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Mono vs. Stereo
16 February 2013
9.05pm
SatanHimself
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My go-to will always be the stereo mixes, especially the 2009 masters.  I save the mono mixes for those times I *really* want to sit down and pay attention to the fine details.  Revolver, Sgt. Pepper and The White Album are all essential mono experiences.

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17 February 2013
4.30am
vonbontee
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That's funny you should say that - I would think the stereo was more ideallly suited for the fine details, and the mono for the totality. As far as singling out individual instrumental contributions, I find it much easier if I can concentrate on them if they're isolated and concentrated primarily in a single stereo channel.

I just want to play. I’d like to think I could work opposite Sinatra, B.B. King, the Beatles, or a polka band... - Jazz musician Rahsaan Roland Kirk, 1967
17 February 2013
4.43am
Gerard
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I would only listen to stereo if the sounds come from loud speakers where the nuances aren't noticed that much.

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19 February 2013
10.38pm
Egroeg Evoli
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Stereo, usually, considering I like the effect of sound coming out of different speakers and panning across the speakers. But my opinion isn't worth much; I don't know much about technical recording stuff.

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20 February 2013
10.15pm
vonbontee
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I'm of the opinion that whatever your ears tell you is best...is best.

I just want to play. I’d like to think I could work opposite Sinatra, B.B. King, the Beatles, or a polka band... - Jazz musician Rahsaan Roland Kirk, 1967
22 February 2013
2.48pm
DrBeatle
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Agreed. For me, however, the reason I like the mono mixes is that they sound more natural and integrated...especially on the stuf from Rubber Soul onward, many of the overdubs stick out like a sore thumb on top of the whole mix in the stereo versions (like Paul's great bassline in Hey Bulldog, the piano solo on In My Life, etc) whereas in the mono mixes they sound more like they were recorded all together with the rest of the songs and sound more "real" (if that makes sense?).

Plus, on the earlier albums, it's my opinion that the mono mixes have better vocal mixing and the bass and drums have more "punch." That's not even taking into account the longer fade-outs and the extra goodies/effects on the mono that are lacking in the stereo. The only thing I miss from the stereo is the extra minute at the end of Helter Skelter.

Again, these are just my opinions...to each his own! :-D

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10 August 2014
12.12pm
mc1382
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DrBeatle said
Agreed. For me, however, the reason I like the mono mixes is that they sound more natural and integrated...especially on the stuf from Rubber Soul onward, many of the overdubs stick out like a sore thumb on top of the whole mix in the stereo versions (like Paul's great bassline in Hey Bulldog, the piano solo on In My Life, etc) whereas in the mono mixes they sound more like they were recorded all together with the rest of the songs and sound more "real" (if that makes sense?).

Plus, on the earlier albums, it's my opinion that the mono mixes have better vocal mixing and the bass and drums have more "punch." That's not even taking into account the longer fade-outs and the extra goodies/effects on the mono that are lacking in the stereo. The only thing I miss from the stereo is the extra minute at the end of Helter Skelter.

Again, these are just my opinions...to each his own! :-D

Late to the discussion but just add my two cents. I always felt they sounded more like a band in mono than because of stereo separating insturments, it just sounds more natural then stereo just like you said.

10 August 2014
8.57pm
Matt Busby
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There are some really detailed and insightful reviews of the various mono and stereo releases at amazon (who knows, maybe some of us wrote them!), c.f. this page.  Some folk give song by song reviews of the different versions.  Very interesting.

EDIT:  Don't follow that link and buy!  Use one of the links that gives Joe a commission if you want to buy.

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11 August 2014
2.52am
Bongo
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Stereo all the way.  You can't beat the 2009 stereo remasters

The Beatles made mono, 'cause that's all they knew back then.  You don't see Macca doing solo stuff in mono.

Now that these new 2014 "analog" mono LPS are coming out, people will demand that the stereo LPs be made in "analog", making the 2012 "digital" stereo LP worthless. a-hard-days-night-ringo-8

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11 August 2014
3.01am
Mr. Kite
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Matt Busby said

There are some really detailed and insightful reviews of the various mono and stereo releases at amazon (who knows, maybe some of us wrote them!), c.f. this page.  Some folk give song by song reviews of the different versions.  Very interesting.

EDIT:  Don't follow that link and buy!  Use one of the links that gives Joe a commission if you want to buy.

Now my signature is here for that...

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11 August 2014
7.00am
paulramon1962
Cedar City, Utah
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Just adding my two cents!

