On September 9th the new remastered versions of The Beatles albums will be released both individually and as part of stereo & mono box sets (only the stereo mixes are being released individually, mono mixes are only available as a part of the mono box set.)
What Does Remastered Mean?
I won’t go into the technical details (as that’s more of interest to those who record and produce music) so much as to explain what it means from a listener’s perspective.
Mastering is the final step in the process of creating an album. In 1987 when The Beatles albums were initially mastered for CD, digital mastering for compact disks was still a pretty new concept and because of that, the mastering job done on those CDs (the ones that Beatles fans now own!) is notoriously poor.
In the years since the art of digital mastering has been greatly improved upon (although in recent years there has been a problem with over compression, but the “loudness wars” is too big of a topic to get into here.)
Over the course of four years all of The Beatles albums were remastered for CD from the original analog source. This was a painstaking process to get the sound of the albums just right.
So what that means for listeners is that new clarity and new detail can be heard. In some cases there may be parts of the songs that have been buried away that are now “unearthed” for us to really get a good listen to for the first time.
The Mono Mixes
The Mono Box Set would be interesting to Beatles fans even if it weren’t for the remastered aspect (but yes these mixes have also been remastered for superior sound) because this is the first time the the original mono mixes of all of The Beatles albums (at least the 10 Beatles albums that were ever mixed in mono in the first place) have been released on CD.
These original mono mixes represent the music as it was originally intended to be heard back in the 1960s. And it’s not simply a case of “purity” that should make one curious to hear these mixes because many claim that the mono mixes actually sound better than the stereo mixes in many cases. The most famous example of that is John Lennon’s insistance that the mono mix of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band was superior to the stereo mix.
I can’t say for myself that the mono mixes are better because like most younger fans who grew up with the CD mixes, I’ve never heard them! That’s why I’m so excited to finally hear them.
Buy The Beatles Remastered CDs. Individual remastered stereo CDs, the stereo box set, and the mono box set are all available for ordering.