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Thread: Producing Music in Mono and Stereo - Article

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    Producing Music in Mono and Stereo - Article

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    "A good song needs to work in both mono and stereo. The majority of speakers are in stereo today, some clubs and big sound rigs pump out their tunes in mono. If your song isn't designed to work in mono, it'll have phasing and frequency issues. This article will teach you how to digitally mix your song to work in both mono and stereo."

    What is Mono? How is it different than Stereo?

    Mono is only one (1) signal. In a live venue, this same signal is sent to every speaker. Each speaker will play the exact same signal. Since mono is only one signal, mixing techniques must be done "vertically" up the frequency spectrum.
    Stereo is split up between two (2) signals. One signal carries the left, and the other signal carries the right. This creates a wide sounding mix spread out over horizontal and vertical space. Unlike mono, stereo can be mixed in a frequency spectrum that goes horizontally and vertically. This is what can cause issues, especially in the low end. This stereo signal, once switched into mono, starts to collide and have phasing and frequency issues.

    Who plays in Mono?

    Some clubs and venues will send the music out in mono. This can be switched depending on how the speakers on set up. Some venues have areas of speakers in stereo and other areas in mono.

    Some radio stations also play their music in mono. Most radio stations today use stereo, but there are always a few that may still use mono. It's just best to mix and master your music to sound good on both mono and stereo.

    Only pan the high frequency sounds to the left and right. Keep the bass and low-mid range in the center.

    Digitally Mixing Music for Both Mono and Stereo

    For a simple picture showing this process, study the "mixing tree" displayed to the right.

    First of all, keep the bass frequencies centered in the mix. These include kicks and bass lines. Adjust the frequency range of your bass line and kicks to open up room for each, but keep them both centered. Also keep the mid-range centered, but higher in frequency so it sits on top of the bass without colliding with the bass (in frequency).

    High frequency sounds (including high hats, some higher melodies, and high pads) can be panned left and right. There are 10s of thousands of frequencies in the higher range. Since there are so many, they typically wont collide when compressed into the "vertical" mono mix.

    Stay Away from Low Frequency Stereo Pads

    With electronic music and Digital Audio Workstations (DAWs), there are new sounds called pads. These pads are in stereo and send different signals to the left and right speakers. If you use these pads as a bass line, or low-mid range bass, thy will collide in mono. There are two different sounds being sent to the left and the right. Both of these signals may have bass on the same frequency. Although it sounds fine in stereo (because that frequency is split between two signals), it will have issues in mono. When there are two sounds occupying the same frequency, phasing occurs and can distort your bass (in mono).

    Switching Between Mono and Stereo

    Your audio interface may have a button to switch the signal between stereo and mono. This is the easiest way, but most DAWs offer a mono/stereo switch as a plug-in as well.
    Last edited by Epsilon-144; 11-04-2017 at 11:12 PM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2014
    Thanked 225 Times in 218 Posts

    On a lot of VSTs these days, there is a knob/fader for "width". If it's all the way up, the synth will send the sound out in stereo (out wide). If it's all the way down, it's only sending in mono. for the song to work in mono, make sure that width is down, or turned off.
    Last edited by Epsilon-144; 11-06-2017 at 05:19 PM.

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