The Beatles in Mono The Complete Mono Recordings
Limited Edition, Ltd Rmst Mlps ed.
Box Set, Remastered
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Audio CD, Box set, Limited Edition, September 9, 2009
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Limited digitally remastered thirteen CD box set that contains the 10 albums originally released by The Beatles in mono (1963's Please Please Me up through 1968's The White Album) plus two further discs of mono singles masters. As an added bonus, the mono Help! and Rubber Soul discs also include the original 1965 stereo mixes, which have not been previously released on CD. These albums will be packaged in mini-vinyl CD replicas of the original sleeves with all original inserts and label designs retained. At the beginning of the '60s, stereophonic recordings were just coming into their own but many households didn't own stereophonic record players. In most cases, an album would originally be mixed in mono for mass consumption and then separately mixed in stereo for those with modern equipment. As the '60s wore on, mono mixes became secondary over stereo and then were eventually abandoned altogether. The Beatles' first 10 albums were mixed twice: once in mono and then in stereo. The mono mixes were sometimes strikingly different to the stereo mixes, which has ensured their collectability over the years. This box contains all the officially released Beatles mono mixes in one limited edition box set. Capitol.
The Beatles Mono Box Set was compiled as a special interest package for the hard-core fan. It presents the first ten albums in re-mastered mono (the final 3 albums made their debuts in stereo only), and a double album of singles and EPs, called "Mono Masters". At the time of writing, the mono albums are not available individually. Why would anyone want a newly minted mono collection? The final mono songs were sometimes different. Stereo mixes were usually done days, if not weeks after the original mono mix, and could include different takes when the engineers made the overdubs. Stereo mixes, particularly for the first five albums, did not include as much critical listening from George Martin, and almost none from the Fab' Four. Also, stereo in early 60's England was not broadcast over the air, and the format was largely the preserve of the hi-fi snob. For more than half The Beatles recorded repertoire, the most affordable "weapon of choice" for the twisting, shouting teenage market was the mono mix. Ironically - this box set is the best The Beatles have ever sounded. Like the stereo sibling these are re-mastered, not re-mixed, but unlike the stereo, they have not been clipped or limited to push levels closer to current music ingested through our MP3 players. These albums are cleaner than ever before and compared to the 1980s CD editions you're taken aback by how much dynamic range is on those original tapes. Nothing in this box sounds like a 45 year old recording. Each disc is presented as if it were a miniature "33", replete with plastic anti-scratch sleeve, inner paper sleeve, original album cover, inserts and all original text rendered frustratingly small for anyone old enough to have bought the LPs the first time around. -- Hugo Munday
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My vinyl experience and circumstances: 55+ years, owner of all first edition mono and stereo Beatles LP and 45 recordings, owner of many multiple copies of subsequently-released Beatles material. When testing audio equipment, I use first edition Revolver and Please Please Me (and Brian's Pet Sounds) as reference disks.
Reaction to this purchase: These albums provided the perfect synergy for my system/setup. I felt as though I was transported back in time to when I first heard these recordings broadcast. It was a remarkable stop-dead-in-your-tracks experience. When compared to the original first pressings, The Beatles in Mono vinyl set sounds clearer with better-defined and articulated vocals and instrumentation. You can tell that the frequency response has been widened but not in any way that alters or diminishes the musical performances. There's no hint of subjectively-introduced equalization.
I approached these LPs with some trepidation given my experience listening to the previously-released Mono Box set on CD. That box set, while clean and quiet, messed too much with the Beatles "sound" (for example, I found that McCartney's bass lines were overdone and seemed to dominate certain performances which consequently diminished the other instrumental, as well as vocal, elements). Also, I did not agree with the many other equalization choices -- it's entirely subjective of course but had I been the one making those decisions I would have placed greater emphasis on Lennon's rhythm guitar, among other things. In short, the CD set left me feeling as though I was listening to someone else's interpretation, not that of the original artists, of previously-recorded material. That set should have been more accurately (and honestly) titled as: The Beatles in Mono as Interpreted by Rouse, Massey et al.
