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#1202211 - 03/01/13 06:11 AM MonoBox--speaker config?
Popmann Offline
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So, obviously, every listening system for 35+ years has been based around 2-8 speakers...so much so that the generic name became "the stereo"...so, forgive a young'un for asking...but, what's the proper way to listen to the mono mixes?

-One speaker fed from one channel. (no such thing as a mono CD, ya know)-other channel just unplugged.
-one speaker analog balanced from two
-normal "phantom mono" where both speakers just play back the same material.

Maybe I should just ask how people who are digging on the mono box are listening.

I just started in...but, thus far...I've got to say--if someone has the stereo box, I'm not convinced these are far from just balancing to one side. These are less molested--as they ALL should've been...so, there's a nice softness to the high end that's been (i assume intentionally) hardened on the stereo remasters. That's a shame.

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#1202241 - 03/01/13 02:46 PM Re: MonoBox--speaker config? [Re: Popmann]
uptildawn Offline
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I know I'm not "digging on the mono box"..... I was SO happy to hear a stereo mix version of my mono records when I first began playing guitar that I've never come down from the initial high! \:\)

Personal preferences aside, "phantom", or "dual" mono is the usual method people use to listen to a mono mix on a standard stereo system. Of course, your mix must have been created, or re-created in mono in the first place... which I guess you are speaking of here?

Simply "balancing to one side" as you suggest may sound like the highs have been softened because you're listening on half the speakers and/or the speaker you are listening on has reduced high-end, or your hearing is lacking high-end response on that side of your head, if the speaker is not centered in front of you.

If you're really hankerin' for a true mono listening experience, find old mono recordings and listen to them on an old mono playback system..... like a transistor radio with one little pm speaker, or an old console record player. You'll be in mono heaven, for sure. \:\)
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#1202371 - 03/01/13 11:45 PM Re: MonoBox--speaker config? [Re: uptildawn]
Popmann Offline
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So...I just keep feeling like I want to turn these up. And then they're too loud. You have to use the phantom mono. One speaker, while crisper and cleaner--at least mine, can't push enough air, I guess. I find that even on the mixing system--mono just...I just want to keep turning it up...looking for...something..."I can't hear the other channel?"

That said...some, where the stereo was absurd (drums in one speaker...guitars in the other, or similar)...the mono definitely sounds better. I do wish they'd left the stereo mixes unmolested. There's no mistaking the nicer top here. The downside of that...Paul's bass is less featured. The really DID work some nice compression and EQ to pump that up...and since me is bass playa...

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#1202403 - 03/02/13 01:16 AM Re: MonoBox--speaker config? [Re: Popmann]
uptildawn Offline
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I deearly LOVE all of the "original" stereo mixes that I remember growing up.... that is, the stereo mixes released in the USA and of the first generation pressings. some of the later pressings (and especially those from 2nd, 3rd, or later generation masters) that were pumped out in the late 70's and beyond sounded absolutely horrible! To say nothing of the initial releases on CD, when that first happened.

Those original lop-sided mixes taught me tons about playing, listening, mxing and blending..... They gave me my initial urge to experiment with recording even before I could play guitar in any decent manner.

Mono is great, too, but I wouldn't give up those stereo artscapes for my life!

Somewhere along the way, someone got their sanity back and newer releases on CD sound really amazingly similar to the albums of old....

I've neveer gotten used to the CD releases of the UK versions of these albums..... the song order is all messed up, some songs are missing, others added and there's two too many songs!!! HA!

I used to know every song, in order, on every album at one point in time... At least I could sing every song without a break, but that was before I learned to play guitar decently.

It IS nice to finally have some of the "rare" songs on these UK releases, however. "And Your Bird Can Sing" is one of my ALL-TIME favorite songs, but I never had a recording of it.... only having heard it in the Beatles Saturday morning cartoon show.... which I also Miss the heck out of!

I was just listening to a few of the Beatles' songs with a student the other day and we were marveling at Paul's great bass lines!!! Awesome stuff!


Edited by uptildawn (03/02/13 01:19 AM)
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#1202450 - 03/02/13 04:33 AM Re: MonoBox--speaker config? [Re: uptildawn]
Popmann Offline
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Another bonus of the mono mixes...no stupid AMS box on Paul's vocals. In fact a good number in direct comparison, that's the main difference (other than the new mastering)...AMS delay on the lead vocal--not there on the mono mixes.

Mostly, I don't hear a big difference. I appreciate the light touch mastering...and the absence of autodouble delay on Paul's vocals...and some of the distractingly weird balances are "lessoned" in mono--like While My Guitar Gently Weeps's absurdly loud splashy high hat--is less distracting panned in with everything that sitting out on it's own on the left...

