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Submit a Beatles in Mono vinyl box question to the Abbey Road team

QUESTION

SuperDeluxeEdition is delighted to have the opportunity to connect Fab Four fans directly with the engineers responsible for creating the forthcoming The Beatles in Mono vinyl box set.

As was apparent at the exclusive listening session we attended at Abbey Road, Mastering Engineer Sean Magee and Mastering Supervisor Steve Berkowitz have gone to extraordinary lengths to make the new vinyl box set sound as good as possible, including experimenting with tape head angles for optimum playback, referencing original 1960s cutting notes and laborious comparisons between original mono vinyl, the original mono quarter-inch tapes and the 2009 mono CDs.

Here’s your opportunity to ASK THEM QUESTION! Simply leave your query as a reply/comment on this post any time between now and Sunday 17 August and we will go through them and present the best and most commonly asked questions to either Steve and/or Sean for them to answer.

If you wish to direct your question specifically to Sean or to Steve please put their name in brackets before the question e.g. “(Steve) How did you get involved in this project?”.

We will do our best to get as many questions as possible answered, but please note we can not guarantee to answer every single question. One question per visitor please!

Sean Magee and Steve Berkowitz’s answers will be published the week beginning 1 September 2014.

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59 responses to Submit a Beatles in Mono vinyl box question to the Abbey Road team

  1. Scott C. says:

    Sean and Steve: Having only heard the 2009 mono CDs and the mid-1980s Toshiba mono vinyl, I am looking forward to hearing what you came up with for the box. Can you detail some of the differences you found between the original mono vinyl, the original mono tape, and the 2009 mono CDs?

  2. Uldis Lavrinovics says:

    Would you please confirm the signal all the way from master tapes to vinyl press form remained analog?

  3. In this world of HD downloads and 5.1 mixes, do you think it’s strange to have a release with a sound that will come out of just one speaker? Any recommendations on the equipment? Thanks in advance!

    • Martin says:

      All you need is…

      A decent turntable, amplification and speakers….

      I play all my original 1960s UK mono vinyl on a Rega deck with Ortofon cartridge, with Arcam amplification and B&W speakers….and they sound great…I’m looking forward to hearing these new pressings on this system!

  4. Geert De Wilde says:

    Question: More than ever there seems to be a huge difference between the sound a modern sound system produces (most of them boost the bass as a rule) and the ‘ideal’ sound (or the unaffected, sec, sound). Do you take these differences into consideration when you adjust/remaster (and if yes, how?), or do you produce a remaster which exists in a vacuum – which sounds perfect by its own standards?

  5. Michael says:

    Were any bad edits amended or microphone pops removed as they were for the 2009 remasters?

  6. John says:

    Can I have a box for free? Go on……

  7. Martin says:

    How does the bass on these new pressings compare with the original 1960s vinyl? My only disappointment with the 2009 CDs was that the bass was not as full-sounding or as prominent as it is on my 1960s vinyl, especially Revolver and SPLHCB. Don’t get me wrong, the 2009 mono CD box is great but I’m hoping the vinyl will not disappoint in any way in terms of the bottom end on these new LPs!

  8. Philipp says:

    Hi,

    this is something that I should be asking Ken Scott, but maybe you two can help out, too. There are conflicting reports about the mixing of the White Album – some sources say the Beatles were involved in mixing both the stereo and the mono versions, others say they were only personally involved with the mono version and just “approved” the stereo mixes. However, it is widely known that, for example, “Revolution 9″ was mixed in stereo only and later folded to mono. 13 out of 30 tracks were mixed in stereo first and in mono later. So my question is, would you say that the mono version of the White Album is “definitive”, or are both mixes essential?

    Thanks!

  9. Paul says:

    If I have the Mono CD box, is this an essential purchase?

  10. Sten Sawicz says:

    Hi,
    This is just a general question for Sean or Steve to comment on, if they may. Will we ever reach the limit at which the recycling and remastering of an artists’ back catalogue becomes pointless, due to the fact,that,even with the greatest audio set-up, the most fanciful kit, the human ear can only decipher so much in the way of sound, or is somebody’s audio perception better than somebody else’s ?

    • The Hoffman Nemesis says:

      The simple answer is no.

