A new player in the quality Mono cartridge game


For awhile there, if you wanted a mono cart to get the most out your new mono Beatles collection, other mono reissues, or vintage mono LPs, there were the budget offerings from Grado, a big price gap, and then the more expensive good stuff. The elliptical mono Grado goes for around $150.

But now the Audio Technica AT MONO3/LP, a HOMC, is available in the US. The link goes to the official importer, LpGear, who prices this $299.99 cart at $189.99. However, I also found that this cart is available from Amazon for $112.65. Worried that the unofficial import puts your purchase at risk? For a mere $12 extra you can buy a 2-year protection warranty.

I ordered mine via Amazon Prime on Sat. Oct. 24 and it arrived today.

This thing is NICE! 1.2mV output, which is plenty, conical stylus (don't know if it's nude or not, but it *sounds* nude), tracking force range 1.5-2.5g. I'm breaking mine in at around 2g.

Even fresh out of the box, this cart's a revelation. I started with "Within You Without You" from the new Beatles Mono vinyl reissue. It's really something when you play a mono record with a cartridge that produces no signal in the vertical plane. The noise floor drops down to the indiscernible. In fact, even cueing the needle makes very little sound thru the speakers.

Everything on Sgt. Pepper's sounded richer, lusher, more distinct, more dynamic, with great treble extension and no hint of sibilance. I followed it with Analogue Productions' 3-LP 45 rpm remaster of Nat King Cole's "After Midnight." Fan-TASTIC! I thought Nat was in the room before, but the dynamics, transparency, and truth-in-timbre reached a height I hadn't heard on my rig up to now.

I finished my mini-audition with a *real* mono record, an original mono Columbia Masterworks pressing of "Grand Canyon Suite" performed by Eugene Ormandy and The Phily Phil. Again, smoother, quieter, more dynamics. It showed its age a little bit, but I think I could bring this 55-yr-old record close to the reissues with a steam cleaning. Even without it it was very satisfying.

Folks, if you have nothing but the new Beatles mono reissues and have an easy way to switch cartridges or set up a mono rig, this cart is so worth it.

Right now I have around 13 Beatles mono LPs, two Beach Boys reissues, the Nat King Cole, some old Columbia Masterworks and shaded dog Orthophonics, mono reissues of Prestige and Miles Davis LPs, and some mono pressings of '60s pop.

I'm thinking of separating all my mono vinyl into its own shelf so--when I mount the AT Mono3 LP--I don't have to sort through my entire collection to play the compatible LPs.

BTW, if you decide to go after this cartridge, make sure you get the AT MONO3/LP cartridge, which is for mono LPS, and *NOT* the AT MONO3/SP cartridge, which is for 78s.
johnnyb53
Yes Sir...I totally agree...I've had mine for a while now and keeps getting better, it has to be one of best hi end values out there!!! You'll be surprised how well it sounds on stereo recordings as well. This cart has had me on a mono treasure hunt for months...a true diamond in my opinion.
Enjoy the MUSIC my friend...:-)!
Thanks for the heads-up.
I wish I had the ability to have two tonearms on the table. With all of the mono jazz recordings I have, I'd love to have that new AT mono cartridge. Having had a few years of experience with playing mono records on the AT-OC9 MKIII and now the ART-9, both of which are great sounding on mono recordings, I can only imagine what AT can do with a mono only cartridge. I'm really beginning to like that company.
10-29-15: Oregonpapa
I wish I had the ability to have two tonearms on the table. With all of the
mono jazz recordings I have, I'd love to have that new AT mono cartridge.
Do you have room for a second turntable? For the
price of a tonearm, you could get a Pioneer PLX-1000, which is like a
Technics SL1200 with the improvements it always needed--better feet,
internally damped tonearm, more torque, and constrained layer damping
where the plinth meets the base. They go for $697 and have a removeable
headshell.

I totally agree with you about Audio Technica cartridges. My stereo cart is
the AT150MLX. It's a fantastic value with excellent resolution, tonal balance,
detail, and dynamics, especially considering you can get it for $325 and the
MicroLine stylus is replaceable. This AT MONO3/LP HOMC is also schweet,
lowering the noise floor and brnging a nice musicality to all my mono records
I like it much better than the Denon DL-160 HOMC I still have. I wish Audio
Technica made a stereo version (i.e., high output) of this cartridge as well. At
$112.65 it's ridiculously good.
I have the SP (Standard Play, i.e,. 78 RPM) version of this cartridge that I picked up in unused condition for a song on ePay, and it is wonderful --especially for post-War (that would be WWII for those of you have lost count) sides. Without interchangeable styli it probably is not ideal for the serious collector, but I like mine for my casual 78 spinning and would like to hear the LP version, if only to compare it to the Denon DL102 and the SPU Mono (both of which have their well documented virtues as well.)
Belyin: the thing is, this mono Audio Technica cartridge provides so much for so little, at least from Amazon. It lists at around $300, but you can get it from Amazon for $112.65. A replacement stylus for a mono Grado ME+ is $90; you might as well buy three Audio Technicas and set yourself up for a decade of playing mono LPs.

The other cartridges you mention cost more in one way or another. The Denon is twice as much. It has OFC copper, but the AT has PCOCC copper, a big step up in the most strategic place. The Ortofon SPU Mono is no doubt a great mono cart, but at around 8-1/2 times the price it should be.

