Beatles – New Mono LP’s – a side-by-side comparison
Recently, Capitol Records rolled out The Beatles in Mono Vinyl Box Set, a 14-record collection containing the ten albums the Beatles originally mixed in mono, plus a 3-LP Mono Masters set, which collects all the mono singles. I’ve compared one new LP with both a vintage mono copy, and the recent mono CD version.
I own both the Stereo and Mono CD box sets, plus all the original US LP’s, so I decided against purchasing the entire new vinyl box (haven’t I given them enough money already?). However, the new mono LP’s are also available individually, so I purchased a copy of Revolver and decided to compare it.
In press for this new set, one of the selling points is that they used all analog equipment and went back to the original, mono tapes to get the most authentic sound possible. In addition, they also claim to have actually improved the sound, because technology is far-superior to that of the 1960’s.
Revolver – new mono vinyl vs. original mono vinyl:
The new vinyl carries more high end than the original, which sounds slightly muffled in comparison. Take, for instance, the cowbell on “Taxman” – it’s barely noticeable on the original, but jumps out of the speakers in the new version. There’s a crispness to the strings on “Eleanor Rigby” in the new version that is definitely improved.
These do sound better fidelity-wise, so their claim stands up. However, some of the tracks on the original version carry a warmness that isn’t replicated as well in these new masters – purely a matter of taste. Bottom line though, Capitol did a bang-up job. While there were lots of complaints about poor quality on the Stereo LP’s, which came out a few years ago, a great deal more care seems to have gone into the Mono set.
Revolver – new mono vinyl vs. new mono CD:
Here’s where things really stand out. In every case, the vinyl beats the CD. There’s warmer bass, and brighter high end – across the board. Now, in defense of the CD’s, they were meant to be “as is” – purposely left alone, with no equalization added. But, you can really hear a difference.
The bottom line:
This time, they really did it right. The great care that went into these is noticeable. If you want to hear these albums as they were originally intended, you can’t go wrong with these new versions.
Caution: If you’re thinking of purchasing the entire box set, consider this – you get no price break. In fact, the box is almost $100 more than buying the LP’s individually. Now, you do get a nice 12 x 12 book and the box housing, but that seems like a large disparity. I would suggest buying the albums individually.
For years now, stereo has been the way we listen to music. But, the Beatles intended for us to hear these albums in mono. Take a listen yourself. —Tony Peters