Mass Media & Technology

Techy radio question

People couldn't hear bits of Radio 1

This site closed in March 2021 and is now a read-only archive
MI
Michael
I apologise for my inferior hearing. I'll just go and stand in the corner with all the other lepers.

Elitist berk.

I really hope you're not coming over to the new place. You will probably be the cause of me being banned otherwise.
NJ
Neil Jones Founding member
Sounds like those godawful Beatles compilations where they've split four mono tracks over two left and two right channels, where you end up with drums in one ear and vocals in the other.


I must respectfully disagree. There is definitely something "up" with the first two clips used in the programme to my mind, but I would struggle to suggest the end result resembles "godawful Beatles compilations".
DO
dosxuk
I apologise for my inferior hearing. I'll just go and stand in the corner with all the other lepers.

Elitist berk.

I really hope you're not coming over to the new place. You will probably be the cause of me being banned otherwise.


Wow.

You're describing the phenomenon of "stereo audio" where you put different audio into the left and right tracks. Yes, the Beatles were very fond of doing things like putting instruments on one track and the vocals on the other. You can do this for all sorts of creative reasons and is perfectly acceptable (if a little bit weird when done to the extent the Beatles experimented with - but it's a bit like the idea that colour TV needed to be super saturated and gaudy in it's infancy).

The audio being described in this thread is the phenomenon of "out-of-phase" where one track is the complete opposite of the other track. While it's *very* occasionally done on purpose, it's almost always a mistake or a fault. It's one of the most important things to check in broadcast because when it happens it causes people watching with mono speakers to hear nothing. It would never intentionally be broadcast, even if you wanted to do something weird.

This isn't about people having superior hearing, or being elitist. They are two completely different things and you are incorrect when suggesting they are the same or related.
UK
UKnews

You're describing the phenomenon of "stereo audio" where you put different audio into the left and right tracks. Yes, the Beatles were very fond of doing things like putting instruments on one track and the vocals on the other. You can do this for all sorts of creative reasons and is perfectly acceptable (if a little bit weird when done to the extent the Beatles experimented with - but it's a bit like the idea that colour TV needed to be super saturated and gaudy in it's infancy).

Going rather OT here, but....

It wasn’t really something The Beatles themselves decided to do, it was quite common for them not to be present when the stereo mixes were being done. The mono mixes got all the creative attention because that was what most people would buy and hear. Apart from the last two albums, which were only mixed and released in stereo. (Any mono versions were simply ‘fold downs’ of the stereo mix.)

The stereo mixes were often rushed in comparison and some include mistakes (fades at the wrong time, one song mastered at the wrong speed). Ironically the mono versions were eventually discontinued and everyone had to buy the stereo ones, the mono becoming collectors items. They’re still not on the streaming services. (Helps me justify spending the money on the box set of them.)

It was partly a technical limitation of only being able create a final mix from two or four tracks but also a desire to make sure people buying the stereo LPs were getting something noticeably different, lest there be any complaints on that front. Add in the fact that a lot of people were listening on expensive stereos rather than headphones where a wide stereo mix from four tracks becomes even more obvious.

What’s odd is that the approach jumps about between albums, one more subtle panning, the next extreme, then back to more subtle.

Once it got to eight tracks things ‘improved’ a bit, but you’ve still got lead vocals panned to one side and things like that. It was a few years later before thing settled down, extra tracks and layering helping to build things up.

It wasn’t only The Beatles - they’re just the best known example - there are plenty of other ‘extreme’ stereo mixes from the same period.

This is one of the reasons the Giles Martin remixes are really interesting and a great listen. He’s used the mono mixes as a guide (to overall levels) but with modern technology has been able to create much more listenable stereo mixes. Even for ‘Abbey Road’, which was the stereo mix least in need of attention, he’s done something that is a more coherent listen in headphones. As for the new stereo mix of Sgt Pepper’s - well have a listen, to me it’s night and day.
Last edited by UKnews on 21 March 2021 10:34pm - 3 times in total
SP
Steve in Pudsey
I apologise for my inferior hearing. I'll just go and stand in the corner with all the other lepers.

Elitist berk.

I really hope you're not coming over to the new place. You will probably be the cause of me being banned otherwise.

No. It's you that's going to get you banned if you think throwing your toys out of the pram when somebody correctly points out that you've got the wrong end of the stick is an acceptable way to behave on a forum.
SC
scottishtv Founding member
Given the forum's closing, future readers with a keen ear for out of phase panpipes will be able to hear them (or not) on the podcast from 26:22. Now saved for posterity...
JA
james-2001
Indeed you're right, if I flip VLC between mono and stereo, the music goes silent.
JA
james-2001
Going rather OT here, but....

It wasn’t really something The Beatles themselves decided to do, it was quite common for them not to be present when the stereo mixes were being done. The mono mixes got all the creative attention because that was what most people would buy and hear. Apart from the last two albums, which were only mixed and released in stereo. (Any mono versions were simply ‘fold downs’ of the stereo mix.)

