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"Wide Stereo Synth" + Mix for Mono = ?????

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"Wide Stereo Synth" + Mix for Mono = ?????

Postby alexis » Mon May 09, 2011 10:04 pm

Hi -

I'm having a hard time making a mix that's anywhere near mono-compatible with voices from my Yamaha Motif. Many (most?) of it's beautiful voices are panned across the stereo field to a greater or lesser degree (mainly greater). Of course when they get collapsed to mono, (either coming out of the "L/Mono" jack, or by playing my carefully crafted stereo mix on my cousin's 1-speaker laptop computer for example), they sound terrible to one degree or another. For what it's worth, it's such a degredation in the voice quality that Yamaha even makes a point to mention it "may not sound right" if you listen to many of the voices in mono!

How does one mix to test for mono compatibility in these circumstances? Do I have to avoid using anything that's more than the slightest bit "non-mono" in my projects?

Just to give more information: even the piano is spread across the stereo field - left hand notes come more out of the left side, and vice versa!

Thanks in advance for any help here!
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Re: "Wide Stereo Synth" + Mix for Mono = ?????

Postby MadManDan » Mon May 09, 2011 11:37 pm

That's a shame, Yamaha ruined the sounds by their own admission. If something is not mono compatible, it's because it has a lot of things in the right that are out of phase with the left.

Stereo spread by panning is one thing - for example if a piano had mono notes panned from left to right as you went up the scales, that would be ... wierd, but it would still sound fine in mono (probably better )

But out of phase content - different story. Some is good, when sounds need to "pop out" of the stereo field. But when too much is heaped on, you gotta figure, hey, what exactly remains if I was to put this in mono? Anything usable?

Personally, I would see if there's a way to cut it down in the menus. Lower the effects levels. Sounds like basses, which are primarily mono, should not have any significant spread, else they are unusable. Any spread that they DO have should come after a high-pass filter so all your deep lows don't get phased out. I know an example of a mix on a major album in which the engineer was ignorant of this fact and ruined the bass this way.

Every sound you use should be tested for mono ( easy, easy ) before you get attached to the part. Try pre-cancelling some of the effect by panning at 9 and 3 or 10 and 2. That way you have some spread, but something that's more ready for mono.

Hope that helps. Good luck

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Re: "Wide Stereo Synth" + Mix for Mono = ?????

Postby alexis » Tue May 10, 2011 12:06 am

Thanks, MMD!

That was very helpful. I understood just about everything you wrote except for this bit:

MadManDan wrote:Try pre-cancelling some of the effect by panning at 9 and 3 or 10 and 2. That way you have some spread, but something that's more ready for mono.
...

Can you clarify for me please ... are you saying that if I want to use that lovely sounding but wide-spread stereo voice, instead of hard-panning L/R (9:00/3:00) to the main stereo bus, send it instead at 10:00/2:00)?

Sorry if I missed the main point there - I debated long and hard about whether to post my intial question in the "Newbie" section of the forum!

Thanks again!
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Re: "Wide Stereo Synth" + Mix for Mono = ?????

Postby Richie Royale » Tue May 10, 2011 9:39 am

http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/nov10/a ... essing.htm
http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/oct00/a ... reomix.htm

See if either of these articles help improve the stereo/mono compatibility of the mix.
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Re: "Wide Stereo Synth" + Mix for Mono = ?????

Postby alexis » Tue May 10, 2011 1:25 pm

Thanks for the articles, Richie Royale, both excellent. I'll have to think about it more than I already have ... I'm reading there how to check for mono compatibility, but haven't figured out yet how the articles help me to fix the problems coming out of the synth.

I'm trying to get head around what happens when I pan these sounds - for example, what happens to a stereo sound that is then itself panned hard left (for example) to the master bus ... does it still occupy the same "width" in the stereo field, or does it get collapsed to a point ... I didn't realize that was even something to think about, I guess I can check that out easily enough next time I'm on the DAW. I might be able to understand MadManDan's post fully then.

BTW - can someone answer please - if panning to 9:00/3:00 is a "not too wide, not too extreme" position (like it says in the October 2000 SOS article, and as MadManDan implies in his post) - what position refers to hard left/hard right panning (I'm not getting the analogy to the clock face, obviously )

Thanks -
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Re: "Wide Stereo Synth" + Mix for Mono = ?????

