Thursday, February 3, 2011

1963, February 25: Sources: BABY IT'S YOU

“BABY IT’S YOU”

Versions. There is only one version.

Foundational Variations. 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, “Baby It’s You” has extra material on the Left channel, and material missing from the Right channel. 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 "Baby It’s You” 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, “Baby It’s You” has more reverberation than on the UK Please Please Me album, possibly by use of compression (or perhaps even delayed bleed). It’s somewhat “cavernous” and earns a Variation.

Not Variations.

(1) In testing* “Baby It's You” 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.

Hum. Buildup of low hum is encountered throughout the song, the first instance coming about 0:05 into the song, when the chorus sings “sha la la la la la la” for the second time. I don’t know if it’s the fault of Paul’s bass, or the recording and/or mixing equipment. This is worse in Stereo.

Volume Problems. Throughout the song, the vocal level varies, the worst offense (a great jump in loudness, at about 0:48 into the song) coming at the first instance of the line “cause, baby, it’s you.” This kicks off a period of distortion for this song on many sources, more noticeable in Stereo.

Celesta. Under the line “I sit alone, at home I cry...” (from about 0:35 to 0:39 into the song), a delightful and subtle celesta (celeste) can be heard.

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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. “Baby It’s 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.

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

End of Song. “Baby It’s You” 1.0 continues on in the fadeout, with this progression: (1) “Come on home” from George, (2) “sha la la la la la la” from the backup, (3) “Cause, baby, it’s you” from George, the word “you” changing keys, and (4) a guitar chord in the new key. This is heard fully on Introducing the Beatles vinyl, other sources cutting off sooner, sometimes much sooner.

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. GOOD. Good: Bright mix allows vocals and celesta to stand out. Bad: Bass and guitar are pretty weak. The ending cuts off much too soon, after “sha la la...”

Pbthal needle-drop FLAC.

Imbalance. FLAC signature.

Sonic Rating. VERY GOOD. Good: Bit darker than Ebbetts, making a very natural sound, especially on the vocal. Bad: Diminished mid-range causes some blandness. The ending cuts off too soon, after “sha la la la la la...”

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

Gain Deviation. The Red Wax has different gain dynamics, as waveform analysis proves.

Imbalance. Millennium Remasters mp3 signature: link.

Sonic Rating. VERY GOOD. Good: More bass and a bit less mid-range than Ebbetts, but aggressive, so it’s pretty good. Nearly-complete ending (“cause, baby, it’s...). Bad: Roughness. Kind of a stifling atmosphere.

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

Gain Deviation. The Red Wax has different gain dynamics, as waveform analysis proves.

Imbalance. FLAC signature.

Sonic Rating. VERY GOOD. Good: Exactly like Millennium Remasters, except the ending is “cause, baby, it’s you.” Bad: Exactly like Millennium Remasters.

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

$100+ (Introducing the Beatles, if genuine)

General. I did not test “Baby It’s You” on any other Vee-Jay album, 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, VERY GOOD. Good: Decent bright master, centered around vocal. The complete ending. Bad: A little sibilance. The instruments seem lost.

Ebbetts, GOOD. Good: This sounds almost exactly like the Please Please Me CD LP, although spectrum analysis did not reveal that. Bad: Same as the CD LP, including the shorter ending

MONO: DIGITAL

CD Please Please Me (1987)

My Source. CD.

Imbalance. link.

Sonic Rating. GOOD. Good: It’s bright, but with decent bass. Bad: Tendency to be squalid. Unlike the vinyl UK LP, this cuts off during “sha la la la la la...”

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. VERY GOOD. Good: Spectrally, this is just a slightly-louder version of the CD LP. Aurally, however, it seems smoother. It’s not logical but it works. Nearly complete ending (“cause, baby, it’s you”). Bad: Some roughness.

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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. Celesta was added as an overdub several days later. If we follow the Stereo mixing formula applied to other songs on this album, we should expect the instrumental side of the twin-track and the celesta overdub to be hard (wide) to the Left channel, vocals hard to the Right channel, and nothing (except bleed and occasional echo) Center, approximately thus (“I” = instrumental/celesta track, “V” = vocals track):

Left _I_________________V_ Right

But this is not exactly right. The Left channel is as expected (bass, soft drums, jangly guitar, and celesta), but the Right channel includes (besides vocals) harder drums and lead guitar. At the very least, one must acknowledge that during the solo there are two distinct sets of drums. How was this accomplished?