That's why I'm nuts about the Audio Technica. It is a great value, almost a gift--a cannily built high output moving coil with a forgiving conical stylus and an overall enticing musical presentation for little more than a Shure M97xE.

I'm sure there are better mono carts, but none that can get within sniffing distance of the AT at $112.65.
Johnny ...

I used to have a second turntable ... an old Technics with an SME arm. I used it to play 78's. No room for a second table at this time though.

Its really surprising how good mono records can sound. I have hundreds of mono jazz albums, vocals and some classical too. At times, with a good mono record playing, the thought crosses my mind ... "who needs stereo?" As we mono guys know, mono sometimes sounds much better than the label's stereo releases.

Well recorded 78's can be pretty amazing too. I have a copy of the West Coast jazz group "The Lighthouse All Stars" on a 78 rpm record that puts them right in the room. I used to demo it for guests just to show them how good 78's can sound. The record companies were still issuing 78's well into the 1950's. We used to buy them when I was a kid because they were cheap. Fifty cents each, brand new. It was this era that had the good sounding 78's. Man ... Joe Houston, Big Jay McNeely and Earl Bostic on 78's? To die for. *lol*
Apart from the fact that I loathe Amazon, thanks for the heads up. I'd actually rather pay the extra money and buy from some other vendor, but LP Gear are not so meritorious, either. Anyway, does your preamplifier have a "mono" switch? Did you ever try it when playing mono LPs with a stereo cartridge? If anyone has done this experiment and then also heard a mono cartridge in his or her system, I would be interested to know which configuration was preferred. In theory, a stereo cartridge played through mono switching ought to be about the same as a mono cartridge, on mono LPs. At least, this is what I tell myself, since I don't yet own a mono cartridge.
Lewm, I think I can shed some light on your questions.

No, my preamp does not have a mono switch.

Until last Tuesday, I've played my 30 or so mono LPs with a stereo cartridge,
the Audio Technica AT150MLX.

I only started playing these mono albums with this new AT mono cart for the
past six days. I have been giving heavy rotation to the Beatles and Nat King
Cole mono reissues plus vintage pressings.

Your "In theory, a stereo cartridge played through mono switching ought to
be about the same as a mono cartridge, on mono LPs" overlooks a couple of
things. Original mono pressings only have modulations in the horizontal
plane. Modern mono pressings are pressed like stereo pressings--horizontal
modulations for one channel, vertical modulations for the other channel.
When both channels have the same info and are played back on a stereo
cartridge, yes, you do get mono. However, the two channels will be slightly
out of sync unless the cartridge is *perfectly* aligned.

A mono cartridge can *track* in both planes, but only the horizontal
modulations are transmitted. This means there are no right/left phasing
issues and the noise floor is lower becausethe noise and accumulated dust
of the vertical channel transmits no sound.

Also, modern mono cartridges have a suspension that allows the cantilever
to move horizontally and vertically, probably so you don't inadvertently ruin a
stereo record. However, the vertical circuit is "dead." The needle moves
that way but makes no sound.

Another advantage with the AT MONO is that the stylus is conical (not so on
many mono cartridges), so overhang isn't so picky and tangential alignment
isn't so critical. With a stereo cartridge with a microline, Shibata, Fritz-Gyger,
etc. stylus the opposite is true--for best mono playback alignment needs to
be as close to perfect as possible. In fact, playing a stereo cartridge on a
modern mono record is a good tool for spotting alignment problems--and
also for subwoofer integration. I once played a mono Miles Davis reissue and
iit sounded like the music was coming from the left wall. I had to adjust the
azimuth to fix it.

The mono cartridge sound is very focused and free of any phasey artifacts
because it's playing only one track rather than merging two identical tracks
that are supposed to sound identical. With a mono cartridge, because only
one track is getting picked up, music from both speakers *is* identical.

For me, at $112.65 and a turntable with interchangeable headshells--even
for playing just 30 records or so--this was a no-brainer.
I don't know about the particular AT cartridge under discussion, but many/most "modern" mono cartridges are merely stereo cartridges that are internally bridged to produce a mono signal. Mono cartridges thus constructed would therefore produce a signal, in fact, in response to vertical movements of the stylus that is canceled at the outputs. The result is very little different from using the mono switch on a preamplifier with a stereo cartridge playing a mono LP. Neither is "perfectly" mono. (I would not argue for a minute that either option is not superior to playing a mono LP with a stereo cartridge into a preamp set for stereo mode. That's easy to hear.) Admittedly, there are "true" mono cartridges out there; I think Ortofon, EMT, and Miyajima make examples, and probably others. I'd like to hear one of those.
You could also have a stylus that can wiggle in both directions to protect stereo records but only has a coil and magnet to pick up horizontal motion. In that case the signal's not canceled; there's no signal from vertical motion at all. It could also mean less moving mass.

It *is* different from using a mono switch, because that's summing both channels to produce mono. A cartridge that picks up only the horizontal movement--regardless of how it does that--is factoring out the second version of the mono signal and eliminating noise that would be generated by the vertical track.

There is no question from my listening that the AT MONO3/LP has a lower noise floor and a more focused sound because it's only playing a single mono track rather than the sum of two.
Johnny, As I thought I clearly stated, I am not arguing at all that playing mono LPs in mono mode, no matter how it is arrived at, is not optimum. In your last paragraph, you seem to be talking about a condition that I have not even dreamed of... playing a stereo LP with a mono cartridge. (I could be wrong about your intent.) Let's leave that out of the picture as a generally bad idea.

