The Byrds " Mr. Tambourine Man" album: preferences between stereo or mono mixes- ???

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by dyno guy, Nov 19, 2006.

  1. dyno guy

    dyno guy Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    st.paul, MN, USA
    This is a progression from an earlier, excellent extended ( 9/05-4/06) thread
    on the MOFI mono SACD release of "Mr. Tambourine Man". For purposes of
    comparison, I used a 'tape drop' from the original Columbia ' 360 stereo' vinyl
    LP ( reference last month's thread " A Reassessment of the 1996 Legacy
    remixed cd" ) for the stereo mix, and of course the MOFI SACD for the mono
    mix ( unfortunately, I'm not a vinyl player anymore).

    Overall, I found the MOFI SACD mono mix had noticeably boosted vocals and
    especially tambourine ( as Michael Fremer did in a review in Musicangle
    earlier this year), deep bass filtered out but drums (mid/upper bass) EQ'ed
    up. This was the sound that the late Terry Melcher wanted in order to
    punch through the dominant mediums of that era, AM radio and low-fi home
    systems. A relevant technical point: the MOFI mono SACD is essentially a
    direct transfer from the original mono master tape. It should, and does, sound brighter than my 'tape drop' from the original stereo vinyl LP that was
    of course EQ'ed 'down' from the " cutting master": highs over 15kHZ rolled
    off , heavy analog compression, etc. for vinyl.

    The whole process of mixing from multi-track masters down to mono was of course an art and inevitably, a compromise. Take " I'll Feel A Whole Lot
    Better" : McGuinn's Rickenbacker stays relatively down/back in the mono mix,
    until the break, when Melcher pushed it forward; after the break, it's pulled
    back to a nominal level.

    IMHO, this song illustrates perfectly the limitations of the MTM mono mixes
    and why I totally disagree with Fremer's claim that " McGuinn's 12-string
    will hit your ears with more force and greater "jangle" in mono." ( Musicangle).
    NOT TRUE! The stereo mixes, as member ' Great Deceiver' correctly pointed
    out in the earlier thread ( 4/23/06,#201), showcase perfectly the
    Rickenbacker's jingle-jangle tone, the shimmering sustained ring achieved
    with double tube compressors. It's right out front for the entire song!
    Also, on most MTM mono mixes, you'd never know that the Byrds had a
    rhythm guitarist: on most, Crosby's efficient and underrated Gretsch- a
    nice counterpoint to McGuinn's ethereal, crystalline 12-string- is barely
    audible. It comes through on my 'tape drop' from the original stereo mix
    nicely, adding balance and tone to the stereo mix. On the original stereo
    mix of IFWLB, after the classic rhythm-lead guitar intro, the drums and bass
    thunder in like a stampede of horses! The bass is strong, the drums have good bite, and it sounds like a band playing on stage in front of you: during
    the break, there's awesome interplay between both guitars, with the rhythm
    section pounding away. Folks, you aren't, and can't, get that from the mono
    mix!

    IMHO, the original stereo vinyl mixes of "Bells Of Rhymney" and " Chimes Of
    Freedom' blow away the mono mixes, where the vocals are really cranked,
    not to mention the tambourine. The mono mix of " Chimes" sounds compressed, with no real low end, dominated by the Fender's plucking/
    pickup/amp( ?). The original stereo mix doesn't have as good a top end,
    but has much more impact, majesty, with a smooth sparkling sound to the
    Rickenbacker. Plus, you can actually hear Crosby's Gretsch in the right
    channel- good luck hearing it in mono.

    The worst-sounding song on the mono mix of MTM is " Don't Doubt Yourself,
    Babe" : the drums are virtually mixed out, the tambourine sounds like it's
    going to fly out of the speakers it's so loud, and (again) the vocals are
    over-cranked. The original stereo mix has deeper, richer low end, especially
    on the dynamic intro when it pounds in on the right channel after McGuinn's
    jangly opening riff in the left channel. Yes, the tambourine is strong in the
    right channel, but you can still hear the drums on the stereo mix- forget it
    in mono.

