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Exploring/auditioning actual copies (monaural edition)

Now let's move on to exploring monaural edition.

At the time of this writing, I have four mono copies. Of course all four are MG-20449. Let's call each copy as [M1] [M2] [M3] [M4] here for convenience' sake.

BTW, like the stereo copies, all these mono copies come with completely identical jacket covers.


I have confirmed the five variations found on MG-20449. So now I have four out of five variations with me.


This is the label found on [M1] disc. This type is very typical and common among Mercury mono LPs since 1958.

  • black label
  • silver print
  • in bold sans-serif letters
  • “LONG PLAYING MICROGROOVE” and Mercury logo at the bottom
  • “MG-20449 Side 1” on the left side of the spindle hole
  • has DG (deep-groove) on the label

The earliest example of this label type (at least in my own collection) can be found on MG-20396. Preceding label type doesn't any letters printed on the left side of the spindle hole, while the catalogue number is printed at the bottom of the label like “MG-20326 A”. Like [S1] [S2] labels seen in stereo discs' comparison, it is highly probable that this label type is the earliest one of MG-20449, since most titles in similar period have this label design. BTW this label was disappeared and replaced with [M5] type (which has small oval logo) before the introduction of red Mercury label (starting from 1963 or 1964).


Next one is the label on [M2] disc. This label design co-existed with [M1] label.

The basic design scheme is very similar to stereo [S1] label.

  • black label
  • silver print
  • in bold sans-serif letters
  • large oval logo (with “RECORDS” on the oval)
  • “LONG PLAYING HIGH FIDELITY” at the bottom
  • “MG-20449 Side 1” on the left side of the spindle hole
  • has DG (deep-groove) on the label

This [M2] has larger oval logo than [S1], and [S1]'s “STEREO” print is replaced with “A PRODUCT OF MERCURY RECORD CORPORATION”. Otherwise, both labels have very similar design scheme. This [M2] type was used from 1958 to 1960, then disappeared and replaced with [M5] design.


This is the label on [M3] disc.

At a first glance, it looks similar to [M1] label, but actually the label has different label colour from [M1] - yes, this paper is very similar to stereo [S3] label.

  • dark-gray label like [S3] label (or even dark-green?)
  • changed to more bold letters
  • “Side 1” on the left, “MG-20449” at the bottom
  • has DG (deep-groove) on the label


This is the last one from my collection - the label on [M4] disc.

Like [M3], the label paper is not black but dark-gray. And the printed letter is narrow type like stereo [S4] label. Totally, this [M4] label is very similar to stereo [S4].

  • dark-gray label like [S3]
  • changed to narrower letters
  • “MG-20449-A Side 1” on the left side of the spindle hole
  • no DG (deep-groove) on the label


Although I don't have this [M5] type, but a certain person kindly provided me this scanned photo. Many thanks!

Basically this [M5] label has very similar design scheme as [M2] shown above, except the Mercury oval logo is changed to small type (without “RECORDS” printed on the oval logo). The label has DG (deep-groove). This [M5] is a direct successor to [M2] label.

This type is fairly common in 1961 (MG-20600 and on) discs and later. We seldom find this label type on pre-1961 discs.

Matrix Information

What about matrix stamps/inscriptions, which always give us more fruitful information than the label paper itself?

In the previous page, I showed all scanned images of dead wax, but in this page I will present the dead-wax info just as text information. Please note [M5] is omitted here - since I don't have an actual copy with me.

Label and matrix stamp on [M1] [M2] discs
Side-A: MG 20449A MS1    FF
Side-B: MG 20449B MS1    FF
Imprints emphasised in red, inscriptions in light blue, respectively.

Both [M1] and [M2] have very similar matrix scheme as [S1] and [S2], which highly indicates [M1] and [M2] are one of the earliest variations. BTW both [M1] and [M2] have MS1 postfixes, while both [S1] and [S2] (and another copy) have MS5 postfixes ... These facts are simply accidental, or do they have some inevitalities? I don't know for sure... Anyway, here we go for a next example.