      They are constantly finding new ways to take your money. Be it 24 bit, HFPA or whatever. All snake oil. Vinyl and CD quality is as good as you need because as you point out, the human ear can only perceive so much.

      A quality mastering equals a quality listening experience, the format is mostly irrelevant.

      The best things I ever bought were quality headphones and quality speakers, both of which improved the listening experience of my CD’s more than any ‘improved’ format ever did. If the mastering is the same one used on the CD, SACD, 24 bit, HFPA or whatever they will all sound the same.

      If a unique and better mastering has been done for the specific ‘improved’ high-res format it will sound better. However, put that same improved mastering on CD and it will sound as good.

      Remember, they have things to sell and need you to want to buy them and then buy them again and again and again………………….

  11. James Grant says:

    Hi ,
    I was curious about the damage to the mono “Please Please Me” master. Was it stored differently from the other masters? Is it beyond playable now? When was the copy tape you used for this new set made, just recently or is this an older copy tape?

  12. Michael says:

    Hi Sean and Steve,

    I’ve read that Magical Mystery Tour and Mono Masters were cut from tape copies of the original master tapes. I assume they still sound great but I wonder: why haven’t new reels containing the first generation tapes of the material been assembled and used to cut these albums?

    Btw. although I haven’t heard or seen this box set, it seems that a LOT of care has been put in the production of it. I already want to thank you for using this approach and going all-analog!

    Cheers,
    Michael

  13. Mike the Fish says:

    How many attempts did it take to get the Sgt Pepper inner groove right?

  14. Gary C says:

    My question is, can you give me some excuses I can use with my superior half re the price and size of this thing, and the fact I’m supposed to be saving up for a new turntable rather than spending what I have saved on The Beatles again?

  15. Bill Lettang says:

    I would like to know if the goal was to come as close as possible soundwise to the original British pressings or the Master Tapes themselves?

  16. Tom Hermance says:

    Was there one particular album that gave you more sonic trouble than the others? If so, which album and what happened?

    Thank you for the all analog releases. My prayers have been answered. I hope this sells well & you team up again for the White Album & Abbey Rd.

  17. David Olstein says:

    I have four questions:

    1. I’ve read that the mono single master for Please Please Me has a drier sound that then mono album master. Are there in fact two different mono masters for Please Please Me (a single master and an album master) and if so, why wasn’t the mono single master included on the Mono Masters LP?

    2. Will the original stereo mixes of Help! and Rubber Soul, which were included on the Mono CD set, ever be reissued on vinyl?

    3. With the possible exception of Abbey Road, all of the Beatles LPs were orignially mastered and cut using tube equipment. Did you consider using tube equipment for this project and what effect, if any, do you think your use of solid state equipment had on the sound of the LPs?

    4. Do you think it would be possible to create new stereo LP reissues using the same all-analog process used to make the mono LP reissues? In what ways do you think all analog stereo LPs reissues would sound different that the recent stereo LP reissues?

  18. What were the reference monitors used for the mono playback testing for the set and who mastered the box set?

  19. Peter Simpson says:

    Seems to me that a lot of quality work is spoiled by off centre pressings (which seem increasingly common possibly due to the pressure on pressing plants these days). What steps, if any, can you / do you take to minimise the risk of these occurring in an expensive box set?

  20. Greg H. says:

    I’ve always preferred the look and feel (glossy etc.) of UK album covers vs. US packaging…Will the mono set differ in any way packaging wise or will the Mono set be sold the same everywhere.
    Thanks!

  21. Now that the Mono’s have been remastered, (presumably in the best versions they’ll ever be), can we expect to see them transferred to a Blu-ray or other hi-res physical (Not HD or other downloadable) format in the near future?

  22. David Olstein says:

    A few additional comments.

    Were the tapes played back on a reel to reel deck fitted with a mono playback head or a stereo playback head?

    Where the LPs cut on a cutting lathe that used a mono cutter head or a mono cutter head?

  23. Fat Old Bloke says:

    Will the Beatles masters ever be issued on BluRay Pure Audio ?

    Not a vinyl user (any more)

    • The Hoffman Nemesis says:

      They will sound exactly the same as the current CD versions unless they go to the trouble of a new mastering, which seems unlikely.