The stereo mixes were often rushed in comparison and some include mistakes (fades at the wrong time, one song mastered at the wrong speed). Ironically the mono versions were eventually discontinued and everyone had to buy the stereo ones, the mono becoming collectors items. They’re still not on the streaming services. (Helps me justify spending the money on the box set of them.)



Considering the fact you could argue the mono versions are the definitive versions, with much more time spent on them and the Beatles themselves actually present, and the stereo versions were rushed, often inferior and messy verisons without the Beatles input, it does seem bizarre that the stereo versions have become the only versions generally available for decades, apart from limited collectors' releases.

I guess it's the same as how botched, cropped HD "remasters" of TV shows often become the main distributed versions these days (i.e. The Simpsons, Baywatch and Buffy The Vampire Slayer, or, while still 4:3, the awful psuedo-HD Fresh Prince of Bel-Air copies on Sky Comedy and the BBC iPlayer which have gone through a 60i>24p conversion) even though they're a mess and clearly an inferior product even if they are HD and widescreen.

I guess you could say the HD remasters of shows that have been done right are the eqivalent of the new Giles Martin stereo mixes of the Beatles albums you mentioned. But the inferior, rushed approach still seems to be taken far too often.
VM
VMPhil
Whilst this is going to take the thread even further off topic, I don't think it is clear cut to say that all the mono versions are better than the stereo. Even the first album recorded on twin-track has quite a natural stereo soundstage due to the bleed across both channels (just a shame that they didn't have one more track to centre the vocals). Beatles for Sale is another early album that sounds gorgeous in stereo.

My understanding is that the idea that the Beatles only spent any amount of time on the mono version is largely true, but has been exaggerated. For example, they spent more time on the stereo version of 'A Day in the Life' on Sgt. Pepper than the mono, and quite frankly it shows. The mono version is very sloppy in comparison - for me the stereo version is the definitive version of that song, although for the rest of the album I prefer mono.

Not a huge fan of the Giles remixes. Far too loud and compressed, IMO. There's also a lot of changes that irk me as someone very familiar with the original versions, and I don't like the fake stereo effects applied to certain instruments.

I'm a bit offended by the comparison of contemporary 1960s stereo mixes* with after-the-fact HD remasters/crops of TV shows! As mentioned above, it was just the style of the time.**


*Except for Help and Rubber Soul which are 1980s remixes by George Martin on both the 1987 and 2009 CDs but don't sound that much different for some reason!

**Except for Rubber Soul where they went back to putting the vocal only on one side apparently because of worries that people listening to stereo records on mono equipment wouldn't hear the vocals properly. (Which begs the question what is the point of mixing a stereo record for listening to in mono?!)


Sorry but mention the Beatles and you will not be able to shut me up…
Steve in Pudsey and UKnews gave kudos
JA
james-2001
I'm a bit offended by the comparison of contemporary 1960s stereo mixes* with after-the-fact HD remasters/crops of TV shows! As mentioned above, it was just the style of the time.**


My comment was really that it's down to the fact these versions tend to become the only versions available because someone's decided people don't want something that's "old" technology (i.e. mono, SD, 4:3, black & white) even when the more "high-tech" (stereo, colour, HD, widecreen etc) versions are inferior, rather than trying to draw comparisons with 60s Beatles records and modern botched remasters.
RI
Richard
I'm a bit offended by the comparison of contemporary 1960s stereo mixes* with after-the-fact HD remasters/crops of TV shows! As mentioned above, it was just the style of the time.**


My comment was really that it's down to the fact these versions tend to become the only versions available because someone's decided people don't want something that's "old" technology (i.e. mono, SD, 4:3, black & white) even when the more "high-tech" (stereo, colour, HD, widecreen etc) versions are inferior, rather than trying to draw comparisons with 60s Beatles records and modern botched remasters.


It reminds me of a Laurel and Hardy DVD (or possibly VHS video tape) which was released a number of years ago. It was based on a badly colourised version which had been converted to B&W resulting in rather poor picture quality - it would have been better just to use the original version.
UK
UKnews
All very fair points VMPhil- I thought I could get geeky about The Beatles!

I was generalising to an extent. There certainly are some tracks where the band and/or George Martin seem to have paid attention to the stereo mix and others which are just really bad. The problem with ‘Day in the Life’ is that once I’ve you’ve heard the mono version of the opening track on that album I wouldn’t want to go back to the (original) stereo.

For me “All You Need is Love” is one of the tracks where the stereo mix just seems to have the levels all wrong, the song not holding together at all- especially at the start.

That link (until it descends into algebra) does give the best suggestion why Rubber Soul in stereo was mixed as it does. I wasn’t aware of that theory before.

We’ll have to agree to disagree on the Giles Martin remixes. I like them as an alternative to the mono versions. It’s things like the vocals on ‘Here Comes The Sun’ not being centred on the original mix that slightly irk me, which he then changed. I can live with the extra compression and just go back to the mono (or original stereo in the case of Abbey Road) if I don’t like it.

And that explanation about Rubber Soul even brings things back round to the risk of phasing...

Or maybe in the ‘new place’ we’ll have to have a thread discussing the mono and stereo versions of the Beatles songs Wink
VMPhil and Steve in Pudsey gave kudos

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