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SDEtv looks back / The Beatles in Mono

The best Beatles CD box set

In 2009 The Beatles in Mono CD box set was released. This 12CD set combined the remastered mono album mixes with exquisite made-in-Japan mini-LP CD vinyl replica packages. These CDs have never been made available separately. Watch the SDEtv unboxing video…

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The Beatles

The Beatles in Mono CD box set

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The box contains the following albums in original mono mixes

  • Please Please Me (1963)
  • With the Beatles (1963)
  • A Hard Day’s Night (1964)
  • Beatles for Sale (1964)
  • Help! (1965)*
  • Rubber Soul (1965)*
  • Revolver (1966)
  • Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967)
  • Magical Mystery Tour (1967)
  • The Beatles (1968)
  • Mono Masters (1962–1970

*also includes 1965 stereo mix

61 responses to SDEtv looks back / The Beatles in Mono

  1. Stevie T says:

    Thanks so much Paul. After submitting my message, I then spotted the asterisk at the top of the page. Also rather embarrassed not to have realised this before! Just like to say generally though, my experience of the mono set is that, although it is obviously the same sound in each speaker, I get almost a surround sound experience, eg with Revolver, the whole room gets absolutely choc full of sounds from everywhere. Utterly astounding. Thanks again for a fantastic site.

  2. Stevie T says:

    Dear Paul S – I have been an avid follower of sde website for several years, but have never commented so far. This evening I went into my conservatory with a beer, to drink a toast to a friend, an erstwhile member of a Beatles tribute band, whose birthday happens to be a day next to Paul McCartney. For some reason I decided to play the Help CD from the mono box set, which I have owned since its release. I became aware that this disc actually repeats the tracks, 28 in total. I have not explored the other discs in this depth so far, but wondered whether you had any insight into this?!

    • Paul Sinclair says:

      Welcome Stevie!. The second ‘Help’ on that CD is the very original 1965 stereo mix which had never been issued on CD before since the 1987 version and the 2009 remaster are the George Martin stereo remix. the same goes for Rubber Soul. They are the only two CDs like that in the box.

  3. Philip says:

    Thanks for the cleaning tips Phil. You think the culprits here are the outer card sleeves? I was thinking more like the plastic inners as they are in direct contact (all of which I have replaced). I have also bought additional copies of some of the albums which have not been inside a box, some are affected, others are not. Very puzzling.

  4. Phil Cohen says:

    You’ll get no argument from me. “The Beatles in Mono” is a superb set, and I still frequently play these CD’s. I just listened to “Please Please Me”.
    If purchasing through Amazon’s third party “Marketplace” sellers or through Ebay sellers with suspiciously low prices, beware of Chinese counterfeits.

  5. Iain says:

    Paul mentions in the video that the box had an initial limited (10k copies) pressing but was then reprinted. This is a bit anal but is there a way to tell if the mono box I have is from the initial run or the later one?

  6. Albert says:

    Great stuff as always, Paul. It was hilarious how the mono box set was heralded as ‘limited’ at the time. Eleven years later and it’s still readily available.

    I bought the set in 2009, but I thought that Apple/UMG dropped a bollock when they didn’t release the 2009 remasters in a double mono and stereo 2CD set (with the exception of Abbey Road and Let It Be, of course). I got the mono box mainly for Pepper, Magical Mystery Tour and The White Album, but they were the only three I wanted. Rhino had the right idea when they reissued the Monkees albums with both a stereo and mono disc and bonus tracks. Small Faces also did a good mono/stereo reissue for ‘Ogden’s Nut Gone Flake’ (the one in the real tobacco tin). It looked in 2009 like Apple were fleecing Beatles fans and that is not too far off the mark. I recall the price was eye watering. I eventually got a bargain from Amazon Canada. The Beatles mono albums are still not available individually on CD, and that is nothing short of scandalous really…

  7. Philip says:

    Dave M , can you post a link or explain how Philip Cohen cleaned his US album CDs – many of mine have the white clouding you mention.

    • Phil Cohen says:

      My previous attempt at a post didn’t appear. Clean the cloudy residue from your “U.S. albums” boxed set using running water from a sink and a wet towel, but, be cautioned that will take a couple of hours to clean the 13 discs. From then on, store the discs outside the boxed set in CD envelopes, slim cases or jewel boxes. Don’t put the discs back into the mini album covers, or the cloudy residue will likely reappear.

