Reviews

First listen: SDE on the 5.1 surround sound mix of The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper

Is the new 5.1 mix any good?

Apple Corps and Universal kindly supplied SDE with super deluxe edition of The BeatlesSgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band a week or so before release date. There’s a lot of content in the six-disc box set, but we couldn’t resist heading first to the 5.1 mix – created by Giles Martin and Sam Okell. Martin had already promised an audience at Abbey Road that the Pepper 5.1 would be “much more immersive” than any of his surround work on the ‘number ones’ video package. So let’s examine the mix, track-by-track…

Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band

Interestingly, the title track from the album is one of the least impressive of the 5.1 mixes. Of course, the ferocious sound of Paul’s vocal never fails to impress but Giles Martin has chosen not to isolate it on the centre channel. In fact, the vocal is largely limited to the centre and right speaker, with not much in the front left channel, which seems a bit strange considering the lengths Giles has gone to ‘correct’ the imbalance of the old stereo mix.

The two rear speakers are largely reserved for crowd noise and general ambiance. At this point I’m thinking perhaps we need to adjust our expectations somewhat. Pepper is a landmark album, but not every track is going to be transformed by the 5.1 experience.

SDE Verdict: Good.


With A Little Help From My Friends

Rear speakers used to good effect for third-line chorus backing vocals and call-and-response element “What do you see when you turn out the light?…“, although they’re strong on the front left and right channels too. The chorus piano also comes to life in the rear channels.

SDE Verdict: Good.


Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds

Next to nothing happening in rear channels during the verses, although Paul’s harmonies are very clear at the back during the chorus.  The lead vocal comes through strongly on the centre speaker although it’s also present on front left and right channels.

SDE Verdict: Good


Getting Better

It’s clear that Giles Martin has tackled the Pepper 5.1 on a song-by-song basis and hasn’t used a one-size-fits all technique. Thus Getting Better is the first song on the album that more-or-less isolates Paul’s lead vocal (and the harmony) to the centre speaker. This sounds fabulous – when you hear it you wish the other tracks were more like this.

Good use of rear channels for backing vocals and those chiming guitars. SDE also noted that some harmonies go from front-to-back (“Better… better… better“). The best so far.

SDE Verdict: Very Good


Fixing A Hole

Vocals back to being balanced across the front three channels, hi-hat far left and bass quite central. Those “dang, dang, dang, dang-ooh” guitars at the end of the verse pop up at the rear, as does the funky fuzz guitar during the “they never win, then wonder why they don’t get in my door” bit. The guitar solo is slap bang in the centre speaker.

SDE Verdict: Good


She’s Leaving Home

The vocals here are mainly fed through the left and right speakers with solid support from the centre. Selective – but effective – use of rear channels with string elements and Lennon’s chorus lines.

SDE Verdict: Good


Being For The Benefit of Mr Kite

Being For The Benefit Of Mr Kite is the second track on the 5.1 of Pepper (after Getting Better) to focus the vocal efforts (in this instance of John Lennon) largely to the centre speaker. For much of this song drums and percussion are chugging along at low levels in the rear channels.

The famous part of Being For The Benefit of Mr Kite – created with random fairground tape loops – is effective in 5.1 but while it swirls around a bit, there’s not loads of action at the rear. The ‘da da da da da da’ piano that signifies the end of this passage is heard via the centre speaker. Overall, it sounds very good but doesn’t have the ‘wow’ factor you might expect. ‘Spinning’ some of those effects 360º in a circular fashion might have been fun.

Compared to the 5.1 on Love, John’s vocal isn’t quite as soft, it has a bit more grit. Although the ‘drone’ of the organ during the verses was mixed to the rears on Love, which I quite liked, and that’s missing here.

SDE Verdict: Good


Within You Without You

Wow. Within You Without You sounds magical in 5.1. Counterpoint strings in rear and George’s vocal sounding great at the front. A truly excellent surround sound experience and the only time I was really moved by the new mix, if I’m honest.

Verdict: Stunning


When I’m Sixty Four

I wasn’t expecting too much from When I’m Sixty Four in 5.1, but it’s a lot of fun. For the first verse and chorus there’s little from the rears, save for some perky piano.
The “you’ll be older too / cottage in the Isle of Wight” section has more piano and harmonies in the rears (along with bells).

Verdict: Very good


Lovely Rita

The ‘aahh’ and intro chorus vocals are present in the rears from the off, although there’s not too much going on behind until “…made her look a little like a military man” when we get some percussion. The piano solo is played across the front two speakers. The jazzy outro sounds excellent.

SDE Verdict: Good


Good Morning, Good Morning

The vocal quite strongly favouring the centre speaker with some low level horns at rears.
Guitar solo plays in centre. The animal noises at the end stay at the front except for the galloping horses and which go front to back and the chicken which is at the rear.

Verdict: Good


Sgt Pepper reprise

Some guitar at rears. Not too much to say about this. Not bad.

Verdict: Good


Day In The Life

John’s vocal quite isolated in centre, although still present on both front speakers.
Supporting acoustic guitar and piano comes through gently in rears. The crescendo is played across all speakers. You’d think Giles might have put the alarm clock in one of the rears, but no, it’s front left. Like John’s, Paul’s vocal is most prominent in the front centre channel. Piano chord at the end rings out magnificently across all speakers. The ‘space’ in this track makes the 5.1 experience work well, compared to say, the very ‘dense’ Good Morning.

