Thursday, April 14, 2011

The Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab Beatles Box Set


The Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab (or MFSL ) Beatles Box set was released in 1982 (exact date unknown to me, either October or November). It's official name is "The Beatles/ The Collection" and it's catalogue number is MFSL BC-1.

Before the box set, MFSL had already released three of the Beatles LPs as individual items. The first was "Abbey Road" either on December 1979 or January 1980. The process for the discs included using the master tapes (when available) and then utilizing "half-speed" mastering of the laquers. This was then pressed onto "super vinyl" when sent from California (MFSL headquarters) to the Yokohama factory of the Victor company in Japan in order to fabricate the metal masters and the press the records. This "super vinyl" was transparent when held up to light and was heavy vinyl and harder than regular vinyl in order to establish the best sound possible. The master tape used for "Abbey Road" was actually the Capitol sub-masters and not the original from Abbey Road.

The second Beatles LP from MFSL was "Magical Mystery Tour". The master used for this project was actually from EMI but this version originated from Capitol and was used by EMI for the 1970s re-issue. This didn't make much sense when considering that this version contained second generation stereo for eight songs and fake (duophonic) stereo for three songs. This second release was put out on February 01 1981.

The third Beatles LP from MFSL was "The Beatles (White Album)" issued on January 07 1982. The master tapes used for this project were also sub-masters from Capitol.

All of the above covers were released with colour banners at the top denoting that there were "Original Master Recordings". "Abbey Road" had the standard cover, "Magical Mystery Tour" had the re-issued gatefold without the booklet and "The Beatles (White Album)" was not embossed not did it contain the poster and individual photos. The labels for these three pressings were white with black print. "Abbey Road" has the target Capitol logo, "Magical Mystery Tour" has the EMI logo (ironically) and "The Beatles" has the dome Capitol logo.

The box set was then released. The remaining 10 LPs were as follows: "Please Please Me" (using the original master tape from EMI), "With The Beatles" (also using the original master tape from EMI) "A Hard Day's Night" (also using the original master tape from EMI), "Beatles For Sale" (using a re-mix from the four track tape), "Help!" (using a re-mix tape), "Rubber Soul" (using a re-mix tape), "Revolver" ( using the original master tape from EMI), "Sgt. Pepper" (using a re-mix tape), "Yellow Submarine" (using a re-mix tape) and "Let It Be" (using a corrected copy tape). It is also interesting to note that "Pepper" in this set does not contain the recording of the high frequency or the "inner groove".

Each of the 14 discs in the box set have the white labels with black print. All have rice paper inner sleeves and are surrounded by a cardboard gatefold sleeve and housed in custom covers. The custom covers feature a photo of a tape (actually the same tape is used for all the covers) and an open tape box which shows information as to when the tape was removed from the box and used for issues and re-mixing for various countries, etc. The sound is amazing.

The box set also includes a "Geo-Disc" which is a 12 inch plastic platter used to align and set your stylus and cartridge to a transcription deck !!

The box set also comes with a 12 by 12 40-page colour booklet which explains the MFSL process, contains a certificate of authenticity individually numbered (my copy is 11,734). The booklet also contains reproductions of all the Beatles LP covers - front and back: "Please Please Me" has the "stereo" marking on the front and stereo catalogue number on the back; "With The Beatles" has no marking on the front and stereo catalogue number on the back; "A Hard Day's Night" has the "stereo marking on the front and stereo catalogue number on the back; "Beatles For Sale" has no marking on the front and the mono catalogue number within the left inner sleeve of the gatefold; "Help!" has the "stereo" marking on the front and stereo catalogue number on the back; "Rubber Soul" has no marking on the front and the mono catalogue number on the back; "Revolver" also has no marking on the front and the mono catalogue number on the back; "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" has the mono catalogue number; "The Beatles" has no indications of denoting "stereo" anywhere on the cover; "Yellow Submarine" has the mono catalogue number on the back and is missing the original red lines from the first pressing releases; lastly "Magical Mystery Tour" and "Let It Be" use the re-issue covers from the 1970s thereby eliminating the booklet for "MMT" and using the EMI/Parlophone logo rather than the Apple logo for "Let It Be". I point this out as all of the issues are in stereo and it would have been nice to use the original covers for all of the above with their stereo catalogue numbers.