  8. MARK LEVY says:

    I managed to get Please Please Me, With The Beatles and Help! separate, instore or online.

  9. Jean-Claude says:

    Fantastic boxset. I bought this from US-Amazon in 2009 (bloody 11 years ago already). At $229.99 back then this was by far the best offer globally. Then again, a Japanese product shipped to the US then to Europe … probably not as sustainable as one would wish for nowadays.
    P.S. Current Canadian price seems fairly reasonable. at the moment.

  10. Derek Langsford says:

    Love these retrospective unboxing videos.

    After having picked up the stereo set on an Amazon UK sale for £102.12 in 2010 I didn’t get the mono box until 2017, found a used set in a Newberry Comics store while visiting a friend in Boston in 2017, I think for $75 but in pristine condition with the backing sheet. One of the occasions I have been in the right place at the right time!

    Nice idea to add the Japanese LP replica CDs of Yellow Submarine, Let It Be and Abbey Road to fill out the set but at $40-$50 each they would cost twice what I paid for the whole Mono Box undermining the bargain I got with the initial purchase. Already having the Stereo box and the Abbey Road boxes and planning to get the Let It Be box, it becomes a case of want versus need. And there’s so much more music to explore out there that I don’t already have – the quandry of all music fans with limited budgets.

  11. Rich E says:

    This was the last proper bargain I picked up at a bricks and mortar store. Usual lunchtime browse at HMV Newbury (now long gone) saw me pick this up for seventy quid. Actually I’m not sure that was a heck of a lot cheaper but I’m darn glad I got it. My brother had to return 2 fakes to Amazon before finally getting the real thing.

  12. Steve from New York says:

    Thanks for this unboxing. Would love to see an unboxing and your take on the London/Decca/ABCKO years CD and vinyl boxes from the Rolling Stones. Stay safe and healthy.

  13. Fogarrach says:

    Dear trash

    Ta for your thoughts. You know what, today I shall listen to easy pieces.

    Btw, is trash a reference to the sinatras, or the monk, by any chance?

    Dear Chris squires,
    My my first box, the three light years box set, is still fine ;-)
    (And eldorado blew my tiny mind. Probably my first prog record after the Beatles stuff)

    DEAR ALL,

    My first cd box? Hmmm I think it might have been either gordon lightfoot, csn&y, or the pet sounds box. Each of these sets still mark the high water I hope for when I get a new box.

    Darn I want that Beatles mono set……….

  14. Tony Ward, Edinburgh says:

    Hi Paul, loved revisiting your unboxing video. Two points/questions.

    1. I note still no official reissue of UK “A Collection Of Beatles Oldies” LP (Dec 1966) which must be disappointing for Beatles compketists. I have an original stereo LP pressing. At the time, this was the first opportunity to hear the non-LP singles A / double-A side tracks in stereo – & of the 16 tracks, eight were appearing on LP for the first time.

    2. Do the replica sleeves still state original copyright of Lennon-McCartney songs as Northern Songs (as it was before being bought by Michael Jackson)?

    Thanks & best wishes. Stay Safe x

  15. Chris Squires says:

    How the mind plays tricks: off topic for Beatles but bear with me.
    Many of us wrote about our first box set purchase last week and I would have put money on what I said about a Kate Bush bootleg Never for ever being my first. However I have just realised I bought my first SDE box set about 5 years previous to that. Without even realising it had pretty much everything we would want from a box set today and the name should have been the biggest giveaway. I had bought Mike Oldfield Boxed in 1979 as my fever for all things Oldfield grew for this 12 year old. It had different versions, unreleased versions, quad mix, rounding up of singles, collaborations (literally) and b-sides a half decent booklet and good photos and a sturdy box which I screwed up by sticking every newspaper cutting I could find to the inside. Not a bad effort for 1976. The only slightly similar thing (which was much more basic) that came into my young world was Three Light Years by ELO but that had no extras and the box fell apart really easily.

