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Imagine no compression? Lennon classic next release on Pure Audio

imagine_hfpa

High Fidelity Pure Audio – the Universal Music led initiative to reissue high resolution music physically on audio-only blu-ray discs – have announced that John Lennon’s 1971 album Imagine is to lead its next wave of releases.

The ex-Beatles’s second studio album is arguably the highest profile release on the format to date, although this year has also seen the of the reissue of Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On on HFPA.

The wishful thinkers amongst you might hope that this Pure Audio release will include the 4.0 quad mix issued a year after the album came out in 1972, but with only a small percentage of titles put out so far boasting any surround sound option, it seems rather unlikely. We expect this to be stereo-only and utilise the existing 2010 remaster.

Alongside the John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band record that preceded it, Imagine is regarded as Lennon’s finest post-Beatles work, although in truth, destiny didn’t allow him much time to better it thanks to the downtime of his ‘house husband’ years in the second half of the 1970s and the actions of Mark Chapman in December 1980.

Imagine contains some of Lennon’s best loved solo material. As well as the title track, it includes Jealous Guy, Gimme Some Truth and the McCartney baiting How Do You Sleep?. Klaus Voorman – whose association with The Beatles dates back to the Hamburg years – plays bass on the record, and George Harrison contributes guitar to many tracks.

Imagine was remixed in 1999 “under the personal supervision of Yoko Ono” but that remix was superseded in 2010 by a new Abbey Road Studios remaster that reverted to the original mix. Audiophile specialist Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab (MSFL) have also reissued the album in the past on CD and LP. The last official release of Imagine in any form was a Record Store Day 40th Anniversary Edition. This was a vinyl LP accompanied by a twelve-inch EP which contained six session tracks that had been previously released on the John Lennon Anthology box set.

The High Fidelity Pure Audio version of Imagine is released on 20 January 2014.

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29 responses to Imagine no compression? Lennon classic next release on Pure Audio

  1. Ricky says:

    My understanding is that if the exact same master is used here as on the 2010 CD version then there will be no discernible difference or advantage to this high-res format over the 2010 CD.

    It’s only if a better quality master is used to produce the high-res disc, be it SACD or Blu-ray etc that a difference in playback to the average man on the street would be noticeable.

    In this case or with any of these Pure Audio discs using the same masters used on the already released CD versions, you may as well stick with the CD.

    As I understand it this is just a marketing strategy trying to sell the same product in a different format that will hold no benefit in ‘high-res’ over the already available ‘low-res’. Unless you have fabled golden ears!

    That isn’t fact just my understanding.

  2. Dean says:

    There will always be audiophiles who demand these types of products. There is an awful lot of mis-information about redbook (CD) out there. CD’s can replicate the full range of human hearing, and the vast majority of us aren’t able to hear even that well. That IS a fact.

    CD goes wrong with poor mastering. A bad remaster ruins the experience – and for some strange reason people turned on the medium, CD, rather than the real problem. A well mastered CD sounds terrific, and you’ll be hard pushed to better it.

    On the other hand, hi-res and completely uncompressed is the optimal solution, so I think there is a market for these.

    Having said that – John Lennon’s Imagine…. really? If this is indicative of the type of titles that are going to get released then I can be sure I won’t be buying anything for some time. Such an uninspired line up. Too much music languishes unreleased, or released in inferior versions – why do we get the same old titles churned out over and over and over??!?

    I won’t be buying this. They need to do better – MUCH better.

    • GL says:

      Imagine? What’s the matter with this album? Great album. I agree it’s not an audiophile recording. The remix that was issued sounded much better. Much more clarity. They should be releasing that in Pure Audio format.

  3. Marsh says:

    The other question is: is the 2010 master the ORIGINAL mix of the album, or is it from the Yoko Ono-approved remixes they did in the mid 2000s. I would only opt for this if it was the original mixes–or, even better, both mixes, a la the XTC Nonsuch that just came out on Bluray with original and new mixes (AND 5.1 Surround!).

    • Paul Sinclair says:

      The 2010 remaster is the original mix. I think Yoko has ‘moved on’ from her remix, which is probably why it’s not on this release…

  4. Ricky says:

    Dean
    I agree with you on the hearing range angle and the quality of the master is the difference rather than the format it is presented in.

