Thinking of buying a Mono cartridge...need help, thanks

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by bayen, Sep 2, 2010.

  1. sberger

    sberger I like dirty records

    True. But with 2 wands it's faster and easier to throw on my mono cart than it is to use the Y cord method(no mono button on my Fisher 400). And every mono, new or old, that I play with my mono cart sounds better, more right, than they do when I use my stereo cart.

    Off the top of my head, the only "new" mono stuff that I play is from Classic(who cut with a mono head), Sundazed(hard to believe that Irwin cutting mono in stereo, but I've got an email in to him to confirm), Music Matters(which is why I asked the question to Steve about his methods, although the comments that Joe Harley made that I posted earlier in thread would have me believe playing there mono titles with a mono cart is cool) and a handful of 80's reissues from Ace which sound great i.e. no loss of top end when played through my cart. I can't think of any other new labels that are issuing mono titles on vinyl, although I'm sure there are others. I also have a bunch of OJC jazz titles cut in the 70's. Don't know about them. Other than all of my mono titles are pre 67/68.
     
    googlymoogly likes this.
  2. sberger

    sberger I like dirty records

    Classic uses a dedicated mono cutter for their stuff. Don't know how MM does it, but as I've eluded to I find it hard to fathom that Steve/Kevin would be cutting mono titles in stereo, but I could be wrong.

    I agree that investing in a ton of new equipment to play new mono titles makes no sense. I had a spare wand for my table laying around, and a lot of old mono titles so decided to invest in a moderately priced mono cart. I'm glad I did. But now that I have it, I find it's great to use it on some of my newer titles and on my system it really helps the overall sonics.
     
    googlymoogly likes this.
  3. hvbias

    hvbias Forum Resident

    Location:
    Northeast
    Are the mono Blue Notes on Music Matters cut with a mono head? I did a search through the three Music Matters threads and couldn't find an answer.
     
  4. sberger

    sberger I like dirty records

    Don't know, but more or less asked Steve the question earlier in the thread. Hopefully he'll fill us in.
     
  5. fortherecord

    fortherecord Forum Resident

    Location:
    Upstate, NY
     
  6. fortherecord

    fortherecord Forum Resident

    Location:
    Upstate, NY
    I've been using a Denon 102 mono cartridge for about a year now and my mono records, mostly from the early-mid 60's generally sound much better and fuller on my mono rig compared to my stereo one, same arm and table (Linn LP12s). The Linn Ittok is a pretty heavy arm and the VTF can be adjusted up to 3 grams, which seems to work well with this heavy cartridge.
     
  7. blue

    blue Mastering rules

    Location:
    sweet spot
    Ok, I try a more careful statement now:

    (not only) after this explanation, it makes not much sence to me to buy a separate mono cartridge, arm etc. just for the ~100 pre 1967 mono originals in my collection. Even if some newer mono records were cut true mono (like Classic records as some here said). Simply because the chances are good, that I'd not hear better sound or even damage records (my own conclusion after what I read in this thread).
     
  8. action pact

    action pact ^^ Sandy Warner, "The Exotica Girl"

    My amp doesn't have a mono button and I got tired of inserting the Y-cable whenever I wanted to go mono.

    Using about $10 worth of parts from Radio Shack (project box, toggle switch, 2 pair of RCA jacks) and a few inches of 14 gauge speaker wire, I constructed my own mono/stereo switch box using the following diagram (courtesy of someone here at the SH Forum):

    [​IMG]

    The switch box is connected between my table and preamp, and works like a charm.
     
  9. hesson11

    hesson11 Forum Resident

    Being completely incompetent in electronics, I asked David Hadaway at DB Systems to build me a box like this (it's not a standard DB Systems item). He did a great job and charged me just $69, which I thought was well worth it.
    -Bob
     
  10. Scott in DC

    Scott in DC Forum Resident

    Location:
    Washington, DC
    14 gauge

    "Using about $10 worth of parts from Radio Shack (project box, toggle switch, 2 pair of RCA jacks) and a few inches of 14 gauge speaker wire, I constructed my own mono/stereo switch box using the following diagram (courtesy of someone here at the SH Forum):"

    +++++++++++++++++++++

    Why 14 gauge speaker wire for this? I would have used a 24 or 26 gauge high purity OFC or silver wire (which is what use these days, it's not expensive). Most tonearms are wired with 28 or 30 gauge wire.

    Scott
     
  11. sberger

    sberger I like dirty records

     
  12. MikeyH

    MikeyH Stamper King

    Location:
    Berkeley, CA
    Unless you have your mono cutter custom built, or find one in a drawer.. you're out of luck. So I suspect Classic's (Bernie's) is the only one around.

    Steve has been over this problem a couple of times, here. The biggest problem is playing back the mono master tape with a stereo machine. If it's not absolutely aligned to the tape, and that may not be possible, your phase and HF are compromised straight away. If you carry on and cut to stereo, with a stereo mastering path, no one notices playing the record in stereo. If you want to hear this, play the Sidore original Led Zeppelin 4 CD in mono. Headphones make it more obvious.

    If you get it right at the tape, then it doesn't matter whether you play mono or stereo. Few people think to check the mono, as advised by Steve earlier.

