Using a mono speaker instead of stereo?

So I’m going to build a new speaker soon and have been pondering just building a single speaker and mixing stereo music down to mono.

There are many practical benefits to this.

Obviously it would be half the price (or twice the budget) and half the labour.

Using any stereo receiver you will have 2 channels at your disposable for one speaker and this has a bunch of uses.

The 2 channels can be used to provide an active or digital crossover for a 2 way and reap all the benefits , even for a 3 way the woofer to mid crossover can still be done digitally or actively, where the biggest and most expensive components would be normally be required for a passive crossover.

With 2 channels you can also bridge the channels and have double the power available to a mono speaker with passive crossover, while providing a balanced load to the amp.

Ok, you get a lot of benefits but it comes at the cost of stereo... but is this really all bad?

The real reason I’m considering a mono build is that when I was building my last stereo speakers I was testing and fine tuning the crossover using a single speaker, after some time I had it dialed in and it sounded really fantastic, I went ahead and built the same crossover for the other speaker.
Upon listening to them in stereo, the ’magic’ I was hearing when tuning the single speaker wasnt fully there in stereo, the single had much purer tone and cleaner image, but obviously did not have big, wide sound you get with stereo...

Large portion of sounds in stereo music are really just monoaural with different degrees of panning, for reproducing any of these sounds a stereo speaker is actually inferior to mono since 2 speakers will never be perfectly matched. 2 speakers will play it louder and that’s all.

I’m pretty close to moving ahead with a mono build but it is pretty much unheard of.... anyone have any thoughts on it?


Well there are many that support the mono lifestyle. My Dad's first rig that was handed down to me was mono. I played the Beatles and Jimi to much satisfaction on that rig. Forward to today, I'm back to mono. I can only hear out of one ear. I use a stereo set-up with the speakers only 3 feet apart. I can switch between mono and stereo and only with one ear working the stereo presentation still sounds better. History pretty much shows that stereo wiped out mono sound. Very few stayed with mono after stereo was introduced. Very much unlike quadraphonic that was a total failure in the market.  

Why would anyone want to give up the soundstage provided by stereo.  I want my system to sound as close to a live performance as possible.  Don't recall ever going to a show where all the musicians stood in a single line, front to back.  IMHO this whole idea appears to be a terrible waste.  

" Why would anyone want to give up the soundstage provided by stereo. "
The post is literally just explaining why.

If you think tonal and imaging accuracy is not important for recreating sound of live performance fair enough.

Also albums are not the same as live performances, and instruments are often recorded in mono.
A mono speaker is more ideal for reproducing mono sound sources, as explained already, but it’s basically common sense.

I fell hard for stereo the very first time I heard it. It was at a hi-fi show in the late 1950’s, I was about seven. i love it still. It’s by far my favorite iteration of hi-fidelity.

I did some testing with real mono (left or right channel only) vs stereo downmixed to mono. Downmixing clearly has problems and make some tracks sound poorer, I only notice a big improvement compared to stereo with one channel and one speaker (like when I was designing the crossover) but to simply lose an entire channel is obviously unacceptable for real use.
So that is the major reason why this is a bad idea.

I noticed that my mono LPs sound great on a stereo system

@suix6 what percentage of your media is in mono? That could affect your decision, but it makes sense, especially if your “receiver” has/had a mono switch?

Better you than me.

I would never do it for any reason especially yours.

Less than perfect phase survives most stereo, NEVER "downmixiing."


I think what the OP is hearing is the result of reduced distinction comparing mono to stereo. If you proceed with the project, I suggest you pay careful attention to the precise matching of all components.


It’s the word I choose when describing the advantage of playing a Mono LP with a true Mono Cartridge. Even more distinct when playing mono with only one speaker. Not imaging, but distinction of different instruments. Actually the prevention/removal of any inadvertent imaging. Additionally I have learned not to sit in the dedicated listening position, to keep my mind from it’s habit of seeking imaging.

MATCHING Needed for PERFECTION of Stereo Sound

Matched output is critical for speaker manufacturers. Nearly everything is Phantom in Stereo, good best better based on matching L to R.

Keeping a singer’s voice dead center thru many octaves is no joke, see the ranges that need to be matched to prevent any lack of distinction at any frequency:,Christina%20Aguilera%20and%20David%20Bowie.


ANY slight mis-matching of output, from any driver, any crossover component, any interconnect/connection, component’s internals, from time delay, from varying surface reflections will REDUCE DISTINCTION in a Stereo Image.




Some years ago I read an article about small bars or tea rooms in Japan which included quality mono audio systems.  Typically they had SET tube amplification with a single cabinet horn or other HE design speaker and vintage idler-drive turntables, such as Garrard.  Source material was either vinyl or tape.  This was more recent than the mid-80s so into the digital era.  Still, from this article, these small, commercial bars/rooms were very popular.

This is not to suggest any of us should throw out half of our systems, but there are many who still do appreciate quality mono playback.

Different strokes for different folks. If monaural floats your boat, go for it. I went in the opposite direction with my system to multi-channel and prudent application of DSP to adjust the acoustic space to fit the venue and performance of the music I'm playing.

I consider stereo to be a significant improvement over monaural with respect to reproducing a credible facsimile of the original performance, But I think multi-channel, even upmixed from 2-channel sources, is an even greater advancement over stereo in that regard, so that's my preference. Please don't throw stones.

I used to, 1980s,  play all music, even that from two channel sources, in surround sound with DSP  and seven high quality DIY speakers with all Dynaudio drivers. The more I improved the quality of my two main front speakers and their electronics the more the surround sound became a distraction instead of an improvement with everything except movies.  Now for music listening I am strictly a two channel listener.

I can think of many advantages for mono in a domestic environment. Stereo needs to be the first consideration when setting up a room if it’s to be done right, especially if you have more than one person listening ad require a broad sweet spot. Living can get in the way unless a dedicated room is a possibility. Mono is much easier to fit it to a shared environment.

If only vinyl is the source than a mono, possibly twin output, cartridge is the best place to mix it down, mono buttons on phonostages and preamps alway sound inferior, though not so much those on radio tuners. I’ve never seen a DAC with a mono switch though.