Dumb Question about Mono Vinyl Playback

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by teaser5, Mar 11, 2005.

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  1. teaser5

    teaser5 Cool Rockin' Daddy Thread Starter

    The DMV
    I bought a copy of The Essential Billie Holiday; Carnegie Hall Concert Recorded Live" (Verve UMV 2600) at a show a while back. It's Mono and cleaned up beautifully. Now I am getting ready to give it a listen and realize it's the first mono record I've played in maybe 35 years. There's a "mono" switch on my BAT amp. Do I press it?
  2. RJL2424

    RJL2424 Forum Resident

    When you play such vintage mono records on a stereo turntable with a stereo cartridge, then pressing that Mono button on your amp is recommended - surface noise will likely be reduced without f**king up the sound. (Unless your vintage "mono" pressing has been cut with a mono tape being played back on a stereo machine.)
  3. ezio gallino

    ezio gallino New Member

    torino (italia) NW
    If you can afford it (and have a certain number of mono vinyl....) a beatiful thing is to buy a mono (33 not 78!) cheap cartridge and listen with this. difference is amazing... mono tracks are "U"s and stereo are "V"'s. Of course only if your cartridge can be easily removed.

    for hard-core mono listeners only.
  4. Robin L

    Robin L Musical Omnivore

    Fresno, California
    Also for "Hard-Core" mono listeners---My Marantz 2275 has a pair of switches for mono, so you can pick left mono, right mono or both channels combined for mono. I've used the preamp side of the 2275 for transcribing LPs to CDRs and being able to pick one side or the other (depending on the noise level of the groove) has helped a few times. This is also helpful for certain "Reprocessed Stereo" records, where one channel is obviously more useful than the other and combining the two would result in phase related problems.
  5. RetroSmith

    RetroSmith Forum Hall Of Fame<br>(Formerly Mikey5967)

    East Coast
    Remember you can always buy a "y" adapter ar Radio Shack and sum the TT Channels before they hit the amp. Same thing as a mono button.
    gramfan likes this.
  6. SVL

    SVL Forum Resident

    Kiev, Ukraine
    I use the switch when playing mono Beatles LPs all the time - it does reduce the noise, and it seems to tame the treble a bit.
    PatrickG likes this.
  7. DrJ

    DrJ Senior Member

    Davis, CA, USA
    My dad is big into early 50s mono jazz vinyl and he's done much of what's being discussed here - mono cartridge, Y adapter - and it's yielded really notable sonic improvements, dramatic reduction in surface noise. So a strong second endorsement here for these measures, mono fans.

    However, I do have a question about later mono LPs:

    The mono records I listen to are nearly all either from the 60s (e.g. Beatles, Stones, some jazz) or later repressings (e.g. Beatles Odeon Japan red vinyl series). But I do really enjoy those and would love to maximize sonics.

    My own current turntable has an easy remove mechanism for changing cartridges, but the new one I have on order does not - will have a stereo cartridge aimed at high end playback of stereo LPs primarily, and way too much hassle to try and switch carts.

    So my question is: is the U/V groove difference still a major issue with LATER mono LPs, to the point that it would be worth looking into keeping my current table as a "second" dedicated to mono playback (e.g. outfitted permanently with a mono cartridge)? Or are later monos cut more like stereo LPs so that the difference is negligible when one uses a stereo cartridge to play them?
  8. Another Side

    Another Side Forum Resident

    San Francisco
    Tony, virtually all records cut after 1969 or so are not cut with a mono cutting machine. They are in fact stereo groove records where both sides are the same (in some cases where the cutting is not done properly they are slightly different). In this case a stereo cart with the double Y adapter is the way to go.
  9. DrJ

    DrJ Senior Member

    Davis, CA, USA
    Thanks for the info! So that would mean basically only some of the early to mid-60s Beatles/Stones and jazz mono LPs I have would still be "U" cut discs...I'll have to decide whether it's worth the hassle to keep an extra table for those, probably not.
  10. Dan C