Verdict: Very good.


Strawberry Fields Forever

Vocals very much front, left and right. A bit of a 5.1 tour-de-force. .
Sounds superb, with strings working very well in rear. Guitar phrase at end plays in centre; I preferred the rear left placement of the Love version.

Verdict: Stunning


Penny Lane

Quite a lot of vocal in the centre, although not exclusive.
Not much in the rears except trumpets at end of choruses.

Verdict: Good


SDE summary

I’m glad Apple/Universal commissioned a 5.1 version of Sgt. Pepper, but this isn’t a mix to invite your friends around to blow them away with the sounds-flying-around-the-room experience of surround sound. Neither is it a mix that reveals hitherto unheard instrumentation or makes you love the album more than you already do. It isn’t particularly ‘immersive’ I have to say, but neither is it boring. It’s somewhere in between.

The tracks that really stand out are the truly exceptional, experimental or unusual; in this instance, A Day In The Life, Strawberry Fields Forever and Within You Without You. With the guitars, bass, drums at the core of the title track or a song like Fixing A Hole, there’s only so much they can do in 5.1 surround sound.

The freedom and creativity of the Love mash-up has probably raised our expectations, but that was something of a one-off, which allowed for some wild and wonderful experimentation (almost entirely successful). Giles Martin’s job here was really to maintain the integrity of the original vision, while taking advantage the extra aural dimensions of 5.1.

Has he played it safe? Perhaps. It’s worth remembering that Giles had his dad with him for Love, to encourage a bit of reckless abandon and ‘anything goes’ creativity, just like the Fabs in their day. George Martin is sadly no longer with us, and whether Giles likes it or not, he’s inherited the responsibility of being the custodian of The Beatle’s audio recordings. That burden must weigh heavy at times.

So while he clearly hasn’t approached the task with a remit to create a demonstration disc for your local hi-fi shop, that’s probably not a bad thing, on reflection. Pepper isn’t that album.

Given that Strawberry Fields Forever isn’t on the long-player, the final conclusion is that Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band isn’t quite as exciting as we might have hoped, when mixed for 5.1 surround sound. It’s not bad in any way, and has the highlights stated, but unlike say, Pink Floyd‘s Dark Side Of The Moon, it’s unlikely to be the disc you automatically gravitate towards when you want to listen to the album. That will more than likely be the new stereo mix or the original mono.

Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band super deluxe edition is released on 26 May 2017. More coverage on other aspects of the box set in the coming days.

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0602557455328

The Beatles

Sgt. Pepper - 6-disc super deluxe box set

Shop Price GBP Stock
Amazon de 6LP coloured vinyl box 92.19
Amazon usa 6LP coloured vinyl box 91.19
Amazon ca 6LP coloured vinyl box 97.55
Amazon uk 6LP coloured vinyl box 94.98
Amazon fr 6LP coloured vinyl box 89.61
Amazon it 6LP coloured vinyl box 117.10
Amazon es 6LP coloured vinyl box 100.82
JPC de 6LP coloured vinyl box 92.20
HMV uk 6LP coloured vinyl box 94.99
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0602557455342

The Beatles

Sgt. Pepper - 2LP vinyl

Shop Price GBP Stock
Amazon de 6LP coloured vinyl box 24.97
Amazon usa 6LP coloured vinyl box 24.25
Amazon ca 6LP coloured vinyl box 24.36
Amazon uk 6LP coloured vinyl box 29.94
Amazon fr 6LP coloured vinyl box 23.69
Amazon it 6LP coloured vinyl box 29.51
Amazon es 6LP coloured vinyl box 27.44
JPC de 6LP coloured vinyl box 27.57
HMV uk 6LP coloured vinyl box 34.99
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0602557455366

The Beatles

Sgt. Pepper - 2CD Edition

Shop Price GBP Stock
Amazon de 6LP coloured vinyl box 12.09
Amazon usa 6LP coloured vinyl box 12.38
Amazon ca 6LP coloured vinyl box 12.91
Amazon uk 6LP coloured vinyl box 13.94
Amazon fr 6LP coloured vinyl box 13.51
Amazon it 6LP coloured vinyl box 14.74
Amazon es 6LP coloured vinyl box 14.80
JPC de 6LP coloured vinyl box 17.23
HMV uk 6LP coloured vinyl box 15.99
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Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band super deluxe edition box set

CD 1 / New Stereo Remix
1. Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
2. With A Little Help From My Friends
3. Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds
4. Getting Better
5. Fixing A Hole
6. She’s Leaving Home
7. Being For The Benefit Of Mr. Kite!
8. Within You Without You
9. When I’m Sixty-Four
10. Lovely Rita
11. Good Morning Good Morning
12. Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise)
13. A Day In The Life

CD 2 / Sgt. Pepper Sessions
1 Strawberry Fields Forever – Take 1
2 Strawberry Fields Forever – Take 4
3 Strawberry Fields Forever – Take 7
4 Strawberry Fields Forever – Take 26
5 Strawberry Fields Forever – Stereo/Giles Martin Mix 2015
6 When I’m Sixty-Four
7 Penny Lane – Take 6
8 Penny Lane – Vocal Overdubs and Speech
9 Penny Lane – Stereo / Giles Martin Mix 2017
10 A Day In The Lif e- Take 1
11 A Day In The Life – Take 2
12 A Day In The Life – Orchestra Overdub
13 A Day In The Life – Hummed Last Chord
14 A Day In The Life – The Last Chord
15 Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band – Take 1
16 Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band – Take 9
17 Good Morning Good Morning – Take 1
18 Good Morning Good Morning – Take 8