Postby alexis » Tue May 10, 2011 6:56 pm

...if panning to 9:00/3:00 is a "not too wide, not too extreme" position ... what position refers to hard left/hard right panning (I'm not getting the analogy to the clock face, obviously) ...

Sorry - just to clarify - I've only used a DAW (Cubase) which uses 100% L <<-->> 100% R sliders, not knobs ... so I'm not exactly sure about the clock face terminology.

Thanks!
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Re: "Wide Stereo Synth" + Mix for Mono = ?????

Postby alexis » Wed May 11, 2011 3:08 am

OK I went and found some photos of knobs and markings, I see that 9:00 and 3:00 are not far left/far right respectively.

But back to the question in my first post - I've been thinking about the following suggestion by MadMan Dan:

Try pre-cancelling some of the effect by panning at 9 and 3 or 10 and 2. That way you have some spread, but something that's more ready for mono.
...

'm a little puzzled ...

If the problem occurs because the L and R signals from the synth are collapsed to mono, wouldn't the same condition be present after doing what was suggested? I'm not able to get past thinking that the process described gets to the same situation, but in two steps rather than one (the two steps being first panning to 9-3 or 10-2, then collapsing to mono when listening on a single speaker, like a laptop). Where am I going wrong in that thinking?

I guess just trying it out is what I need to do, irrespective of the theory ... I just like to figure the "why" of how things work as well as just doing them!

Thanks MadManDan, or anyone else -
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Re: "Wide Stereo Synth" + Mix for Mono = ?????

Postby MadManDan » Wed May 11, 2011 3:57 am

alexis wrote:....'m a little puzzled ...

If the problem occurs because the L and R signals from the synth are collapsed to mono, wouldn't the same condition be present after doing what was suggested? I'm not able to get past thinking that the process described gets to the same situation, but in two steps rather than one (the two steps being first panning to 9-3 or 10-2, then collapsing to mono when listening on a single speaker, like a laptop). Where am I going wrong in that thinking?

I guess just trying it out is what I need to do, irrespective of the theory ... I just like to figure the "why" of how things work as well as just doing them!

Thanks MadManDan, or anyone else -
You are 100% correct, the same condition WOULD be present. But it would not be a surprise. That's the point. In other words, if you collapse a wide sound somewhat before you start playing, it is predictable, and you will play to account for these short-comings. Not too cheerful, but hey I'm pragmatic. If you can make the part work musically WHILE HEARING the narrower view, and you stick with it all the way through the mix, then if you were to collapse the whole mix to mono, you'll find a lot less of the part missing. It's all about perception.

Take care
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Re: "Wide Stereo Synth" + Mix for Mono = ?????

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Wed May 11, 2011 9:48 am

This is a common problem, and is created because the synth manufacturers want potential purchasers to be wowed by the huge sounds that their new synth delivers. And the easy way to make synths sound huge is to use effects which introduce a lot of phaseiness between channels. Stereo choruses and reverbs are the usual culprits.

These all sound fantastic in stereo but, as you have discovered, most of the effect disappears when auditioned in mono.

The only thing you can do is to reduce the 'spaciouness' of the effect so that the mono compatibility improves to the point of acceptability, but knowning that in so doing you will also lose out on some of the spaciousness effect for stereo listeners. The key word here is compromise.

In some cases the keyboard sounds and effects can be edited internally to help solve the problem. In others you may have to simply turn off the keyboiards own effects and recreate something similar externally using more mono-compatible alternatives.

The comments about panning above offer a way of trying to find a suitable compromise at source. By reducing the stereo width of the keyboard (by pulling in the keyboard's left and right signals from the edges and moving them more towards the centre), you are moving towards a half-way position between full stereo and total mono. As a result, some of the ultra-wide stereo effects will be lost (but not all), and the switch to mono will not suffer quite as dramatic a loss of effect.

Basically, it's a fast and easy way of arriving at a compromise between stereo and mono -- neither are perfect, but you might be able to arrive at a setting that won't affect sales!

And finally, to answer your other question, if you take a stereo source and use the balance control to move it fully left, then you have a mono version of that stereo source in the left hand channel.

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Re: "Wide Stereo Synth" + Mix for Mono = ?????

Postby alexis » Wed May 11, 2011 4:31 pm

MadManDan and Hugh - thanks for the explanations and advice. It's hard choices and compromises now, but at least I know I'm not missing something obvious.

And Hugh - thanks for that about what happens to the stereo signal when panned hard to the side!

Regards,
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