Beatles mono mixes are all the rage; here’s why they shouldn’t be

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Only the last few Beatles albums were originally mixed in stereo, leading some bedrock fans to fetishize the early mono sound. Certainly, it’s what they grew up with, and then became reacquainted with when mono mixes of the Beatles catalog were released on disc in 2009 and on vinyl in 2014. But, are they better?

There has been much made lately about the superiority of the mono mixes of Beatles albums over their stereo counterparts.

Stereo LPs are suddenly viewed as suspect, as if stereo sound was an inferior way to present this group’s music. Magazine ads urge buyers to purchase the mono mixes of Beatle albums, “the way the music was meant to be heard.”

But show me a published interview where John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Ringo Starr, or their record producer George Martin indicate a preference for the Beatles’ recordings in monaural sound — other than in the case of false American stereo releases of the earliest Beatles recordings, which Martin disdained.

Show me a quote by any of the only five people on the planet who matter on this subject, where a member of the band complains about stereo being an artificial aural trick that was forced onto an unwilling band.

Save your time; there is no such quote.

The current mono mix bandwagon is largely a marketing tool. There are numerous valid reasons to own the Beatles’ mono releases, but not because stereo is the enemy. Tell me you prefer hearing “Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite” in mono. You don’t.

Tom Wilmeth

Tom Wilmeth

Tom Wilmeth, an English faculty member at Concordia University-Wisconsin since 1991, has given presentations and published widely on the topics of literature and music. Author of 'Sound Bites: A Lifetime of Listening,' he earned a Ph.D. at Texas A&M in College Station. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.
Tom Wilmeth
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