Sgt. Pepper's / AUDIO-5 / Half-Speed Audiophile Pressing / July 1983
In January 2017, a near-mint copy of this album sold for AU$2,811. Just sayin'.
In late 1980, EMI (Australia) decided to attempt half-speed mastering for a planned reissue series. In January 1981 they took their existing 15ips tapes of Please Please Me and Sgt Pepper’s, played at 7.5ips, and cut lacquers for each. Both sets were rejected due to quality concerns. EMI (Australia) subsequently abandoned work on Please Please Me and focussed on Sgt Pepper’s. New 30ips ¼” tapes were requested from EMI UK and were dutifully despatched on 22 October 1981.
In April 1982--after numerous modifications to the Studer tape machine’s equaliser and Dolby A cards to accommodate half-speed use--the first serious cut was created, and while side 2 was deemed a success, side 1 was problematic. It wasn’t until the third recut, which took 8 hours to cut just 40 minutes of music, that an acceptable result was produced. This is known as the “-3” cut and it was this cut that was used to create the finished disc. Don Bartley recalled in August 2005:
The whole project was handled very well by EMI. I was given all the time that I needed to get it right and I seem to remember spending about 3 days on it. As it was a "half speed" transfer there were many test cuts done, two of which I still have and I have never played them since that time. I remember spending many hours setting up for the "secret" track in the lock groove at the end and somehow, I managed to get it exactly the same as the original Abbey Road "cut". The tapes used were specially sent out from Abbey Road, they were not the originals but 1:1 direct copies of the originals. They were 30 ips, Dolby A and I remember feeling quite privileged and lucky the moment I started to play them. The amazing thing about this project was that I was allowed to EQ at my leisure and I must say that it was a challenge especially working at half speed. I do remember listening to the test cuts at the time and thinking how fantastic it sounded. Since then I have quite a few people comment on its quality, including Ed Kuepper [The Saints], who said it's the best version he has ever heard.
The album was not distributed to record stores; it was instead sold to the public exclusively at the Sydney Hi-Fi And Audio Show on 3 July 1983 (along with other titles in the AUDIOPHILE series). Just 497 numbered copies, housed in a single-sleeve with AUDIOPHILE designated on the back and a new catalogue number of “AUDIO-5”, were released. Each LP had an individually-numbered sticker affixed to the top-right corner of the back cover. The contemporary Parlophone label was used, with the addition of the word “AUDIOPHILE” above the Parlophone logo.
This LP could be considered the Australian equivalent of the rare 1984 UK Nimbus Supercut release, produced in that country for Practical Hi-Fi magazine.
( The above is an extract from the book “An Overview of Australian Beatles Records”, © 2011 by Jaesen Jones. Used by permission. Book available for purchase by clicking the "AUSSIE BEATLES BOOK" link in the top menu. )
'HALF-SPEED'-MASTERED AUDIOPHILE PRESSING
Mastered by Don Bartley at Studios 301