Buy Mono vs. Stereo LPs for Stereo Rig


Hi All,

I just heard Charlie Byrd's "Blues Sonata" ("Scherzo for an Old Shoe") for the first time and want to buy the LP. Recorded in mono in 1961, but later pressed as stereo. My cartridge (PC-1) is stereo. Which should I buy? In general, should mono LP's be just played on mono cartridges (or optimally so)? In general, if you have a stereo rig, is it better to buy the mono or stereo LP's? I know that some of the mono=>stereo conversions can be pretty wonky sometimes!
peter_s
Did you check the archives for similar questions?
Hi Mechans,

I've looked through some of the archives. I'm not finding everything I need, or if it's there, it's pretty embedded and hard to find.

To be more specific about my question:

, I have a single tonearm available to me, and it is set up for stereo. I've got two questions:

1) When using the Y adaptor, do you need two Y adaptors, one to sum the L+R channels and one to redistribute them back to L+R outputs?

2) If you definitely don't have a mono cartridge, is it better to buy stereo re-issues of mono LP's?

If I have to use two Y adaptors strapped together (question 1), I might just have blue jeans cable build me something where the blending of L+R occurs internally within the cabling and there are two sets of RCA plugs on either side. I don't suppose that the Y adaptor approach is to only take one channel and then deliver it to two inputs on my preamp, right?

Hopefully someone can chime in. Almarg???
Oh, and I should add that I have an outboard phono preamp. I assume that I should place the double Y adaptor device between my phono preamp and my linestage preamp?
Like life, it depends and is complicated. Mono LP's are best played in a 'chain' that is 100% mono, meaning the cartridge must be mono, cable mono, preamp mono. Once you have the sound in the preamp, you can take the output to two channel via a y connector. All else compromises the effect.
Agreed Bucanero! But I'm looking for a compromise solution for those who don't have a separate mono rig.
I have a stereo system but have a mono cartridge on an extra wand for my Graham B44 (see system). I find with a mono cartridge that the music seems to flow better, be more involving and to have better definition on mono records than my stereo cartridge whether my ARC Ref3 is in stereo or mono mode. I have some pre 60's Jazz and other mono records but do not play them. I believe they require a different needle profile, EQ and can be damaged with what I have. One day I will add an arm pod for another arm and cartridge or even another table with a different phono preamp for records not setup for RIAA.
As a life time collector of LPs who started collecting in High School back in the 50's, I have tons of great mono records ... mostly jazz. I've found that Audio Technica's OC9-MKIII, even though its a stereo cartridge, plays mono records superbly. I love that cartridge on mono records. So much so, that many of my audiophile friends say ... "Who needs stereo?"
Do you have access to a set up with both Stereo and Mono? If so simply act on which you liked best.
I am part of the school of thought that you should try inexpensive solutions first. Such as summing the two mono outlets and then treating each channel as an equal partner as it connects to the rest of your current system. It always comes down to personal opinion and preferences. This thread has seen some very expensive advice which no doubt work as advertised, but are out of reach for mere mortals. You have indicated that your budget plays big part in this. I don't know how much you and wife can invest in this project. Remember whatever you like the best is the best for you.
For best results Mono pressings should be played with a Mono Cartridge.

Most mono cartridges are equipped with a dual set of output posts, which means that both inputs on a stereo preamplifier will receive the exact same signal, this will result in a "soundscape" thats portrayed exactly midway between the two speakers set up for stereo playback.

In my opinion there would be no need to alter a Stereo setup in any other way than to have for an example a tonearm with a detachable head shell, or removable arm wand like the Graham mentioned above, to facilitate an easy cartridge change between Mono and Stereo

Good Listening

Peter
Be sure NOT to play stereo LP's with a MONO cartridge. It will damage the LP. Playing mono LP's with a stereo cartridge is not a problem, damage wise.

As to the OP question, there is no definite answer. The original mono recording in theory should be the best, BUT sometimes the reprocessed (especially on a reissue) for stereo may sound better. I don't know of any sure way to know which would be best, although one would hope that the original, if recorded in mono would sound the best, especially with a mono cartridge.

Good listening
The mono reissues are cut with a stereo cutter, so can play those with a stereo or a modern mono cartridge. Modern mono cartridge means, the stylus is identical to their stereo brother but you will have a much better performance. Less noise and that is the real advantage, the tones have colors which are hidden when using a stereo cartridge or a mono button on the preamp. The difference is not day and night - based on the stereo cutting process with a mono signal - but there is a clear difference. The mono button for example kills every life and is very boring to listen to.
A different chapter is old mono (no reissues). Here you have to go for a mono cartridge.