Interview with Mike Jarrett about Beatles CDs

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by JW Pepper, Aug 24, 2002.

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  1. JW Pepper

    JW Pepper New Member Thread Starter

    United Kingdom
    Yesterday I picked up an old copy of 'Record Collector' (June 1987), and found the following interview about The Beatles on CD with Mike Jarrett;

    RC: How was the decision made as to whether mono or stereo CDs should be issued?
    MJ: There was a problem; whether to issue mono or stereo, or whether to remix. If you could hear the mono and stereo master tapes, you'd be in no doubt that the mono tapes sound better. I did check all the paperwork, and it appears that much more time was spent on the mono mixes, because back at that time very few people had stereo, In fact, I did prepare both mono and stereo digital master tapes. George Martin came in and give the OK for the mono tapes.
    The third and fourth albums were recorded in 4-track, and proper stereo mixes are obviously available; but even with these albums they were produced for a predominantly mono market. That's why they were issued on CD in mono.

    RC: When you were mastering the CDs, did you play with the sound of the original tape, to add equalisation or compression?
    MJ: Again, I referred to the original documentation to see what was done in the Sixties. I've had a couple of years' experience as a cutting engineer, so I knew what changed had to be made for purely technical reasons and what had been done for artistic reasons, so I hope I managed to get the best from the tapes.
    I even did experiments with running the master tapes through the machines that were actually in use at the time; but i found that the best sound came from using modern machines with 2-track heads.

    RC: How have the master tapes stood up over the years?
    MJ: Very well indeed. We do store our master tapes exceptionally carefully. They're sealed in plastic bags and then sealed again in tins, and kept in a special vault which has specific temperature and humidity. I did have a couple of heart-stopping moments when some of the joins fell apart, but I just rejoined them with modern editing tape. The problem was the way that the original splices were done; age has just dried up the paste they had used for editing!

    RC: "Help!", "Rubber Soul" and "Revolver" were the next three CDs to be issued, all stereo, but "Help!" and "Rubber Soul" were remixed. Why was that?
    MJ: I prepared digital stereo master tapes for CD production from the original stereo tapes for those albums. George Martin came in to listen to the results, and with "Help!" and "Rubber Soul" he though the quality of the CDs would be improved if we went back to the 4-track tapes and remixed. So I transferred the original 4-track tape onto a digital multi-track machine, and along I put the original stereo mix, so George had a reference of what he had done originally. The remixes were then done from these digital tapes.

    RC: Why was the opportunity not taken to prepare a proper stereo mix of "Rubber Soul", because the original mix is very basic, with most of the instruments on the left and the voices on the right?
    MJ: That must be a question for George, really, but I guess if anyone purposely 'tampered' with the mixes, most Beatles fans would get annoyed. The idea is to improve the tapes technically, but not in a way that destroys their original qualities.

    RC: Why was "Revolver" left alone?
    MJ: Mainly because the master tape sounded so good. A remix of that album would have been slightly more difficult, as some effects on certain tracks were mixed live onto the original master tape.

    RC: "Sgt. Pepper" is about to be released on CD. How does it sound?
    MJ: "Pepper" sounds great on CD. The stereo is used very creatively, almost as if it was part of the 'story'.

    RC: You're currently working on the 'White Album'. One or two of the tracks on that album are slightly hissy - how have you coped with that?
    MJ: We have had to use noise gates and filters and so on, but we have kept their use to a minimum. The problem is that the more processing you use, the more you interfere with the original recording. People must accept that we're talking about a 19-year old recording, and so it will clearly have hiss etc., that mightn't have been present on a 1987 recording.

    RC: The question we have to ask about the man who's prepared The Beatles CDs: are you yourself a Beatles fan?
    MJ: I wasn't a Beatles fanatic, I must confess, though since I have been doing the CD work I have begun to appreciate them a great deal more. It's great just being able to listen to the master tapes and not having to suffer the crackles and pops you get when you're playing the records.

    RC: Are there any other archive CDs that you have been working on?
    MJ: I've just finished working on an Animals CD, and that sounds pretty good as well!
    lukpac likes this.
  2. proufo

    proufo Active Member

    Hello JW.

    Thanks for taking the time and effort to transcribe this.

    I had the opportunity to listen to a pair of Polk Audio SDAs some years ago. The opposite-ear cancelling effect creates a different experience, not far form a remix.

    I was able to enjoy fully not-familiar albums but the ones I knew distracted me.

    But I'm sure that after a while I would get used to that and arguably have a better overall experience.

    Won't we get used and eventually be more satisfied with stereo remixes that sounded the same but were spatially more "correct" than those those early-stereo mixes?
  3. John B

    John B Once Blue Gort,<br>now just blue.

    Toronto, Canada

    Thanks for taking the trouble. I had always wondered how they reduced the hiss on the White Album as they didn't use no-noise until Abbey Road.

    The mono albums were mastered from two track! Another no no.

    We can all dream about having the music properly done one day.........
  4. aashton

    aashton Here for the waters...

    Gortshire, England
    Hi JW

    You didn't by any chance pick it up at the record fair just off Tottenham Court Rd did you ?

    All the best - Andrew
  5. mandrake

    mandrake New Member


    It would be interesting to have stereo remixes of A Hard Day's Night, Beatles For Sale, Help! & Rubber Soul as long as these were marketed as a seperate product from the real stereo and mono mixes which should IMO always be the 'standard' versions of these albums. Personally, I love these stereo mixes (apart from 'Rubber Soul'). I have stereo needle drops of the first six that blow the EMI editions away.
  6. mandrake

    mandrake New Member

    We can only hope that Steve will be allowed to do them, once they have finally got rid of Mew and his grubby Sonic Solutions system.
  7. musicfan37

    musicfan37 Forum Resident

    I do sure hope Steve gets the chance to do the Beatles releases justice.
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