    Dan C Forum Fotographer

    The West
    My old tube Fisher had the same feature, I really loved that. It also sent that same signal through the "tape out" jacks so I could make a pretty nice sounding mono CD-R. I think there are relatively inexpensive mono switching units that Garage-A-Records sells, but they might degrade the overall sound if they're poorly made.

    dan c
  11. DrJ

    DrJ Senior Member

    Davis, CA, USA
    So this stuff can get a little confusing after thinking about it too long...just to make sure, as I've been thinking about this question, figured I'd better ask:

    If I get a mono cartridge: do I still need to do playback of records with that table/cart via a mono switch? I think the answer to my question should be "no" since the whole idea (as I understand it) of a mono cart is that it provides true mono playback and obviates need for a mono switch, but if I'm wrong please let me know...thanks.
  12. Brian Clark

    Brian Clark New Member

    You are correct, the mono cart does it all since it sends the same signal to both channels.
    No switch required.

  13. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Your host Your Host

    Save yourself a thousand bucks; get a double y cord from Radio Shack for $5.00 instead.
    Hattipper, Doc Diego and WapatoWolf like this.
  14. DrJ

    DrJ Senior Member

    Davis, CA, USA
    Brian, thanks for the confirmation, much appreciated.

    Hi Steve - thanks for the advice! I actually did follow it and have been using the double-Y for a couple days for playback of some of the Beatles mono 80s repressings with really good results (and had also heard the benefits on my dad's system).

    Just FYI so you can check out my logic: I have an extra table already so no added cost there, and I am accumulating quite a few pre-68 mono records (with an eye toward getting a lot more - I'm mostly a 50s to mid-60s jazz listener). My guess is I'll definitely end up with a bunch of them over time.

    So I was thinking about going for a much more inexpensive mono cart than the mega-expensive ones in the price range you mention. Grado makes a couple different ones in the $80-130 price range that seem to get good reviews.

    Does this seem more reasonable?

    PS - Hey, cool - just noticed I have made my 100th post!
  15. DrJ

    DrJ Senior Member

    Davis, CA, USA
    OK - I'm trying very hard to come up with a CHEAP set up to allow me to use both my turntables: older Technics outfitted with a mono cart -just for older mono records; and the new Spacedeck outfitted with a stereo cart BUT also want the flexibility to play post-68 mono records in true mono without having to keep hooking/unhooking Y adapters.

    I thought I had come up with the solution (about $30 total cost) with the following:

    1) Take the red/white RCA leads from the Spacedeck and connect a Y adapter (1 female split to two male) to each of these leads (this I figured splits the single stereo signal into 2 separate stereo signals)
    2) Connect one of the split white and one of the split red signals (one male end from each of the 2 Y adapters above) directly to a cheap Radio Shack switch box that has 3 sets of inputs. This ought to be the stereo signal from my main turntable
    3) Connect the remaining 2 ends of the Y adapters in Number 1 to a second Y adapter (this one is 2 female to one male), and then connect the male end of that to another Y adapter (one female to two male). Then connect the two male ends of the Y adapter into the switch box. This collapses the stereo signal to mono and should be the mono signal from my Spacedeck
    4) Connect the red and white leads from my second (Technics) turntable into the 3rd slot on the switch box. This is the turntable that will have a mono cartridge all the time (to play only older mono LPs) so I don't need to mess with Y adapters on this one, just goes right into the switch box
    5) Finally, using a regular old stereo (red and white) RCA cable, connect the switch box output to the phono "in" on the amp

    OK so I thought this would be great...but in doing listening tests tonight, the fly in the ointment seems to be Step 2 - even though I have what I thought should be a stereo signal going in, the soundstage (compared to directly plugging the Spacedeck into the phono stage of my amp) just collapses to the point it sounds basically like mono (little to no difference from the collapsed mono signal)! I checked and rechecked the connections a million times.

