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PopArchivist
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Posted: 03 August 2018 at 11:46am | IP Logged Quote PopArchivist

I am quite aware that many posters as well as true audiophiles adhere to the Mono versions on CD or vinyl and not the stereo versions of song from the 50's and 60's and very early 70's.

My issue is that it is simply near impossible to collect the top 40 in mono when releases are few and far between for a majority of the hits of that time period. Most releases and various artists comps specifically tout great sounding stereo. Can someone explain to me why everything gets a stereo make-over when it was all mono in the first place? Why not be true to the release and stay mono?

I'm not speaking about the Beatles or Rolling Stones, there mono is out there. I am referring to a lot of recording artists and labels who simply have no mono release on CD. Is the stereo really acceptable or is holding out for the mono, even if it is not from CD, what most of the board members here do?

I would love to hear how everyone views the whole Mono vs Stereo issue of collecting and any thoughts on how they handle it and collect it.

Personally I get the mono where I can, but I am being real, some of it is simply not available on CD and will probably never be released.
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crapfromthepast
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Posted: 03 August 2018 at 12:43pm | IP Logged Quote crapfromthepast

I believe that the vast majority of CD buyers back then would have seen mono as a step backwards. Some would have argued that their stereo receivers had a "mono" button, and if they wanted mono, they could just play the stereo CD with the "mono" button activated.

Record companies knew this. When the initial flood of CD compilations hit the market, around 1987 plus or minus a year or two, the tracks were almost exclusively stereo.

Most CD buyers back then (and most non-audio people to this day) would not appreciate that many mono mixes were indeed dedicated mixes that often sound better than their stereo counterparts.

Example: In 1992, Motown finally came around and released the fantastic mono mix of the Temptations' "My Girl" on CD, but I personally have 11 pre-1992 CDs that include the dreadful stereo mix.

As for collecting and dealing with the many versions, I'll keep all the different versions I can find, and designate them right in the title: "My Girl [mono]" or "My Girl [stereo]". I'll also use [45 version], [LP version], [45 length] or [LP length] if it's just a length difference, [previously unreleased version], or any other descriptive permutation you can think of. It gets unwieldy for the late '90s tracks that have multiple versions on the promo CD singles, but it's better than just picking one and not knowing what it is.

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eriejwg
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Posted: 03 August 2018 at 2:07pm | IP Logged Quote eriejwg

I have been a wedding and event DJ for years and always
carried versions of whatever was available. I always
kmnew something was different about the versions of
songs I had but I just couldn't put my finger on it.

Then, in 2007, thanks to a link from a web page that
described DJ edits, 45 versions and the like from a
collection of James Abbott (RIP), I discovered this
forum. I immediately went on a 45 buying spree and
taught myself how to edit LP versions into the 45
version. The database on Pat's site here is worth every
penny to subscribe to.

Now, thanks to this site, I now know why many of the
stereo LP versions didn't sound right, it's because I
didn't have the hit version (if the hit was an edit or
mono mix etc.)

Luckily, some of the mono songs from the 60's are simple
stereo to mono fold downs, but it takes the knowledge of
some of the invaluable contributors to this site with
their knowledge.

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Yah Shure
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Posted: 03 August 2018 at 2:07pm | IP Logged Quote Yah Shure

I've always collected both, and like Ron, designate the differences when filing titles digitally. More than a few people have told me I'm crazy for not having sold off my record collection by now, but it's never been, nor will it ever be about the money. They simply don't or would never understand its value for research purposes, not to mention entertainment.

Unfortunately, the reality is that much of the mono world will only ever be available in vinyl form. There's simply not enough demand for it from the artists who aren't named Beatles/Stones/et. al.

Then there's the cost. I visit my neighborhood record shop about twice per year, and happened to drop by last evening. I spotted two copies of the Sundazed vinyl reissue of the United States Of America's self-titled LP. I've had the stereo Columbia LP since it came out in 1968, and was about to move on, when I noticed that the other copy was the "rare" mono version. I would have loved to have picked it up, but no way was I going to cough up $35 for the privilege.

In terms of actual listening, I'm nearly all-mono, all the time. I used to listen at the office on a stereo boombox off to one corner of my desk. One day, I found a pair of powered speakers that a co-worker had cast off. After retrieving them and hooking them up, I was happy as a clam. Two hours later, I disconnected them and reverted to the boombox in the corner of the desk. Why? Because I quickly found the stereo separation to be far too mentally distracting. Since the vast majority of my listening is done while engrossed in other things, mono is the way I still listen.

So if your mono favorites aren't destined to see the light of day digitally, the options are to make your own from vinyl, or find somebody who has a lot of the mono records you're interested in, lavish them with gifts of gold and/or more vinyl, and... and...

Um, I think I've already said too much. ;)

Edited by Yah Shure on 03 August 2018 at 2:09pm
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PopArchivist
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Posted: 03 August 2018 at 7:24pm | IP Logged Quote PopArchivist

The interesting thing is that I heard both the Beatles in Mono and Stereo on their box sets and chose the mono. There is just something about mono from the 50's and 60's that just sounds better for the group.

I think I'll eventually get around to vinyl conversion it's just that I was never a fan of the cracks and pops that come with the 45/vinyl experience.

