Beatles Remasters: Mono vs. Stereo Debate Thread

On September 9th, the entire Beatles catalog will be released in both mono and stereo remastered versions.

The issue of this thread is simply mono or stereo, and why? I only have the stereo CD versions that were available in the mid to late 1990s. I am too young to remember the original releases.

Until the albums are released, I'd like to get your take on the issue based on what has been on the market up to this point. After they are released, I'd like to hear from people who purchase either the stereo, mono, or both of the new reissues.

What are the pros and cons of the different mixes? Which do you plan on purchasing, if any? Discuss.
If I make the purchase, I'll take the stereo version. I'd prefer to hear the songs the way I grew up hearing them.
Tone Audio, (online mag) has an excellent write-up on the new sets and the differences in the sound between the mono and stereo versions. Both are quite good, but they say the monos are "something special".
It was set forth early on that the mono box set is limited to 10,000 copies worldwide. I've read input where it is very unclear as to whether there will be any subsequent issues of those discs once those 10,000 are sold. Amazon and Barnes and Noble have pre-sold through their allotments at this point. There may be other vendors that are taking pre-orders, but if you want one, it may be wise to seek one out at this point. I don't think there are any such limits on the edition of the stereo set. Supposedly the Beatles were more hands-on and directly involved with the mono mixes, since that was the dominant format of the time of those early albums. They did not have as much to do with the mixing of the stereo set.
there's nothing to debate...all are special. like foster 9, i grew up with stereo versions of the beatles. i'll be buying both versions simply because i'm a lifelong fan, and will be compelled to do so.
I suspect that some of the Beatles CD/LP remasters are going to be available separately. Good for those of us who don't want to pony up for the whole set. Bad as I suspect the individual CD's will be stereo only. Revolver and Rubber Soul live in mono.
If you are scoring at home -- or if you're alone -- the release date, 09/09/09, is just 09 days away. I'm very happy that I preordered both the stereo and mono boxes.
I'm looking forward to hearing the mono re-issues. I too grew up on the stereo versions, but I never thought the stereo mixes of the early albums were very good.

It's the Beatles. Get whatever you can. I've got a MFSL Beatle box and last night I played the second record of the White Album, first side for the first time!!! It brought tears to my eyes.It sounded so good. I couldn't believe it, in all these years I never pulled that record out of the box,not by design. I'm going to order the mono box set right now!!!
Just preordered mine here. After all 9/9 is my birthday.
After a long time searching, I could find only one place that appears to still have mono box sets available, and that is CD Universe. Just a tip for anyone still trying to find a place to buy the mono version.
I ordered the mono set from cd universe. They told me they only had 10 orders for the mono set. A few days later they canceled my order.
All I could find was the Japan limited edition for $651 on CD Universe - that's probably about what the regular set will be going for on eBay come Xmas time if they really stick to their limited edition.

Yep, I got an email today that they are now discontinued, and my order will not be filled. Thanks a lot, CD Universe. Would it kill them to put a "sold out" sign on the item to save us all the time and trouble of placing an order for an item they don't have and can't get. Sheesh.
I currently have some mono versions from other countries.
I can't say for sure, but they are probably bootlegs. I have to say that they have amazing sound quality and many have slightly different mixes than the stereo versions. The Beatles, themselves, were only concerned with the mono mixes and did not get involved with the stereo mixes. They actually would have preferred their work to be mono only. EQ, reverb,and echo were heavily used in the stereo mixes, but not the mono mixes. I have ordered the mono set and will also buy the stereo set. What I find strange is that they are not issuing mono remasters of The White album and Abbey Road, which I have in a mono version.
Cyclonicman - I'm pretty sure the White Album is in the mono set. It is titled, simply, "The Beatles"
I received my copy of the Mono box this weekend. It is very solid in the remix department, sporting a nice wall of pristine sound and very deep bass. The mono mixes came from very good tube based mastering consoles, something that was abandoned in 1968. I prefer them to the stereo mixes, as the band sound is more uniform in "feel and presence" and the soundstage is both wide and deep. Purple Chick was a bootleg site that offered copies of the best direct off vinyl takes and the new box set is to that calibre.
Jax2, you are correct, The Beatles (white album)is part of the mono set.
So much for the limited talks
I ordered a Mono set online at the Official Beatles web store for delivery in October a couple of days ago. I cancelled it today because I found the set at our local bookstore today and I bought it. $269 Best Buy advertised it today $199 for stereo box and $229 for mono in store only limited distribution.
Haven't had a chance to listen yet.
Here's one review with some interesting input recently online.
Thanks Jax2 that was an interesting read. I listened to some of the mono set yesterday and I was all smiles. The packaging is super, each disc comes in a mini album with a mini record sleeve, a special sleeve for the disc, including the original inserts and artwork that came in the album. Even the pictures and the poster come with the "White Album"!! I have a MFSL Beatle Box which I cherish but I may get the new stereo box or at least a few of the individul discs. I never cared for the original CD's issued in the 80's because duplicating what I already owned didn't make sense, and because I didn't have a decent CD player until 1994 (if you want to call a NAD 502 decent) (I still don't have a great player).
Damn, I'm waiting for my monos in the mail.