    I do have SACD’s and separate CD’s of the same album both taken from the same master and there is no differences to be heard on the supposedly superior, ‘audiophile’ format whatsoever.

  5. Fran says:

    Ricky
    Sorry, but if you don’t hear a difference between SACD and redbook CD
    you need to upgrade your equipment. Just off the top of my head I would list Elton John’s “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” as one with a
    remarkable improvement in sound quality over redbook cd or even the MFSL gold cd.
    Dean
    Totally agree with you on the slim pickings released on the PURE AUDIO format. “Breakfast in America” and “GRRR…. ” by the Stones are
    worth getting, but I would recommend “Damn the Torpedoes”,
    “Close To The Edge” and ” Aqualung” to really enjoy high fidelity in surround on BLU RAY.

  6. Dean says:

    Of course we all have personal tastes in music, but the companies just churn out the same old titles over and over and over. It’s lazy, and basically is offering incremental – sometimes very small incremental – improvements.

    I don’t think you can say that a SACD is necessarily better than a CD. But whatever your beliefs, let your ears do the judging. There are so many myths at the moment, especially from fans of Vinyl. I grew up on Vinyl, and well know its downsides. It doesn’t necessarily sound better than CD. Instead of indulging in format wars, we should campaign for better mastering, so the music we buy is as good as it can get.

    Vinyl, CD, SACD, DVD-A, Pure Audio, Blu-Ray, MP3, High-res downloads…..

    I mean honestly, the world has gone mad. And instead of music lovers getting together to fight the mediocrity, we bicker over transport mediums…… I like CD. But far too often I can’t buy a release that takes advantage of what it offers. They’ll find a way to screw up Pure Audio too…… it’s already started with a lacklustre (AKA rubbish) initial catalog.

  7. peter stergakos says:

    If you’re going to release a higher resolution version of an album that’s been issued repeatedly, why not go with the best sounding version and make the new release sound that much better??

    Not using the Peter Cobbin remixed version is a bad move. I have often found that when a poor sounding album is released in any higher res format, it only ends up sounding that much poorer-i.e, the higher res only brings out more of the shortcomings in the mix.

    I will buy this as I have yet to find a satisfactory CD version of this album in it’s original mix.; plus It’s one of my favorite Lennon albums of all time so I will constantly be on the “hunt” for “best” sounding versions. In all honesty though, I don’t believe this will surpass what Cobbin did with the album some ten years ago or so.

    • Paul Sinclair says:

      This goes back to what the artist wants. Yoko Ono didn’t want the remix issued, simple as that. It would have been a great opportunity to put Quad, remix and 2010 remaster all in one place, but there you go. Universal need permission from the artist, which in this instance is Yoko.

  8. Bill says:

    Reading though the comments, a few thoughts occur to me…

    Yes, CD *should* be as high-fidelity as anyone needs in a stereo album and we all know the main reason it often isn’t, is down to the mastering. This is no coincidence. I noticed that the Hi-Res downloads of Paul McCartney’s New album from hdtracks.com have considerably less volume compression than the CD version, although no mention is made of this. It’s not that record companies are deliberately releasing substandard CDs, but they know that particular product isn’t aimed at audiophiles – it’s aimed at people who want to hear all the music over the hum of the car engine or through the hubbub in the coffee shop.

    Therefore, if these hi-res versions feature the mastering care and quality that some think ought to be present on a humble 44.1/16 format, then obviously that makes the release worthwhile and all the extra bits are just a bonus. Naturally, if you’re playing the music on “old tin boxes” you’re not going to notice any appreciable difference and if your system is on the modest side, you might be wasting your money on hi-res formats unless you intend to upgrade in the future.

    Regarding the lack of, dare I say, “imagination” in the titles released on this format: an artist of John Lennon’s stature has plenty of fans who will buy anything with his name on it. If that helps to make a niche format more recognisable and viable, then what’s wrong with that?

