Should I be listening to mono lps, with only 1 speaker?

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by chewy, Jul 23, 2017.

  1. Doctor Fine

    Doctor Fine Forum Resident

    Lewes, DE
    The most important part of playback is how much palpable "life" the recording can transmit into your listening room.
    Mono was designed to pressurize a room from a single point source. A well designed Mono playback room has all the drama and punch of a well designed Stereo room.
    The difference is that all the pressure and impact and presence comes from ONE point source.
    Which in many cases makes Mono VERY POWERFUL. VERY FOCUSED.
    Stereo has many many kinds of collateral damage cause from bringing the pressure from TWO point sources.
    For one thing if either point source in a Stereo signal is off---even by a "little" bit---the room pressure will be weakened.
    Meanwhile over in the Mono room---if you get the speaker to load the room correctly---EVERYWHERE is the "sweet" spot. And the room is incredibly EVEN in how it is loaded as there is all that music coming from only ONE point source.
    It is ALL COMPLETELY PHASE COHERENT. No issues with "balance".
    So in some cases it is much more powerful to hear it in mono if it was mixed down to hit you that way.
    So called improvements are merely alternative ways to entertain the savage breast.
    Not necessarily BETTER.
    btltez, HDOM, Robert C and 1 other person like this.
  2. rischa

    rischa Forum Resident

    Madison, WI
    While it's probably not true to mono purity, I love sitting in my sweet-spot when listening to a mono record and having the musicins hovering in a point in space directly in front of me, completely disassociated from my speakers--so cool.
    Clonesteak, Doc Diego and KeninDC like this.
  3. Hubert jan

    Hubert jan Forum Resident

    To make it short: with real mono on one loudspeaker there is no combfiltering effect (mellow on the ears) and one pointsource preserves the impulse response everywhere you are. Also the virtual dimensions of the voices/instruments are more natural, especial with open baffle, Magnepan systems, electrostats.
    Unfortunately mono records/CD's are only for fans of music before the sixties. Summing stereo to mono does not work, phase difficulties, canceling certain parts and dynamics always more compressed on stereo recordings to prevent ping-pong effects.
    Stereo: an annoying special effect.
  4. blakep

    blakep Forum Resident

    I'm set up for stereo, so like others, listen with two speakers and enjoy it. Very important though to use a true mono cartridge; would not have thought it possible, but experimentation with summing a very high quality stereo cartridge has led me to the conclusion that a true mono cartridge is the way to go. Summing and mono switches are are relatively cheesy imitations.
    Doc Diego likes this.
  5. Hubert jan

    Hubert jan Forum Resident

    Summing stereo doesn't work.
    But summing a mono record played with a stereo cart is better than a mono cart with its limited vertical compliance.
  6. 808_state

    808_state Former Resident

    Is there anything better?:D
    Mugrug12 likes this.
  7. blakep

    blakep Forum Resident

    I'm not sure we're talking about the same thing.

    Summing a stereo cartridge (at least in my experience) to play mono records will indeed work and sound better playing mono records than playing them with the same cartridge not summed. As will a mono switch. Just won't sound as good as using a mono cartridge.

    If, by definition, a mono cartridge must have very limited or virtually no vertical compliance then I think we're talking about two different things and it becomes a purist kind of argument and somewhat semantical. At least if you believe that there are (especially) modern mono cartridges out there with enough vertical compliance to play both vintage monos and those cut using a stereo head. For me and my collection, that type of mono cartridge, although it may be a compromise for a true mono purist, makes the most sense.
    HDOM likes this.
  8. Mugrug12

    Mugrug12 Crome Yellow

    What's combfiltering effect?
  9. Hubert jan

    Hubert jan Forum Resident

    Got it. I thought you was talking about an old mono cartridge.
    A mono 25 micron needle in a modern mono cartridge makes no difference with a stereo cartridge bridged. A mono cartridge should have one coil to pick up lateral info only, a stereo cart summed to mono also pick up lateral info and cancels out vertical info that is virtually zero on mono records exept for some pinch effect that is gone by summing.
    Enjoy your music, Greetings.
  10. Hubert jan

    Hubert jan Forum Resident

    You better Google for it.
    In short combfilter effect is canceling out certain frequencies when sound from another loudspeaker at a distance reaches the ear simultanious.
    Mono over 2 speakers has a very limited sweet spot.
    Combfilter effect gone with one point source, impulse behaviour consequently much better.
    But Google, extensive info.
  11. DigMyGroove