The booklet also contains a discography at the back. The whole book is surrounded by a sturdy white cardboard outer sleeve. Finally, the set comes with a "Certificate of Limited Warranty".

Supposedly, 25,000 copies of this box set were released. All sold out within a year.

Starting in June 1984, the rest of the Beatles LPs were released individually as the remainder of the "Original Master Recordings" series start with "Rubber Soul". One anomoly is the version of "With The Beatles" as an individual MFSL record, it is rarer than the others due to the fact that a damaged metal part for the recording ensured it had a very limited run.

25 comments:

  1. I bought two of these sets back in the early '80s when they first came out. I played the discs from one, kept the other in it's cardboard box. I did open some of the discs in the second set to inspect them, so it isn't truly a "sealed, never-been-played" set. It's sad to hear that the so-called MFSL process was applied to inferior dubs of the original recordings, not even the true "original masters" as we all were led to believe. What are they worth to collectors?

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  2. Tom, don't have a heart attack like I almost did. I bought ONE boxed set on my 31st BD for $395.00. The Beat had TWO sets available one for $495.00 flawless and mine that had a finger-nail snag in the vinly on the top of the box. I've played the entire set ONCE while transferring it onto Cassette. That was 1986. Ten minutes ago, I saw several box sets on the internet for, drum-roll please...$10,000.00!!!
    Holy Sh*t, Batman!!!

    I have an ANCIENT Class D Stereo System. Systemdek IIX, Gyromat, GyroClamp, Linn Basik+ arm (litz siver wire). Cartridge is a Sumiko Blue Point Special. Phono amp is a Belini VK29 tubed phono amp, Acurus RL11 Pre-amp, Acurus A150 150watt 2 Channel Amp bi-amped into a pair of NHT 1.5 book shelves subbed into an Energy EPS150 using Monster cable interconnects and MIT terminator IVs. This system was SOTA 1994 and Goodwill value 2011. Still, I played one of the discs this evening (just side one) and the sound is STUNNING!!! The Soundstage is so wide you can walk between the instruments. The cymbals, recorded on non dolby Big chunk silver tape sounds like a Direct to Disc recording!!! I am not worthy to possess such a thing.

    Why am I gushing like a 14yr old with his first sexual conquest? Analogue Vinyl kicks out 400kb per channel verses the pathetic little 44kb REDBOOK for CD. It s-o-u-n-d-s better because more information is being put out. The best you can get today is 196kb AIFF (don't get me started on Apple Lossless). I can't stand MP3---to my ears, it sounds like I am the Walrus three minutes into it (where he deliberately SQUISHED the music).

    All Americans cheat (Our founding fathers on Plymouth Rock were the dregs and cast-outs of Europe---so whattya want?!!!). I could scream Portfedeo Tequila, Beeches Apple flavoured sugar water, etc) and MFSL is no exception. MFSL did not OUT AND OUT LIE, they just exaggerated the truth. Abbey Road did not give these upstarts the TRUE Original Masters but a local sub master of the mother tape. Abbey Road does not use the ORIGINAL Mother Tape to press records for, say, the INDIA market but a sub master tape (2D generation) of the original master tape. It may have not been the original recording but it was PRETTY DAMN CLOSE. MFSL took that Very Good Source material and 1/2 speed recorded it to 180g super-vinyl, meaning you are get a quiet background kicking out 400kb per channel.

    I bought Apple Record's 'new fangled' re-mixed REVOLVER CD (2009) and it just sounds brighter and more mixed forward---it doesn't have the palpability of YOUR MFSL discs.

    I win the lottery (or these lawsuits) and I will buy a $250K stereo rig (price of a Lambie). Only then will my MFSL will feel at home. $10K for a $400.00 investment!!! I asked my mother what would she offer me for my 25 year old records and she offered me $100.00 because it's old and nobody buys vinyl anymore. Do I have any takers for $200.00?!!!

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    1. " Analogue Vinyl kicks out 400kb per channel verses the pathetic little 44kb REDBOOK for CD."

      That statement is incorrect. Analogue vinyl is analogue, not digital, so why are you using a digital term to describe it? Do you know how small a kb is? CD puts out 44,100 samples per second, the data rate is 1,411 Kbps not 44kb. You perhaps are thinking of Hz? CD is capable of 22kHz.

