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4.3 out of 5 stars
The Beatles In Mono
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82 of 90 people found the following review helpful
It doesn't look much from the outside, a simple glossy white slipcase box that is half the size of the one for stereo, and at first glance it looks poor value, considering the high price and the fact that it contains fewer CDs than the other.

Open it up though and your opinion will change. This was put together with exquisite attention to detail. The CDs and probably the whole package was made in Japan. Each CD comes in a resealable transparent sleeve, protecting the cardboard mini-lp inside. Then you get a paper inner sleeve as well as a thin poly sleeve round the CD itself.

Replicas of the original inserts are all present and correct, more so than with the stereo set. For example, the stereo "White Album" has the four colour pictures of the individual Beatles printed on a fold-out sleeve, whereas the mono version replicates the original by having them on separate cards; and the gatefold opens at the top, just like the earliest UK release.

But how about the sound? The important thing to realise is that the mastering has endeavoured to replicate the sound of the original mono vinyl, though with a few light touches to repair faults - though let me emphasise, these are mastered from the original analogue tapes. If you want to hear the Beatles as they sounded to their first listeners, this is definitely the best way to do it, short of searching out original vinyl in good condition, an arduous and expensive task.

Listening to the Mono has several advantages. More attention was paid to the mono at the time, and early stereo mixes with crude right and left separation are poor and irritating by modern standards.

That said, if you value clarity above authenticity, you may well prefer the stereo, especially since a key defect of the stereo, the lightweight bass, has been corrected in the 2009 masters. The mono mixes sound that bit rougher, though in compensation they have a rightness to them that makes stereo hard to go back to once you get used to them.

My suggestion: stereo for the casual fans - it's cheaper and may well please you more - but if you really want to know how the Beatles sounded back in the day, the mono is the only choice. The biggest fans will want both - there are lots of differences small and large. You also get the earliest stereo mixes of Help and Rubber Soul, nice for completists.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 16 October 2009
Well after all these years, the Beatle families have made me happy. Wow real mono, the way the Boys always wanted us to hear them. Of course every cut is great! The packaging with mini album sleeves is terrific. Any younger Beatle fan needs this collection to hear the different mixes. The White Album is such a trip.
I am 60 years old and can finally rest in peace that this set is finally here.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on 4 April 2011
Without doubt, if you're looking for a box set of the ultimate Beatles recordings, the mono box set is the one to buy.

If you've only ever heard the stereo versions of the albums before, as was the case for me, then the experience will be all the more astounding. In my opinion, the sound of the Beatles that has been past forward from the generations who first listened to them in the 1960s, in the form of stereo, acts as a tremendous disservice to the music. I find that hardpanning of vocals, especially when experienced with headphones, leads to a highly unsatisfying aural experience. When listening, for example, to Taxman, it sounds as though the guitars are playing in a closed off studio in your left ear, and you're sitting next to George Harrison in a silent room, waiting for him to deliver his vocals in the right channel. There is no sense of cohesion between the parts. This bizarre effect is true for many other tracks, in particular All You Need Is Love, Lady Madonna, Strawberry Fields Forever and Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds. However, in mono, Taxman roars through the speakers, and you feel completely immersed in the music.

The sound of the mono versions, in general, is infinitely much more cohesive and warm. The drums are much more punchy and the main focus is of the wonderful music and not of bizarre sound staging of different parts, popping up in the left and right channels from nowhere.

Innovation in the studio is often attributed to the Beatles, and I used to think that it was the unusual nature of the stereo mixes which this referred to, with voices being hard panned, and certain instruments gliding from the left to the right speakers and vice versa. Now I understand that this is not the case. A great example of the true innovations are found on Sgt Pepper. Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds is a much more psychadelic experience in mono, in particular due to the phased vocals during John's verses. When I first heard this effect, I thought that maybe it had been omitted in the stereo versions. Upon listening to the stereo version, it is there intact, but entirely hardpanned on the left channel, and so the intended atmosphere of haziness and dreaminess is completely lost.

