Wednesday, February 23, 2011

1963, February 25: Sources: THERE'S A PLACE

“THERE’S A PLACE

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, 1.0, is Take 10 (the “best” twin-track), and is available. The next Foundational Variation, 2.0, is Take 13 (1.0+ harmonica dubs), also available. A complete history.

Variations. Since Take 10 is Variation 1.0, and Take 13 is Variation 2.0, we begin in this section with 3.0.

There is only one Mono mix, designated Variation 3.0.

There is also only one Stereo mix, designated Variation 4.0.

Not Variations.

(1) In testing* “There’s a Place” on the German Stereo Die Beatles LP, considered to have less processing than all other Stereo Please Please Me pressings (details: here), I heard no difference in the reverberation quality.

* 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) Other mastering differences between Stereo sources, such as discrepancies in loudness, will be discussed below, but they earn no new Variation.

Plectrum. Throughout the recording, there are odd plinking and clinking noises, audible in both Mono and Stereo. In Stereo, it occurs only in the Right (vocal) channel, leading to the conclusion that it’s John’s guitar. This is verified by listening to Foundational Variation 1.0, that is, Take 10. At about 1:03 into the song, this noise sounds like chaos. At about 1:06, it sounds like claves. At about 1:24, it sounds like a bad chirp.

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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 2011 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. “There’s a Place” 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. Commonly, the Mono mix fades completely after the fourth “There’s a Place”-plus-harmonica phrase. On at least the red wax needle-drops, the beginning of a fifth “There’s...” can just about be heard.

VARIATION 3.0: 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: Excellent vocal mix. Cozy. Bad: Bright, but somewhat wearisome.

Pbthal needle-drop FLAC.

Imbalance. FLAC signature.

Sonic Rating. VERY GOOD. Good: Bit darker than Ebbetts, which adds some needed toughness. The elements blend well. Bad: Sort of blah.

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

Imbalance. Millennium Remasters mp3 signature: link.

Sonic Rating. VERY GOOD. Good: Pert, with a nice mix of the elements. Call it “dense.” Bad: Somewhat suppressed.

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

Imbalance. FLAC signature.

Sonic Rating. About the same as Millennium Remasters.

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

$100+ (Introducing the Beatles, if genuine)

General. I did not test “There’s a Place” 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: Pleasing and clean. Aggressive in the mid-range, but still retaining lows, pretty good for that 1960’s punch. Bad: Vocals a touch sibilant.

Ebbetts, GOOD. Good: Balanced and dynamic, with no sibilance. Bad: Gained too loud, so it’s peaky.

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, “5” mother.

Imbalance. Untested.

Sonic Rating. VERY GOOD. Good: Bass, drums, and vocals share the spotlight. Pretty boss. Bad: Bit of distortion on the vocals.

US 7-inch 45 (1964)

$10-20

General. The B-side of this single (Tollie 9001) reached #74 on the US Billboard chart, April 11, 1964.

The same master for this single is likely to be found on the singles Oldies OL 152 (Oldies a Vee-Jay subsidiary) and Starline 6061 (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. (2) Dr. Ebbetts’ US Singles Collection needle-drop FLAC.

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

Vinyl, GOOD. Good: No denying this American big-vocal master. Bad: Gained very loud.

Ebbetts, VERY GOOD. Good: Like the vinyl, it’s a raunchy good time. Darker than Ebbett’s UK LP but brighter than the 2009 Remaster. Bad: Gain modified downwards, so the vocal mix is not as dynamic.

Mono, Analog, Notes

(1) The Mexican EP (EPEM 10039) is bright, imbalanced, and irritating.

VARIATION 3.0: DIGITAL

CD Please Please Me (1987)

My Source. CD.

Imbalance. link.

Sonic Rating. VERY GOOD. Good: Excellent vocal mix, even if a bit loud. Cracking good drums. According to spectrum analysis, not far removed from the 2009 Remaster EQ. Bad: Bright.

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. EXCELLENT. Good: Everything here is clean and fun, and the vocals are a wow! Bad: Not much, except it sounds fairly modern.

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: Really sweet master, with all elements in the best blend yet. Warm and mellow. Far and away the best subduing of harmonica. Key seems to be the edge taken off 2-8 KHz. Excellent vocal mix. It’s so transparent that microphone and/or tape distortion is enhanced, which here is actually attractive. Technically, the 50 Hz hum heard on previous releases was fixed for this release. Bad: Not much.

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STEREO

The takes were recorded as twin-tracks, two tracks recorded simultaneously. For Stereo mixing, bass, drums and George’s guitar, along with harmonica overdubs, were sent hard (wide) to the Left channel, while vocals and John’s rhythm guitar (whether it be acoustic or electric) were sent hard to the Right channel. Drums sometimes appear in the Right channel, a consequence of microphone placement. There is nothing (except bleed and occasional echo) Center, approximately thus (“I” = instrumental/harmonica track, “V” = vocals/rhythm guitar track):

Left _I_________________V_ Right

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

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

I will be assigning a number (from 1 to 10) for each channel, subjectively measuring the amplitude. For digital media, this is based on the waveform in Audacity. For analog media, this is based on channel LED indicators. Note that numbers assigned to analog media do not correlate to digital media. Neither are the numbers perfect, but are approximations. The reader is advised to run similar tests, and make necessary correlations, according to the gear.

