Rolling Stones Mono Box Set (lp or cd)

I wanted to get the ball rolling. I thought that including both formats here would be beneficial to the entire discussion. I personally have little experience with the Rolling Stones. However, I think I can add an opinion in the form of having heard lots of music from this era and how this box relates to the Beatles Mono Box. I'm currently using my stereo cart. I've listened to the first 5 lps in chronological order.

One thing that has stood out to me is how consistent these 5 lps are in sound quality. ( "Out Of Our Heads", US has more pronounced bass, haven't listened to the UK yet.) This is kind of unusual in my listening experience. Compared to the Beatles Mono box which wasn't as consistent, album to album. I find the detail, the ambient retrieval, and the bass overall to be very good. What bothers me is I feel it is recorded too hot as well as I feel the overall sound seems somewhat very slightly artificial. ( I never felt this way listening to the Beatles Mono box). These last two issues may have to do with the re-mastering chain. It may be the quality of the mics, the recording venue, etc...I don't know. I don't have the originals to compare. There is the dimensional character of the soundstage that is very nice as was the Beatles. The vinyl itself is super quiet but I see that a few of these will need to be flattened. So far, there isn't an pressed "off-center" issue.
I was delighted to find that the entire 15-disc collection is available on Tidal. 

I was hoping that others might be brave enough to post some initial impressions before the Fremer review.

Hell... I'm going to just say it...I'm very disappointed so far! I'm disappointed because of the lack of any perceived analog nature!

There is no real analog sense going on here. I love the detail, I love the ambient info, I love the musical bass...

What I don't love is the lack of having to write this (very) post???

I can see myself listening to these first 5 lps again, but trying to imagine these lps in the same league as The Beatles Mono box is not valid... so far.

GIven these lps' consistency and (comparing them to the Beatles), so far, I'd be inclined to go for the CD box set.
Ok.. I just put on "Please, please me" from the Beatles Mono box (lp).

I noticed a lack of volume in relation to the listener at normal levels. But, I want to turn it up! Listening to the RS, I find at normal listening levels, I think that turning the volume up would be not so great.

In comparison. there is a WIDE range to be considered.

The RS set is very vivid, yet, there is no perceived natural, analog nature.

The Beatles...there is the perceived feeling, one can turn up the volume and still be impressed. Not so with the RS.

The RS box, by comparison is in your face.The Beatles, by comparison is somewhat lacking in dynamics now. I'm finding that I'm doing a 180. While I wish the overall sonic character of the RS wasn't so VIVID, I now realize that one should just be glad for the sound that is currently in front of them is there in a very real way!

The Beatles is just there , the RS is kind of "in your face".
Well they used digital in the mix, which is why I past on the set. I have been waiting for a true analog mono stones set for a while. Ho Hum ...

One problem with the Stones early albums is that their manager, Andrew Loog Oldham, insisted on producing them even though he knew nothing about producing records.  I don't know if that's your problem or that they were mixed digitally.
Yes, on the latest Vinyl set there was digital processing in the mixing.
For you Vinyl hounds, better to seek out and buy the Mono pressings from the 60's.  I will be buying the CD set.
I have the set on vinyl and while it's not in the same league as The Beatles Mono set by the way they had George Martin producing at around $24.00 a lp it's worth the price. They play quite although as said "hot". But it's the Stones in Mono and as a fan I'll over look the bad and just enjoy the music.
The sound of most 60's British band recordings sucks IMO.  It improved as the years went by.  The Beatles had the best of everything, even a producer who had experience recording classical ensembles.  I tend to think it was more the ear of the producers than the equipment but I think the latter mattered to some degree. 
The Beatles had the best of luck having the support of both Brian Epstein and George Martin. The lads would have never journeyed, as far as they did, w/o those (2) gentlemen.

The Rolling Stones did not have such a supporting cast, in that regard.
Moreover, this fueled their competitive spirit that ultimately lead to 1969's
"Let it Bleed". Easily this album was their crowning achievement for the 60's decade.
4,208 posts
10-16-2016 2:26pm
"The Beatles had the best of luck having the support of both Brian Epstein and George Martin. The lads would have never journeyed, as far as they did, w/o those (2) gentlemen.

