. You don’t need to be an audiophile to understand what all the excitement is about: a team at Abbey Road Studios has gone back, cleaning up and remastering the band’s original recordings, making the Fab Four’s entire catalog available in box sets of both the familiar stereo and harder-to-come-by mono recordings. (Until now, the only album versions available outside of the original releases were the 1987 CD versions.)
In a day of mostly digital listening, the mono recordings are a treat. When the earlier Beatles albums were first released, most radios ran on single-channel airwaves, making mono recordings a popular choice among the record-buying masses. Assuming the Beatles were recording for this larger, single-sound channel audience, these recordings, since left aside, were probably the “real” ones.
Beatles historians tend to agree, suggesting that the production team put the most time and care into the mono mixes. While you’ve probably only heard the stereo versions, everything from 1963’s Please Please Me through The White Album was originally mixed in mono. The differences are in the details, and for fans, the fun is too.
Speaking of fun: We’ve got one of these 10,000 limited-edition mono sets to give away. For now, the mono recordings will only be available in the box, which also comes with mini-LP packaging that replicates everything down to the original printing inside, as well as a booklet of liner notes explaining the differences between the stereo and mono mixes.
To enter to win, leave us a comment below explaining which Beatles song you’re most excited to hear in mono, and why. (Just keep in mind that Let It Be, Abbey Road, and Yellow Submarine are not included in the mono set, as those three later albums were only mixed in stereo.) We’ll announce a winner on Friday, September 18th.
Update: Congrats to our winner, Red Fabbri, per his humdinger of a response:
For a Beatles fanatic like me, there is really only one answer: Tomorrow Never Knows. Yes, I know; it’s aural-apocalypse seems more fitting for the endless duality of stereo. But it was originally recorded in mono. It was originally mixed in mono. It was originally dreamt up, most likely in one of John Lennon’s nightmares, to be heard in mono. And the fact that the song succeeds at being so sonically complex and full, while being in mono, is why I’m so excited to hear it in it’s true form. It makes you feel like angels of death are swooping right next to your head, in mono. It jumps your heart to follow Ringo’s chasing beat, in mono. And you fear what can only be assumed is the sound of the afterlife, in mono. Not a bad feat for a song with only one chord.