The Beatles USB Brings the Beatles Stereo Catalog to the Digital World
ith the release of The Beatles USB memory stick on December 8, 2009 (just in time for Christmas, of course) the long wait for The Beatles music to be made available digitally is over, but not quite in the way people thought it would. Most people assumed that it would be possible to downoad their songs through services such as ITunes and AmazonMP3 but instead, for now, these mp3s (and FLAC files, more on that below) are only available in this Apple themed USB stick.
This stick includes The Beatles entire 1962-1970 catalog in remastered stereo. In other words, it's just like The Beatles in Stereo Box Set except that it's in this little USB stick that you can easily hold in your hand. I think that's actually really cool to think about. I can hold their entire discography in my hand!
The USB stick has an Apple theme. This is likely to confuse a lot of people who associate Apple with the computer company (which of course runs iTunes and sells iPods) but no, this apple is green, not red! This Apple is the company that The Beatles started back in 1968. It was meant to be all kinds of things, but it was mostly just a record label (they signed James Taylor among others.) The Beatles music is still associated with Apple today.
The Beatles USB actually includes their stereo catalog in two formats, the first is 320kbps MP3 and that's probably what most people are interested in. This is the well known MP3 format that people play on their Zunes, iPods, and other mp3 players. 320kbps is actually the highest sound quality that MP3s come in, so that's a nice bonus. That's a higher quality than those sold on iTunes and AmazonMP3. Most people can't tell the difference between a high quality MP3 file and the CD itself.
But for audiophiles the real exciting thing about this is the inclusion of 24bit FLAC versions. These are actually of superior quality to CDs which are only 16bit. These days music is mixed and mastered at 24bit and then it's actually compressed to 16bit for CD but more and more there are HD versions of albums being released in formats other than DVD. This is the first time The Beatles music has been released in an HD format and that will have this thing on the "must buy" list for a lot of serious Beatles fans.
Along with all of the music, this USB stick also includes all of the visual elements from The Beatles in Stereo Box Set. It includes all 13 of the mini documentaries covering each of the band's 13 UK studio albums (yes, including Magical Mystery Tour even though it was originally an EP!) It includes extended liner notes for each album. It includes the original vinyl LP artwork. It includes the photographs that were in the box set.
The audio and visual elements of this USB stick are DRM free and they are compatible with Mac & PC.
George Kane thinks that audiophiles are going to be rushing to The Beatles USB. The Beatles Music in FLAC is a huge selling point for serious Beatles fans. While most casual fans are probably more interested in The Beatles MP3s.