ALBUMS IN THE BOX:
• Queen II
• Sheer Heart Attack
• A Night at the Opera
• A Day at the Races
• News of the World
• The Game
• Flash Gordon
• Hot Space
• The Works
• A Kind of Magic
• The Miracle
• Made in Heaven
Somehow I have to make this Vinyl Breakthru !
Queen on Vinyl: This is how listeners first heard the now legendary
Queen in the 1970’s when vinyl was the predominant format for recorded
music. This September Queen will hit the crest of an already massive
wave – a world-wide renaissance of vinyl and record players – with the
ultimate set of vinyl LPs, the complete collection of Queen studio
albums, re-mastered to the highest standards of quality in both audio
Queen: The Studio Collection, an 18 disc theme-coloured vinyl LP collection to be released September 25.
15 albums. 18 discs? What’s the story ?
Queen always had a special fondness for vinyl, the medium in which they
first began to create, around 1970. As a matter of principle, every
Queen studio album was offered at the time of original release on vinyl,
even well into the era when CD’s had taken over as the medium of choice
for most of the public. However, the final two albums, ‘Innuendo’ and
‘Made In Heaven’ were actually formatted primarily with the CD in mind,
with a longer running time, so the contents had to be edited down to fit
them on to the two sides of a vinyl album. Now, specially for this
edition, for the first time, these two albums have been cut at full
length as double vinyl LP’s - four sides each – making up a vinyl set
that is complete in every way.
The box-set offers many other special features. Most noticeable is the
coloured vinyl: designed for collectors, each album has been given a
different colour, in keeping with its original artwork, giving a unique
record-deck experience. The colour discs have been custom-produced
especially for this set, using new material technology which ensures the
sound quality is uncompromised.
There are more surprises in the box set; ‘Queen II’ originally never had
a designated ‘A side’ or ‘B side’ - but ‘Side White’ and ‘Side Black’.
For this new edition, the album has been cut on two separate discs,
black and white, each with a custom etching on the reverse side, a nice
bonus for collectors.
The collection has been five years in the making. Throughout this time
Queen’s production team has worked extensively on all stages of this
painstaking mastering process. The first step was the tape research;
locating and confirming the correct versions and best sources for all
tracks. Most notably, Under Pressure, plus five tracks on the ‘Innuendo’
album, were improved hugely after the discovery of better sources
during this period. Particular attention was paid to the original
releases to ensure that nothing was lost or changed for the worse by
reverting to earlier sources.
Mastering: To ensure optimum quality in mastering the music, the Queen
team asked a number of world-renowned mastering engineers to deliver
their best efforts on the same three songs; after double-blind
comparison tests, Bob Ludwig’s work was a clear winner, and he was asked
to master the entire catalogue for this project. Ludwig is probably the
best-known mastering engineer in the world. His skills, combined with a
perfect acoustic environment and the some of the world’s finest
analogue and digital equipment at Gateway Mastering in Portland, USA,
allow him to produce matchless quality in the final result. The Queen
team were pleased to confirm his reputation, as well as fulfilling their
own exacting demands.
The original plan was to master everything straight from the analogue
mix tapes, where available. But in fact most of those tapes, having
suffered from the effects of time, were in need of some restoration. The
problems encountered included speed errors, missing audio, newly
developing clicks and other unwanted noise. So the decision was made to
create new super-high quality digital masters, using 24 bit samples and a
sampling rate of 96 kHz. All the restoration was then performed in the
digital domain, and the vinyl was cut from these perfected files. All
restoration was carried out with the lightest of touches, with a
profound respect for the originals, and the resulting masters are
undoubtedly the finest ever.
The Cut: Of course, with the vinyl process, everything depends on the
final stage – the physical cut – one continuous modulated spiral groove
on each side, carrying all the sound information which will eventually
reach our ears.
For this process, there was only one man in the frame: Miles Showell at
famed Abbey Road Studios, London, has perfected the technique of cutting
at half speed. Showell runs the source file and the cutting lathe at
50% of the normal speed, which means double the accuracy in the cutting
of the groove, resulting in superior reproduction of the music via the
stylus in your record player. Showell uses a beautifully maintained
Neumann VMS80 lathe boasting cutter-head amplifiers fitted with custom
designed RIAA filters. These filters have been optimised for the very
cleanest sound. Showell started by cutting the albums onto acetate discs
to check the process for every track, and only after he’d fixed any
sibilance or other vinyl-specific problems did he cut the lacquers to be
sent to the manufacturing plant.
More trials were carried out before eventually deciding to manufacture
at Optimal in Germany. Optimal have an enviable reputation for
audiophile-quality pressings, plus unparalleled capability for the
printing and manufacture of all the elements to be contained in the box
set. The Queen team worked closely with the technicians at Optimal in an
exhaustive quality control program where test-pressings of every disc,
in black and coloured vinyl, were checked to minimise unwanted noise.
Finally, the finished results were compared with original pressings of
the LPs, on a top quality modern record player, to answer the question:
"Was it all worth it?"
True to the final words of the song: "Yes, it was a worthwhile experience!!!"
The 18 vinyl LP box set comes with a lavishly illustrated 12 x 12 inch
108 page hardback book which features introductions to each album,
quotes from Queen themselves, hand-written lyrics, rare photographs,
memorabilia, and information on singles and videos - all made possible
with unlimited access to Queen's own archive plus the personal archives
of Brian May, Roger Taylor and some generous fans. Thanks to all.