    DigMyGroove Forum Resident

    I bought an Ortofon 2M Mono last week and finally know what the fuss is about (it also helped that it coincided with the arrival of a Fisher 800-C into my system). The depth of sound stage, the oomph, and the "realness" factor were all so much better with the mono cartridge, very glad I have the option in my system now. The OM 2 Mono is installed on a circa 1979 Kenwood KD700, a lovely manual table with electronic cueing and auto lift I found on Craigslist last summer.
  12. Carl Swanson

    Carl Swanson Resident blabbermouth

    I don't notice any "pseudo stereo" effect when I listen to mono. My speakers have a very precise center, and when I'm doing any critical listening, I usually stay in one spot.
    Bob Y and JackG like this.
  13. Doctor Fine

    Doctor Fine Forum Resident

    Lewes, DE
    Carl Swanson what you also didn't notice was that with only a SINGLE SPEAKER you no longer have to stay in ONE spot in between a stereo pair to get a good sound.
    With ONE speaker the sound is EXCELLENT and in phase EVERYWHERE in the entire room once you place the speaker in the proper spot to load the room.
    I imagine the Beatles gathering in a ROOM to hear their records as they were being mixed in MONO because everybody knew MONO sounded better for GROUPS of people.
    NOT each one fighting to hear the mix from the "sweet spot."
    With ONE speaker EVERYWHERE is the SWEET SPOT.
    Listening to mono on TWO speakers in mono will cause LOBING.
    Using TWO speakers at the same time the sound is only PERFECT in ONE SPOT IN THE ENTIRE ROOM.
    Using two speakers the full sound is only in the dead center of the two speakers.
    Do you guys GET IT OR WHAT?
    MONO was KING before stereo drowned it out because MONO did some things BETTER.
    Paul K and Robert C like this.
  14. Steve G

    Steve G Forum Resident

    los angeles
    I've always entertained this fantasy of getting a single channel passive line stage/switching box with separate volume controls for two different inputs that you could switch between, and running a true mono table into it and then running it out into my center channel amp so like "A" would be center channel from my player/DAC and "B" would be the preamp from the mono table, and I'd have the level fixed for the center channel and then I could turn the mono records up with the other volume control. As opposed to making a whole other rig. I might do that sometime.
  15. Hillel abramov

    Hillel abramov Forum resident

    Tel Aviv
    Yes, but only if you have one ear. :)
  16. The Acid Mouse

    The Acid Mouse Well-Known Member

    You'll be dressing in period clothing next to further enhance that authentic listening experience . I've just been blasting the Small Faces in mono through my two speakers - sit back and enjoy...
    Frosst, blakep and fortherecord like this.
  17. fortherecord

    fortherecord Forum Resident

    Upstate, NY
    The better your speakers are set up, the more solid and accurate mono recordings will sound. Use a mono record to set up your speakers until the image is perfectly heard in the center. Stereo will also sound much better too with good speaker placement.
    Shak Cohen, JackG and blakep like this.

    SKATTERBRANE Forum Resident

    Tucson, AZ
    Whenever I listen to a mono CD, I DO get pseudo stereo artifacts.

    It is not a requirement that a stereo recording has to have fake reverb etc. A single stereo mic recording in a natural space WITHOUT further processing is even more natural sounding than the best mono recordings. The stereo recording will reproduce the natural space quite well along with the room ambience in 3D. Granted most pop stereo recordings are rife with "effects" that ruin the natural timbre and dynamics that was so valued in the pre-stereo days.

    I think the temptation to use stereo "effects" was strong to exaggerate the features and to promote the sale of stereo equipment and records. But when done properly stereo sounds more life-like and real than a mono recording. Though timber and dynamic fidelity is not unique to either.

    Listening to RCA classical stereo recordings from the 50s and early 60s is far more natural sounding to me than their mono counterparts. And "adult" pop and jazz music fares the same to me. It is ROCK music that often screwed the pooch as it comes to natural timbre and dynamics because kids like effects and do not place a priority on high fidelity. It is the same today as it ever was in this regard. Hey kids drink peppermint schnapps, and adults drink fine wines. Kids like to hear a lot of reverb and ping-pong panning, electronic effects, etc. And adults may prefer to hear the natural timbre of any given instrument, voice etc.

    So, it is not stereo that makes the difference in timbre and natural dynamics, it is the MARKET that sprang from that technology that caused the deficit in the natural timbre and dynamics often found in stereo. The vocals from Ella Fitzgerald were recorded to faithfully reproduce her natural tone. The vocals from John Lennon on Tomorrow Never Comes were to create an effect.

    On the other hand Elvis Presley's stereo recording of You Don't Have To Say You Love me is recorded with more dynamics and less reverb than the highly compressed and reverb laden mono master used for the single.