    • Stuart S says:

      Think it was 2018, in a local charity shop, I picked up Boxed in very good condition.
      It wasn’t priced but having asked how much, they asked how many records were in the box.
      Four, I said. That’ll be £4 then, they said…

  16. Rowly75 says:

    Great video as per, I bought the stereo and the mono boxes at the same time as close to (after) 9:09 on the 9/9/09 as I could! Thank god for credit cards eh. The only thing I don’t get is how they couldn’t just mix the mono straight to stereo? Would sound a lot better but you’d still have the original mix? Also do you know what the differences are between the 65 and 87 mixes? Is the original now regarded as better?…

    • David M says:

      Huh? You can’t mix mono to stereo. Defeats the purpose.

      George Martin made new stereo mixes in 87 that had less harsh stereo effects. Rubber Soul was particularly bad in 65 with basically instruments in one speaker and vocals in the other. Very primitive use of stereo, which is why mono is probably best for earlier albums. From Revolver on it is all more debatable.

  17. Bruno says:

    Thanks for keeping up the creativity with the great posts. Mono Beatles boxes are 2 of my favourite box sets. Its a shame that other artists/record labels did not keep up the standard. I would love to see Paul’s unboxing video for Gene Simmons “The Vault” but one suspects he may have “missed out” on this gem.

  18. John McCann' says:

    Paul thank you for teaching me a new word,,,accoutrements,,,,iv never heard that word before,,from french origin I believe,,,thanks again big johns bumper book of words has just gotten that wee bit thicker,,,, you’ll be known as Boris soon! Keep them coming,

  19. Glenn says:

    Makes me think of the Lemmy documentary where he goes to Amoeba Records in Hollywood and asks for the mono box set.

    Excerpt here:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zb8ncTSTiIs

  20. Rob C says:

    I’m not an audiophile nor do I have high end equipment but are the mono editions considered superior to the stereo editions? I do listen to most of my music these days in the car or with headphones on a device…and I’ve always wanted to invest in one of the boxes although I have several individual releases to date (Sgt Pepper, White Album, Magical Mystery Tour, Abbey Road, Blue, Red, and my all-time fave Revolver)

    Any thoughts?

    Thanks!

    • Kevin Y. says:

      Many consider them to be the mixes to be listened to if you want to hear it as The Beatles intended. Once they started to really get into the studio, they would tend to be around more for the mono mixes and not the stereo.
      I personally think if your a fan, it’s cool to have both. Besides not having to deal with some of the wonky stereo mixes (caused by the limitations of the 2-track or 4-track machines they were using), you also get some interesting differences between the mixes.

  21. Wayne K says:

    Nice coverage on this terrific boxed set. The mono mixes rock for many of the early albums (Beatles for Sale and “Money” on With The Beatles sound great in stereo and in the case of the latter song, the stereo IS the definitive version).

    I wish that a lot of other reissues had the same high quality releases.

  22. Denis says:

    paul – two additions. first while the mono box set does not include the “yellow submarine” soundtrack the “mono masters” set includes the four “yellow submarine” beatles songs not found on another album – “only a northern song,” “all together now,” “hey bulldog” and “it’s all too much.” second the “stereo masters” set includes (at least two) songs not found on “mono masters” – “ballad of john & yoko” and “old brown shoe.” feel free to correct me if i’m wrong.

    thank you from minneapolis, minnesota for your website and all your hard work.

  23. Steve Benson says:

    Some years ago – when people could travel! – I discovered Japanese vinyl replica CDs in HMV shops in Hong Kong including several discounted examples: Ry Cooder, Little Feat, Linda Ronstadt, Richard & Linda Thompson etc. All absolutely brilliant in terms of packaging and sound. This led to more online purchases and they have pride of place in my collection, along with the superb Beatles in Mono box. But this reminds me, does anyone have a view on the mono vinyl LPs issued in the late 198os labelled as Direct Metal Mastered?

  24. Henry Martinez says:

    As fantastic as it is to have both the mono and stereo box sets two things would have been ideal, the mini-LP’s in the 7 x 7 inch size with both boxes the same size, and including high resolution versions on blu ray audio.

  25. GTR says:

    My most cherished box set. Love it. Amazon let me down so had to run around 4 London record shops to get one.

