Why Mono Records are Better than Stereo

Learn why collectors prefer buying older Mono records over Stereo records for their superior sound quality.

Why Mono Records are Better than Stereo

Mono tracks will output the same audio from both speakers, while stereo tracks usually pan the sound, emitting different audio signals through the left and right speakers. This is a technique that can more accurately represent how listeners perceive live music. Some collectors prefer stereo discs, and there are reasons for that too. Well-recorded stereo albums provide a three-dimensional sense of space and offer a “you're there” experience that mono recordings cannot.

The stereo cartridge reads the vertical component of the information from the slot, while on a mono record, all that would be noise and noise produced by imperfect pressure, which is the reality of vinyl reproduction no matter how well the disc is pressed. A mono cartridge, by definition, doesn't read or reproduce any of that strange information. You can approach what a mono cartridge does with a mono button on a phonograph or line preamplifier, or even use a Y adapter when playing a mono disc, but a mono cartridge is better for mono recordings. Mono discs are considered older than stereo discs and having an older mono album is rare, making them more sought after because artists and bands initially recorded older songs with mono audio.

Therefore, they sound better in a mono. In addition, recording vocals in mono makes them sound powerful, clear and direct. On the other hand, recording voices in stereo makes them sound spacious, big and soft. It's easy to dismiss mono recordings as outdated or inferior, especially if you grew up after the decline of stereo, as I did.

But contrary to popular opinion, mono discs can sound fantastic and even have some sonic advantages over stereo discs. When handled by an expert engineer, mono recordings can sound especially focused and impactful. Hear the drastic difference between the stereo and mono mix in the final version of Pink Floyd's Interstellar Overdrive. In terms of sound quality, many audiophiles consider these recordings to be less desirable since they conceal the potential strengths of both stereo and mono.

They had stopped pressing both mono and stereo discs or had made mono discs available only on request. If you played a test track that only contained one channel (completely right or completely left), it would sound just as good when played with a direct mono cartridge or a stereo cartridge connected in parallel. For example, if you're recording in a room with unique acoustics, you can try recording the lead singer in stereo. In a perfect world, all music since the dawn of the 20th century would have been recorded on at least 16 stereo tracks with excellent stereo mixes and the mono would never have existed. All of the previous albums were not under their full control and all subsequent albums (except Yellow Submarine) received no mono mixes anyway. They are also essential to consider before using a mono disc in a record player intended for sound equipment and vice versa. First of all, all things being equal (suitable stylus, reasonable magnetic cartridge), the sound quality of a mono cartridge will be exactly the same as that of a stereo cartridge with the left and right channels connected in parallel.

One thing that people usually do is use a stereo cart when playing mono discs and then simply turn on the mono switch on their preamp or receiver. That soon changed and over the next decade shoppers encountered a series of complications when buying album albums at the store. Be prepared to experience a sound field that is NOT presented with the contents of the left speaker (such as a guitar that shouts to the left) and the content of the right speaker (like a keyboardist playing it hard on the right side), but rather with a mono recording, the sound field will largely focus on the center between the speakers. Mono albums on the other hand are being mastered from tapes that have remained virtually intact for almost 50 years. Depending on who you ask you'll get a different answer when it comes to why radius of lower groove of monopressures decreases. The original mono mix gives a dynamic and natural boost to opening riff while stereo version is one of decade's most infamous examples of extreme psychedelic stereo music. For albums for which options are mono or recanaled stereo collectors almost always choose to buy mono version.


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