To repeat, many if not most modern mono cartridges are internally constructed as stereo cartridges, except that the outputs of the two channels are summed prior to exit. Such cartridges will likely be responding to vertical modulation imparted by the record grooves. Of course, on a mono LP, there is no music encoded for vertical modulation, but there will be some spurious noise which is cancelled prior to the output connections. When you use a mono switch on a preamplifier, exactly the same thing happens. Thereby, mono LPs played even with a stereo cartridge will sound much better than if played back in stereo. What I am wondering about is whether in fact it makes any important audible difference whether one uses a mono cartridge or a mono switch to play back mono LPs. I don't say that I know the answer; I am just curious. There is a well known guru on Vinyl Asylum who insists that the two methods are indistinguishable sonically. I am never as certain about anything as he is about everything.
A great discussion, Lewm and Johnnyb. There is one playback scenario not mentioned, the one I use. I have a fair number of 50's and early-to-mid 60's mono LP's, and in addition to my main pre-amp I have been using one (ARC LS-1) with a mode switch having the following settings: Stereo, (Stereo) Reverse, Mono, Left (channel only), and Right (ditto). Using a stereo cartridge, a mono LP can be played with the mode switch set to not only Mono, but also to Left or Right, whereupon that channel's input signal will be fed to both the left and right outputs of the pre. Switching between them allows one to compare the two groove walls! The best sounding wall can then be the one listened to.

I also listen to early stereo LP's (particularly Beach Boys and Beatles) via the Left and Right inputs separately, to hear the extreme left/right panning on those records, with the instruments in one channel and vocals in the other. Many of the early Beach Boys albums were not offered in true stereo, but in Duosonic (mono reprocessed fake stereo). The two channels of Duosonic LP's can be compared, to hear the processing (frequency and phase differences added to the original dual mono channels).

A cartridge of particular interest for the playing of mono LP's, I believe, is the Decca/London, because of it's sum-and-difference design. The cartridge produces a L+R signal and a L-R one, to attain stereo. How that can be exploited for mono LP's I don't know.
If I'm not mistaken (and I may be), the AT33MONO for around 300 bucks has only coil for picking up horizontal vibration, unlike the AT MONO3, which only generates signal from the horizontal movement, presumably canceling the vertical component.

Here is how AT describes the former:

"The AT33Mono is made specifically for use on mono systems. It has a horizontal coil, and so in principle only generates electricity horizontally."

And here the latter:

"Made specifically for mono recordings on vinyl records, the cartridge only generates signal with horizontal movement. However to produce a minimal wear on the groove, the AT-MONO3/LP also has an adapted vertical compliance."

Is that how you would interpret the difference here?
I have a mono switch on the ARC PH8. Virtually all mono records sound best on my system in mono mode. Here's the kicker though ... can anyone explain why some stereo recordings sound better in mono mode? Not a lot of stereo records, but some.
Because some stereo mixes, especially early ones with exaggerated separation (Ringo and Paul to the right, George and John to the left!), are god-awful?
Anecdote re the Decca London. Back when that was the latest rage, I and a close friend both bought one. He and I separately noted that if you removed the cover over the top of the body, you could access the assembly that supported the coils or at least some part of the transducing mechanism. We had enough faith in ourselves to adjust the tiny screws, which moved a platform up and down, so as to get best sound. It was only after a few months of listening that we discovered that we each had turned a stereo cartridge into a mono cartridge; there was no stereo separation at all, when the London sounded best to our ears.

Rnm4, I don't know what to make of the language you quote, describing the difference between the two AT mono cartridges. It's ambiguous, don't you think?

I think I need to purchase a mono cartridge in order to compare the use of a mono switch to using a mono cartridge, but right now I bemoan the fact that many modern preamplifiers have omitted the option of mono switching. I have two vintage units that provide same, an original Quicksilver full function preamplifier and a Klyne 6LX, through which I use an outboard tube phono stage. Some day, I am going to install a mono switch on my Atma-sphere MP1, which is the best sounding of the 3. Or maybe that system will get the mono cartridge.
When I first got a Japanese stereo pressing of Rubber Soul, I *wished* I had
a mono switch. It was never intended to be a stereo record, but in the US,
Capitol knew that *stereo* sold. So they keept the 2 recording tracks
separate, instruments in one, voices in the other. Much worse than John and
Paul hard right, George and Ringo hard left.

However, Lewm, a mono switch doesn't replicate *all* the advantages that a
mono cartridge does. Because there's no vertical signal in a mono cartridge
(at least the ones I know of such as my new Audio Technica and the Grados),
the noise floor is cut in half, even for modern mono reissues.

I've found that vintage mono records benefit even more from a mono
cartridge. I recently pulled out some real '50s and '60s mono pressings--Ella
Fitzgerald singing Gershwin, Righteous Brothers, and Fischer-Dieskau
singing Brahms. With a stereo cartridge they were too noisy, the Fischer-
Diskau especially so. With the mono cartridge all those same records were
quiet and very enjoyable.

A mono switch with a stereo cartridge won't fix that.
Whoa, I lost track of this thread and there's some misinformation here.
*Modern mono pressings are pressed like stereo pressings--horizontal modulations for one channel, vertical modulations for the other channel.*

Modern mono pressings are microgroove with groove walls at 45°. Unlike a stereo pressing, each groove wall is a mirror image of the other.
With this in mind it's easy to see the advantage a mono cart has in playing such records. With a stereo cart there are output differences between channels which should be identical playing a mono record. A mono switch will blend these differences, not eliminate them. Any alignment, azimuth, anti-skate etc. imbalance will smear the signal.

