Thursday, February 3, 2011

1963, February 25: Sources: DO YOU WANT TO KNOW A SECRET

“DO YOU WANT TO KNOW A SECRET”

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 true Foundational Variation was Take 6 (the “best” twin-track), which is unavailable. The next Foundational Variation, Take 8, was the “best” backing vocal and percussion (drumsticks) overdub, and this is Variation 1.0. 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. This is as far back as we can go.

Variations. Since Take 8 is Variation 1.0, we begin in this section with 2.0.

There are two Mono mixes, three total Variations.

The first Mono mix concerns every release except The Beatles Rock Band video game, and has two Variations. The first Variation, 2.0, is designated to every release of the first Mono mix except Vee-Jay and Capitol singles. The second variation, 2.0.1, is a derivative of 2.0, and is found on VJ 587 and other such North American singles (details below).

The second Mono mix, on The Beatles Rock Band video game, is designated 4.0, since it arrived after (well after) the Stereo mix.

There is only one Stereo mix, but there are two Variations (as well as a few "deviations").

The first Variation, 3.0, is designated to all Stereo releases of “Do You Want to Know a Secret” except one.

The second Variation, 3.0.1, is a derivative of 3.0. On The Early Beatles Stereo LP, “Do You Want to Know a Secret” has somewhat more reverberation than on the UK Please Please Me album. It’s not quite “cavernous” (as are some other tracks on this US LP), but it nevertheless earns a Variation.

UPDATE February 28, 2011. Previously, due to its different Stereo image positioning, I counted "Do You Want to Know a Secret" on Ballads as Variation 3.1. However, I now think such small positional movements are "deviations" rather than Variations.

Not Variations. Section UPDATE February 28, 2011.

(1) In testing* “Do You Want to Know a Secret” 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) Any small differences in Stereo image positioning will not be designated as new Variations, but as deviations. Naturally, judgment has been used to differ between Variation and deviation.

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

(4) 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.

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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. “Do You Want to Know a Secret” in Mono 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. The fadeout for “Do You Want to Know a Secret” 2.0 and 2.0.1 ends with three measures of “oo-oo-oo----oo----oo--”, commonly faded before or during the final “oo” (that “oo” slightly audible on Take 8, and completely audible on Take 7). This is longest, I think, on the 2009 Remaster and on all Vee-Jay releases.

VARIATION 2.0: 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: A bit more focus on guitar than vocal. Exciting bass. Bad: Bright-ish. Ends a little soon.

Pbthal needle-drop FLAC.

Imbalance. FLAC signature.

Sonic Rating. EXCELLENT. Good: Better than Ebbetts, darkening the mid-range for slightly-improved dynamics, esp. concerning vocals. Bad: Not much.

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

Imbalance. Millennium Remasters mp3 signature: link.

Sonic Rating. Muffled, some sibilance, and I heard vinyl noise in the middle-eight, at about 1:10 into the song (a unique flaw).

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

Imbalance. FLAC signature.

Sonic Rating. GOOD. Good: Slight improvement over Millennium Remasters, sibilance reduced. Vocal and bass focus. Bad: Still muffled.

UK EP Twist and Shout (1963)

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

General. This (Parlophone GEP 8882) is also part of The Beatles EP Collection 1981 vinyl box set.

My Source: Vinyl box set, “-1N” lacquer.

Imbalance. Yes.

The CDEP is reportedly remastered differently (see below).

Sonic Rating. GOOD. Good: Good dynamics, bass before vocal. Complete ending. Bad: Some sibilance. A bit erratic.

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

$100+ (Introducing the Beatles, if genuine)

General. I did not test “Do You Want to Know a Secret” 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, no. Dr. Ebbetts, none.

Sonic Rating. Vinyl, VERY GOOD. Good: Damn good vocal/bass presentation, with nice mix of the elements. Bad: A bit of sibilance.

Ebbetts, VERY GOOD. Good: Guitar before vocal. Spectrum analysis shows a likeness to CD EP, with quieted highs and mellow lows. Bad: Missing something special. A bit loud.

