The Rolling Stones Mono Box Set From ABKCO Coming September 30th (Updated again)

ABKCO today announced the long expected Rolling Stones16 LP MONO box set, due September 30th.

The set will be available on vinyl, CD, Standard Digital, Mastered for iTunes, and TruHD (96/24, 192/24 and DSD) and totals 186 tracks, 56 of which have never before been heard in mono by "the digital people".

As with The Beatles, between 1963 and 1969 when these albums were originally released, the mono mixes were considered more important since that's how most kids listened both on the radio and at home.

And like the mono Beatles albums, the mono Rolling Stones albums have a directness and impactful sound quality arguably lacking in the more disjointed stereo mixes. In fact, the earliest records were never released in genuine stereo but album buyers in large numbers did buy the "electronically reprocessed for stereo" versions, which is one reason original monos in good condition have become so collectible—especially the rare UK pressed "London FFRR" records packaged in the American jackets.

Here is the album line-up—a mix of UK and U.S. releases plus a collection of singles and E.P. tracks:

1) The Rolling Stones (UK, 1964)
2) 12 X 5 (1964)
3) The Rolling Stones No. 2 (UK, 1965)
4) The Rolling Stones Now! (1965)
5) Out of Our Heads (US, 1965)
6) Out of Our Heads (UK, 1965)
7) December’s Children (And Everybody’s) (1965)
8) Aftermath (UK, 1966)
9) Aftermath (US, 1966)
10) Between the Buttons (UK, 1967)
11) Flowers (1967)
12) Their Satanic Majesties Request (1967) 13) Beggar’s Banquet (1968)
14) Let it Bleed (1969)
15) Stray Cats (a new collection of single A & B sides plus E.P. tracks)

Rolling Stone senior editor David Fricke penned the 5000 word annotation included in a four color deluxe 48 page "lie flat" book that features many rare Terry O'Neil photos. The LPs are housed in the original full color (where appropriate) album jackets that are presented along with the book in a one piece, specially crafted box.

Now for the details you really want to know: Bob Ludwig mastered at Gateway. I emailed Bob this afternoon. He told me he produced both 192/24 bit PCM and DSD masters (2,822,400) for project supervisor Teri Landi, who did an excellent job with the Decca era Stones LP box set cut from DSD masters.

Lacquer cutting was at Abbey Road Studios, with both Alex Wharton and Sean Magee doing the honors, all cut using DSD files. In an email Magee told me he cut "as flat as possible", adding "I love this job". Bob Ludwig added in his email "What a great way to spend a spring, a real tribute to Glyn Johns!"

LPs will be pressed at GZ Media in the Czech Republic—a pressing facility that did an excellent job with the previous Rolling Stones box sets. Yes, many of you are disappointed that the cutting source was not analog tape, but let's reserve judgement until we actually listen. The Decca stereo Stones box set sounds great.

I have original mono pressings (U.S. and UK) of everything in the box other than Satanic Majesties Request and Let It Bleed so let the comparisons begin!...well when the records arrive...

Speaking of which, the press release included an Amazon link. The price now is $391.95, with Amazon assuring buyers that if the price goes lower by the end of the release date, buyers will get the lowest available price.

BREAKING NEWS: Music Direct is now authorized to sell for the same price the the imported pressing of the box set.

Bigrasshopper's picture

The only two copies I own, the DSD and later PCM sourced vinyl reissues. While the PCM sounded fine, in direct comparison, the DSD sourced vinyl is smoother on top and at least sounds like I can listen into it further. Let's say it doesn't push me away on those brief but uncomfortable peaks, like the PCM does. I've read that Abbey Road doesn't do DSD. " You can't always get what you want ". And in the case of the Stones Universal box set, you can't even get what you need. " It's going to take time, a whole lot of precious time...patience and time, to do it right " - for me to acquire all the original UK pressings that I want. Expecting a label do do all the work for is perhaps expecting too much. But we can ask.

Michael Fremer's picture
According to Sean Magee....
Bigrasshopper's picture

That's good news ! Did I miss tha on first read or did you just add that bit of info.

Dr Freejazz's picture

I'll have to wait and see...
Besides, I find the price a little too high, too...


J. Carter's picture

They have a great exchange and price policy.