    To my ears, the best sounding mono mixes are "MTM", "We'll Meet Again",
    " All I Really Want To Do", " You Won't Have To Cry", and " It's No Use.'
    Except for WMA ( don't have it on my 'tape drop', but it's much stronger
    than the 1996 cd remix), I'd still prefer the stereo versions of the other songs.

    In the end, don't get me wrong : it's great that MOFI released the original mono mixes of MTM in SACD, and it's cool having alternate mixes to listen/compare to. It's a crying shame that Columbia let the original stereo master tape of MTM get destroyed/mangled over the years. I still have a
    tough time accepting that: somewhere, stuck in an old vault/warehouse,
    there has to be ... . I dream that it can be found (or properly restored -
    know that's a pipedream) and that Steve would have the honor of
    remastering it for cd and vinyl.

    Sorry for ramblin' again. Opinions, comments welcome. Out.
     
  2. dgsinner

    dgsinner New Member

    Location:
    Far East
    Re: The Byrds " Mr. Tambourine Man" album: preferences between stereo or mono mixes-

    I agree with most of this (after a quick perusal of your post--I'm lingering at the computer just before work).

    I agree that some tracks are just better in stereo--the most glaring example being Bells of Rhymney for me. I love the pulled up opening chord on Dave Crosby's guitar in the intro. It kind of gets buried in the mono.

    I'll add some spoiler info in this as well--I still think first press or early press US or UK mono vinyl have the edge over the reissued mono vinyl and the mono MFSL MTM. Don't know what it is exactly, tube cutting, different mastering priorities, or what, but the US and UK monos I have are significantly more 'alive' than any of the recent remasters, and have a different, if not better, high end. People have mentioned the effect of ageing master tapes as well on new remasters. Maybe a factor as well.

    Dale
     
  3. Spyro

    Spyro New Member

    Location:
    British Columbia
    I have the 1997 remaster and the MFSL Mono and I like the mono the best. It just feels right, and even if it is inferior to the stereo mix, for this music, mono is really the natural way.
     
  4. andyinstal

    andyinstal Runner for Others

    Location:
    Allen, Texas
    I have the mono vinyl and really enjoy it.
     
  5. fortherecord

    fortherecord Forum Resident

    Location:
    Upstate, NY
    I like the first and unremixed MTM CD on Columbia better than the '96 remix CD. The original 1A stereo vinyl pressing on Columbia is the best I've ever heard and I have several other pressings. It is a "hot" pressing.
     
  6. Derek Gee

    Derek Gee Senior Member

    Location:
    Detroit
    The stereo version rules!

    Derek
     
  7. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Your host Your Host

    The mono mixes are thin, bright, pinched and unmusical when played on anything but a 1965 GE clock radio.

    The stereo mixes are thin, bright, pinched and unmusical when played on anything but a 1965 Magnavox Console but at least they are stereophonic.

    The stereo tape is just worn out, having been used from 1965-

    The mono tape stopped being used in 1967 so it survives.

    I like that MoFi released this album again; it's a great one.

    I prefer the original stereo Columbia compact disc that is a flat transfer of the Columbia S.F. work part. If you love this album I guess you need both. Get that old Columbia stereo CD though; it's as good as it can get.
     
    McLover and George P like this.
  8. dyno guy

    dyno guy Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    st.paul, MN, USA
    Steve, appreciate your comments- great stuff as always.
    When listening to the MOFI mono SACD, I found it helpful to listen to just
    one speaker: that way, I could better focus on the sound/song and 'get'
    the mono mix.
    You're right: I kept looking for that old GE clock radio... .
    Also, I must confess that I 'retreated' from the SACD playback to standard
    redbook cd- my ears were ringing so much from the hot high end ( that
    tambourine hurts!).
    Guess it's time to put out an APB for that original Columbia stereo cd- clues/
    ideas on where to find it?

