Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by bayen, Sep 2, 2010.
Steve, I know we all appreciate your input, but I have the feeling I'm one step away from knowing exactly what you're trying to tell us. Are you saying that if a mono cartridge does not have any vertical compliance that it can damage mono records that have been cut with a stereo cutter head? THANKS for any clarification you may be able to give us (or give me, if I'm the only one in the dark!).
I don't know why you guys are so worried about this "not having any vertical compliance" thing. From everything I can tell, this Grado has identical vertical compliance to my stereo Grado Reference Sonata. I'm sure the Benz Micro mono Aces, the Lyra Dorian mono, and the Shelter 501 MkII mono and other modern mono carts have compliances similar or identical their to stereo counterparts. From what I understand, it how the pole pieces are wired that is the key functional thing with mono vs. stereo cartridges.
I think the protocol here is pretty straightforward, if the mono disk was cut and pressed before 1967, play it on your mono cartridge. If not, play it on your stereo cartridge.
I guess the issue is that if I have a modern mono cart that I'm playing "real" mono lp's with, and then I want to play a "fake" (see Sundazed, Music Matters, AP, etc) mono lp, is it ok, or do I have to switch out carts, plug in my Y cord, etc? I'd prefer to use my Benz Ace mono for all of my mono lp's, which is why I asked in my initial questions.
From the feedback I'm getting, and with all due respect to Mr. Gray, I'm feeling it's ok to play 'em all with modern mono carts that carry a .7mm stylus. Anything bigger than that and y'all on your own.
I understood that, I just don't get where the whole vertical compliance thing enters into it.
I'm not really worried about anything. I don't use mono cartridges. I'm just trying to understand Steve's point.
I'll try and find a 50's mono cartridge and post a photo. Here's one
The stylus has no cantilever to speak of, and is basically on a metal tab that has a 'bend' in it to allow it to move side to side. The metal tab sits on a rubber pad, which is directly above the stylus. Either side of the stylus are pole pieces to detect the signal. Very loud, very direct. No vertical movement at all.
To play these things at all takes a heavy, usually damped arm and 6+g vtf.
They will take out a stereo record in one play, whatever the stylus size (usually 1 mil conical).
When you say 'Mono Cartridge', I think that's the picture Steve and Kevin see. Not a modern, compilant, audiophile cartridge with a cantilever, 1-2g tracking and a mono optimised coil/magnet system. The site also shows a Denon DL102 mono, and explains some mono/stereo problems.
Thanks, Mike for the clarification. I didin't even know about these designs.
From what I can tell, on this Grado, the stylus/cantilever assembly looks identical to a stereo Grado Sonata. From what I understand, the difference is in the motor/generator assembly and wiring of the pole pieces.
Very interesting. Thanks!
So I can see from reading that article why there is the concern for the VINTAGE Mono cartridges from the 40's and 50s causing damage to stereo records; that makes sense. I just wish Steve was clearer in his caution about what type of cartridge exactly he was referring to, so as not to cause folks undue concern.
We're not talking about a GE VRII from the late 40's here, we're talking about a 2009 mono Grado Reference Sonata1.
Why not send an email to Grado? They can tell you whether or not to use it on stereo records.
Some from the forum called them; the guys who knows is out this week.
I think Steve was pretty clear. He said it was "probably" ok.
That said, Joe Harley agreed that using a modern mono cart on his Music Matters mono titles is fine. Which is good enough for me.
Respectfully, I don't think he was clear at all..he said some mono cartridges could damage stereo records, but he didn't say what mono cartridges (or mono cartridge designs) and he didn't say in what ways.
You know I'm really confused about all this. I'm gonna reread all 2 or 3 of the presently active threads about mono cartridges when I have the time to concentrate so I will understand.
I don't understand enough now to even ask a question even though I have some.
On another list where we talk mono a lot of the time (members have original blue notes and more) we were delighted when some manufacturers started up mono cartridge production. Particularly, Lyra discussed what they were going for on the list. They have a couple of mono options in their range. (low output moving coils)
Some members did worldwide research and found the still in manufacture DL 102 from Denon, and took it apart to verify it's true mono-ness. Most of the other mono cartridges are more recent than even these examples, as the bandwagon started. The vast majority seem to be stereo cartridges with common channels (and sometimes with huge styli that won't really help modern stereo discs)
Japan mono systems use vintage cartridges like the ones I posted earlier; the price of working examples of these has increased a lot in the last few years.
These can be very effective; I have Casals' Bach suites transcribed from the 78s on such a mono system, and the results are compelling (see review on Amazon) compared to the 'modern' EMI and Naxos approaches.
