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how to make your mixes sound good in mono?

Discussion in 'Recording' started by Andreas, Jun 1, 2003.

  1. Andreas

    Andreas Active Member


    I wonder what you do to make your mixes sound the way you want them to, both in mono and stereo. I've noticed how those mixes that really sound good almost sound the same in mono.

    The things I've learned is not to use excessive panning to separate the elements in the mix and sometimes using reverbs in mono. Even though these things improve my mixes it still doesn't sound right when listening in mono.

    I realize this could have a lot to do with arranging the songs in the right way, not having instruments with similar character playing in the same octave and such. Since the songs I record often is rock/pop bands on their way up I don't have too much influence on this though.

    It would be nice to hear some thoughts on the subject, especially since a lot of people here have been around a long time and done a lot of work where mono-compatibility maybe was more of an issue than it is today with everyone listening in stereo.

    best regards

    Andreas Olausson
  2. Pez

    Pez Active Member

    How can you pan in mono?
  3. anonymous

    anonymous Guests

    When I pan im estimating my spatial placement. What I am truley listening to is phase relationships.
  4. realdynamix

    realdynamix Well-Known Member

    :) Hi, it is careful checking of phase which begins in tracking of stereo tracks too! One thing to watch out for is some reverb programs have very slight pre-delay dry echoes, like 3 ms 5 ms panned hard left and right. These are nice for adding early cues in the hearing. These delays, with pop and rock have to be adjusted out a little more. These I adjust in mono and listen for the least objectionable effect.

    In my opinion, regardless of what is done to prevent a bad audible effect going to mono. I hear losses on certain things. The nature of certain phase relationships are a fact of life, and is present, always.

  5. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    One thing a lot of people miss, is checking phase relationships of all the individual tracks. This can save a lot of headaches down the line. Before you even start mixing you should run through all the tracks and make sure they are all in phase with each other. This is why all large pro consoles have phase flip switches. Once you are sure everything is in phase, then start mixing, checking as you make each adjustment that your mono compatibility is still intact. Many reverbs and effects patches use out of phase information to generate a stereo effect. Be careful of these and perhaps use them in mono (only one side) or keep them panned more to the center and not hard left right. Out of phase is seductive but in the long run is no good. Listening to out of phase sound can weird your hearing out after a while, after which, you are basically mixing deaf. Kurt
    audiokid likes this.
  6. falkon2

    falkon2 Well-Known Member

    Hey Kurt... say I were to double track hi-gain rhythm guitar and pan left/right. Would a light comb-filter on each channel (with the prongs on the left channel being logarithmatically smack between the prongs of the right channel) help with the sound should it ever be squeezed into mono?
  7. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    Well, some might go for that sound.. (Go ahead and try it and listen to the effect) but I myself, don't care for comb filtering. The technique you are describing is one that was used for a while by record companies in the early sixties to convert mono recordings into "fake stereo". It was pretty much abandoned after a short while because the effect, when summed to mono, is pretty horrendous sounding. You can still hear this effect every once in a while on old movies on T.V. ... It should be unnecessary on true stereo or doubled tracks..
  8. realdynamix

    realdynamix Well-Known Member

    :) So that's it! I was wondering, with certain scenes like Ben Hur and Soilent Green, what that obnoxious noise was...now I know!

    Thanks Kurt!
  9. falkon2

    falkon2 Well-Known Member

    Hmm... okay, in hindsight, I see what you mean now.
  10. JeffreyMajeau

    JeffreyMajeau Active Member

    The best way to make a mix sound good in mono is to start it in mono, IMHO. Follow Sceneria's lead and you should end up with a great sounding track. If you're REALLY worried, you can get a Lissajous vector scope and insert it across the 2-bus. If you see a diagonal line from lower left to upper right - you'll be safe in mono.

    Dan Roth
    Otitis Media
    Audio - Video - Film
  11. falkon2

    falkon2 Well-Known Member

    I've seen a couple of vector scopes. Interesting displays.. What exactly do the dots mean? Which is the dependant and non-dependant variable?
  12. realdynamix

    realdynamix Well-Known Member

    :) I am thinking that a "Lissajous vector scope" is like the x y display of an oscilloscope, I have used this, but a vector display I use for color phase alignment. The little boxes are where each bar of the test color pattern signal line up. You can download an oscilloscope scope at
    audio software/analyzers etc.

  13. JeffreyMajeau

    JeffreyMajeau Active Member

    Lissajous phase displays the X-Y information. It's the way you use a vectorscope for something BESIDES color bars :p .

    Seriously, if there's a mono summing issue, you'll see it on the scope, because you're looking at the difference information. The more difference info there is, the wider stereo you've got, but the worse your mono's going to be. Unless you're going for that.

  14. realdynamix

    realdynamix Well-Known Member

    :) (edit note here, I know what you mean now!) I have an adapter for a standard single input vectorscope, it requires sync, and has audio inputs, it also has several lissajous dip switch settings.

  15. yeshua

    yeshua Member

    what if the sound hawe stereo in it and whan you "mono it" sound bad. What to do then? I use vst plugins and hawe mono compatibility problems A LOT what to do with it?

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