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Stereo or Mono?
Dude111
post Aug 29 2012, 20:53
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Im curious what you guys prefer??

I have always preferred Mono because everything is combined together and to me sounds the best..

I didnt see any threads discussing it so i thought i'd start one and see where it goes smile.gif

This post has been edited by Dude111: Aug 29 2012, 20:56
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jayess
post Aug 29 2012, 21:21
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QUOTE (Dude111 @ Aug 29 2012, 14:53) *
Im curious what you guys prefer??

I have always preferred Mono because everything is combined together and to me sounds the best..

I didnt see any threads discussing it so i thought i'd start one and see where it goes smile.gif


I prefer stereo, but I did find it interesting recently reading about the Beatles Mono Box Set.

http://www.amazon.com/The-Beatles-Mono-Box...t_mus_ep_dpi_17

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Beatles_in_Mono

Mono has its place in music history.

I'm gonna buy this thing after I get out of the dog house for my other recent purchases.
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LithosZA
post Aug 29 2012, 21:28
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Stereo, because Binaural recordings require it and those recordings usually sound the most life-like to me. Some people don't like the extreme channel seperation when listening to certain older stereo songs through headphones. For those they can use a stereophonic-to-binaural DSP filter like this one: http://bs2b.sourceforge.net/
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dc2bluelight
post Aug 30 2012, 05:15
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There are lots of reasons some people prefer mono. The big one usually is that the music they love most was originally presented to them in mono, so that's the aural memory, stereo versions will often sound wrong. Another is that in mono, assuming 1 speaker only, you can move around and the soundstage never really changes much. Of course, there isn't much to change. Move your head out of dead-center with stereo, and it all clumps around the speaker you moved toward. Not a problem Mono has.

On the other hand, stereo has some advantages too. Mono recordings contain very limited spacial cues, not zero, but limited. Stereo contains lots of spacial cues, and even if heard with a bad stereo setup (out of balance, etc.) many of the spacial cues still work, and you get a sense of space and dimension you can't have with mono. If done right, and with your head in dead-center position, the dimensionality can be astounding. Again, not something mono does well.

But stereo has issues too. That tiny listening window being perhaps the biggest, and the fragile nature of phantom image location. Early stereo researchers concluded that the fewest number of channels required for acceptable stereo was 3, and that included a center speaker (sound familiar?). Two was not considered acceptable!

Stereo does some really cool stuff with headphones, though most of it entirely unnatural, its still pretty cool. Mono ends up in the center of your skull in headphones, which you can learn to like, but it's a perspective that you wouldn't hear in real life. Binaural stereo takes the image out of dead center and attempts to put you in an acoustic space similar to the one in which the recording was made, but often falls short because binaural hearing characteristics are somewhat individual, and it's hard to provide an accurate binaural experience to every single listener as a result. And binaural stereo on speakers is just pointless.

So to move to a more believable soundstage, we add channels. Every time you double the channel count the change in presentation is easily noticed by everyone, regardless if they think it's better or worse. Most think its better. So, mono > stereo was huge. Stereo > 5.1 is huge. 5.1 > 11.2 is huge. 11.2 to Dolby Atmos and it's ilk is also huge. But we'll probably stop there for a bit.

So the point is, you like what you heard first (mono included) and most people like more channels if they can get them. The mono-lover's experience is valid for him, and even if his entire love for mono is based on nostalgia or "being faithful to the original", it's still valid. Personally, I have fewer issues with people loving mono than I do with people claiming stereo is the only "pure" recording method, or the" ultimate" in audiophile experience.

And yes, I did play a mono vinyl record within the past seven days. On a speaker, even.
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greynol
post Aug 30 2012, 05:24
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When played through a pair of stereo speakers, is the potential for problems associated with the position of the listener different depending on whether the source is stereo or mono?


