Thursday, January 27, 2011

1963, February 25: Sources: ANNA

“ANNA (Go To Him)”

General Comments. For brevity, I will be referring to this song simply as "Anna."

Versions. There is only one version.

Foundational Variations. UPDATE February 3, 2011: A “Foundational Variation” is any preceding base for a released recording which (with some exceptions) has no extra material. For this song, the original twin-track Take 3 is not available for inspection. On the released Stereo recording, it is possible to isolate the guitar, bass, and drums (with bleed) in the Left channel, but this does not constitute a Foundational Variation, only a karaoke opportunity. Thus, we can go no further back than the released mixes.

Variations. There is only one Mono mix, designated Variation 1.0. Any mastering differences for "Anna” 1.0 have not been given any new Variation.

There is also only one Stereo mix, but two Variations.

The first Variation, 2.0, is designated to all releases except The Early Beatles Stereo LP.

The second Variation, 2.0.1, is a derivative of 2.0. On The Early Beatles Stereo LP, “Anna” has more reverberation than on the UK Please Please Me album, possibly by use of compression. This more “cavernous” (if you will) quality earns it a Variation.

Not Variations.

(1) In testing* “Anna” on the German Stereo Die Beatles LP, considered to have less processing than all other Stereo Please Please Me pressings (details: here), I heard a tiny (if any!) discrepancy in the reverberation quality on the vocal (Right) channel, but not enough to earn any new Variation.

* I tested using both vinyl (German Please Please Me) and needle-drop FLAC (Die Beatles), performing A-B tests against several other sources, including UK Please Please Me (vinyl and FLAC), Blue Box Please Please Me (vinyl and FLAC), MFSL Please Please Me (vinyl and FLAC), and the 2009 Please Please Me remaster.

(2) Discrepancies in channel loudness generally do not earn any new Variation.

(3) Concerning the “Mono Fold-Down” (Mono-from-Stereo) track on The Early Beatles Mono LP, it’s interesting from the standpoint that it proves this album to be filled with such fold-downs, but it can be replicated by simply summing to Mono while playing the Stereo track, and therefore earns no new Variation.

Squeak. The website "What Goes On" reports that Ringo's bass pedal squeaks throughout the recording. I don't hear it.

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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

Imbalance. “Anna” 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.

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

End of Song. After “Anna” 1.0 fades, several “clomps” (which sound like footsteps) are heard. A website for Beatles anomalies (“What Goes On”) proposes these clomps to be a drumstick click and a guitar “pop.” The 2009 Remaster and several other sources allow you to hear three clomps, while the UK LP gives you two before cutting off.

MONO: ANALOG

UK LP Please Please Me (1963) - Mono

$20-1000.

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

My Sources:

Dr. Ebbetts needle-drop FLAC.

Imbalance. Ebbetts FLAC hiss: link.

Sonic Rating. VERY GOOD. Good: Guitar and drums stand out. Bad: At times, the vocals are overcome by the rhythm, other times they peak.

Pbthal needle-drop FLAC.

Imbalance. FLAC signature.

Sonic Rating. EXCELLENT. Good: More natural and less overbearing than Ebbetts. Guitar jangles nicely. Bad: Perhaps a bit dull in the upper-mids, but I think this is the original sound.

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

Imbalance. Millennium Remasters mp3 signature: link.

Sonic Rating. Not terrible, but muffled to some extent, the fault (as spectrum analysis shows) not of elevated lows but of depressed mid-range.

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

Imbalance. FLAC signature.

Sonic Rating. Almost exactly like Millennium Remasters, but with a dot more low end. Still not to my liking.

UK EP The Beatles' No. 1 (1963)

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

General. This (Parlophone GEP 8883) is also part of The Beatles EP Collection 1981 vinyl box set.

My Sources: (1) Vinyl box set, “-1N” lacquer. (2) pbthal FLAC.

Imbalance. Vinyl, untested. Pbthal, FLAC signature.

The CDEP is reportedly remastered differently (see below).

Sonic Rating. Vinyl, EXCELLENT. Good: Bass, guitar, and vocal are quite the mates. Low distortion. Bad: Drums a little distant.

Pbthal, spectrum analysis shows FLAC for this EP to be remarkably similar to his red wax LP FLAC, and indeed it sounds like it (see also remarks for pbthal’s EP FLAC for “Chains”).

US LP Introducing the Beatles, et. al. (1963) - Mono

$100+ (Introducing the Beatles, if genuine)

General. I did not test “Anna” on any other Vee-Jay album or EP, but I assume they use the same master as Introducing the Beatles.

My Sources: (1) Vinyl. (2) Dr. Ebbetts’ needle-drop FLAC.

Imbalance. Vinyl, untested. Dr. Ebbetts, none.

Sonic Rating. Vinyl, didn’t like this one. Timid bass and drums, semi-sibilant vocals.

Ebbetts, GOOD. Good: Beefy in the bass department. Bad: Gained too high to make up for rapidly-declining high end. This can be accommodated by turning down the volume, but it’s an inconvenience.