    Mark
     
  9. imagnrywar

    imagnrywar Forum Resident

    Location:
    San Francisco
    so are you saying that the old Columbia CD is a flat transfer of a worn out tape, or was the tape still in okay condition at the time?

    more generally, what would alert a listener to the fact that a "worn out" tape was used for a CD release?
     
  10. kevinsinnott

    kevinsinnott Forum Coffeeologist

    Location:
    Chicago, IL USA
    I almost always prefer mono mixes due to my observation that most arrangements were done "thinking in mono". In the case of Mr Tambourine Man, I think the lead track is better in pure mono. The rest of the record is fine either way. Most of the worst sins of 1960s multitrack stereo result in weaker instrumentals at the expense of wide soundstage. Whether by design or laziness, the Mr Tambourine Man album is pretty balanced and free from these excesses.

    I have the first stereo CD release and for me and the Mobile Fidelity SACD. I find myself playing the mono SACD more, but probably for its newness.
     
  11. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Your host Your Host

    My friends, spin these days can be very confusing.

    The stereo tape copy that the original Sony/Columbia Byrds CD was made from was not worn out. As you can simply prove by hitting "play". The reason is wasn't used for the MFSL SACD? Well, it's not the actual master tape, just a copy. Nothing sexy about that I'm afraid. But, give it a listen and you'll like it.
     
  12. kevinsinnott

    kevinsinnott Forum Coffeeologist

    Location:
    Chicago, IL USA
    Yeah, the original CD (I think mine's made in Japan) sounds fine. I've heard no dropouts or other "signs of wear". Best of all, take a look at the waveform and you'll see that none of the remasterers did any digital compression touch ups.
     
  13. imagnrywar

    imagnrywar Forum Resident

    Location:
    San Francisco
    ah, thanks. that's the bit of info that i wasn't clear on.
     
  14. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Your host Your Host

    If it wasn't for good tape copies, at least 1/2 of your favorite music from yesterday would have to be remastered from records.
     
  15. Great Deceiver

    Great Deceiver Active Member

    Location:
    New Jersey
    Re: The Byrds " Mr. Tambourine Man" album: preferences between stereo or mono mixes-

    Dyno guy: yeah I agree the 12 string comes through better on stereo, but the mono does sound more punchy and a better bass.

    Seems like we just have to have both :cool:
     
    Drifter likes this.
  16. Another Side

    Another Side Forum Resident

    Location:
    San Francisco
    Re: The Byrds " Mr. Tambourine Man" album: preferences between stereo or mono mixes-

    Steve, I have the original CD of Turn! Turn! Turn! and it sounds quite decent, but two of the songs are mono (the title song and He Was a Friend of Mine) and those two are very poorly transferred. Was Turn! transferred from the master or a copy?
     
  17. dyno guy

    dyno guy Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    st.paul, MN, USA
    ? for Steve or any other fans of the original Columbia '80s cd of MTM:
    when was it released, or, put another way, is the MTM cd listed on
    Amazon with a release date of October 1990 the one you refer to- the
    flat transfer one, without remixes??? My concern comes from that timeline:
    the old original Byrds box set was released around that time, and I don't
    need or want any early 'remixes' of MTM- I want the straight transfer
    from the copy tape. I would have guessed that the original Columbia cd
    came out earlier, say '86-'88. Advice/clues welcome. Thanks.:wave:
     
  18. lukpac

    lukpac Senior Member

    Location:
    Milwaukee, WI
    I wouldn't trust Amazon's dates...
     
  19. MikeP5877

    MikeP5877 Non-essential

    Location:
    OH
    Forget the dates - the easiest way to tell is to look at the bonus tracks. The CD with remixes has bonus tracks. The CD with the original mix has no bonus tracks.
     
  20. dyno guy

    dyno guy Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    st.paul, MN, USA
    With more listening to the MOFI mono mixes of MTM on SACD/cd, I've come
    to prefer the mono mixes ( over the original '65 stereo mixes) of the songs
    MTM and " It's No Use." What converted me on the latter was the boost/
    isolation on the lead guitar during the mini 'breakout' at about 1:20 in-a
    nice touch on Melcher's part that's missing from the original stereo mix. As I
    said before, the other song I prefer in mono is "We'll Meet Again". For the
    rest of the album I'm a strong stereo guy. The best of the rest in mono
    for me: "You Won't Have To Cry" and "Here Without You."