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dc2bluelight
post Aug 30 2012, 05:28
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Just one more comment...I recently heard a mono recording on the thing in the picture, the large cabinet with the horn on top. That's a phonograph without any electronics, all acoustic. The recording was made with an all acoustic recorder, no electronics either. It was, simply, astoundingly good! Don't think I'd want to hear all my music that way, but it was loud, clear, clean, and quite dimensional.
The thing can be seen and heard here: http://www.pavekmuseum.org/



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Nessuno
post Aug 30 2012, 08:52
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Recalling past threads here at HA, a fact is that, AFAIK, the so called "soundstage", or more properly the accuracy of threedimensional space location of sound sources in playback is not objectively measurable, so on those matters, mono vs stereo vs 5.1 vs this or that speaker setup vs headphones etc... there is and maybe there always be room for subjective opinions... and as side effect, like it or not, audiophile slang! wink.gif


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derty2
post Aug 30 2012, 09:27
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I am not a recording engineer, but I have always assumed that Mono was the only professional recording methodology used in studios all the way until the late 1960s.
Given my taste for authenticity, I expect to only see a Mono recording of things made before 1970 (or so).

However, I recently got a bit confused over this issue. . .
The other day I walked into a record store and casually browsed the Vinyl releases. I saw an audiophile 180g reissue of the album "Kind Of Blue" by Miles Davis (recorded in 1959).
I picked it up, inspected it, and noticed that it was labeled as Stereo !!! I asked the shop assistant how an album from 1959 can be released as Stereo ...and he did not have an informative answer to give me.

If any of you guys reading here have deep knowledge of recording history, technology and distribution, can you shed some light on all of this. Thanks.

I wish record companies and distributors always gave complete notes on the provenance of their releases, rather like the "changelog" you get with a long-standing and respected piece of software (such as foobar2000). Without such info, purchasing music seems like playing an obfuscated game of roulette.
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hlloyge
post Aug 30 2012, 10:05
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I have read somewhere that some instruments on albums are recorded separately on three mono tracks and then mixed down to mono... later, these three tracks are mixed down to quasi stereo, one track being left, one track right, and one "in the middle".
I think that would be the thing with Miles Davis (and about quite a bit oj older jazz recordings).
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Nessuno
post Aug 30 2012, 10:32
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QUOTE (derty2 @ Aug 30 2012, 10:27) *
I am not a recording engineer, but I have always assumed that Mono was the only professional recording methodology used in studios all the way until the late 1960s.
[...]
If any of you guys reading here have deep knowledge of recording history, technology and distribution, can you shed some light on all of this.

If memory helps me, first Deutsche Grammophon stereo commercial recording was Bach's Art of Fugue performed by Helmut Walcha in 1956. And it was not actually recorded in a "studio", as it took place in a church (St. Laurenskerk at Alkmaar, NL).

Now one could argue if it's worth recording a big pipe organ in stereo, in the first place.

I owe that recording and as a personal remark I can say that, having also heard that same organ live, I have not the faintest expectation to repeat the same experience with a recording, no matter the recording tecnique and the reproduction chain, but still listening to it moves me to tears every time... smile.gif


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Porcus
post Aug 30 2012, 10:34
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QUOTE (derty2 @ Aug 30 2012, 10:27) *
The other day I walked into a record store and casually browsed the Vinyl releases. I saw an audiophile 180g reissue of the album "Kind Of Blue" by Miles Davis (recorded in 1959).
I picked it up, inspected it, and noticed that it was labeled as Stereo !!! I asked the shop assistant how an album from 1959 can be released as Stereo ...and he did not have an informative answer to give me.


Stereo pressings hit the consumer market in 1958 (edit: Nessuno: was the 1956 recording released in 1956? Anyway, stereo pressings were available to consumers before KoB), and Kind of Blue was released in stereo (and mono).

BTW, once you had LPs marked “Stereo (also playable on mono)”, the reason being that a mono pickup had a fatter stylus which wouldn't fit every stereo LP. It could very well be that some pressings later were marked “Stereo” because they were pressed for a stereo stylus (i.e., “Stereo” meant “Don't play this with a mono pickup”, not that there was actual stereo content) -- examples, anyone?

This post has been edited by Porcus: Aug 30 2012, 10:40


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Porcus
post Aug 30 2012, 10:46
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No, the Walcha recording was not released in stereo until 1960, according to http://www.allmusic.com/album/bach-the-art...ue-mw0001849213 :

QUOTE
Deutsche Grammophon didn't have a way to issue this stereo recording in 1956, but had the foresight to utilize the technology anyway, as relatively few others did at that time; the stereo LP of The Art of Fugue finally made its bow in 1960.


