Apple Records Remasters

Jan 1, 2011 9:00 AM, By Rick Clark

CLASSIC ALBUMS FROM JAMES TAYLOR, BILLY PRESTON AND MORE

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Now out, from the team that remastered The Beatles’ catalog: The Apple Remasters. The Beatles’ legendary label has reissued 15 of its best-known albums, beautifully remastered with original artwork and many bonus tracks. These albums will also be available as digital downloads.

The reissues include original albums from Badfinger, Mary Hopkins, James Taylor, Billy Preston and more. Alan Rouse, who supervised the remastering of The Beatles’ catalog, oversaw this project. The remastering engineers included Steve Rooke, Sam O’Kell, Alex Wharton, Sean Magee, Simon Gibson and Guy Massey, who took time to describe the technical approach the team developed while working on The Beatles reissues at Abbey Road: “We used the original mix masters, not production masters, [which are essentially EQ’d and possibly compressed copies of the mix masters], where appropriate,” Massey says. “For the most part, the tapes were in pretty good condition. Most were ¼-inch analog, various stock—mostly 15 ips non-Dolby, some Dolby-A, some CCIR, some NAB.

“The transfers were very important,” he continues. “We went through lots of different permutations of tape machines/op amps/test tones/A-to-D converters when embarking on The Beatles’ back catalog. The one we ended up with was the chain we used with the Apple catalog—a Studer A80 ¼-inch analog tape machine to a Prism ADA-8XR converter to Pro Tools at 192kHz/24-bit WAV format. If no tones were present, which they usually weren’t, we would use house tones to align the machines; check azimuth by ear individually between tracks, sides, albums; and transfer tracks one by one, cleaning the tape path and heads between each transfer.

“The speed of the tape machine was checked continuously. Mono headblocks were used for full-track mono when needed. CEDAR was employed to remove anomalies like clicks or pops, bad edits, et cetera. These were then cut into the new 192/24-bit masters to create our new master file. We then captured the tracks into a SADiE mastering computer: analog out Prism ADA-8X into the TG mastering console, then EQ, then SADiE capture. At this point, very subtle limiting would be applied and then we’d have the new master.”

As for the bonus material, Massey says that those tracks were sourced by Mike Heatley and Andy Davies and mixed in Studio 3 at Abbey Road by Sam O’Kell. “They would have been transferred at 24/192 using the same converters and mixed via the SSL J Series console in Studio 3,” says Massey, who also did some archiving and restoration work related to the recent reissues of John Lennon’s back catalog. The Lennon reissues were remastered by Paul Hicks and Sean Magee. Up next for Rouse, O’Kell, Rooke and Massey is a series of Paul McCartney reissues.

“[Last year] was a busy year,” Massey says, “with finishing the Apple project, starting the McCartney one, as well as recording and mixing The Coral album with John Leckie, recording the new James Blunt album with Steve Robson, and working with some young, exciting bands.”






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