CD 3 / Sgt. Pepper Sessions
1 Fixing A Hole – Take 1
2 Fixing A Hole – Speech And Take 3
3 Being For The Benefit Of Mr. Kite!
4 Being For The Benefit Of Mr. Kite! – Take 7
5 Lively Rita – Speech and Take 9
6 Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds – Take 1 And Speech
7 Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds – Speech
8 Getting Better – Take 1
9 Getting Better – Take 12
10 Within You Without You – Take 1
11 Within You Without You – George Coaching The Musicians
12 She’s Leaving Home – Take 1
13 She’s Leaving Home – Take 6
14 With A Little Help From My Friends – Take 1
15 Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise) Speech and Take 8

CD 4 – Sgt. Pepper in Mono
1. Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
2. With A Little Help From My Friends
3. Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds
4. Getting Better
5. Fixing A Hole
6. She’s Leaving Home
7. Being For The Benefit Of Mr Kite!
8. Within You Without You
9. When I’m Sixty Four
10. Lovely Rita
11. Good Morning Good Morning
12. Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise)
13. A Day In The Life

Bonus tracks

14 Strawberry Fields Forever
15 Penny Lane
16 A Day In The Live – First Mono Mix
17 Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds – Original Mono Mix
18 She’s Leaving Home – First Mono Mix
19 Penny Lane – Capitol Records Mono Mix

Disc: 5 / Blu-ray: Sgt. Pepper in 5.1 surround sound and hi-res stereo
1. Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
2. With A Little Help From My Friends
3. Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds
4. Getting Better
5. Fixing A Hole
6. She’s Leaving Home
7. Being For The Benefit Of Mr. Kite!
8. Within You Without You
9. When I’m Sixty-Four
10. Lovely Rita
11. Good Morning Good Morning
12. Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise)
13. A Day In The Life
14. Strawberry Fields Forever
15. Penny Lane
16. The Making Of Sgt. Pepper
17. A Day In The Life
18. Strawberry Fields Forever
19. Penny Lane
20. Menu / The Beatles / Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
21. Audio Menu / The Beatles / Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
22. Sgt. Pepper’s Audio Menu / The Beatles / Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
23. Strawberry Field Forever/ Penny Lane Menu / The Beatles / Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
24. Video Menu / The Beatles / Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
25. Making of Chapter 1 Menu / The Beatles / Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
26. Making of Chapter 2 Menu / The Beatles / Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
27. Video Setup Menu / The Beatles / Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band

Disc: 6 / DVD: Sgt. Pepper in 5.1 surround sound and hi-res stereo
1. Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
2. With A Little Help From My Friends
3. Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds
4. Getting Better
5. Fixing A Hole
6. She’s Leaving Home
7. Being For The Benefit Of Mr. Kite!
8. Within You Without You
9. When I’m Sixty-Four
10. Lovely Rita
11. Good Morning Good Morning
12. Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise)
13. A Day In The Life
14. Strawberry Fields Forever
15. Penny Lane
16. The Making Of Sgt. Pepper
17. A Day In The Life
18. Strawberry Fields Forever
19. Penny Lane
20. Menu / The Beatles / Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
21. Audio Menu / The Beatles / Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
22. Sgt. Pepper’s Audio Menu / The Beatles / Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
23. Strawberry Field Forever/ Penny Lane Menu / The Beatles / Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
24. Video Menu / The Beatles / Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
25. Making of Chapter 1 Menu / The Beatles / Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
26. Making of Chapter 2 Menu / The Beatles / Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
27. Video Setup Menu / The Beatles / Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band

Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band 2LP vinyl

LP 1 – Sgt. Pepper – new stereo mix

Side 1

1. Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
2. With A Little Help From My Friends
3. Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds
4. Getting Better
5. Fixing A Hole
6. She’s Leaving Home
7. Being For The Benefit Of Mr. Kite!

Side 2

1. Within You Without You
2. When I’m Sixty-Four
3. Lovely Rita
4. Good Morning Good Morning
5. Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
6. A Day In The Life

LP 2 – ‘Alternative’ Sgt. Pepper (all previously unreleased)

Side 3

1 Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band [Take 9 And Speech]
2 With A Little Help From My Friends [Take 1 – False Start And Take 2 – Instrumental]
3 Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds [Take 1]
4 Getting Better [Take 1 – Instrumental And Speech At The End]
5 Fixing A Hole [Speech And Take 3]
6 She’s Leaving Home [Take 1 – Instrumental]
7 Being For The Benefit Of Mr. Kite! [Take 4]

Side 4

1 Within You Without You [Take 1 – Indian Instruments]
2 When I’m Sixty-Four [Take 2]
3 Lovely Rita [Speech And Take 9]
4 Good Morning Good Morning [Take 8]
5 Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise) [Take 8]
6 A Day In The Life [Take 1 With Hummed Last Chord]

Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band 2CD edition

CD 1 – Sgt Pepper – new stereo mix
1. Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
2. With A Little Help From My Friends
3. Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds
4. Getting Better
5. Fixing A Hole
6. She’s Leaving Home
7. Being For The Benefit Of Mr. Kite!
8. Within You Without You
9. When I’m Sixty-Four
10. Lovely Rita
11. Good Morning Good Morning
12. Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise)
13. A Day In The Life

