Nice Capitol mastering. Bad. A little bright.

Ebbetts, GOOD. Good. Adequate. Bad. A little distorted, and a little sibilance.

LP Love Songs (1977)

$5-10

General. This is Capitol SKBL-11711. Although reported otherwise, the channels for “P.S. I Love You” 1.1 on Love Songs are not reversed, at least, not on the US release (I haven’t checked the UK release).

My Sources. (1) Vinyl. (2) Dr. Ebbetts’ 320 kbps mp3.

Sibilant Moment. Yes.

Sonic Rating. Both vinyl and Ebbetts have more bass, but still sibilant (similar to the MFSL).

UK 8-LP The Beatles Box (1980)

$50 or so (a bargain!)

General. This is “The Crate” (its nickname), issued by World Records (SM 701/8), EMI’s mail order division.

My Sources. UK Vinyl, first lacquer, cut by Harry T. Moss.

Sibilant Moment. Yes.

Sonic Rating. For the most part, the same as the UK LP, but with diminished dynamics.

Note. I also listened to an external source mp3 version which had reverse channels, but this is a fake (not characteristic of the vinyl).

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MONO FOLD-DOWN: ANALOG & DIGITAL.

The 1965 Mono LP The Early Beatles (Capitol T 2309) used a Mono-from-Stereo fold-down, as did the 2006 CD set, The Capitol Albums, Volume 2. This “mix” is not collectible nor a Variation, as you can “make” it yourself by pushing the “Mono” button on your amplifier. For a few more details on the original album, go: here.

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STEREO

None. There were never any Stereo master tapes or twin-tracks.

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VIDEO SOURCES

None.

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Tom Wise
gengar843@msn.com

Although I use quotes from sources, or cited fact, much of the material on this and other pages of my blog is original, from my own pen. This is not cut-and-paste, it is a work of art. Copyright © 2011 Tom Wise.

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