VARIATION 2.0: DIGITAL

CD Please Please Me (1987)

My Source. CD.

Imbalance. link.

Sonic Rating. VERY GOOD. Good: Very strong guitar/vocal entry, a little brighter than the CD EP. Complete ending. Bad: Some peaking.

CD EP Twist and Shout (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. VERY GOOD. Good: Comparable to Ebbetts UK LP, but with more low frequencies. Transparent and clean. Bad: A bit chaotic.

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: Nice mix of the elements, drums coming to the fore to break up the guitar/vocal hegemony. Good lows. Comparable to pbthal UK LP, with a bit more mid-range, filtered highs. Complete ending. Bad: Not much.

VARIATION 2.0.1

General. This Variation has somewhat more reverberation than Variation 2.0. The middle-eight (“I’ve know a secret for the week or two”) tests thus: in Variation 2.0, the echo comes on drumstick clicks 4, 6, 9, 10, 11, and 12; in Variation 2.0.1, echo is heard from click 3 onward, and the difference in reverb quality (for example, on click 4) is noticeable. Vocals are also more swollen in 2.0.1.

US 7-inch 45 (1964)

$10-20

General. This single, released March 23, 1964 in the US, reached #2 by May 9 of that year.

The same master for this single (VJ 587) is likely to be found on the singles Oldies OL 149 (Oldies a Vee-Jay subsidiary) and Starline 6064 (Starline, a subsidiary of Capitol, re-released the Vee-Jay masters).

More information and photos for Vee-Jay masters, mothers, and stampers are: here. More information on Vee-Jay releases and chart: here.

My Sources: (1) Vinyl x 2 (“VJ” in oval, “VJ” in brackets). (2) Dr. Ebbetts’ US Singles Collection needle-drop FLAC.

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

Vinyl (both labels), VERY GOOD. Good: Very close to Introducing the Beatles, except faded a hair earlier. Bad: Gained very loud.

Ebbetts, VERY GOOD. Good: Like the vinyl, but gained much lower. Bad: Perhaps some limiting used.

Mexico EP Do You Want to Know a Secret +3 (1965)

$10 up

General. This (EPEM-10037) is the US 45 master.

My Source: Vinyl (1971 reissue).

Imbalance. Untested.

Sonic Rating. GOOD. Good: Just like the US 45, except gained moderately. Complete ending. Bad: Not quite as dynamic: it’s not muffled, just a bit muddled.

VARIATION 4.0

Section updated February 10, 2011

General. The following applies to the video game mix: (1) At the end, rather than a third line fading, this Variation employs two measures of “oo-oo-oo----oo----oo--”, followed by a tacked-on full stop (new edit). (2) There is a little more reverberation here than on Variation 2.0, the amount pretty similar to 2.0.1.

VIDEO GAME The Beatles Rock Band (2009)

General. More details on the video game mix, .MOGG file multi-tracks, and outfakes: here.

My Sources. Internet (all).

Imbalance. The video game mix has an inherent imbalance which gives this Variation a different and very nice ambiance. After using Channel Duplication Solution, the ambiance is deflated, but the reverberation remains.

Sonic Rating. Video Game Mix, VERY GOOD. Good: Spectrally, this Variation works out to be the equivalent of a much louder red wax, but the added reverb and ambiance makes it better. Bad: A little bright, with some attendant harshness and slight sibilance. Digital intrusion noise near the end.

MOGG File Multi-Tracks. This section regards the extracted .MOGG file, consisting of 10, that is five pairs of Stereo, tracks. Full Playback sounds about the same as Variation 4.0. Isolated Tracks 1 & 2: Miscellaneous High and Low Frequencies. Digital noise. Isolated Tracks 3 & 4: Bass. Muddy, but listenable. The final eight seconds seem to be digitally manufactured. Isolated Tracks 5 & 6: Guitar/Snare. Listenable, if you mix with vocal/acoustic guitar track. Isolated Tracks 7 & 8: Vocals/Acoustic Guitar. Pretty good on its own. I heard “pennywhistle” noises, which I think are buried on the original recording. Isolated Tracks 9 & 10. Count-in. FINAL VERDICT: Give it some action.