The Rolling Stones did not have such a supporting cast, in that regard.
Moreover, this fueled their competitive spirit that ultimately lead to 1969’s
"Let it Bleed". Easily this album was their crowning achievement for the 60’s decade."

The Stones had the management and musical (mostly piano) support of Ian Stewart (Stu) for a very long time plus they got along for the sake of the band. No wonder the Stones outlasted the Beatles by 50 years. Monkey man piano intro on Let it Bleed was Ian Stewart. Also the piano on Honky Tonk Women. Hel-loo! The piano on Zeppelin's Rock and Roll? Yup, Ian Stewart!

The Rolling Stones played a tribute gig with Rocket 88 in February 1986 at London’s 100 Club, and included a 30-second clip of Stewart playing the blues standard "Key to the Highway" at the end of Dirty Work. When the Stones were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1989, they requested Stewart’s name be included.

Ian Stewart was the 6th Stone. The pianist on a lot of British invasion records is Nicky Hopkins, heard on albums by The Kinks, The Who, Led Zeppelin, The Jeff Beck Group (I saw him live with Beck on the first U.S. tour), The Stones (Satanic Majesty’s Request, Beggars Banquet), and even The Beatles ("Revolution"). In the 70’s he moved to the States and worked with The Quicksilver Messenger Service and The Jerry Garcia Band. He made three solo albums, and died in 1994.

Steve Hoffman has posted pictures of Abbey Road studios in which the recording equipment is visible, pointing out the tube limiters the studio used. Steve claims those limiters are known to be not very good sounding, and may very well be responsible for the less-than-great sound of The Beatles albums.

Yep- Nicky Hopkins had a hand in it as well (no pun).

an update: last night I unboxed my Japan import of this Mono box set.
As always, the weight (10 lbs) and packaging is outstanding! This special set in on SHM-CD in 7 inch cardboard sleeves that reflect the original 60's albums sleeves (UK & US). It will be quite awhile before I open it.

As soon as I find the more domestic set for actual listening, I will keep you posted. Happy Listening!
I appreciate Ian's (who was an original member of the Stones) contributions as well as Nicky's (who was so good in the first Jeff Beck group)--but they don't start to compare to the difference in sound that George Martin made.  The Stones' longevity is inconsequential to me since they peaked somewhere around Sticky Fingers, not long after the Beatles' demise.  And if you compare the sound of that recording to Abbey Road--no contest.

Halleluiah! Tostado, I am so weary of The Stones continuing to be held up as The Greatest blah blah blah long after they started sucking. Which was a long, long time ago. Why they weren’t written off after they put out a disco album is an absolute mystery to me.

I don’t expect 1960’s Pop or Rock albums to sound very good. As Pete Townshend said, they were made to sound "good" (whatever that means) on car radios. About the worst sounding are The Who albums prior to Tommy. So thin and brittle, nothing like they sounded live, which was extremely punchy (thanks to Keith Moon and John Entwistle, who sounded SO awesome!), like a direct-to-disc LP and the Decca/London cartridge.

I opine the SQ of Sticky Fingers is actually quite superior to that of Abbey Road. Even the notorious Mobile Fidelity Sticky Fingers, a big big sound level underachiever, is nothing short of spectacular in tone and frequency response and resolution. What the Beatles albums lacked generally speaking was dynamic range as revealed in the Unofficial Dynamic Range Database.

America's greatest rock n roll band- Aerosmith.
4,266 posts
10-20-2016 4:47pm
America’s greatest rock n roll band- Aerosmith.

I will say Stephen Tyler appears to have an even bigger mouth than Mick Jagger. Having said that, Permanent Vacation rocks.
jafant made reference to "Let It Bleed". I haven't listened that far into the mono box set yet. I do have the stereo (lp) "LIB" circa 2003 from the DSD remastering that I bought after hearing the SACD at a local dealer years ago through a Musical Fidelity SACD player, MF amp, Wilson speakers. I was very impressed then. That lp sounds very good. Wide soundstage, great separation, detailed without sounding too hot.
Good to see you again- astro58go.  Hope you are enjoying the RS boxed set. Which titles(s) are you completed to date?