I have listened to Mono versions from LP (Purple Chick) and the differences with the stereo versions are significant. The bass is really special on the monos and a general more rocking feel. There are various web sites that talk about the the mixing differences but I think Bongofury nails one of the big things. The original Monos were mixed on high quality boards while the stereo versions were done on early stereo mixing boards.
i picked up the last (only?) mono box set today from bestbuy in my town. i guess there are occasional benefits to living in a town where no one cares about quality music. had to call elusivedisc to cancel my order. i paid $250 for the mono box set after tax. i would have to wait until october and pay $245 from elusivedisc. i figure it's well worth the $5 extra.

Can you tell me how the bass level sounds on "All My Loving" off "With the Beatles" , with the new mono discs in comparison to the old?

I have been listening to my old issue CD copies of Please Please Me and With the Beatles. These do not sound bad but I think they could sound better, particularly in regards to soundstage and perhaps detail on some cuts.

The bass level in "All My Loving" in particular is quite low and buried and not clear in the mix in particular I notice on the old CD masters. Bass is not bad on most other cuts from these albums, but might be better I'm guessing.
I got my mono box on 9/9/09 and have only listened to a few cuts from a few of the discs but I am very happy with the sound. I have heard things I never heard before especially little guitar licks that weren't audible before. It it also very evident how good Ringo is on drums and Paul on bass, way more prominent. I will get the later albums in stereo as I understand Mr. Martin fixed the stereo as opposed to the earlier mixes. Listening using my dads old 75 watt pioneer receiver (1975 in years too)as my other amp went TU. I think when I get a real amp this stuff will really kick.
If you know, please chime in and let me know if the mono remastered cd's can be bought individually, or if they are only available as a boxed-set. Thanks.
Do the monos have the quicktime movies?
Barrelchief, as of now, mono versions are only available by purchasing the boxed set. Originally limited to 10,000 sets in the USA, now supposedly issuing 50,000 mono boxed sets.
Barrelchief, as of now, mono versions are only available by purchasing the boxed set. Originally limited to 10,000 sets in the USA, now supposedly issuing 50,000 mono boxed sets.

Given that the MONOS seem to be in hot demand and are generally regarded as "better" - what is the chance that the public reaction might cause Recording Labels to actually sit up and take notice???

Here we have a contest between the latest and greatest stereo brick wall limited compression "loud" mastering techniques (state of the art for 2009 and done extremely well - i.e. just the "right" amount of compression according to modern standards) and the old tube based mastering consoles and mono recordings of the 60's??

Would it not be funny if Record Labels discover that people prefer the more natural uncompressed sound of the older material - even in MONO!!!

It would be a revelation, a massive eye opener to the industry if 60's MONO is competitive and judged by many to be BETTER sounding than modern "State of the Art" loud hot compression!
In my last post I should really say more natural LESScompressed sound of the older material - because they were already using tubes and analog tape recorders to perform audio compression - even in those days!
Shadorne, I would think it would have to be a band or artist that could appeal to a large enough fan base. Maybe it might encourage some of the newer artists to put out both stereo and mono versions of their work. My opinion is that the recording industry may raise an eyebrow regarding the Beatles Mono sets, but they won't take any action.
Either way the artists and the record companies should use the Beatles reissues as a standard for quality. We need dynamics to be put back into the music. At least the origial should keep the dynamiics so later when they realize loadness is old hat, they will have an origial they can work with.
I bought the mono set and a few stereo discs. I haven't listened to the stereo Pepper yet, but I just listened to the mono, I can only echo what others have said: the sound is fuller, the detail is finer, and it really hits you.

The mix is different, and it has its odd moments. But different/odd does not mean worse. It's a revelation.

