You have to choose between mono and stereo when adding a new track to your DAW session.
But what exactly does each word mean? What are the major distinctions? Is it easier to use a mono track or is it better to use stereo?
What exactly is mono?
Mono is a single-channel audio style that provides little detail regarding the location of a signal in relation to the listener.
A mono track touches all ears, with little discernible distinction in what you perceive on the left and right sides.
Mono is characterized by a simple, direct sound with little sense of direction.
Since several early playback devices only had a single speaker, mono was the initial mode for recorded music. That’s why so many classic hits from the early pop period were recorded in mono at first.
Even though mono records are becoming increasingly scarce, mono tracks continue to play a significant role in music development.
What exactly is stereo?
Stereo is a two-channel audio format in which the left and right sides deliver separate audio content.
Stereo audio is similar to how you hear it from your two ears in the natural world.
Timing, volume, and timbre differences send the brain subconscious hints to where a sound is positioned around you.
This is known as spatialization, and it is a crucial aspect of psychoacoustics.
Your final master would almost always be a stereo file of music creation. Panning is one of the most critical aspects of mixing because it allows you to choose the direction of the sounds.
When can mono tracks be used?
Mono tracks can make up the majority of your mix’s platforms.
Recording in mono is your best option unless your source has a natural distribution of stereo knowledge.
You may believe that adding so many mono channels to your mix would make it sound narrow.
However, mono tracks can be panned to any spot in the stereo area utilizing the mixer in your DAW.
Spreading the mono tracks around in the texture is the best way to provide a big sounding mix.
That means some items should be placed on the far left and right sides of the stereo area, while others should be held near to the middle.
When can stereo tracks be used?
When recording something with natural spatial properties that you want to recreate in your mix, you can use stereo tracks.
The natural stereo pictures from drum overheads, room microphones, piano or stereo synth patches are what I’m referring to.
This stereo sources help give your mix a sense of reality and depth.
Aux return channels from ambience influences like pause and reverb are the same way.
Many of these stereo source forms provide certain detail that is consistent across channels and some that is not.
You’ll hear a sound panned dead center in the stereo sector if it has the same volume in both the left and right channels.
If the left and right channels have different levels, timbres, or timings, you’ll hear them in order inside the stereo loop.
The majority of stereo tracks contain a combination of mono and stereo material. In reality, stereo tracks that are 100 percent separate between the left and right channels are rare.
That’s why a mix will fall apart if there are so many stereo tracks. All of these channels with remaining mono information merge in the center, making your mix sound narrow.
Fortunately, it’s a simple repair. The beauty of filming in mono vs. stereo is that two mono tracks with no common details can never mix when panned separately.
Mixing in mono
Mono has a position in your mixing workflow even if vast width is your target.
It may be challenging to distinguish the more serious disputes because there are too many distinct components in a dense mix.
Adding pan position to the list of variables would just make it more difficult for you.
As a result, many engineers use mono mixing as part of their workflow.
You will get a better view of how and sound in your mix interacts with the others by momentarily flattening all the stereo information.
All you have to do to hear how your mix sounds in mono is use the mono amount tool on your master fader.
Compatibility of mono
This method of hearing your mix is critical for more than just mono mixing And if you just ever mix with both channels running, you can try the mix in mono.
What is the explanation for this? Compatibility is the ability to work together.
When it comes to mono compatibility, it refers to how good the mix does when summed to mono.
Summing to mono is the process of combining the left and right channels to produce a mono signal. Any sounds can cancel each other out if the two channels have conflicting details.
After all, several stereo listening devices are often more mono than they seem.
The stereo isolation of your mix would be reduced if the left and right channels are too similar together on either pair of speakers.
I’m referring to mobile phones, Bluetooth headphones, tablets, and several other portable speaker systems.
The stereo range is naturally smaller in these listening devices, and more of the mix is prone to overlap.
Before sending your mix off for mastering, make sure to search it for mono compatibility at least once.
- The following are the primary sources of mono compatibility issues:
- There are just too many stereo songs.
- Plugins that expand the stereo field artificially
- Too much reverb or delay
- Issues with microphone phase
Moving in stereo
In your DAW session, mono vs. stereo tracks are essential building blocks.
It’s important to know which to use with the better outcomes.
If you’ve made it this far, you’ll have a firm grasp on the fundamentals of mono vs. stereo.