For me a mono recording has it's biggest impact in vinyl format. Less detail in mono compared to stereo but a good mono recording certainly has it's own soundstage and in my view it's more pure to the live performance. No crazy panning from left to right by the engineer in stereo and overall more slam in mono, especially when I listen quality first pressings in 50s/60s jazz realm. Give me a quality 1st pressing Bluenote on a NY label over any stereo LP any day!
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The appeal of mono rock recordings has two main points. The early Beatles and Dylan recordings, and others, often had voices in one channel and instruments in the other. Not ideal. Mono versions of those recordings sound better to most people.
The mono versions of some albums, aside from the channel issue, have different mixes than the stereo versions, more prominent vocals for instance, and the mono mix is preferred by some people.
I generally prefer stereo unless there’s a specific problem with the album, but there are mono fans.
roberjerman sez ...
No doubt and I agree totally. I’ve been collecting jazz records since high school way back when mono was all you could get. Many of these all-tube recordings have you thinking ... who needs stereo?
Here’s a couple to try out that are excellent:
I can’t vouch for the reissues, but the originals sound fantastic.
I just got the Duke Ellington Masterpieces disc and I have to admit that as long as I stay off axis it sounds great. I'm going to check out some of the older Miles stuff. I also have a lot of old Art Tatum recordings but they are on CD. I have not seen any of his stuff re released on vinyl but I have not checked.
I don't think there is an attraction to Mono. At least I don't prefer mono to stereo, stereo is always preferred. But so-called fake stereo is not stereo. This may seem contradictory, but, there are albums I do prefer the mono mix over the stereo mixes. One album is Hendrix's Axis: Bold As Love. The panning of the instruments is all over the place. Guitars and vocal are panned over reasons that don't don't make a lot of sense. It's just not natural sounding. Most of the Beatles are preferred in Mono because the instruments are just lazily hard panned in stereo. If you are listening on an old console where the speakers have little separation, this probably worked fine. But it doesn't work if you speakers are 6 or 8 feet apart. It just sounds like Ringo is playing in a different room. Other mixes have the recorded tracks overlayed on top of each other in stereo, an example of this Big Brother and the Holding Company's Cheap Thrills. Cheap Thrills oddly had more separation in depth of the sound stage, while the stereo version has vocals smeared over guitar tracks. The point is some recordings were mixed better in Mono and those are the ones I want. I don't want Mono because it's Mono.
One album is Hendrix’s Axis: Bold As Love. The panning of the instruments is all over the place. Guitars and vocal are panned over reasons that don’t don’t make a lot of sense.
You got that one wrong. Jimi personally spent many hours at the mixing desk with Eddie Kramer to get all the panning and phasing just the way he wanted it, or as close as he could get with the technology available at the time. Jimi was all about psychedelic exploration at this point and he wanted this album to blow your little mind, in the vernacular of the day. You may prefer the mono at this point, but if you bought it in 1967, all that panning made perfect sense.