The sonic rightness of a mono system.

Many conventional stereo systems are producing smaller shortened indistinct soundstages that one must sit dead center of while sounding poorly off-axis. So I wondered is the small loudspeaker in stereo the equal to a large one in mono? So I have pursued that line of thought and have come to the conclusion that no a small speaker in stereo is not equal to the large one in mono. I've tried this with some of the most advanced loudspeakers available and they all failed when running up against one large horn in mono. The large loudspeaker just always had a more physical solid presentation the sound stages near the same in size while the stereo always had this tiring artificial sound that the mono system did not. Maybe our brain gets fatigued trying to fill in for what is missing stereo is an artificial technology designed to fool the ear brain system maybe that in itself is the problem. Mono just sounds right. If I had the choice one large horn in mono is what I would select over any 2-way bookshelf no matter what its cost. Nice thing about mono is its ease of entry give it a try you may have all the needed gear stored about. It's also an excuse to buy that cool solo collectable speaker you know the one that is too big to house 2 of. As always YMMV and this is my opinion after much research and we all have a bias I keep that in mind when I do such things but am human and can not fully escape my human limitations.
Not directly related, but this tread touched on "being single"

Clearly, no one was interested. It did look a little odd having one speaker in the middle of the room!

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Sorry, didn't mean to cause a rise in blood pressure. Just a little friendly banter.
Your reply invites a similar vibe, but I'll simply move on. 

Carry on with heady, serious conversations.
@johnk --

Interesting topic. A speaker builder I know well, Simon Mears, talked glowingly about his experience of a single, modified WE12a (augmented with a center-hung tweeter and twin 15" Lambda drivers), and found it to be among the very, very best he’d ever heard.

But what about a pair of perfectly aligned big horns vs. only one big horn - do you still have a preference for the latter here?
Many conventional stereo systems are producing smaller shortened indistinct soundstages that one must sit dead center of while sounding poorly off-axis.

So let me get this straight. Because "many" don't know how to properly set up a stereo, you went off on this wild goose chase?

Its really not all that hard to set up two speakers. Who knows, maybe even you could learn? 
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Well, I know that I am not using any product you designed; even by accident.
Perhaps the key is this -

"Maybe our brain gets fatigued trying to fill in for what is missing stereo is an artificial technology designed to fool the ear brain system maybe that in itself is the problem. Mono just sounds right."

Mono generally feels more relaxing to me whilst stereo often sounds more exciting/busy. I suspect that it's also because stereo rarely sounds as real and densely focussed as mono that many enthusiasts become devoted to endlessly searching for imagery in playback.

It's worth bearing in mind that almost all the sounds that we hear everyday are mono in nature. Trying to listen to two separate sounds at once - outside a live concert - is not only unusual but can also be quite stressful. 

Ultimately a preference for either can come down to a choice of whether you wish to hear the music as it was originally intended (eg mono as in the Beatles output pre White album) or as you might prefer it remaster /remix/ stereo/ 5.1/ 7.1 etc.

Or you may even choose to enjoy all the variants.

I don't find mono listening or sound to be superior or preferable.
It just sounds "stuck in the speaker" speaker.

Mono is like claiming to have the full impact of modern photography in black and white images. I do not care to willingly limit the stimuli that tells my brain that I'm listening to a three dimensional performance.  Of course, certain attributes of a recording can be emphasized in mono, just as black and white photos can emphasize monochromatic elements, but there is also a "deadness" to the images in both.  As usual, YMMV 
I could not live without stereo. To me, some mono recordings sound better than their stereo counterparts - sounding more organic and/or I feel I can hear deeper into the mix, being free of the stereo effect distraction. But only some. Way far more often I prefer the spatial ambiance of the stereo version. Is it fake when not recorded ("intended") in stereo? Sure. But my whole system is a fake anyway, reproducing recorded music while not one musician is in my room. 
I have no qualms about stereo. It doesn't take much, or long, to get to where you're satisfied. After all, it is your room you're dealing with so setting it up should not be a problem.

Having said that, one of the finest, if not the finest, recordings I heard were some mono recordings on a stereo. I know it's a different kettle of fish, but I can see where a mono set up in some smaller digs would work just fine.

All the best,
IMO, a better analogy than black & white photography to mono sound is black & white film, which I myself great prefer to color (for a glorious example, see The Coen Brother's "The Man Who Wasn't There"). Mono recordings must be reproduced in mono, of course, so the interesting question is whether they sound "better" heard via one loudspeaker rather than two.
@bdp24, I much prefer colour film to black & white yet somehow virtually all of my favourite films happen to be in black & white (The General, Sunrise, Kane, Casablanca, Wuthering Heights, Psycho, The Last Picture Show, Manhattan etc)!

