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Justifications for remixing the album

The most frequently quoted reason for remixing the album is that the band did not have a hand in the original stereo mix - it was left to George Martin and EMI's studio engineers. This version likewise was not mixed with the input of the band (half of which being deceased). The original was at least prepared by people (producer and engineers) who worked with the group day in and day out, including on the recording of the record, and would presumably have had some insight into their audio thought processes.

Likewise, Giles Martin and Sam Okell have been quoted as saying the new mix was created to capture the sound and feel of the mono mix. If that's the case, why bother? It's not like fifty years ago, when stereo was still a relative novelty, hyped as a massive improvement over supposedly outmoded single-channel recording. A stellar restoration of the mono version was created just a few years ago and is available, as the marketers say, in all formats...

...which suggests the real reason for the newly-minted mix. As the fiftieth anniversary of the album approached, the mavens at EMI (now Universal) realized they'd shot their wad by creating and massively promoting "definitive" stereo and mono versions of the commercial and artistic gem of the catalogue a few years earlier. Another collection of outtakes and false starts would have been greeted with yawns and presumably tepid sales, so - voila! - an even more definitive version of the stereo mix. This, despite the fact that no one can really say there's anything particularly inept, objectionable, or incompetent about the original stereo mix beloved by millions for the past five decades.

FWIW, I bought the box solely to get the 5.1 mix - if they'd issued it separately, I'd have opted for that, as I already have original stereo (Parlophone) and mono (Capitol) issues of the record. The surround version is nicely done (the crescendos in "A Day in the Life" are especially cool), though it's a puzzle why it wasn't done say, fifteen years ago, when DVD-A and SACD were the flavors of the moment. It's a nice curiosity, certainly not an essential, but a nifty little change of pace. I agree with John Lennon on this - the mono is the best.

Edits: 06/12/17

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