Mono record with Stereo cartridge - What to expect?

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by Sbcrue, Aug 12, 2021.

  1. Sbcrue

    Sbcrue Active Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Dunedin FL
    I have no experience playing mono records and therefore no experience playing mono records with a stereo cartridge. I'm thinking about buying a mono Ritchie Valens 1st press (1958). I've always wanted that record. I'm a bit of a first press hound....otherwise I'd buy a different version and this wouldn't matter.

    I have no desire to start collecting mono records so things like mono carts, amps with mono switches, etc are of no real interest to me. It'd probably be this one mono record. I've lightly browsed some of the archived threads regarding mono & mono with stereo cart but decided to post this anyway.

    System as follows: 1200GR, AT540ML>Schiit Mani (upgrade phono pre coming in a few months if you think that matters for this topic)>Schiit Freya +>Schiit Vidar>JBL L82's.

    Is it worth the $50+ to buy this record...will it sound halfway decent in your opinion? Yes, all subjective but looking for those opinions and any actual experience would be great.
     
  2. If it is a clean pressing you should be okay. Any surface noise or clicks and pops will be in stereo and so will be more noticeable.
     
    Dr. Winston Ramone and wgb113 like this.
  3. Johncan

    Johncan Forum Resident

    Location:
    Atlanta, GA
    You should expect to hear a mono record on your stereo system. It will sound like most other records do in your system.
     
    Dennis Metz and cdash99 like this.
  4. Sbcrue

    Sbcrue Active Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Dunedin FL
    Thank you! Yeah, pretty clean copy actually. I can probably live with some increase in noise. I look at it as just a fun kinda record to have on while doing stuff around the house sometimes. Maybe not so much critical listening. If I can stomach a NM copy of the first Bob Marley & The Wailers (Soul Rebel) Jamaican pressing I have and listen to sometimes I should be able to "deal" with this. I appreciate the feedback!
     
  5. Sbcrue

    Sbcrue Active Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Dunedin FL
    Fair enough, thank you!
     
  6. Johncan

    Johncan Forum Resident

    Location:
    Atlanta, GA
    All the mono cart and mono switch do is make the background a little less noisy. I have many mono LPs and two turntables with mono carts.
     
  7. hoytis

    hoytis Forum Resident

    Location:
    Oregon
    I have several mono albums but have never bothered with a separate mono cart. I just use the mono button on my amp. That said, I've played mono albums a few times while forgetting to hit the mono button and the sound isn't bad at all... probably just a little more surface noise. It's more noticeable if the vinyl is worn...you'll get a slight out-of-phase type fuzziness, but nothing to the point where you'll get up out of your chair. If you have a clean copy you should be fine.
     
    Sbcrue likes this.
  8. JohnO

    JohnO Senior Member

    Location:
    Washington, DC
    No problem at all. Enjoy the original Valens LP.

    The constant handwringing about playing mono records in "stereo" is that you could hear different surface noise and rumble on the left and right channels - just as you do with any stereo record - so there are strategies to make a mono record play in true mono for the slight improvement of playing that way. If you don't bother to do any of those things, there is still no problem.
     
    Sbcrue likes this.
  9. csgreene

    csgreene Forum Resident

    Location:
    Idaho, USA
    Yeah, in my case, as I don't have a mono cart or a mono switch on any of my amps, the price I pay is a little more noise on some of the old records. But I don't like listening in mono anyway even though many of the great jazz albums were first released in mono (or even those lads from England I keep reading about).
     
    MrMarty, rednedtugent and Sbcrue like this.
  10. patient_ot

    patient_ot Senior Member

    Location:
    USA
    Without a mono switch you will hear more noise. With an ML stylus vs. a conical or elliptical you will also likely hear more noise on an old mono record like that. ML not really the right tool for the job here, IMHO.
     
    Big Blue likes this.
  11. Pythonman

    Pythonman Forum Resident

    Location:
    Florida
    I would expect stereo!
     
    csgreene likes this.
  12. Rattlin' Bones

    Rattlin' Bones Grumpy Old Deaf Drummer

    Location:
    Louisville, KY
    No problems. And actually for older vinyl (talking 50's and 60's), mono versions are actually often more sought after and valuable. And they often sound better. Many were not recorded in stereo and the "stereo" on later pressings was added. But it was recorded in mono. And, no need for different cart.
     
