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New mono vinyl set is the Beatles the way nature intended, engineers say

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The Beatles' music has been released in stereo on both CD and vinyl, and mono on CD but on Sept. 9, Capitol Records will complete the quartet and release their albums in mono (monaural) vinyl in a box set and individually. And engineer Sean Magee told Billboard after a special listening session held at the Capitol Records studios in Hollywood June 25 these new albums are the way the Beatles heard them. "We get it to sound the way they heard it, but we can reveal a lot more due to the equipment (of today)," he said.

The new mono vinyl albums were mastered on 180-gram vinyl from the analog master tapes, a departure from the previous sets which used digital transfers. The limited edition 14-LP box also includes a 108-page hardbound book. According to Billboard, the albums' packaging uses the pecularities found in the British album versions, which includes a top-loading “The Beatles (White Album).” Billboard said the albums heard in the Los Angeles session were the first off the production line.

The care for the mono mixes is in contrast to that of the stereo, Magge said, noting the mono mix for “Sgt. Pepper” was done in three weeks while the stereo was done in three days. The new albums were mastered in the same room at Abbey Road where many of The Beatles’ albums were done. Berkowitz and Magee spent the early part of their work comparing the master tapes with first pressings of the mono records from the 1960s. They used Studer A80 machine to play back the tapes. The new mono vinyl was cut on a VMS80 lathe from the 1980s.

Additional listening sessions will be held in New York and London, Billboard said. Steve Berkowitz, mastering supervisor for the mono Beatles albums, also was in attendance at the Los Angeles session.

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