Forced Mono is better than 'stereo' in some cases

Discussion in 'General Audio Discussion' started by Frank Sol, Feb 15, 2012.

  1. Frank Sol

    Frank Sol Addicted Member

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    In this case CCR's Suzie Q (8:34min) LP version

    In stereo it is distracting to listen to after the awe effect of drums/vocals only in the R ch & guitars in the L ch. - Some of the early Beatles stereo LPs were the same as were a few others.

    After spinning Suzie Q as it was meant to be heard I switched to mono (L+R) and played it over... The forced mono version was much better! The musicality :music: was there something lacking in the stereo mode.

    My 2cents
     

     

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  2. Hendrix416

    Hendrix416 Nice Buzz/Good Tunes

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    I use my mono button on my receiver on some of my older records that people have ranted and raved sound better in their mono versions, including those albums electronically enhanced for stereo.
     
  3. gadget73

    gadget73 junk junkie Subscriber

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    fake stereo is poo. A lot of that excessively unnatural sounding stereo is mono re-mixed into stereo. Not sure about the CCR, but thats the case with some of the early Beatles stuff.
     
  4. chefg1

    chefg1 Super Member

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    I feel same way about early motown recordings,i alway opt for the mono versions. :thmbsp::music:
     
  5. audiojones

    audiojones Jonesin' for audio Subscriber

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    Same here. When stereo was still kind of a new concept some recording engineers got a little heavy handed with the separation IMO. There are quite a few older recordings that sound better in mono to me.
     
  6. Satch

    Satch Audiotinkerer

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    +1 on early Beatles. Unfortunately, my main rig hasn't got a mono switch. Never thought I would need one...
     

     

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  7. weasel2htm

    weasel2htm Active Member

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    While I agree that the over the top panning is a little distracting, I like hearing it, why, it's from a time when engineers actually were having fun trying to make it sound good, vs. today's compressed into almost mono.
     
  8. Celt

    Celt A Moody Mod Staff Member Super Mod

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    I installed a stereo/mono switch on my phono-pre. It does come in handy.
     
  9. beatcomber

    beatcomber AK Member

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    Folding stereo recordings to mono doesn't usually sound good. Sometimes elements of the mix get lost due to phase cancellation. That's why they did dedicated mono mixes alongside the stereo mixes back in the day.

    A rare exception would be Blue Note LPs recorded by Rudy Van Gelder direct to 2-track stereo. The mono LPs were 50/50 fold-downs from the stereo tapes.
     
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  10. KeninDC

    KeninDC Speedfreak Jive Subscriber

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    The mono version of the Stones' Beggars Banquet is, with the exception of Sympathy for the Devil, a fold-down from the stereo mix. Mind you, the stereo mix was meant to work as a fold-down. Sympathy is a dedicated mix.
     
  11. satkinsn

    satkinsn low end audio Subscriber

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    Teach me something: what does this mean?

    tks,

    s.
     

     

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  12. charles 1973

    charles 1973 Super Member

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    Back in the late 70's a friend of mine had a rack full of Crown Equipment. On the pre-amp it had a Large variable Mono to Stereo dial that I thought was a joke. Now I understand fully. On many tunes there is too much seperation for my tastes, and if I had such a dial now I would use it. My NAD Preamp/Tuner has an FM blend switch which would be usefull, But my new Dynalab Tuner has an auto blend circut.

    I didn't Know they could simulate more seperation into the music and make mono - stereo. I wonder if that would produce the drop out effect of some notes in one speaker sometimes. I've got some new rather reveling speakers and thought pehaps their defective, but close listening, and the fact that only some music does it has left me baffled. Meanwhile the jury is still out on the defective speaker theory, they have a 5 year warrenty if I need it.
     
  13. dewdude

    dewdude I fix stuff.

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    I have a theory on early stereo Id like to share.

    I like to think that mixing engineers discovered early on that doing a proper stereo mix and 50/50 blending (in the audio world we call it downmixing or averaging) the audio together resulted in unnaturally loud audio. Vocals are usually panned dead center, in-phase. When you mix the stereo together, your vocals wind up double the amplitude (6dB increase) over the rest of the audio.

    So, rather than waste time (and money) making a seperate mono mix, its possible they did the lousy mixing more to avoid the vocal build up more so than to really "show off" stereo, although I'm sure this was another reason.

