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Today there was a Beatles mixing session at EMI studios. Mixing isn’t very glamorous; it’s usually just some guys in a room twiddling knobs (if you know what I mean). But it is hugely important. You can have the best performances in the world, but if they’re mixed wrong, they’re going to sound like crap.

In their early days The Beatles were recorded on two-track machines, which made mixing pretty easy. By this point they had upgraded to four tracks, which increases the number of parameters involved, but their music was still mostly mixed in mono. Stereo mixes would eventually be made for Revolver, but stereo mixing was not terribly sophisticated in those days; it generally consisted of isolating certain instruments in the left channel and others in the right. This is why some people prefer the mono mixes of Beatles albums even when stereo mixes are available.

For these people, the Beatles in Mono box set that came out a few years ago was the holy grail. I don’t feel that strongly about it, but I agree that Revolver, especially, sounds more powerful and energetic in mono — if a little less psychedelic. A side-by-side listening makes for an interesting diversion if you have some time on your hands — which at the moment I do, so….

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