Elimination of vertical noise is a great advantage with a mono cart as Johnnyb says. This can be dramatic with some older or beat up records. For microgroove mono you will have a similar advantage with advanced profile tips as with stereo. Ortofon, Lyra, Soundsmith make some mono carts with extended contact tips.

Conventional MM/MI, manipulate the connection of the coils to eliminate vertical output. MCs do so with the orientation of the coils and armature. According to AT, the MONO3 and 33 have identical construction style which results in 30dB of vertical rejection @ 1KHz.
AFAIK AT never made a mono MM.

The microgroove was invented in 1948 and adopted mostly through the '50s. Pre microgroove pressings from the early '50s or before might sound better with a 1 mil stylus. LpGear still has the Ortofon OM D25M with 1 mil tip. I've never used it, but Ortofon has it listed in their historical data as lateral output. You might be able to use other OM styli as well.
Dear Johnny, I enjoy these discussions, but its frustrating if you don't read my posts. For the third time, most modern "mono" cartridges are internally stereo cartridges wherein the two channels are bridged in order to produce a mono signal (identical signals in each channel) at the output. Such a cartridge WILL respond to vertical movement of the stylus tip. Since, on a mono LP, there is no music encoded in the vertical direction, any noise generated by vertical motion is, hopefully, cancelled at the outputs of the cartridge, to produce the benefits of mono playback. The exact same thing happens inside a linestage with a mono switch, if you use a stereo cartridge to play a mono LP. The only question is which method sounds better, and I suspect the answer to that question has a lot to do with what mono vs stereo cartridges one is comparing whilst playing a mono LP.

Of course, as I also wrote above, there are a few mono cartridges that are truly mono, have only one channel from input to output. In such a case, the results may be more in favor of using a mono cartridge, but I really cannot say.
11-02-15: Lewm
To repeat, many if not most modern mono cartridges are internally
constructed as stereo cartridges, except that the outputs of the two
channels are summed prior to exit. Such cartridges will likely be responding
to vertical modulation imparted by the record grooves.
Do you know this for a fact, or are you guessing?

Many mono carts are NOT just summed channel stereo carts. My mono
cartridge makes NO vertical sound. NADA. It is dead quiet on a needle drop
where I can get a pretty loud THUMP with a stereo cartridge. If it were
summing two channels it would still make a big sound on a needle drop.

The mono output goes out to both speakers because its single signal, picked
up by a single coil and magnet, is split to go to both channels.

In fact, there's another advantage to a real mono cartridge--lower moving
mass. I think that's how this Audio Technica can put out 1.2mV and yet be
more detailed and sensitive than my Denon DL-160, a stereo HOMC.

What I've said about this Audio Technica cartridge is also true of the low
cost mono Grados--$90 for the conical model, $150 for the elliptical. The
suspension allows horizontal and vertical movement, but that is simply for
record safety. There are no mangets or coils to pick up the vertical
movement and then killed downstream. It is a mono cartridge with an
internal splitter to send the signal to both channels. That is why it's devoid of
phasing issues and the noise level is cut at least in half. And also why a
mono switch on a preamp won't do the same thing.
Fleib, I am not sure I follow your argument to the point where I can agree that using a "modern" mono cartridge is inherently superior to using a mono switch on the linestage, to reproduce mono LP sound. But further, I was remiss in not clarifying that the mono LPs I had in mind would be very late in the mono era and/or modern re-issues of pressings that were originally mono. There are long discussions on various threads about how these are created, but I was assuming they are typically consonant with playback by modern cartridges (because they demonstrably are). I was not trying to take into account early mono LPs where indeed the groove width was different, etc. That adds a layer of complexity that kills the discussion. Further, the paragraph you quote is not one that I wrote, I don't think. Also, I never argued that using a mono cartridge is a bad idea.

Johnny, No, I don't know for a fact that "most modern mono cartridges" are internally stereo cartridges in which the two channels are bridged at the outputs. But for sure, many are built that way, if not most, based on testimony of persons who would seem to have inside info. And finally, the fact that your mono cartridge is dead quiet is in no way a refutation of anything I wrote. To wit, a mono LP has no music encoded via vertical modulation. Thus, the only "signal" generated by vertical deflection of the stylus in a stereo cartridge that has been converted to put out a mono signal, when playing a mono LP, would be noise. Typically such noise is identical in both channels and would be cancelled when the two channels are combined to produce mono. (I wrote this above.)
Lewm,
I wasn't quoting you. I was quoting Johnny, and that was about the construction of a mono microgroove. However, your contention that a modern mono cartridge is a stereo cart with the channels bridged, is incorrect.

I can see how you might think that with a MM/MI type and vertical rejection might not be perfect, but it is significant. A MM/MI uses a magnetic field which effects the pole pieces/coils. The magnet(s) move in direct response to the cantilever. Vertical cantilever movements corresponding field is cancelled by manipulating the coil connections.

2 coils connected in parallel - total inductance like parallel resistors.
2 equal tightly coupled coils - the total inductance is close to that of each single coil. If the polarity of one coil is reversed, total inductance is near zero.

