This is a copy-and-paste of a review I posted on Steve Hoffman. Sorry to Hoffmanites if you came here and realized you'd read this already:
Okay, well I've had this thing since Christmas, as I was given it as a present. I listened to it on a fairly bad stereo down in Florida, and only this week got to listen to it on my own rig. I'll agree with the general assessment. It's a mixed bag. The album covers are very inconsistent: as others have pointed out, "My Generation" is glossy and precise, while most of the rest are matte finish, like the Stones box set, and the cover reproductions are often washed out and cheap looking, like a bad scan. This is particularly the case with "A Quick One," "The Who Sell Out," "Who Are You," "Face Dances," and "It's Hard." The whole thing is based on the UK releases, so little things I thought were errors--like the bright yellow lettering on the front of "Who Are You" or the fact that Record 1 of "Quadrophenia" has Side 1 and Side 2, rather than Side 1 and Side 4--are actually in line with the original UK releases. (The US "Quad" was configured like "Tommy," with Sides 1 and 2 on record 1, and 2 and 3 on record 2.) The "Quadrophenia" cover finish is the same as on the 2011 Geffen reissue, though the mix is better on this. The inner sleeves are just paper, with no clear rice lining, unless the sleeve is particular to the release, and then it's heavy cardboard. The "Tommy" cover looks great, with one weird thing: both albums are housed on the far right panel, whereas in all the old Decca/MCA copies I've had, record one went in the left panel, record 2 in the right, with the booklet slit under the middle panel. Maybe this was how the old UK album cover was designed: couldn't determine this on Discogs. Then again, this design makes sense, as the two heavy records on either side tended to result in a tearing of the binding. I've seen that happen with old copies of "Tommy." So no complaints here.
The sound. The early records are all great, all the way up to "Tommy." I have an old Decca copy of this one, and my record 2 sounds thin and shrill, whereas this one is warm and detailed. Conversely, side 1 of my old Decca has more bottom than the one in the box. Not sure if my old Decca is an anomaly: I've heard that in most early copies, the two records would have been cut at different plants, so that's probably what happened here. But overall "Tommy" is a lovely listening experience. And to have it in this lovely cover, with the heavy 180g vinyl and black Track labels, is the biggest thrill this box had to offer me. And it's a big thrill. I love this copy of "Tommy." Love it.
"Who's Next" is also fantastic. I think this one was sourced from the Japanese SACD and it sounds like it was. (In fact, this is apparently also the case with "Sell Out" and "Quad.") The piano on "Getting In Tune" sounds like it's in the room with you, and the vocals are real and human throughout. Great bottom.
"Quad" is great, for the most part, with, as one of the earlier posters remarked, more treble. In many cases, this clarifies the notoriously muddy mix, particularly on "The Punk Meets the Godfather," "I've Had Enough," and "Bell Boy." But you don't get the bounce and warmth of the old version. My old copy is a Track/MCA, very early pressing, and hard to beat, and this one comes close. One place where my old copy wins hands down is "Love Reigh O'er Me." Here the trebly mix results in a somewhat dry and brittle sound, which is troubling in a song already so overloaded with overdubs and the rest.
"By Numbers" is the first real disappointment. Here the tendency toward a dryer, more "wooden" sound results in an inferior sound to my old MCA copy. In many cases, the box set version sounds more detailed and realistic. This is especially the case on "However Much I Booze" and "Success Story." At other times, it just lacks warmth and dynamism, particularly on "Slip Kid" and "Dreaming From the Waist."
"Who Are You": unfortunately, side 1 of my copy seems to be off center. But the sound is comparable, and at times superior, to my old MCA early pressing. "Guitar and Pen" is the stand out here. I did an intense A/B with this track, and the box set version won in terms of detail and dynamic range.
"Face Dances": This one's a dud. My original copy is a promo/1st pressing, and it squashes this one like grapes. Somehow, this new one is both muddy and brittle. On "Another Tricky Day," Entwistle's bass is massive, which is exciting, but when I played my old Warner Brothers copy I realized that the loud, booming bass on the new version masks all the detail, especially the acoustic guitar and the piano. On the new "You Better You Bet" Daltrey sounds submerged, and the drums sound like biscuit tins, to use Entwistle's old simile for the drum sound on "Tommy."
"It's Hard": This one's a draw with my Warner Brothers vinyl copy.
Haven't listened to "Endless Wire." Like everyone else, I would have traded this for "Meaty Beaty Big and Bouncy" and "Odds and Sods."
The A/B business gave me a headache, I must admit: so much easier to do with a CD! After awhile, it's like blind tasting Coke vs Pepsi: you forget which one you liked and which one you were comparing the other one to. "Quad" was the most confusing: the new one has many virtues, and sounds great on its own; the stereo imaging is startling in its 3-D effects, and the individual instruments come through crystal clear. But when I played my 1973 copy, I heard this buttery warmth that I didn't realize was missing from the other. And then I played the box set version again and wondered if I was over estimating that warmth. And back again. But "Love Reign O'er Me" definitely suffers in the new version. I liked it fine when I played it by itself; after the A/B, I feel like I've just discovered a troubling detail about an old friend. I was better off before I knew it!
So, to buy or not to buy? My Who albums are all pretty good, but the old ones are old, no getting around it. So for everything up to "Who's Next," I'd say these new copies are my go-to. "Quad" is nearly perfect, but confess I also prefer the old US packaging. The remaining 4 are redundant to what I already have, with the possible exception of the new "Who Are You," which is tarnished by the off-center pressing. That might not be a problem in your copy, if you buy the box. So, as this was a gift, I'm perfectly happy with it, and will continue to enjoy the records in here that are winners. Had I shelled out my own hard-earned, I think I'd be slightly disappointed, particularly as I only really need half the set. Here's another way to look at it, though: if you buy it now, and feel the same way I do (that is, you're happy with everything up to "Who's Next" or "Quad" but not sure you needed the rest), just remember that having it in your collection is better than wishing you had it 10 years from now!
Anyway, hope this helps.