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Mono Vinyl: Mono Cart vs Mono Preamp button

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  • Mono Vinyl: Mono Cart vs Mono Preamp button

    Looking for advice and information on mono vinyl playback... pros and cons and what is actually happening to improve he sound quality of mono records. With listening to a vinyl record with a stereo cartridge, what happens when you push the mono button on a preamp? How does that compare to just listening to a mono record with a mono cartridge? I heard that the noise level goes down on both options and imaging gets more focused, but trying to find out more. The mono cart is the more expensive option, so trying to look for value for performance as well when comparing both options.

  • #2
    You are summing the outputs when you push the mono button. My understanding is that mono is cut laterally, and stereo gets picked up by the vertical movement of the stylus, like an overlay on the mono track. So, when you play an old mono record using a stereo cartridge, you are tracing movement (the vertical) whose signal is not intended to convey musical information from the record. That is distortion that will still be conveyed through summed outputs. I think there's also groove depth; early mono, pre-RIAA? were cut deeper, but a stylus profile that seats away from the old path could reduce noise from wear of old styli. So, I suspect the ideal may be a modern mono cartridge.
    (I know that various archivists I've spent time with have cartridges with multiple sized/shaped styli to accommodate different records- presumably to trace the groove with the least noise, in order to preserve a copy that is relatively quiet.)
    If I have all that right, the question then becomes what of new mono records cut on a stereo head? Does it make as much difference?
    I posted this as much for my own curiosity than simply to provide an 'answer.' I'd be interested in hearing the answer myself.

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    • #3
      There is a thread on this topic on the VPI forum, but bottom line is that mono sounds better when a true mono cartridge is used for playback and I can attest to this...Playing a mono record with my Stereo cartridge sounds fine but a little bit noisy & flat, but when played with the Miyajima Zero it is spectacular and an order of magnitude quieter. As Bill said it has to do with how the stylus reads the modulation in the groove and less noise pick up because of the cartridge architecture. It is really hard to believe. I only wish the used mono original LPs were not so damn expensive and largely ruined based on the ones I have purchased so far on eBay. Fortunately the reissues are fantastic but also expensive. The Prestige Mono set from acoustic Sounds played with the ZERO rival if not exceed anything played in Stereo. No Shitsky..I have confirmed with industry insiders that playing modern mono pressings using the true mono cartridge causes no harm to the LP...
      Primary 2 channel stuff: Atma-Sphere MP-1 Mk 3.3, Pass Labs X600.5 amps, Aerial SW 12 subs, True Sound Works Ultimate Apogee Divas, Dunlavy SC4s, VPI HRX Reference w Avenger mag drive and Reference footers, Gimbal Fatboy, Yamaha GT2000 for Mono, Miyajima Kansui, Miyajima ZERO, Fidelity Research MC-201 & 202, VPI ADS, Vendetta Research SCP-1, Audio Note UK- 3.1X II balanced DAC, Meridian Sooloos, Western Electric Speaker wire, mostly diy balanced interconnects, Furutech Power Cords

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      • timztunz
        timztunz commented
        Editing a comment
        I agree completely!

    • #4
      I have struggled with this exact question myself, I now use a dedicated mono set up. I am using two mono carts, the Grado mx which is a stereo cart where the coils are paralleled to be mono and a Denon dl 102 which is a true mono cart with a true mono stylus.
      Playing a true mono record ( some of them are 50 + years) the Denon blows away the Grado, very little to zero record noise, playing a new mono stereo cut record the Grado does a better job but the Denon is still a better choice. There is no side wall distortion with a true mono cart even if the azimuth is not perfect. The amount music that is in the lateral track is mind blowing, You won't get the full signal from the lateral track with a Psuedo mono cart.

      I also played with the mono button and y cables, IMO the mono button adds distortion and a loss of dynamics, after all it is a filter built to sum two signals. The y cables simply play one channel through both speakers so any music on the other channel is lost.

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      • #5
        Thanks to all involved - I rightly assumed the dedicated mono setup is the way to go, but thought I'd get my facts straight. Now what about both - using a dedicated mono cart while using the mono button engaged on the preamp - yes or no?

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        • #6
          Originally posted by Analog21 View Post
          Thanks to all involved - I rightly assumed the dedicated mono setup is the way to go, but thought I'd get my facts straight. Now what about both - using a dedicated mono cart while using the mono button engaged on the preamp - yes or no?
          That would be counter productive, why would you add distortion by the way of a mono filter. Nothing gained and transparency lost.

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          • #7
            As a side question, what about using the mono button on a mono digital cd/sacd?

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            • #8
              Originally posted by Analog21 View Post
              As a side question, what about using the mono button on a mono digital cd/sacd?
              Looks like you're more into the mono button than mono playback , it's great when you're stuck with a mono setup and only one speaker, also good for checking channel balance and running diagnostics on your system. Be aware that with mono cartridges you'll have sound coming out of one speaker, something that not everyone likes. I don't recall how mono buttons work but they might put out sound from both speakers in this case too.

              david
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              • #9
                You can easily get sound from all the speakers in your system by using a Y cable w/o compromise (female to two rcas) for the tonearm at the phono pre-amp, Some use a y connector at the head shell but it tends to get a little tight.