When I read this in the original posters start of this thread: 
"One thing that has stood out to me is how consistent these 5 lps are in sound quality."
I immediately suspected that the original recordings probably did not have a consistent sound, and that required the consistency to be a result of audio engineering after the "master tapes."
Let me be clear:  I do not know if my suspicions are true!
But, to make a case, those records were recorded over a period from circa 1964-1970-something? During that period the explosion of record sales feed big changes in the recording studios. 2 and 4 track were common; was 4 track 'state of the art' in the early mid-60's. By 1970 had 8 track recording become more common?
There was probably also a learning curve by everyone involved, from musicians to studio engineers to equipment makers.
I remember reading that The Beatles after a few years and 3 or 4 or LPs told George Martin that they couldn't really hear the Ringo's drums, or bass drums. They thought they role in the recording process precluded them, the musicians reporting to the recording (was Martin the producer--whatever he was) that the sound quality of the recordings was not to their liking.
And we haven't even talked about  mono vs . stereo vs bass before subwoofers. Add up dozens or hundreds of things like that, and I would expect any LP recorded in the UK (and America) in 1964 to sound different than one recorded 5 years later.
Sorry for the long rant.
And Keith Richards is wrong. Srgt Pepper is great. 
drsteve, I had the same suspicions as well. Since I had little to no reference, I chose not to make that statement.

(What low bass that is present on the previous lps is not very musical and artificial sounding.) ( There are a few live recordings peppered throughout, these are of very low SQ.)

I've now listened through December's Children  US/UK - Aftermath US/UK.

The DC sounded just like the previous lps.

"Aftermath"...what I'm now hearing is more pleasing and enjoyable. Wondering if the fact that this lp is the first to have only Jagger/Richards penned songs has anything to do with it. More control over the recording process...?? Better equipment, more knowledgeable in the studio?

There is no longer, the sense of the recording being "too hot". The midrange is more natural and integrated. The mid-bass through low bass is more musical, again better integrated and allows the listener to hear the whole sonic picture....
(drsteve, When I wrote the sentence, "how consistent these 5lps are in sound quality",  I was hoping others would catch on.)

Your explanation of what you think may have been going on during this time in the recordings of these earlier lps is consistent with my own thoughts.
"Between The Buttons". After just hearing "Aftermath", "BTB" is a major disappointment! Partly because of the SQ, but mostly because, IMO, it is a step backwards from their previous effort. The songs are of little importance. This was the time when they were experimenting with overdubs and drugs...The overall effort is inconsequential. This could be considered, the lost RS lp, IMO. The sound is also quite "thin".

Listening to a set such as this in chronological order is very revealing. It gives one a window into what was happening without the benefit of being there.

(I made the decision a long time ago to stick with vinyl.It is my only source. So far, in purchasing this set, I'm not too disappointed in knowing I haven't spent tons of money and time in trying to buy originals for a band I don't often listen to. Also, without naming the retailer I purchased from, I paid $312.00. That's under $20.00 per lp. Not too bad for all that's included plus the book and box.)

geoffkait, I couldn't disagree more.  I just compared tracks on Abbey Road and Sticky Fingers.  I don't find Abbey Road lacking in any way, whereas the voices and acoustic guitars on Sticky Fingers sound wrongly EQ'ed and the bass guitar is sometimes a mess.  FWIW, I love the Stones (up through this album, and certain tracks beyond this) and I've gone to hear them live three times--once with each of their rhythm guitarists.  As for dynamic range--I listen to a lot of classical music and acoustic jazz with tremendous contrasts in volume and I find Abbey Road to be far closer to that than Sticky Fingers.  That's exactly what I'd expect from a classical producer-turned-pop/rock.  Don't get me wrong--the Muscle Shoals sound is great but I don't think it compares favorably in this case. YMMV.
I was a bit afraid I'd be on the end of a flame attack. I like to call it as I see it.
Aside, in the mid-1990's I met someone whose business was archiving a large volume of vintage TV shows (mostly US) from the 50 into the 70's. He was also in charge of leasing footage--he had a lot of variety shows with famous musical guests. He had a lot of vintage equipment we would all drool over.
He said he had heard some Beatles recordings they may have been master tapes, or early generations of master tapes. He told me that the commercial product out there was an incredible poor simulation* of the tapes. This was before the CD re-issues of a few years ago. 
Some of the best SQ I've heard was a garage band, drums and electric guitar, recorded onto VHS tape, and then transferred to cassette tape. I think the big benefit came from listening to a second generation with none of the following: eq-ing, mixing, limiters, expanders, reverb, harmonic recovery, loudness, Dolbly--nuthin. Directly from my heart, um microphone, to you. Even though we all know that VHS and cassette are low end.
Sorry for the long rant; If I had more time I'd write a shorter post.
* If anyone misses the references, ask.
"As for dynamic range--I listen to a lot of classical music and acoustic jazz with tremendous contrasts in volume and I find Abbey Road to be far closer to that than Sticky Fingers. That’s exactly what I’d expect from a classical producer-turned-pop/rock. Don’t get me wrong--the Muscle Shoals sound is great but I don’t think it compares favorably in this case."