Outfakes. As we know, an "outfake" is a fan-created mix or recording. The video game mix and the .MOGG file multi-tracks have both been subjected to various fan-created treatments, including extraction and remix. The bootleg, Beatles Rock Bandology Vol. 3, is devoted entirely to 28 treatments of "Do You Want to Know A Secret." Other outfakes exist (I discovered 7), some with, and some without, crowd noise and/or count-in.

I have decided to avoid review of these outfakes, since they have purely subjective value.

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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. Backing vocals and percussion (drumsticks) overdubs were added the same day. For Stereo mixing, the instrumental side of the twin track was sent hard (wide) to the Left channel, vocals and overdubs hard to the Right channel, with nothing (except bleed and occasional echo) Center, approximately thus (“I” = instrumental track, “V” = vocals/overdubs track):

Left _I_________________V_ Right

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

Stereo Image Deviations. There are at least two deviations known which I think do not approach the status of Variation:

(1) Ballads, approximately thus:

Left _I______________V____ Right

(2) The Beatles Box (“crate”), approximately thus:

Left ___I_____________V___ Right

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 by 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.

Sibilance. Many Stereo releases have issues with sibilance. This will be noted for each source.

Unhealthy Competition. The Left (instrumental) channel for “Do You Want to Know a Secret” in Stereo has a tendency to overpower the Right channel, especially as the song goes forward.

Hump. At about 1:31 into the song (at the end of “whoa-o-oooooh...”), there is a slight volume jump that last subsides almost immediately. It is only evident in Stereo.

End of Song. The fadeout for “Do You Want to Know a Secret” in Stereo is about the same as that in Mono, with no clear-cut winner.

VARIATION 3.0

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.

Sibilance. Yes, both vinyl and FLAC.

Relative Channel Loudness. Vinyl, moderate. FLAC, instrumental (Left) channel drastically reduced to accommodate the “Unhealthy Competition” problem. It works.

Sonic Rating by Mono Summing. Vinyl, GOOD. Good: Guitar/drum focus. Bad: Overpowering instruments. Some harshness as well.

FLAC, GOOD. Good: Vocal/guitar focus. Bad: Besides sibilance, the bass 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.

Sibilance. Vinyl, yes. FLAC, no.

Relative Channel Loudness. Vinyl, like the first lacquer. FLAC, about even with the vinyl.

Sonic Rating by Mono Summing. Vinyl, below par.

Ebbetts, GOOD. Good. No general flaws. Bad. The vocals are lost more so than on the vinyl.

US LP Introducing the Beatles (1963) – Stereo

$ expensive !

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

My Source: Dr. Ebbetts needle-drop FLAC.

Sibilance. Yes.

Relative Channel Loudness. Unnecessary.

Sonic Rating by Mono Summing. Something bad happened here, bass bleeding all over everything.

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

$ 20-100


General. There is no perceivable difference in reverberation for “Do You Want to Know a Secret” 3.0 here compared to other sources. Details on the German sources for "Do You Want to Know a Secret” 3.0 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.

Sibilance. Vinyl and Pbthal, No.

Relative Channel Loudness. Vinyl, compared to Blue Box vinyl, the same. Pbthal FLAC, compared to Tube-Cut FLAC, gained a bit louder, with the same intentions, but not the same outcome.

Sonic Rating by Mono Summing. Vinyl, VERY GOOD. Good. Drums, vocal, and bass do a nice combo. Bad. A little wonky on the bleed.

Pbthal, VERY GOOD. Good. About the same as vinyl, but did not notice the wonky bleeding. Bad. Low gain.

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.

Sibilance. Yes, vinyl and FLAC.

Relative Channel Loudness. Vinyl, about the same as the Blue Box. FLAC, unnecessary.

Sonic Rating by Mono Summing. Vinyl, GOOD. Good: Along the lines of the Blue Box, with a little more bass. Bad: Overpowering instruments, and sibilance.

