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Mono or Stereo


And again, I want to touch on one of the questions inquiring minds disturbing beginners, and not only, arrangers and sound engineers.The question of how to record synthesizers, drum machines, samplers to create arrangements - in mono or stereo mode.

Frankly, I was tormented by this question for a long time, and I have difficulty going to realize that both mono and stereo - it's just two different modes, and in any case no evidence of superiority of one over the other. That is, one entry in the channel - it is not flawed when compared with the recording in the two channels, it is simply an alternate embodiment.

For many to accept the necessity of the work in mono is a difficult task. It is understandable - arranger wants his work sounded big, volume, powerful! And when compared to the forehead of recordings made in mono and stereo, audible advantage in most cases is not in favor of the former. Naturally, I'm talking about when you turn on the sound, for example, bass, and you hear him out of the mix. Recorded and listened to stereo - luxurious. Recorded in mono - pale and flat. And immediately jump to conclusions. But not everything is so simple! And now I will try to explain what lies.

Mono and stereo points Impaired physics

I'll start with the simple and logical things. Namely - with physics of sound.

Suppose you clapping. Which is the source of the sound - mono or stereo? Correctly, mono. The sound emanates from the same point (or of a single band) and extends in a space in different directions. Next he meets with various obstacles, and given the nature of these obstacles, or their partially absorbed or reflected from them.

When clapping, you hear the sound your ears. Which is the case in this signal receiver - mono or stereo? Correctly stereo. More precisely, binaural.

Binaural - human or animal ability to locate the source of sound perception through its two receptors - ears. If the object is to the right, the sound for a split second before comes to the right ear, and then to the left. Our brain instantly processes this information, and we are able to locate the source of the signal. In addition to the direct sound directly, our ears perceive and reflect on all sides. And then he gives us evidence that we are in an open area, or indoors, and if this room - and something else about the size of this room, and even as to which of the sides closer to an input source.

The sum of all reflections from all surfaces of a room creates a three-dimensional effect - reverb. Thus, we can say that we are dealing with two components - the source of the direct signal and reverb.

Back to our cotton. So clap mono hear in stereo. The same thing happens with most musical instruments. Violin playing of one small area, and the listener's ears perceive it sound together with the acoustics of a concert hall. Bass drum, snare, toms or any other percussion instruments also emit sound locally, and then our brain interprets the information in the total sound volume sound picture. Bass connected to the amp sounds from one column, and often even having just one speaker. But even if a few speakers - they work as a single system, which occupies a little more space, while remaining local. And in our ears perceive sound more broadly, taking into account the reflections.

In principle, the above is enough to going to the issue analytically, to understand what tools you need to record in mono, and what does not. Nevertheless, I would like to go a little further into the subject.

Causes of incorrect conclusions

Let's go back to the place where you are trying to record conditional bass sound from the synthesizer, and concluded that the record in stereo sounds better. Let's see why this happened.

First, let's check if the effects at this point. Most likely - yes. Why is it wrong - I'll discuss in the near future in a separate article, but for now let us take for granted - when recording effects need to unplug. But if you have no effects were disabled, then you listened to the record is not only the source (bass), but his reflections (reverberation). Compare the perception of any sound with two ears and one ear closed, closing the second! Hear that? Sound more flat, it is difficult to locate, understand which side it sounds, and so on.

And recording - you have recorded only part of the space, and the rest cut off and thrown out. Naturally, such a record would be perceived negatively. So, back again to step recording and disable effects.

Look no further. You used for recording two channels of stereo and monaural recording - one. Have you checked how was panned mono signal when recording? For a complete audio recording of one output, you need to set the menu of preset sound without panorama. That is, to reduce the panorama at one point - the left channel to the right, the right channel to the right. And take this sound right channel. And even better - send the sound to an individual output. Naturally, if you have not done - that either mono signal recorded is defective, and it will sound much quieter than in stereo. And so is man, especially if he arranger. What is heard quieter - a priori considered the worst. Naturally, this is misleading.

Now compare. We have two pure signal processing off. One recorded a full mono, another stereo. I assure you, if done as described above - you at least doubt that the best stereo recording.

Consequences of incorrect entries

Of course, sitting in front of monitors and comparing the two recordings made so that you can still maintain a sense of what the stereo sounds a little more saturated. However, most leave tracks recorded in stereo can be fraught with negative consequences for your final mix.

Situations may be two: either you do encounter difficulties in handling the panorama in the mix, or do it for you by someone else, when will play your creation.

