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Meeting #124:
THE BEATLES • Abbey Road
50th Anniversary Deluxe Edition
or a remix according to GILES MARTIN

Record label: Apple Records| Universal Music JAPAN
Release date: September 26th 1969
Re-issued: September 27th 2019


ABBEY ROAD album by The Beatles, released on September 26th 1969, only in stereo, on LP. In 1987, the first official version of Compact Disc was released, and on 09/09/2019, the first digital REMASTER was released for sale. On the 50th anniversary of the album's original release, a REMIX was presented. We compare three digital versions of this album.

bbey Road is the eleventh album of the Beatles and the last one that they recorded. It just so happens that the last album released by the Big Four was Let it Be and it was remembered as the "farewell" album. However, this does not change the fact that the Abbey Road, presented on September 26th 1969, is the band's best, musically most mature release.

Fifty years later its new, remixed version was released. In addition to the basic material that was originally published, we received discards from the recording session and demo materials on the other two CDs. The whole was repeated on a Blu-ray disc, which included two separate surround mixes - standard 5.1 and Dolby Atmos, as well as a high-resolution stereo version. The main engineer responsible for the sound was Sam Okell, and Giles Martin, son of the original producer of the album, George Martin, supervised the process as the producer. However, this was not his first Beatles adventure or the first remix of their album.

| REMIXING THE BEATLES – the beginning

Until 1987, all Liverpool Four albums existed only in analogue form - primarily as LPs, but also on ¼’’ tapes, cassette tapes and 8-track cartridges. It wasn't until the end of that year that the entire catalog was released on CDs. The reason was quite simple - money. Over the years, the record label, Capitol Records, did not agree to renegotiatee the percentages of royalties from the media sold for the two living Beatles and two widows.

Finally, it worked out, which was the only reasonable solution given the forecast revenues. The first Compact Discs were released on February 26, 1987. These were albums from 1963, Please Please Me, With the Beatles and two from 1964 A Hard Day's Night and Beatles for Sale.

As George Martin told Billboard, the publisher insisted on preparing stereo versions of the 1964 records. Sir Martin was not happy about that. He says that they were recorded on stereo tape, but only to make mixing vocals and instruments easier. So he wanted them to be released in the original form, i.e. in mono, the more that there was no time for more elaborate work on the material. The deadline for the digital masters was set for December 1986.

In the same interview, Martin mentions that while preparing the next three albums, which originally also had their stereo, official version, he decided not so much to prepare their digital master as to remix two titles: Help and Rubber Soul. As he says, "I haven't touched Revolver, though." And next:

I returned to the original four-track tapes - we are already in the stereo releases times - and these early stereo versions were not very good, even if we consider that I prepared them myself. In those days I was only learning myself, same as others. I didn't change them, the overall arrangement of everything is the same, even all the bizarre choices that are on the Rubber Soul. But I cleaned the sound a bit, so listening to this material on CD now, you will hear it more like you could pick it up in those days.

„Billboard” 1987, Volume 99, No. 10, March 7, p. 88


To understand well what we are talking about, I need to add a short explanation of the process that results in music recordings. It is divided into three main parts:


RECORDING is simply a recording of an audio signal on selected medium. MIX combines two (for mono) or more (for stereo or surround) audio tracks. MASTERING is the most enigmatic step, but it can be said that it is about setting the tonal balance of the whole disc, compressing the signal, equalizing the volume, performing noise reduction, de-essing (extinguishing too sharp hissing sounds), final setting of the stereo panorama, etc./p>

Initially, all three took place at the same time, and the varnish was immediately cut, from which metal matrix for pressing LPs was made. With time, each step became more and more specialized, until they almost completely lost their connection - today usually each of them is performed in a separate studio (studios), by different people.

Remaster | Re-issuing of albums, especially in digital form, is associated with the process referred to as REMASTER

However, it is just as Jacek Gawłowski, one of the most important Polish specialists in mixing and mastering, said, that it is imposing a new master on the old one, i.e. double signal processing. And, as we know, the longer the audio path, the worse the sound is. Therefore, more and more often, we are dealing with a different situation – REMIX.

Remix ver. 1.0 | Richard James Burgess, an author of the The History of Music Production says:

Mixing is usually associated with combining material recorded during the original production of the album, usually with a single release in mind or to release it on an album. Mixers (talking about people involved in the mix - ed.) sometimes add something or change the material, which is becoming more frequent lately. Remixes most often change a large batch of material, as well as the nature of the original production (...). Specialists in remixes appeared in the first half of the 1980s.

