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Thread: Anyone working in mono?

  1. #1
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    Anyone working in mono?

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    Any experiences to share?

    Jed

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    Yeah....

    Quote Originally Posted by jedblue View Post
    Any experiences to share?

    Jed
    I think I had Mono last year..... Took me a while to get over it......

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    Why must my mono........

    oops, sorry.
    whatever it is...i'm against it.

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    No not me.

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    Sure. All early recordings before about 1960 were Mono. The technology was primative and simple. The art was setting up and mic'ing the room.

    And a lot of singer/songwriters today work in Mono because the SONG needs to stand on it's own before anybody creatively engineers the mix or adds a lot of backgound. If it's musically simple without a lot of instrumentation or effects, recording or mixing down to Mono is a good way for songwriters to go.

    No matter how many channels you record, the advantages to be gained when in mixing down to 2-channel stereo are the opportunities to improve final product fidelity by separating different musical parts onto either the left or right side. But left/right balance is very important. A good exercise is to playback a bunch of your favorite commercial recordings and listen to the stereo separation. Shut off the left speaker and listen to what remains on the right. The shut off the right and listen to the left. You will soon hear the many different approaches to channel separation.

    But, there is nothing more irritating than listening to a poorly balanced stereo recording.... particularly through headphones. Mono avoids that problem all together. The world usually listens to playback in 2-channel stereo. But quite often it's just the same all-track Mono recording on both stereo sides. (Just as often, these all-track Mono mix downs have slight volume, equalization or effects variations on each side that gives a little more fullness to the sound.)

    Rich Smith

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    I only record for vinyl, and it's my personal preference to have monaural vinyl. Tape, CD, and digital all sound great in stereo, but the mechanical nature of vinyl playback makes vinyl a legitimate option and sometimes even a fidelity choice for me.
    Cavetone Records is a vinyl-only record label that records and mixes only to open reel through a series of tube devices and magic to release mono records. http://www.cavetone.com

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    Arrow In 2001...

    In 2001, I recorded 28 songs on 4-track cassette and mixed them to mono for an all-Ramones covers tribute disc, plus mixed a single 8-track Ramones cover also to mono,... for 29 songs total on 1 CD in mono.

    It sounds good as-is and holds up well over time, but I'll admit feeling several times over the years that I should mix it to stereo, as the "authentic" Ramones first few albums are in simple stereo, like bass-left/guitar-right/drums & vocals center. Still, I've not done that or readdressed the issue, and they're basically fine. It's only noticeable in an uncomfortable way when I'm listening to all my song trax on "shuffle", where it goes from stereo to mono & back as the songlist progresses. Not a big deal or show stopper, though.

    I was going thru a "roots" phase of recording, with mixing to mono as a centerpiece of this technique. It was fine then, but since then I've not recorded anything else in mono. However, many of my stereo mixes are intentionally "narrow", so go figure.

    There's this one from 2001 and 28 more just like it!
    Attached Images Attached Images file_11299-jpg 
    Quote Originally Posted by Lt. Bob
    ... subtleties of sound make a difference to those who really listen.

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    I started this thread a couple of months ago when I decided that all Lonely Few material would be released in mono - or dual mono to be factual. The band would be recorded on the two track Revox in stereo, mastered down to the mono Nagra then dubbed off the Nagra to dual track mono cassettes on an Akai GX-95.

    At the time, when I was dubbing the cassettes off the Nagra with a splitter close monitoring the Akai's playback head through headphones, I kept noticing tiny little incidents of flutter where the signal would suddenly phase left to right, or vica versa. It was totally random.

    After a lot of investigation, opinions and trials on lesser tape decks (where it was much worse) we concluded that it was caused by small variations in the cassette tape stock, tape path sticktion and pad pressures as it passed through the cassette deck's transport that was being magnified into audibility by the fact that it was dual mono and that it was closely monitored through headphones. It is not noticible through speakers nor is it noticible in a true stereo signal where there is sufficient difference between the left and right program material so that it doesn't phase when it hits a variation causal incident.

    We concluded that it will always be a possibility - even in a reference grade cassette deck such as the GX-95 - and is a function of the very narrow track width, cassette body / reel mechanical imperfections, miniaturised transport and slow tape speed of cassettes. We have been able to minimise it - but not eliminate it - by making sure that only new cassettes are used (it gets worse if the tapes have been used and bulk erased) and to put the split mono signal through a 15 band graphic with minor mirror differences between the left and right (eg -2db down on on band on one side and +2db up on the corresponding band on the other side). This creates a sort of false stereo dual mono signal that can reduce the potential for a variation to cause an audible azimuth drift / flutter incident.

    It doesn't happen when you do a dual mono in digital off a mono 1/4" 15 ips source and I have no idea whether it would happen with a dual mono lathe cut.

    But I'd like to know as that is where we're heading with it all in the end.

    I'll soon find out I guess.

    Jed
    Last edited by jedblue; 04-16-2009 at 21:28.

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    Jed,

    Sounds like you've simply bumped into the inherent mechanical and electrical limitations of narrow slow speed Cassette.

    I did a lot of 1/4" Reel-to-Reel recording at 7 1/2ips, and copying to both 7 1/2 and 3 3/4in the 60's (mostly crossfield head Akai's sans pressure pads) and never had your kind of experiences. But copying onto slow 1 7/8 cassette was always a looser by comparision. That's why 8-track cassette stayed around so long (Jeez.. remember those?). But the quality of slow speed 1 7/8 commercial Cassette didn't become remotely acceptable until long after Dolby and better hardware began to compensate for it's inherent shortcomings sometime around 1980.

    The history of Tape is that it quickly became wide and fast in the 1950's to gain fidelity. Then commercial consumer products became narrower and slower over time for all the obvious business reasons. But fidelity was lost and the slower speeds made cheaper and cheaper units possible to produce; often loosing more quality along the way and compensating for it with electronic playback tricks. By the 1980's, the tricks and better quality started to pay off. But the problems were never overcome. They were masked or compensated.

    I think it would be a mistake to look for any kind of a high quality standard or benchmark in good Cassettes that would resolve the inherent problems. There are too many. On the other hand your high speed wide tape/digital combinations probably have great possibilities. So long as your end consumer product is digital.

    Rich Smith

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    Appreciate the comments Rich. We've done this to death now. We know it is the limitations of cassette tape. We'll live with them in the time being until we can get our vinyl cutting act together.

    Lonely Few stuff is a mono, all analog, no digital, no computer domain at all points along the way - instruments, recording chain, reproduction and artwork so there'll never be any digital final form of any of it except for a few 30-60 sec mp3 grabs that go on the only piece of digital communication that we have allowed - the MySpace site.

    There is no concept of a commercial product for it so it doesn't matter that there are a few microsecond incidents of flutter in our current cassette based end product. It was simply an interesting phenomena that intrigued me enough to see if I could understand what was actually happening.

    Jed

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