As for the number of speakers for mono, nowadays it’s got to be two. Don’t forget that ’small’ mono speakers used in the 50s and early 60s would now be deemed large. Their bigger brothers I’m guessing might now be called wardrobes.

@prof , Yes that closed-in effect does happen with some mono recordings. For me the worst example was the 2009 CD Beatles remasters in mono. I expected a lot more but they just sounded somewhat hemmed in and sat on in a way I’m sure that would have horrified the folks back at Abbey Road in the days when England was swinging.

On the other many, many mono recordings from the 40s and 50s can still sound sublimely and expansively alive. I think it depends more upon the recording than anything else.
 On a large loudspeaker, you have a large soundstage that is what we try to replicate with 2-smaller loudspeakers.                                                       One could always try something different or not and be content with all the experience they gained not doing so. And it's not like mono is blk and white and a no color sound to me that analogy is very far off from anything I am hearing. I hear natural music reproduction with realistic size scale and dynamics I never hear that out of small loudspeakers. 
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Imo you are conflating the characteristics of mono/stereo with large/small speakers. Why should I use small speakers? I don't, so all the caveats about them don't apply.  :)
No one cares about MONO? I don't think that is true and from what this post generated in other forums is far from that conclusion. It is a bit about large vs small- small in stereo and large in mono so you oversimplify and dismiss with absolutes. Don't worry you all are now safe from any talk of mono horns or anything else that may challenge your ridge fixed belief systems. Don't expect replys. Good Day.
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To all out there who dismiss mono over stereo, have you ever heard mono-reproduction over a very large all-horn speaker and compared it to the sound of a smaller stereo pair as outlined in this particular context? No need to beat around the bush, because this IS about a single large (all-)horn speaker vs. a pair of comparatively small, direct radiating speakers; it's the whole premise of the OP. 

So, to reiterate: this is about what a single, large horn speaker can supposedly do that small stereo DR pairs can't - not only to one individual's ears. An intriguing thought, I find, and worth looking into. I'd wager the real point of contention here, apart from the heretical notion put forth of potential mono-providence, is a big horn speaker, so people fancy modifying the scenario into whatever applies to their specific setup, and simply substracts one of two similar speakers that aren't big all-horns (likely without placing the remaining single speaker smack in the middle, if it ever gets past a mere thought experiment). Indeed that would be missing the whole point. 

So, is this just about big vs. small speakers? No, that's too crude; it's about a single very large horn speaker playing mono vs. a pair a small(er) direct radiating speakers playing stereo. 
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I long ago learned that I prefer music reproduced by drivers having large radiating surfaces (ESL’s, magnetic-planars) rather than comparatively-small direct radiators (domes, 3"-5" cones), and that I prefer line-sources to point-sources. Small drivers/point-sources make music appear to be coming through two bricks (one for each channel) removed from a wall separating myself from the performers.

I also like voices to appear to be coming from the height of the mouth of a standing person, rather than at knee or even waist height. I like the performers to be above ear-level, as if on a raised stage, rather than looking down at them from a balcony. Also, small loudspeakers miniaturize the sound of a grand piano, drumset, upright bass, etc., turning a life-size house into a dollhouse.

What I haven’t heard is a large loudspeaker that is a line array of small drivers, like those designed by Danny Richie of GR Research (and others, of course).

So, whether mono or stereo, size matters to me. And though mono recordings can sound smaller in the left-to-right plane, they can still possess great depth.

Been helping a friend prep his house for upcoming sale.

Have a battery powered Tivoli radio that I move around with me as I'm working on different parts of the house. VERY mono :) and most definitely not very HiFi :) or, a large horn...

(There is no stereo/music in my friends house...)

There is something about filling a room with sound with a single speaker though. I am reminded of the old short wave radio I listened to while growing up in Norway. When I'm listening to my system now,  it sounds wonderful from my listening position. However, if I have to walk around the room for any reason, a lot of the magic is lost. A single speaker fills a space quite nicely, and it sounds "even".

I would certainly not be adverse to setting up a single large horn running mono in living/dining room. I wonder how many have set up a "proper" single speaker with a "proper" source as a way to fill a room with sound? Most folks will have a small radio, BT speaker or the equiv for this. 

Also, as I am losing my hearing in my left ear, the issue of stereo is not as great as it once was. The idea of a single driver could be a reality in the future.

Thanks for the post.


Oh, and as for the B/W photography analogies, I will have to respectfully disagree...

While in film school, my design theory professor spoke about photography. He felt, and I agree, that a great photographer making a great photograph can do so in B/W. As the skill set goes down, the photographer could make the image in color. If that doesn't help, then they could consider adding a large mat to the image. If that doesn't work, they could add a fancy frame. And if that doesn't work, make it big...

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It is more like flat movie/TV vs 3D movie/TV.
Flat TV and Mono perception is more easy, laconic for our brain, less redundant information.