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Deconstructing The Beatles

For students of the music of the Beatles, there are many ways to dissect the recordings of the Beatles, to learn more about how the recordings were made.

A method known as the OOPS effect can be used on all of your stereo recordings to hear them in a way you've never heard them before. The OOPS process has also been used by some unscrupulous bootlegers to create and sell "new mixes" of previously available material.

What is OOPS?

OOPS stands for Out Of Phase Stereo. It is a simple technique used to process the two channels of modern stereo recordings into a "new", third channel, enabling us uncover "hidden" sounds in stereo recordings. The resulting OOPSed signal is a single channel, mono signal.

This process is also known as "Left Minus Right". When Quadraphonic recording was the rage in the seventies, OOPS or Left Minus Right was used as a cheap way of creating a new, third channel to increase the stereo listening experience.

Why OOPS Works

The speakers (or headphones) of your stereo system convert an electrical signal into sound, by moving the speaker cone in relation to the postive and negative waves in the signal.

In the simple example of a pure tone, the electrical signal makes the speaker "oscillate" (move back and forth rapidly) by moving one way, outwards for example, on the positive (+) halves of the electrical waves, and move back the other way on the negative halves. The speaker cone movement makes the air in front of it move, and this frequently oscillating air reaches your ears as sound. This single wave is a "frequency" (how frequently the sound moves back and forth) and you hear it as a tone.

Recorded sound is made up of many of these elecrtrical waves in various combinations relating to the frequencies in the sounds being recorded.

Now, imagine two signals that are identical, except they are "out of phase" with each other, that is, that when one signal is having a postive wave peak, the other is having an identical negative peak.

If these signals are mixed together, they will cancel each other out. The positive peak of the first signal tries to make the speaker move out, but as it does, it is counteracted by the equal but opposite negative peak from the second signal, which tries to pull the speaker cone back in, so no sound results.

Now the good part!

In a stereo recording, some of the sounds are recorded on the left channel, and some are recorded on the right channel. However, because of the mixing done during the recording process, some sounds are on BOTH channels. It is very common in modern stereo recordings, for example, for the instruments to be in stereo (different) on both sides, and the vocal to be "in the middle", by having it mixed into both channels.

Now, if you took one of the channels of the above example and combined it OUT OF PHASE (plus to minus and minus to plus) with the other channel, whatever was THE SAME in both channels would cancel out, and you would hear only what was DIFFERENT in both channels. In our example, you would cancel the vocal, and hear only the instrumental accompaniment.

Here are some instructions on various ways to hear OOPS in your very own home!

For more about OOPS, also see Beatles Tracks: Behind The Scenes.

Recommended OOPSable CD List

The following recordings sound very dramatically changed when listened to using the OOPS technique. (Of course it's fun to listen to everything this way!) CDs OOPS the best of any home playback medium because there is no possibility of phase difference from the original source material, unlike a tape or LP.

Unless noted, only the rhythm track remains after being OOPSed. Notes indicate what is left when track is OOPSed.

The Beatles

The list of OOPSable Beatles CDs starts with Help! because the CDs before that are mono and cannot be OOPsed.

Dizzy Miss Lizzie

Rubber Soul

Eleanor Rigby - Vocals Only
She Said She Said
For No One
Tomorrow Never Knows - John Vocal and Sound Effects

Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band
Getting Better
Sgt. Peppers Reprise - vocals and background sounds

Magical Mystery Tour
Magical Mystery Tour
I Am The Walrus (first half)
Hello, Goodbye
Strawberry Fields Forever (sounds just like the boots!)
Penny Lane - Flute and Horns
Baby You're A Rich Man
All You Need Is Love

Yellow Submarine
It's All Too Much - vocals and background sounds
All You Need Is Love

The White Album
Back In The U.S.S.R.
Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da - vocals and background sounds
Birthday - vocals, clapping and background sounds
Yer Blues (all of it sounds like the standard mix last verse)
Everybody's Got Something To Hide Except For Me And My Monkey
Sexy Sadie
Revolution 1 - fuzz guitar and horns

Let It Be
Across The Universe - Everything Phil Spector Added
I Me Mine
One After 909
Long And Winding Road - Everything Phil Spector Added
For You Blue
Get Back

Abbey Road
Maxwell's Silver Hammer
Mean Mr. Mustard
Polythene Pam
She Came In Through The Bathroom Window
Carry That Weight

Past Masters Volume One
I Want To Hold Your Hand
Slow Down
Bad Boy
I'm Down

Past Masters Volume Two
The Inner Light
Old Brown Shoe

Anthology 1
Free As A Bird
Leave My Kitten Alone
Kansas City

Real Love CD Single
Real Love - New backing track
Baby's In Black - Instruments and crowd
Yellow Submarine - All of the effects
Here, There And Everywhere - Backing vocals isolated at end

Anthology 2
Real Love
If You've Got Trouble
And Your Bird Sing - no laughing
Penny Lane - Backing instruments
Only A Northern Song
Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds
Within You Without You - no percussion
You Know My Name (look up my vocals)
I Am The Walrus

Anthology 3
Don't Pass Me By
Good Night - George Martin track only
Cry Baby Cry - percussion and bass guitar
Not Guilty
What's The New Mary Jane
Step Inside Love/Los Paranoias
For You Blue
All Things Must Pass
Get Back
Old Brown Shoe
Octopus's Garden
Come Together

Yellow Submarine Songtrack
Yellow Submarine - background vocals and sound effects
Hey Bulldog
Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band - various interesting isolations
With A Little Help From My Friends
Baby You're A Rich Man (did you know there's clapping?!)
All You Need Is Love
When I'm Sixty Four - vocals and wind instruments

Get Back
Glass Onion
I Am The Walrus (All of it for the first time)
I Want To Hold Your Hand
Drive My Car/The Word/What You're Doing
Being For The Benefit Of Mr. Kite
Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds
Lady Madonna
Back In The U.S.S.R.
Sgt. Peppers Reprise - vocals
All You Need Is Love

Paul McCartney

Flaming Pie
The Song We Were Singing
The World Tonight
If You Wanna
Young Boy
Flaming Pie
Heaven On A Sunday
Little Willow
Beautiful Night

Run Devil Run
She Said Yeah
All Shook Up
Run Devil Run
What It Is
I Got Stung

Ringo Starr

I Wanna Be Santa Claus
Come On Christmas, Christmas Come On
I Wanna Be Santa Claus
The Little Drummer Boy (uncovers buried background vocals)
Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer

The Beach Boys

Pet Sounds (the stereo mixes)
Wouldn't It Be Nice (like Stack O' Tracks but with backing vocals)
You Still Believe In Me
That's Not Me
I'm Waiting For The Day
Sloop John B (very different sound from version on Stack O' Tracks)
God Only Knows (like Stack O' Tracks but with backing vocals)
I Know There's An Answer - mostly lead vocal and bass
I Just Wasn't Made For These Times
Caroline, No

This page last updated July 6, 2007.

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