Japan LP Beatles No. 5 (1965-1976)

$20 up

General. This LP was first released in 1965 (Odeon OR-7103), reissued in 1967 (Odeon OR-8028) and 1970 (Apple AR-8028), then again in 1976 (Apple EAS 70102).

My Source: Vinyl (EAS 70102).

Imbalance. Untested.

Sonic Rating. EXCELLENT. Good: Great mid-range, the vocals and bass benefiting greatly. Cozy and warm. Quiet vinyl. Bad: Drums a little soft, and perhaps a tiny bit of peak on vocals.

Mono, Analog, Notes

(1) The Mexican EP (EPEM 10039) is bright, imbalanced, and has a cut ending (no clomps)!

MONO: DIGITAL

CD Please Please Me (1987)

My Source. CD.

Imbalance. link.

Sonic Rating. VERY GOOD. Good: Terrific guitar sound. Spectrum analysis shows this to be within parameters of the 2009 remaster, with slightly smaller mid-range. Bad: Vocals peak with a little harshness. Mid-range donut hole.

CD EP The Beatles No. 1 (1992)

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

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).

Imbalance. None: link.

Sonic Rating. EXCELLENT. Good: Big bass! Clean sound, with lots of air. Bad: Missing a tad at the top end.

CD Please Please Me - Remaster (2009) - Mono

My Source. FLAC.

Imbalance. FLAC signature. Spectrum analysis of WAV file from CD showed same characteristics as FLAC signature.

Sonic Rating. EXCELLENT. Good: Dynamic, balanced, and a great thump on the bass. Vocals sound so good that at times you’ll think they’re artificial! Bad: Gained a bit high, so there are a few moments of vocal peaking. Some variable softness on the lows.

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STEREO

Mix Information. The takes were recorded as twin-tracks, two tracks recorded simultaneously, instruments to one side, vocals to the other. For Stereo mixing, the instrumental side of the twin-track was sent hard (wide) to the Left channel, while vocals were sent hard to the Right channel. Drums are variable, mainly in the Left channel, but moving to the Right channel whenever the lead guitar has a decisive presence, a consequence of microphone placement. There is nothing (except bleed and occasional echo) Center, approximately thus (“I” = instrumental track, “V” = vocals track):

Left _I_________________V_ Right

Deviations from this standard, if any, will be noted below.

Relative Channel Loudness. This is the relation of the Left channel to the Right channel. Each source has its own recipe, affecting the listening experience, especially under headphones.

Relative channel loudness differs from overall loudness. Whereas the former may cause a desire to rebalance the channels (by whatever method), the latter (which I will call “gain”) motivates to adjust the volume knob.

Sonic Rating and Mono Summing. The deviations to Wide Stereo are limited, those deviations being (1) channel placement (see “Mix Information” above), (2) relative channel loudness (already covered), and (3) equalization. Due to this minimalism, I decided to listen in Mono to determine the sonic rating (this also satisfied any curiosity concerning “how it would sound”). When I double-checked my findings in Stereo, I was pleased that they matched.

End of Song. As with Mono, after “Anna” in Stereo fades there are several clomps. Most sources give you three clomps, and a quick pop (tape machine turning off?). However, at the end of Dr. Ebbett’s Blue Box FLAC, I hear three clomps, a very quiet voice saying “turn it down,” and what sounds like a tape machine shutting down.

VARIATION 2.0

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.

My Sources: (1) Vinyl, “2” mother, deep stamper (9th label, ca. 1970). (2) Pbthal “Tube Cut” needle-drop FLAC.

Relative Channel Loudness. Vinyl, this source is a little louder than most. FLAC, attempts to rectify by lowering the gain.

Sonic Rating by Mono Summing. Vinyl, VERY GOOD. Good: The guitar sounds nice, and the bass is adequate. Bad: Drums a little low. Vocals somewhat peaky.

Pbthal, GOOD. Good: Guitar and drums. Bad: Brightness causes the vocals to sound loud, though they’re not.

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

My Sources: (1) Vinyl. (2) Dr. Ebbetts needle-drop FLAC.

Relative Channel Loudness. Vinyl, lower gain than the first lacquer. FLAC, gained much higher.

Sonic Rating by Mono Summing. Vinyl, VERY GOOD. Good: Very similar to the first lacquer. Bad: Very similar to the first lacquer.

Ebbetts, I don’t like this. Too bright, even harsh.

US LP Introducing the Beatles (1963) – Stereo

$ expensive !

General: Vee-Jay album, catalog SR-1062.

My Source: Dr. Ebbetts needle-drop FLAC.

Relative Channel Loudness. Compared to the Tube-Cut FLAC, the instrumental track is louder, and the vocal track is smoothed lower.

Sonic Rating by Mono Summing. Wasn’t thrilled here. The bass is overloud, vocals too low, and the rest mediocre.

