"The Original Mono Recordings" box set features Bob Dylan's first eight albums, available on CD and in their original release format, mono LPs (and on MP3, sans box). The set runs from his first album, "Bob Dylan," released in March 1962, to "John Wesley Harding" from late December 1967. At that time most people listened to Dylan's music over mono AM radios in the car, mono portable radios, or mono home hi-fi systems. Sure, stereo Dylan LPs were simultaneously released with the monos, but it's my best guess that Dylan and his production team listened to the mono mixes in the studio. Besides, mono LPs retailed for $2.98 in the early 1960s, and stereo LPs were a buck more, so most kids bought the mono, even if they had a stereo (that would include me). "John Wesley Harding" was the last mono LP from Dylan; after that all subsequent American releases were stereo only. So unless you have original 1960s-era LPs, chances are you've never heard the mono mixes.
I spoke with reissue producer Steve Berkowitz to get more details about how the transfers were done. He assured me the 96/kHz-24-bit resolution digital masters were made from the original analog master tapes, played on vintage mono tape machines, and that the LPs were cut directly from the analog masters. I was relieved to hear that; most, no, nearly all newly recorded or remastered old analog music that comes out on LP is sourced from digital masters. "The Original Mono Recordings" on LP are pure analog discs, with no digital conversions whatsoever in the mastering process. The LPs were cut here in NYC at Sterling Sound by George Marino, a true master of the record-cutting lathe.
Berkowitz stressed the guiding principle for everyone involved, including engineer Mark Wilder and producer Jeff Rosen, was to make the new LPs sound as close to the first generation American LPs as possible. Berkowitz said, "We went back and forth comparing the new mono LPs and CDs with the original LPs. They were the 'masters' we served to replicate." … Read more