    I agree with the original post that this release would be a wasted opportunity if it doesn’t include the Quad mix – even though John didn’t care for or about quad. There were also some 5.1 mixes used in the documentary Gimme Some Truth about the making of Imagine. The smart thing would be to make this like the Dark Side of the Moon Blu-ray and have every known mix of the album available – The original stereo mix, the quad mix, the 5.1 where available and Yoko’s revisionist mix for anyone who’s interested.

    If they don’t, well, you don’t have to buy it. And that rule also applies if the mix, format or indeed the album itself isn’t your bag.

  9. Ricky says:

    Fran
    I think you have misread my post.

    I am sure ‘better mastered’ SACD’s do sound better as I implied. The original source of the audio is the key factor as I clearly stated. Is the GYBR SACD sourced from the same master of the CD you are comparing it against? If not, the example is unjustified. If it is then it is just the placebo effect.

    It has been discovered that these HFPA discs are not all sourced from original analogue master tapes as stated but often from the same source as CD’s already out there. Therefore they are hit and miss as to which will sound better as the source of the audio can’t be determined. Some are even using the same booklets used for the previous CD release and which state there are bonus tracks on the disc when there aren’t any on the HFPA disc. Lazy and misleading production but convincing enough to part fools with their money.

    No, I don’t need to upgrade my equipment it is perfectly fine and your egotistic and condescending assumption that my equipment is the issue shows your ignorance of the subject. It is the stereotypical response from the deluded audiophile who has to justify his expensive hobby and his never-ending upgrade quest. Convincing himself he hears things other don’t and putting down anyone who disagrees with feeble remarks regarding equipment.

    Meanwhile, enjoy your £100 per metre speaker cable, I’m sure it makes all the difference and you really do hear those big, jaw dropping improvements. Hope your next big, expensive upgrade really brings out the sounds that aren’t there and that your ears cannot audibly hear.

    • Paul Sinclair says:

      Ricky, I don’t entirely agree with what you are saying here. It all comes down to the relative term ‘better’.

      If you are comparing like with like, the SACD or Blu-ray WILL sound better (assuming you have a reasonable hi-fi). The mastering is irrelevant. Obviously, a brilliantly mastered CD is likely to sound better than really badly remastered SACD, but that has absolutely nothing to do with the format.

      A poor remaster, used on both CD and blu-ray, is not going to be improved by the format, but the format will allow you to ‘hear’ the poor remaster with more clarity, if you see what I mean. Obviously no one wants to hear a poor remaster ‘better’ so that’s not really a good situation.

      However a well mastered CD should sound at least marginally better on a hi-res format. It’s basically a digital fact. Like scanning a photo in at a higher resolution – you just get more information.

      The debate is whether you can ‘hear’ the difference, and that comes down to variables like the quality of components in your hi-fi set up, location of speakers in the room, cables used, etc etc.

      Your assertion about these (HFPA) discs ‘coming from the same source as CDs’ doesn’t meant the quality of audio is the same. The source is the same, but CD can only capture the information at 16 bit sampled at 44.1 Khz, while SACD or Blu-ray can capture much higher. The minimum for HFPA is 24 bit / 96Khz. So the digital master is HIGHER QUALITY than CD (at least 24bit/96Khz) and then down-sampled for CD but the same compromise is not made for the SACD or HFPA. That’s the point you seem to be missing.

  10. Ricky says:

    ‘If you are comparing like with like, the SACD or Blu-ray WILL sound better (assuming you have a reasonable hi-fi). The mastering is irrelevant. Obviously, a brilliantly mastered CD is likely to sound better than really badly remastered SACD, but that has absolutely nothing to do with the format.’

    Contradicted yourself in that paragraph by saying the mastering is irrelevant but a well mastered CD is likely to sound better than a badly remastered SACD and that is exactly the point I made so why are you using it to counter my statement. I have said the master is more important than the format.

    I am saying the same master used to produce SACD/Blu-ray (high-res) and CD will sound the same unless you think you have superior hearing. If a superior sounding master is used to produce the high-res disc it will most likely sound improved because an improved master has been used.

    Sorry but most of the numbers you quote above CD level you are not going to pick up with an aging hearing range so those ‘high-res’ numbers are irrelevant.