CD 2 – Previously unreleased session takes
1 Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (Take 9 And Speech)
2 With A Little Help From My Friends (Take 1 / False Start And Take 2 / Instrumental)
3 Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds (Take 1)
4 Getting Better (Take 1 / Instrumental And Speech At The End)
5 Fixing A Hole (Speech And Take 3)
6 She’s Leaving Home (Take 1 / Instrumental)
7 Being For The Benefit Of Mr. Kite! (Take 4)
8 Within You Without You (Take 1 / Indian Instruments)
9 When I’m Sixty-Four (Take 2)
10 Lovely Rita (Speech And Take 9)
11 Good Morning Good Morning (Take 8)
12 Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise) (Speech And Take 8)
13 A Day In The Life (Take 1 With Hums)
14 Strawberry Fields Forever (Take 7)
15 Strawberry Fields Forever (Take 26)
16 Strawberry Fields Forever (Stereo Mix 2015)
17 Penny Lane (Take 6 / Instrumental)
18 Penny Lane (Stereo Mix 2017)

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91 responses to First listen: SDE on the 5.1 surround sound mix of The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper

  1. Daran says:

    Paul, the track listings and price comparison is showing twice for each version….

  2. HiDefBear says:

    Thanks very much for the honest evaluation of the 5.1 mix!

  3. Dean says:

    I wonder if the Blu-ray 5.1 version will be released separately in the future?

  4. Auntie Sabrina says:

    Great article, but you’ve posted your ‘widgets’ twice.

    So, overall is it worth the money then. You also previously mentioned there is an Aero/3d mix Giles Martin has done?

    • Paul Sinclair says:

      I’d say if you’re buying the box JUST for the 5.1 then, it’s probably not worth it. But the box is great and there’s loads more great content and the book etc. Unboxing video coming tomorrow, so people will be able to see.

      • mark browne says:

        hmm, sounds a little disappointing really overall, obviously i have much more to explore on the set, but i was expecting to be blown away by the 5.1 mix especially as Giles did such sterling work on the Love surround mix.

      • Wheeler98 says:

        Thanks for the assessment. I decided to cancel my pre-order and wait until more reviews come in. I may purchase it later…but am no longer in a rush..

  5. Tim says:

    Interesting. I’ll be interested to see what you think of the hi res stereo mix….

  6. Pablo says:

    Thank you Paul!!

  7. You got to remember, this was recorded onh a 4 track tape machine so you are very limited to start with from what you can and cant isolate, to create anything in something more than 2 speakers is pretty epic to be honest.

    • Jeff says:

      Matthew,
      Yes, it was recorded on 4 track, but when they would fill all 4 tracks, they would “bounce” them down to 1 track a new 4 track tape, freeing up another 3 tracks. This was done SEVERAL times for some songs.
      For this remix, they went back to the pre-bounce, or pre-reduction tapes and recovered each track, ending up with many, many more total tracks to mix from. In the case of Penny Lane, I’ve heard they have over a dozen individual tracks.
      Not only does this recover once “smashed” tracks, it also takes away several tape-to-tape copy generations. It’s all good!
      The only way it could be better is if the drum kit had been multi-miked like they do today, then you could spread the kit around the sound space instead of having it as one track.
      There was no software isolation techniques used here to separate instruments. There is no need to with the pre-reduction tapes available.

  8. Reed says:

    I wonder how another producer, say Steven Wilson, would have handled the surround sound duties. They should have farmed it out to a few producers who deal a lot in 5.1 to see what they come up with. I’ll reserve final judgement until I hear it, but perhaps Giles is not the “go to” guy for future 5.1 releases.

    • Mike the Fish says:

      Steve Wilson seems to favour the exact left right balance of the original stereo and selectively pan to rears from what I understand. I’ve only heard Big Chair and it was the low light audio disc of the box for me. I found it boring and I don’t think I’ve even played it all the way through. Certainly not more than once at this point. I was expecting the album to be more exciting, but it retained the negative audio issues of the original stereo mix whilst putting it in an unexciting wider space. I understand that people get excited at Wilson’s 5.1 mixing, but I’m not convinced.

      • Julian H says:

        Mike, I think the general consensus is that Steven has made better mixes (e.g. Jethro Tull, Yes, King Crimson) than SFTBC, though I’m curious as to what he has done with The Seeds of Love. 70s sound architecture is easier for him I think.

        • Mike the Fish says:

          Thanks for the info, Julian. I am aware that I may be a little strong in the way I put it, I get cross with the obsessive fandom on the internet!

          • SimonP says:

            I’m with you Mike, the SFTBC 5.1 was indeed boring to listen to. Playing the CD in the 5 channel stereo mode that my amplifier will do at the press of a button sounds pretty much the same.

            What I’d like to know with this set is whether anyone can hear any difference between the BD and DVD discs? I bet they sound exactly the same.

  9. Dave H says:

    Thanks for the review Paul. I’m a sucker for surround sound mixes, I guess the mixes are limited to the way it was recorded in 1967. For instance all of Ringo’s drumming would have been recorded on one track where as now each drum or tom will have it’s own track to make use of a stereo field. I guess the tracks with more overdubs or orchestral parts will sound the best.

    I wonder how may other Beatles albums will be given the 5.1 treatment.

  10. Jack says:

    Thanks, Paul. Here in the USA, Bull Moose is shipping tmorrow for Friday delivery. Taking the day off from work!