    I think this box set played a big part in reevaluating the pre-‘Rubber Soul’ albums. They sound terrific here and moved attention away from ‘Revolver’, ‘Sgt Peppers…’ etc to the earlier stuff. On the back of this box set I decided that ‘A Hard Days Night’ was their best album. It never sounded better than it does here.

  26. CDM says:

    I picked the mono box up in Glasgow Renfield St for only £79 about six years ago after paying full price for the stereo box on release. Always thought it was a bit unfair to the mono only buyers having to the purchase ‘Abbey Road’ & ‘Let it be’ stereo albums separately. Not only that, the Mono Past Masters excludes ‘Ballad of John & Yoko’, ‘Old brown shoe’ & ‘Let it be’ (single mix) because they were stereo only. The four exclusive Yellow Submarine album mono mix tracks are included however but unfortunately, not the full psychedelic eight minute mix of ‘It’s all too much’ which incorporates the missing verse that can be heard in the film.

    Fopp also had the US box for around £60 at one stage but I skipped that as I’d already bought a selection of the albums individually when they were being sold for £5 or £6. The bizarre 1964 ‘Something New’ album (which duplicates tracks from the US ‘A hard day’s night’ soundtrack album released just a month before) is my favourite. It has different mixes to the UK of ‘And I love her’, ‘Any time at all’ & ‘When I get home’. Most importantly, the mono ‘I’ll cry instead’ includes a 20 second verse excised from the UK version. With both the mono & stereo versions of the album included, the different lead guitar parts in ‘Matchbox’ can also be easily compared (although same as the UK).

    Finally, I’d like to say that I really enjoyed your unboxing of the Vinyl Beatles Singles Box with the fantastic coloured foreign labels. I wouldn’t have considered buying it but there’s no need to anyway when I can ‘virtually’ hold and examine it watching your video!!!

    SDE is a fantastic website, thanks Paul.

  27. Peter Stanton says:

    I really wanted this but was so wary of all the pirate copies that I did not ever press the button.

    I still really regret not having bought this, but am still wary of dodgy copies. Hopefully, I will get a copy at some point.

    r

  28. Re: the t-shirt. I know some indie retailers gave out a t-shirt with the mono box. I had already gotten my box by the time I was aware of it, but a local indie shop that I was a regular at (Spin in Carlsbad, CA) had one left over and it was my size. I finally convinced the owner to sell it to me as he had been sitting on it for a solid year. Turns out, this light blue shirt with “The Beatles In Mono” and Apple logo on it was a very uncomfortable 50/50 blend. I ended up selling it online.

  29. bertielego says:

    Indeed, what a lovely box set! Still cherish mine to this day!

    The stereo box wasn’t as nice looking indeed… However, in December 2014, every single title from the box set has been released individually on SHM-CD format on ‘exquisite made in Japan mini-LP CD vinyl replica packages’, as well as the two classic red and blue compilations. Here is a sample:
    https://www.discogs.com/The-Beatles-Please-Please-Me/release/6402337
    https://www.discogs.com/The-Beatles-The-Beatles/release/6402368
    https://www.discogs.com/The-Beatles-Let-It-Be/release/6402374
    https://www.discogs.com/The-Beatles-Abbey-Road/release/6402373
    https://www.discogs.com/The-Beatles-Past-Masters-Volumes-One-Two/release/6402376
    https://www.discogs.com/The-Beatles-1962-1966/release/6402388
    https://www.discogs.com/The-Beatles-1967-1970/release/6402401
    (I happened to be the one who submitted these releases on Discogs).

    Further, Disk Union provided a promo wooden box to those who purchased the whole set. (I am the proud owner of such a box set!)

    The 16 titles became quickly out of print, and a second pressing was released soon after in April 2015. How to recognize the first pressing from the second pressings? The former come with a red front sticker on the resealable protection sleeve, the latter come with a blue one, eg.:
    https://www.discogs.com/The-Beatles-Let-It-Be/release/6967710

    • Paul Sinclair says:

      If you watch to the end of the video you will see I have those stereo Japanese SHM-CDs and make the point that you can ‘finish off’ this mono box with stereo version of Yellow Submarine, Abbey Road and Let It Be!