    On the issue of the actual song MTM being mixed in 'stereo' on the original
    stereo LP in '65, I do have to agree with other members ( namely David R.
    Modny, 2/17/06; and 'lukpac' posting in older threads) that it is in fact in
    'stereo'. Again, it's one of the narrowest stereo 'spreads' you'll ever hear.
    Like Steve, for a long time I thought otherwise. My 'tape drop' from the
    original stereo LP has +2/+3dB more output from the left channel compared
    to the right channel. When you A/B only the left channel from the stereo
    LP against the MOFI mono, it's a dead ringer for the mono mix. The stereo's
    right channel isolated is noticeably quieter, especially with the 12-string
    and Knechtel's bass. My guess is that Ray Gerhardt, the lead engineer, did
    the stereo mixes for the stereo LP MTM, including the title track ( assuming
    it wasn't Melcher, who had his hands full doing the then all-important mono
    mixes, and as we all know, didn't believe in 'stereo' in 1965.).

    In the end, kudos to MOFI for doing MTM and NBB in SACD from the original
    mono master tapes ( Shawn Britton, I believe). Now if we could just get
    TTT, YTY,....yeah, I'll stop dreaming. ( you vinyl guys have it made!).:)
     
  21. Another Side

    Another Side Forum Resident

    Location:
    San Francisco
    Re: The Byrds " Mr. Tambourine Man" album: preferences between stereo or mono mixes-

    If a stereo mix was not created, then a dub would have had to have been made of the mono mix and then added to the reel. That means that the master tape would have been played on a stereo machine (obviously since it's a stereo master), but the mono mix from that reel could never have been true mono. There are going to be slight differences between the two channels in any eventuality. And 2 or 3 dB's is not beyond the realm of possibility.

    But the biggest reason that I think it's mono is that the mix is completely different than the other stereo mixes, which all tend to have the same type of stereo spread.
     
    McLover likes this.
  22. Raunchnroll

    Raunchnroll Senior Member

    Location:
    Seattle
    Re: The Byrds " Mr. Tambourine Man" album: preferences between stereo or mono mixes-

    I still prefer the stereo mixes (except for the title song of course) even though I have a good original Columbia mono LP.
     
    ifyouever likes this.
  23. dyno guy

    dyno guy Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    st.paul, MN, USA
    Re: The Byrds " Mr. Tambourine Man" album: preferences between stereo or mono mixes-

    Roger McGuinn agrees with you, 'another side': As I stated in an earlier
    thread (Re: A Reassessment of the 1996 Legacy remixed cd MTM), McGuinn
    emailed me earlier this year, and I quote: "... there were no 'real' stereo mixes. Terry Melcher only mixed the singles in mono."
    Your point is well taken, that the title track has a totally different mix/'spread'
    than the rest of the original stereo LP. Go figure......
     
  24. wildchild

    wildchild Active Member

    Location:
    phoenix,arizona
    In the end, kudos to MOFI for doing MTM and NBB in SACD from the original
    mono master tapes ( Shawn Britton, I believe). Now if we could just get
    TTT, YTY,....yeah, I'll stop dreaming. ( you vinyl guys have it made!).:)[/QUOTE]

    They are all reissued on vinyl on the Sundazed label.:righton:
     
  25. lukpac

    lukpac Senior Member

    Location:
    Milwaukee, WI
    Re: The Byrds " Mr. Tambourine Man" album: preferences between stereo or mono mixes-

    You're talking about the title track? There isn't a question - it's true stereo, just not very wide. Not a dub of the mono mix.

    http://lukpac.org/~dave/mtm-stereo.mp3

    First is a dub of a 1A pressing, second is the same clip widened. A mess, but you can't do that with a mono source.
     
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