Is there any specific program anyone uses to identify a mono or stereo recording definitively? Just curious.
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Santi Paradoa
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Posted: 03 August 2018 at 7:40pm | IP Logged Quote Santi Paradoa

I much prefer stereo, but there are quite a few tracks where the mono mix trumps the stereo mix. The example Ron gave us of "My Girl" is a great example. I think it's a great idea to have both to listen to if they are both available on CD. Same goes for the LP version where they greatly differ from the 45 version (like "Light My Fire" by the Doors, "Wildfire" by Michael Murphey or "Ariel" by Dean Friedman).

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NightAire
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Posted: 04 August 2018 at 10:03am | IP Logged Quote NightAire

It's worth mentioning that often tremendous care was put (at the time) into the mono mix while the stereo mix was a sloppy afterthought.

That's the reason the mono mix often sounds better; it was mixed with much greater care and detail.

If the original multitracks are available and great time and energy is spent creating a new stereo mix, the results can be fantastic. The recent stereo remix of "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" is a perfect example of what can be done when the producer truly cares about the final stereo result.

...Of course, that stereo mix will never be the original "hit" mix since the singles were being released in mono and we were all listening on mono AM radios... but still, it's not that mono sounds better on songs from the 60s as much as it is the stereo mixes were frequently a "pan left / pan right / press it" situation.

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davidclark
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Posted: 07 August 2018 at 7:17am | IP Logged Quote davidclark

I originally began as a stereo collector, having been inspired by
Dick Bartley's "Solid Gold Saturday Night" in the early 80s. I
enjoyed hearing rare stereo and newly mixed into stereo tracks
that continued to appear into the CD era. Then when I bought
Motown's "Hitsville", I realized how important it was to collect
the "mono hit mix" of late 50s through early 70s hit 45s. There
are many of these that have yet to appear on CD (many may
never), so as stated above, those 45 mixes have become
important to me. I know that there are many unique 45 mixes as
well as simple fold-downs of the stereo mix. For me, sometimes
it's easy to tell, sometimes it's not. So in a nutshell, I like to have
both the stereo and the mono.

I have a friend with an extensive 45s library (1000s), so we are
going through them together and I am pulling those that are not
yet on CD in mono, and that are clean enough to dub. All are
going to Markie for his listening. If anyone is interested in any of
these, I'd be more than happy to share.

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The Hits Man
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Posted: 07 August 2018 at 9:14pm | IP Logged Quote The Hits Man

I think crapfromthepast said it best: the early CD
adopters that collected oldies much preferred stereo,
and, unfortunately, also liked noise reduction.

But, the problem started way back in the late 60s, when
record labels decided that mono was obsolete, and,
without regard to history, sound quality, or differences
in mixes or recordings, ignorantly destroyed the mono
singles masters, which brings us to the state of affairs
we find ourselves in today.

As far back as the early 80s, I noticed that the stereo
mixes just didn't sound right, and was happy when Bill
Inglot started working to get it all back before it was
too late.

Fortunately, the technology is here to enable us to
recreate at least, some of those unique mono mixes either
with high-quality needledrops, or DES techniques. Some
companies realized that there may be overseas
subsidiaries and licensees with high generation dubs ans
safeties.

In almost all cases, I will take the mono single mix over
a stereo mix for historical accuracy.

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Paul C
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Posted: 13 August 2018 at 7:54am | IP Logged Quote Paul C

During the years that most albums were being released in both mono and stereo versions, the stereo version of an album usually had a list price of at least $1 above the list price of the mono version. And this was at a time that mono albums were priced at about $3.99; consumers who wanted the stereo version had to pay about a 25% premium. The portion of the public willing to pay this premium was not large.

When Clive Davis was the head of Columbia Records, he came up with the idea of eliminating mono albums, thereby forcing buyers to purchase the more expensive stereo versions. Other labels quickly followed, and it didn't take long for mono albums to completely disappear. Record companies either shoved the mono tapes deeper and deeper into their vaults or, in several unfortunate cases, disposed of the mono tapes. Because of the tradition of mono albums being priced lower than stereo albums, record labels for decades had no interest in digging out the mono tapes. Mono did not disappear because the public was no longer buying mono; mono disappeared because record companies eliminated this lower priced option.

The Rhino Beg, Scream & Shout! The Big Ol' Box Of '60s Soul may well have been the first release in which the compilers attempted to dig out the original single mono mixes. The liner notes even contain a message from Bill Inglot in which he almost seems to apologize for most of the tracks being mono. Even for this release, the decision to go with mono had apparently not been unanimous. But this box set would prove that there is a market out there for the original mono mixes.

Many late 1950s and early 1960s producers would often spend many hours on the mono mix and only minutes on the stereo mix (for which there was only a niche market at the time). In fact many of the top 1960s producers, including Leiber & Stoller, Jan Berry, Phil Spector, and Brian Wilson had no involvement at all with the stereo mixes of their productions.
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Hykker
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Posted: 14 August 2018 at 5:49am | IP Logged Quote Hykker

Paul C wrote:
When Clive Davis was the head of Columbia
Records, he came up with the idea of eliminating mono
albums, thereby forcing buyers to purchase the more
expensive stereo versions. Other labels quickly followed,
and it didn't take long for mono albums to completely
disappear.


What's interesting is that Columbia was one of the last
labels to discontinue mono promo LPs. I recall seeing them
at least until 1970 or so.
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