    An analogy with car restoration. A 100 point concours restoration on a vintage car where the goal is to restore a car to be EXACTLY like it was new down to every last nut and bolt and inspection chalk mark and paper label is like a recording in which the priority is to reproduce the natural timbre, dynamics and space of the performance. VS.: A custom car where the priority is to make whatever end product you want, where there are no rules, to create something new that may not even have any resemblance to the original car you started with is like a modern pop recording, where they try to make a saxophone sound like a helicopter and they try to make a computer sound like a saxophone.
    Last edited: Mar 3, 2018
  19. Bob Y

    Bob Y Member

    Mono is mono whether through one speaker or 500, no difference. I listen to mono through 4 Large advents 2 on each side, using both channels makes mono records sound fuller with more bass otherwise it's identical. I have some early 60's Everly Brother Mono Warner Brother LP's that sound unbelievable, also have a Sonny Rollins stereo LP (1962, don't know how old the record is) that sounds unbelievable, Sonny Rollins, "The bridge" so usually I buy whichever is available and whichever is in better condition, I find LP's from the 50's and early to mid 60's usually sound great whether they are mono or stereo (58 and on) if they're in good condition. Early stereo Jazz LP's sound really good, they sound live, with some early stereo LP's for ex, Thelonious Monk's late 50's early 60's stuff you can hear the "room" they were recorded in.
    SKATTERBRANE likes this.
  20. Doc Diego

    Doc Diego Well-Known Member

    A true mono cart made a dramatic difference in my two speaker bedroom system. I find the sweet spot not as apparent with mono.
  21. Doctor Fine

    Doctor Fine Forum Resident

    Lewes, DE
    If you have the great luxury of a single mono speaker setup you will discover that true mono recordings were mixed in a different way than their stereo counterparts---and I DON'T mean just because it is one speaker versus two.
    When you mix for mono you have the great luxury of placing things you want in a hierarchical order with certain details more pronounced than others in order to present the mix the way YOU want---and with TOTAL control how it will sound in playback.
    With Stereo it is a crap shoot exactly how the listener will hear it.
    WIDE Stereo setup on playback?
    Does the listener have his speaker CLOSE together?
    Is his room PERFECTLY symmetrical?
    Nobody knows.
    But in MONO with ONE speaker the mix engineer has TOTAL control how the mix will sound.
    It is much more professional.
    The Beatles scoffed at Stereo thinking it was for geeks that sat in between two speakers sort of like headphone geeks listening on a headset.
    The Beatles thought anyone with a brain would PREFER Mono as it is where the creative process is totally controlled and you could hear more of what THEY wanted you to hear irrespective of your own equipment.
    Listen. I LOVE Stereo.
    But you simply can not argue that listening to true mono on one speaker is anything but a step UP in quality from Stereo.
    I know it sounds insane to all you modernists but there are the facts of how we got here.
    Technology marches backwards sometimes.
    In a footnote I went to Broadway and paid a couple hundred bucks to hear South Pacific live and guess what?
    The PA engineer mixed the entire production down to ONE giant MONO speaker pile so that the entire audience would have the same quality of signal irrespective of where they sat.
    In stereo some folks would have been shortchanged if they weren't in the "sweet spot."
    Get it?
  22. Doctor Fine

    Doctor Fine Forum Resident

    Lewes, DE
    Now you should try listening on a mono cartridge or mono CD with just one stack of Advents playing.
    Walk around the room and be amazed that the entire room sounds great even in the far back left or right sides.
    Unless your stacks are not loading the room properly just listening to ONE side in true mono should be a revelation.
    Try it before you scoff at it.
    I have two Wilson WAMM sized stacks and routinely turn off one side if listening to true mono.
    It is WAY more sexy sounding than spreading it out over two stacks and suffering the effects of lobing cancellation unless I sit dead center with my head in a vise.
  23. ROFLnaked

    ROFLnaked Forum Resident

    Fortunately for me, I have little interest in any music post-1967 or so!

    Even in my youth back in the 1980s (when stereo=good, mono=bad) I always gravitated to mono LPs. Stereo is great for psychedelic records and Mickey Baker's Wildest Guitar LP, but give me mono for everything else...


    btltez, Pancat, Fifth-Chord and 6 others like this.
  24. Trashman

    Trashman Forum Resident

    That's one VERY cool room! :righton:
  25. Trashman

    Trashman Forum Resident

    One speaker or two?

    1. Listen to a favorite mono recording with two speakers.
    2. Then listen with one speaker.
    3. Decide which one sounds better for you.
    4. Use that method for enjoying your mono recordings in the future.
    5. Ignore people who tell you to do otherwise.
    btltez, Pancat, ROFLnaked and 2 others like this.

Share This Page