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Mono vs. Stereo
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15 February 2013
9.10am
Lorettamartin
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I have a technical/musicology question for you all.

Last year the UK albums were again released on vinyl in Stereo : Beatles remasterd on Vinyl

Now i read that the same box will be released but with the mono versions.

Can somebody please explain to me what is the difference between mono and stereo, and especially when it comes to the Beatles' records.

As somebody who doesn't know a lot about the technical aspects of recording, I would assume that Stereo would always be better than Mono, but apparently this is not the case.

So I hope that somebody can explain it to me in an understandable language (without making fun of my ignorance LOL)

 

15 February 2013
10.14am
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meanmistermustard
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You can have thinks like panning in stereo where the sound moves across the speakers, two examples being the swarmandal in Strawberry Fields and "Number nine, number nine" in Revolution 9, actually many things in Revolution 9. You can also 'place' sounds in the stereo image which is not really possible in mono.

The mono Pepper and White Album mixes are the most different of all the albums than their stereo counterparts.

A few more examples include Helter Skelter being almost a minute longer in stereo, handclaps in Why Don't We Do It In Road that are not present in the mono, Help! has a completely different Lennon lead vocal, louder noises in the Pepper Reprise mono than stereo, Words Of Love and Hey Jude being around 10 seconds longer in the fade out in their mono mixes, a 'flanging' effect on Johns vocal in Lucy in the Sky.

Note also that the stereo mixes of Please Please Me and With The Beatles mostly have the vocals on one side and the instruments on the other due them being recorded on 2 track. There are no true stereo mixes of Love Me Do, PS I Love You, She Loves You, I'll Get You, and You Know My Name (Look Up The Number) and no true mono mixes of the Let it Be and Abbey Road albums and Revolution 9.

A couple of youtube vids as its easier to hear the differences when listening.

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Oudis
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15 February 2013
10.44am
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Ron Nasty
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The Beatles grew up in an age when recordings were mono, and stereo sound was relatively new at the time their career began. The majority of home listening was done of equipment that only had one speaker, and was mixed for that. A recording generally has two channels, we'll call them left and right. With a mono recording you get the same sound from both channels:

    Left Channel — Vocals, guitars, drums.

    Right Channel — Vocals, guitars, drums.

When listened to on two speakers, these two channels combine to create the sound in the centre of the speakers.

      Left Speaker                             vocals, guitars, drums                                 Right Speaker

                                                               Listener

The Beatles early recordings are perhaps the easiest to explain how stereo differs, because of the relatively primitive recordings and primitive stereo mixes. A stereo recording offers the opportunity to have different sounds emerging from each speaker. With The Beatles early recordings, the stereo mixes were very primitive.

     Left Channel — Vocals.

     Right Channel — Guitars, drums.

When listened to on two speakers, especially if widely spaced, the listener will hear different sounds coming from different parts of the room.

     Left Speaker — vocals                                                                         Right Speaker — guitar, drums

                                                                Listener

As their stereo mixes grew more complicated, this allowed for more complexity for how the listener will hear it:

     Left Speaker                                                                                                     Right Speaker

      lead vocal                                                  drums                                             backing vocals

     rhythm guitar                                           lead guitar                                             bass guitar

                                                                     Listener

The Beatles paid more attention to the mono mixes up until around 1968, rarely attending when the stereo mixes were made by George Martin. This often led to differences, minor and major, between the two.

The early albums, where the stereo splits the vocals and music between the speakers, are certainly better in mono. Though the stereo are interesting in allowing you to listen to just the vocals or just the music by turning off one or the other speaker. This becomes more a matter of taste as their stereo mixes improved.

Up to, and including Sgt. Pepper, the group's interest was with the mono mix.

I hope I haven't over-complicated this.

 

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IveJustSeenAFaceo, Bongo

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16 February 2013
12.10am
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meanmistermustard
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Should be added that whilst the mono mixes took time to get right the stereo ones would often be done much quicker, something like 6 songs in 30 minutes at one time either for the Beatles For Sale or A Hard Days Night LP, i think Beatles For Sale (i dont have Lewisohns studio sessions book handy so cant check).

The mono mixes are fantastic but the box is expensive. Definately worth it, no question, but it will set you back.

Don’t make your love suffer insecurities, trade the baggage of self to set another one free. ('Paper Skin' - Kendall Payne)
16 February 2013
12.21am
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Ron Nasty
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Beatles For Sale. 27 October '64. Five songs remixed for mono between 10am and 12.30pm. Same songs remixed for stereo 12.30-1.00pm. Where I would disagree is that the mono mixes were thought about and considered, while the stereo mixes were just something that had to be done. It was not that "the mono mixes took time to get right", it was that it was the mono mixes that mattered.

"I only said we were bigger than Rod... and now there's all this!" Ron Nasty

16 February 2013
12.49am
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meanmistermustard
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mja6758 said
Beatles For Sale. 27 October '64. Five songs remixed for mono between 10am and 12.30pm. Same songs remixed for stereo 12.30-1.00pm. Where I would disagree is that the mono mixes were thought about and considered, while the stereo mixes were just something that had to be done. It was not that "the mono mixes took time to get right", it was that it was the mono mixes that mattered.

Sounds like the same to me but hey ho. apple02

Don’t make your love suffer insecurities, trade the baggage of self to set another one free. ('Paper Skin' - Kendall Payne)
16 February 2013
3.21am
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Ron Nasty
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16 February 2013
4.35am
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vonbontee
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I remember George saying 'Blimey, he's always talking about “Yesterday”, you'd think he was Beethoven or somebody' - Paul McCartney

16 February 2013
10.52am
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meanmistermustard
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16 February 2013
3.15pm
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Sky999
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I listen to stereo more cause thats the boxset I have, but on some of the songs I like the fuller sound of mono. Like on Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds the song sounds more trippy to me in mono. Other songs, however, sound almost the same.

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