The Beatles - Mono Vinyl Reissues

english_bob

Active Member
Finally! :)

THE BEATLES GET BACK TO MONO | The Beatles

THE BEATLES’ ORIGINAL MONO STUDIO ALBUMS REMASTERED AT ABBEY ROAD DIRECTLY FROM THE ANALOGUE MASTERS FOR VINYL RELEASE

180-Gram LPs Available September 8, Individually and in a Limited 14-LP Boxed Edition with Hardbound Book

London – June 12, 2014 – The Beatles in mono: This is how most listeners first heard the group in the 1960s, when mono was the predominant audio format. Up until 1968, each Beatles album was given a unique mono and stereo mix, but the group always regarded the mono as primary. On September 8 (September 9 in North America), The Beatles’ nine U.K. albums, the American-compiled Magical Mystery Tour, and the Mono Masters collection of non-album tracks will be released in mono on 180-gram vinyl LPs with faithfully replicated artwork. Newly mastered from the analogue master tapes, each album will be available both individually and within a lavish, limited 14-LP boxed edition, The Beatles In Mono, which also includes a 108-page hardbound book.

In an audiophile-minded undertaking, The Beatles’ acclaimed mono albums have been newly mastered for vinyl from quarter-inch master tapes at Abbey Road Studios by GRAMMY®-winning engineer Sean Magee and GRAMMY®-winning mastering supervisor Steve Berkowitz. While The Beatles In Mono CD boxed set released in 2009 was created from digital remasters, for this new vinyl project, Magee and Berkowitz cut the records without using any digital technology. Instead, they employed the same procedures used in the 1960s, guided by the original albums and by detailed transfer notes made by the original cutting engineers.

Working in the same room at Abbey Road where most of The Beatles’ albums were initially cut, the pair first dedicated weeks to concentrated listening, fastidiously comparing the master tapes with first pressings of the mono records made in the 1960s. Using a rigorously tested Studer A80 machine to play back the precious tapes, the new vinyl was cut on a 1980s-era VMS80 lathe.

Manufactured for the world at Optimal Media in Germany, The Beatles’ albums are presented in their original glory, both sonically and in their packaging. The boxed collection’s exclusive 12-inch by 12-inch hardbound book features new essays and a detailed history of the mastering process by award-winning radio producer and author Kevin Howlett. The book is illustrated with many rare studio photos of The Beatles, fascinating archive documents, and articles and advertisements sourced from 1960s publications.

The Beatles In Mono: Available individually and collected in a limited 14-LP boxed edition, accompanied by an exclusive 108-page hardbound book.

Please Please Me
With The Beatles
A Hard Day's Night
Beatles For Sale
Help!
Rubber Soul
Revolver
Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
Magical Mystery Tour
The Beatles (2-LP)
Mono Masters (3-LP)
 

overkill

Distinguished Member
Apparently, unlike the Zep re-masters these are going to be AAA pressings. Hope they aren't too dear as I could go for some of them!
 

english_bob

Active Member

Donnacha

Distinguished Member
Now this may be a completely ignorant question (so go easy on me), but why would these be better than a stereo mix if both mixes were made at the same time? At an audiophile level would they actually sound any better other than having a narrow sound stage, or is it just a nostalgia trip to hear what "most" people would've heard when they first bought a Beatles album back then....but not necessarily better?

I often thought the same about the original Hendrix albums that are also available in Mono .....am I missing something?
 

english_bob

Active Member
Now this may be a completely ignorant question (so go easy on me), but why would these be better than a stereo mix if both mixes were made at the same time? At an audiophile level would they actually sound any better other than having a narrow sound stage, or is it just a nostalgia trip to hear what "most" people would've heard when they first bought a Beatles album back then....but not necessarily better?

I often thought the same about the original Hendrix albums that are also available in Mono .....am I missing something?
Back in the 60's, the majority of music was mono.

The band themselves had a hand in mixing all of the mono albums, in conjunction with George Martin.
The stereo versions where usually done weeks or maybe months later, by George and an engineer. Most of the band, including McCartney, claim never to have the stereo mixes until fairly recently.

A classic example of a stereo faux pas was "She's Leaving Home" on St-Peppers. If you are familar with it, the difference is obvious.

Mono


Stereo


I personally like the mono mixes better, the band sound more alive, powerful and the energy is really direct. The stereo mixes use a lot of seperation effects that break the music up...

Taxman, for example, so much more punch...


EDIT - Taken from a Pitchfork review of the CD boxset...

"Why mono? Two reasons. First, pop music in stereo was still a novelty through most of the 60s. Radio was dominated by single-channel AM, and the young people who bought LPs were far more likely to have a mono record player as a sound source. Given their audience and the technology of the time, for much of the Beatles' run, the band themselves considered the mono mix as the "real" version of the record and devoted more of their attention to it. Mono mixes were prepared first with the involvement of the band, and in some cases, George Martin and EMI engineers completed stereo remixes of the albums later, after the group had left the studio. So mono, first off, presumably hews closer to the intentions of the Beatles themselves. It's what the Beatles had in mind, their vision of the records.

