'Mono' Cartridges vs. Mono Buttons


I recently got into vintage 'microgroove' mono vinyl and I'm interested in getting the most out of my new records. I can either use my Shure m97xe stereo cartridge and just push the mono button on my amp (as I do now), or I can purchase a new, entry-level mono cart.

In replies from Grado and Ortofon I have learned that the Grado MC/ME+ and the Ortofon 2M Mono are both vertically compliant, multi-coil "mono" cartridges configured to cancel the vertical signal from the groove internally, and that this is not done by bridging the left and right channels.

So does pushing the mono button on an amplifier when using a stereo cartridge also cancel the vertical signal? I have my suspicions that it bridges the channels, and though this improves the signal-to-noise ratio (boosting the "mid" output more than the "side" output in mid-side terminology) while 'masking' the 'stereo noise' by placing it in the center image along with the music, it does not cancel the vertical signal...?
In a way you will find always the same groups in discussions about that topic.
Group one
They use a Preamp with Mono button and that's it for them
(Mainly they don't hear any differences in general imo)
Group two
They use Mono carts and they stay with their decision.

I tried both ways, Mono button makes the reproduction dead and the tonal colors are completely gone.

Stereo cartridge with Mono records (those with RIAA, let's stay in the area of 1958 and later), works, but the noise floor is very high.

Mono cart with Mono records
Good results, the tonality is right, the soundstage is huge (you need an Arm with VTA anyway, most Mono button pushers don't know that too)

Yes, there are differences in Mono Cartridges, some are real mono, most are shortened Stereo Carts (high output, hum ...)
Syntax, you have more direct experience with this than I do. I purchased a mono cartridge (Denon) but have not installed it yet.

However, since I have hundreds of mono LP's I've read quite a bit on mono playback - mono signal reproduction, stylus tip size and shape, EQ, etc.

While the RIAA curve was established in 1954, the year for implementation by different record companies varied considerably. Many continued with previous EQ mastering into the '60s and some Eastern European and Asian labels later than that.

Current mono reissues are all cut with stereo cutter heads since no mono heads survived. I assume the EQ utilizes RIAA with reissues but I've not seen that documented.

So even ignoring 78s, mono playback of LPs can become rather involved. I might suggest that anyone be guided by their number of mono records, as well as whether they are original LPs or reissues. This can then range from a basic mono switch up to a dedicated mono cartridge/stylus with a mono phono stage with multiple EQ adjustments.

2xuel, aren't you sorry now that you ask? ;^)
"most are shortened Stereo Carts (high output, hum ...)" ...are you indirectly implying that miyajima mono's are not really monos?
Does anyone have list of "true mono" cartridges that only have a single pickup coil?
Dnath: If you use a single-coil cartridge in a stereo system, chances are good that you will end up with hum. If you have a dedicated mono system - only one channel from head to tail - a single coil cartridge will work fine.

The key issue for mono playback is not the number of signal coils - but their angular orientation, which determines whether they are sensitive to vertical groove modulations or not. A coil design that does not pick up any vertical modulation in the first place gives better sound than picking up the vertical modulation, then attempting to cancel it out later.

IME, what works best in a normal stereo system, is a cartridge with two mono coils. This eliminates any sensitivity to vertical groove modulations, yet avoids the hum issues that a single-coil cartridge may be prone to.

hth, jonathan carr
Thanks for the explanation Jonathan.
Thanks Jonathan. It's always good to read replies from folks who know and understand what they are saying, rather than someone simply offering an opinion which may or may not be accurate.