  11. Michael Leek says:

    Thank you Paul.
    It’s appreciated, any ‘official’ new mix will end up in my collection…

  12. Matthias says:

    Thanks so much for this review, Paul! I do look forward to this 5.1 mix no matter what. I’m really glad you took the time to shine a spotlight on it and give us such an in-depth analysis. This is exactly why I keep coming back to this blog!

  13. Derek Langsford says:

    I chose the Kraftwerk Live Catalogue blu ray Boxed Set over Sgt. Pepper (this month) based on the apparent short supply of the Kraftwerk and the excellent 5.1 mix of the Minimum Maximum SACD. I hope my decision is justified but a mostly ho-hum review of Sgt Pepper gives me hope it was the better decision. I do hope to pick up the Sgt Pepper later as hearing a new stereo mix at 96/24 should be wonderful and I am still curious about the 5.1. There are several 5.1 mixes that have disappointed me including the Beatles 1 and Goldfrapp’s Supernature.

  14. Paul E. says:

    Paul did you audition the DVD in Dolby Digital or DTS? Curious if they are both offered. I generally favor DTS and love DTS-HD on Blu Ray!!

  15. Friso Pas says:

    Thx for the review.
    I’m buying it, also for the bonus content.
    I guess the very immersive 5.1 mixes that were on the Beatles Anthology dvd docu boxset from 2003 will never be bettered. They are in DTS, not lossless, but stunning nevertheless. Of course, they mixed only the compilation of tracks that are in the documentary, and a lot of them have overlapping voice-over / interview stuff. But the music is most of the time supported by the accompanying film materials, and a lot of the tracks play in their entirety.
    I actually had tears in my eyes the first time I heard Strawberry Fields Forever in that DTS mix and also Something. Believe me, it is THAT beautiful. When you haven’t heard it, and you are a Beatles fan and you have a 5.1 system, you should get that boxset. I’m just saying. Wouldn’t you agree, Paul?

  16. Joe Sadauskas says:

    Hi Paul
    Of note, on the 2CD version track list, it shows 17 tracks, but on the actual 2CD version Disc 2 has 18 tracks with Penny Lane 2017 stereo version listed. Don’t know if this was a late addition, or just missed from the original posting. thanks

  17. RD says:

    I think there are 18 tracks on disc 2 of the 2cd version. At least that’s what I recall seeing elsewhere.

  18. WKRP says:

    I hoped for a stellar surround to add to the canon, and I appreciate the honest and to-the-point, track-by-track review.

  19. bertielego says:

    Thank you Paul for this 5.1 review, track by track.
    I hope you will do such review of surround sound releases more often :)

  20. Kent Adeborn says:

    I made a 5.1 mix a few yrs ago, using tracks from “Rock Band”. Very separated channels… but it was gr8 fun. My own favourite was Mr Kite, giving opportunities to circle the organ and the other sounds around the room. I’ll get someone to make a comparison review.

  21. Ron de Joode says:

    I wonder on what soundsystem this mix was played.

  22. Tim says:

    Respect, that you’d given such a honest review, although the label provided you in advance.
    That’s not granted in these days of Blogger/Influencer-Company “relationships”. I appreciate this!

    • Paul Sinclair says:

      I always give honest opinions on SDE – loyalty is with the audience/reader not any record label.

  23. Mike the Fish says:

    Thanks for this, Paul. A little disappointing, but not massively surprising. I was hoping that Kite would be a bit of a showcase I guess. I’m no fan of rotational panning, but it would have made sense for the backwards fairground music to pop up all over the place. Maybe it just didn’t sound that good in practice.

  24. Auntie Sabrina says:

    In early June, BBC Two presents Sgt. Pepper’s Musical Revolution, a new documentary from Huge Films directed by Francis Hanly, which will present Sgt. Pepper as you have never heard it before. The film will include extracts from material never before accessible outside of Abbey Road, studio chats between the band, out-takes, isolated instrumental and vocal tracks as well as passages from alternative takes of these world-famous songs.

  25. Musicmacca says:

    Shame
    I get the feeling you are being very polite Paul. Sounds like Pro logic on my Denon could reproduce the same effects without paying the high price. Why aren’t some of the greatest albums getting the full 5.1 treatment that can make you appreciate the music in a completely new and different way ? Another missed opportunity like the Joshua Tree !!

    • Paul Sinclair says:

      Just giving my opinion… I’m conscious that I could be being a bit over-picky and loads of people will love the 5.1 mix. I guess my comments are to be regarded as more ‘food for thought’ than trying to scare people off.

  26. Domingo says:

    Thanks Paul.

    Cheers

  27. El Nino says:

    I think it is a good review – certainly doesn’t scare me off.

  28. James Coles says:

    Has there been any tinkering with Strawberry Fields or Penny Lane on the 5.1 or are the mixes lifted straight from the 1+ package? I’m just as interested to hear Giles’ new stereo mix of the album but I’ve got a feeling I’m not going to be blown away like when I first heard the 1999 remixes for the Yellow Submarine Songtrack album . . .

  29. MusicFan says:

    This is very interesting indeed and gives great insight!

    I do wonder if people actually need 5.1 releases?

    I don’t feel it adds anything. The use case scenario in which people would listen to 5.1 just isn’t reality for the masses.

  30. madman says:

    Thanks for the review Paul; very incisive. At shouldn’t that be the Isle of WIGHT? But I’m just a American, lol.