Secondly, since the mono and stereo mixing sessions happened at different times, there are differences between the two versions, not just in the balance of the sound but also in the actual content. Different takes were sometimes used for punching in overdubs, or an alternate vocal take might make its way into the mix. Sometimes tracks were edited differently, and would be shorter or longer, and in some cases the tape ran at a slightly different speed, changing the pitch slightly. Some of the differences are subtle, and some are not. The mono version of "Helter Skelter", to take one example, is a minute shorter, as the "false" ending fadeout is presented as the track's true ending (and it thus omits the closing scream of "I got blisters on my fingers!") The significance of these differences will depend on the level of one's Beatles fandom; of course, those shelling out for the In Mono box will likely enjoy poring over the details.

Comparing stereo and mono versions also offers an opportunity to think about changes in the technology of music listening. In the 60s, far fewer people listened to music on headphones. Music was meant to be heard through the air-- over the radio, in a car, on a jukebox, in a living room. And mono mixes were not designed with headphone listening in mind. It's been pointed out that mono records heard through headphones can sound like they are coming from a single point in the middle of your head, which can feel strange. I find that as the decade wore on and stereo mixes became more sophisticated, the Beatles' albums become less interesting on headphones when they are in mono-- the swirling pans of psychedelic material like "I Am the Walrus" or "Revolution 9" moving around are missed. From roughly Revolver forward, if I'm listening on headphones, I generally prefer the stereo mixes. Over a sound system, though, the mono mixes throughout the catalogue sound absolutely wonderful. The first four albums, however, with their extreme stereo separation, sound much better in mono in my opinion, regardless of the playback source."
 

overkill

Distinguished Member
Excellent post English_bob.

I would only add that mono mixes (non fold downs) from the 60's are generally better sounding for the reasons given. I don't have many (sadly) but one I do have is Let it Bleed by the stones. It's truly wonderful compared to the slightly murky sounding stereo version. In fact the recent Stereo re-master is one of the few times I would say the newer version is better.

If the vinyl and pressing quality of these mono versions is good then that price could be a bit of a steal!
 

english_bob

Active Member
 

mike7

Distinguished Member
Early stereo releases were pretty appalling by modern standards. The separations were overdone largely for effect and partly because of the poor specifications of cheap pickup cartridges. Check out how they manage to put two tracks in one disc groove. In the worst cases, and in some Beatles tracks, the instruments could be heard on the left and the vocals on the right with next to nothing centre stage. I have an Otis Redding album which is rather like this. The legendary dj Kenny Everett had a lot of fun with early Beatles stereo. Turn off one channel and the voices would dissappear giving a Kareoke effect. Another trick was to reverse the leads from the cartridge and, in some cases, the main singer could appear to be singing alone in an echo chamber. Remember that mixing desks were very primitive and often limited by only having 4 or 8 channels which were essentially mono sources. A crude mix would create a pseudo stereo effect. A number of producers seemed to think that 2 mics several feet apart was the way to record orchestras since on replay there would 2 speakers similarly placed. Listen to some early pop in stereo and you will soon see what I mean. They had a lot learn.

With a demand for stereo often record companies would re - release mono albums which were totally faked. A fair degree of echo would be introduced and a bit of filtering used to create extra channels. The whole thing would be put together and it certainly didn't sound like real stereo, but then it didn't sound like mono either!
 
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overkill

Distinguished Member
Early stereo releases were pretty appalling by modern standards. The separations were overdone largely for effect and partly because of the poor specifications of cheap pickup cartridges. Check out how they manage to put two tracks in one disc groove. In the worst cases, and in some Beatles tracks, the instruments could be heard on the left and the vocals on the right with next to nothing centre stage. I have an Otis Redding album which is rather like this. The legendary dj Kenny Everett had a lot of fun with early Beatles stereo. Turn off one channel and the voices would dissappear giving a Kareoke effect. Another trick was to reverse the leads from the cartridge and, in some cases, the main singer could appear to be singing alone in an echo chamber. Remember that mixing desks were very primitive and often limited by only having 4 or 8 channels which were essentially mono sources. A crude mix would create a pseudo stereo effect. A number of producers seemed to think that 2 mics several feet apart was the way to record orchestras since on replay there would 2 speakers similarly placed. Listen to some early pop in stereo and you will soon see what I mean. They had a lot learn.

With a demand for stereo often record companies who re - release albums which were totally faked. A fair degree of echo would be introduced and a bit of filtering used to create extra channels. The whole thing would be put together and it certainly didn't sound like real stereo, but then it didn't sound like mono either!
They didn't really sort Stereo out properly until the early 70's. I have some stuff from 70 - 72' that still has that weird, 'dual mono' effect you describe where vocals aren't centred and bass and drums come from one side only, guitar and keyboards on the other. It creates a lopsided effect.