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Nessuno
post Aug 30 2012, 10:58
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QUOTE (Porcus @ Aug 30 2012, 11:46) *
QUOTE
Deutsche Grammophon didn't have a way to issue this stereo recording in 1956, but had the foresight to utilize the technology anyway, as relatively few others did at that time; the stereo LP of The Art of Fugue finally made its bow in 1960.


Ok, but the OP asked about recording, not pressing metodology! wink.gif

BTW: I wonder why such a big firm made its first stereo recording outside a studio. Maybe it was actually easier: a simple two track tape recorder, a couple of microphones and most of all a source that's not so "stereo" in its own?

This post has been edited by Nessuno: Aug 30 2012, 10:59


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Arnold B. Kruege...
post Aug 30 2012, 12:51
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QUOTE (Dude111 @ Aug 29 2012, 15:53) *
Im curious what you guys prefer??

I have always preferred Mono because everything is combined together and to me sounds the best..

I didnt see any threads discussing it so i thought i'd start one and see where it goes smile.gif



Stereo. Some say that the coincident mic recordings that I like are "like mono", but I am unimpressed by the ping-pong and razor-sharp imaging they seem to prefer because I never hear that in the good seats at a live performance. That's true even if your seat is at the edge of the stage, let alone in the middle letters of the alphabet.
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pdq
post Aug 30 2012, 14:57
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QUOTE (Porcus @ Aug 30 2012, 05:34) *
BTW, once you had LPs marked “Stereo (also playable on mono)”, the reason being that a mono pickup had a fatter stylus which wouldn't fit every stereo LP. It could very well be that some pressings later were marked “Stereo” because they were pressed for a stereo stylus (i.e., “Stereo” meant “Don't play this with a mono pickup”, not that there was actual stereo content) -- examples, anyone?

I actually lived through the period of having to look specifically for the stereo or mono version of a record to match your hardware. My recollection was that you should not play a stereo record on some mono players because unlike a mono record, in which needle movement is strictly horizontal, a stereo record involves vertical movement as well, and some mono cartridges would damage the groove because they were not designed to move vertically.
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Arnold B. Kruege...
post Aug 30 2012, 15:26
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QUOTE (pdq @ Aug 30 2012, 09:57) *
QUOTE (Porcus @ Aug 30 2012, 05:34) *
BTW, once you had LPs marked “Stereo (also playable on mono)”, the reason being that a mono pickup had a fatter stylus which wouldn't fit every stereo LP. It could very well be that some pressings later were marked “Stereo” because they were pressed for a stereo stylus (i.e., “Stereo” meant “Don't play this with a mono pickup”, not that there was actual stereo content) -- examples, anyone?

I actually lived through the period of having to look specifically for the stereo or mono version of a record to match your hardware. My recollection was that you should not play a stereo record on some mono players because unlike a mono record, in which needle movement is strictly horizontal, a stereo record involves vertical movement as well, and some mono cartridges would damage the groove because they were not designed to move vertically.


All true. The good news is that playing mono records with stereo cartridges produced no such excess wear. If you tied the channels together somewhere down the chain, any false vertical signals were cancelled out.

Stereo/mono switches were ubiquitous in those days for this reason, and also because stereo FM could be noisier than the same signal in mono.
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dc2bluelight
post Aug 30 2012, 18:42
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QUOTE (Arnold B. Krueger @ Aug 30 2012, 09:26) *
Stereo/mono switches were ubiquitous in those days for this reason, and also because stereo FM could be noisier than the same signal in mono.


FM Stereo requires 20dB more raw receiver "quieting" to equal noise performance in mono. It's a bandwidth thing, the L-R info is centered around a 38KHz suppressed carrier, and in the FM demodulated baseband noise rises with frequency. L+R (mono) is just plain audio modulation, so the noise issue is far less. The mono switch is still around today, but it's now called "blend", and is often an active, dynamic, non-user-adjustable reduction in stereo separation based on demodulated baseband noise, or dumber, signal strength. Full blend usually offers at least some mid-band stereo, but not much. This is one area where HD radio wins, it maintains full separation right up until the point where it stops working at all.

