Mono: What Is It?

by Joost Nusselder | Updated on:  May 3, 2022

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Monaural or monophonic sound reproduction (often shortened to mono) is single-channel.

Typically there is only one microphone, one loudspeaker, or (in the case of headphones and multiple loudspeakers) channels are fed from a common signal path.

In the case of multiple microphones the paths are mixed into a single signal path at some stage. Monaural sound has been replaced by stereo sound in most entertainment applications.

Monophonic channel connectors

However, it remains the standard for radiotelephone communications, telephone networks, and audio induction loops for use with hearing aids.

A few FM radio stations, particularly talk radio shows, choose to broadcast in monaural, as a monaural signal has a slight advantage in signal strength over a stereophonic signal of the same power.

What does monophony mean in music?

Monophony describes a piece of music that consists of one melodic line. It contrasts with polyphony, which is music that has multiple melodic lines.

In monophonic pieces, the notes may be played at the same time by different instruments or parts, but they sound like they are whole rather than realized at different times.

There is usually a single dominant melody, with the remaining parts providing harmonic support.

One example of monophony is plainsong, which is also known as Gregorian chant. This type of music consists of a single melodic line, sung in unison by a group of people.

The notes are often simple and there is little or no harmony. Monophony was the dominant form of music in the Western world until the 13th century, when polyphony began to develop.

Today, monophonic pieces are not as common as polyphonic or homophonic music. However, they are still found in a variety of genres, including folk music, electronic music, and some types of jazz.

Monophony can also be used for special effects in music, such as when a solo instrument is accompanied by a drone.

I'm Joost Nusselder, the founder of Neaera and a content marketer, dad, and love trying out new equipment with guitar at the heart of my passion, and together with my team, I've been creating in-depth blog articles since 2020 to help loyal readers with recording and guitar tips.

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