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Stereo vs. Mono vs. Stereo

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 
One loses the spatial element when listening to a stereo source via equipment set up for Mono - but is there a loss of other 'content?' I have understood from some people that various aspects of phasing in recording and playback can result in a 'loss.'

Limited listening on my part has me THINK something is missing but the loss of spatial content is so great that it makes it very difficult to hear other differences.

Maybe that's the answer - if you can't hear it - who cares? :-) But still I wouldd like to know at least theoretically, Thanks.
Edited by Frank Buckley - 8/28/13 at 3:35am
post #2 of 6
Frank, it's an interesting topic and certainly one with a wealth of information on the Internet. And personally I'd not be opposed to experimenting with it a bit.

Practically speaking though, this will take a bit of effort to get into. Listening to just the left channel of a stereo recording won't be satisfying. Hitting the “mono” button on the pre-amp or using a Y adapter to combine the left and right channels will result in electronic summing of frequencies resulting in unwanted reinforcement or cancellation. Pretty much rules out almost everything recorded in the last few decades.

Consequently what holds a person back is getting one's hands on true monophonic source material and a suitable playback device (e.g. a mono cartridge for a turntable).

Perhaps you can give us a bit of background on your system, what material you are listening to, and your opinions of the experience.
post #3 of 6
Thread Starter 
Thanks post.

First - I am not encountering the problem myself - and personally have no need for mono - where I would only use one speaker I then am only listening to speech.

Rather I am trying to advise a customer who has the idea to use an amp and one speaker - and use the Mono facility which happens to still be on that amp (removed from most it seems).

I am telling him that my understanding is that he is going to lose actual musical content - I have 'heard' this happens but have not ever gotten any details. I would be very doubtful that the Mono switch ends up allowing summing of signals and frequencies - that woould have to cause a huge mess. I am rather suspecting it would be a result of affecting phasing. I just don't know - I did spend a lot of time trying to Google it out but everything I found just handled the 'spatial' difference. You say there is plenty of material on this subject on the net - could you please point out 1-2?

post #4 of 6
I think we are going in different directions on this issue. Basically, some individuals feel that monophonic music reproduction was superior to stereo music recording and reproduction. Some individuals find the panning of music between the left to right channels to be distracting, and for others it's a more pleasing sound stage offered by mono.

To start off you can take a look at:




post #5 of 6
Thread Starter 
Let me try to correct the 'different directions' -- I am interested to know if one takes a well done originsl STEREO recording - and presses a correctly made mono button on an amp - is there any difference in actual frequency/musical content BESIDES the SPATIAL aspect - ?

I am not bringing up any differences with regard to mono recordings vs. stereo.
post #6 of 6
If I understand correctly, your customer wants to take a stereo recording, feed it through a pre-amplifier with a mono switch engaged, and then out to a single channel amplifier / speaker. What is going to happen is the electrical summing of frequencies as the L and R channels are mushed together.

For example, if the original stereo signal at 1000 Hz the L channel has an output voltage of +0.25 volts and the R channel has an output voltage of -0.50 volts, then the mono signal sent to the power amplifier will be just -0.25 volts. There will be a loss of detail in the sound as the voltages are combined and the sound will be quieter.

At another moment the signals might be +0.25 and +0.50 for L and R channels. The combined signal would then be +0.75 volts and the sound reproduced will be louder.

I'd presume that the mono switch, when used with a stereo recording, would exaggerate the dynamic range of the original recording. Some passages become too quiet and some become too loud. But you may not necessarily notice the difference. I'd suggest giving it a try and if the sound is pleasing then enjoy it for what it is.
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