Monday, September 07, 2009

Mono vs Stereo

As mentioned in my previous post, we will be restarting Medicinal Music - The Blog by covering the remastered Beatles discography that comes out tomorrow. This is the first time since the cds were originally issued in 1987 that they were remastered to improve the sound quality. You've got two options with these remasters - the original mono mix or the stereo mix. Both mixes sound light years ahead of the 1987 cds, but there are some distinct difference.

For Beatles purists and audiophiles - the mono mixes are the way to go. In England during the early 1960s mono mixes were the standard. The band worked closely with the engineers to make sure the mono mix was true to their musical vision. Across the sea in the United States, engineers and record company pushed stereo mixes to targeting listeners who owned high-end record players. For The Beatles early records (actually everything up to The White Album), the stereo mixes were more of an afterthought, with the band not participating in the mixing sessions and (in some cases) had strong words against the studio mixes.

So what does this exactly mean? Well, the best way to hear to these differences is to listen with headphones on. When listening to the mono mix, you will notice that the left and right channels are exatly the same.When listeningn to the stereo mix, you will notice some sound separation (for instance, the lead vocals and bass may be predominately in the left channel, while the drums and guitars in the right). The mono mixes tend to provide a fuller sound overall while the stereo mixes (because of the sound separation) allows you to further appreciate the sound clarity imrpovements, by being able to easily focus on a specific instrument. At the end of the day, it comes down to personal prefernece. I cannot imagine many people listening to one of the mixes and being disgusted with the mix - especially considering that the sound quality is leaps and bounds above the previously available 1987s discs.

Thats all for now. We will go a bit further in depth with these sound improvements tomorrow when we begin reviewing each of these albums - starting with The Beatles - Please Please Me