Stereo or Mono?

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Rockstar Vatican Assassin
Member Since: Mar 20, 2009

Perhaps a stupid question.. and way too late in the game to change anything in my recordings... but when is it 'appropriate' to record in Stereo? I've always recorded in mono simply because I always assume they'll be a double-effort on everything (minus drums). So... to create the stereo (L and R, respectively), I'm using two tracks of everything (guitars, vox mostly). But I have the option to lay down any track in Stereo in my mixing/recording software. What is best use case?


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Since: Dec 04, 2007

Jul 02, 2012 03:09 pm

Well, the way I see it, most of the time you will be recording mono.

A mic on a guitar cab or a guitar going DI is a single sound source, so that's going to be mono. However, if that sound source is going through something like a stereo delay effect, or a reverb unit, or a stereo chorusing effect, then you might want to capture the stereo output from the effect.

Keyboard and synthesizers are generally a stereo sound source though. (the keyboards have a L and R output on the back) so those will go into a stereo channel on the mixer (if the mixer has one) and into a stereo track in the DAW. Although some synths sound fine in mono as well, and you could add stereo effects plugins in the DAW.

That's just the simple stuff though. It really depends on what you want to do with the sound. I mean, I suppose you could throw 2 mics on a cabinet, adjust panning on the mixer, and record the two channels as a stereo track in the DAW to either thicken the sound, or try to get that "wall of sound" thing going.

If you're recording room mics, those might be considered a stereo source, so those two channels you could record into a stereo track in the DAW.

Most of the time, however, you'll be recording mono. That's my understanding anyway.

Since: Apr 03, 2002

Jul 02, 2012 03:11 pm

I only record in stereo if that instrument happens to be using a stereo affect for whatever reason...even then I find myself usually building that affect of a mono source on the computer, so it's not even necessary then.

Rockstar Vatican Assassin
Since: Mar 20, 2009

Jul 02, 2012 03:34 pm

I guess I should have changed my question to read: Is there ever a time to arm your recording track in stereo vs mono for a single mic'd instrument or using direct input?

But from what you guys are saying.... stick with what I know.... and record the source in mono and either double track, pan copies, or let the plugins create the stereo field (reverbs, HAAS, delays, etc...).

I guess I was just curious (more than anything) if vocals or guitars are better served arming the track and recording it in stereo. When I watch a lot of YouTube vids, I notice some of the presenters are using stereo tracks on a single track (see image for example)

Since: Jun 15, 2005

Jul 02, 2012 07:20 pm

Recording in stereo can be pretty cool in the right circumstances. For example, maybe a solo acoustic guitar song, or drum overheads, an orchestra, a small ensemble...just as a few examples. There are a few different mic techniques that offer different options for doing this. If you are interested to find out a bit about what the different methods entail, their pros and cons, and where they are likely to be may find these tutorials I wrote will give you some added insight. Stereo micing can be fun if done well, or a total pain if you get it wrong. Anyway, here's links to the articles: ( covers X-Y, ORTF and spaced pairs) ( covers mid-side, Blumlein pair and Decca Tree arrays)

MASSIVE Mastering, LLC
Since: Aug 05, 2008

Jul 03, 2012 03:03 am

Panning copies of mono tracks doesn't make anything stereo... Stereo is the DIFFERENCE between two signals (in this case, the difference between the left signal and the right signal). You can copy a track as many times as you want and it's still the same source.

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