"true stereo" albums vs. "enhanced mono"
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redshifter

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on headphones you really notice details in recordings like stereo imaging. one thing i have noticed is some albums have a "true stereo" sound where instruments and voices are spread in an interesting way between the left and right channels. other albums i would call "enhanced mono", where they have taken an eseentially mono recording and embellished it with a few stereo effects.

i don't have anything against a good mono recording. i think a lot of rock and roll sounds pretty good in mono and loses a little power when presented in a wide stereo stage.

anyway, which recordings have you noticed this "enhanced mono" phenomenon (if you agree) and which ones use stereo very well?

enhanced mono recordings:
any of those "hard right hard left" early beatles recordings. i often use a stereo-mono adapter when listening on headphones. this kind of recording is also called "pan pot mono".

portishead "dummy". it is strange, this album has wonderful production but is to my ears essentially a mono recording. i can only remember a few moments on the album where the sound strays from the middle.

depeche mode "some great reward" i just got this used and noticed the core band sound (drums, bass, vocals) are a mono mix on some of the songs with stereo synth embellishments. again, strange for a band known for it's production.

a lot of rap and pop music today has a "mono spead across two speakers" kind of sound.

true stereo:
any newer stereolab records make great use of stereo ("sound-dust", "first of the microbe hunters", etc.)

nine inch nails: "the downward spiral". fascinating production, with unending musical detail and stereo effects.

many classical recordings have a very natural sounding stereo image.

these are just a few i've noticed. i don't think most people pay much attention to the concept of "good" or "bad" stereo. i've done enough music production where i notice a real difference, especially on headphones. anyway, there just are many recordings even released today that make the slightest effort to use stereo to its fullest (not that this is bad--for example speed metal has always sounded better to me with a close-to-mono mix). it will be interesting to see what these bands do (or don't do) with multichannel.
 
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Tuberoller

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I think true mono recordings sound great but not on a stereo playback system.I love the sounds of old or current mono on vinyl played on my dedicated mono system.Some of the early jazz vocal performances are very impressive.I gotta try mono on headphones,I must admit that I yet to do so.
 
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redshifter

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tuberoller:
one of the more realistic sounding recordings i have is a mono recording of the magic flute on those old breakable records. i agree mono sounds poor on a stereo, perhaps because the sound comes from a combination of two speakers creating a phantom mono speaker in the middle. it does sound best coming directly from one speaker. i like the idea of a dedicated mono system...
 
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