The disgraced producer Phil Spector created his early, world-changing "Wall of Sound" records in stunning mono, and he later attempted to launch a "Back to Mono" movement long after it became apparent that stereo was here to stay.
But he had a point.
Spector's run of chart-busting monaural singles in the '60s jumped right off of record players and exploded through single-speaker car radios—as did every single by every artist back in the pre-mass-acceptance of stereo days.
Stereo did exist when the Beatles were weaving their magical spell on '60s youth, but while their albums until 1968 were given separate stereo and mono mixes, John, Paul, George, and Ringo considered the mono version as THE MIX, and typically didn't even show up for the stereo-mix sessions. (Well, at least until Sgt. Pepper's blew minds with its musical and sonic expanses, one would think.)
Having heard both mixes in a previous anthology edition, I can report that there are differences in the mono and stereo versions—some slight (a more prominent tambourine or other instrument), and others rather jarring (you may ask yourself, "Am I hearing the same song I grew up hearing?")
In any case, for Beatles fans, it's a real trip to hear these brilliant songs in both formats, and a new VINYL boxed-set gives you the opportunity to hear the mono mixes just as accurately as they rocked the house back in the days of Beatlemania and beyond.
On September 9 (in North America), the Beatles’ nine U.K. albums, the American-compiled Magical Mystery Tour, and the Mono Masters collection of non-album tracks will be released in mono on 180-gram vinyl LPs with faithfully replicated artwork. Newly mastered from the analog master tapes, each album will be available both individually and within a lavish, limited 14-LP boxed edition, The Beatles In Mono, which also includes a 108-page hardbound book.
In an audiophile-minded undertaking, these mono albums have been newly mastered for vinyl from quarter-inch master tapes at Abbey Road Studios by Grammy-winning engineer Sean Magee and Grammy-winning mastering supervisor Steve Berkowitz.
The essential and awesome detail to note here is that 2009's The Beatles In Mono CD boxed set was a digital remastering project for a digital medium. However, for this release, Magee and Berkowitz cut the records completely using analog equipment and signal paths—just like back in the 1960s—without using any digital technology at all. A Studer A80 analog tape machine was deployed to play back the master tapes, and new vinyl was cut on a 1980s-era VMS80 lathe.
As presented now on an analog medium, created with analog technology, and all in mono, The Beatles In Mono is as close as you can get to experiencing these transcendent tracks the way Beatles fans did in the 1960s. It's like a trip in the WayBack Machine.
The Beatles In Mono Details
These albums are available individually and collected in a limited 14-LP boxed edition, accompanied by an exclusive 108-page hardbound book:
Please Please Me
With The Beatles
A Hard Day's Night
Beatles For Sale
Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
Magical Mystery Tour
The Beatles (2-LP set)
Mono Masters (3-LP set)