Oxford University Press, New York 2014, p. 112

Burgess speaks of the basic, first meaning of the word 'remix', having artistic connotations. His point is that new mixes of songs appeared for the dance scene and DJs. An ideal medium was found for them - a 12’’ LP, spinning at 45 rpm, which is the same as a 7" single. Bands such as Depeche Mode, Talk Talk, Eurythmics and countless performers of dance music have prepared extended, dance-floor versions of their songs; even the Genesis has their maxi-single.

It so happens that it was possible thanks to advances in studio technique. As Samantha Bennett writes, the change was associated with the introduction of large-scale consoles (Samantha Bennett, Modern Records, Maverick Methods: Technology and Process in Popular Music Record Production 1978-2000). The first such device was the SSL-4000 E-series model from 1981, and in 1985 it was joined by its largest competitor, the company Neve with the console belonging to the V-series.

What is this all about? - the thing is simple - they were computer-controlled analog mixing tables. Digital control and memory allowed recalling any settings (so-called "total recall") from the mixing process, and thus allowed changes in - literally - seconds. Thanks to this, not only dance mixes appeared, but simply alternative mixes, many of which entered the canon as the right ones (see: Eric Clapton and his debut: Eric Clapton, ORIGINAL EDITION - mix Tom Dowd / ALTERNATIVE MIX - Delaney Bramlett; more about HERE ).

Remix ver. 2.0 | However, the word 'remix' also has a second meaning today, given to it by people dealing with re-editions, which makes it technical - it is all about sound. And now we return to remastering. As I said, a remaster is to give a new master to an existing one. The room for maneuver is then limited to stereo (or monophonic) tape. However, you can reach further, i.e. to a multi-channel tape and prepare a repeat mix, and thus a new master. Thanks to this, the palette of possibilities of interference in the signal exponentially increases.

The most famous remixer ver. 2.0 is currently Steven Wilson. He is responsible for new versions of the iconic albums of King Crimson, Yes, Jethro Tull and others. Artists themselves, such as Kraftwerk and Roger Waters have also prepared their versions of the albums. Each such procedure interferes quite strongly in the musical tissue, which is why it meets the mixed feelings of the recipients (listeners, music lovers). Some praise new versions for better sound, others point out to artists and publishers a departure from the original, which is the 1st edition for them.


The changes introduced by George Martin to two CDs from 1987 were relatively small, but they were not well received. However he must have done something right, because we have been getting more and more remixes of known material, improving their sound. Also EMI recognized the advantages of reaching for multi-track tapes and when the three-part The Anthologies was released in 1995-96, we received another remixes of The Beatles songs on it. From this moment on, the modern era of the Big Four remixes has started, and I will add that this is its "phase 1."

Phase 1. The first major project related to this was brought by the Yellow Submarine Songtrack from 1999. In 2006, an album titled Love was released. It was the first Beatles album prepared jointly by George Martin - who was now 81 years old - and his son, Giles Martin. Originally, it was supposed to be the background music for Cirque du Soleil in Las Vegas.

Work on the material began as early as November 2003. Especially for this project, Abbey Road engineers have prepared a separate studio (more at, accessed: 03/01/2020). The work was done in the digital domain, in the Pro Tools system, and the materials were ripped from 1" tapes - four and eight-track ones. The result of these works were completely new versions of the tracks, with far-reaching interference in the original material.

Another big project was also the collection of "numbers one", which are the songs that were number one in the charts: The Beatles 1. It was originally released in 2000, but for its re-issue in 2005 it was decided to return to multi-channel tapes. It was Giles Martin's first Beatles project in which he participated as the main producer, without his father.

While earlier the Martins shared the roles of producer and mixer, this time the mixer was engineer Sam Okell, and Giles was the producer. Okell studied drums at Wells Cathedral School and completed his education as BMus Tonmeister at the University of Surrey. He was working at Abbey Road for years, going all the way there, from a student who brought coffee to technicians, to a Grammy winner. Let's add that he recorded and mixed the music track for several parts of the adventures of Harry Potter.

Phase 2. | The new version of The Beatles 1 received good reviews, so the label turned on the green light for subsequent projects. Although both gentlemen took part in it, I call this part of the story "phase 2" - for the first time they made thorough remixes of entire albums. However, the series began not with a studio album, but the Live at the Hollywood Bowl, which was released in 2016.