Current 'super desirable' monos are of course the original mono SPU by Ortofon (definitely not safe for stereo) which is a 'rotating coil' generator, and you might want to look up the Pierre Clement, which was especially designed for broadcast like the Denon DL 102 and is a sort of rotating magnet generator of strange design.
The Denon 102 mono cartridge works great on my Linn LP12/Ittock LVII deck. It is a high output moving coil designed originally in Japan, to play stereo records in mono for broadcast. It is a true mono cartridge. You should be able to find it for less than $200 on the internet. I have also have the stereo Denon 103 on my other Linn LP12, which is a low ouput cartridge, but they both sound pretty similair. The mono cartridge is definitely quieter on mono LPs and has more volume.
Very silent in the grooves
A call to arms
"For best performance these 10-13 gram cartridges (DL102 and GEs) require a high mass tonearm like an SME 3012, vintage Ortofon or Rek O Kut, FR64/66, Audio Technica ATP12T, Lenco L-70 or my favorite viscous damped arm."
In looking over this information I am wondering about tonearm compatibility. Most of us have modern tonearms designed around lighter weight cartridges with lighter weight tracking forces. Some of the mono cartridges, especially the vintage ones were designed around higher mass tonearms rather than what most of us have.
Watch out that you don't buy a "heavy" mono cartridge and find that it isn't performing up to snuff in your tonearm.
I recently bought a circa 1958 Garrard RC80M mono record changer fitted with a GE VR-II mono cart ($19.99 at Goodwill!). The Garrard has a big clunky bakelite tonearm. I put a new stylus on the GE, and was shocked by how good it sounded with '50s records. There was definitely something magical happening.
Curious, I decided to try the GE on my Technics SL-1200MK2, which required me to drill a fat hole in the top of a headshell to accommodate the big red knob on the top of the cart. I got everything properly dialed in (including setting the VTF to 4 grams) and gave it a listen. Very dull and blah on the Technics. I put it back on the Garrard and bang! there was the magic again.
I bought a Denon DL-102 from a forum member a few months back. The cart is a beast! It was too heavy to mount on my spare Music Hall turntable and I wasn't going to put it on my Rega P2. As a result, I had to find a turntable with a tonearm that was heavy enough to support the cart. I ended up buying an old Technics SL1200 and had the cart mounted on the Technics. I've had mixed results with this setup. The cart tracks really well, as I have only used it on old "beater' mono albums, mostly Beatles. What I did find is that the "beaters" did play quieter on the Technics/Denon setup. The downside was the overall sound quality, which I found to be on the dull side. Who knows why this is the case. It could be the fact that the turntable that I mounted it on is old and less than stellar condition. I would like to find another turntable, but it comes down to time and money.
It's dull because of the Technics TT; that table has a dark, muddy sound with the stock tonearm.
Meant to get back here but I got sidetracked, sorry.
After 1967, most cutting rooms junked their mono stuff, including mono playback machines, etc. Chances are that a mono recut after 1967 was done on a stereo machine IN STEREO MODE cut on to your record with a stereo tip.
This means that there is a really good chance that throwing the record into mono will throw the actual music out of phase (all the highs vanish and you hear that swish sound) because it was not mastered carefully or correctly.
I know several engineers who STILL cut mono on a stereo machine IN STEREO so that when you play back in mono (either with a mono cart. or by combining the channels l+R) you get bad sound.
If you can confirm that the record you are playing back was mastered in true mono (simply by previewing the thing in stereo and then combining the channels and verifying that no damage is being done to the signal) you can play the record safely on a modern mono cart. But I ask you, this hobby is hard enough, is it worth it?
I would say about 75% of the modern cuttings that are supposed to be full mono are NOT and need to be played in stereo or the signal is mangled.
It's just not fun to trust everything to a mono cart if the music was recorded in mono. You could be missing out on top end, dudes. You have to check each record by trying it in the stereo mode AND the mono mode. A true pain in the butt.
Over & out.
Steve thanks for the excellent reply.
I know this sounds like a dumb question, but is it possible to cut on a stereo machine in mono mode? I assume that when you and Kevin cut mono titles for Music Matters that's what you're doing, unless you're cutting on a mono machine. I'm guessing that Bob Irwin is cutting his mono titles on a stereo machine as well. And if this is true, why do engineers choose to cut in stereo. Simple laziness?
Makes perfect sense. Why add so much extra work for a very tiny amount of improvement or perhaps a major lowering in quality?
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