if you consult the Dynamic Range Database you will find that the vinyl versions of Sticky Fingers and Abbey Road have almost exactly the same dynamic range. If you were comparing CD versions the dynamic ranges vary all over the place depending on which release you listened to.



How does my assessment so far, conform with your overall impressions of your RS experience?

drsteve, you are so right about semi-pro (or even amateur) recordings being better sounding than many commercially produced ones. I recorded the Jump Blues/Swing band I was playing in with a pair of omni condenser mics straight into a Revox A77 at a live gig, and it sounds much more "alive" (in sound quality) than most of my LP's and CD's/SACD's. I used the same mics into a Teac 4-channel 2340 in a home studio on a singer/songwriter recording gig, and it too sounds great. Very transparent, with great transient "snap" and dynamics (not as good as a Direct-to-Disc LP played with a Decca/London pickup though), and quite lifelike instrumental (acoustic piano, acoustic guitar, electric guitar & bass---plugged straight in without an amp amp, and drumset) and vocal timbres.

Almost all commercial recordings are very heavily processed, the mic signal travelling through all kinds of outboard gear (mixing boards, mic pre-amps, compressors, limiters, equalizers,, electronic reverb and echo simulators, etc), to make it sound "better" (whatever that means). The mastering process used to turn recordings into playable formats involves the use of many of those same pieces of outboard gear again!

I use my tapes in evaluating reproduction gear. Everyone, if possible, should!

You scored a very nice deal on your set- astro58go-

now, onto your assessment;
History tells us that The Rolling Stones turned into a "party" band, entertainers, drug use excesses earlier than The Beatles and The Who,
IMO.  Knowing this intel, their albums were not as consistent a their competition.  No doubt, those 1st 3-4 RS albums are great, even excellent.

(2) dynamics changed- The Beatles stopped touring and became studio wizards, The RS kept touring and partied for the rest of the 60's.
As a result- The Beatles gave us Sgt Pepper and The RS would finish the 60's with 'Let it Bleed'.  The force that is Jagger/Richards were no questionably influenced by Sgt Pepper!

The RS also gave us 'Get your Ya-yas' if only for the scorching live version of "Midnight Rambler". As a music lover, I would be very sad knowing that this song would never have reached the public w/o this pivotal live album!
The Rolling Stones also gave us "The Rock N Roll Circus" although self-indulgent, no doubt, it had a real historical presence as well.

Keep me posted as you work your way and listen to this boxed set-
astro58go.  I am already looking for a domestic RS Mono CD set for listening purposes.
Happy Listening!
Geoffkait, I no longer own a vinyl copy of Sticky Fingers (I think mine was stolen in '75) so I compared standard issue CD's --I felt it wouldn't be fair to used the remastered Abbey Road or to compare CD to LP. 
In order to hopefully draw out more interest from any who have heard it, I moved to "Let It Bleed".

This one sounds very, very good! It has the punch, the weight, the complete package. The intro to "Monkey Man" is somewhat confusing. The piano keys, while clear and present, don't integrate pefectly with the midbass-bass region which sounds pretty convincing. (I may be splitting hairs here but something isn't quite natural). However, it is enjoyable if you aren't into evaluation mode. The midrange through bass is the most natural and complete sounding thus far.

"You Can't Always Get What You Want", has real energy. Similar to "MM", it does draw you in. The whole lp is very nice in spite of a few inconsistencies.

Overall, I would pick this version for listening pleasure to my DSD stereo lp. Still haven't listened with my mono cart.
jafant, I was hoping you could comment on your cd/sacd experiences as they relate to my posts here.

"well they used digital in the mix, which is why I past on the set".... "Ho Hum".

