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Why do people dislike Mono albums?

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Showing 51-75 of 131 posts in this discussion
In reply to an earlier post on Aug 1, 2012 5:08:37 AM PDT
DKPete, I have listened to it, the back channels are more ambience, there is does not appear to be significant changes in instument placement.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 1, 2012 8:25:07 AM PDT
mac says:
tr fan says: Does anybody know the reason why quadrophonic failed?

Aside from 4-channel reel to reel, one-way 4-channel cassettes and quad 8-tracks, there were two vinyl formats, SQ and CD-4, both of which required a hardware decoder.

SQ was intended to provide ambiance (as in concert hall reverberation) in your listening environment and did not have the channel separation of the CD-4 system which was designed to have four discrete channels with much better separation between them. SQ was less of a bother than CD-4 and did not require a special stylus as did the CD-4 vinyl. It was also backwards compatible with stereo. The CD-4 system encoded the back two channels in the 20Khz-40Khz zone and demodulated them into our audible band. If you played a CD-4 record using a standard stylus, you risked plowing through those delicate vinyl vibrations and wiping them out. A stylus shape named Shibata was designed for CD-4.

So, I think the technical confusion, longevity and consumer's high expectations were the downfall for vinyl. The reel to reel format was the only 4 channel medium that delivered on all promises, but cost was a big factor in its lack of popularity.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 1, 2012 8:36:26 AM PDT
Wow! And people thought DVD-A and SACD were inconvenient?

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 1, 2012 3:13:50 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Aug 1, 2012 3:15:26 PM PDT
The Imagine record was SQ, so that explains the ambience thing. My stylus is a Shibata, they used them for standard vinyl as well, I guess the shape was good for lower groove wear.

So SQ was kind of what Dolby ProLogic is today. More synthesized ambience. But a lot of presets!

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 1, 2012 3:20:08 PM PDT
Brown Fingers - they actually aren't inconvenient at all. The equipment is not much more and the Stones SACD's were the same price as normal disks, now they are out of print.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 1, 2012 3:55:10 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Aug 1, 2012 3:56:15 PM PDT
That was kind of my point. Yet except for classical and some prog rockers DVD-A and SACD have for the most part vanished.

Posted on Aug 1, 2012 5:42:05 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Aug 1, 2012 6:02:03 PM PDT
Far too many early stereo recordings were produced in a gimmicky fashion.
On both tapes and records, a lot of them have excessive channel separation,
and in many cases a solo instrument --
or, much worse, a vocalist -- is isolated in one channel.
That's not what stereo was supposed to be.

The term "ping-pong stereo" came about due to
sound-effects and other demonstration records
which included sounds of ping-pong games.

I have a couple of stereo records that have too much separation
to sound good in stereo, but can't be passively mixed to mono
without ruining the sounds of the instruments.
Some sort of weird signal manipulation must have been used.

The worst gimmick, though, has been anything
"electronically re-channeled for stereo".
Some of these were done by comb-filtering with equalizers
and others by phase shifting;
a few were mistreated in both of those ways.

Many modern recordings, especially of popular material,
are almost mono, as if the producers were afraid of directional effects.
There is no real stereo effect anyway, because all of the "channel separation"
is courtesy of panpot settings rather than microphone placement.

After several decades of collecting and listening,
it is now my considered opinion that,
although stereo was a noble idea,
we'd all be better off if everything was still just plain old mono.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 1, 2012 5:54:06 PM PDT
ronct says:
I totally agree the Beatles mono remastered box set blows the stereo one away. The music sounds more natural with more punch. The mono recordings is the way the Beatles intended the music to sound. The electronically created stereo versions were done by a recording engineer.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 1, 2012 8:28:41 PM PDT
Yes, I was agreeing with you.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 1, 2012 8:33:04 PM PDT
I don't think I would agree with that.

Posted on Aug 2, 2012 6:53:44 AM PDT
Not so much about mono, but about bad or too d*** much trouble to find good stereo mixes: the Rolling Stones in the '60s. The pre-'70 catalog is an annoying hodge podge of shoddy mixes trying to find good stereo versions; it's like walking through a freshly manured pasture before planting. U.S. catalog was an aural nightmare. Sheesh!

Posted on Aug 2, 2012 8:20:40 AM PDT
Severin says:
Having read about the Beatles recording techniques I know that because they only had 4 tracks most of the time they would record some instruments and then bounce them down to a single track to make more room for vocals and other instruments. This must have limited their choices when making the stereo mixes.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 2, 2012 8:52:18 AM PDT
Dee Zee says:
Son of F, have you not heard the ABKCO 2002 reissues of the Stones 60s catalog?

