Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Rarities #46: The Beatles Apple USB Flash Drive (2009)

The Beatles Apple USB

Lift the apple stalk to reveal the USB stick within. Be careful though, the stalk is really quite fragile.

The precious apple is housed securely in a die-cut foam holder

The box exterior

The bottom of the box shows the contents within

This is what you see when you lift the box lid

On 9 September 2009 (09.09.09), The Beatles re-released their entire catalogue, which had been painstakingly remastered for the first time ever. Their 13 studio albums plus Past Masters I and II (which were combined as one album) were released as individual titles, as well as a series of box sets.

The Stereo Box Set is a 16-disc collection containing the remastered stereo versions of every album. The first four albums were released in stereo for the first time (they were originally recorded in mono). Each disc (except Past Masters) also includes a mini-documentary about the album in Quicktime format. There is a bonus DVD containing all the mini-documentaries compiled together.

The Beatles In Mono box set is a 13-disc collection containing the remastered mono versions of the 10 studio albums. Yellow Submarine, Abbey Road and Let It Be are not included in this set as no true mono mixes of these albums were issued. There is also a new two-disc Mono Masters album compiling mono mixes of singles, B-sides and EP tracks.

And finally, there is the Apple USB flash drive, which is limited to 30,000 units worldwide. It was released on 7 December 2009, and it marked the first time The Beatles catalogue was available in a digital format. That was before The Beatles finally made their catalogue available on iTunes on 16 November 2010.

The 16GB Apple USB contains everything that is included in the Stereo Box Set, and it goes one up by providing the music in two formats - 24 bit FLAC (Free Lossless Audio Codec) and 320 kbps mp3. This means that the music on the USB is superior and higher quality than what is found on the CDs, which is only 16 bit resolution. In other words, the USB Apple contains the highest possible sound quality of any Beatles release. It also contains all the mini-documentary films, original UK album art, rare photos and expanded liner notes.

The Apple USB is a really cool package but it's one helluva expensive apple! But considering it's only limited to 30,000 units worldwide, unlike the Stereo and Mono box sets, which are not on a limited run, it's indeed quite rare and value for money. Just be careful when handling the apple stem though, as it's quite fragile and there have been reports of the stems being broken during shipping. There always got to be some bad apples in the bunch...


At 10:26 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The delivery format of 24 bits does not mean the sound is better. The limits of the sound is determined by how it was recorded, which certainly does not approach a signal to noise ratio that can be achieved with a 24 bit sample size.

Just as taking a high resolution picture of a lower resolution photo will not make the picture of the photo have high resolution, putting an old analog recording on a 24-bit digital recording will not increase the "resolution" of the recorded sound. The recordings are limited to the S/N achieved by the tape machines used at the time of the original recording.

At 12:54 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are showing your limited format of technologies as there is inherently more audio on the studio tapes than technology allows for on a CD whose design limitation is 16 bit, 24 bit is basically tape machine quality and in the studio world is treated as such in that most things start out as 24 bit. Listening to tracks from this there is a HUGE difference in quality and little details you may not pick up, it's like you're right there in the studio with the guys, but again it seems you're intent to write it off as a gimmick and lost out on this.


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