I'm sure everyone else will be selling too though.

Dr Freejazz's picture

...with their strategy of pushing away from business all the small and medium-sized stores, be it records or books. I happen to have grown up with such stores and quite adore the good ones. So there's no way I'm honoring this strategy. Unfortunately, it is successful enough even without me! Besides, the way amazon are treating their employees as documented in numerous books is nothing I approve of.

PeterPani's picture

Out of experience it would sit as dust collector on my record shelf after first listening. Digitized files on vinyl always sounds either boring, too clean or annoying.

J. Carter's picture

I don't think I can do a Bowie and The Stones box sets within a one week timespan. Looks like The Stones may have to wait.

Anton D's picture

"ABKCO" should enter the urban dictionary as a special form of musical evil entity that preys on musicians.

Kind of a musical succubus.

dmgrant1's picture

No Beggar's Banquet? What's up with that?

McFaden's picture

It is included.

kammerathdk's picture

Beggar's is included (Disc 13), but I think the mono version is a fold-down of the stereo mix (except from Sympathy for the devil) - if you got the stereo vinyl, just push the mono button on your amp when 'No expectations' starts and you got the mono. Speed issues on the original pressing is another issue - my unboxed Decca UK stereo still beats the corrected-speed SACD. Let it bleed is also a fold-down, I think.

musikman53's picture

Michael, can you find out if indeed the later albums (BB and LIB) mono mixes are just fold-downs of the stereo mixes or proper mono mixes?

mb's picture

Other than Sympathy For The Devil on BB, there are no dedicated true mono mixes for either album. They are both folddowns of the stereo mix.

wao62's picture

Have many of the originals, but would have bought this box within a moment's notice had it been cut from tape! Another missed opportunity. I wish these guys had taken the lead of the Beatles mono box. Part of the magic of vinyl is in the escape from our over digitized world. Does it really cost that much more to cut from tape?

AZ's picture

Not really. They just don't want to do it. Maybe those guys don't think it's that important. Which is sad of course.

whitem8's picture

Folks, how many of you have gotten the recent Exile Abbey Road half speed master? Well they pretty much used the same process and it came out incredible! They have used the original analog master tapes and digitized them to do the remastering. The clarity, depth and warmth should be fine, if this mono set will sound similar to the Exile we are in for a treat.
So this doesn't have me worried. However, I would like to know the definitive answer about Let it Bleed and Beggars. A lot of back and forth on if they are just fold downs. However, some sources say there was indeed true mono mixes for both albums. And no mention of fold down in this article. I would think they would not include those two if there was no Mono mix available.

Overboard's picture

What the difference between the U.S.A. & Europe vinyl boxes of "in Mono", since both were pressed in The Czech Republic? I'm taking a "wait and see" approach to both the vinyl & CD editions of this boxed set. ABKCO has a tendency to screw up Rolling Stones remastering projects, such as the wrong mix/take of "Ruby Tuesday" heard throughout the 2002 SACD series.

touwell's picture

As for the Beatles mono LP box, all vinyl boxes are manufactured at one pressing plant, which is CZ in the Czech Republic. CD versions of the mono box will have EU, Japanese[ SHM-CD format] and probably US pressings too [ made in Mexico ??]

touwell's picture

Since the news spread around about this mono box, I spent time listening to my original Stones mono records again.It takes time, one at a time only. Let it Bleed was released in the UK on mono vinyl in 1969. They have the red DECCA label and there were a few pressings with minor visual differences. I happen to have two so called 'unboxed' versions and one 'boxed'. This refers to the DECCA logo on the label. Listening to it now,in mono, the dark mix is superior in drums,bass and piano.The guitars are mixed a little to the background, but still sound firmly. MJ's voice is a little back in the mix, but still there. It seems some echo in his voice from the stereo-mix has disappeared in this mono form, which I like.Overall the recording sounds more balanced, although differences are minor, it's all about details.'Monkey Man' is hard driving in this mono-mix. It seems the fast numbers profit most in toughness and drive.'Live with me' has this stunning drum and bass in mono, and Bobby Keys' solo profits too. 'This record should be played loud', the inner claims, so true . I believe this DECCA LK5025 vinyl LP is a dedicate mono mix, although I have had other thoughts for a long time !