The Beatles * Mono Masters
The Beatles * Mono Masters
The Beatles get back to mono, 180-gram LPs pressed in Germany by Optimal Media
Newly remastered for vinyl from the analogue tapes by Sean Magee and Steve Berkowitz
Cut to lacquer on a VMS80 lathe
"The EMI representative told me that after absorbing the criticism heaped on the digitially sourced stereo box - including the extensive AnalogPlanet.com coverage, which was correctly construed as constructive criticism - the decision was made to produce the mono LPs using an all-analog mastering chain. ... Berkowitz told me that in his opinion and in the opinions of many, the mono mixes were the more important reissues and I agree." - Michael Fremer, AnalogPlanet.com. To read Fremer's full report, including his exclusive access to one of the mono mastering sessions, visit: http://www.analogplanet.com/content/beatles-get-back-mono-and-aaa-vinyl
A seriously audiophile-minded undertaking! The Beatles in mono is how most listeners first heard the Fab 4's first recordings, when mono was the predominant audio format. Up until 1968, each Beatles album was given a unique mono and stereo mix, but the group always regarded the mono as primary.
Now from The Beatles In Mono vinyl box set, The Mono Masters, a three LP collection of non-album tracks compiled and mastered from the original analogue tapes.
Mono Masters compiles all the mono mixes of singles, B-sides and EP tracks that did not originally appear on any of the United Kingdom albums or Magical Mystery Tour.
As mentioned in the quote at the top, analog expert and viny guru Michael Fremer, of AnalogPlanet.com, says EMI representatives heard and responded to criticisms concerning digitally sourced mastering used to produce The Beatles Stereo Box Set on vinyl. For the mono version, the decision was made to use an all-analog mastering chain to the degree possible.
"It's important to remember that the tapes have aged — some as much as fifty years — and the monitoring, playback and mastering equipment have changed as well, even though the work was done in the very same room in which the originals were mastered. Solid state has replaced tubes in the cutting chain," writes Fremer.
The Beatles' mono albums have been newly mastered for vinyl from quarter-inch master tapes at Abbey Road Studios by Grammy-winning engineer Sean Magee and Grammy-winning mastering supervisor Steve Berkowitz. While The Beatles In Mono CD boxed set released in 2009 was created from digital remasters, for this new vinyl project, Magee and Berkowitz cut the records without using any digital technology. Instead, they employed the same procedures used in the 1960s, guided by the original albums and by detailed transfer notes made by the original cutting engineers.
Working in the same room at Abbey Road where most of The Beatles' albums were initially cut, the pair first dedicated weeks to concentrated listening, fastidiously comparing the master tapes with first pressings of the mono records made in the 1960s. Using a rigorously tested Studer A80 machine to play back the precious tapes, the new vinyl was cut on a 1980s-era VMS80 lathe.
Fremer says the lathe was equipped with a Neumann SX-74 cutter head. The originals were cut on a Scully lathe, perhaps with a Westrex cutter head.
This is really a deluxe reissue project, done properly, and with careful attention to detail. Beatles collectors and even casual fans of the Lads from Liverpool will be transfixed. Treat yourself!