However, it was only a prelude. A year later, one of the band's most important albums, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, is released (we wrote about it HERE), a year later it was joined by the White Album, and this year a remixed version of the Abbey Road.

All these albums were not only remixed, and thus remastered, but were also supplemented with previously unreleased recordings - either in demo versions or mixed for the first time. In the "deluxe" versions we also received a richly illustrated book. Both their digital (CD) and analog (LP) versions have been released. All over the world, digital versions were released on Compact Discs, but in Japan they came out on SHM-CDs. The releases were accompanied by Blu-ray discs with hi-res stereo and multi-channel material. It is a pity that they were not released on SACD!


The remixed versions of known albums arouse a lot of emotions. We are dealing with improving the original, which is - let me remind you - the first edition. It's just the view from the recipient's side. From the artist's and publisher's point of view it looks different - musical material is for them something that changes over time, just like they change. So they reserve the right to review their choices from years ago. Who's right? - It depends what assumptions we make. Usually, the first versions of recordings are artistically better. However, as the example of the three Beatles albums from "phase 2" shows, this does not have to be the norm.

I would not like to decide for anyone, but to show you what the phenomenon of Giles Martin and Sam Okell mixes is, I have prepared a meeting of the Krakow Sonic Society, dedicated to the Abbey Road album. The meeting took place at the headquarters of Fram and Ancient Audio. Listening was conducted on a relatively inexpensive system, consisting of the Ancient Audio Prime AIR V-Edition player, as a CD transport and active speakers Fram Maxi 150.

I chose three versions for comparison:

|1| Japanese CD from 1998, with an ORIGINAL material from 1987 (the same as on the first issue),
|2| Love on CD, with REMIX from 2006,
|3| Japanese SHM-CD from 2014 with the material REMASTERED in 2009,
|4| Japanese SHM-CD from 2019 with the new REMIXED material.


|4| The first part of the listening session consisted of listening to seven songs from the new remix one by one. It’s been a long time since at a KTS meeting we listened to so much music in one go ...

Janusz | One general remark - I'm shocked and in a positive way. And I'm talking about my aesthetic impression. The pleasure of listening is incredible. It flows, it sounds, you can listen to it. It sounds simply beautiful! Big congratulations for the sound [applause]. I would like to say that this version listened to on the Fram Maxi 150 speakers sounds simply great. I definitely prefer my system, there is nothing to talk about, but how it sounded here - hats off ...

Jarek | I am happy to hear it, thank you…

Janusz | Although I hate the Beatles - my sister is their admirer - I know them quite well. But I must say that it sounded fantastic. This new version is simply great. It does not have much in common with the original, but it is in every respect better. Above all, it's richer. There is more of everything in it. Although it is not an expensive system, I have the impression that I hear things that have never been in these recordings before. It's probably the aftermath of what Wojtek was talking about, it is due to the mix that we got to the information buried one level below. I will say it again - I definitely prefer the new version. It is beautiful, musical, and sound wonderfully!

Rysiek S. | I have an observation: the beauty of the Beatles music has a subliminal impact on Janusz :)

Julek | The first impression was that I didn't like this new mix at all. I have the original version in my head and I'm used to having one in one channel, the other in the other, etc. Over time, the longer I listened, I began to get used to it. But, to be honest, I'd rather listen to the original version. Like an engineer Mamoń: "I only like things that I know and like ..."

Wojciech Pacuła | Look: we listened to something that is not the original, but at the same time it is the original, not a fake - it was accepted by people from the label, by two musicians and prepared by a man who has every right to think of this music differently. That is why it is so difficult to say what is the original. This is a thing known also from other types of art. At a previous meeting, one of the participants rightly pointed out that we have no moral authorization to assess what is original and only an artist can do it.

Janusz | To talk about art two conditions must be met: we must have contact with the artist (creator) and we will have to consider the recipient - both sides have the same say. There is no art without both. The artist's right is undisputed, but "who would you be, an artist on a desert island?" Therefore, the right of the one who receives the art is equal to the right of the artist himself, so we also have the right to assess what is the original. We can also evaluate music in terms of sound. My world is rich insofar as I perceive it in my own way.

Wiciu | Let's assume Janusz, that what you are saying is true - but notice that the new mastering was prepared without the artists in the studio. So it's not quite an artist's decision, it's rather a publisher's decision. In this case, is this legitimate, so much interference?