    The people with dedicated mono cartridges are not using them on new mono records; really, this is at least partly a collector forum as well as an audiophile one. There are still plenty of mono Blue Notes and Verves from the 50s out there, and they sell big time.
    A smaller but even more dedicated set are the classical collectors. Those Neveu UK columbia pressings need a lot of cossetting.

    If you're into jazz or vocals and think you'll never buy originals, you just haven't walked into the right store at the right time yet.
     
  13. action pact

    action pact ^^ Sandy Warner, "The Exotica Girl"

    It was more of an experiment than anything, and I used whatever cable I had on hand. I haven't detected any signal degradation, so I've left well enough alone.
     
  14. action pact

    action pact ^^ Sandy Warner, "The Exotica Girl"

    Interestingly, I have a 1982 Edsel album of 1960s mono Merseybeats material (mastered by George Peckham aka Porky), and the back cover has a small blurb, something like "To get the most listening pleasure from your mono Edsel records, we suggest depressing the the mono switch on your amplifier." I doubt it was mastered on a mono lathe.
     
  15. sberger

    sberger I like dirty records

    You probably right, but man a lot of those early/mid 80's Edsel/Charly mono titles sound great, and on my system even better when using my mono cart.
     
  16. OcdMan

    OcdMan Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Maryland
    They don't have to be mastered on a mono lathe to get the benefit of a mono switch or mono cartridge. If they used a mono tape head or took the best sounding channel from a two-track head and split that off to the stereo cutter, then there would most likely be no problems. Summing the channels to mono or using a mono cartridge would yield better sound with less noise.

    It's when a mono tape is played back on a stereo machine in stereo and cut with a stereo cutter that you can run into those phasey treble problems.
     
  17. Mabutu

    Mabutu Member

    Location:
    australia
    Fascinating stuff

    I havent played the Elvis re -issues mono tracks 45rpm from Analog productions yet(was considering a mono cartridge)

    Same for the recent excellent 45rpm Nat King Cole re-issues

    Bernie Grundman's cut in 2009 of Julie London's "julie is her name"

    WOuld that have been cut with a mono needle or stereo cutter head?
     
  18. action pact

    action pact ^^ Sandy Warner, "The Exotica Girl"

    I've since detected a signal degradation when using this box, and have removed it from my system. I'll take your advice and rewire it as you've recommended and see if that makes it usable!
     
  19. action pact

    action pact ^^ Sandy Warner, "The Exotica Girl"

    Incidentally, I've found a way to get good results using a '50s GE VR-II mono cart with a modern turntable (in my case, a Technics SL-1200MK2).

    The first obstacle was the big knob on top, which required drilling a big enough hole in the headshell to facilitate overhang alignment.

    The second obstacle was ensuring enough mass to get this monster to stick in the groove properly. I've gotten decent results by BlueStik'ing a penny to the top of the headshell and setting the VTF to 4 grams (which is the minimum spec for the VR-II). To get it to 4 grams required using the Technics auxiliary weight on the counterweight.

    What does it sound like? Pretty darn good, actually. In no way can it be considered 'highly detailed,' but it has a curiously attractive voicing. It seems to emphasize, and maybe even compress, transients like reverb trails and echo, which makes a record like "Heartbreak Hotel" a lot of fun to listen too. It's also a very powerful, punchy cart, with deep, rich bass. Sounds great on older mono recordings.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
  20. bayen

    bayen Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    philadelphia Pa
    I think you would have to research those particular pressings but when listening to mono pressings cut after 1968 I err on the side of caution and do not use my mono cart...I break out the old "Y" cord and sum the left and right channels. What I have been curious about lately are mono pressings that were cut/pressed in 1969..the mono fold down of The Beatles "Yellow Submarine". Was this LP cut using a mono or stereo head? Also, I have a mono import pressing of the Kinks "Arthur". The LP was released in 1969...not sure when the mono mix was made or when the mono stampers were created but I was wondering if it would be safe to play this LP with the Grado mono cart? I'll have to do some research.
     
  21. McLover

    McLover Forum Resident

    Location:
    East TN
    My preferred way to play old mono 45 singles and LP discs and many early Stereo discs pre-1966 is with a broadcast cartridge (my currently available favorite is the Shure M 44-7) with a conical .7 mil tip. It tracks superbly at 1.75 grams on fine tonearms. Later Mono discs were cut with a Stereo cutterhead and Stereo cutting stylus as Steve Hoffman points out. A Denon DL-103 on a massy tonearm is another superb choice.
     
  22. action pact

    action pact ^^ Sandy Warner, "The Exotica Girl"

    Same here... The GE (above) is mainly for fun.

    I've wrapped the pins on my M44-7 with bare wire, to bridge the channels for mono output.
     
  23. McLover

    McLover Forum Resident

    Location:
    East TN
    aka The Sensible Way. And it won't ruin records made with Stereo cutting heads/cutting styli. What I recommend 99.9% of listeners to do. For pre-1957 mono discs, the GE VR II is hard to beat but it DOES NOT PLAY ANY MONO CUT ON STEREO CUTTING SYSTEMS.
     
  24. fortherecord

    fortherecord Forum Resident

    Location:
    Upstate, NY
    Did you mean the DL-102?
     
  25. McLover

    McLover Forum Resident

    Location:
    East TN
    No, I just use the DL-103 which is my audiophile normal cartridge. It has a mono friendly conical tip to begin with. The DL-102 is an excellent choice though. And I'd recommend it highly as well.
     

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