I prefer the Mono mixes of the Beatles albums until about Help! After that, I personally like the stereo mix. The Mono mix of Sgt. Pepper is pretty phenomenal though

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3 September 2014
6.27am
Oudis
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vonbontee said

Really, it's just that I noticed it was always the stereo which faded earlier, and wondered if there was an explanation. But OTOH, the stereo "She's Leaving Home" is a semitone lower in pitch, so it must be LONGER than the mono one. And of course "Helter Skelter" is a LOT longer than the mono one. (And now that I think of it, doesn't the mono "Northern Song" fade earlier than the stereo? Can't remember...) Which would make any attempt to shorten the overall playing time counterproductive in those two cases. So who knows?

As far as I know, Vonbontee, that was the case in the sixties –remember the two halves of Strawberry Fields Forever that turned into one song? The speed of the second half changed and fortunately matched the speed of the first part. But nowadays digital technology allows you to alter the pitch without changing the speed of the track. I guess that is what they’ve done in the last stereo releases. I still cannot understand why all the fast fade outs in the stereo mixes though.

Personally I have to confess that I prefer the new stereo releases because I can distinctly hear instruments or voices that were buried in the original mono mixes, they tell me how the songs were “constructed”, they give me more of the “sound collage” the Beatles used so much –although I know that in most cases The Beatles worked towards a mono version. But I have recorded in professional studios and with multitracks with friends so I have an almost “professional” interest in that kind of thing, that many people don’t have.

4 September 2014
12.44am
trcanberra
Canberra, ACT
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I am just working through a few Beach Boys CDs at the moment which is pretty interesting in light of this whole mono / stereo discussion.  Brian Wilson preferred mono and yet many of their early albums albums were also mixed in stereo (they also had the Capitol duophonic thing on some of their 'middle period' albums).  Most of the albums are now available in both - and some which were only available in mono have been remixed in stereo by some regular BB collaborators, many of them 'supervised' by Brian.

The one I found particularly interesting was Pet Sounds which was originally only available in mono, I find the stereo remix preferable but the mono also sounds very good.  With the great harmonies the group has many of the newer stereo remixes are revelatory, particularly for the vocals.

19 November 2014
8.04pm
SirHuddlestonFuddleston
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It's been a decades long catastrophe that the greatest music of the 20th century was only available in terrible formats. Capitol in America messed with the albums (until Sgt. Peppers) themselves, depriving Americans of the opportunity to hear the album as it was intended. Those of us lucky enough to grow up before CDs got the original vinyl albums, which were decent quality. Also there were excellent German and Japanese pressings.

But it all changed in 1987. The original Beatles releases on CD were poorly digitally mastered. Subsequent remasterings only made the problem worse. Finally in 2004(?) we got a mastering with scrupulous attention to detail, and not a sloppy mess.

However, even that was a compromise, since the stereo mixes were, until the White Album, an afterthought to the Beatles. The mono mixes were done with care, but the Beatles didn't participate in the stereo mixes until at least Sgt Pepper, and often the stereo mix was done by Emerick or whoever in a single day. To hear what the Beatles intended you to hear, you have to listen to the mono mixes. But the 2004(?) mono CD release wasn't the original mono mixes, but an artificial mono created from the stereo mix.

So, finally, in 2014, we got releases of the Beatles music which arguably can't be bettered: the mono mixes on 180g audiophile vinyl. Ever since I sold my massive Beatles vinyl collection in 1987 I've been kicking myself. I had a numbered German White Album, Japanese red vinyl Revolver and Sgt. Peppers, etc. Sold for pennies because finally we had CDs. What a disappointment. But finally, this year, I ordered the mono vinyl box set (plus a stereo vinyl White Album, Yellow Sub, Abbey Road). Bought a decent turntable. Threw out my CDs. Finally, a happy man.

19 November 2014
10.46pm
IveJustSeenAFaceo
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The 2009 Mono remasters were absolutely the original mono mixes. They're the same mixes as the mono vinyl box set. 

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20 November 2014
12.50am
meanmistermustard
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There's a question. George Martin made new mixes of all the 'Help" and 'Rubber Soul' tracks in 1987 so are those the mixes on the new vinyl's? I presume they are.

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20 November 2014
1.51am
IveJustSeenAFaceo
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meanmistermustard said
There's a question. George Martin made new mixes of all the 'Help" and 'Rubber Soul' tracks in 1987 so are those the mixes on the new vinyl's? I presume they are.

He made new stereo mixes of those albums, and those are the ones on the stereo remastered CDs and records. The original 1965 mixes are included on the remastered Mono CDs of those albums. 

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20 November 2014
1.52am
Ron Nasty
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@meanmistermustard If you mean the stereo vinyls (as well as stereo CDs), then yes. The 2009 remaster remastered George Martin's 1987 remix, with the original stereo mixes appearing as a bonus on the 2009 digital mono box on their respective albums. If you mean the new mono, then no. George Martin didn't remix either of the mono masters in 1987 because they were not up for issue. The mono remasters (digital and the new vinyl) are both taken from the 1965 mastertape.

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