Beatles Mono Box Set---first listen

Mike Lavigne

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#1
it arrived today.

I just spent about an hour doing a quick sample taste of my 2 favorite mono mastered Beatles albums; Rubber Soul and Revolver.

I compared one cut on Revolver, 'Tax Man'; and two cuts on Rubber Soul, 'Drive My Car' and 'Norwegian Wood'.

I played the first 30 seconds of each cut on my mono cart/arm/phono and then on my stereo cart/arm/phono.......and went back and forth 3 times.

the mono rig is the Miyajima Premium Be Mono cartridge, Durand 'stock' Telos, and the lesser of the two phono stages in my dart preamp.

the stereo rig is the Ortofon MC Anna cartridge, Durand Telos Sapphire, and the better of the two phono stages in my dart preamp.

the differences were consistent across all three cuts. the stereo rig sounded very good by itself, but the mono rig made the stereo playback sound muted in direct comparison. the mono rig had quieter backgrounds, better decay and bloom, and had more sparkle and energy. voices were more delineated. there was more space and front to back depth.

some might view these differences as minor, even marginal. and I cannot say that every system would equally reveal the same differences or that every listener would agree.

when I was listening to Norwegian Wood I also pulled out my early Parlophone Mono pressing and my MoFi Stereo pressing to compare to the new mono pressing just to get a feel for that comparison.

the early Parlophone was a bit warmer than the new mono pressing, but it gave up quite a bit of energy and focus.....and it was much nosier....no surprise for a 50 year old pressing. I preferred the new mono overall....maybe some systems/listeners might prefer the warmth of the early Parlophone.

the MoFi stereo was a wet noodle in direct comparison......kinda lifeless.....mono is where it's at for these early Beatles albums.

one more note; with my stereo rig there was no difference with the mono button engaged or not engaged. I could hear zero difference.

anyway....it's just a first taste.....there is lots more ground to cover. and I reserve the right to adjust my perspective as I spend more time.
 

Mike Lavigne

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#2
as I sit here a bit later I've listened all the way thru Revolver and Rubber Soul......and am half way thru Sgt. Peppers. this is the best I've ever heard these mono mastered albums sound. for now I'm only listening to the mono rig. but I'd guess it would also be a new reference with the stereo rig too.

'A Day In The Life' is epic.:)

just a little larger viewpoint.
 

Johnny Vinyl

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#3
the stereo rig is the Ortofon MC Anna cartridge, Durand Telos Sapphire, and the better of the two phono stages in my dart preamp.


one more note; with my stereo rig there was no difference with the mono button engaged or not engaged. I could hear zero difference.
Thank you Mike for your thoughts on a first listen of a few of these pressings. Some other user reviews seem to mirror a lot of your thoughts, especially noting that the original Parlophones are slightly warmer.

I'm a little discouraged to read that you found no difference whatsoever when playing the new pressings with the MONO switch engaged while using a stereo cartridge. I'm wondering if using the Double Y connection would yield a different result. If not, then I have to ask myself if this Boxset is even worth considering.
 

XV-1

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May 24, 2010
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#4
Thank you Mike for your thoughts on a first listen of a few of these pressings. Some other user reviews seem to mirror a lot of your thoughts, especially noting that the original Parlophones are slightly warmer.

I'm a little discouraged to read that you found no difference whatsoever when playing the new pressings with the MONO switch engaged while using a stereo cartridge. I'm wondering if using the Double Y connection would yield a different result. If not, then I have to ask myself if this Boxset is even worth considering.
Johnny

Y cable or not, mono cartridge or plain ole stereo cartridge, these mono pressings just sound right.

Whereas the digital Stereo box overall doesnr sound right - muted up top and some albums bass fattened to much.

Do not fear you won't be disappointed with the mono albums
 

Johnny Vinyl

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#5
Johnny

Y cable or not, mono cartridge or plain ole stereo cartridge, these mono pressings just sound right.

Whereas the digital Stereo box overall doesnr sound right - muted up top and some albums bass fattened to much.

Do not fear you won't be disappointed with the mono albums
I'll likely get it, because it's really the only way to get these pure analogue pressings in Mono at a somewhat realistic pricepoint. I'm just a little disappointed to hear that the mono switch has no effect as I'm not in a position to buy a dedicated mono cartridge. Let me rephrase that....getting a mono cartridge for the few mono LPs I have doesn't make sense.
 

Mike Lavigne

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Apr 25, 2010
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#6
Johnny

Y cable or not, mono cartridge or plain ole stereo cartridge, these mono pressings just sound right.

Whereas the digital Stereo box overall doesnr sound right - muted up top and some albums bass fattened to much.