Anybody else notice the weird mix at the end of "...Mr. Kite"? The back sounds lower.
i purchased both the Mono and Stereo box sets on the 9th.....and have been playing around for the last week listening to many of them. the recording notes have been facinating. i've done some comparisons between the mono and stereo versions as well as to the late 80's CD's. just tonight i did drag out one of my MOFI reissue Lps for comparison.

first; i've really enjoyed re-immersing myself in the whole Beatles catalog. i'm 58 years old, my first Lp ever was Beatles 65' when i was 14. i graduated from H.S. in 1969, so the Beatles were in the sweet spot for me when i was coming of age. and i'm a total fan on many levels. my kids (who are now in their 30's) became Beatles fans as they grew up. i now own three different Beatles Lp sets as well as assorted other pressings.

anyway; the new sets are somewhat better to dramatically better than the 80's CD's. overall i prefer the Stereo set; but there is a magic to the Monos which i like. my recommendation would be to purchase the Mono set and then fill in the last three Stereo cds. (there are 2 Albums in the Mono set which also have the stereo tracks; Help and Rubber Soul. it's interesting to be able to very quickly switch from Mono to these stereo tracks).

oh and by the way; the MOFI Lp (of the White Album) absolutely wipes the floor with the Mono Cd of the same. not in any way close. OTOH the music is great in any format.
If there's a magic to the monos, what is it about the stereo set you prefer...I only have the stereo set, but was thinking about getting the mono, although money is tight
Abruce, i always enjoy room-filling sound. my particular room is quite lively and allows lots of bloom and detail. there is an engagement and immersive aspect to the Stereo versions which i like. OTOH from a performance standpoint the Monos are more 'believable' as performances.

heart verses head so to speak. and music is first emotional to me.

of course; i only have the Stereo vinyl versions. maybe if i owned the mono Lp versions my viewpoint might be different.
"the Monos are more 'believable' as performances"

Ever hear The BEatles "Live at the BBC" package?

That set has actual live performances that really present the raw musical talents of those whacky BEatles perhaps better than any of their studio cuts, which obviously stand on their own artistic merits as well.
Mapman, The BBC package is excellent, but the performances were done during the early stages of their career, so there is no way to compare their later work.
"but the performances were done during the early stages of their career, so there is no way to compare their later work. "

YEs, the early and later work are two different beasts and largely represent the transition from "rock and roll" created largely for the purpose of dancing as it became established in America in the 50's to "rock" and all its derivations, which is what became popular after the BEatles and though occasionally danceable, covers a much wider array of artistic purpose and intent.

Early and later BEatles are two different things and their transition is a microcosm of the transition that rock and pop music itself underwent during their tenure, FWIW.

Its also noteworthy that rock and roll had its roots in prior uniquely American music forms created and popularized largely by African Americans, prior to Elvis, in the middle 1950's. Rock and Roll music actually faded from popularity then in the late 50's after many of the big names of the time (Elvis, Chuck BErry, Little Richard, Buddy Holly + co) stopped performing for various reasons. The BEatles took this and presented it as a stylish British import fueled by their raw talent back to AMerica several years later and then introduced their own artistic variations.

Fascinating stuff!
Mapman, yes, i've got all the whole Anthology set and 'Live at the BBC' too. i've not gone thru them in years. when i find the time i'll go thru them and listen to the relevant cuts.....thanks for the suggestion.

personally; i value a simple pure to stereo. i have a (15 ips 1/4") master dub of the Count Basie Band doing a New Years Eve party in 1961. they set up 2 mics, the band played for an hour (there are 2 reels) and there was no EQ or anything. it's magnificent.

i have many Jazz Lps (from the 50's and 60's) which are recorded and mixed mimimally where the purity and simplicity of the recording process is certainly part of the magic.

OTOH some of my most loved music (like the Beatles) is heavily layered and manipulated. so there is no right or wrong to it; it's art and sometimes the engineering and mixing is part of the art.

would i love to have the whole Beatles catalog 'live to 2-track'? sure; but it would be a different creature than what we have. the Beatles music is 'power pop' and 'pop' music is intended for 'everyman' the focus of it's mix is to sound good on the lowest commom denominator gear of it's era. the artist's vision for the sound can be all over the place.
BTW, fantastic marketing move issuing two box sets knowing that Beatles completists will have to have both in order to retain that status.

The charitable thing to do would have been to issue both mono and stereo versions in a similar reasonably priced package.