Tbh Dark Side of the Moon and Alan Parsons really stamped Stereo on the map. People needed a decent stereo system to get the full effect, so the old mono dansettes etc needed to finally be replaced.
 

Cliff

Distinguished Member
George Martin always said those American stereo releases were not something he wanted to be out there.
He has got a point. In the early days with just two track or even 4 track recording, the tracks were used for drums, vocals etc so that each could be re-recorded if necessary. i.e. to build up the sound and be able to get the mono balance right. Adding a few pan pots and calling it stereo was really out of pressure from the record company and the resultant mix was pretty rubbish.

I am probably being a heretic to say this here, but Dr Ebbetts digital mixes were actually pretty good and far better than having vocals on the left and backing on the right.
 

overkill

Distinguished Member
@Cliff, It's weird that many people (Americans that is!) swear the US stereo pressings are better than the UK ones. I'm not convinced myself.

No heresy involved there, Dr Ebbetts stuff is pretty legendary!
 

english_bob

Active Member
Anyone getting these Monday? I have held off getting the box, my plan was to order my favourites individually, and then put the rest on my birthday/Xmas list for present ideas.

But despite contacting Amazon UK's support, they still stubbornly don't seem to want to reduce the price of the individual albums.

£33.99 for Peppers etc.
£38.99 for Magical
£47.99 for White album.

Insane. I'm going Amazon because, knowing my luck there are bound to be some 180g duffers, and returns are so easy with Amazon.
 

Curly99

Distinguished Member
@english_bob have to agree with David F here and say it time to and cheaper to support your local store, below are the prices from my local store "The Music Exchange" surely it should be just as easy to exchange any at the local as it is with Amazon

£26.00 for Peppers etc.
£30.00 for Magical
£37.00 for White album

all the rest are £22 except for the Mono Masters 3 disc set which is £37 and the Beatles for sale album for some reason is £26

Curly
 

cableman

Active Member
Looking forward to my box arriving tomorrow courtesy of Analogue Seduction. Just pulled out my very clean Rubber Soul mono to refresh my memory- and that will be the first I compare with tomorrow

Cant wait!
 

cableman

Active Member
not sure weather to get the box set...I have the Stereo boxset, I may just cherry pick the ones I want.

Curly
I have mixed feeling about the stereo box. On the whole I still prefer the Mobile Fidelity Box
 

windhoek

Active Member
not sure weather to get the box set...I have the Stereo boxset, I may just cherry pick the ones I want.

Curly
I've got the stereo boxset as well but have ordered the mono boxset and reckon there's a good chance I'll keep the mono box, sell the stereo box and buy the missing albums (Yellow Submarine, Abbey Road and Let It Be). I might not, but the word on the web suggests the mono editions are the way to go.
 

overkill

Distinguished Member
I've got the stereo boxset as well but have ordered the mono boxset and reckon there's a good chance I'll keep the mono box, sell the stereo box and buy the missing albums (Yellow Submarine, Abbey Road and Let It Be). I might not, but the word on the web suggests the mono editions are the way to go.
The Mono boxset has been done in a completely different way to the Stereo set. They have produced new tapes where the Originals had started to go bad, and mastered from those, rather than using a Digital copy, tarted up, from the Originals. They then Mastered the Lacquers directly from the tapes. In other words, these are 'real' AAA LP's.

The whole process has been covered in Hi-Fi News.

The MFSL set, as ever with MFSL, suffers from 'smiley eq' syndrome, as MFSL gear their product to the US market where (over) extended bass is God. Sometimes it works, but if the Master they are using is not 'perfect' then it really doesn't as Bass becomes overwhelming and smeared. The Stones MFSL masters are truly awful because of this.

The Stereo re-masters are ok, but patchy. They didn't undergo the same rigorous processing as the Mono's have, and aren't all, if any, AAA. No-one knows....
 

Curly99

Distinguished Member
I've got the stereo boxset as well but have ordered the mono boxset and reckon there's a good chance I'll keep the mono box, sell the stereo box and buy the missing albums (Yellow Submarine, Abbey Road and Let It Be). I might not, but the word on the web suggests the mono editions are the way to go.
You could be right, now if only I didn't need £200+ for my new glasses...

Curly

P.S. couldn't sleep so I got the Stereo boxset out and I'm playing the albums in release order.
 

windhoek

Active Member
Apparently Amazon briefly dropped the price of the Mono boxset from £288 to £227.82 this morning, arghhhh! But wait, it's not all bad because I'm just off 'Live Chat' with Amazon CS and after providing them with this link to camelcamelcamel's record of the price drop, am getting a £60.18 refund! :D
 

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