Stereophonic Recordings (1960s)

Out of Balance Stereophonic Recording

Regarding stereo recordings, when stereo first came out it was a brand new world and exactly how to represent a recording in a stereo format was very subjective. Artists and engineers had varying opinions as to how much stereo effect (directional effect) was appropriate. Consequently, many early stereo recordings sound very gimmick-y and unrealistic with too much differentiation between the left and right channels.

Books have been written on what the best use of the stereo effect is, but it is my opinion that the early use of the stereo effect was over-used. This can be one situation where a mono recording can sound more natural and is therefore preferred.

Beatles first four albums
(Note: the first four Beatles albums employed over use of the stereo effect and is quite distracting)

Another situation that occurred in the 1960s was when a stereo master was not available to a label that was attempting to release a stereo record. This usually occurred because a stereo master was not contractually available to them because they did not purchase the stereo master rights. Often a company only purchased the rights for the mono master for release as a “single”.

To overcome the lack of a stereo master, engineers took the mono master and “Electronically Reprocessed” it to create a stereo-like effect by using echo, time delay, and other techniques to produce a sense of stereo spaciousness. These are virtually always inferior in listening enjoyment to a mono version.

This situation was particularly true with British Invasion groups such as the Rolling Stones, Kinks, Yardbirds, and the Dave Clark 5. Another cause was to save money with only a mono master being produced for a single, but then at a later date they wanted to make a stereo album using the same recording. This resulted in many stereo records of the era having a mixture of mono, true stereo, and “Electronically Reprocessed” tracks. And sometimes later re-issues or greatest hits packages would produce a true stereo version of a song that had never been issued in true stereo before.

Import versions of the same albums or greatest hits collections could often have true stereo versions where American versions did not, and vice versa. Sometimes you just have to carefully listen to each track and compare it to others to decide which is best.

There is not much logic to how mono, true stereo, and reprocessed stereo tracks were disseminated or where the best quality version of a recording might be found. One rule of thumb that I use is to seek a recording from the label to which they were signed in their native country.

Beatles Parlophone/EMI labels from England

So in the case of the Beatles, seek vinyl records on Parlophone/EMI labels from England if sound quality is most important to you. Other versions of the same recording may be of interest from a collectible standpoint due to their rarity, which another way of saying that the most expensive variant is not necessarily the best sounding.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

The Classic Vinyl Listening Experience

  • History

    Intro To The Classic Vinyl Listening Experience

    Welcome to the Sound Exchange reference guide about vinyl records. On these pages we will explore any and all topics that are relevant to the enjoyment of vinyl records. Read more...

    The Emergence of Long Play (1948)

    The Classic Vinyl Listening Experience began with the emergence of the 10” and 12”, 33 1/3 rpm, Long Play, Micro-Groove, Vinyl Record in 1948, and its smaller sibling, the 7” 45 rpm record. Read more..

    Modern Long Play Records

    The modern long play, micro-groove record brought to the market had a tremendous impact on artistic creativity. Read more..

    The Modern Vinyl Record (1960s)

    It has a relatively long playing time and does so while reproducing sound in what is called high fidelity. Read more..

    The Classic Vinyl Listening Experience Timeline

    Let’s put all of this information in the form of a timeline. Read more..
  • Analog Vs. Digital

    Which is better, CDs or Vinyl Records?

    This question can be reduced to studying their differences. Read more..

    How Sound is Created and Heard

    This discussion begins with the creation of sound itself. Everything in nature that creates a sound creates an analog sound, which also happens to be the only kind of sound that we can hear. Read more..

    Analog to Digital Conversion

    The digital process begins at the point where the electrical impulses generated by the microphone are encoded onto a recording device. Read more..

    Playback Pros and Cons

    An analog recording doesn’t attempt to describe the sound as it simply records its input continuously, so it doesn’t have the sample size and sampling rate issues that digital has. Read more..

    What about CDs?

    First you must remember that the specification for CDs was developed way back in 1979. Read more..

    My Thoughts on Digital Vs. Analog Sound

    The vinyl record is my preferred media for active listening to recordings made in the 1950s and into the 1980s. Read more..
  • Stereo Recordings

    Stereo Recordings

    Any discussion about music and sound reproduction will eventually make reference to how it is presented to the listener. Read more..

    Stereophonic Recordings (1960s)

    Regarding stereo recordings, when stereo first came out it was a brand new world and exactly how to represent a recording in a stereo format was very subjective. Read more..

    Mono Vs. Stereo Recordings

    Beginning with the comparison of Mono and Stereo recordings, it was typical that both mono and stereo records were made from the late 1950s until around 1970 when they ceased production of mono records. Read more..

    Quadraphonic Recordings

    Finally let me touch upon quadraphonic recordings as they appeared on vinyl records. Read more..
  • Turntables

    The Record Player

    “For the record,” a record player is generally thought of as a turntable with a built-in amplifier and speaker(s). Portable units are typically record players. Read more..

    Anatomy of a Turntable

    The turntable has several basic components including the plinth (base), the revolving platter, the tone arm, the cartridge and stylus, and the mechanical and electronic components to make it all work. Read more..

    Reducing Unwanted Noise

    Isolating the noise generated from the turntable’s motor from the platter is essential. Read more..

    Choosing a Quality Turntable

    So how do you know how good a turntable really is regardless of cost? Read more..

    Turntable Belt Replacement

    Occasionally, belt drive turntables require turntable belt replacement. Read more...

    All about Phono Cartridges

    At the heart of any turntable system is the phono cartridge. Read more...
  • Other Stereo Equipment

    Classic Stereo Equipment

    Stereo equipment is one more significant variable that can greatly affect the Classic Vinyl Listening Experience. Read more..

    Phono Preamps: Amplification and Equalization

    When the discussion turns to the phono preamps (short for pre-amplifier) we are really getting down into minute details of the record groove in order to understand its role and its importance. Read more..

    Purchasing Quality Preamps

    Like all components of a stereo system there are significant variations in quality in the preamps, which has significant effects on the quality of the playback of your records. Read more..
  • Vinyl Records

    On First Pressings

    Typically, a first pressing is defined as what the actual record album looked like when it first came off the manufacturing line. Read more..

    Grading the Condition of Records

    At Sound Exchange we use visual grading (as opposed to play grading) for our records. We do not grade jackets, only the vinyl itself. Read more..

  • Taking Care Of Your Records

    Record Storage

    Always store your records in a cool, dry, dark environment in an upright position (never flat) that is high off the ground, and that provides some airflow around them. Read more..

    Tips for Handling Records

    Always handle your records by the label and the outer edge and never ever touch the record grooves except when performing a deep cleaning. Read more..

    That’s Not a Scratch on Your Vinyl – It’s Dirt!

    Dirt and static electricity may cause good records to sound “scratchy”. A proper cleaning will remove dirt and static electricity from the vinyl. Read more..

    How Often Should Records Be Cleaned?

    Record cleaning, like most any other type of cleaning, is a matter of degree. Read more..

    Record Cleaning Solution

    Wet cleaning of vinyl records is the best way if not the only way to really get them clean and to get them free of static electricity. Read more..

    How to Clean a Record

    Use plenty of solution and really get the record wet while being very, very careful to keep the solution off of the record label, as it will cause the paper label to “rise” or stain the label, etc, and it will never look like new again. Read more..

    Salvaging Vinyl

    An old trick of “last resort” is to actually play a record while wet. Read more..