    • DaveM says:

      There was a third pressing which I bought of the stereo mini-LPs with the normal round SHMCD bronze sticker on the front.
      The mono box is indeed wonderful and the stereo mixes of Help and Rubber Soul are far superior to the other stereo mixes and a real bonus. Overall though, most of these albums are better in mono, especially Sgt Pepper and my personal favourite A Hard Days Night. I got mine from QVC, already had the stereo box on order from Amazon, but watched the presentation and ended up with the mono as well and it came with a limited poster which I had framed. Contrast the quality of the Beatles in mono to the EU made Rolling Stones in mono. Nice sound quality, but the sleeves on the Stones were real cheap and tight and I ended up selling mine. I also threw out the Beatles US albums box as the discs all started getting white tacky smears on them and didn’t fancy loading them in my CD player anymore. Philip Cohen did find a way to clean them up but it was too late for mine. The sleeves on the US box weren’t great either.
      Only one problem, the mono box started my obsession with Japanese mini-LPs:).

  30. Mark Jensen says:

    Possibly the most essential cd box set ever.

  31. Fogarrach says:

    Brilliant, in the current times watching this video is a great way to spend a Saturday. :-)
    (It’ll be funny six days out of seven)

    I’ve always regretted not buying this set. And your video affirms me in my regret.

    You mentioned disk union in Japan. Whenever I’m in Tokyo disk union in shinjuku, and if I’m lucky, shibuya are definites. Back a few years ago there was even a store in shinjuku dedicated to prog, selection beyond any imagination and prices, especially of European cds, or normal cds to us, incredibly good. Japanese cds are more expensive as there are often content and quality differences Today’s prog is only a whole floor in their main shinjuku outlet. Oh yes, Shops don’t get any better.

    Btw, anyone reading this. Once this current unpleasantness is over, Go to Japan. Go to Tokyo. Generally speaking accommodation is London prices, once accommodation is taken care of it is a lot cheaper than you’ve been led to believe. The two places I’ve mentioned are incredibly easy to get to, a bit like Euston, kings cross in London, or Renfield st in Glasgow. And you won’t won’t regret Single thing that you buy or see. Or that you travel to. Or that you eat.

    And Paul, in advance of your tomorrow’s isolation playlist and in my, unpaid and self appointed, role as ambassador for Scottish ish music. I’d beg you to consider a listen to Lloyd Cole and the commotions Mainstream tonight. That way it might even make your list. To consider classic albums, many people including me, often default to rattlesnakes. On my part that is often correct, yet it is sometimes laziness. The commotions never put a foot wrong and this album hooks you in with hooks within from start to fin.
    Note to self. Sean penn blues to go into next compilation tape* (* still my term though today it’s a burned cd).

    Happy Easter Saturday everyone (what?, oh it doesn’t matter really. Does it?

    • Trash says:

      @Fogarrach – I totally agree with your Tokyo/Japan recommendation. I had the good fortune back in the 90s/early 2000s to have a job that took me to Japan pretty much once a month for about 10 years.
      Needless to say I amassed a whole collection on Mini-LPs. Amongst my faves are a complete collection of early Bowie (I think it goes up to Never Let Me down), early Kate Bush (up to the Red Shoes), 10cc/Godley & Creme, XTC and an Eno collection. Beautiful items.

      Haven’t been for about 10 years now – but your post has reignited my intention to make anther visit.

    • Trash says:

      @Fogarrach (again).

      And I hadn’t even noticed your comment on Mainstream… For me it is a toss up between Rattlesnakes and Mainstream as to which album of theirs I prefer. All three are superb but either the first or the third edges ahead depending on my mood :-)

  32. Rare Glam says:

    Nicely done Paul, I turned straight to my shelf and saw the box there next to the Rolling Stones in Mono box (maybe worth a re-visit of that one too?). By the way the Japanese stereo box set in a wooden crate is also worth noting. Unboxing video here:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YxC-eZM1XWI

  33. Richard S says:

    I have to confess/celebrate that I got this for free, after it was left after a charity auction at work. That’s right it was left as nobody wanted it! There was also the accompanying black box, but someone took that. What was left was just given over to the staff to take an item for free. So I was intrigued to see what it was like. It was only later when I found it on discogs I realised it was worth quite a bit. I really enjoyed making my way through these albums, while reading the Revolution In The Head book.