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 2, 2012 2:31:41 PM PDT
The thing you need to remember is that back in the '60s, mono was the dominant format and all the recording effort was directed towards the mono mix. Stereo was considered an afterthought and a novelty. Listening to the mono mixes is listening to the real thing and not purely for "historical accuracy". To me, it's inconceivable that anyone would want to listen to pre-1968 rock n roll any other way than mono. Mono was better quality due to greater care (as I said) and was right for the music (strong, punchy sound). '60s stereo was and still is, wimpy in comparison. The album you cite (The Doors) is an excellent example of what I'm talking about. The mono mix of that record is strong and heavyweight.

You know something? Almost everyone from the golden age of rock n roll who is so highly revered today - elvis, beatles, james brown, stones, velvets, hendrix etc - are all on record as saying that they preferred mono by far to stereo. People dislike mono because they are more motivated by gimmicks than music. And as for the argument that we have 2 ears, true, but we listen to music with our brain of which their is only ONE!

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 2, 2012 2:53:42 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Aug 2, 2012 7:41:43 PM PDT
Hendrix? Can you offer some proof on that? Because Hendrix supervised the stereo mix of Are You Experienced while he had no say on the mono. I am not saying I do not believe you but I have reason to doubt that and would like something affirmative.

Posted on Aug 2, 2012 6:25:20 PM PDT
ronct says:
Yeah! dig up Jimi so I can hear it right from his mouth! LOL...just kidding

Anyone with a good set of ears can tell mono sounded far better than any stereo recordings done in those days. Even music today done in 5.1 or better sounds sort of cool from a gimmick perspective but not in a musical one.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 2, 2012 8:32:43 PM PDT
I have a Japanese 2CD set with true stereo versions of several U.S. monos. I also have the U.S. 2002 set, which has mono tracks where a few of the Japanese versions are stereo. The true stereo version of "(Can't Get No) Satisfaction" is a weak mix, compared to the punchier mono version, but that's me.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 2, 2012 9:08:04 PM PDT
Stereo versions of many of those hits were made several years after the fact. Stereo versions of Satisfaction, Get Off of My Cloud, 19th Nervous Breakdown and a few others were made in the early 70s specifically for the Hot Rocks collections. Those mixes are not used anywhere (including Hot Rocks) on the 2002 re-issues. Except for Heart of Stone on Rolling Stones Now, the only pre-Aftermath songs that appear in stereo on the 2002 re-issues are songs recorded at Chess Studios in Chicago which apparently did make true stereo mixes of the songs at the time they were recorded though those mixes were not released.

Posted on Aug 2, 2012 9:31:18 PM PDT
IndyGoBlue says:
The very first record player set I bought was a stereo back in 1964 for around $100; I didn't realize I was so hip! Lol... I was only 13. The very first album I played on it was "Meet the Beatles" and I do recall the music left-voice right aspect, but I didn't think it sounded all that bad. Not having listened to the LP in 30 years, I might feel differently today.
I didn't think most of the stereo LPs sounded that bad, with some exceptions. Gary Lewis & the Playboys was pretty popular for a while in the mid 60s, and the mix was exceptionally horrible.

IMO, the best early stereo LP that sounded terrific was the Moody Blues "Days of Future Past" but from all that I've read they worked their arses off making this album special.

Posted on Aug 2, 2012 10:23:17 PM PDT
Chris M. says:
The truth is, you can do a lot more with stereo. Stereo is more dynamic and can really show some production, and the quality tends to be better. ALTHO, mono albums from the 60's can be fun to listen to since a lot tend to have different mixes, altho not always intentional. That's basically why we have a full complete box set with all the Beatles mono recordings. Listen to the White Album, Sgt. Pepper, and Revolver in mono. Really good mixes there. Even John Lennon said you've never heard Sgt. Pepper until you've heard it in mono, and he was right. And for you Floyd fans, same with The Peiper At The Gates Of Dawn! Stuff like Pow R Toc H, Flaming, Insterstellar Overdrive, The Gnome, and Bike are COMPLETELY different. And what's really cool these days is that the mono albums are arriving on CD, therefore finally getting recognition that they deserve. Obviously stereo is better, but don't discount what the original mono albums have to offer.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 2, 2012 10:38:53 PM PDT
Son of Flintstone - what is the name of the Japanese 2 CD set, I would be interested to get this. I enjoy finding rare stereo mixes, even if done much after the fact.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 2, 2012 10:40:34 PM PDT
I don't think 19th Nervous Breakdown was in stereo on Hot Rocks ever. Only on boot albums. The Last Time in stereo is boot only.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 3, 2012 12:39:26 AM PDT
Here she be. I was turned onto, at the time, unavailable stereo on CD by a Reno mobile DJ with a German version of HOT ROCKS, mid-'80s; at the time it was a BIG DEAL for the new CDs.

The stereo versions were not available here in the U.S., and the US "digitally remastered" late '80s set, which I have on Lp, mono-ed the rechanneled old blue label Lp versions, a definite improvement on that early '70s execrable hi-lo frequency split rechannelling.