    The whole point of this is that the Lennon HFPA disc is using the 2010 remaster as it’s source and is therefore going to sound exactly the same as the CD and if you try and tell me a £10,000 system will make it sound improved over playing it on a £1,00 system I will refute that.

    Cables used? Have some common sense.

    The only benefit any of these HFPA discs will have is if any come with 5.1 mixes and only several have.

    • Paul Sinclair says:

      Hi Ricky – we’ll have to agree to disagree.

      Just because the HFPA is using the same master, that doesn’t mean it is going to sound the same as a CD.

      I think I used fairly reasoned arguments. It’s a fact that there is more digital information in the higher res HFPA. That’s not my opinion. As I said in my response whether you can hear it or not is another argument altogether.

  11. Ricky says:

    As a footnote I would say the only possible piece of equipment that you could upgrade to radically improve sound is your ears and that isn’t going to happen.

    There is a level above which the figures mean nothing because you can’t hear the information although I agree if you could it would sound improved.

    That is the impasse. Those audiophiles who say they do hear detail above the limit of their hearing and those with more common sense and money in the bank.

    But honestly, cable? You aren’t that gullible surely?

  12. Ricky says:

    Sorry, no more from me on this highly debatable subject. No offence intended.

    Great, informative site and visit daily.

  13. Jason Taverner says:

    It would be nice if more of these releases were for albums that had a dynamic range worth listening to in High-Res audio and, for all of its other strengths, this album is not one of those. The recent Yes “Close to the Edge” BD release is a great example of an album that really benefits from High-Res.

  14. Rock Singer says:

    Please in the future don’t mention the name of the idiot who murdered John Lennon, call him assassin, murderer or any other name you can think of but don’t give him the notoriety he was seeking. He is the man who’s name we must never mention.

  15. Petrus says:

    There certainly are more bits and digital info on a SACD than a CD, but that does not mean that the same material will sound better or even different on a SACD compared to CD. The problem with these ancient recordings is the master tape. Even the lowly CD is 10 to 1000 times (10 to 30 dB) better than analog tape what comes to dynamic range, also the frequency range reaches couple of octaves lower and about half an octave higher than tapes from the sixties and seventies (not forgetting the microphones used). So it is child’s play to fit all the information that is on those tapes to a CD, new mastering or mix or not. Using a higher resolution medium like SACD for the same is just using a 10 gallon bucket to hold the six gallons CD can also carry easily, or more like 3 gallons in case of these old analog tape based recordings. Basic physics. Basic marketing. And the twain shall never meet.

  16. Mike F says:

    10dB is not 10 times the dynamic range. It can’t be when 6dB is double.

  17. Mike F says:

    …and there’s absolutely no way that CD has 1000 times more dynamic range than analogue tape. Have you got your maths mixed up? :-)

  18. abitoftap says:

    Even simpler…what (generally) sounds better?..a 1960s/1970s analogue recording or a later digital recording? To my ears, there’s no comparison.

  19. LedMan says:

    So far I have 20+ “HFPA” releases and some sound better than others. Some of them do contain bonus tracks.
    One I would seriously consider avoiding is The Velvet Underground “The Velvet Underground & Nico”.

  20. HiDefBear says:

    It’s 11/12/13 and there are STILL no pre-order links on any of the Amazon sites for a title that has a street date of 16/12/13…

  21. Pingback:John Lennon’s ‘Imagine’ reissued on the High Fidelity Pure Audio format | Music News | Sound Colour Vibration

  22. crossroads69 says:

    Hey Paul,

    Elusive disc is claiming that this disc also has a 5.1 mix. While the thought is very exciting, it doesn’t seem much likely that they’d issue a new surround mix without any fanfare. Do you know if this is true?

    http://www.elusivedisc.com/John-Lennon-Imagine-Blu-Ray-Pure-Audio-Disc/productinfo/UNIBA47522/

    • Paul Sinclair says:

      It’s definitely not 5.1 so that must be a mistake. There ISN”T a 5.1 mix of Imagine for a start (only Quad 4.0) and I know they are not including the Quad. It’s the original ‘John’ mix in stereo – that’s it!

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