Everyone knows the latest entry in the massively popular Rock Band video-game series hit stores this week — but were you aware that the game’s soundtrack has also been made available for purchase? For the first time since its original release on CD in 1987, the entire Beatles catalogue has been digitally remastered from the original analog tapes and collected in two enormous box sets (in mono and stereo versions), with expanded artwork and new liner notes. Reluctant to buy a dozen records you’ve probably already paid for several times? So were we, until we heard these things (a publicist sent us three CDs, and in a fit of Beatlemania, we ran out and got a stereo set). Much digital ink has already been spilled this week to convince you of these albums’ cultural import — but if you already know you like the Beatles, you’ll probably be more interested in the sound quality. How is it? (Awesome.) If you can only buy a couple of discs, which should they be? (Abbey Road and “The White Album,” for sure.) And which Beatle benefits most from the digital face-lift? Vulture investigates.
Note: For audiophiles interested in our methodology here, we’ll have you know that we carefully scrutinized all CDs over the past three days using only the high-fidelity reference earbuds that came free with the iPod we bought three years ago. Also, since the sound quality varies so much from song to song, we didn’t rate the Past Masters compilations. But it suffices to say, “You Know My Name (Look Up the Number)” has never sparkled quite like it does here.