Ebbetts, another casualty. Bleeding into both channels, causing incorrect Stereo image not reflected on vinyl MFSL.

Dr. Ebbetts 2008 Upgrade. Much different than any MFSL offering. Tinny and sibilant entry. Avoid.

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 Source. UK Vinyl, first lacquer, cut by Harry T. Moss.

Sibilance. Not really.

Relative Channel Loudness. Vinyl, about the same as the Blue Box.

Sonic Rating by Mono Summing. VERY GOOD. Good: Similar to the Blue Box, with I think more bass. Bad: Overpowering instrumental side.

UK LP The Beatles Ballads (1980)

$5-10

General. The album (Parlophone PCS-7214) was not released in the United States, but in the United Kingdom, Canada, and Australia. In Australia, the album was a giant hit, spending 7 weeks at #1 (Wikipedia).

This seems to have less reverberation (is drier) than other Stereo sources (could be an optical illusion).

My Source: Dr. Ebbetts FLAC.

Sibilance. Yes.

Relative Channel Loudness. Compared to the Blue Box FLAC, instrumental channel quieted to accentuate vocals.

Ebbetts, GOOD. Good. Very pleasing ambiance. Bad. Very sibilant.

Variation 3.0 Analog, Notes

(1) The Millennium Remasters red wax runs fast, which is enough to reject it.

VARIATION 3.0: DIGITAL

CD Please Please Me - Remaster (2009) – Stereo

My Source. FLAC.

Sibilance. No.

Relative Channel Loudness. Compared to the Blue Box FLAC, a bit more gain.

Sonic Rating by Mono Summing. VERY GOOD. Good. Drum/vocal focus without sibilance. Bad. Disappointing in a few areas, particularly the raggy bass, the slightly-incomplete ending, and the overpower instrumentation.

VARIATION 3.0: BOOTLEG

Fabulous Sound Labs HDCD Please Please Me

My Source: 320 kbps mp3.

Sibilance. Yes.

Relative Channel Loudness. Emulative of the 2009 Remaster, but with slightly-louder instrumental channel.

Sonic Rating by Mono Summing. Sibilance and loudness makes it unworkable for me.

Star Mark, Greatest Hits Vol. 1

My Source: 320 kbps mp3.

Sibilance. Not much.

Relative Channel Loudness. Like Fabulous Sound Labs HDCD, but one degree louder.

Sonic Rating by Mono Summing. VERY GOOD. Good. The vocal/bass focus works. Bad. It’s loud.

VARIATION 3.0.1

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).

Sibilance. Vinyl, no. Ebbetts, a bit.

Relative Channel Loudness. Vinyl, about like the Blue Box. Ebbetts, about as loud as the Star Mark. 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, EXCELLENT. Good. Vocal/drums. Bass sounds nice too. Even with extra reverb and what sounds like extra bleeding, the Stereo image remains at its post. Possibly most complete ending. Bad. A little bright.

Ebbetts, GOOD. Good. Adequate presentation. Bad. Besides being very loud, the bass is a bit overpowering here.

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. Drumstick clicks remain in the Right channel due to some additional wizardry. It’s really a very nice accomplishment, but it’s also quite sibilant.

Naturally, being unauthorized, this is not a Variation.

Bootleg, Fab Forgeries 2

This runs Take 7 with Take 8. Since the creators obviously wanted to give an alternate presentation of the released mix, I think it belongs on this webpage.

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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 13, includes an animated sing-a-long, with silhouettes and dancing hearts, but no Beatles. A capture appears below.


"Do You Want to Know a Secret" is also utilized for an animated segment in The Beatles cartoon series, Episode 12, wherein the boys follow a Tinkerbell-like fairy. However, the song is missing the middle-eight, making it not a suitable "music video" experience.

ROCK BAND

The Beatles Rock Band video game offers this song as a performance at the Cavern Club. Various angles are presented in several combinations, so there are many enjoyments. Obscuring game elements, both visual (meters and counters) and aural (crowd noise), are virtually impossible to eliminate.

Some enterprising individuals have collected the video game performances to bootleg DVD.

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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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