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. Almost all of the Stereo vinyl issues progress beyond the final guitar chord, allowing us to hear one extra drumbeat. In the digital domain, only pbthal’s Die Beatles did the same.

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 gained at a moderate loudness. FLAC, modifies the channels lower.

Sonic Rating by Mono Summing. Vinyl, EXCELLENT. Good: Overall volume level pretty consistent, the vocal precisely where it needs to be, and the celesta not too loud. Nice dynamics and tone. Full ending. Bad: There is some distortion in the mid-section.

Pbthal, VERY GOOD. Good: In Mono, this sounds pretty good, especially vocals and drums. Subdued bass is mellow. Ending runs up to guitar chord. Bad: In Stereo, the vocals are somewhat overpowered and celesta is a little low.

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

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

Relative Channel Loudness. Vinyl, the Right (vocal) channel is a little quieter than the first lacquer. FLAC, compared to Tube-Cut FLAC, has the Left channel much louder and the Right channel a bit louder.

Sonic Rating by Mono Summing. Vinyl, VERY GOOD. Good: Decent mix of the elements. Overall volume level very nice. Ending runs up to guitar chord. Bad: Left (instrumental) channel competes a little much with vocal.

Ebbetts, EXCELLENT. Good: More balanced than Tube-Cut FLAC in both channel loudness and the elements, making this the best Stereo version I heard. Ending runs up to guitar chord. Bad: Not much.

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. Modified.

Sonic Rating by Mono Summing. In Stereo or Mono, this has great problems with hum, as well as poor balance of the elements.

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

$ 20-100

General. There is no perceivable difference in reverberation for “Baby It’s You” 2.0 here compared to other sources. Details on the German sources for "Baby It’s You” 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 first lacquer UK LP, gained a bit louder. Pbthal FLAC, compared to Tube-Cut FLAC, the Left channel is a bit louder and the Right channel is about the same, somewhat modified.

Sonic Rating by Mono Summing. Vinyl, GOOD. Good: Overall volume level very good. Nice drum/guitar sound. Complete ending. Bad: Vocals subordinate to instruments.

Pbthal, GOOD. Good: Complete ending. Bad: Stereo or Mono, vocals are subordinate to guitar and drums.

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 first lacquer UK LP, gained a little more. FLAC, compared to Tube-Cut FLAC, the same but much more bass.

Sonic Rating by Mono Summing. VERY GOOD. Good: Good mix of the elements. Complete ending. Bad: Vocals in competition with instruments. Some distortion from mediocre volume stability.

Ebbetts, in Mono, passable, pretty much vocals and bass. In Stereo, muffled, distorted, and noticeable hum. Ending does not include the guitar chord.

Dr. Ebbetts 2008 Upgrade. Much different than Ebbett’s original MFSL offering. Pretty close to the sound of the Blue Box FLAC, but volume jumps give this trouble, causing distortion.

Variation 2.0 Analog, Notes

(1) The Millennium Remasters red wax runs at the correct speed (for a change), but is extremely bright, with distortion and some sibilance.

VARIATION 2.0: DIGITAL

CD Please Please Me - Remaster (2009) – Stereo

My Source. FLAC.

Relative Channel Loudness. Compared to the Blue Box FLAC, louder instrumental channel, and slightly louder vocal channel.

Sonic Rating by Mono Summing. GOOD. Good. Strong guitar/drum combo. In Mono, excellent. Ending includes guitar chord. Bad. In Stereo, only adequate, being too loud (celesta is a good example). These aggressive dynamics cause a bit of distortion in Mono as well. Hum buildup evident.

VARIATION 2.0: BOOTLEG

Fabulous Sound Labs HDCD Please Please Me

My Source: 320 kbps mp3.

Relative Channel Loudness. The Left channel is similar to, but gained a little less than, the 2009 Remaster. Right channel is louder than 2009 Remaster.

Sonic Rating by Mono Summing. Distorted and overly-loud.

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, compared to first lacquer UK LP, has Left (instrumental) channel a bit louder. Ebbetts, compared to the Tube-Cut FLAC, is gained much louder. 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, GOOD. Good. The American sound. Complete ending. Bad. Vocal is very much hidden. Some distortion.

Ebbetts, wow, that’s a lotta distortion!

OUTFAKE

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

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 Left (instrumental) channel, and low frequencies into the vocal channel, giving the impression that Paul’s bass is somewhat Center (interestingly, the hum ends up in the Right channel). During the solo, second guitar and second drum is Right. This is very good.

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

None. The 1995 promo video utilizes the live recording from the CD EP.

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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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