The AT mono MCs have a horizontal coil. In theory output is horizontal. In reality spec is 30dB vert rej @ 1K.
Scroll down here for mono explanation:
http://ortofon.com/hifi/products/mono-series

Regards,

11-05-15: Fleib
Elimination of vertical noise is a great advantage with a mono cart as
Johnnyb says. This can be dramatic with some older or beat up records.
That's what I've been exploring with the AT33MONO
cartridge the last few days. I've been digging out various mono records I had
tried years ago and set aside as they were too noisy when tracked by my
stereo cartridge and signal chain.

Now I'm trying them again and they sound great. Examples include an
original 1965 pressing of the Janos Starker Bach Cello Suites on Mercury
Living Presence, an Angel mono of baritone Dietrich Fischer-Diskau singing
Brams songs, an old Verve record called Giants3 featuring Nat King Cole on
piano (no voice), Lester Young on tenor sax and Buddy Rich on drums, a
1969 Fantasy mono of the Vince Guaraldi Trio doing the music to A Boy
Named Charlie Brown, an old Columbia mono LP of Gene Krupa orchestra
with Anita O'Day and Roy Eldridge, and some others.

In each case, when played with a stereo cartridge there was so much surface
noise I couldn't enjoy the music. When played with the AT33MONO the noise
was gone (or 30dB down if you wish). So far this cart has made around 20
old mono pressings totally playable and enjoyable.

For awhile the tonal balance sounded a bit dark and closed in, but I raised
the arm height a bit to make the headshell level with the record and that
fixed it.

Now playing a mono pressing of "Echoes of a 16th Century Cathedral" by
the Roger Wagner Chorale. Released July 1967. A Capella renaissance
choral music and a lovely way to start a Saturday morning. Lots of great
music for fifty cents. The AT mono cartridge has brought so many vintage
mono LPs to life it's paid for itself.
Fleib, What are you saying? Besides saying that I am incorrect, that is. What's the stuff that follows on after your mention of a MM/MI type cartridge? Actually, I had in mind more the modern MC mono cartridges, of which there are many. So, are you saying in effect that MM/MI type mono cartridges do a better job of rejecting signals created by vertical deflection of the stylus tip?

What do you estimate is the vertical rejection at 1kHz, when you deploy the mono switch on a preamplifier whilst playing a mono LP with a stereo cartridge? (This is not a rhetorical question; I don't know the answer myself, but I would bet its within the same ballpark, 30db-ish.)
Lew, I suspect a mono MM/MI does not have better vertical rejection than a mono MC. This is due to relying on the magnetic field for determining cantilever direction, but this is a guess. How they work is confusing and that's why I tried to describe it in general terms. I haven't seen a vertical rejection spec for a mono MM/MI, not from Ortofon or anyone else.

I estimate the vertical rejection at 1kHz, when you deploy the mono switch on a preamplifier whilst playing a mono LP with a stereo cartridge, is near zero, or very low. Most of my mono records are like yours, in good shape or Japanese reissues. I'm just getting into vintage mono, but the mono switch w/stereo cart did almost nothing to render a noisy copy listenable. Maybe Johnny can quantify that better.

Did you read my (neobop) post on Asylum mono thread? I'm not refuting theory. I'm stating fact. No doubt you would find new enjoyment with your mono records and appropriate cart. Considering your equipment, I guess your choice would be between detail and romance.
Happy listening,
Hey Lewm, I found some threads that may address the mono switch feature you were talking about.

Here's something to consider, however. Some mono switches may occurr at the phono stage; others may be implemented at the line stage. They would behave differently.

Here's a thread about preamps with mono switches in general. And here's a thread about a specific circuit design at the phono stage that does the things you were talking about such as noise cancellation.

However, note that these are not features you can just go out and buy. The first thread mainly addresses vintage classic items (such as an Audio Research unit) that would cost a lot on the vintage market. The second thread addresses a design that probably has to be custom-ordered and handbuilt.

Then there's the third alternative, particularly the cartridge that started this thread. The Audio Technica unit is a high output (1.2mV) moving coil cartridge, true mono with a -30dB rejection in the vertical plane, and it's readily available for anything from $112.65 to $299.99, depending on the vendor you choose.

Furthermore, if your System profile is up-to-date, I see you have a Kenwood LM07 turntable, which has a universal headshell. You could get the Audio Technica AT33MONO/LP and a headshell, mount and align it, and just play the mono records in native mode. It's much easier than hunting down a phono head with mono switch, and the results would be at least as good.

I'm really happy with that cartridge and it has increased my enjoyment both of latter day mono reissues (Beatles, Beach Boys, Nat King Cole, Gene Krupa) and digging out 45-60-yr-old mono original pressings. Highly recommended.
The mono switch on most preamps will function with any source, not just phono. In one of those links they were talking about some separate phono stages which include a mono switch. If you try to duplicate this with Y adaptors there are impedance/load considerations which could alter the sound, depending on where you combine/split channels.

Most of my listening is with a preamp w/o mono switch or with a passive preamp. I tried Y adaptors both on the phono signal going into the preamp, and on the preamp output. Both of these approaches were unsatisfactory. SQ was degraded to the extent that any noise reduction didn't matter. I didn't think to try it in a tape monitor loop. Also, I used solid body Y adaptors w/Teflon or nylon insulation.