      • Michael says:

        They did! Please inform yourself at least a little before complaining about ‘them taking our money again’. There are links in the text above to articles which can tell you what this box set is all about.

        • The Hoffman Nemesis says:

          I was talking about the currently available stereo and mono CD sets, which they will not remaster purely for Blu-ray.

          Please do not infer context before trying to be a smart arse.

          • Michael says:

            @ hoffman nemesis: oops, sorry! didn’t realise you were talking about the blu-rays.

      • Mistercleen says:

        Why not read about the product and process before you post? That will give you some context before you decide to be a smart arse.

  24. Adey says:

    To both;
    Which album do you think is your favourite sounding one out of these remasters?

  25. Botley says:

    If the master tape of “Love Me Do” (original single version with Ringo on drums) is truly lost, and all subsequent reissues including Past Masters were taken from a cleaned-up single disc, did this disc also provide the source for the new Mono Masters vinyl? How was it transferred to the new master reel?

  26. Chris R says:

    On the ’09 remasters, the drums and bass were more present in the final recording than they’d been in the original issues. I was told that this was because cutting engineers in the 60s limited certain EQs to prevent older turntables and needles from damaging records. Is this true, and if it is true were these more present EQ settings allowed to exist on the new Mono vinyl or are you trying to recreate the exact sound of the original issue records?

    Are you staying more faithful to the sound on the master tapes or the sound of the original vinyl?

    Thanks for your time and the great music. Loved the 2012 discs and am eagerly awaiting the 9th of September!

  27. ken says:

    Whilst you were involved in all this jiggery pokery did you drink tea or coffee? If it was tea, was it Earl Grey? What a load of old bollocks!!!

  28. Steve Benson says:

    two questions: how do these reissues differ (in sound) from the dmm reissues from the 80s? and second – how will they sound to modern ears vs our memories? – given that the equipment that most people had to play records on in the early mid 60s was very primitive compared to a modern or even 1970s hi-fi set up, and that the singles were heard by many via cheap tinny transistor radios. In essence are the new reissues too revealing?

  29. Gert-Jan says:

    Hi’
    I already have some original mono Beatles LP’s but I am looking forward to this new box.
    We know that sometimes in the sixties it was sometimes a rush job to get the albums pressed before certain deadlines like Christmas or film release dates.
    This time you took your time and really did your best to make improvements.
    Now the question:
    What is your opinion on the quality of the original sixties LP mastering jobs Was it hard to improve on these?

  30. Gert-Jan says:

    Hi,
    Another question: Geoff Emerick writes in his book (here there and everywhere) that after finishing Sgt Pepper they wanted it to be mastered ‘flat’ .
    Did you master the Sgt Pepper album flat? And if not, what tweaks did you make?

  31. Greg Sinclair says:

    With the release of the mono LPs, together with the 2009 remasters, the original Beatles canon seems as sonically chiseled in stone as it will ever be. With that in mind, are there any plans to do a Deluxe Edition re-mix series? Think the sonic improvements of Beatles LOVE, but without the mash-ups or Yellow Submarine Songtrack with the benefit of a few more years of technology. We have seen countless versions done with great satisfaction by lesser bands. At the very least, I know I’m not the only one who’d like to hear Rubber Soul with a realistic natural sounding stereo soundstage or Pepper in 5.1.
    Gentlemen, much thanks for all your hard work. Please pass along my good wishes to all involved and I add my hope to buy the entire Beatles catalog at least one more time.

  32. Dave says:

    A few questions:

    Would you say these new LPs surpass the originals in terms of sound?

    Were there approval obstacles that had to be overcome in order to be able to go back to the original tapes? Did that require Apple / Beatles approval to do that? If so, how was it ‘sold’ to them?

    Do either of you know if Apple realise that the majority of hardcore Beatles fans – including this one – see the mono mixes (with maybe a few exceptions) as the holy grail of the catalogue? Was that point ever made to them at any time before or during the project? (it might well have been back when the mono CDs were done but I’m curious to know either way!)

    I liked the 2012 stereo box for what it was – a mainstream release aimed at the mass vinyl market – and enjoyed the work Sean did on that set (thank you Sean). There were lots of comments on various internet forums about the fact they sounded very different to the earlier (non-digital sourced) vinyl, and people were comparing the 2012 vinyl vs. original or at least 70s/80s UK reissue vinyl.

