The Beatles Re-Mastered, 2009

Sep 8, 2009 7:39 PM, By Rick Clark

A Look at the New Stereo and Mono Box Sets


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photo of Abbey Road Studios engineers

Abbey Road Studios engineers who worked on re-mastering The Beatles' catalog outside of the facility's main entrance

Concerning any cleaning up of extraneous sounds found on the tapes, Rouse points out, “If there was anything like clicks, microphone pops, sibilance, we chose to deal with them, because they’re not really meant to be part of the performance. But we did not remove squeaky drum pedals, little coughs and squeaky chairs at the end of certain chords, because they are part of the performance. Artistically, we haven’t touched anything.”

Massey states that they used CEDAR to address most of these issues. “On the earlier albums there was more sort of vocal ‘pop’-type stuff. It was obviously easier to hear and hone, because we had the band in one side and the vocals in the other in the stereos,” says Massey. “With the monos, because the picture is obviously straight down the middle, it’s harder to hear some of those idiosyncrasies. We didn’t do as much restoration work, because we felt it wasn’t necessary because we couldn’t hear some of the things.”

“Guy and Paul [Hicks] would go in and do the mastering in Steve’s room,” says Rouse, “and on the following day they would go into Studio 3, which is a room we’ve used consistently for doing Beatles remixing and listen there, because we’re familiar with the sound there and it’s another alternative listening room. If they decided they weren’t comfortable with certain things that day, they’d make adjustments the following day. Eventually, myself and Mike Heatley, who have been involved in the projects for years, would sit and listen to what they did in my room, and we would listen to them as they stood as albums and, if we felt there was still something we would like to hear a little bit more or a little less of, then we’d ask Steve and Guy.”

The speakers used to evaluate the masters ranged from large Quested and B&W monitors to listening on iPod.

While most of the public knows the Beatles’ catalog through the ’80s CDs, the role of the mono box was to please those who had the original mono albums and wanted to experience re-mastered CD versions that totally captured the spirit and sonic qualities of those mixes. While the mono mixes are regarded as the official mixes for the earlier part of the catalog, the new stereo re-masters will replace the existing Beatles CD catalog as the official releases.

photo of Beatles box set

The Beatles In Mono box also features the original 1965 stereo mixes of Help! and Rubber Soul. Those mixes have previously not been available on CD, as the original CD versions of those albums were remixes done by George Martin in the ’80s.

“He was never happy with the balance [of the original stereo vinyl album mixes] of Help! and Rubber Soul,” Rouse says, “so he remixed those two and was going to move on to Revolver and Sgt. Pepper and then realized it was going to be too difficult. So that’s why those two are the only ones that were done. We know that people wanted to hear the original stereos, so that’s why they were put out along with the monos.”

Most people familiar with the stereo CD versions don’t realize that it was the mono mixes on the original releases that received the most focused attention from Martin and the band. Aficionados of the mono mixes will quickly tell you they are masterful and probably the best way to experience much of their music, but as Rouse (who personally prefers the stereo) states, “Everybody’s entitled to their opinion and I think the monos have just as much mileage as the stereos. It’s just what you’re used to.

“It’s the stereo versions that are going to be going forward from here. The people that are going to be interested in the mono CDs primarily are going to be those who bought mono in the first place and want to get an alternative to the vinyl that they’ve got at home. So from that point of view, we treated them with a slightly more audiophile version. The stereos are slightly more modern. When you look at the ages of people buying Beatles, they’re young, but we still took into account the older generation of people who would still want to hear the stereos, as well. It was a compromise between trying to help them a little bit for the future, while at the same time still maintaining the authenticity of the past—whereas the monos are just that little bit more authentic, if you like.”

Visit Abbey Road Studios at

Mix’s former Nashville editor, Rick Clark, is currently working on a book that delves into production techniques: Mixing, Recording, and Producing Techniques of the Pros: Insights on Recording Audio for Music, Video, Film, and Games, published by Thompson.

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