Sunday, August 23, 2009

The Beatles Remastered CDs

by Jake Topp

If you're anywhere near as big of a Beatles fan as I am then you've probably already heard about the new remastered Beatles CDs coming out on September 9th. What you may not quite understand yet is why you should be excited about the idea of buying all of their albums on CD again (assuming you already own them on CD now, of course).

The mono box set's appeal I think is most obvious. This set will include the original mono mix for each of the Beatles first 10 albums (all the way up through their self-titled double album which most fans know as "The White Album"). This is remarkable because this is the first time that these mono mixes will be available on CD. For many of us who grew to love The Beatles through CDs, this will be our first time to listen to these original mono mixes.

But why should anyone care about mono in 2009? Well, these songs were originally mixed in mono by The Beatles back in the 1960s. Back then mono was "the standard" for music playback so it only made sense for them to focus on the mono mixes of their albums while not spending nearly as much time on the stereo mixes. Because of that it makes sense to think of these mono mixes as the "true" versions of these albums.

And it's not just a matter of "purity." There are many who have claimed that the mono mixes of albums such as Revolver & Sgt. Pepper actually sound much better than the stereo mixes (for those of us who love the stereo mixes, that may be hard to believe!). Among those who have made this claim? John Lennon himself!

On top of the original mono mixes for their first 10 albums, the mono box set will also include the original stereo mixes of Help! and Rubber Soul on CD for the first time because when The Beatles music was released on CD for the first time in 1987, these albums were actually remixed (by George Martin) because it was felt that the original stereo mixes were "too weird." Remember that stereo mixing was a very new thing in 1965, so they were very "experimental" with how they approached it at that time.

So I hope I've explained the importance of the mono box set and why all serious Beatles fans need to buy it (and these mono versions of their albums are only included in the box set, they are not available for individual sale). But what about the new remastered stereo versions? Well the reason to buy these is more about sound quality than hearing new mixes.

These albums were given a sub-par digital mastering job when they were first put on CD in 1987. Now that problem has been corrected with brand new remasters which take advantage of all of the technological advances that have taken place since '87. These new mixes reveal more details in The Beatles music and just plain sound better. These are the "new standard" for The Beatles albums, so if you want to know what all of the other Beatles fans are talking about, get the remastered stereo box set too.

Jake Topp recommends for more on The Beatles.

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