I also have an old Mitsubishi tuner-preamp with a great sounding tuner which I use on a second system. It has a mono switch. This is where the mono switch did not provide adequate noise reduction with a stereo cart playing a compromised mono record. For the price of the MONO3, trying one was a no-brainer. A beat-up copy of Mozart Requiem, formerly unlistenable had noise reduced about 95%. It was astounding. SQ was still imperfect. This is an old wide groove pressing and I think the tip was bottoming out in-groove. This is where you need a 1 mil tip.

Although it seems that all microgroove mono pressings sound much better with this cart, it occurs to me that my direct comparisons to a stereo cart + mono switch, are limited.
Perhaps someone else made similar comparisons?

I went to a thrift store and bought some old mono records which looked to be in decent shape. I wouldn't have considered them with stereo pressings. Results should be interesting.
Fleib, Your experience with the Mono switch is wildly different from mine. I hear a pronounced improvement with the mono switch engaged, using a stereo cartridge on a mono LP. It's so obvious that if I have forgotten to flip the switch, I am reminded by the inferior sound to do so immediately. Further, the improvements are just as one might expect, a reduction in noise, an enhanced clarity of the treble, and a stabilizing of the image. This is when playing jazz LPs that are no older than mid- to late 1950s and so would be true "LP"s. Many are modern re-issues of same. I don't own any 78s or late 40s records of any type. What is the vintage of the mono LPs that you own which do not respond to the mono switch cure?
Johnny, What is a "phono head with a mono switch"? I think what you're talking about is combining channels AFTER the cartridge but before phono amplification. That can be done if all else fails, but it's not the optimal way to go, because in such a case one channel of the stereo output of the cartridge "sees" both the other channel AND the phono stage input impedance in parallel. This affects the loading of the cartridge in an unpredictable way but usually not a good way. A typical mono switch on a full-function preamplifier would be placed in the signal path between the phono stage and the linestage, just before the volume control. I own two such preamplifiers, both vintage: a Klyne 6LX and a Quicksilver. The latter can be purchased typically for around $1000.
Fleib, I responded to your 11/07 post without having read your 11/09 post. Indeed, it may be that you have not given the "mono switch" solution a fair trial. And it may be that your experience with a Y-adapter was affected by the impedance phenomenon I described.

Fleib and Johnny, Don't worry; I am eventually going to buy a mono cartridge just out of curiosity.
Lew,
I'll try the mono switch again. It did help, but not like a mono cart.
Something to consider - there is always a difference between channels with a stereo cart. Any small azimuth difference will contribute, as will skating. There is no perfect anti-skating setting. Skating varies with groove velocity and offset angle. Except for 2 null points on the record, there is always a phase difference between channels w/pivoting arm.

These differences are combined with a mono switch and eliminated with a mono cart. I'll dig out that Mozart record, clean some thrift store finds and test the mono switch again.
Regards,

11-09-15: Lewm
Johnny, What is a "phono head with a mono switch"?
I just meant a mono switch at the phono stage instead of the line stage. Beyond that I don't know and don't care. To me the mono switch is a footnote in the history of high fidelity. Handy if you need one, just another switch if you don't. If you gotta have a mono switch, you're looking at shopping for 40-50 yr-old preamps, getting a custom unit or going DIY.

Since I have a TT with interchangeable headshells (as do you), I'm happy to
swap carts in about a minute. The ATMONO33/LP (you know, the topic of this thread?) starts off with PCOCC copper wiring, extracts a pure mono signal at the source, suppresses the vertical plane a minimum 30dB, and just sounds quiet, smooth, luscious, and right.

This cartridge makes my latter day mono reissues sound cleaner and more dynamic. My '50s and '60s thrift shop mono albums have gone from unlistenably noisy to very enjoyable.

For anyone with some mono albums who has an interchangeble headshell, second tonearm, or rack space for a mono turntable, I highly recommend going the mono cartridge route. For $112.65 you can get a $300 list (built and sounds like it) HO moving coil true mono cart that'll light up anyone's mono collection

I'm done talking about mono switches.
"$1000 Quicksilver". Right Lewm, and an ARC LS-1 (the last ARC line stage to include a Mode switch, I believe) can be had for even less. I send mine the signal from the tape out jacks on my main pre, and send the LS-1's output (main, not tape, as the Mode switch is after the tape output jacks in the circuit) back to an input on the main pre, to listen to Mono. Sometimes!

11-09-15: Lewm
Johnny, What is a "phono head with a mono switch"?
I just meant a mono switch at the phono stage instead of the line stage. Beyond that I don't know and don't care. The mono switch is a footnote in the history of high fidelity. Handy if you need one, just another switch if you don't. These days if you want a mono switch, you have to shop for 40-50 yr-old preamps or integrated amps, order a custom unit or DIY.

Since I have a TT with interchangeable headshells (as do you), I'm happy to swap carts in about a minute. The ATMONO33/LP (you know, the topic of this thread?) starts off right with PCOCC copper wiring, extracts a pure mono signal at the source, suppresses the vertical plane a minimum 30dB, and just sounds quiet, smooth, luscious, and right.

This cartridge makes my latter day mono reissues sound cleaner and more dynamic. My '50s and '60s thrift shop mono albums have gone from unlistenably noisy to very enjoyable.

For anyone with some mono albums who has an interchangeble headshell, second tonearm, or rack space for a mono turntable, I highly recommend going the mono cartridge route. For $112.65 you can get a $300 list (built and sounds like it) HO moving coil true mono cart that'll light up anyone's mono collection

I'm done talking about mono switches.
11-10-15: Johnnyb53
" ... These days if you want a mono switch, you have to shop for 40-50 yr-old preamps or integrated amps, order a custom unit or DIY."