    The reason I say this is Haeco-CSG. This was a simple device that was used HEAVILY by A&M records (as Holtzmann was one of their engineers), but I've also seen it on a Warner/7 artists album. Most specifically, The Association's Greatest Hits. The LP makes note that it employs Haeco. The Cd release doesn't, but it uses the same Haeco'd master tape.

    Haeco was an attempt to solve the vocal build up. Engineers could do a proper normal sane stereo mix, and this device would create "compatible stereo" (CSG stood for Compatible Stereo Generator). Its method of operation was simple, electrically shift the phase of a channel. The most common (and recommended) setting was the +3dB build up..which calculates out to 90 degrees.

    The idea itself holds up. You shift the phase of a channel by 90 degrees, the offset is enough the vocals partially cancel out and only wind up 3db louder rather than 6db. You could achieve no build up by using a 120 degree shift, but the manual states, and I've verified digitally, if you accidently have your tonearm wired wrong you wind up with something closer to total center cancellation.

    The problem was while this was GREAT for mono, the resulting stereo sounded horrible. Center panned stuff was 30% heavy to the right, it sounded like it was partially canceling out inside your head. To make matters worse, apparently some engineers were mixing *through* the device. So...sure, they could make the CSG stereo sound *somewhat* better, if you ever undo the CSG, the resulting panning is off.

    The Association is the only album to date I've played with that uses this, at least its one that wasn't remixed from sessions. I've heard evidence where it seems as if they were mixing through CSG; some vocals come out panned more left and often times when the main vocal is trying to harmonize with backing vocals, panned stereo, main voca level will drop dramatically. "Enter The Young" is a track where I noticed this after un-CSGing the album. But that album also features A LOT of bad left/right mixes where nothing was panned center.

    Therefore, I've drawn the conclusion that it was a cost/time saving measure for a while. Simply based off that one album. Am I nuts? Ill be the first to admit I am, and I could be way off on this...this is what I've observed from analyzing the audio. It makes sense in my head though.
     
  14. audiojones

    audiojones Jonesin' for audio Subscriber

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    Interesting theory, dewdude. I never realized that so much went into creating an early stereo mix. Maybe the recording engineers weren't being intentionally heavy handed with the panning after all, maybe it's just where the technology was at the time. I'm looking at my copy of The Association - Greatest Hits! album right now and I see that little Haeco-CSG emblem on the bottom right corner - never noticed that before.
     
  15. gadget73

    gadget73 junk junkie Subscriber

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    Basically what this means is they took the left channel and the right channel and simply joined them. Its exactly what you get if you flip the mono switch, it ties both inputs together so the outputl is the sum of the left + right sound. This is opposed to a dedicated mono mix which is basically another mastering process from the same master tapes that the stereo mix is made from.
     
  16. TAGO MAGO

    TAGO MAGO Super Member

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    Yeah, the stereo mix of Suzie Q is a bit silly, but folded down to mono the drums are barely audible.
     

     

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  17. dewdude

    dewdude I fix stuff.

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    Well, that little logo isn't on the CD version, I guess they decided it wasn't important to mention anymore.

    I mean, really, if you think about it, the recording industry only dates back to the turn of the century....electric methods date to the 20s, tape dates to the late 40's but didn't see much use till the 50's. They were kind of inventing things as they went along.

    Sent from my SPH-M910 using Tapatalk
     
  18. tdat7192

    tdat7192 Well-Known Member

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    At times for the odd "stereo" I do enjoy the mono mixes more. Yet, for most of them, I remember them coming out in what I like to think of as "playful-stereo". So when listening to early Beatles, Hendrix, etc the playful-stereo mixes are part of what I remember and therefore are both expected and enjoyed. I know that flies in the face of good stereo, but it's how I feel.
     
  19. dewdude

    dewdude I fix stuff.

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    I just recalled Beach Boys did something similar to this.

    Most of their stuff was mono...Brian Wilson is deaf in one ear? Him or the producer was.

    Anyway...they released a bunch of 45's with vocals on one side, insturmental on the other. They did this delibrately so people with stereo could have a "full-mix", just vocals or just the backing track. The mono folks would get a mono 45.
     
  20. beatcomber

    beatcomber AK Member

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    Yes, Brian is deaf in one ear, but they never released anything in the '60s mixed with the backing on one side and the vocals on the other. All of their 1962-68 singles are mono. I have no idea where you got this info.

    Most of their 1963-65 stereo mixes have the backing mostly centered (bounced to one track) and the vocals spread left and right, with an occassional guitar solo or sax on one side or the other.
     
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