Wojciech Pacuła | It is true that it was done without artists, but no stereo mix, until the Abbey Road, was prepared in the presence of artists - the Beatles did not care, and they were only interested in mono mix. Monophonic versions had artistic value for them, and stereo was a marketing novelty. In that case, the only person who has the right to an artistic "I" is in the case of stereo releases the producer, George George. So Giles Martin would be his successor in this "I" or not?

Wiciu | I once listened to the broadcast of editor Sułka in "Dwójka", which said that Zimmermann had a contract signed with Deutsche Grammophon that without his consent no recordings would be remastered. But he did it because once he heard on the remaster of recordings from the 1920s things that were not heard before and which were „dirt”. And he didn't want that to happen to him.

Wojciech Pacuła | But if such things appeared, it wasn't because someone had put them there, but because they were there - but we didn't hear them before. The remastering engineer is not at fault, but rather the people preparing the original recording and the musician himself, right?

Wiciu | I like it a lot. Really a lot! I heard things I had never heard before. In Come Together, for example, I heard that there are also organs there. Incredible - this is a great version.

Rysiek S. | The disc is wonderfully eclectic, a lot changes from recording to recording. There are almost experimental things on this album, and parts are like a vaudeville. And as for what is allowed and what is not allowed, I am inclined to agree that someone who has access to the mixing console and changes something has the right to do so and we cannot say that it is good or bad . We are building new aesthetics with the help of new means.

But in fact melody and lyrics matter. And also whether music is liked and whether the listener will remember it. This is the Beatles genius that they did nice things that they are still liked 50 years later. And what we are doing now is lovely, but it’s just audiophile blah, blah. 99% of the population don’t care. After all, the Beatles themselves, I suppose, didn’t knew exactly what they wanted. It came out this way, but they didn't have another version to compare.

Janusz | I will say this - there is something in rock music, as the first performance and it is also the first release. In classical music however there are notes, which is why each performance is a different interpretation.

Bartosz | In my opinion Janusz is wrong, because there is such a thing as film music, also written down using notes. Nobody listens to film music at concerts for the first time because it is recorded in the studio for the purposes of the film. And this is the template. And yet it can be interpreted.

Julek | I think it is like Janusz said earlier - the recipient has the right to choose. I'm not saying that this new version is worse because I don't know that. It's just different. But the choice is my right. It's just like with black and white films: some prefer originals, while others prefer colored versions.

Wojciech Pacuła | Do you think this is the equivalent of coloring black and white films?

Janusz | No, it's not something completely different! Coloring goes too far, because it does something out of nothing, and the remix uses something that is already there - there was no color on black and white film tapes.

|3| The second part of the listening session consisted of listening to several songs from the new remix and comparing them to the version with the 2009 remaster (2009 vs 2019); we also listened to a few songs from the Love


Janusz | In short - for me the differences are big. And the advantage of the remixed version is as follows: it's just a spectacle. The 2009 version and the one from the Love are unacceptable to me. For me, the Beatles music is not sacred, so I rate it from a better-worse sound position and there is nothing to talk about here, the 2009 version with a hole in the middle and the left-right channel is simply bad, I wouldn’t want to listen to it.

Wiciu | The remix has definitely enhanced bass, more springy, and John Lennon's voice is like in a different room, it is more clear, stronger, but also has a different reverb, as if it was changed. I didn't mind, but it was different.

Rysiek S. | For me, the difference is big and very clear - in favor of the new remix from 2019. This is a very big leap in quality. The bass depth is greater, but more important is that it is cleaner sound. The fast cymbals can fully decay, meaning are not cut short, as in the 2009 remaster. They have a glow. The dynamics are better, making everything more alive and sparking. I didn't like the Love version at all.

Rysiek B. | I agree with Rysiek - the difference is colossal. The remix is cleaner, more transparent, more is happening there. The intelligibility of the text is incomparably better. The bass is better controlled - this is a live recording. The 2009 remaster would have been really good for me if I didn't hear the new remix.

Marcin | The 2019 remix is simply cooler. The performance is more dynamic, more vivid, more enjoyable.

Julek | I'm curious how the next songs will sound like. For me, this difference in direct comparison was smaller than I expected. Indeed, there is a lot of interference in the bass area, the percussion stereo is different. I'm still not convinced of the new remix, but I have to say that my dislike for it is weakening with each subsequent song and it is possible that it will completely disappear by the end of the meeting.


