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Record in Mono, better Mixdown?

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Record in Mono, better Mixdown?

Postby james090 » Thu Oct 17, 2019 9:34 am

I have been wondering about this for a while.
I know there are many that say, regardless of your mixdown, you should check your mixes in Mono, which makes sense..

But what if you recorded your samples in Mono at the recording/gain-stage level, would these then be easier to mix at the master/mixdown stage instead of using lots of stereo samples in the mix?

I only ask, as I have seen a few people do this in DAW's, even in this day and age of unlimited recording time and HD space.

I come from recording years ago, when samplers were maxed out at 16mb! so we always had to record sounds & samples in Mono to preserve space.
It maybe a cloudier memory, but I always thought mixes 'gelled' a little better back then, and were easier to mix?

Do many record their parts in Mono audio, or still stick to stereo?
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Re: Record in Mono, better Mixdown?

Postby blinddrew » Thu Oct 17, 2019 10:32 am

I don't tend to use samples but I record in mono by default. I'll only look to record in stereo if there's a production need for it (say it's just an acoustic guitar and vocal production and I want to give the guitar a bit of natural width) or if I can't get an effective single mic recording of an instrument (recording a real piano maybe, where the thing is just too big and the room too small!).
N.B. I do frequently use two mics on an instrument (guitar cabs or double bass for example) but I generally buss them and treat them as a mono source when mixing.
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Re: Record in Mono, better Mixdown?

Postby CS70 » Thu Oct 17, 2019 12:54 pm

james090 wrote:Do many record their parts in Mono audio, or still stick to stereo?

Hm, no, I wouldn't go as far to record (or transform) everything in mono.

"Mixing in mono" refers to the outcome - it means simply that your monitor controller has the "mono" switch activated when you mix (or alternatively, you click the "mono" button on your DAW's master bus).

You still pan things around (typically stuff that you want you will want to pan, like drum overheads, or stereo recorded guitars) - but doing that while listening to the result in mono prevents you to go overboard or be tricked by the sides info. It makes it easier to make a good mix that works in both formats.

It's especially good for a first balance - but in general if you manage to make your mix sound great in mono, it'll likely will sound awesome when you switch back to stereo.

When it comes to synthesized sounds, I don't use them so much, but my $.10 is that it really depends on the sound. If the synthesis sonic result absolutely depends on the two channels, you probably won't be able to use that sound in a way that it sounds as good in mono and stereo. Basically if a sampled or synthesized sound works only in stereo, it will make your mix work only stereo.

If, on the other side, the nature of the sound does not depend hugely from it being stereo, you can use the same approach as above.
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Re: Record in Mono, better Mixdown?

Postby james090 » Thu Oct 17, 2019 1:45 pm

CS70 wrote:"Mixing in mono" refers to the outcome - it means simply that your monitor controller has the "mono" switch activated when you mix (or alternatively, you click the "mono" button on your DAW's master bus).

Yes I should point out that I completely get that the 'mixing in mono' was to check your master mix in a mono setting to see how everything fits.

My question was more on starting a mix with mono files and recordings, as to whether this would be better as the mixing stage went on? Almost like half the amount of files, due to them being Mono as opposed to Stereo? and easier to mix? (Probably makes no difference)?
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Re: Record in Mono, better Mixdown?

Postby CS70 » Thu Oct 17, 2019 1:52 pm

james090 wrote:My question was more on starting a mix with mono files and recordings, as to whether this would be better as the mixing stage went on? Almost like half the amount of files, due to them being Mono as opposed to Stereo? and easier to mix? (Probably makes no difference)?

Ah - cool. Well, the only actual stereo files that I see come from synths or keyboards, or stereo mics. So it's quite unusual. But yeah, I'd guess no difference.

Just in passing, if you split up all stereo files in mono, you end up with more files, not less?
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Re: Record in Mono, better Mixdown?

Postby Martin Walker » Thu Oct 17, 2019 2:39 pm

CS70 wrote:Ah - cool. Well, the only actual stereo files that I see come from synths or keyboards, or stereo mics.

Same here, although I invariably shrink the width of various stereo synth/keyboard sounds, as otherwise they tend to dominate the mix.


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Re: Record in Mono, better Mixdown?

Postby james090 » Thu Oct 17, 2019 2:57 pm

Martin Walker wrote:Same here, although I invariably shrink the width of various stereo synth/keyboard sounds, as otherwise they tend to dominate the mix.


Martin

I think this maybe what i was trying to explain? I think that all of my stereo sounds, and samples are dominating my end mix, making it much harder to mixdown at the end.

Would Mono samples be easier to work with on a mixdown situation?

Thanks Martin for putting it better than I could :thumbup:
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Re: Record in Mono, better Mixdown?

Postby Martin Walker » Thu Oct 17, 2019 3:15 pm

james090 wrote:Would Mono samples be easier to work with on a mixdown situation?

Thanks Martin for putting it better than I could :thumbup:

I see no point in collapsing sounds to mono if they contain useful stereo information - just reduce their stereo width if you need to find them a space in the mix. I tend to listen on headphones at this early stage of mixing, since it's easier to hear where everything fits neatly across the stereo image.

An occasional sound can indeed be full width, and will provide spatial interest; it's only when you have several wide sounds all fighting with each other that shrinking them a little tends to help.


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Re: Record in Mono, better Mixdown?

Postby Wonks » Thu Oct 17, 2019 4:05 pm

In your DAW, you should be able to change the stereo pan control on a stereo track to a position/width control, with two sliders that determine the width of the stereo image and its position.

Whilst you can get specific plugins for the task, the built-in tools for this normally work well enough.
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Re: Record in Mono, better Mixdown?

Postby Dave B » Thu Oct 17, 2019 7:59 pm

If you are using someone else’s sample library, then you may only have stereo samples to use. Some people do ship mono versions and my preference is to use those unless I want a specific stereo effect. I think it makes it easier to place things in the mix (you have control over stereo placement as well as width).

If I’m building custom samples, then I always tend to record in mono - and try and find good loop points as I am old school as well. (16mb?? Luxury .. my first sampler had 2 banks of 256kb which itself was luxury compared to the whopping 16kb on the old Fairlight. Eeeehhh when I were nibbut a lad, etc etc :) g
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Re: Record in Mono, better Mixdown?

Postby N i g e l » Thu Oct 17, 2019 10:56 pm

As hinted at elsewhere, I think the key phrase here is MS - mid sides technique.

Its not just mono or stereo but any width in between.

Given the relative lack of restrictions on PC DAWS, I would record in stereo if possible and thin the width afterthefact as appropriate.
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Re: Record in Mono, better Mixdown?

Postby Jadoube » Fri Oct 18, 2019 5:07 pm

I don't know about it being a 'better' mixdown but it's definitely an easier mixdown with mono sources.
It also depends on how much stereo room tone you are capturing and if you are building the track one piece of at a time or capturing a performance with a bunch of musicians. You can end up with a bunch of subtle and not so subtle ambiences that might not mix together so nicely. I think that is the real issue hiding in the question. A mono source is inherently simpler to deal with in this regard. I wouldn't want all the ambience of say, my living room, on a recording. But a great studio space; that is a different story.

I presume that the stereo phase relationships are good for all these potential stereo sources. :thumbup:
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Re: Record in Mono, better Mixdown?

Postby Arpangel » Sun Oct 20, 2019 8:27 am

I always record in mono, the only stereo information in my electronic music comes from effects units, like reverb, and delay.
When using mic's I always record everything in stereo.
I don't have trouble mixing in either, stereo, mono, I've got no preferences, and I don't find one easier than the other.
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