Poor-quality music playback

Let's start with the second. How and when your car stereo can be played in mono? Most banal examples - playing on the radio (on many radio stations worth substandard equipment and unskilled workers in the field of sound, so that your record can easily be heard in mono), or broadcast on television (believe me, still a lot of people have TVs, issuing mono signal, many to the TV can be connected to external speakers, placed too far apart, well, unskilled workers also abound on TV).

But there may be other contingencies. One day, while on tour in Ekaterinburg, my friends and I went to the dumplings, eat famous Ural dumplings. Dumplings were great, everything else is fine, and the staff is very friendly. But here's how it was organized musical arrangement ...

In general, the situation was such. We sit with engineer team under one column from which the music plays. Basically, our Russian pop. And what do we hear? From song to song - that one tool falls out, then another. That bass is lost at all, then do not hear drums, the voice sounds dull and quiet. I'm interested. After all, even if it was one of two speakers working in stereo, there would still normally be heard all the basic tools and a voice, but the difference would be only in bulk and in some elements of sound design.

I began to walk around the room and listen to the sound of the restaurant at different points. And surprisingly found that the three columns in the hall. And from each of them sound plays differently. The hall was long, we sat in the middle. Unfamiliar with the basic laws of acoustics restaurant employees were placed speakers as follows: the right channel at the deepest point of the restaurant, left - near the entrance, and put in the middle of another column, which brought two channels simultaneously, that is summed stereo to mono.

As we know, the summation of possible problems with the phase of the signal in the mix if mistakes were made. So, just everything was obvious. Those records where there was inaudible bass - bass sound were recorded in stereo. Where inaudible barrel - there were recorded in stereo drums. Therefore, the two signal superimposed on each other in opposition, given the void and mix obeyed scanty and flat.

Similar situations may be the sea. You never know where and how to play your music. I told only one example. But in so many clubs and restaurants staff will be creative because zhloblivosti owners who do not want to invite professionals to install sound. The result - in the best case, your music can cause the hearer, and at worst - and he did not even notice, without hearing anything interesting.

Worth the risk? I think it is better to err on work with sources wisely, not to depend on questionable shots.

Problems in the mix

Now back to the problems which may arise directly in the course of your work on the mix.

First, recording everything in stereo, you get a huge amount of playing channels. I will not say that there will be twice as much as it is necessary, after all, some sounds may even need to record in stereo. But 50-70 percent you just reboot your system. This means that if you work in a resource-environment - you get so much more soap and muddy sound, and if you are running resursonezavisimoy - may well go beyond the operating power, and you have to look for ways to reduce the number of tracks.

Second, the excessive amount of stereo tracks negatively affects the density of your audio web. I already wrote about the addition phase, but it was the addition of stage play. And you may encounter a problem at the stage of phase information. Two channels of the same signal at laying the mix can start "Horus", sometimes to fall, creating a dynamic roughness, which is difficult to handle. This effect is worse when you start to add to the mix processing. It will further be layered on a clean signal, and create additional problems.

Third, the mono signal is much easier to locate in the mix. You just ask him the exact value of the panorama - for example, 30 percent of the left - and the sound is precisely from this point. Much more difficult if you need to carry out balancing on a panorama of two channels. You must specify a panoramic area in the instrument, and the narrower will be the zone, the worse will be the sound of the instrument.

Example. You recorded a solo sound in stereo. And you want it to sound about 30 percent on a panorama to the left, keeping stereofonichnost. You have to install a panorama of the left channel by 35-40 percent, and the panorama of the right - 20-25 in the same direction. As a result, you narrow originally recorded stereo (with a question - why would you need it at all?) Get quite a different sound compared to that heard when recording (after you've listened to in full stereo!), And, again, welcome to problems with opposite (the closer the two channels, the more felt phase subtraction). Do you need it?

Well, fourthly, a stereo signal will require more effort, attention and nerves for proper handling - whether dynamic processing or spatial. If you work in the digital environment - require twice as much resources. If the analog - twice channels (analog and they are usually on the account), and plus the fact it is necessary to reconcile the more delicate sends per channel processing. In general - a lot of hemorrhoids, and the benefits are questionable.

How it all is when recording in mono? Everything is much simpler. No problems with the phase. No problems with panning. Very easy to work with effects and dynamics processing. And still save resources. In general - the beauty.

And now back to basics. After all, our goal - to make the sound volume and wide? Right. So, remember all that I said in the beginning. Source mono, stereo receiver.