  31. Andrew M says:

    James. As I documented elsewhere I had cancelled my preorder. Then I heard the new stereo remixes (It’s not a new mix) and I WAS blown away. I had to put my order back in. Just got to pluck up the courage to tell the missus.

    I suggest, if you’re unsure, pop along to apple music or spotify and listen to the first three tracks. I know they’re compressed for streaming but they will give a good idea.

    Paul – I really appreciate this review. Not only because the 5.1 mix is the main reason for me getting this set but also because despite being furnished with a pre-release box you have been totally honest. I know you always are – but the integrity of you and the site is why we all come back.

    So thank you.

  32. John Bott says:

    Appreciate the review. My observation is a bit of a sidebar: In the price quote for Amazon USA, it notes 93 dollars & change. However, when you click on it, it’s 117 dollars. Hard pressed to believe the reason would be “Oh, at the moment we checked it was 93” for I’ve checked Amazon every day since the pre-order price has been there & it’s always been 117.

    This sort of discrepancy has occurred 100% of the time in 20 -30 other instances. Why is this?

    Due to this experience, unfortunately I now have no faith in the Amazon USA prices you note.

    • Paul Sinclair says:

      I think you are viewing in pounds. Change the currency on the drop dowm menu to US Dollars

  33. Michael says:

    Paul, thank you for your virtuous 5.1 surround sound report for the SDE Sgt. Pepper. Perhaps Sir Paul McCartney gave a directive to Giles Martin to enhance Sgt. Pepper, but not to go bonkers. I have an early DTS surround sound version of Paul McCartney’s “Band on the Run”, and the sound engineer on that 5.1 project bounced channels left, right, front and back in such a random and exaggerated fashion it distorted and distracted from the music. Based on your report, it seems Giles Martin did a very thoughtful and tasteful job of making Sgt. Pepper more immersive through 5.1 mixing. But, I have to admit, having the carnival loops in Mr. Kite swim around the room would have been fun! I still can’t wait to enjoy this box set when it arrives this week. Again, thank you, Paul!

    • Mike the Fish says:

      I like the quad mix of Band on the Run on the DTS disk! I even like the quad mix of Venus & Mars which is messier (and maybe the one you were thinking of) despite not liking the album itself particularly.

  34. movement says:

    I don’t think people have gotten the hang of 5.1 releases yet. Most of them are milquetoast like this one appears to be.

    • Michael says:

      Movement, it’s not a matter of anyone being timid about 5.1 mixes. The emphasis is on the channel separation making sense in terms of the staging of musicians and singers, plus intelligent consideration to what the recording artist is wanting to convey. If a 5.1 mix is done with true artistry, the effect can be absolutely stunning.

  35. adam shaw says:

    Hi Paul
    Thanks for your review but you didn’t mention if the backwards sounds on the run out were all around the speakers ?

  36. Auntie Sabrina says:

    I’ve googled that word, never heard of it before movement

  37. A Gates says:

    Thanks for the review!

    I just listened to an advance copy on my system and I have to say I think it’s stunning. Rather than contest opinions expressed here, I think the 5.1 Pepper Mix is on par with the “1” singles mixes, which I also found to be amazing.

    I’m also of the opinion that Martin made the correct decision to skew towards restraint in his 5.1 choices, as anyone who frequents 5.1 mixes knows that “too much of a good thing” can be quite fatiguing?

    For me, the name of the game is not exotic pannings but separation (IE hearing the instruments breathe in a new way on the sound stage). Pepper is not a powerhouse of 5.1 acrobatics, and for this I am thankful. I was terribly afraid that Martin would use this touchstone recording more like a 5.1 demo…Which, to me, always feels like a cake made entirely of icing.

    Is the Pepper 5.1 a tad conservative? Yes. But in this case, it’s a wonderful if not sublime 5.1 experience and is exactly what the Beatle fanatic in me ordered.

    Five stars!

  38. Jamie C says:

    I wasn’t really interested in this but then I heard the documentary on Radio 2, at least the first part of, and if it’s as good as the parts that were aired in that then I’m in. Maybe not for the £100 box though, even though I’d like to hear the works in progress, but the new mix sounded awesome on some tracks. Not sure why they haven’t put a “full” Penny Lane on the vinyl LP though, whatever version, just an instrumental is a bit of a lost opportunity imho.

  39. Kenneth says:

    I had heard one of these “Rock Band” mixes before. The person who did it mixed She’s Leaving Home, and it was beautiful.
    I’ll take what I can get from the Beatles in surround, but I hope in the future they won’t be afraid to be more adventurous.
    Maybe I’m in the minority, but I would welcome a mix more akin to “Love”. Be conservative with the stereo mix and the mono mix is there for “purists”. But the Beatles were waaay ahead of their time, and an adventurous mix would suit them well.
    Still, looking forward to my set.

  40. Auntie Sabrina says:

    BBC Rafio 2s Sgt Prpper Forever was very enlightening. It featured many outakes (possibly the ones on this new release?).

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b08qqgm0

  41. Richard Starkey says:

    All this talk of “sublime” and “stunning” 5.1 surround musical experiences makes me wonder what I’m missing. I have a very nice 5.1 system which I bought for movies, but I’ve only just begun to purchase 5.1 audio DVD titles to experience music this way. Specifically, the Genesis Rhino DVDs sound great to my ears, and so do the Jethro Tull. What else would you guys recommend as “sublime” and “stunning” 5.1 surround musical experiences in the general prog rock, classic rock, genre? Thanks..!!