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.

End of Song. On all Stereo sources tested, this song fades completely after the fourth “There’s a Place”-plus-harmonica phrase.

VARIATION 4.0

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, Left 2, Right 3. FLAC, Left 2, Right 6.

Sonic Rating by Mono Summing. Vinyl, VERY GOOD. Good: Engaging. Guitar and drums share instrumental spotlight without overpowering well-balanced vocal mix. Bad: Some distortion.

Pbthal, GOOD. Good: Somewhat like the vinyl. Bad: Vocals peaky due to interpretive mastering.

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

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

Relative Channel Loudness. Vinyl, Left 1, Right 2.5. FLAC, Left 6, Right 7.5.

Sonic Rating by Mono Summing. Vinyl, GOOD. Good: Adequate. Bad: It’s all a bit off-balance.

Ebbetts, VERY GOOD. Good: Nice drum focus, for a change, with a competing bass. Fun despite the crowded field. Bad: Just a little distortion.

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. Left 2, Right 4.

Sonic Rating by Mono Summing. GOOD. Good: Similar to pbthal’s German vinyl FLAC. Bad: But dank.

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

$ 20-100

General. There is no perceivable difference in reverberation for “There's a Place" 4.0 here compared to other sources. Details on the German sources for “There's a Place" 4.0 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, Left 2, Right 3. FLAC, Left 2, Right 5.

Sonic Rating by Mono Summing. Vinyl, GOOD. Good. Well-heeled. Bad. Nothing to write home about.

Pbthal, VERY GOOD. Good. More like pbthal’s Tube-Cut FLAC than a needle-drop from German vinyl, but not peaky. Bad. Very light on the bass.

US LP Rarities (1980)

$5-10

General. Brennan reported of this source (Capitol SHAL-12060), “The remix has the left, instrumental channel relatively louder.” Generally speaking, I do not regard such things as Variations but “deviations,” and the MFSL vinyl loudness is similarly affected. The Stereo image remains unchanged. Thus, no new Variation is designated.

My sources. (1) Vinyl. (2) Dr Ebbetts needle-drop FLAC. (3) All Together Now bootleg FLAC. (4) Every Little Thing Vol. 4 bootleg FLAC.

Relative Channel Loudness. (1) Vinyl, Left 1, Right 2. (2) Ebbetts, Left 4 Right 4. (3) All Together Now, Left 7, Right 8. (4) ELT4, Left 6, Right 7.

Sonic Rating. Vinyl, VERY GOOD. Good: Guitar and drums lead the way, vocals not far behind. Nice vocal mix. Bad: A bit peaky on the instrumental channel.

Ebbetts, VERY GOOD. Good: Very well-done mix of the elements and equalization. Bad: Due to adjusted channel loudness, it’s not authentic. Otherwise, I would judge this Excellent.

All Together Now, GOOD. Good: Sounds more like the Blue Box to me. Bad: Too loud.

ELT4, GOOD. Good: Same as ATN but not as loud. Bad: Some problems with distortion.

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, Left 2, Right 2.5. FLAC, Left 8, Right 7.

Sonic Rating by Mono Summing. Vinyl, EXCELLENT. Good: Great blending, with competing elements adding freshness. Super vocal mix. Prominent but not overbearing bass. Likeable all over. Bad: Not much.

Ebbetts, GOOD. Good: Similar to the vinyl . Bad: High end was boosted to compensate for inflated bass frequencies, resulting in some sibilance and peaking.

Dr. Ebbetts 2008 Upgrade. Very lightweight, and the instrumental channel is too loud.

VARIATION 4.0: DIGITAL

CD Please Please Me - Remaster (2009) – Stereo

My Source. FLAC.

Relative Channel Loudness. Left 4, Right 5.

Sonic Rating by Mono Summing. EXCELLENT. Good. Nice complex equalization, keeping one off-balance between the dominant guitar, the petulant drums, and the insistent bass. The vocals are not lost and the vocal mix is terrific. Bad. Instrumental channel a bit loud.

VARIATION 4.0: BOOTLEG

Fabulous Sound Labs HDCD Please Please Me

My Source: 320 kbps mp3.

Relative Channel Loudness. Left 8, Right 9.

Sonic Rating by Mono Summing. Very 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 heavy instrumentation Left and Right (“I” in the diagram below), vocals Center (“V” in the diagram below), approximately thus:

Left _I________V_______I_ Right

There are two shortfalls to this remix: (1) the Right channel is not consistent, which is very irritating, (2) the plectrum sounds are Center, which makes them unbearable.

Naturally, being unauthorized, this is not a Variation.

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VIDEO SOURCES

CARTOON

(1) The Beatles cartoon series, Episode 25, includes an animated segment during which a camera crew chases down a super-intelligent gorilla that disrupts the scientific community. Meanwhile, the boys record their performance for television taping (brief interspersing). A capture appears below.

"There’s a Place" was also utilized for an animated sing-a-long in The Beatles cartoon series, Episode 24, Ringo at the airport. However, the song is missing the harmonica intro, 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 © 2011 Tom Wise.

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