A track which I used to find pleasant enough in stereo, Lady Madonna, now has a new sense of direction and urgency, with the piano intro brimming with energy and Paul's vocal bursting out of the speakers. The stereo version, in comparison, loses this energy, again giving a similar experence to that described earlier with the track Taxman, where the piano intro is being played in a closed off studio in the left channel, and I'm sitting with Paul in a silent studio in the right channel, waiting for him to sing.

All albums from Please Please Me to the White Album are here, and the mono version of the Past Masters double CD, the Mono Masters, is included too. The Mono Masters CD really is a revelation, with all the classic singles, such as Paperback Writer and Day Tripper, in monophonic glory. It is also worth noting that all the original Lennon/McCartney tracks from Yellow Submarine not already on other discs in the box set, are included on the Mono Masters disc. Hey Bulldog is such a powerful track in its mono guise.

The packaging is fantastic quality, with each album replicated precisely to the packaging of the original vinyls.

If EMI ever see sense, they'll make the mono versions available as individual albums and as downloads on iTunes etc. It would be a disservice to the Beatles for the best versions of their work to not be experienced by the masses.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 9 September 2013
I loaded the albums onto my ipod (lossless) with some decent sennheiser headphones and I felt like I was in the studio with the Fab Four! The songs are all so familiar but this collection sounds incredible. There are some stereo mixes added, these sound pretty terrible on headphones. Luckily the mono recordings are amazing.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 10 September 2013
This is really the ultimate. Beatles as we heard them in the sixties (I was 15 when I saw them in 1963). I felt the recent re-masters weren't far removed from the original CD releases in the eighties and I was reluctant to lash out £200 for the mono set just duplicating all the tracks I had. But serious listening to the "stereo" mixes shows how appalling some of them were. Paperback Writer was never made for stereo, neither were All You Need Is Love or Lady Madonna. The packaging is superb. Highly recommended, but don't cut corners and risk getting a fake.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on 8 October 2010
Let me say at the start that this set is far too expensive and the new remasters should have been released with the Stereo and Mono versions in that same package. I think this is a real shame because the majority of people will now only ever hear substandard stereo versions of a lot of the Beatles catalogue: let's face it only real Beatles fanatics are going to shell out £160.00 on a mono set that is not even complete (missing the albums Abbey Rd and Let it Be and a couple of stereo only late singles).

But back to the music and if you are a Beatles fan wondering whether this set is worth the outlay the answer is definitely YES.
The first 4 albums plus the first Past Masters disc are all vastly superior in Mono: the Stereo separation is often lamentable on these albums while the Mono versions really hit home. It's a real shame that most people won't hear how great With the Beatles and Please Please Me should sound compared to the often unlistenable Stereo versions.

However, Mono is not always the better version. Help, Rubber Soul and Revolver I find a bit muddy in Mono: there are a couple of exceptions (Taxman, Girl) but Stereo wins out on these.

I was begining to think that maybe Mono only wins out on the more rock orientated tracks but Sgt Pepper and Magical Mystery Tour are a revelation: at times it's like your listening to a completely different album and people really need to own both versions. In stereo you get to hear the intricacy of the arrangements but Mono makes for a much more psychedelic experience with a wash of sound.

The White Album is similarly excellent in Mono and though stereo wins out on many tracks (Dear Prudence, While My Guitar, Birthday) Mono is superior on tracks such as Glass Onion, Helter Skelter, 'Monkey' and Savoy Truffle: again you really need to have both versions.

On the 2nd Past Masters CD again it's a bit of a mix: Stereo is more complete and wins out on the majority while Mono has some unwanted stuff from the Yellow Submarine CD. However, you REALLY need to hear mono versions of Paperback Writer, Lady Madonna, Hey Bulldog and Revolution - great tracks that have woeful stereo separation and that are really brought to life in Mono.

