Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by Steve Hoffman, May 14, 2006.
Why would a mono record cut with a stereo lathe necessarily sound better when played with a stereo cartridge? Is this because of stylus profile? What about stylus profiles that are meant to play both, such as the styli used on Lyra's mono cartridges?
Is there, then, a point to using a mono switch or y-cable with a mono record cut using a stereo lathe?
There are some current "mono" carts that are actually stereo carts with an internal L+R wiring. Those are pointless. One thread here has a list of them, to avoid.
The reason for going L+R is to remove stereo noise. It can be done many ways, that's what this thread is about, to do it cheaply and easily.
I've cut with Kevin Gray about 100 mono albums and we used the same stereo cutting lathe as our stereo records. There is no reason on earth to get a special cart to play that. Just sum the channels to remove the extra stereo noise. No need to buy a separate turntable, no need to do anything but use a Double Y. I don't own a mono cart. Even on my records cut in the 1950s I use stereo carts. My Audio Note UK M9 has a mono sum switch. I just use that.
If someone sent me a mono cart to review, I would try it gladly, but only if they sent me a turntable to go with it. Life is too short to be putting carts in and out. I've snapped my last fragile cart wire, bucko! :^)
I'll only say that the proof of the pudding is in the tasting. I'm guessing that you haven't tried playing a modern mono record with a mono cartridge with which to compare. I can say that putting a cheaper y-cable set into the path, while solidifying the image and whatnot, reduces the fidelity a bit otherwise. It's easily audible in my system (running it after the phono stage). Using a true mono cartridge certainly creates a shorter path.
Not having the ability to swap out headshells or armwands makes a more of a PITA.
BTW, didn't Classic Records tour that they used a mono cutting head for their mono reissues a while back?
In any event. I'd love to see a shootout between a true mono and stereo cartridge of the same brand and level with mono switch engaged and see how much a difference it makes.
Someone here made a list of TRUE mono carts, wish I could find it. But taking a stereo cart and summing it inside so it can't be undone is pointless to me. A waste of money.
Can someone find the TRUE mono cart list for us? I'll get one to try.
Ortofon Quintet White and Cadenza models are true mono, according to the manufacturer.
The Shelter 501MkII Mono is a true mono, according to an audiophile friend who has his own audio shop as well as being into analog for a long time.
The Miyajima BE and Zero models are true mono.
Back when I had Benz make me an ACE Mono, Garth Leerer of Musical Surroundings told me that the medium and low output models were true mono, but the high output was not. Benz makes their mono cartridges to order.
I know Lyra currently makes the Etna model in a true mono, but that's $9000.
Koetsu makes one in coral stone, but that's over $10,000. Neither of these last two are priced "to try".
But at least one member here has had success with the Quintet White mono, and that retails for $524. The Cadenza retails for about $1100.
I tried the Miyajima BE in my system and when it played, it was extraordinary. But it was a poor match for my light effective mass, undamped arm. But at ~$1000 or so, it's an amazing sounding cartridge.
Variation on a theme. Kimber PBJ Stereo/Mono interconnect. Choose between stereo or mono with no cable swapping, and no extra cables/connections.
Stripping away some of the insulation from the positive conductors, without cutting the conductor, allows one to solder a SPST switch between the right/left interconnects. This creates a stereo to mono interconnect that adds only one more contact during mono LP play, and is completely out of the signal path during stereo LP play. This cable works very well after the phono preamp, but probably would a bad choice between the turntable and phono preamp.
It'll do more than solidify the image.
And yes, in theory and all other things equal, the mono cart will be a better solution for true mono records. But the practical difference will, at best, be quite small between a similar quality stereo cart with an outboard solution and a true mono cart of similar quality.
The question again is whether that very small difference is worth the considerable extra financial and time investment. If you listen to a lot of 50s & early 60s mono LPs, it may well be worth it. If you don't, it probably isn't.
That's not my experience as stated in prior postings. The mono cart makes a big positive difference. And my stereo carts are higher quality than the mono cart.
And you know this how? Conjecture? Experimentation?
This is my experience as well.
Know what how?
You assert that "the practical difference will be small", and state "the very small difference". What leads you to these assertions?
Each person's definition of a sigificant difference is different. There are people who claim they hear "significant" differences between 2 digitally identical sources, so I personally take many superlatives used here with a huge grain of salt. Your "big difference" is my "that's it?"
Again, I'm glad the two of you are hearing such significant differences (with only old mono records, of course, because there is no advantage with most mono records less than 50 yrs old) that you believe it's worth the substantial financial and time investment.
But understand that even on this forum, you are almost certainly the outlier on this topic with regard to the return on investment - which was my original point.
Because I've heard both - and the delta between not summing and summing is far greater than the delta between summing and using a true mono cart.
Can I ask which cartridges you heard and the setup with which you compared?
So you haven't heard much of a difference. Say that. But to say categorically that the difference is small doesn't mean there isn't.
But I'll be able to respect your opinion more if you cite the cartridges and associated equipment so that we'll have a reference.
And the fact that at least a couple of us have heard significant enough differences should inspire you to inquire, not shut it down.
It would be like a couple of astronomers declaring that they discovered a new planet, and you say, well, I highly doubt it because I haven't seen it. This forum, particularly the hardware part of the forum, is about experimentation and the desire to hear the music with more accuracy and more impact. The better the system, the more impact it will impart on your listening enjoyment.
And you're right, one person's listening experience is another one's potential "meh.". Not everyone is as sensitive. I may have great sensitivity to sonic and musical changes and you, not so much. Just as some have incredible taste sensitivity and others not so much.
In the end, though, I hope it leaves most curious to check it out for themselves, and to get advice on how to maximize the impact.
I certainly don't consider this forum to be the final word on anything to do with Hardware. For that there are other forums. This one is great for software.
I've said all along that the impact is small, not non-existant. You're so caught up in your belief that your ears are golden and the only thing worth pursuing is THE last word in mono reproduction that you don't see the forest for the trees. I didn't try to shut your point down; I simply tried to put your declaration into realistic perspective because you didn't.
My assertation has been (and remains) that the investment in a true mono rig - monetarily and in the opportunity cost - is a terrible return on investment compared to buying a couple of Y connectors or a switch box.
How seriously would you take someone's suggestion of a $1,000 bottle of wine or a Lamborghini if you simply wanted a nice glass of wine or a car that handles well at highway speeds?
Translation: He has no experience on this.
The Audio Technica AT Mono3/LP and AT33Mono are both true mono carts. Both are high output MC. The Mono3 can be had for less then $120, and is an an excellent cart that I've enjoyed since buying it in 2015.
AT-MONO3/LP - Moving Coil Cartridge | Audio-Technica
I heard a mono cartridge only once for an afternoon at a friend's place about 10 years ago. We were playing his collection of UK Sixties 45s and the sound was unified and spectacular in a way I've never heard. Not at all the equivalent of a mono switch or Y cable.
The difference in using a mono cart on vintage mono records, vs. modern "mono" records is night and day. My experience has been that using a mono cart on modern day records is typically not much different from using Y cabling. In other words, no reason to invest other then the ease of not having to mess with cabling. But for a decent collection of stuff from the 40's-60's, spending $120 is a no brainer.
Steve, it is the same for mono recordings done before 1967 but reissued later by AP, Classic Records. etc., correct?
If so, a mono cartridge would only make sense fore mono originals of pre 1967.
I'm not sure that's necessarily true. A true mono cartridge won't pick up vertical information, and that means some ticks and pops. Any noise induced by a scratch should be diminished.
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