But, some of the oddball panning...and the AMS delay...are actually sounds I associate with Beatles records. So, this may take some time to sink in...

I REALLY love the absence of AMS. As much as I hate REAL vocal doubling...and pitch effects on vocals at all...

I don't know if I'll get to it tonight...but, there are original stereo mixes of a couple of the albums. It will be interesting to see why Martin wanted to remix them in 87.

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#1202489 - 03/02/13 02:06 PM Re: MonoBox--speaker config? [Re: Popmann]
uptildawn Offline
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You must be talking about the re-mixes done for CD release in the 80's in general here, correct? When you talk about mono mixes, I get a bit confused. I've never heard the big bundle of re-mixed CD's that everybody has been going on about..... it's still on my list of things to splurge on one of these days.

Since the original recording sessions that included stereo mix releases were also mono-mixed at essentially the same time, it's interesting to think of how they would have handled all the double-tracking (instruments as well as vocals) going on back then.

The only original releases I have today of the early Beatles records from the days when Capital released both stereo and mono versions are a few 45 rpm's and they're in nasty shape from being overplayed. I might have to pull them out to see if I can detect any of the doubling that would certainly have been on the stereo records. I would think it would still be there on the mono records, maybe not as apparent.

I understand, from a purely listening point of view, how irritating doubled vocals can be, as I am also put off by the excessive use of the technique on other recordings, but I am fascinated by the nearly completely manual methods (electronic and manual control, but not digitally controlled) the engineers at Abbey Road used back then to come up with the delay effects we all take for granted today. That may be partially due to how much time I spent trying to figure out (only somewhat successfully)how to duplicate the sounds I was hearing that grabbed my attention so completely.

From what I've read about it, Martin seems to have not at all liked the method used back then to produce those lop-sided stereo mixes, which was partially a by-product of the limitations of the four-track recordings, so it seems reasonable that he would have preferred to re-mix in '87........ I still find them endearing to hear in all their perverse off-balance.
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#1202520 - 03/02/13 05:28 PM Re: MonoBox--speaker config? [Re: uptildawn]
Popmann Offline
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Bealtes and Martin never intended the stereo mixes you heard (until somewhere around the white album, where they actually did both...and by Abbey Road/Let It Be they ONLY mixed in stereo).

In 2009, EMI release two sets of discs:

The Beatles in Mono: this was boxed set only...all the original mono mixes (and the original stereo mixes for the ones REMIXED in 1987). Abbey Road and Let It Be--not included at all, because the the mono versions of those were not different mixes, only downmixes of stereo.

The Beatles Stereo Box: This is the remastered discs available as individuals. The mixed here are the stereo mixes-all original, save the two albums Martin remixed in 87.

There have been no remixed Beatles albums, unless you count LOVE...but, I don't really count that. I have it...it's interesting enough...

Anyway--the significance of "the mono box" is two fold. It's realtively unmolested--ie, they transferred the tapes and digitally corrected whatever was lost for age/wear of the medium. The stereo box ARE REMASTERED--meaning, they have EQ'd the songs...compressed them...they are considerably more modern and loud and bright'ish. But, the likely more significant part is that the Beatles never had anything to do with stereo mixes until the end. I think Martin had to do with SOME, but not all. Mono were the mixes they intended. There's a quote in here about how silly Harrison thought the stereo mixes were...

BTW...Rubber Soul and Help are the two that Martin REMIXED in 87...and so those are the ones with both mono and stereo "original" mixes in the "mono box"--and I hear why he did it. They were even MORE absurdly lopsided--meaning the stereo mixes from 65. Pretty uniformly awful. Which is why he chose to remix those two in 87.

AMS was a delay machine that made McCartney's vocal stereo...so, yes--I'm saying that's one thing I REALLY like about the mono mixes--they didn't use it...it was never intended as a musical doubler...it was just a faux stereo'izing effect that the people who did the stereo mixes used to "show off" how cool stereo was, when they only had like 4 tracks to pan.

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#1202583 - 03/03/13 12:01 AM Re: MonoBox--speaker config? [Re: Popmann]
uptildawn Offline
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Interesting about AMS, since it didn't exist back when the Beatles were actually double-tracking vocals and then later using tape to double various instruments and their vocals without the need to actually sing or play the parts again as they had before....... I can understand why you wouldn't like the use of it on the Beatles mixes.