So overall, like i said at the start, it's a lot of money to pay for stuff that's not ALWAYS better in Mono, but there's so much in here that's so much better in Mono that for Beatles fans you DO need to buy it. it's such a shame that only completists will get to hear a lot of the Beatles music at its best.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 6 April 2010
So if it is simply amazing why only four stars? I guess that is because of the conundrum surrounding the Beatles re-releases.
The the music is amazingly, almost insidiously brilliant is beyond doubt. The sheer amount of songs on all of these albums that are recognizable is beyond doubt. The Beatles influence on modern music cannot, in my estimation, be underrated.
All of the albums have remarkable musical strengths. In this mono re-release my standout three would be Rubber Soul, Revolver and Sgt Peppers.
So the downside.
The downside...
Nothing to do with the actual music, but rather, the apparent greed of the label. For the vast majority of the Beatles albums sound better on the mono release.
The latter albums sound better in stereo, and, the mono version does not contain the later releases that were stereo only (Yellow Submarine, Abbey Road, Let it Be, also the videos).
So you have three choices:
1) Buy the mono, and if you want the latter albums, buy them separately. Considering the mono version is more expensive to start with this is a frustrating option.
2) Buy the stereo version. You get all the albums, and thus some sense of completeness, with this method. But not all, or even the majority are in their optimal format.
3) Buy both. Maybe the only way to make sure you get your preferred version of each album. The obvious annoyance, is cost. And who really wants to buy two boxed sets for completeness sake, apart from those like me who want both optimal and completeness. It does annoy me that to get this I needed to have so much space taken up, but, such is life.

Comparatively, my review is not as good, nor anywhere as extensive as many of the others here, that is obvious, but as a mainly metal fan I still have to admit to this bands genius and believe most collections are replete without at least one of these re-releases. It's just a shame about the purchasing options..
If you do a review of many of the 4 star reviews you will see a lot of comments along the same line.
I also want to be absolutely clear here. My review is based on this is a product. Not just the music. I wish I could have separate reviews for them both but I cannot - in fact it would be very handy for the Amazon system to have review sections with something along the lines of Music/Packaging/etc with the overall rating out of that being used as the main score. I also wish there was some way to have a review of both albums combined in the amazon system but that is not possible.
As per my stereo boxed set review, it is a shame that the releases have come out like this, but I have to recommend the stereo boxed set over this mono as a product, especially if you only wish to own one of the boxed sets for whatever reason you have, although if you are a completist or a purist (I may be both to my wallets distress) then buy both.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 5 August 2013
As a guitarist, the stereo versions are great, as you can use the odd mixes to isolate various instruments. However, as a fan and as a listening experience, mono is the only way. They just sound 'right' and more dynamic. Worth every penny!
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on 8 November 2009
It was hard to choose but I finally opted for the mono box. I have all the 87 cd's and it was time to listen to Revolver and Peper in mono after all that has been said about these mix.

A great box indeed ! I'm glad I have it. Peper in mono is fantastic. But the real revelation is the White album mono mix. I think it's far better. Back in the USSR, Dear Prudence are just tremendous. And even Ob La Di-Ob La Da sounds nice without the stupids hand claps of the stereo version.

But is it the ultimate box ? No. Some stereo remasters works better and for each cd it's mainly a question of taste. Mono or stereo ? Here's my choice :

PPS : mono even if I'm not so impressed. Actually I love the stereo version of the Capitol Early Beatles album.
WTB : mono, but again I think the stereo Capitol Second album with the reverb is great.
AHDN : stereo. Mono is also great.
BFS : stereo shines.
Help : stereo. But the capitol version is the one I love best. That's only me you know...
RS : stereo, more airy ..
Revolver : stereo, even if Taxman and Rigby are better in their mono incarnations. But overall I'm a bit dissapointed with the mono mix : the trippiest songs are best heard in stereo.
Peper : mono, so smooth. Really great !
MMT : mono.
White album : mono.The real surprise for me !

KInd regards.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 6 July 2012
I don't need to say anything about this set, it is superb. However, be careful where you buy it from. I bought two sets from private sellers and they were counterfeits. Poor sound, badly pressed labels, no inner sleeves. If it looks too good to be true... it probably is. Get your copy from a reputable dealer and float downstream...
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