  13. Sbcrue

    Sbcrue Active Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Dunedin FL
    Uunderstood. I have "cheaper" old non ML AT cart mounted and ready to go that I don't really ever use. Maybe I'll see what the ML is like and then easily switch to the other cart and if it's an improvement then it's easy enough to set that one up reayl quick when I want to listen to this record. I like the album but I can't see it getting frequent spins. Maybe 2-3 at first then as the mood strikes from then. Thanks for the input. I didn't think about the other non-ML cart I have as an option for (potential) better play back for this.
     
  14. Sbcrue

    Sbcrue Active Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Dunedin FL
    Yeah...I opted for stereo versions of some of the highly sought Mono records everyone talks about. Dylan, Doors, Beatles, etc. I for whatever reason never started chasing the mono stuff. I'm sure they DO sound better in some cases....I've read many many people agree so there's something to it obviously :)
     
  15. patient_ot

    patient_ot Senior Member

    Location:
    USA
    If this is the only old mono record you have, use what you have on hand. When/if you accumulate more mono records, you can looking into a dedicated cartridge or a preamp with a mono switch. It's also possible to get a separate mono switchbox for low cost.

    Typically for old mono records I use a mono switch on my preamp and a conical cartridge. I will never play any mono record (including mono reissues) again in stereo because it just sounds better playing the mono records in true mono. Most mono reissues are cut on a stereo cutter head so you can use the ML with those and not experience increased noise.
     
  16. patient_ot

    patient_ot Senior Member

    Location:
    USA
    Depends on what you are talking about, specifically. There are plenty of albums that were recorded or mixed in stereo, but not initially issued in stereo, because few people had stereo record players at the time. There are also albums where horrible fake stereo processing was added to mono mixes, and those pretty much sound like garbage. Hard panning was also a thing with early stereo records, especially rock albums, and how annoying that is to the listener depends on personal taste and what they are listening on. Hard panned stereo mixes can be quite annoying on headphones IME.
     
  17. vwestlife

    vwestlife Forum Resident

    Location:
    New Jersey, USA
    I love the attempts by mono albums to remain relevant after stereo was introduced, with statements boasting "THIS RECORD CANNOT BECOME OBSOLETE!", "Playing this high-fidelity monaural recording on a stereophonic system will reveal an even greater depth and dimension to the music", etc.
     
    Maggie, EdogawaRampo and Leonthepro like this.
  18. Leonthepro

    Leonthepro Skeptically Optimistic Autodidact Debater

    Location:
    Sweden
    Yes it will be fine if its in decent condition.
     
  19. Leonthepro

    Leonthepro Skeptically Optimistic Autodidact Debater

    Location:
    Sweden
    Mainly this yes.
     
  20. Leonthepro

    Leonthepro Skeptically Optimistic Autodidact Debater

    Location:
    Sweden
    My ML plays cleaner on certain records than other styli did so it depends.
     
    Johncan likes this.
  21. Sbcrue

    Sbcrue Active Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Dunedin FL
    Gotcha. Thanks for the info.
     
    patient_ot likes this.
  22. Ripblade

    Ripblade Forum Resident

    Location:
    The Six
    Yes, but with really poor separation lol.

    I have many mono classical albums. I actually prefer the slight inter-channel response irregularities a stereo cartridge brings because it helps diffuse the sound. Music is not supposed to sound like it comes from a single point. The record labels actually promoted this fact in the early days when stereo was the new thing, though it might've been simply to help move old inventory.

    Noise is more apparent because it emanates from points separate from the music. Takes practice maybe, but it's possible to learn to ignore it and focus attention on the music.
     
    Pythonman likes this.
  23. Big Blue

    Big Blue Forum Resident

    Location:
    Wisconsin
    On old mono records with wider grooves, though? I would assume the 1958 Ritchie Valens record in question may be one of those?
     
  24. Leonthepro

    Leonthepro Skeptically Optimistic Autodidact Debater

    Location:
    Sweden
    The ML rides low regardless and my examples would be from a similar time period, but its always a case to case basis.
     
    Big Blue likes this.
  25. Big Blue

    Big Blue Forum Resident

    Location:
    Wisconsin
    I believe I have exactly one mono record pressed in 1960 (Ride This Train, Johnny Cash) that I have hesitated to play (acquired in a lot of about 20 or so records) because I have been unsure whether the ML would be a good idea, and because I have been too lazy to switch to a conical just to play one record. One of these days…
     

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