  34. Jorje Chica says:

    I made the mistake of buying my copy of the CD box set on eBay. The seller sent me an obvious bootleg copy and the cds didn’t play on any of my CD players (I later read about these Chinese made boots doing the rounds). I sent it back and he sent me another dodgy copy. The seller never refunded my money and too much time passed for me to utilize the eBay grievance procedure, so I had to eat my loss and learn a hard lesson. I finally got a real copy on Amazon, which sounded and looked wonderful.

    And after all that hassle, I bought the vinyl box, which is amazing, and traded my cd copy for credit! Life is funny that way.

  35. Trash says:

    Loving these videos Paul – thank you.

    I had a sudden panic and couldn’t remember if I had this on CD. I knew I had the vinyl box because I play them quite regularly and the Beatles in Stereo CD box is quite large so easy to spot on my shelves. Anyway I found it after some looking…

    It really is a wonderful set actually faultless in my opinion.

    For me its stereo mixes for headphone listening and mono mixes over speakers :-)

    P.S. I’ll always regret selling my father’s original numbered copy of the White album while I was in my school days…

    • Kevin from Edinburgh says:

      Was it really 11 years ago? I remember the excitement of anticipation (the new remasters were announced around now, maybe May, if I remember, so it was my first experience of spending weeks and months looking online for any new snippet of info. I paid £155 on release date, even though the stereo box, containing more music as you point out, Paul, could be had for £139. I couldn’t afford both sets, so chose the mono set. Naturally, I ended up picking up all the stereo albums over the coming weeks, meaning I spent more than £139 on them….

      One thing I could never figure. The photo on the back of Revolver looks far better on the mono edition than the stereo. I put that down to the Japanese eye for quality. But years later, the difference was still there on the vinyl lps; the mono one still looked great, while the stereo one still looked ‘burnt out’ (my non-photographer’s description).

      Anyway, really enjoying these retrospective look-backs to releases of yesteryear. Thanks, and more, please!

      • Paul Sinclair says:

        Cheers Kevin. The stereo CDs were very disappointing in terms of presentation. I don’t want a Quicktime logo on my Beatles album, thanks very much! I never did buy the stereo box, but just picked up the individual CDs over time. Same with vinyl actually… I have the mono vinyl box but then have individual stereo vinyl LPs.

        • Kevin from Edinburgh says:

          I did buy the stereo lp box, and thought they sounded very good (the pressing quality was fantastic) but the covers were merely good, rather than great. One benefit of getting the stereo box was the book that came with it; it’s massive, around twice the length of the books that came with the Beatles in Mono and Queen Studio Collection sets (although they were both also very good). Wish all collections were done with the same care and attention (see Kate Bush for Exhibit A in this regard).

  36. Craig Hedges says:

    Yes, more Beatles porn please!
    Did you time this video especially for today? (50 anniversary of Paul’s announcement)
    Hope you find Abbey Road.

  37. Geoffrey Kavanagh says:

    A great presentation Paul! Now is the perfect time to listen to this set again. Thanks for the reminder.

    Take care.

  38. Tony says:

    I got the vinyl set, was this limited as well Paul? I remember there was a nice T shirt in the mono box.

    • Paul Sinclair says:

      I never got a T-shirt!? The vinyl was much more limited than the CD which is still relatively easy to get hold of. Vinyl is out-of-print.

      • Trash says:

        I didn’t get a T-Shirt either… Maybe it depended on where you ordered it from…?

        The vinyl set is even lovelier I think (having all the artwork in full-size).

      • Jamie says:

        The t shirt was if you ordered from the official Beatles store in the UK. I ordered from there then cancelled it, I think because I could get it day of release on Amazon whereas there was a bit of a wait from the store. I wasn’t fussed about a t shirt, if it had been a print, for example a print or bonus 7”, something that could supplement the box, that would have been a different story. I actually returned my box as I had/have no record player, and didn’t want it just sitting there. Of course I regret it now given the spike in asking prices for remaining copies. I am still hopeful that a stereo vinyl box, with analogue mastering and the amazing flip back sleeves may eventually come out. Apple/Universal could charge what they wanted, they would sell out! Better still, an almighty box set with both mono and stereo, in a metal flight case, like the Led Zep one from years ago, that’s something I dream about!

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