Oh well, great art does not come cheaply I suppose....
I think it's all good. What really comes across to me on their mono stuff is how much fun they're having and how intricate and well crafted their work was. I got Abbey Road (only in stereo) and it is awesome. Ringos drum solo at the end of Carry That Weight is dynamic and tight, it all sounds great and so involving on my Magnepans. I've got the MOFI box but plan on getting the stereo box CD set. I also got the Beatles Rock Band for Wii on 09-09-09 (of course)and it's alot of fun. I haven't made any comparisions between versions and don't plan on any critical listening but I'm just enjoying the music. It has made me smile and brought tears to my eyes.
I just think it is stupid that the mono version is a limited version. Why on earth do that. I'm not a fan of limited editions, I don't think it serves a point. well maybe the one point is that the record componies are sure to sell out.

I think the whole box set is overpriced anyway. I hope that the CD's will also be sold seperatly. I think the beatles are ok but I don't want 20 beatle albums 2 or 3 is enough for me.
The mono is NOT limited, as it turns out. More are coming in October. The monos are sold only in the set, while the stereos are sold individually.

OK, there were 13 Beatles albums - British versions. The American albums were different because of singles releases, etc., but it's the same music. Add on an album of singles that weren't on albums, and we have 14 albums. Not 20.

Which 2 or 3 do you choose? Pepper, Revolver, and Abbey Road? What about the White Album? Rubber Soul? Please Please Me, etc.?

You know what I'm saying - don't hate. Just because you don't like the music is no reason for your attitude. This is the most important CD release of the year. If there were a Bernstein or Armstrong box issued under the same circumstances, why come down it?

Is it overpriced? A little - it should be $40 cheaper. But then I think your cd transport is overpriced.
Lucked out and managed to pick up a mono box set today.

Will be checking it out shortly....
Lucked out and managed to pick up a mono box set today.

Cool - let us know your thoughts. My box set has not even shipped...

Ripped the disks to music server and spent the afternoon servin up the tunes randomly, with a couple original CD masters and "Live at the BBC" mixed in (while watching US football in HD on the tube...I definitely have it too good).

Here are my initial observations

- The sound overall is very good throughout, consistently as good as I have heard.

- The mono cuts have consistently solid and well defined soundstage, better as a whole than the old mono mixes

- the low end fills in which much better weight and punch overall but are done well, not artificially overdone

- I like all the mono versions I have heard a lot. It is easier to focus in on and absorb what is happening.

- the later albums (Pepper through White) is where I notice the biggest differences in actual music content/ mixes from stereo consistently. If you have good ears and are a "White Album" fan, that alone might justify the cost of admission. WA in mono is a huge improvement over the prior stereo mastering. Losing the stereo tricks of the day is a huge improvement.

- The mono disks include stereo versions of "Help" and "Rubber Soul" as well. These also sound as good as I've heard in comparison to earlier stereo masters.

-the difference between this mastering and prior CD are marginal on some cuts, like "I'll Get You", mostly because the old versions are really quite good rather than the new ones being deficient

- the set is worth it if you will be spending time in the future listening to Beatles music and have a good system, otherwise, I still think the old CD masters are largely serviceable. I will nt be getting rid of mine.
Spent some time listening on Stax headphones last night. If you know these recordings by heart having heard them so many times over the years, you can really notice subtle differences and details that way. The stereo remasters in the mono box set are definitely more "fun" to listen to with headphones. The various recording components (tracks I suppose) come in and out quite startlingly the way they were mixed. Hearing three distinct individual voices in harmonies on "The Word" was cool. ANd McCartney's bass in "Norwegian Wood" presented itself quite cleanly and nicely for example.

Also, with the stereo cuts in particular under the magnifying glass of a pair of good headphones, you can clearly hear that a lot of signal processing (compression/expansion/limiting?) was applied to the various tracks in various ways in order to produce the desired results. The result is that yes you hear a lot of differences including new details and nuances among other things (some recording/processing artifacts) that you did not hear before, but the listening experience can be a bit jarring and uneven compared to music played live and sounds very much like various tracks mixed together in a recording studio. Still, a revelation and a lot of fun to hear with these tunes from that particular stage of the Beatles career as well since experimentation in the recording studio is largely what they were about at the time.
Thanks Map - can you be a little more specific about where you heard what you describe in the second paragraph?

More so the "Rubber SOul" stereo tracks in the mono box set, but in the "Help" stereo tracks as well.

"Run For Your Life" as well as the cuts I mentioned, "The Word" and "Norwegian Wood" were places where I recall things sounded a lot different than I recall from the older stereo versions I am familiar with. I believe "The Night BEfore" is another.

I was listening with all tracks from the box set plus all tracks from the earlier "Live at the BBC" release cued up in "juke box" mode randomly for comparisons and these are a few of the cuts that came up where I recall noticing these things in particular. I have not yet listened start/finish to any single disk from the mono set and have not yet heard every song on each new mono album.