Label and matrix stamp on [M3] disc
Side-A: MGC 20449A MS3    BH II
Side-B: MGC 20449B MS2    BH III

This [M3] matrix is very similar to stereo [S3], isn't it? Again, we can see the C stamped between MG and 20449.

Handwritten part is slightly different: BH inscription is obvious as well as II. I don't know the precise meaning of them, but it could be engineers' initials and stamper generations - but it's just a too-easy guess and not highly probable. we need more strong facts and many more examples of the matrix stamps to determine the answer.

Label and matrix stamp on [M4] disc
Side-A: MGC 20449A MS4    III-IIII
Side-B: MGC 20449B MS2    BH III-III

This is the last one from my collection - [M4] disc. Obviously, this is very similar to the matrix info which can be seen on [M3] disc. Furthermore, this [M4] matrix suggests it's later pressing than [M3].

Handwritten part on this disc looks slightly different like III-IIII. It could be III indicate mother sequence, while the latter IIII means stamper generation, but again it's a too-easy guess.

Inner Sleeves

I wrote in the previous page that three out of my stereo copies had inner sleeves. Strangely enough, as for monaural copies, only one out of four had an inner sleeve. Furthermore, it's not Mercury's one - I don't know why but it's Columbia's one. Well, inner sleeves are most unreliable and most untrustworthy accessories, so please ignore about this and move on...

(Nov. 17, 2004: Additional info -> please read further info on the first part of the next page.)

Comparative auditioning the actual discs

As I wrote in the stereo section, we must keep in mind that it is very dangerous and must be avoided to judge the freshness of each disc just by sound itself. Now here we go for comparative auditioning every disc I have collected, with many prerequisites and informative facts.

[M1] and [M2] discs, both of which have the very same matrix information, produce very refreshing monaural sound. Like [S1] disc, [M1] and [M2] have good bottom range as well as crisp high-frequency range. All sound sources (I mean all instruments on this recording) sound very clear, and are distinguishable among each other. Also, it's very powerful and “Jazzy” sound. One regrettable drawback is that in some tracks there are few seconds of strange phasing, probably due to down-mixing from original three-track master to mono master (which is common in all four copies I obtained). Anyway, [M1] and [M2] sound rather nice. Of course, the best-sounding Mercury mono LPs are far better than this LP - which includes Living Presence LPs as well as Jazz/Popular releases. But [M1] and [M2] sound better than my expectation anyway.

[M3] is not so bad - the difference between [M1] and [M3] is less than the difference between [S1] and [S3]. [M3] disc has nice high-frequency range, and hi-hat cymbals' reverberations sounds clear, although [M3]'s sound tends to be more bright side than [M1]. One big difference is the bottom range - for example, Paul Chambers' bold bass sound on A-2 can be clearly heard on [M1], while [M3] has less clarity. In other words, [M1] has more bottom sound than [M3], which is rather bright sound.

As for the last [M4] disc, it sounds very similar to [M3] disc. It has same characteristics as [M3] - less bottom frequency.

Upon such comparative auditioning, it is highly probable that [M1] and [M2] discs were the earliest pressings among these four. Stereo discs with SR matrix sounds far better than those with SRC discs as I concluded in the previous page. As for mono discs, the difference between MG discs and MGC discs is less obvious than stereo difference, but [M2] definitely sounds better than [M3] and [M4]. So, after all, we can (again) guess that [M3] and [M4] discs were pressed at a different plant from [M1] [M2] plant.

To tell the truth I already bought another [M1] type disc whose condition is far better than current [M1], so I will re-write the above discussion after I receive the copy. Also, I will continue to look for a [M5] type disc which I don't have now.

By the way, on all four mono discs I have now, I can hear the strange part whose pitch is swayed for a second or so in first few bars of the track A-1. Since this cannot be heard on any stereo discs, this may probably be a certain accident when mastering the mono mixdown tape (such that the engineer's hand mistakenly touched the open reel).

... continue reading this article ...

Copyright © 2004-2005 MATSUBAYASHI 'Shaolin' Kohji <shaolin@rhythmaning.org>
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