I mixed some live music to mono for an AM station to broadcast live a few years back. I found the mono mix to be actually more challenging than the stereo mix, giving me respect for those early recording engineers doing mono. And they often did it all with one mic, and no mixing!
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Arnold B. Kruege...
post Aug 30 2012, 19:14
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QUOTE (dc2bluelight @ Aug 30 2012, 13:42) *
QUOTE (Arnold B. Krueger @ Aug 30 2012, 09:26) *
Stereo/mono switches were ubiquitous in those days for this reason, and also because stereo FM could be noisier than the same signal in mono.


FM Stereo requires 20dB more raw receiver "quieting" to equal noise performance in mono. It's a bandwidth thing, the L-R info is centered around a 38KHz suppressed carrier, and in the FM demodulated baseband noise rises with frequency. L+R (mono) is just plain audio modulation, so the noise issue is far less.


Right, and receiver quieting was a far rarer and dearer commodity than it is today. A complete analog FM stereo receiver used to be a formidable collection of circuitry which probably reached its zenith with the early frequency-synth FM receivers with TTL and ECL logic controlling the local oscillator, discrete crystal or LC filters, MSI IF amplifiers and limiters, and full analog implementations of the FM stereo decoder. Classic full implementations like or approaching this included the McIntosh MR 77 and 78, the Heath AR 15 and AJ 1510, and the Marantz 10B. They filled at least 2 or 3 RUs. Today it is all encapsulated into a $1 chip operating mostly in the digital domain that needs less than 15 outboard parts, all passive and most trivial. All that and quieting within a dB or two of theoretical max!

QUOTE
The mono switch is still around today, but it's now called "blend", and is often an active, dynamic, non-user-adjustable reduction in stereo separation based on demodulated baseband noise, or dumber, signal strength. Full blend usually offers at least some mid-band stereo, but not much. This is one area where HD radio wins, it maintains full separation right up until the point where it stops working at all.

I mixed some live music to mono for an AM station to broadcast live a few years back. I found the mono mix to be actually more challenging than the stereo mix, giving me respect for those early recording engineers doing mono. And they often did it all with one mic, and no mixing!


I've done some 1 mic group work for live events and it can work quite fluidly and effectively when the ensemble is relatively small and very familiar with each other.

This post has been edited by Arnold B. Krueger: Aug 30 2012, 19:14
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Porcus
post Aug 30 2012, 19:26
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QUOTE (Arnold B. Krueger @ Aug 30 2012, 16:26) *
QUOTE (pdq @ Aug 30 2012, 09:57) *
QUOTE (Porcus @ Aug 30 2012, 05:34) *
BTW, once you had LPs marked “Stereo (also playable on mono)”, the reason being that a mono pickup had a fatter stylus which wouldn't fit every stereo LP. It could very well be that some pressings later were marked “Stereo” because they were pressed for a stereo stylus (i.e., “Stereo” meant “Don't play this with a mono pickup”, not that there was actual stereo content) -- examples, anyone?

I actually lived through the period of having to look specifically for the stereo or mono version of a record to match your hardware. My recollection was that you should not play a stereo record on some mono players because unlike a mono record, in which needle movement is strictly horizontal, a stereo record involves vertical movement as well, and some mono cartridges would damage the groove because they were not designed to move vertically.


All true. The good news is that playing mono records with stereo cartridges produced no such excess wear. If you tied the channels together somewhere down the chain, any false vertical signals were cancelled out.



Yep ... but, here's what I was curious about: in the era where the mono and v-shaped stereo pressings coexisted, did they release old monaural recordings on stereo LPs with v-shaped stereo grooves (only with the same or attempted-same signal) and labeled them as “Stereo” -- without warning users that this is really a monaural signal?


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Porcus
post Aug 30 2012, 19:31
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QUOTE (Nessuno @ Aug 30 2012, 11:58) *
QUOTE (Porcus @ Aug 30 2012, 11:46) *
QUOTE
Deutsche Grammophon didn't have a way to issue this stereo recording in 1956, but had the foresight to utilize the technology anyway, as relatively few others did at that time; the stereo LP of The Art of Fugue finally made its bow in 1960.