    My view on comparisons like that was, and still is, that it’s futile. What Sean did was give us a very different – but HUGELY enjoyable – listening experience with the stereo vinyl in 2012. I LOVED the fact that they weren’t compressed like the ’09 stereo CDs and the dynamic range, as well as the wonderful bottom end, is present in spades. They are a much more enjoyable listen to any previous UK stereo vinyl and I own quite a few differrent pressings of those going back to the 1969 ‘one EMI box’ LPs.

    However, here with the monos we are talking the ‘real deal’ when it comes to the Beatles, for so many fans. The mono CD box is wonderful. But I think, given the new mono LPs have been mastered in the analogue domain expectations will be that they will sound as good (if not better) than the original UK mono vinyl. The bottom end on some of those albums is awesome (sadly lacking on the flimsy vinyl of the UK monos from 1981/82). I am so looking forward to hearing these.

    Would you say you’ve gone more for the sound of the original vinyl (perhaps with less bass roll-off to REALLY bring that bottom end out) or have you gone more for the ‘master tape’ sound?

    Thank you Sean and Steve, and everyone else involved, for the obvious care and attention to detail that’s gone into this package. It must have been a real labour of love. have no doubt it is going to be sublime in every way!

  33. Sam says:

    First of all, a huge thanks for the hard work you all put into this set. Hope my wallet was a little fatter so I could get it. Regardless, it sounds like tons of care was put into these mixes.

    Considering the price tag, I’ll most likely be purchasing these separately over the course of a while. So my question is simple: Which shall I start with, have you got a favorite mono mix?

  34. james Daley says:

    will the mono version of “I’ll Cry Instead” have the edited, extended by the additional 1st verse as was the US version ?

    • Mike the Fish says:

      @James – it never has for the UK album, and if they’re gone with the original tapes as they say they have, then it definitely won’t.

  35. D-Rod says:

    Good Day Steve,
    I’m looking forward to this set which I’ve already ordered. My question is that it’s my understanding that these albums will be the closest thing to the original releases, does that mean they will NOT have the same brilliance as the cd remasters?

    Thanks,
    D-Rod

  36. Bill says:

    I own all of the original issue Parlophone mono records and baby them like crazy. Will these new versions improve on the sound in a manner that I will appreciate?
    Thanks for all of your exacting work on the reissues.

  37. Chris ridges says:

    Sean and Steve:
    Can you give us a little inside information?
    When you were discussing how the mono vinyl re-issues were going to be done—and arrived with the all analog approach that has thrilled so many fans—were Ringo, Paul or John and George’s estates involved in the decision. I’m supposing we all hope they were pushing fervently for analog, but maybe they don’t really care….. What’s the scoop?

  38. Scott Atherton says:

    Hi Sean & Steve,

    Firstly a huge thank you for the tireless work you’ve done with this Mono Box release. I’ve waited so patiently along with the countless masses and thanks to you both we’ll soon be enjoying the ultimate Beatles indulgence.

    (Steve) “Could you elaborate in detail on the biggest single challenge of this project?”

    (Sean) 1/ “Now that this project is complete where do you see the future for analogue remastering compared to the digital source?”

    (Sean) 2/ “Could you tell us all your most unusual or strangest story about mixing this catalogue.”

    Scotty

  39. Richard says:

    What would be the best equipment to enjoy this set? I have a nice fancy deck with a decent amp and good speakers. But I’ve also recently bought an old 60’s Hacker machine for the kitchen with mono needle and mono speaker. Is it sacrilege to play such a deluxe set on a portable machine or will I enjoy it more on my grown up deck?

  40. David Barron says:

    Has George Martin listened to them? If so what does he think of them?

  41. Bill Sennick says:

    I owb the original Capitol albums in mono and the more recent US albums box set in both mono & stereo. Will the sound on the new set be significantly different?

  42. I have a question that arrises from the digital mono releases from 2009. They all seemed to have a distorted ceiling to them. Whereas you could blast the stereo as loud as you’d like, but the mono versions seemed to distort the louder you turned them up. Am I off base (and if so, I do apologize) or is this something you’re correcting with the vinyl mono releases. I look forward to the wondrous sound stage these artifacts will provide. Thanks for all the hard work you do. Much appreciated…!

