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THE BEATLES IN MONO LP BOX SET, 2014
A new 'The Beatles In Mono' LP box set is due, as well as individual mono LPs. It's an all-analogue release for enthusiasts – derived from the original master tapes. Noel Keywood explains all.
We are about to be treated to another set of Beatles album releases. I’m not going to catalogue the many that have gone before, so much as describe in fine detail for Beatles aficionados – and the rest of us! – the thinking behind this new release of a box set, as well as individual albums.
This release is just about the ultimate in authenticity, insofar as any re-master can be. I visited Abbey Road Studios and spoke to mastering engineer Sean Magee to find out more.
The Beatles music was first released on LP, so this LP box set is the original music delivery format – unlike recent CD re-releases for example, including a 2009 mono CD box set.
Mono was the dominant recording method at the time of 'Please Please Me', their first LP, a 1963 UK release. At that time and for some time after, Beatles songs were mixed for mono: the final master tape was mono. To produce new-fangled stereo required a different mix down and this was done hastily after the mono mix because at that time stereo was a small market commercially.
So the mono mix was the primary source into which most artistic effort had been put on early LPs; stereo was secondary. This new LP set is mono, referring back to notes made by Harry Moss for the original mono mix-down. The music on these LPs is therefore as the original artists and engineers intended. Re-mastered mono LPs have not been released before.
The Beatles in Mono 2014 box set. It is lavishly produced and contains a large book. Each LP comes in a protective transparent plastic re-sealable sleeve. Let it Be and Abbey Road are not in this set, because they were mixed in stereo.
A set of re-mastered stereo LPs were released in 2011. There were concerns from Beatles enthusiasts – especially the USA where re-mastering historical back catalogue is an art form bordering on religion – that these stereos were derived from a 24/192 digital archive master recording made back in 2005. The taint of digital was smelt and rejected.