Ok, but the OP asked about recording, not pressing metodology! wink.gif


Oh well, but then we are > 20 years late: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stereophonic_sound#1930s


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lvqcl
post Aug 30 2012, 19:51
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QUOTE (Dude111 @ Aug 29 2012, 23:53) *
Im curious what you guys prefer??


A new stereophonic sound spectacular!
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pdq
post Aug 30 2012, 21:25
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QUOTE (dc2bluelight @ Aug 30 2012, 13:42) *
It's a bandwidth thing, the L-R info is centered around a 38KHz suppressed carrier...

Not quite correct. The L-R signal is actually single sideband, from 38 kHz down, not centered on 38 kHz. The suppressed 38 kHz carrier is generated by frequency-doubling the 19 kHz pilot signal.
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Ron Jones
post Aug 30 2012, 21:37
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QUOTE (jayess @ Aug 29 2012, 13:21) *
I prefer stereo, but I did find it interesting recently reading about the Beatles Mono Box Set.
Had those mixes been differently, I think I'd prefer the stereo version. As it stands, though, those mixes were poorly done, in my opinion. It seemed as though the mixes were intended to exaggerate stereo, and they become very annoying to listen to on any system with relatively good separation (e.g. headphones, speakers positioned far apart from each other).

Personally, I'm a stereo guy. On every stereo recording I've ever made, the overall effect is just significantly better than a comparably well-recorded mono recording. Granted, I record stereo only in scenarios where stereo recording will bring a benefit, but it does often make an absolutely dramatic difference.
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dc2bluelight
post Aug 31 2012, 06:47
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QUOTE (pdq @ Aug 30 2012, 15:25) *
QUOTE (dc2bluelight @ Aug 30 2012, 13:42) *
It's a bandwidth thing, the L-R info is centered around a 38KHz suppressed carrier...

Not quite correct. The L-R signal is actually single sideband, from 38 kHz down, not centered on 38 kHz. The suppressed 38 kHz carrier is generated by frequency-doubling the 19 kHz pilot signal.

Beg to differ, it's still pretty much double sideband suppressed carrier centered at 38KHz, always has been. The SSB (lower sideband) idea is very very recent, and not implemented or standardized yet. The concept was introduced by Frank Foti in 2010, still under test and simulation, though it looks promising. The issues mostly relate to what happens to the demodulated signal when the rf signal subjected to multipath, and how compatible is the whole idea with existing DSB-based stereo demods. If you alienate a guy with, oh lets say, a Marantz 10B, what good have you done? The existing receiver compatibility problem has not had enough attention paid to it for some time, especially with the addition of HD radio. We really don't need another compatibility issue, so testing is needed and being done now.

Until recent decades ssb has been impractical for high fidelity demodulation, and the DSB SC signal was much easier to recover using either a switching multiplexer, as the cheap and dirty way to do it. And no, the carrier isn't technically a simple doubling of the pilot, but it is phase-locked to the pilot, and pilot to subcarrier phase is darn critical.

This post has been edited by dc2bluelight: Aug 31 2012, 06:48
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Glenn Gundlach
post Aug 31 2012, 08:38
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QUOTE (LithosZA @ Aug 29 2012, 12:28) *
Stereo, because Binaural recordings require it and those recordings usually sound the most life-like to me. Some people don't like the extreme channel seperation when listening to certain older stereo songs through headphones. For those they can use a stereophonic-to-binaural DSP filter like this one: http://bs2b.sourceforge.net/


"Extreme channel separation" recordings are often better described as multi-channel mono as the 'stereo' effect is created in the mixing console. When viewed on and X-Y phase display will be mostly an oval. This used to be VERY common given the technical limitations of stereo FM and LPs. True stereo in its simplest form requires 2 channels with some degree of physical separation of the mics and when viewed on an X-Y phase display will show considerable 'out of phase' information. I find it FAR more satisfying to listen to. The absolute WORST in my opinion is 'synthesized' stereo. Some are done by comb filtering frequencies and putting the complement on the other channel. The absolute worst I heard - and the discarded the disc - had most of the lows on the left and the highs on the right. THAT "engineer" didn't have a clue.

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