  43. Ethan Price says:

    I have a question about the Japanese version of this Mono Box, I see its more expensive, and is said to be very limited, with translated lyric sheets. My question is will the Japanese version come with an OBI strip on the box and/or OBIs on each individual album? Thanks!

  44. Artyom Yakovlev says:

    Hello Paul, Steve and Stan,

    We were discussing the box set with the owners of the one and only vinyl shop in my small town today. Here’s our question which partly repeats David Olstein’s question above.

    Are the new Mono vinyls going to be “true” mono records or records with two grooves which contain identical signal for both – left and right – channels?

    And one more question connected with the first one. If the new Mono vinyls are in true mono, are they going to damage or wear out stereo cartridges?
    The seller in our shop says that playing mono records on modern stereo cartridges is possible but it isn’t a very good idea because the cartridge does wear out more significantly. Personally, I have serious doubts about that but the fact that Ortofon has released a new version of their Mono cart to coincide with the Mono vinyl box set makes me wonder if some kind of special equipment would be more appropriate to be used with this box set.

    Thanks in advance, and huge thanks for your work!

    Artyom

  45. David Fisher says:

    I’m not sure if this question is strictly relevant in that it relates to a release that sadly isn’t replicated in this box set.

    I’ve always wanted to know why the original UK mono issue of the Yellow Submarine LP was reportedly a “fold-down” of the stereo mix given that “Yellow Submarine” and “All You Need is Love” existed as mono single mixes and the other songs had been mono mixed for the aborted Yellow Submarine EP project. It also seems strange that George Martin would allow such compromising treatment to his instrumental side of the LP.

    Was a reconstructed mono LP ever considered for release in the new box set using the mixes I mention? It is after all part of the UK “canon” which is being followed for the other records.

    I’ve just had to buy a mint 1978 Beatles Mono Collection LP box from Ebay at great expense to make up for this omission! :o) It will be interesting to compare the pressings.

    Very much looking forward to the new box set – thanks for all the effort you’ve put into it.

    David

  46. Bill Lettang says:

    Fans are very concerned about 2nd generation masters. Is PPM the only redubbed master or are there others as well?

  47. Martin says:

    Can Sean and Steve confirm some things around the source used for the ‘Ringo version’ of Love Me Do, that was on the original 1962 single release ?

    I understand a digital source was used for this on this new mono set.

    But the question I have is, where did that source originate? A needle-drop of the track was mastered from a mint vinyl 7″ single back in 1982, in the analogue domain of course, for the 20th anniversary 12″ single release.

    Was this new master kept and then used for the transfer to 24/192 resolution before the conversion to 16/44.1 for the 2009 CD releases?

    If so, has that 24/192 digital master been used for the new mono LP set or has a different source used?

    I believe the analogue tape created in 1982 was transferred to digital in 1987 for the first Past Masters CD release the following year. Is it this source, at 16/44.1 that has been used for the new mono set? if that’s the case it’s a shame, if there is a decent copy of the analogue tape cut in 1982 at 24/192.

    It won’t stop me from buying the box by any means but I would be interested to know the exact details of the Love Me Do (Ringo version) mastering and source it was taken from.

    Thank you!

  48. David Fell says:

    In the case of Mono Masters, were the original single and EP mixed master tapes spliced together for the cutting of the lacquer, or dubbed to a working copy? If they were spliced, how did you deal with the issue of tape head azimuth varying between the different tapes?

  49. Pingback:Beatles remastering team answer your vinyl mono box questions | superdeluxeedition

  50. dave says:

    i to would love a free copy. even a playable return would suffice. nice one ok !

  51. Dustin Freeman says:

    Hello. I just purchased the Mono box set. Unfortunately I don’t have a turntable yet. I don’t have a whole lot of money. Is there a recommended turntable with built in preamp I could get? Maybe around$300. I’m not sure if that would be good enough for this collection. And I guess I can go through my receiver I already have? My speakers are ok I just want to get an idea on how this is supposed to sound. Any recommendations for any of this would be most helpful. Thanks

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