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Stereo vs Mono

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I HEAR IN STEREO, THEREFORE, I AM..

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I believe that we actually hear in binaural...which is a bit different, but I'll agree that both formats typically use two channels. :)

Edited by Chris A

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My mother-in-law was born with and lived 94 years with one ear canal (but two functioning sets of middle and inner ear apparati)--and she liked mono. 

 

As it turns out, my wife is also not very sensitive to stereo vs. mono, but can identify that differences occur going from stereo vs. mono, or even to surround sound - particularly in the center channel.  My guess is that she listened to a lot of mono recordings when she was a child--before she got her first "stereo". She also had many ear infections while in high school and early college, suffering many eardrum lancings and finally some of the first ear tubes implanted (Houston medical center) until her physicians figured out what the causative allergic agent was (she used to blow smoke out her ears :o). Her hearing audiogram for each ear to this day is interesting to see--to say the least.

 

My conjecture in post #39 is that this is basically a subjective subject and therefore is probably based on past experience, weighted toward what we heard when we were each much younger. 

 

I never listened to mono willingly if I had a choice. I believe that many people haven't been exposed to good multichannel sound at home...but they probably have in movie theaters.  In 30 years...things might change.

Edited by Chris A

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I agree with the first statement, but I'll agree to disagree with the second one--which appears to be an informal logical fallacy (argumentum ad populum).

 

I might argue that the popularity of stereo is not by accident and that in this case the majority and the marketplace is correct. For comsumer items, popular opinion does have weight, a lot of weight. This is not a question of science or fact where popular opinion is meaningless. Popular opinion has chosen stereo as the prefered format, there is no logical fallacy in that.

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It's a better argument when you fill in the tacit explanation of why you believe it's true... :)  I can agree with your updated argument but only to the level that stereo displaced mono in the marketplace.  I believe that many have forgotten this story that occurred rapidly in the early 1960s.

 

Quadraphonic really wasn't successful in the 1970s (probably having something to do with cost and lack of robustness of the required hardware), but multichannel movie soundtracks (mostly 5.1, but also 7.1, etc.) have certainly displaced stereo-only movie soundtracks since the early 1990s, and I believe will eventually augment or perhaps displace much of what we call "audiophile recordings", albeit at a much slower pace since the rate of audiophiles seems to be a dramatically slowed or even negative growth market. 

 

Now we are witnessing the emergence of new multichannel formats including height channels in lieu of more and more surround channels.  But these formats aren't really useful in the earbud marketplace, so there will necessarily be a retained interest in two-channel music--either in stereo or binaural (which is much more realistic sounding in headphones only) regardless of the success of newer multichannel formats.

 

Neil Young (Pono player), Mark Waldrep (AIX and Real HD-Audio), the Chesky brothers (HDTracks) and others recently have been pushing 24/96 LPCM over competing formats, but I'm not sure that will be immediately successful until the price of the hardware (iPod-sized or mobile/cell phone players with lots and lots of nonvolatile memory with long battery life between charges), and reasonably priced downloads in 24/96 becomes essentially macht nichts for buyers--like stereo became in the 1960s;

Edited by Chris A

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... stereo displaced mono in the marketplace. I believe that many have forgotten this story that occurred rapidly in the early 1960s.

 

Part of the reason it happened so rapidly was that "everybody" was talking about it, and it was being pushed by James Gabbert and others like him in the FM brodcast world.  Gabbert's station was one listened to by practically every local college student, at least the ones I knew, and he talked up stereo all the time.  I'm assuming other metro areas had their Gabberts.  I believe he broadcasted the soundtrack of Exodus, first on two separate San Francisco FM stations (L on one station and R on the other), and then, after what seemed to be only a few weeks later, sent it out in one of the first multiplex broadcasts which we decoded with a cheap box by Heathkit.  The broadcast was announced way ahead, and many of us in the S.F. area pooled our equipment (two by two) to hear it in stereo.  There was no comparison.  As Gabbert said, it was "the next best thing to sex."

 

We had heard 2 channel stereo tape on Ampex 1/2 (and, later, 1/4) tracks, and were impressed, but stereo tapes were few.  A few months before the Gabbert broadcast, the Hi Fi Fair demonstrated 45/45 stereo Lp records, but the quality was not great (not as good as the Exodus disk), and there was little for our young ears to hear above 10K, to which manufacturers admitted.  Two booths played stereo tapes and knocked us over with spatiality -- the Klipsch booth with two widely spaced Khorns, and I believe, but can't recall for sure, the first version of a Heresey in the middle, and the JBL booth, with the Ranger Paragon.

 

A while before the Hi Fi Fair, Walt Disney had broadcasted three channel stereo in metro markets -- Left FM, Center TV, Right AM.  This, too, was announced way ahead, and all of my high school friends had time to prepare.  I set up according to instructions, and it sounded good, but there was no hint we could have it regularly in our homes.  Four hundred miles away from me, my future wife set up the Disney stereo for her family.  We didn't meet until 11 years later.  We are enjoying 5.1 home theater together about three times a week, now.

 

Many of us had been dazzled by 6 channel stereo in Todd-AO films (Oaklahoma!, Around the World in 80 Days), and 4 channel in CinemaScope productions, but, once again, no hint we would be able to enjoy it in our homes.  We heard tales from people 20 years older than us about the hypnotic Fantasound (multi-channel stereo with movement) in Disney's Fantasia (1940), but it was nowhere around to be heard.

 

When the stereo Lp premiered, it was advertised -- to the hilt!  When the SACD, including SACD 5, 5.1, and the like, premiered, I never heard anyone expect audiophiles mention it.  Self-defeat is possible.

Edited by Garyrc

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It's a better argument when you fill in the tacit explanation of why you believe it's true... :)  I can agree with your updated argument but only to the level that stereo displaced mono in the marketplace.  I believe that many have forgotten this story that occurred rapidly in the early 1960s.

Many here have never heard Mono and have no idea about anything that happened in the 1960s, 70s, and just barely the 80s....We are in the two channel forum and that's the format I live in. Having seen mono die and Quad get squashed, I'll remain in the 2 channel format until my last days. I will also quote that two good channels sound better than 5 or 7 lessor channels (to me).  I have never been exposed to a ultra high end multichannel system (read that as hundreds of thousands of dollars) so I'll reserve judgement until I do. Thanks for the discussion.

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