Released yesterday on vinyl were the remasters of The Beatles’ mono albums, and to celebrate the event a listening session using some of the best High End gear was held last week in Abbey Road Studio 2, where many of their famous recording were made.
The tapes were played back on a Studer A80, and the new vinyl cut on a 1980s Neumann VMS80 lathe.
The mono versions of the classic Beatles albums were the band’s preferred format, not least because that’s how the majority of listeners will have heard them back in the 1960s, using portable record players such as the classic, single valve amplified Dansette.
Until 1968 each Beatles album had separate mono and stereo mixes, with tracks sometimes of different lengths and including varying elements: for example Helter Skelter is a minute longer in stereo and has a very different mix, with engineer Ken Scott revealing that in the later years the band realised fans would buy both versions if they were different.
And Scott also revealed that the famous jet engine sound opening Back in The USSR was different for the stereo version, simply because the original effect had been used so many times by then that it was showing wow and flutter effects.
Even then, not all the stereo versions met band approval: it seems John Lennon always preferred the mono Hey Jude.
For more on The Beatles in Mono see here http://www.thebeatles.com/news/beatles-get-back-mono
Yasuko Everard is the Hi-Fi Widow http://www.hifiwidow.com