Mixing in mono- What am I doing?

Discussion in 'Tracking / Mixing / Editing' started by jmm22, Nov 23, 2010.

  1. jmm22

    jmm22 Guest

    The majority of music I want to record is based around acoustic blues/rock guitar. While my approach to tracking and mixing is sure to change over time as I learn more, I have already developed certain technical preferences. I know I like to use just one well placed mic, and double track the guitar parts, panning left and right somewhat.

    But one thing about my preferences has me wondering. While adding effects to the recorded tracks, I like to hear one track solo, and through one monitor, usually the right, just because it is easier to shift position in front of with my overall set up.

    Does this preference for hearing the solo tracks through one speaker for adding compression/reverb/EQ sound normal. I do go back and tweak once I hear the tracks in context of the mix, but I find I can get the punch and presence more easily with a single monitor. It just presents itself differently than hearing the solo track equally through two monitors.
  2. Voiceofallanger

    Voiceofallanger Active Member

    You're not the only one! This is something that I do a lot too. There's something about it that seems to make things easier. I mainly focus on Alternative rock and agree that single mic is probably my favourite and most solid approach to recording guitars.. (though sometimes if needs be I throw down a condenser for some clarity)

    If the guitars are recorded in mono and panned quite hard then it does seem to make sense to me to do things this way.

    I'm not the most experienced person here and who knows, maybe someone can tell us both something that will change our view on things but I can say that I use this method a lot too.

    I think the overall question to be answered is...

    Do your guitars sound nice when you're finished with them when you play them back on other speakers? Mine usually sound great (being a guitarist helps too mind) so I'm happy with what I'm doing.

    Like instrument choice, microphone choice, a lot of it has to do with YOUR personal preference I believe and what you are looking to achieve. Another person's mix will most of the time not only differ methodically but in the sound they are looking to craft in their mind.

    So if it ends up sounding like YOU want it to sound and how you have it planned then I don't think people can say it's right or wrong.

    But like I said.. Maybe we're missing something that can make life easier ? I just wanted to clarify that you're not the only one using this technique and that I am very happy with the way my guitars sound :)
  3. JohnTodd

    JohnTodd Well-Known Member

    I think that "whatever gets the job done and doesn't blow up the gear" is the right thing to do. Whatever helps you hear better is all good.

    However, I see a possible catch: Reflections. I've been studying acoustic room treatment to make my own recordings better, so this is fresh in my mind. It could be that your right monitor and left monitor are the same, but that room reflections are altering the sound before it reaches your ears. You may consciously prefer the right monitor because you are subconsciously responding to the reflections. IOW, the right monitor has less of them so it sounds clearer to you.

    That's just speculation on my part since I haven't seen your studio. But perhaps you could examine this yourself. See if anything is asymmetrical in your room. In my studio, my computer is closer to my left monitor, and I never noticed a difference until I put up some treatment, and then - WOW! I'll never go back to the old way.

    Putting up treatment/fixing treatment problems will help out everything else, too!

    just my .02
  4. Voiceofallanger

    Voiceofallanger Active Member

    Solid thought to consider :D I probably should have mentioned that my monitor setup is very very clear and as spot on as it could be because my room was done by a company and not in fact myself :)

    This is what I meant when I said some guy who knows more will probably point something out :D! Hahaha.

    Thanks John :p
  5. JohnTodd

    JohnTodd Well-Known Member

    My reply was for jmm22; if that's what you are referring too. Can't tell if the smilies are to indicate pleasantness or poking fun at me.

    If it's not reflections, it could be jmm22's ears. Often our ears are not 'balanced'. Still, just speculation on my part. You guys can check it out yourself if you want too.
  6. Voiceofallanger

    Voiceofallanger Active Member

    Oh no no. I'm just a very openly happy person. I wasn't being sarcastic at all. I was trying to say that. Yeah, what you said, I totally overlooked in my post and thank you for mentioning it because it's really important.

    No sarcasm here mate, I apologise if you thought so. I'm not that kinda guy. I was genuinely pleased that you'd thrown that in because I totally missed it because my monitor setup is good. I should have considered that jmm22 might not be in the same boat.

    Sorry if you took offence :(
  7. JohnTodd

    JohnTodd Well-Known Member

    No worries then, mate!

    jmm22, any of these ideas making sense to you?
  8. jmm22

    jmm22 Guest

    Yes, helpful insight all around. To clarify, the only reason I go to the right monitor is my setup. My room is sufficiently symmetrical, bilaterally, but I usually have mic stands and a floor covered with cable that prevents me from shifting my chair over in front of the left monitor. If I get up out of the chair and get my head in front of the left monitor, the sound is the same as the right for mono monitoring. But coincidentally, I am right eared, in that if I have to make critical assessments with one ear dominant (e.g. when we turn our head to listen more closely) I use the right.

    My monitoring setup is unusual, as I use a system I had assembled and positioned for playback of music, with no consideration to what I am doing with it now. It is not ideal in that I have to continuously shift seating positions to either be in the sweet spot, at the controls, or mono monitoring with one monitor, however, I think this liability is compensated for with the monitors themselves, which are very large and better than bookshelf models.
  9. Caleb

    Caleb Active Member

    There are several factors to consider here. It doesn't seem like the ideal route to go (mixing through one monitor) if you want the best possible sound from your mixes. Even when dealing with a soloed track let's say you have a stereo reverb, delay, or whatever, one monitor is not going give you the full effect of that processor (meaning you could easily add too much). Secondly, if you're panning that means you're creating a stereo image, something that you will not be able to assess accurately with one monitor. In your situation I would consider organizing the cables differently so that they do not interfere with your functionality. Everyone including the best engineers have a dominant ear, but it's better to use both. It's one thing to check your mixes in mono and another to mix entirely through one monitor.
  10. bouldersound

    bouldersound Real guitars are for old people. Well-Known Member

    I often start a mix in mono and in one speaker. I can sum left and right in the monitor output, so stereo effects are presented through the one speaker without leaving anything out, but they will change when not summed. Soloing through one speaker seems like it would be a useful additional tool to all the other ways of hearing what you have recorded.
  11. jmm22

    jmm22 Guest

    Just to be clear Caleb, I do not mix entirely in mono. I will sometimes add effects and EQ to a particular track in mono through one monitor, and then return to stereo mixing, which of course is necessary to make a proper mix as you indicate. For me, the function of mono monitoring is to provide a momentarily focused sound. It is analogous to using a magnifier to make objects appear bigger or clearer for certain tasks say in making some fine object, yet one eventually moves back to assessing and continuing the overall work with unaided eyes. However, I would add that even if it was discouraged, I would not hesitate to do it anyway, as I am the kind of person who is naturally drawn to unorthodox means and methods.

    On another front, welcome. It is nice to see another new member. I look forward to reading any of your thoughts and ideas on recording, and thanks for responding in this thread. :smile:
  12. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    I don't see anything wrong with what you are doing. But it might indicate that there are problems with your room and setup in terms of early reflections and speaker placement. If a single speaker is drastically different than a mono track on two speakers, then there are probably problems with your stereo image when you are actually mixing and panning your tracks. If that's the case then the single speaker adjustments are probably the best part of your mixing.
  13. jmm22

    jmm22 Guest

    There are a few problems, but I have to simply work around them.
  14. Caleb

    Caleb Active Member

    I can see that.
    -Thanks for the welcome!
  15. audiokid

    audiokid Staff


    I will also put everything in mono and on one speaker to test all sorts of things. Mostly to hear what my mix will sound like in commercial buildings.

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