    • Frank says:

      @Richard Starkey: Of the ones I’ve heard in 5.1, the very best is The Beatles Love in 5.1. It’s fantastic. Highly recommended. Additionally, I think most of the R.E.M. 5.1 DVD-A releases are pretty worthy of a listen in surround as well.

    • A Gates says:

      Hi Richard

      Musical tastes aside…and in no order. These are my “must own’s”

      01: Beck “Sea Change”.
      02: The Who “Quadrophenia”
      03: Flaming Lips “Yoshimi…”
      04: King Crimson “Starless..”
      05: Bob Marley “Legend”
      06: Bjork “Vespertine”
      07: Yes “Close To The Edge”
      08: Yes “Fragile”
      09: Nine Inch Nails “Downward Spiral”
      10: Residents “Eskimo”
      11: Elton John “Captain Fantastic”
      12: Pink Floyd ” Dark Side”
      13: Pink Floyd “Wish You Were Here”
      14: Van Morrison “Moondance”
      15: Beatles “1”
      16″ XTC “Skylarking”
      17: Talking Heads “Remain In Light”
      18: Steely Dan “Goucho”
      19: Flaming Lips “Soft Bulletin”
      20: Fleetwood Mac “Tusk”

      • Richard Starkey says:

        @ A Gates;
        Thanks. And all of those are available in 5.1…? Sweet..!
        And you have excellent taste in music. Those are all great bands & titles.

        • A Gates says:

          “And all of those are available in 5.1…?”

          Yup! Some of them can be a bit “cost prohibitive”, but I do not regret any of these purchases. All of em stunning!

          Remember going to the record store when you were 13?
          5.1 has brought that feeling back for me…

  42. mike says:

    disappointing review to say the least. I’m bored with both stereo and mono versions after 50 years and was really looking forward to a great surround mix to peak my interest again.

    Also, the original stereo pans all over the place so a surround mix should, of course, do likewise.

  43. Pingback:SDEtv / The Beatles: Sgt. Pepper super deluxe edition – video unboxing | superdeluxeedition

  44. Kenneth says:

    Listening now with a HUGE smile on my face. Maybe not the most discrete, adventurous mix…but Sgt. Pepper never sounded so good. The animated menu is a nice touch ; )

  45. Andrew M says:

    Well, I’m going to be a bit controversial here. Everyone’s opinion will always differ, and mine does in this case.

    I think this 5.1 mix is stunning. I have a lot of 5.1 discs – all the R.E.M., two Floyds, War of the Worlds, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, Frankie Goes to Hollywood (Thanks to SDE), Love, Yoshimi and many many more.

    Pepper is up there in the top 5 for absolutely sure. The clarity of the mix and the immersiveness is stunning. Yes – it’s not gimmicky in throwing things artificially around the room but the rears get much more of a workout than I was expecting and there are times that the singer sounds like he is singing in your ear – be it McCartney or Lennon.

    Oh and the flute on Penny Lane in the rear is just breathtaking.

    This is an amazing mix. I am way way more impressed than I was expecting to be. I bought this set mainly for the 5.1 and I’m bloody glad I did.

  46. Kenneth says:

    Richard Starkey, I’ll include Roxy Music’s Avalon. Worth every penny you’ll spend on it!

  47. Paul Blubaugh says:

    Paul – I read often but rarely post here. From your review it’s obvious that you appreciate a good 5.1 mix. Over at QuadraphonicQuad.com, user “Frogmort” made a suggestion of tweaking the mix in Audacity by bringing down the front three speakers and LFE by 3 db (or, alternatively, bringing up the rear speakers by 3 db). I tried this, and suddenly there’s a MUCH better 5.1 mix under the sheets! HIGHLY recommended, if you have the setup.

  48. The Ragman says:

    Disappointed with the 2CD version. Would be interested to see you review the new stereo mix. I’ve listened to the 2017 remix and the mono and stereo 2009 remastered CD versions. My own feeling is with most of the differences between the original mono and stereo mixes in terms of levels and balances is the new remix is more like the stereo mix than the mono, except for She’s Leaving Home playing at the correct mono mix speed. Eg on Sgt Pepper the electric guitar flourish just before the crossfade to With A Little Help From My Friends which is loud and clear at the end of the mono mix is just audible in the stereo versions of you know where to listen to it, and similarly emcee shouts at the end of the reprise version. The idea that Giles and team have painstakingly tried to take the blueprint from the mono mix and create a new improved stereo mix doesn’t stack up for me. I think that the new layers people claim they are hearing in the new mix is probably down to more clarity and separation in the stereo spectrum rather than restoring the levels and balances from the mono mix or from being able to work for multi-tracks without the bouncedown reduction mixes. How Ringo has said you can finally hear his drums properly in the new mix is puzzling – they sound pretty much the same as they did in the original mixes. The professional reviewers all seem to be happy to spin out the Universal / Apple PR raving about how it is good to have a proper stereo mix and exaggerating the extent to which the original stereo mix was a rush job – in some cases you would think the stereo mix followed the Please Please Me stereo mix formula of vocals and instruments in different channels. I’ll suggest 2 reasons why George Martin’s stereo mix only took a few days in 1967… firstly, they were mixing to stereo from four track or in some cases two four track machines. A lot of the mixing decisions were being made by the balance engineers at the sessions and the decisions to make at mixing stage were fewer than today when there are unlimited digital multitrack recordings and effects to choose from, and secondly they had already spent a long time mixing multitrack tapes to mono with the band’s input and most of the decisions made for the stereo mix were not about what instruments and vocals to include and at which levels and were mostly where to put them in the stereo field. I do also wonder if with the case of both endings to the two Sgt Peppers George Martin possibly tweaked the level of the emcee shouts and guitar flourish for the stereo mix and may have considered those as better endings to the songs than the mono mix versions!