Do not fear you won't be disappointed with the mono albums
+1.

these pressings sound wonderful with the stereo cartridge. when I compared the MoFi stereo to the new mono pressing for 'Norwegian Wood' with either the mono rig or stereo rig the MoFi basically sucked. it was lifeless and lacking everywhere in direct comparison. sure; the mono rig has advantages, they are real and worth pursuing when you can swing it, but these mono pressings deliver the advantages on the stereo cartridge too.

this is the best you will ever hear these recordings.

the whole 'Y' cable/Mono button question is not anything to focus on. if it sounds better to use one of those then use it, otherwise forget it. in any case it's not going to be very significant. simply don't expect that to somehow equate to a dedicated mono cartridge. the mono cartridge reads the groove in a more direct way adding information to the picture.....how the stereo cartridge is wired only makes the signal path slightly better/different in a specific system.
 
Jul 1, 2010
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#7
My understanding is that when they were making the digital masters, they were conservative with the stereos, very conservative with the monos. I imagine the same philosophy carried through to the analog masters. I have all the digital recordings, and the remasters - stereo or mono - are of course much better than the original CDs. This is one of the best remastering projects that has ever been done, IMO, and should be a model for all others. The digital stereo tracks are a bit brighter in the kids. Voices and transients seem a bit more recessed on the mono versions. That's not necessarily a bad thing. It makes some tracks smoother, easier to listen to. But on others, I really prefer the tonality of the stereo versions. What I don't prefer is the exaggerated panning of instruments and voices that was popular then, in the early days of stereo. I particularly enjoy the mono versions on the early material.

Good to see that the vinyl guys have got these now. They are, IMO, essential for the true Beatles fan.

Tim
 

Mike Lavigne

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#8
My understanding is that when they were making the digital masters, they were conservative with the stereos, very conservative with the monos. I imagine the same philosophy carried through to the analog masters. I have all the digital recordings, and the remasters - stereo or mono - are of course much better than the original CDs. This is one of the best remastering projects that has ever been done, IMO, and should be a model for all others. The digital stereo tracks are a bit brighter in the kids. Voices and transients seem a bit more recessed on the mono versions. That's not necessarily a bad thing. It makes some tracks smoother, easier to listen to. But on others, I really prefer the tonality of the stereo versions. What I don't prefer is the exaggerated panning of instruments and voices that was popular then, in the early days of stereo. I particularly enjoy the mono versions on the early material.

Good to see that the vinyl guys have got these now. They are, IMO, essential for the true Beatles fan.

Tim
in the hardcover 'coffee table' book that comes with the box set they get into some of the issues you raise. they specifically, on these mono pressings, say that while the early pressings had to be somewhat muted so needles, arms and tt's back in the early 60's could predicably play them......these new mono pressings are more dynamically free. they talked about certain pressings causing early 60's needles to jump out of the grooves.....and so they had to re-cut some early pressings.

so in many places the bass is more accurate to the masters than the early pressings. also the top end balance is more open since gear these days can tame more top end energy. of course; while doing all that they had to honor the character of the music.

which accounts for some of the differences I hear between my early Parlophone mono pressings and these new monos.

I have the 2009 remastered digital stereo and mono boxes and the 24bit files. I do think they are quite good. I have the 2012 stereo digitally mastered pressings, but have not opened it yet. what I'd like to see now would be an all-analog re-mastering of the stereo titles with new pressings before more time goes by. those tapes do not improve with age.

as far as the stereo digital having advantages to the mono digital on some tracks I'd need to go back and compare them. if you can note one's where you noticed that i'll check it out to see how those tracks compare on these new pressings.
 
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asiufy

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#10
My understanding is that when they were making the digital masters, they were conservative with the stereos, very conservative with the monos.
Fremer implied that they actually did mono transfers to digital, and the original plan was to do the mono LP box set just like the stereo, from digital masters. But apparently, Fremer's consistently bad reviews of the stereo LPs made them change their mind, and go back to an all-analog chain.

True or not, it's a good thing that they did :)


alexandre
 

Johnny Vinyl

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#11
Fremer implied that they actually did mono transfers to digital, and the original plan was to do the mono LP box set just like the stereo, from digital masters. But apparently, Fremer's consistently bad reviews of the stereo LPs made them change their mind, and go back to an all-analog chain.

True or not, it's a good thing that they did :)


alexandre

I read that as well. I'll take his "boast" with a grain of salt.
 
Jul 1, 2010
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#12
in the hardcover 'coffee table' book that comes with the box set they get into some of the issues you raise. they specifically, on these mono pressings, say that while the early pressings had to be somewhat muted so needles, arms and tt's back in the early 60's could predicably play them......these new mono pressings are more dynamically free. they talked about certain pressings causing early 60's needles to jump out of the grooves.....and so they had to re-cut some early pressings.

so in many places the bass is more accurate to the masters than the early pressings. also the top end balance is more open since gear these days can tame more top end energy. of course; while doing all that they had to honor the character of the music.

which accounts for some of the differences I hear between my early Parlophone mono pressings and these new monos.

I have the 2009 remastered digital stereo and mono boxes and the 24bit files. I do think they are quite good. I have the 2012 stereo digitally mastered pressings, but have not opened it yet. what I'd like to see now would be an all-analog re-mastering of the stereo titles with new pressings before more time goes by. those tapes do not improve with age.

as far as the stereo digital having advantages to the mono digital on some tracks I'd need to go back and compare them. if you can note one's where you noticed that i'll check it out to see how those tracks compare on these new pressings.



