Maybe you’re sick of talking about The Beatles‘ remastered catalog, but we’re not. Especially when it comes to the technical inside baseball talk and getting insight to some of the decisions made by the remastering team.
Sound + Vision caught up with project coordinator Allan Rouse and recording engineers Guy Massey and Paul Hicks. Most of the interview hits the usual audio geek questions around gear and the condition of the original tapes, but this bit caught my eye:
…we wanted to improve the recordings at least to an extent that helps them sound better, perhaps, for the 21st century. I suppose you could argue that you should remaster them twice: once for the people from the ’60s, and again for the new generation.
Please don’t tell me there’s ever been any consideration to enter The Beatles into the loudness wars. I don’t like the sound of remastering “for the new generation” since those poor kids have been bombarded with noise with no rest in the dynamic range for more than a decade. Massey attempts to clear it up:
We were obviously aware of the Loudness Wars — squashing, brickwalling, all that sort of stuff — and we didn’t want to do that. We wanted to retain the original dynamics. So for the loudest part of the loudest songs, there may be limiting of 3 to 4 dB, but for most of the songs, most of the time, there isn’t any limiting.
But then Rouse chimes in with some nonsense about The Beatles not just being about the sound, but the songs. Well, no shit. But the sound of those recordings is almost as important as the songs they capture. The Beatles revolutionized popular music recording and the dynamic range of the music is part of that revolution. They specifically moved the kick drum mic closer to Ringo’s kit to capture a particular sound that was essential to backbeat music.
As happy as I am with the remastered catalog, talk like that makes me nervous about any future work.