Sorry, but this is mistaken. Many modern preamps include mono switches, including ARC.
I think of these threads as if I were in a conversation with a bunch of friends who have interests in common with mine. In the context of such a conversation, one can disagree occasionally, and there should be no hard feelings because of it. Johnny, did you wish to restrict the discussion you engendered only to the wonderfulness of your bargain basement mono cartridge? If so, I apologize, and I'm done here.
Here is why a true mono cartridge will sound better on mono playback than using a stereo cartridge with a mono switch -
From the Ortofon website -
If you play a mono record with a stereo cartridge you will not achieve the same signal in the two channels due to imperfections such as crosstalk, noise, phase errors, tracking error, antiskating and distortion. This difference between the channels will result in an unstable and partially fuzzy image. A mono switch, to some extent, can improve this.
Playing the same record with a mono cartridge will have none of the aforementioned problems, as this cartridge only produces one signal, which afterwards is directed to both channels in the system. This will provide a much more forceful and stable image with a fuller sound.
Another significant advantage of using a mono cartridge to play mono records is the absence of response to vertical movement. This means that a mono cartridge is essentially impervious to the pinching effect which comes into action when the stylus is pushed vertically upward in very narrow grooves. In addition, the response to dust, dirt and wear will be reduced substantially as the vertical component will not be heard. The final result will be a much more clean and noiseless reproduction of the mono record. These effects simply cannot be achieved merely by the use of a mono switch.
Lew,
I tried the test again, with a Victor Z-1E cart going into the Mitsu. I cleaned the Mozart again and it wasn't nearly as noisy. Maybe the stylus mucked out the groove? Results were not as dramatic. The mono switch took care of most clicks/pops. I also played a couple of sides of Lee Morgan Vol 3, and Brownie Eyes, both "modern" pressings in good shape.

In all cases the MONO3 had a superior presentation, more natural sounding, like as the recording was intended. The Z-1 had superior resolution on the reissues. It sounded crappy on Mozart, grainy and hard to take, where the MONO was far better, but still substandard.

Considering your collection, I think it will require a very good mono cart to fit in.
Regards,
"Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in."
Dover, the quote from Ortofon pre-supposes that the internal circuit of the cartridge is true mono. I believe that Ortofon are one of the few companies that does produce such true mono cartridges. To repeat, my idea pertains ONLY to cartridges that are stereo internally where the two channels are bridged so as to produce identical mono signals on each pair of output pins. Such a cartridge WOULD respond to vertical modulation and would depend upon bridging to cancel noise generated from such spurious signals (because on a mono LP, there is no music signal encoded via vertical modulation), just as a mono switch would do. The question remains: what fraction of modern mono cartridges are true mono; I think it's the minority fraction, but I don't claim to know for sure. Some time ago, one of the manufacturers who sometimes posts here revealed some information on that question, but I forget what he said. Funny how we are in the dark on this question. I think it's because the business recognizes that vinylphiles can be induced to buy their "pseudo" mono cartridges, when a simple mono switch would do. The dearth of preamplifiers with mono switches is also a contributing factor, for sure.
A true mono cart is one with no vertical compliance. Such carts usually track at more than 3g. Tip size is another factor. A 1 mil tip can be used on a stereo record, but I wouldn't want one tracking with excessive weight. For a discussion of this, here's a VE thread. Poster Guest, is Luckydog:
http://www.vinylengine.com/turntable_forum/viewtopic.php?f=19&t=48089

From AT:
The AT33Mono is made specifically for use on mono systems. It has a horizontal coil, and so in principle only generates electricity horizontally.

The AT33Mono produces sound to a very high quality because it does not easily pick up unnecessary strain components from distorted or scratched records, producing audio that you couldn't possibly get from a stereo cartridge.

The AT33Mono also has appropriate compliance in the vertical direction, so will not cause damage to stereo records. Enjoy those well-known classic mono records of yesteryear with the AT33Mono.

That does not sound like bridged channels to me. Even MMs with mono output are not bridged (strapped or parallel connection). The coils are connected in in such a way to cancel most vertical cantilever movement. As long as a cart, either MC or MM, has vertical compliance, vertical rejection will be imperfect. Nevertheless, Ortofon is correct about using a stereo cart on a mono record. A mono switch cancels 30dB of vert noise on a mono record, but can not correct stereo differences described.

Even the Miyajima Zero has some vertical compliance, it's very little and not designed to play a stereo LP.
Fleib, I could take your last post as being consistent with my point of view. So I will. (The stuff about using a mono cartridge to play a stereo LP is completely beside the point of this discussion, by the way.) AT33MONO sounds to be of particular interest, since I agree that the AT blurb does suggest it is a true mono cartridge.
Here
is a nice article by Art Dudley in which he describes the internal anatomy of three different mono cartridges. Only one of the three is true mono but the other two have been modified internally from their stereo construction so as to obtain some rejection of vertical modulations.
And Haha, here is a quote from Ortofon on their "Quintet Mono" cartridge. Caveat emptor:
"Quintet Mono uses a strapped output to deliver the same output signal from both sets of pole pins."

Thus, even for a given manufacturer, one must read the fine print to find out what they're really selling.

11-13-15: Lewm
And Haha, here is a quote from Ortofon on their "Quintet Mono" cartridge. Caveat emptor:
"Quintet Mono uses a strapped output to deliver the same output signal from both sets of pole pins."