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  3. Because ALL AMERICANS L-I-E, I don't trust EVEN MYSELF TO TELL THE TRUTH. My Certificate of Authenticity is #11,629. Mine are NAKED records never treated with LAST or any other kind of Preservative. They are played ONCE, then put back onto their rice paper, back into their cardboard half stock and inserted back into their plastic groove upright.

    I am a Beatles 'Completist'. I have stuff even Abbey Road doesn't have, let alone MACCA. When a friend's 14 year old daughter started telling this aging Baby-Boomer she loves the Beatles and has EVERYTHING THEY EVER PUT OUT, I'm sorry but I couldn't help myself. I casually handing her my IPOD and Bose Headphones (I wish I had my STAX Lambda Jrs on me) and invited her to play any song on my Beatles OUTTAKES playlist. She had one of her little friend over when she put on my headphones. Her begging was pathetic "I WANT, I WANT, I WANT, I WANT!!! Make me a Copy!!! I WANT, I WANT"...I was laughing so hard, I was having stomach cramps...it was like bringing a 4 year old to TOYS R US at XMAS Time!!! Example: Everyone knows 'FLYING' from MMJ but how many people have 'FLYING' with the Stereo Dixie-land fade out? I WANT, I WANT, I WANT!!!"

    As for your comments as to Capital record's MMJ project---technically, it is not a Beatles LP (but neither is a Couple of Oldies or the Yellow Submarine soundtrack). Me? It doesn't matter. The Beatles were a 'Straight-ahead' Rock & Roll outfit from 1962-1965 and from 1968-1969. However, from 1966-1967 they briefly obtain ROCK-GODS status. Revolver is not from this planet. NOBODY ROCKS OUT WITH String Instruments like Macca did on Elinore Rigby. And how do you dance to Tomorrow Never Knows? I was a Surfer in 1965 and despised the Beatles until PET SOUNDS came out which was more BEATLES THAN THE BEATLES WERE!!! Then SGT Pepper came out while I was in San Francisco in the Summer of LOVE and I screamed BEACH BOYS WHO?!!!

    MMJ works because Capital took a SOTA EP from the Beatles Disaster TV special MMJ, slapped on singles from the era (as incredible as it is today, it was considered cheating to use a SINGLE on an LP?!!!) and a great LP was made.

    OK, so MFSL's Penny Lane and Baby Yer a Rich Man (from the facebook movie)suck. However, at least they didn't include the GOD-AWFUL stereo version of All you need is LOVE (loping bass, messed up time signatures, wretchedly mixed). FYI, do what I did---YOU TUBE the Beatles 'All You NEED IS LOVE' video to your IPOD. It recorded correctly in stereo, the bass is tight and everything matches sonically. It was not only the anthem of the Summer of Love but Great Britain's contribution to the World's first Satelite broadcast.

    Damn his Eyes!!! Lennon blew off the song until days before the broadcast, staggered off into a corner somewhere and casually composed the Anthem of Youth for the entire Baby-Boomer generation--Eh; No Big!!!

    My other collectable is the four CD boxed set of the COMSTAT ANGELS 'ITS HISTORY'. I have #447 of 2000

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  4. Hello Michael from a 1953 born kid.

    From my point, I'd be quit happy at 58 to have the box set in the pristine condition you mention, or sealed given I could be asking for unknown problems. I never had a decent system until 1982, and bought my top pick MFSL's aka White LP. Plus a few others. and did LAST them as it was recommended.

    $10k? Maybe if Sir Paul delivered it, and I won the lottery first.

    I am not a "social" network person, so email is it. And all I currently have left of my system is a good cartridge on a B&O Beogram 1700 turntable.

    Maybe if I ever recover from illness, I can get off SS income and buy another system worthy of my records. A company in Chi-town, Music Direct, is a create back-to-analog (expensive ) place.

    Having the Beatles MFSL box set is what I should have done in 1982. And I don't have a lot of years left to care about all the rhetoric regarding the particulars of this v. that recording - ad infinitum.

    If you want, drop me an Email:

    baronvonsydow@gmail

    Yes, I am, and the poorest "blueblood" you ever will "know". And yes, Max is related. So you can "Tell All the People" that you see, you sold to royalty - (Hall of Records, Hamburg, Germany; Frederick the 1st - Prussia)


    Thanks,

    Jim E. Sydow

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  5. Wow, i suc at this--anyway, not too bright, Is the box set up for sale? Thanks in advance, Scott@trustepi.com--please and thank-you

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  6. I have a set that I may be willing to part with, for a price. It is LE# 17.319. Each record was played one time to make a recording, and then the set has been inside a cardboard box in the back of my closet.