    So I must have some faulty logic somewhere - is the stereo signal "splitting" I'm trying to do in Step 1 for some reason not actually possible? - OR maybe it's simply the process of daisy chaining so many little low fi adapters/switches degrading the signal to the point that stereo imaging is basically lost?

    Any insights/help with this would be appreciated.
  16. PMC7027

    PMC7027 Forum Hall Of Fame

    If a double Y cord from Radio Shack for $5 is good enough, then what about the Grover cable you love and the multi-thousand dollars of re-wiring that was done on your mastering equipment?

    Won't having a "Radio Shack piece of crap" cable at the begining of the chain will RUIN the sound?
  17. DrJ

    DrJ Senior Member

    Davis, CA, USA
    Well I think Steve's point is that if you only occasionally/rarely listen to mono stuff it's probably not a big issue even if the sonics are degraded just a bit (I have tried his suggestion and have to say overall the sonic gains from doing it in terms of dead-center mono imaging and elimination of noise seem to far exceed any detriment due to low-fi interconnects).

    However, see my post right above yours - when you start jury rigging a system that tries to circumvent having to keep hooking/unhooking the Y connectors, then based on my listening experiment I think you very well may have a point...
  18. d.r.cook

    d.r.cook Senior Member

    maybe grover should work up some "Y" connectors?

  19. Ryan

    Ryan That would be telling

    New England
    Can a stereo cart be used on mono 45s?
  20. Sckott

    Sckott Hand Tighten Only.

    South Plymouth, Ma

    Guys, a lot of MONO vinyl, LP and 7", were made to be played on fairly midrange equipment. There's no need to be so anal on a lot of this stuff. Even the engineers didn't think we'd be thinking about which Y adapter would sound best or if a stereo cart made in the year 2000 would suffice.

    I've rewired both of my Dynacos so the MONO switch works (even though people have said "bypass it" for sonic reasons) I found that having it on or off is really no big deal, even when I was listening intently.

    Keep it simple!
  21. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Your host Your Host

    Good morning.

    If you have a lot of 45's and LP's that are in mono it is essential that you play them back in "mono" (L+R). This will lower noise, distortion and generally make the records sound better in every way.

    Even if you have a $100,000.00 system you need to get a double Y from Radio Shack and hook it in. Your "sound" will improve on mono records. If you so desire, get one of your favorite wire makers to make you a double Y instead of using Radio Shack's wire (if that will make you sleep better at night).

    If you don't use a double Y (and if your pre amp has no mono switch) you are simply missing out on having the best sounding mono reproduction. You could spend another hundred grand and your system STILL won't improve like it would if you added the $6.00 Double Y cord.

    I have spoken. :wave:

    Note, this is only for mono vinyl reproduction, not mono digital!
  22. Pug

    Pug Elitist Snob

    Near Music Direct

    Actually, you have typed. ;)

    Thanks for the info. I'm going to pick up a couple of Y cords this week and give it a try. I have some noisy Beatles monos that I want to spin. :agree:
  23. mambo

    mambo New Member

    I am using a Lyra Dorian cartridge. would one of these Radio shack cords make much difference to MONO analog playback on my system that has no MONO button? It sounds as if it would from what I am reading.

    Just making sure.
  24. OcdMan

    OcdMan Senior Member

    Yes, definitely. Any out-of-phase information, such as most groove noise, will be all but eliminated. The volume of clicks and pops will also be reduced. Plus, any level or frequency imbalance between the channels will be averaged out resulting in a dead-center "image".

    Unless this is a trick question and you're using the Mono edition of the Dorian... ;)
  25. jkauff

    jkauff Senior Member

    Akron, OH
    I wonder what Brian Wilson and Phil Spector use for home playback? I hope Phil has a nice mono portable, because I think he's gonna need it for a long time to come. :shake:

    Jim K.
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