    • Jake G. says:

      You’re the first person I’ve come across to finally point these things out. It’s also worth listening to the ’99 remix album Yellow Submarine Songtrack, which has a few Pepper songs on there to compare with.

  49. Gavin says:

    Listened to the whole set today – the new 2017 mix is great imo and really benefits when cranking up the volume , the two out take discs are interesting and give the whole picture that anthology hinted at as to how tracks developed – and the mono extras are a nice bonus to the mon box set version . Great book and lots of content , with lovely packaging and really enjoying the lenticular sleeve. Not got round to the blu ray yet. Is it worth £100? Bit like the Floyd box set , rather pay less but it’s still a great package , if they’d chucked a 2017 mix on vinyl in I’d say yes .

  50. TREVOR PUGH says:

    Hi Paul,
    Have you noticed the “run-out groove” (what was the repeating loop on the original LP) on the cd 4 mono disc of the super deluxe edition cuts off abruptly after just a couple of seconds, or is it meant to do that? I suppose, technically, that’s as long as it originally lasted, after that it just repeated but I wondered if my disc is faulty.

    • Paul Sinclair says:

      Haven’t played mine yet. I think a few people were complaining that the end chord on A Day In The Life doesn’t fade fully… is that the case?

      • TREVOR PUGH says:

        No, I’m talking about the very final part of the run-out i.e. the loop of vocal made using bits of tape of the Beatles cut up and stuck together in random order to give a weird end to the album. On the mono disc 4 it cuts off very abruptly after just a couple of seconds as opposed to repeating and then fading as on the stereo disc.

        • Paul Sinclair says:

          Yes, I know mean. Don’t know if this is a mistake or deliberate…

          • wayne klein says:

            Since it was on the mono boxed set like the 2009 stereo, I think it was an accident. I’m perplexed as to why Giles felt it necessary to compress the Blu-ray 5.1 mix. Using limiting and compression on the Blu just doesn’t make sense (doesn’t make sense to use such severe limiting on the stereo as well but I understand WHY Giles did it–trying to recreate a stereo version of the mono album in terms of impact) to me.

          • TREVOR PUGH says:

            I’m still curious as to why it cuts off like that. Is there anyone in the industry you could ask to find out if it is indeed deliberate or an error? My money is that it’s meant to be like that, annoying as it is but it would be nice to have a definitive answer one way or another.
            By the way, I’m delighted with the Super Deluxe cd set. I don’t have 5.1 but the new stereo mixes, outtakes, posters and packaging are amazing.
            Thanks.

          • TREVOR PUGH says:

            Hi Paul,
            I’m still curious as to why it cuts off like that. Is there anyone in the industry you could ask to find out if it is indeed deliberate or an error? My money is on it’s meant to be like that, annoying as it is but it would be nice to have a definitive answer one way or another.
            Thanks.

  51. LMTR14 says:

    did they send you a promo set or just the regular issue?! in case of the latter, I’d have punished them for their cheapassery and released the review right on release day, not before. as that is what you got: the same thing everybody was able to buy by then

  52. Matt Logan says:

    Hi

    I listened to both the DTS- Master and the True Dolby versions on Blu-ray and for whatever reason I lean slightly to the True Dolby, maybe because it comes on louder LOL. But I think the review above was pretty spot on, and that’s not to say it was disappointing, but a very good description of each track.

  53. Howard Ipp says:

    I agree almost exactly with the 5.1 track by track review. I also found the vocals edgy in some of the tracks. Very disappointing overall. Probably go back to the older stereo remixes.

  54. Michael Leek says:

    Very disappointing, should have been done much better, a wasted opportunity.
    The son is clearly not the father in terms of creativity.
    Wonder what Stephen Wilson could have done?
    Hate the fact I have to be negative about anything Beatles related.
    Shame…

  55. TREVOR PUGH says:

    Hi Paul,
    Will you be doing a review of the other cd’s for those of us that don’t have 5.1?
    Thanks.

  56. Mike Smith says:

    The lavishness of the box and content make it worth the money for me, but from a strictly audio point of view, sadly, I have to agree 100% with this very accurate review. I wasn’t blown away by this and have come to the conclusion that some music is more suited to 5.1 than others. For me (and maybe it’s just me), aside from Strawberry Fields, this is very similar to 96/24 version I upconvert to Dolby Music PLii that I’ve been listenting to for years.

  57. The Ragman says:

    Any word on why the dynamic range of the 2017 mono disc is worse than the 2009 mono box release?

  58. Richard Starkey says:

    Got mine from Amazon. de yesterday on Monday 5 June. Order placed 27 May, so that was a very fast delivery to S.C., USA. Got here in perfect shape; it was safely packaged, all contents MINT condition. The most interesting item was the “”Mr Kite” poster. Reading the fine print on the poster, you can see where John Lennon lifted a lot of it for his lyrics. Such clever artistry on his part. This SDE is a wonderful product; very worthy of the effort and a great tribute to the original release…!

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