difference between "Mono" and "Stereo"

Thread Starter

PG1995

Joined Apr 15, 2011
816
Hi

This question has been in my mind for several years and I never got an opportunity to ask anyone. No, I did ask once. But the person I asked to just evaded the question by babbling about other things. What is difference between "Mono" and "Stereo"? I used to read it cassette decks all the times. Could you please put the difference between the two in simple terms without going into much technical details? I appreciate your help.
 

tom66

Joined May 9, 2009
2,595
Mono = single channel sound. Left and right have the same output.

Stereo = two channel (technically, two or more, but to most people stereo = 2) sound. Left and right are independent, makes sound a bit more realistic...
 

Wendy

Joined Mar 24, 2008
21,914
Don't you mean...

Stereo = 2 channels.

Basically each channel is totally independent from each other.

Some amps mix the two channels for the deep bass, but this is rare.

FM stereo has a system where they use a sub band to create a second channel, if played on a mono receiver both channels are mixed. How they do this is a separate question, and the theory is a bit more advanced.

If building a stereo, build an amplifier, then do it again.
 

praondevou

Joined Jul 9, 2011
2,942
Don't you mean...

Stereo = 2 channels.
I'd think so too... until I read this:
"The term Stereophonic, commonly called stereo, sound refers to any method of sound reproduction in which an attempt is made to create an illusion of directionality and audible perspective. This is usually achieved by using two or more independent audiohttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sound_recording_and_reproduction channels through a configuration of two or more loudspeakershttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Loudspeaker in such a way as to create the impression of sound heard from various directions, as in natural hearing. Thus the term "stereophonic" applies to so-called "quadraphonichttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quadraphonic" and "surround-sound" systems as well as the more common 2-channel, 2-speaker systems."

Could still be wrong, I know, it's Wikipedia....
 

Adjuster

Joined Dec 26, 2010
2,148
I find this a slightly surprising question. Maybe the fact that so much music is in stereo these days may have something to do with it. Nowadays things like stereo MP3 players are exerywhere, and I suppose we don't hear so much music in mono - AM radio maybe, and that's getting rarer.

When I was a teenager (quite a long time ago), a lot more things were mono. My parents were neither wealthy nor particularly interested in music, so we had no stereo equipment at home. Nevertheless, I knew what stereo was, and that it was something I wanted to hear. I fitted a previously mono record player with a stereo pick-up cartridge, which I listened to using a home-made two channel amplifier and a pair of headphones. The first time that I got that thing working was really quite an experience!

Here are a couple of youtube links to the same song in mono and stereo

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lAVpjHiqKlwhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-s-F7ZmmGbY

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ydNvskc6Vp0

Oops-wrong files - fixed!
 
Last edited:

Audioguru

Joined Dec 20, 2007
11,251
Mono sounds Dead with no directional sounds.
Stereo sounds alive with sounds from the left or right or from center or anywhere in between. Different sounds from different directions can play at the same time. It sounds REAL (if the frequency response is wide and the noise and distortion are low.

EDIT: The Beatles sounded horrible both in mono and in pseudo stereo. No bass and not much directionality.
 

Wendy

Joined Mar 24, 2008
21,914
I'd think so too... until I read this:
"The term Stereophonic, commonly called stereo, sound refers to any method of sound reproduction in which an attempt is made to create an illusion of directionality and audible perspective. This is usually achieved by using two or more independent audio channels through a configuration of two or more loudspeakers in such a way as to create the impression of sound heard from various directions, as in natural hearing. Thus the term "stereophonic" applies to so-called "quadraphonic" and "surround-sound" systems as well as the more common 2-channel, 2-speaker systems."

Could still be wrong, I know, it's Wikipedia....
I don't see the conflict. Of course, when four channels are involved it is quadraphonic. This is not stereo. The so called 5.0 system is quad with a common base. Base isn't usually very directional, and more felt than heard.

Of course, there are other sources for definitions...

Wiktionary said:
Noun

stereo (plural stereos)

1. A system of recording or reproducing sound that uses two channels, each playing a portion of the original sound in such a way as to create the illusion of locating the sound at a particular position, each offset from the other, thereby more accurately imitating the location of the original sound when the recorded or reproduced sound is heard.
2. A device used for playing music, usually in the home, that reproduces sound using stereo.

He liked to listen to classical music on his stereo.
The point is each channel is separate, they don't usually mix (though it is a feature in some stereo player). The sync is always important too, but with modern (and not so modern) electronics has not been a major problem.
 

praondevou

Joined Jul 9, 2011
2,942
I don't see the conflict.
You wrote: stereo = 2 channels

I agree(d) to that until I read "Thus the term "stereophonic" applies to so-called "quadraphonic"... "

Just a question of definition. The author of the Wiki article calls every system with more than 1 channel "stereo". I have no idea if this correct or not. :)
 

praondevou

Joined Jul 9, 2011
2,942
@Bill

Ok, Ok, actually we are thinking the same thing. Stereo is 2 channels.

I was asking myself if a system with more than 2 channels can be called stereo. What do you think? That's what the article says.:confused:
 

Wendy

Joined Mar 24, 2008
21,914
When the term was invented it would have been incorrect. The term has become a lot more generic since then, so I wouldn't argue it either way.

You want to see alternate ways study FM radio and how they do it.
 

Audioguru

Joined Dec 20, 2007
11,251
Stereo also plays "ambience" which is echoes in the room that are cancelled in mono.
The echoes create sound distance effects in stereo but not in mono.
 
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