Thus, even for a given manufacturer, one must read the fine print to find out what they're really selling
And what does "strapped" mean to you in this context?

11-13-15: Lewm
And Haha, here is a quote from Ortofon on their "Quintet Mono" cartridge. Caveat emptor:
"Quintet Mono uses a strapped output to deliver the same output signal from both sets of pole pins."

Thus, even for a given manufacturer, one must read the fine print to find out what they're really selling.
I don't think Ortofon means "strapped" the way you do. They mean they have a true mono design inside a stereo-looking cartridge. Internally the stylus/cantilever/ coil/magnet assembly tracks the groove only in the horizontal plane and produces a mono signal from it. Then that SINGLE signal is strapped (e.g., like a Y-adapter) to both the L and R pole pins on the back of the cartridge so it sends an identical in-phase single-source mono signal to both channels through the stereo system to both speakers.

It's not a stereo pickup sending a summed signal to both sides of the pins. The rest of the product description that you don't quote makes that pretty clear.

And really, considering the market would be made primarily of stereo users, isn't that exactly what users would want? It makes the cartrtidge very usable both for modern mono reissues and old vintage ones.
Johnny, You may be correct in your interpretation of the use of the word "strapped". The thought occurred to me as well. (Did you read Art Dudley's comments on how three different mono cartridges are constructed?) Do you KNOW that what you say about the Ortofon Quintet is true, or are you conjecturing? If you have some evidence to support your contention, can you cite it, please? The fact is that the more one investigates this subject, the more one uncovers obfuscation on the part of the cartridge makers. And very few reviewers, e.g., only Fremer and Dudley so far, pay any attention to this question.
If a cart has vertical compliance it is not tracking only horizontally. The question is, the how and why of vertical rejection. Does the cart actually avoid the pitfalls of a stereo cart + mono switch as described in their literature?

They repeatedly refer to their mono offerings as "true mono". If a cart has stereo coils hooked up internally to reject vertical cantilever motion output, can or will it also avoid said pitfalls?
Lewm, the full paragraph on the Ortofon website that you excerpted says:

Quintet Mono uses a strapped output to deliver the same output signal from both sets of pole pins. This effectively eliminates the need for mono-specific equipment, making it possible to enjoy true mono reproduction on any stereo playback system.
In that context it looks pretty clear that the cartridge is only reading the horizontal cut and then strapping it to both outputs so it'll play nicely centered mono on a stereo pair of speakers.

Secondly, in June 2014, Michael Fremer published an online article about the Ortofon 2M Mono SE that was being developed to honor EMI's new Beatles Mono LP collection coming out later that year. In the comments section, a reader asked just how "mono" this and other Ortofon mono cartridges are. Fremer said he'd ask Ortofon about it. True to his word, further down in the comments he replies:

Here is what designer Leif Johannsen writes about the Ortofon lineup: SPU CG: The old 1948-design with only lateral compliance and one coil SPU Mono, Cadenza Mono, Quintet Mono: Both lateral and vertical compliance and one coil. The armature has been turned 45 degrees from the stereo-position. 2M Mono and 2M Mono SE: In the MM we cannot turn the armature or anything else. So the mechanical geometry is the same as in the stereo 2M’s. But we can couple the two coils in a clever way (NOT simply parallel between L and R)) and thereby making it work as one coil. The point is to have a design not sensitive to vertical movements and that has been achieved.
Also, note that the Dudley column you referenced was written more than ten years ago. There is a lot more mono activity going on now than there was then. We now have mono reissues of the Beach Boys, Beatles, Prestige and Riverside jazz labels, etc.

The market has expanded and so hast the number of mono cartridge models and mfrs, which makes the task of sorting out their topologies more challenging.

And if you look at the Dudley article, he notes that the Grado wood cartridge is potted, and therefore difficult to determine the inner workings. He suspected that Grado's suppression of vertical signal wasn't as strong as that of the other two cartridges. But when he played it, it was as noise-free as the others.

Circuit and mechanical design is a means to an end. What's important is the end result. How things are strapped isn't as important as how it tracks and sounds.
There's nothing in the paragraph you quote from Ortofon that settles the issue of how the Quintet, in particular, is constructed. I did read Fremer's review of the 2M Mono SE, and it's a top candidate for me; I agree it seems to have been designed to eliminate as much as possible signal induced by vertical modulation. Finally, my recollection is that, using a test LP, Dudley determined that the Grado produced more "noise" resulting from vertical modulation than did the other 2 of the 3 mono cartridges under test. He then speculated that perhaps it was less adherent to true mono construction than the others. However, when he listened to the Grado on mono LPs, it more than held its own for reproduction of actual music, as compared to the other two. Perhaps that's the part of his review that you are thinking of. Look, all I'm saying is that as audiophiles, we might be interested in knowing exactly what we're buying when we buy a mono cartridge. And as for me, were I to purchase the Grado, I would use it with the mono switch on my preamplifier engaged so as to eliminate, or at least further attenuate, even the last bit of noise produced by vertical modulation of the stylus tip.

By the way also, the Lyra mono cartridges, at least the Helikon and the Delos (and probably by inference the Kleos), seem to be among the few historically that really are true mono. Too bad they cost so much. You're also right in saying that mono LPs are becoming very a la mode, and perhaps this trend has indeed induced the production of better mono cartridges, such as your AT.