Here, for this vinyl box set (each album now available separately), Sean Magee and Steve Berkowitz did exactly what was needed -- nothing more, nothing less. This presentation is what I have been waiting a long, long time for. I had the feeling during playback that I was sitting at the REDD 51 mixing console, in Studio Two Control Room, at Abbey Road Studios, during each Beatles recording session. That's the magical, Holy Grail, vintage experience I chase and that this set delivered on my gear.
Even tiny versions of the inner sleeves are replicated as exactly as possible and, of course, all the original extra goodies are also present in miniature-- the SGT. PEPPER cutout sheet, the four WHITE ALBUM color glossies and collage poster, etc. The detailing is extraordinary and each disc even comes in its own resealable clear mylar sleeve.
As for the music, well it's The Beatles as they intended you to hear them-- not the after-thought stereo remixes by studio engineers. This set is a nifty addition to a serious fan's collection, but not essential, as most people will prefer to get and enjoy the Stereo Remasters.
Be careful where you buy EITHER the Mono or Stereo sets, however-- both have been extensively counterfeited and sold at "bargain" prices for which you receive inferior product-- in both sets, shabby construction and inaccurate detailing are dead giveaways that you've been hoodwinked. Be especially cautious of the sets offered for sale on eBay-- check out the forums on that site and the videos on YouTube that show you how to identify these fakes, ask lots of questions before you buy and if you don't like the answers, look elsewhere.
There have been some great and informative reviews already posted.
Just a few things to add. Compared to the stereo remasters, this has a more rich and deeper sound with subtle nuances. Sgt Pepper's alone is worth the price of admission.
For Hard Day's Night, specifically And I Love Her, Paul's vocals and the guitar is so much better, no off synch echo, and the rich sound is superior in Mono.
Basically all albums prior to MMT were produced better in mono. Usually the mono mixes are slightly longer, or have lingering sounds not present in the stereo counterpart. Also, I find it true what has been written before, that the recent Stereo remasters are not significantly better than the late 1980s CD releases. This is the first time one can really get the Mono mixes on CD and it was done right. More than just all right, superb.
Help and Rubber Soul, you get the Stereo mix by George Martin on the same disc, nice bonus. The Mono mix still better.
The bass for Revolver right out of the gate... Tax Man is something to contend with, grabs one by the lapels. Paul's lead guitar (yep, George asked Macca to play the solo) on Taxman is more piercing in this mono mix. Strings in Eleanor Rigby more detailed as well. Perhaps the last track, Tomorrow Never Knows has more sonic effect in Stereo which some may prefer.
It's only after Sgt Pepper's where the Stereo versions can compete or perhaps surpass. Magical Mystery Tour being one of them, listen to "Baby You're Rich Man" the mono has different piano effects, and certain instruments are more or less predominate. Up front hand clap and vocals. The Stereo version has much more bass and pretty nifty guitar up front. Worthy of comparing. I like both! The mono version of Mother Should Know is a bit of let down, sounds muddy. Perhaps it was originally mixed that way and they did not want to mess with the original release?
White Album is a completely different mix, perhaps the Stereo for that one if the definitive release, however, I wanted the Mono version in audio CD format for decades, and here it is. Quite different.
Again,with the Beatles- White Album, different sound effects, different speeds, probably lacking some overdubs as well. A very fresh experience. Great to have both versions! The the mono is a treat and not a gimmick. This is the way it was originally released in the UK, in mono, where as the US release came out in Stereo only.
As for the first few albums, nearly brought a tear to my eye, as it sounds so good. I have many of the first pressing mono records, and this CD box set is awesome. For the record, I'm between 35-45 years of age.
The packaging is awesome, even the details and markings on the inner sleeves and exterior covers. It completes the experience. ( yes, even the psychedelic inner sleeve for Pepper, to the note on which cleaning cloth to use for preserving your vinyl record found inside of Revolver.
In an age of thin sounding MP3s and lack or packaging/art of the album covers, Do not hesitate on acquiring this spectacular experience. High thumbs up for the Beatles in Mono Box set.