German LP Die Beatles, or Please Please Me (1966-1977) - Stereo

$ 20-100


General. There is no perceivable difference in reverberation for “Anna” 2.0 here compared to other sources. Details on the German sources for "Anna” 2.0 are: here.

My Sources: (1) Vinyl, German Please Please Me (Apple Electrola 1C 062-04219), lacquer “SHZE-117-A2/-B2.” (2) Pbthal Die Beatles needle-drop FLAC. (3) Dr. Ebbetts was used to verify testing.

Relative Channel Loudness. Vinyl, compared to Blue Box vinyl, the same. Pbthal FLAC, compared to Tube-Cut FLAC, gained slightly lower.

Sonic Rating by Mono Summing. Vinyl, VERY GOOD. Good. Drums and bass. Bad. Guitar bland, vocals a bit peaky.

Pbthal, VERY GOOD. Good. All the mid-range. Bad. Somewhat bright, making the bass fade.

Japan (MFSL) LP Please Please Me (1986)

$50 up

General. This release (MFSL 1-101) was also part of a box set (the “Black Box”).

My Sources: (1) Vinyl, from The Black Box. (2) Dr. Ebbetts needle-drop FLAC.

Note that Dr. Ebbetts’ 2008 Upgrade was a remaster, not a needle-drop. I deal with this appropriately.

Relative Channel Loudness. Vinyl, compared to Blue Box vinyl, is about the same. FLAC, compared to Tube-Cut FLAC, is out of control loud with bass.

Sonic Rating by Mono Summing. Vinyl, was bright and sibilant! Rejected.

Ebbetts, WAY too much bass, and it didn’t cure the sibilance! Thumbs down.

Dr. Ebbetts 2008 Upgrade. You couldn’t get much different from Ebbetts' original MFSL offering. Bright, especially the drums. Interestingly, the sibilance has calmed down. Denied.

Variation 2.0 Analog, Notes

(1) The Millennium Remasters red wax runs fast, and is bright. No go.

VARIATION 2.0: DIGITAL

CD Please Please Me - Remaster (2009) – Stereo

My Source. FLAC.

Relative Channel Loudness. Compared to the Blue Box FLAC, the Left (instrumental) channel is somewhat louder, and the Right channels is somewhat smaller. Though loud, it’s not obnoxious.

Sonic Rating by Mono Summing. EXCELLENT. Good. A very interesting build, intensifying the instrumental channel with maximum bass and no distortion, while keeping the equalization of the vocal channel. There is extra bleed to the Right channel at times, making for aural illusions under headphones, which I find pleasing. Bad. All the attention to the instrumental side sometimes makes the vocals a second-class citizen.

VARIATION 2.0: BOOTLEG

Fabulous Sound Labs HDCD Please Please Me

My Source: 320 kbps mp3.

Relative Channel Loudness. Emulative of the 2009 Remaster (or the other way around).

Sonic Rating by Mono Summing. Sibilant, which is too bad, because I really liked this display of the elements. It’s just too wild with brightness, overcompensating with bleed to the vocal channel with the intention to settle it down. It didn’t.

VARIATION 2.0.1

General. This Variation adds some reverberation.

US LP The Early Beatles (1965) – Stereo

$5-10

General: Capitol album, catalog ST-2309. It’s the familiar “American” sound, if you will.

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).

Relative Channel Loudness. Vinyl, about the same as the first lacquer UK LP. Ebbetts, compared to the Tube-Cut FLAC, has a gigantic instrumental channel and a slightly-elevated vocal channel. 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.

Sonic Rating by Mono Summing. Vinyl, VERY GOOD. Good. Nice instrumental panel, with more-than-adequate bass and very little softening of the mid-range. I like the reverb. Gain did not cause sibilance. Bad. Vocals a little peaky.

Ebbetts, VERY GOOD. Good. Close in texture to the vinyl. Bad. Bass not quite as prominent. It’s pretty loud!

OUTFAKE

General. An "outfake" is a fan-created mix or recording.

Bootleg, Dr. Ebbetts' Please Please Me "Stereo Remix"

Dr. Ebbetts worked a “Stereo Remix” (details: here), with the Right (vocal) channel very close to Center, approximately thus:

Left _I__________V_______ Right

This was accomplished by mixing the vocal channel into the instrumental channel, and low frequencies into the vocal channel (giving the impression that Paul’s bass is somewhat Center). As well, guitar is often heard in the Right channel. It’s pretty good for what it is.

Naturally, being unauthorized, this is not a Variation.

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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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VIDEO SOURCES

Section updated February 16, 2011

CARTOON

(1) The Beatles cartoon series, Episode 16, includes an animated sing-a-long, depicting Paul giving freedom to caged birds in love. A capture appears below.



"Anna" is also utilized for an animated segment in The Beatles cartoon series, Episode 17, wherein Paul is mesmerized by a "dragon lady." However, the song is interrupted by dialogue several times, making it not a suitable "music video" experience.

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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 © 2010-11 Tom Wise.

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