If you have ever tried to just bring in a conversation on a compilation for those that knew ahead of time, your "statement", I would think that you would want those that had previously bought the set to just post their opinions in order to have a discussion. What purpose did your statement serve to this thread or the community?

Good Day astro58go-

it is good to see you, hope you are enjoying the RS set. I own the complete RS catalog on CD from 1986, original pressings. For many, many years this was my main musical source. Then in 2002, upon the SACD revolution,
I own almost all of those titles as well.

Going back to those London/Decca CDs from 1986, to my ears they do not sound bad at all. The SACD versions will open up the clarity, air, space of instruments, better dynamics as well. The SACD version of 12x5 will place you inside Chess studios w/ the boys-scary to be sure.

Much will depend on your system, solid-state vs tubes and overall personal taste, as to the CD or SACD preference. I demand the highest resolution,
microdynamics and macrodynamics, timbre in natural form.

1969 was a thrilling year in the Rock era. The RS killed it w/ 'Let it Bleed'.
IME, everything that they had work towards finally fell into place and the music consuming public was rewarded. No stone was left un-turned (no pun).  Top to bottom, not a bad song/recording on that album. Truly excellent in substance, no filler, no self-indulgent crap neither.

Keep me posted on your continued journey w/ the Mono set.
Happy Listening!
How ya doin' out there- astro58go ?

Thanks for the input!

I listened to "Flowers" & "Their Satanic Majesties Request" this morning.

I have a US stereo "Flowers" pressed at Bell Labs. By comparison, there is no contest. The US stereo was so inconsistent and with electronically processed stereo, it was a big mess. The new mono is consistent (I talked about this earlier), but is actually not bad to listen to. SQ difference is night & day.

"TSMR"...admittedly, I've never heard this lp. From what I've read and from the obvious album cover art work, this was their answer to Sgt. Peppers. After listening, I don't feel like I've missed much at all. I'd say that given the nature of how this music was conceived and this new digital re-mastering, the artificial nature is amplified. SQ is mostly sterile and artificial sounding IMO. I found two songs on side two that I liked for content but overall, this one was a chore to listen to.

Thanks! for the continued inputs. Have you listened to all of the discs in this boxed set? Keep me posted- astro58go.

Happy Listening!
I'm going in chronological order except for my wavering to "LIB" last weekend.
Very nice- astro58go-

Save the best "LIB" for last. Happy Listening!
How ya doin' out there- astro58go?
I'm still here and listened to the last lp..."Beggars Banquet" (I don't plan on remarking on the Stray Cats lp).

I bought an (abkco "digitally remastered from original master recording/ 100% virgin vinyl") around 25 years ago. There are no liner notes or production date anywhere to be found. This is all I have to compare.

First, I listened to the new lp. It has energy and drive and overall, is a fun listen. I am drawn into the music more now than I was 25 years ago. Probably more because I did not have an appreciation then. The bass is maybe the most consistent and natural so far?

I put on side one of the above mentioned stereo copy. (I noticed it needs flattening so I'll go back later to listen all the way through). It is really not a bad sounding lp. The stereo separation is wide and doesn't sound too unnatural. The soundstage height is noticeably lower. The SQ is more toward what I perceive as having an analog warmth. Having said this, it is not as transparent as the new lp. It does not reveal any of the ambience, nuance or as much tonal accuracy of the new lp.

I'll make another listen to my 25 year old, (flat) lp later this weekend. Later on, I'll install my Ortofon Cadenza mono to listen through them all again.

(I have read the Fremer review now. He went into the history of the RS very well. I think where I said consistency, he said uniformity, which in retrospect is a more appropriate term. Bob Ludwig's comment about the original's hiding the echo seemed to make my comment about hearing the ambience somewhat gratifying I was a little disappointed that he did not rate the sonics of an original to the new lps as he did with the Beatles.) 

One more item...I have made a platter mat that has increased my listening pleasure markedly. I used it for (this) post. If you care to read about it, go to "another listen" thread in Analog.
Good to read - I also perviewed MF's article as well. Sometimes, he gets it right, other times not so much.  It will all boil down to a preference of LP or CD.

Happy Listening!

Thank you for your support.


Are you in N.C.?

If so, are you going to the Audio Advice event on the16th?

I'm registered, but on the fence.