In order to draw parallels between the claps and ears on the one hand and recording the final mix of synthesizer and the other - turn to spatial processing. Recall that in the perception of our reverb hearing mixed to the source based on the parameters of the room.

That's what we'll do with a synthesizer - add to it the reverb and other processing. And we will do it without missing the sound directly through the processor, and sending it to send to the device and returning to the mix as an impurity. Aux Send knobs on each channel signal is sent from that channel to process and handle Aux Return define the level of the return signal. Naturally, this processor should be properly connected to the console. Similarly, all done in the digital environment, with the only difference that the treatment will need to be pre-configured in the settings of your system.

Listen to a clean signal, and adjust the amount of mixing Aux handles processing. And hear the stereo!

What record in mono and what in mono mode?

And now I'm alone talk about what tools should be written only in mono, which is desirable to leave in the car stereo, and which can be varied as a method of recording based on the specific situation.

Mono. Be sure to write in mono basic drums (drum, small, hi-hat), percussion (toms, kou-bell, bongos, congas, and so on, if they are recorded individually), bass, synth leads are any, basses and so forth. Also in mono can (and sometimes should) write a piano sound, if it performs a minor problem in the arrangement. In most cases, arpeggiator and pitstsikatnye synthetic sequence must also be in mono (often they used when mixing delay, so the sound will be more careful in monaural recording). One channel recorded electromechanical piano (Rhodes, Wurlitzer, and so on), electronic organs, Clavinet sounds and other instruments when recording in line.

Stereo. It is possible and sometimes preferable to write in stereo piano sound (in the case that sound plays an important role in tissue arrangements), synth pads and Strings (except when the string machine originally monophonic). Also in stereo should write tools that internal processing is an integral part of the sound synthesizer (eg, specific chorus). It often happens that the recording drum machines or samplers loaded with drum sounds produced by Side, through the main outputs (in such cases to the total mix simply mixed with a small barrel and recorded in mono).

Depending on the situation, can be recorded in mono or stereo special effects (FX), live instruments (for example, an acoustic guitar can be written one microphone, and you have two), and so on.

To achieve the stereo effect, you can use a common method for recording - double track. For example, often written in such a way overloaded guitar in rock music, sometimes sweeping guitar strumming. Also double-track, you can write monophonic synthesizers whose relevance to large arrangements. For example, some kind of fuzz in the middle of the bottom in the same range as that of a guitar with overdrive.

In this case, rhythmic guitar pizzicato (when the guitar performs percussion role as, for example, funky, fusion, sometimes in pop music) recorded in mono, and a double-track in this case is not applicable. Such a signal is panned out mostly in one direction, while on the other hand rhythmic emptiness compensated in any other similar sound.

To make the bulk of the bass sound to a clean signal can be mixed via Aux chorus. The main thing is not to overdo this, otherwise the bass loses clarity.

When recording live bass sometimes activated two channels - one channel records sound, removable microphone amp, and the other - line preamp combo. It is in any case not to achieve Stereophonic. Exclusively for uzhirneniya mono signal. When recording this way, both channels are reduced by the panorama in the middle, and a mandatory phase is analyzed. If necessary (if there is an effect flanger or subtracting tangible phase) delay of one channel offset by movement of the whole region, so that the phase has been fully aligned.


try it yourself

Here, in general, and everything you need to know about the mono and stereo recording instruments. All the above in any case is not a panacea or recommendations for all occasions. And, of course, I'm not covered all possible cases and the types of sounds. Depending on your source, you can deviate in either direction from these recommendations. In addition, any creative person looking for himself in the experiments, wanting to find their own sound and character.

The most important thing - to understand that you will not sound super-experimentally, only replacing all possible mono-channels in stereo. Most likely, it will lead to dirt, zamylennye and complexity in step information. Plus, if you want to give your material reduction in professional studio - you certainly learn a lot about yourself from a new engineer who will deal with your project, bringing all of the tracks in stereo.

On the other hand, learning how to work competently in mono, you will feel ease on stage, information, ease of spatial localization of different instruments. The balance will be much easier to line up and praise for any sound wise approach to the arrangement and will you give an example to others.

Very soon I will try to tell as much detail about another important issue, which is very interested in all of the musicians involved in mixing at home. He will deal with the application of the internal effects of synthesizers during the recording phase. Namely - what effects can be recorded along with the very sound, and which in any case impossible.


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