Rysiek B. | There is a gigantic difference! The 2009 version is like a bazaar copy compared to a high quality release.
Wiciu | Come on, let’s not exaggerate, it's not that bad.
Rysiek B. | For me it is

Janusz | While in the previous comparison the differences were considerable, only now I can hear how big the change is and how better the new remix from 2019 is. The difference was primarily in the voice. The new version has a slightly different reverberation, slightly exposed, making the voice clearer. The whole was more dynamic.

Julek | It may be different in the first row, where you are sitting, and differently in the second, where I am sitting ...
Wiciu | No, no - you can hear it the same. It's a bit like I watched The Magnificent Seven at the Eastman Kodak cinema - this is the 2009 remaster - and then the digital remix - and this is the 2019 remix. The old version is inaccurate, and the new one has clearer instruments and voice.
Julek | The second version sounded a bit artificial to me. Even if the vocals are smoother and better pronounced.

Bartosz | The new version is better - it's heaver, you can hear all the effects better, and it's also more pleasant to listen to. It will just be like that for me. Same with both previous remixes. But this one came out best for Giles Martin. Everything is heavy but in a good way. The old version has a muddy, not dynamic bass. There is no energy in the old version. The effects are shallow and not significant.

Rysiek S. | The second version is a little higher and I hear sibilants that bother me.
Rysiek B. | But in the 2019 remix I hear several voices, and in the first version only one ...
Rysiek S. | I was amazed because now I preferred the old version, this is the 2009 remaster.

Wojciech Pacuła | Don't you think this new version is ultra-creamy for good and for bad? Like a cream cake?

Rysiek B. | No, no - cream cake was the first album from 2009. It was boring and now it is exciting.

Julek | In my opinion, the first one is more diverse, and therefore natural, and the second one is more creamy and fluffy, and therefore a bit "made".

Rysiek B. | Absolutely not - the second one is lively and energetic, the texts are more understandable.

Bartosz | It is lively, energetic and something is going on there.


Over the next hour and a half of the recording, which my Nagra Mezzo recorded, there was a heated discussion. We listened to the next two songs, comparing the 2009 remaster with the 2019 remix, but then using several songs we compared the oldest version, i.e. the first remaster, with the "2009" remaster. Let me remind you that I have the first digital version in the Japanese release from 1998 - but this is the first remaster, just a later release.

Anyway - the discussion was heated. It's just that they had a common core: most of us were in favor of the remix supremacy, and two, sometimes three people for the 2009 remaster. Interestingly, most of us liked the original version, this is George Martin's remaster from 1987, maybe even more than his 2009 remaster. Yes, the first one was more dynamically limited and with rolled off treble - Rysiek B. said even that it sounded like "from AM radio". But there was something natural about it, a bit "vintage", in a good sense. Importantly, this was clear only when compared to the new remix.

As for me - and for most participants of the 124th KSS meeting - the new remix is a success. This is a bit "fluffy" sound, it is slightly inflated, but when it comes to the whole it is extremely convincing. The best one is the analogue original from 1969, there is no doubt about it, but when it comes to digital editions, the 50th Anniversary Edition is - in my opinion - the best version of this album. Julek is an example that this does not have to be the case for everyone - if someone is emotionally involved with the first vinyl release, then any change, even for the better, will be an unacceptable change for him. And that is also right.

Because in this case we face the choice between the original and its better version. But could there be a better version of the original or there is only one original and the rest are just alterations? The answer depends on the methodology and the initial assumptions made. Here and now, Giles Martin proves that something different, from my perspective better, can be done with a classic, canonical recording. You must have this version.


  • Richard James Burgess, The History of Music Production, Oxford University Press, Nowy Jork 2014
  • Samantha Bennett, Modern Records, Maverick Methods: Technology and Process in Popular Music Record Production 1978-2000 , Bloomsbury Academic, New York 2019
  • Beatles Reissues: What Will Be Next?, “The Scene: Please Release Me”,, accessed: 03.01.2020
  • George Martin Talks About Preparing Beatles CDs, “Billboard”, 7.03.1997, see HERE, accessed: 03.01.2020
  • Giles Martin on Remixing The Beatles' 'Abbey Road',, accessed: 03.01.2020
  • Annie Zaleski, The Day the Beatles’ First CDs Arrived in Stores,, accessed: 03.01.2020
  • Michael Fremer, Abbey Road 50th Anniversary Remix Full Review!,, accessed: 03.01.2020
  • Phil Bausch, The Beatles…Remix History,, accessed: 03.01.2020
  • Tom Doyle, George & Giles Martin: Remixing The Beatles,, accessed: 03.01.2020