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                • #10
                  The Miyajima Zero has output connections for a left and right connection? Both channels play...albeit in MONO

                  Primary 2 channel stuff: Atma-Sphere MP-1 Mk 3.3, Pass Labs X600.5 amps, Aerial SW 12 subs, True Sound Works Ultimate Apogee Divas, Dunlavy SC4s, VPI HRX Reference w Avenger mag drive and Reference footers, Gimbal Fatboy, Yamaha GT2000 for Mono, Miyajima Kansui, Miyajima ZERO, Fidelity Research MC-201 & 202, VPI ADS, Vendetta Research SCP-1, Audio Note UK- 3.1X II balanced DAC, Meridian Sooloos, Western Electric Speaker wire, mostly diy balanced interconnects, Furutech Power Cords

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                  • #11
                    even though I use an inexpensive mono cart ( denon dl-102 ) it sounds better than much more expensive stereo carts I have owned played back with the mono button.
                    Magnepan 1.6 QR Loudspeakers, Amherst A-2000 MOSFET 150 WPC Amp, Conrad Johnson PV-10A Modded Tube Line & Phono Stage, Electrocompaniet MC II Class A Head Amp, Audio Technica AT-OC9XML Cart (Stereo) , Graham Engineering 2.2 Tonearm (Stereo) , VPI Aries-1 Turntable (Stereo) , VPI Clamp, Denon DL-102 Cart, (Mono) , Luxman Tonearm (Mono) , Kenwood KD-500 Turntable (Mono) , Michell Clamp, Marantz 20B Analog FM Tuner, Pioneer SACD, Onkyo DX-6800 CD Transport, DIY 24B/192K DAC, Sennheiser HD-650 Headphones, Headroom Max Balanced Headphone Amp, DIY Silver Interconnects

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                    • #12
                      I do not believe that the Zero is a true mono cartridge, I think that it has two coils paralleled into a single coil ( I could be wrong), there is a lot of debate about that type of mono system. Ortofons new mono cartridge is the same type of technology, I went with the Denon because it is a true mono right down to the stylus shape.

                      Comment


                      • Letsmakeadeal
                        Letsmakeadeal commented
                        Editing a comment
                        The ZERO is a true mono cartridge and widely acclaimed as one of the best of its kind available today...Please feel free to review the technology on the Miyajima website.

                      • don
                        don commented
                        Editing a comment
                        I stand corrected, I must of been thinking of another cartridge that is a hybrid mono, after reviewing the Zero I have a burning desire to hear one.

                      • Letsmakeadeal
                        Letsmakeadeal commented
                        Editing a comment
                        Don - I was skeptical at first about the mono hype. How could it possibly sound a good as our stereo LPs....I decided to make the investment because I have quite a few mono recordings in my collection and after doing my due diligence the ZERO came forward by critical acclaim as the one to have....I still can't believe my ears...Playback with a good mono LP & cartridge on a nice 2 channel system is simply breathtaking...

                    • #13
                      BTW, a good demo record for a modern mono Lp is Jimi Hendrix Axis:Bold as Love reissue. It sounds fantastic in mono.
                      Magnepan 1.6 QR Loudspeakers, Amherst A-2000 MOSFET 150 WPC Amp, Conrad Johnson PV-10A Modded Tube Line & Phono Stage, Electrocompaniet MC II Class A Head Amp, Audio Technica AT-OC9XML Cart (Stereo) , Graham Engineering 2.2 Tonearm (Stereo) , VPI Aries-1 Turntable (Stereo) , VPI Clamp, Denon DL-102 Cart, (Mono) , Luxman Tonearm (Mono) , Kenwood KD-500 Turntable (Mono) , Michell Clamp, Marantz 20B Analog FM Tuner, Pioneer SACD, Onkyo DX-6800 CD Transport, DIY 24B/192K DAC, Sennheiser HD-650 Headphones, Headroom Max Balanced Headphone Amp, DIY Silver Interconnects

                      Comment


                      • #14
                        Originally posted by JCOConnell View Post
                        BTW, a good demo record for a modern mono Lp is Jimi Hendrix Axis:Bold as Love reissue. It sounds fantastic in mono.
                        I have it,
                        I also have Sgt Peppers, Bob Dylans Highway 61 and Bringing it all back Home (all great,) my favorite reissue mono is Mo-Fi "Ricky Nelson" sings again, Elvis lent him his backup band, I am telling you this is one of the best sounding albums.

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                        • #15
                          Anyone using a Y connector method for their mono setup heard about this theory? Scroll down..
                          https://www.aurealisaudio.com.au/stereo-to-mono-mixie/
                          I'm curious whether this is total BS or whether it has any merit.
                          thoughts?
                          chris

                          Comment


                          • JCOConnell
                            JCOConnell commented
                            Editing a comment
                            a resistor network should give results similar to a mono button on the preamp
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