As you can see, The Beatles in Mono comes in a protective outer cardboard shipping box, similar to the one the Stereo LPs set was delivered in back in 2012. The sticker shows our Mono box was packed on June 18.
Like the Stereo box it comes delivered essentially as a box-within-a-box, providing very good protection and padding while the set is in transit:
In Australia The Beatles in Mono was actually available in store from last Thursday (September 4). The reason for the delay in posting these photos is that we couldn’t physically get to the shop we’d ordered ours from (the fab Redeye Records in Sydney) until today….a frustrating four-day wait!
Once removed from its protective packaging there’s a printed cardboard slip-cover which wraps around the box. Here’s the front:
And here’s the rear of the slip-cover:
Slip it off and here’s what you see on the front of the actual box itself:
FYI on the rear of the box is a sliced Apple logo:
The Mono box is exactly the same size as the Stereo box from 2012. If they are sitting side-by-side on a shelf they are pigeon pairs – one black, one white:
No need to go into hugely great detail about this set as there has already been a very early “unboxing” video released by Pete Nash of the Beatles Fan Club Magazine. That video is comprehensive and well worth a look, but here are a few photos of some of the detail contained in the packaging you might be interested in seeing – things that Pete Nash doesn’t show up close:
First this out is the beautiful, specially produced hard-cover book (still sealed in its heat- shrink):
Of course first album out is Please Please Me:
(Click on images to see a larger versions)
Each album (except the triple LP Mono Masters) is in a re-sealable clear plastic sleeve. This is different to the Stereo box where each LP was in heat-shrink plastic which has to be cut open to get to the cover and the record inside.
Here’s some of the detail in the printing and sleeve construction – all exactly faithful to the way this would have looked in 1963:
All printing and pressing of the box set is done by Optimal Media, based in the town of Robel in Germany. It has to be said that the quality and attention to detail is absolutely first-rate. The cardboard used for the covers is thick, and the 180g vinyl feels chunky and solid in your hands.
Each LP comes with individual 2014 insert cards, complete with mastering notes specific to each title:
All the labels are authentic reproductions of what the originals would have looked like at the time of release:
Magical Mystery Tour has the original booklet pasted inside the gatefold cover; Sgt Pepper is a gatefold with the cut-out sheet and a replica of the psychedelic pink inner sleeve; and the White Album is a top-loader, with The BEATLES embossed on the front, a limited edition number stamp, poster, four photos, and black inner sleeves – just like the 1968 originals:
Last album out of the box is the Mono Masters triple LP, containing all the singles and B-sides not captured on any of the original albums: A reader has requested we publish some shots of the record spines. Here they are – and yes, that is the way that Sgt Pepper is printed. It looks upside down, but that’s also faithful to they way the original LPs were presented:
There are only two bar-codes to be seen. One on the rear of the Mono Masters, and one on the outer slipcase for the box set:
(Click on images to see larger versions)
There’s a very interesting Billboard magazine article in which it is clear that these LPs are not “sanitised” versions of the mono releases like the mono CDs were all the clicks and pops and studio mistakes removed:
‘Five years after the Beatles mono recordings were released on CD, Capitol Records and Universal Music are fostering the notion that to hear the Beatles music the way John, Paul, George and Ringo did in the 1960s, a mono LP is mandatory listening….The mono CDs, which were cleaned up and re-EQ’d in a way that did not occur with the new set of LPs, “was an attempt to give the history its day in the sun,” said project supervisor Guy Hayden. “There was no hurry and, in true Beatles fashion, if you can do it better, you do it again,” says Sean Magee, an Abbey Road-trained engineer who oversaw the mastering of the albums.’
For a more in-depth review from a sound quality perspective have a look at this article from the audiophile magazine The Absolute Sound. Reviewer Neil Gader steps through a listen to of each album. As he says, “Spoiler alert: Wow!”.
There is also a great set of reviews of the sound at Analog Planet.
And who could have resisted this invitation to hear the Mono LPs launched at a function held in the actual place where these masterpieces were recorded – Abbey Road’s famed Studio 2:
Apple Records, Universal Music and Mojo magazine hosted a once-in-a-lifetime gathering for a select few at Abbey Road in London last week. Not only did the lucky audience get to listen to tracks from the new records in-situ on a £300,000 sound system (that’s A$522,000!), but also to hear a panel of distinguished guests discuss how the group recorded and mixed their songs. Read more here.