Universal Music Catalogue and Abbey Road Studios have come together to launch the new Half Speed Mastering Series. Six iconic albums have been exclusively slected to kick start start the series with the likes of The Rolling Stones, The Police and John Martyn included in the line up.
The limited edition range, which has been pressed on 180g vinyl, comes in deluxe packaging including a certificate of authenticity from Abbey Road (where the mastering has taken place), with all releases an exact replica of the original pressings' artwork.
Cut by Miles Showell (pictured below), one of the world’s leading exponents of half-speed cutting, the new releases are descibed as being among the finest vinyl pressings that these albums have ever received. Half-speed mastering is claimed to result in “superior high frequency response (treble) and very solid and stable stereo images”, and is pressed to a very high standard in a plant in Germany to ensure the very best sound quality.
Further attention to detail has been taken to create packaging that adheres to the same high standards, from giving each album its own individual obi strip to creating detailed artwork reproduction. For example, Exile On Main Street comes with the 12 original postcard inserts taken by Norman Seef, art director for the original 1972 pressing of the album, while The Police’s Ghost In The Machine comes bundled with a replica of the original picture inner sleeve.
Expert cutter Miles told HFC: “Anything recorded in a professional studio… that still sounds good, is going to benefit from being half-speed mastered. That’s the beauty of [half-speed mastering]. You don’t need the world’s greatest turntables… [and with] a moderately reasonable hi-fi deck, something you order for about £200 or up from there, you’d easily hear the difference between a normal cut and a half-speed cut.
“If the source isn’t good enough, I won’t be doing it. I’m not here to try to make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear. I want to make sure that everything I’ve got is good. So… if there’s no high-quality source to work from, there’s not a lot of point.”
The six releases are:
The Rolling Stones Exile On Main Street (cut from 24-bit/96kHz digital transfers supplied by The Rolling Stones and made from original ¼in tapes).
The Police Ghost In Machine (from a high-resolution digital transfer from the best-known ¼in analogue tape in existence)
John Martyn Solid Air (from a high-resolution digital transfer from the ¼in analogue masters)
Cream Disraeli Gears (from digital transfers made from the original ¼in mono masters – with edits – from Atlantic Studios NYC, 1967. Transfers were made at Sterling Sound, NYC, in 2013)
Free Fire And Water (from digital transfers from the original ¼in tapes, recently prepared by Free remastering engineers Andy Pearce and Matt Wortham)
Simple Minds New Gold Dream (from a high-resolution digital transfer from the original ½” analogue masters)
All vinyl is exclusively available here with prices starting at £25.
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