It's funny, but Rubber Soul is one of those albums that will always be dear to me, because of that stereo mix! Isn't that funny? \:\)

I used to spend hours buried in a pair of mono headphones designed for use with shortwave radios and the like, listening to one side of the mix of that album (and a couple others... Revolver, maybe? and Sgt Peppers) all the way from start to finish, then the other side of the mix by pulling the headphone plug out part way, which still allowed me to hear in both ears, since the phones were mono.

I suppose I meant remastered, as much as I meant re-mixed when speaking about the re-releases..... since I haven't actually heard those sets, as I mentioned. Thanks for the clarification. I still would really like to get a hold of those... wish I'd had the money back when, to get some of the Japanese import albums.... they were always a source of fascination for me, if for no other reason then how different they looked. I've owned , lost and re-owned a bunch of their albums, but never had a complete collection.
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#1202679 - 03/03/13 02:37 PM Re: MonoBox--speaker config? [Re: uptildawn]
Jazzooo Offline
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"There have been no remixed Beatles albums, unless you count LOVE.."


no so--Let It Be...Naked is remixed and a fantastic improvement, imo, not just for the removal of Phil Spector's unapproved production additions. Also, Yellow Submarine was remixed and is now probably the best sounding Beatles album. Fantastic work on that one, and a great collection of songs to boot.

I liked the crazy stereo mixes, drums way over there, tambourine way over here, fir the reason--it was easier to learn the parts for a little sponge like me!
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#1202772 - 03/04/13 12:24 PM Re: MonoBox--speaker config? [Re: Jazzooo]
flatcat Administrator Offline
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I have both box sets.

I only listen to the mono one for the most part. It's interesting to a fan - not an audiophile - because the mixes are not the same, categorically. Musical elements differ between many of the tracks. Not all - but enough. Little things, the little tag solo at the end of "What Goes On" from Rubber Soul is missing in the mono version. Just ... little variations.

But then - as I said - I'm a fan, not necessarily an audiophile. And a hearing impaired fan at that. So ... I don't always notice the types of things you're talking about.

I just like hearing them the way they were originally intended, the way I first encountered them when I was a kid - on the radio, in mono - and only later in that weird faux stereo, which I love for different reasons.

I do sometimes hear the stereo ones from Rubber Soul and Revolver, and I am constantly surprised because I still, to this day, hear things I never heard before in those records. Years ago, when the internet was relatively young, in 1996, when the second Anthology CD was released, and I heard the original version of "And Your Bird Can Sing", some things about that recording made me wonder if it somehow referred to the Byrds. At the time they did that tune, they were friendly with the Byrds - the Beatles' former press guy went to work for them in Los Angeles, and there was some hanging out together when the Beatles went to America. So I asked the question about that song on the Byrds' official website, and Roger McGuinn himself answered my email, saying that he didn't think so, but he knew that George had inverted the riff to the Byrds tune "The Bells of Rhymney" and created "If I Needed Someone". Which is now a frequently told story.

But what I never heard, until last week, because I happened to listen to the stereo mix of "If I Needed Someone", was what's going on in the rhythm section during the guitar solo. And what's going on is *the same thing* as what's going on during the solo section of "The Bells of Rhymney" - the guitars sort-of start playing a double-time rhythm, where they playing something more simple during the verses. It jumped out at me because I can only hear the one side. I was really ... wowed.

That's the stuff I like about listening to those recordings.

BTW - Sir George Martin mixed almost every one of those records with his engineer(s), in mono and in stereo. The Beatles themselves didn't really start attending mix sessions until about 1965 or so, and then they became pretty involved for the rest of their recording career. And the mixes the Beatles attended were the mono mixes. They were the ones that mattered, at least until the late 60s.

As for your original question, I'm pretty sure that in the early days at Abbey Road, there was a single speaker in front of the console. That's what the records were mixed on.
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#1203504 - 03/07/13 02:07 AM Re: MonoBox--speaker config? [Re: flatcat]
Jazzooo Offline
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I understand the temptation to stick to 'the way they were originally intended,' but the truth is that means on transistor radios and shitty little Victrola players too. ;\)

I've had enough of how they wanted it, with the state of technology of 50 years ago. I want to hear how they want it to sound today. And if you listened to John's and Paul's and George's later work, you know that they usually mixed in stereo. \:\)
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#1203509 - 03/07/13 02:47 AM Re: MonoBox--speaker config? [Re: Jazzooo]
uptildawn Offline
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Funny thing..... as much as I love stereo and the odd stereo mixes they made, I just got finished re-mono-izing (new word of the day) the psuedo-stereo audio track for a Beatles video I found recently... It sounds so much more appropriate for this old b&w clip.

It was almost as offensive as a colorized version of Plan 9 From Outer Space. \:\)
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