Most helpful positive review
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Best box set ever
on 4 March 2014
I've been a massive fan of The Beatles for some years now. Just as I'd collected all of the 1987 albums on CD, they went and dropped the 2009 remasters. I brought a few of them in stereo, but only now have I delved into the mono remasters.
I've only ever heard the albums Please Please Me, With The Beatles, A Hard Day's Night and Beatles For Sale in mono, so I can't really comment on the differences between the mono and stereo mixed for these albums. I can tell you that these remasters don't, on the whole sound TOO much different to the 1987 CDs. There are some tracks that sound massively improved; Love Me Do and Please Please Me are two from this period that spring to mind off the top of my head. They sound much cleaner and less murky in this box set.
The sound quality is improved to the point where you can pick out little things that you never heard before in these early recordings. Although I am never sure if this is because you're listening for new things with a new master? Either way, definitely worth getting.
The revelations start coming thick and fast from Help! and beyond. I have a first pressing vinyl copy of Help! on mono from 1965 which sounds incredible. The CD included here also sounds great. Better than the stereo? I would say some songs are, some sound better in stereo. There are a couple of anomalies on the mono mix that will stand out if you've only ever heard the stereo versions. For a start, the vocal take used on the title track is different. Then there are other instrumental differences, and a weird, fast drum beat under the piano intro to 'You Like me Too Much' that must have bled over from another track (?) and is unnoticeable, as far as I know, on the stereo mix.
Also included on Help! and Rubber Soul in this box set are the original 1965 stereo mixes of these albums (as a new stereo mix was created by George Martin for the CD issues in the 1980's). As far as I can tell, there isn't much difference between these stereo mixes, although I haven't listened to them side by side.
Again, some of Rubber Soul sounds great in mono. The fuzz seems fuzzier on 'Think For Yourself'. However, there seems to be some distortion on the vocals on 'Michelle', so I would argue that sounds better in stereo.
Revolver also sounds great in mono, and there are several noticeable differences between this and the stereo mix. There are extra bits of backwards guitar in 'I'm Only Sleeping', no double tracking faults on 'Eleanor Rigby', 'Got To Get You into My Life' sound bigger and has a longer outro, and there are several differences in 'Tomorrow Never Knows'.
I was particularly looking forward to hearing Sgt Pepper in mono, as John Lennon famously said 'you haven't heard Sgt Pepper's until you've heard it in mono'. I have to say, it sounds incredible in mono. Although, as with all of these albums, it's great to have both versions so you can pick either to listen to. The vocal harmonies in 'With A Little Help...' seem much clearer. There is more psychedelic phasing on 'Lucy In The Sky', the laughter at the end of 'Within You Without You' is a lot louder here, you can actually pick out George Harrison's laugh, as apposed to a a collective giggle. The 'Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (reprise) is noticeably different, with more talking and audience sound effects at the start, clearer vocals and shouting from Paul at the end that you can't even hear on the stereo mix.
'Magical Mystery Tour' is one of my favourite albums, and again there are noticeable differences between the mono and stereo. There is a lot of phasing on the drums in 'Your Mother Should Know', whilst there isn't on the stereo version. There is more of the weird wailing instrument used on 'Baby You're A Rich Man', and the backing vocals during the instrumental part in 'Penny Lane' are much louder. The outro to 'All You Need is Love' is also longer.
There are also differences in some tracks on 'the White Album', too many to go into here, but some tracks sound better in mono, some better in stereo. The album as a whole in mono sounds great though.
Also included is 'Mono Masters, Volumes 1 & 2', which is essentially a round up of every other mono track issued as a single, B side or EP track. The early tracks, such as 'Love Me Do', 'Thank You Girl' and 'I'll Get You' all sound much better in mono. The stereo mixes of these are terrible I think, with vocals and instruments hard-panned opposite each other.
Aside from the amazing sound and revelations in the songs themselves, the packaging is exquisite.
Each album is presented in a replica of the original LP sleeve, complete with Emitex ads, liner notes and album credits. These are housed inside individual resealable cellophane sleeves. Inside the card CD cases are exact replicas of the original inner sleeves issued with the original vinyl LPs. And as if that wasn't enough protection for the disc, each disc has it's own plastic sleeve, which fits into the inner sleeve.
All of the album embellishments are here. The 24 page book with 'Magical Mystery Tour', the cutouts with 'Sgt Pepper' and the poster and 4 individual photos with the white album.
There is also a nice booklet with album info and an essay explaining why the mono mixes are as important as they are.
In all, if you're a fan, definitely worth a purchase. If you're a casual listener, stick to the individual remasters.
Also, shout out to Amazon. I ordered this at around 4pm on afternoon, and with free super saver delivery it was in my hands in less than 24 hours.