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  7. I have boxed set number 13,100. It was played once and has been preserved ever since. Can someone give me an idea of the value of this set. Thank you.

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  8. $11,000? NO WAY. NOT EVER. Maybe a dealer is ASKING that much but asking price and selling price are vastly different! This Xmas, 2011 December, a Factory SEALED (w/Mobile Fidelity printed-logo sealing tape intact, the black box of LPs untouched-fresh as the day it was made and still in the MFSL shipping box, etc)... sold on Ebay for $1699. Opened Beatles sets, never played; PRISTINE;that's about $1250, routinely. $950 will EASILY get you a stone mint, "played once or twice" box set. I buy and sell Beatles vinyl; I look every day at selling prices. It's my biz. Right now a sealed set is on Ebay for $3499 and that's easily $1450 MORE than market, probably more (it's NICE but only about $1850 nice) I would NEVER buy a sealed set anyway because it may have been stored improperly and actually be in nightmarish condition inside.

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  9. yeah right played once.

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  10. Hello dear fans, I am Mario from Ecuador....I am looking for one of this collections, I can pay all the transportation and mailing plus too, just say a price with 4 digits.
    thxs

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    1. Are you still looking for the beatles original master recordings collection? evahollis39@gmail.com

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    2. Are you still looking for the beatles original master recordings collection? evahollis39@gmail.com

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  11. Does anyone know for sure what that set cost originaly. Thanks

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    1. i paid $650 australian in early 80s

      my number is 417, must be worth something

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  12. Does anyone know what that set cost originaly. Thanks

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  13. The MFSL Beatles box retailed for $325. 30 years ago. There are ALWAYS 4-10 sets for sale on Ebay at any given time and no more than $1000 will get you a perfect example. As somebody advised in an earlier post, DON'T pay extra for a sealed-in-MFSL shipping carton Beatles set; you never know if it was stored in poor conditions-- too hot, too damp, or too cold for vinyl LPs to remain "factory fresh"(i.e. it may have spent years in a storage locker, or simply stored horizontally not vertically; this will warp the LPs)-- and you could wind up with an expensive jumbo paperweight. Buy a MINT open set. Better yet-- skip the MFSL set and buy the "blue box" (the EMI Great Britain Beatles Collection, catalog # BC-13) These do not have the bass and treble boost that MFSL applied when cutting the LPs, and have a much more open and natural midrange. To learn more about the superiority of the regular British LPs, try the "vinyl asylum" or Steve Hoffman's forum online--do a search for MFSL Beatles Set-- to read exactly why you should pass the MFSL by.

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  14. bugger, should have kept my set !
    sold mine because the records suck ass !
    as anon sez, they sounded awful with that typical mofi smiley face eq up the wazoo.
    mofis are for speculators not msuic lovers.

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  15. I am still amazed at the fact I could have bought a mint copy of the set for $500 in 1999... And then again in 2000 or 2001. Both times, I balked, thinking it was too much for my budget. Man...

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  16. Just paid $875 for a mint Beatles MFSL set! I wanted it so i paid meanwhile the LP's look like they have never been played. Whoever sold this to my contact never played these at least it looks that way the box is in mint shape I can't wait to start spinning these I'm curious how they sound

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  17. Anyone selling one ? or know who sells ? thanks !(icesattva@gmail.com)

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    1. Yes I have one for sell. Contact me at evahollis39@gmail.com. Mine is in pristine condition and is number 3,261.

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  18. leionalani@aol.comMarch 13, 2013 at 9:43 PM

    I am cleaning out stuff and I have a never played OMR White Album but have no idea what to sell it for. I did open the vinyl cover, but the LPs are still in their dust covers and includes the lyrics.

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  19. Does anyone know what range of serial numbers were on the boxes sold through the Herrington catalog? I believe the original MSRP was $350 and Herrington sold them for $325. I bought 2 for investment and sold 1 for $650 to a guy in my History of Rock Music class years ago. I seem to remember one box had a stamp in the 600s and one had a stamp in the 400s so he took the one with the lower number. I no longer see a number on the box I have left so it faded or I am not remembering correctly. This was many beers ago. Still have one sealed box and have a daughter's wedding coming up so am considering selling.

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