I wouldn't call it an advantage, just a difference, and a matter of taste. The examples you were using this morning are good -- Norwegian Wood and Drive My Car. The monos are "softer" for lack of a better term. The stereos "pop." Transients are sharper. Some would call the stereo masters harsh in comparison to the monos, some would call the monos a bit muted compared to the stereo. I'm happy to have both and wish the industry would use that project as the model for a long wave of remasters of classic rock albums.

Tim
 

XV-1

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May 24, 2010
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#13
Fremer implied that they actually did mono transfers to digital, and the original plan was to do the mono LP box set just like the stereo, from digital masters. But apparently, Fremer's consistently bad reviews of the stereo LPs made them change their mind, and go back to an all-analog chain.

True or not, it's a good thing that they did :)


alexandre
I believe that was certainly a manin part of it. + the public venting.

Sean Magee ( dude who mastered them to vinyl @ Abbey Road) also stopped by SH forum on a few ocassions and it was very clear after most heard the digital Stereo vinyl were not impressed and many hundreds of pages to vent their frustration of that fact - me included.

cheers
 

rockitman

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Sep 20, 2011
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#14
I have done the A side of rubber soul 3 times each with the Olympos mono and Koetsu stereo tiger eye. I was surprised how well it sounded with a stereo cart. The mono is more fleshed out, quieter and more sparkle as Mike says, but the stereo was surprisingly good. If I only had stereo playback setup, I would still get this box based on my Rubber soul observations at least. Ymmv.
 

Mike Lavigne

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Apr 25, 2010
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#16
[/B]

I wouldn't call it an advantage, just a difference, and a matter of taste. The examples you were using this morning are good -- Norwegian Wood and Drive My Car. The monos are "softer" for lack of a better term. The stereos "pop." Transients are sharper. Some would call the stereo masters harsh in comparison to the monos, some would call the monos a bit muted compared to the stereo. I'm happy to have both and wish the industry would use that project as the model for a long wave of remasters of classic rock albums.

Tim
interesting.

your impressions of the stereo-mono comparison for the CD box sets is exactly opposite of how i view the comparison for the Lps when i use the new mono pressing or the early mono pressing compared to the MoFi stereo pressing. the mono pressings are both more vivid and alive sounding with more snap and vibrancy in the transients. particularly in the guitar licks on 'Norweigan Wood'....not close. and that dynamic energy is what the mono grooves do better than stereo technically.

i don't consider the MoFi as any great standard, but it is one that many have so it's a reference to some degree. i could also compare my Sgt. Peppers UHQR stereo pressing to the mono.

i'll drag those CD's out tonight and give them a listen.

i do agree that this mono reissue is a model for the industry on how to do it right with only one i've heard that is better, and that one is much much better.......The Classic Records 45rpm box set of Led Zepplin....which sets the bar so high that we kinda have to ignore it. i cannot imagine just how much i might pay for the Beatles to do that. especially if there was only 250 made.

OMG!!!

i could see $10k to start....and then the bidding would go crazy from there.

Mike
 
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jazdoc

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Aug 7, 2010
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#17
Picked up my box yesterday and listened to Hard Day's Night, Rubber Soul, Revovler, and Sgt. Pepper. I only have a couple of early Parlophone monos to compare.

St. Pepper is warped but did not seem to affect the sonics...mulling exchanging. Other than that, the vinyl is flat and the pressings dead quiet. There is a lot more energy compared the original Parlophone monos which is most apparent with the much more dynamic rhythm section. FWIW, I've always perferred the mono mixes of all of the Beatles LPs up to The Beatles. The new pressings seem more vibrant, almost technicolor; similar to the Sistine Chapel before and after the recent restoration.

I'm not the biggest Beatles fan (IMO, the world can be divided into those who prefer the Stones and those who favor the Beatles --I definitely fall in the Stones camp) but wonder if people who grew up with the music might not like the re-issues because they have lived with the warmer, more rounded sounding originals all their life...thoughts?
 

Johnny Vinyl

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#18
Awesome! Simply awesome! I'm not sure if I ever heard vinyl this quiet before!

I was a bit worried about playback with a stereo cartridge, and the possibility of noise being introduced, but I need not have. I was told a little while ago that these were cut using a stereo compatible cutter head.

Have listened to Beatles for Sale and Magical Mystery Tour so far, and will give the remaining LPs a listen within the next few days.
 
Apr 3, 2010
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#19
Funny coincident as yesterday I was listening to a Home Theater Geek episode and Youtube automatically played Fremer's interview where he talks extensively about the production of this mono set:

 
Apr 3, 2010
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#20
BTW, to get through long videos like that, click on the "gear" icon at the bottom of youtube video, select a speed other than "normal." For the above video, 1.5X speed is still quite understandable and gets you through Michael's bragging a lot faster :). You can always slow it back down when it gets to the part you are interested.
 

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