I just did an A-B comparison on my Japanese recordings vs. the 2002 U.S. edition for the differences.

"Heart of Stone," "As Tears Go By," and "19th Nervous Breakdown" on both sets are mono.
2002 monos vs. Japanese stereo mixes:
"Play With Fire" is split basic backing instrumental mix on the left, Jagger vocal center, and a very lonely sounding tambourine on the right channel. The 2002 mono has the tambourine mixed down in the mono version.
"Satisfaction" -- both seem stereo, but the 2002 version sounds like the two separate left-right instrumental channels have been merged with a little fading in-and-out ping-pong effect or echo bleeding, very narrow separation, but with Jagger's vocal centered. The Japanese version has the most of the instrumental track on the left, Jagger vocal center, and a more or very prominent acoustic rhythm guitar with a little acoustic booming sound or punch on the right, with a very faded keyboard or piano in the background. The 2002 version almost mixes out the acoustic guitar.
"Get Off My Cloud" -- mono on 2002, stereo Japanese, again with most of the instrumental on the left, Jagger centered, the thin, tinny sounding lead or fill guitar on the right, and when the backing voices cut in on the chorus, they have a louder presence than the 2002 mono version, where they're mixed down against Jagger's vocal.
"Mother's Little Helper" -- mono on 2002, Japanese stereo mix instrumentals on the left, Jagger center, the twangy fill guitar on the right channel, and muted backing vocals.
Later tracks are all stereo, but the mixes play around a little bit. "Under My Thumb" is more stereo on the Japanese version, hard 3 o'clock left-right, centered vocal, while the 2002 version narrows the split to more 2 o'clock mix left-right, and centered vocal.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 3, 2012 2:33:34 AM PDT
Actually, I think we might both be mistaken. What appears to have happened is that the stereo mix was created first and then a mono mix (of are you experienced) but what hand Hendrix had in them and what his true opinion was, I can't say with 100% certainty. So scrap his name from my list, my apologies.

However, with the other artists I mentioned there definitely is evidence that they preferred the mono.

Posted on Aug 3, 2012 3:15:00 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Aug 3, 2012 3:20:34 AM PDT
I wanted to check the sound quality (reproduction, care to the mix) of some pre-'70 British acts. I spun a few records:

Cilla Black, IS IT LOVE, Capitol ST 2308 (March, 1965; UK 1963-64 recordings)--All songs in true stereo, vocals centered. Pop band (bass, drums, guitars, etc...) are hard over on one channel at 3 o'clock, the orchestra and more exotic instruments are hard over on the other channel at 3 o'clock. She's occasionally double-tracked or provides her own backing vocals, also centered. You may recall she was a hat check girl discovered by the Beatles in 1963-ish and managed by Brian Epstein. Unlike the Beatles 1963-64 recordings, she was better recorded, as in most likely on 3-track or 4-track equipment from the start, though the isolated sound of band/orchestra suggests a building block production, not live performances captured in a concert hall studio. Unlike the Beatles or a load of other British Invasion acts, her Capitol album doesn't have any mono rechanneling duophonic, which suggests the U.S. engineers (this was a comp album, a chopped up compilation unique to the U.S. market) didn't amuck screwing with the mix quality of what tapes were sent over from the UK. (I suspect U.S. Capitol people with the project ID'd more with singer and violins than the guitar stuff when they mastered the recordings.)

Matt Monro: er, a beautiful music pop UK vocalist. Recall "Born Free" and "From Russia With Love." Not my usual taste. Big voice, big orchestra. Gorgeous concert hall full orchestra ambience, BIG sound, almost classical, just a very plush recording. So he must've got the best, biggest, most expensive recording treatment. Also a U.S. Capitol artist in the mid-'60s. Kind of a guy who sang big versions of Broadway cast/soundtrack romantic songs. Reminds me of big romantic pop Nat King Cole recordings. Someone my middle-aged parents in the '60s would've prefered to my penchant for Rod Stewart's "Hot Legs" and Stevie Nicks albums sometime later.

Lulu, MOST OF LULU. A UK 2-fer CD. 1967 recordings, more or less. Spotty sound, some stereo (mono for at least half the songs; stereo runs from OK to half-a**ed afterthought), but generally pretty 2nd-rate stereo mixes on half the tracks. Neil Diamond's "The Boat That I Row" is mono except for the hand claps on the hard-left at 3 o'clock. Her songs on the album sound recorded more or less live, not a lot of build-it-up one track at the time. Seems the quality was intended for mono; the stereo mixes don't measure up.

Mono mix for kids and Top-40 radio, stereo for the parents' gi-normous show-off Motorola console entertainment center fake oak veneer record changer (cue Les Baxter's bongo orchestra exotica albums for maximum seduction effect).
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