Customer Review

11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mono is the way to go, 4 April 2011
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This review is from: The Beatles In Mono (Audio CD)
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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Showing 1-1 of 1 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 14 Nov 2011 11:58:02 GMT
M.C.W says:
I'm not looking for a box set, I'm looking for a copy of the beatles and sergeant peppers in mono... can't find them anywhere!!!
Which is why I like your review the most, it says all the great stuff you want to hear about why you should be listening in mono, but then acknowledges how EMI and by default Apple have not done what the beatles were about, reaching the masses, it makes me sad...
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