Recording in mono or stereo?!?!?!

Discussion in 'Mastering' started by MediaMurder, Sep 24, 2007.

  1. MediaMurder

    MediaMurder Guest

    Ok so Im wondering which is the better way to record and why.
    I have an image to help with the discussion:

    Im wondering when, if at all, should you record tracks in stereo as opposed to recording in mono?

    Thanks guys!
  2. HansAm

    HansAm Active Member

    I usualy ALWAYS do electric guitars in mono. with moderate stereoeffects in the DAW.


    Acustic guitars is typical ALWAYS stereo or, you know, dual mono.
  3. MediaMurder

    MediaMurder Guest

    dude, seriously....
  4. HansAm

    HansAm Active Member

    Whot? What am i missunderstanding?
  5. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member


    Electric guitars (amps) get recorded in mono. What you do after that is up to you, but it's mono. (in my case, I often record 2, 3 or even 4 or more mono tracks and work with the best ones later).

    Drums, generally in stereo (overhead pair) then your individual drum mics in mono.

    Acoustic guitar - often stereo but if a heavy mix, mono.

    Bass - mono

    Hand and mallet percussion - usually stereo (bongos, vibraphone, marimba. etc.)

    I could go on...but I won't.

    The thing to understand about mono vs. stereo...
    Stereo is simply two mono tracks panned hard left and hard right. Even when I record in "stereo" I actually simply record 2 mono tracks and pan them manually myself. This gives me a bit more control since I can delay either of the channels, change the level easily on either of the channels independently or apply effects to only one of the channels, etc.

    What you're seeing in your graphic is a simple shot of a mono wave and the stereo wave as I've described it above. You could have the same thing on 3 tracks instead of 2 and it would make no difference other than the flexibilities that I just mentioned. In addition, it should make no difference on the "track count" capabilities of your machine. If your machine can normally handle 50 tracks and you use 25 stereo tracks, you're done.

    Now, if your software has limitations...say - maximum 8 tracks, then usually, it doesn't specify 8 stereo vs. mono tracks. This can be a way to get a few extra tracks in if convenient and necessary.

    Does this help?
  6. On making stereo tracks: while the majority of the time it seems senseless to this recordist to limit oneself to hard-left/hard-right tracks (rather than dual mono tracks with more panning options), some applications (Nuendo in particular) seem to require a stereo track in order to exploit stereophonic effects EVEN when the source material is monaural.

    Therefore, when working in an application where I know this is the case, to set up all tracks as stereo but record everything as mono (i.e. identical information recorded to both left and right channels) does fine, though potentially at the risk of higher CPU debt.
  7. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    I'm curious -
    Can you not bus your tracks to a stereo bus later on and apply the stereo effects to that?
  8. Link555

    Link555 Well-Known Member

    In Nuendo you can.
  9. Jeremy,

    I haven't used Nuendo (2.01, incidentally) since my internship a few years ago, but the instance you brought up was precisely the problem I often had: to send, say, two mono drum overheads to an FX bus with stereo reverb kept the reverb monaural even if the tracks were panned hard, but sending stereo tracks to it allowed the reverbs to breathe in full stereo.

    While I've posted about this several times before I've not taken the time to go back and confirm for sure. I genuinely would like to know if I'm wrong.
  10. Link555

    Link555 Well-Known Member

    Interesting... let me play a bit....
    I use Nuendo 3.0. I use the inserts and sends, as well as the stereo buses. So far I have not tried the FX bus, I will try that soon and see what it does.
    I usally just set up a stereo bus and send the signals to it. I use the bus inserts to add Verbs and such.
  11. HansAm

    HansAm Active Member

    I'v never experienced this problem in Nuendo... I put the reverb on a FX-stereo track. Then send the source signal from a monotrack to the effect. The reverb effect is configured to work in STEREO..

  12. Link555

    Link555 Well-Known Member

    So if you pan the mono signal the reverb in the FX track is panned in same direction?
  13. HansAm

    HansAm Active Member

    Well. it will be dominant in the channel i pan to, but not dissapear in the other channel. I will do some extensive testing when i get home and have some free time. Gotta try to replicate what you talk about and figure out how my setup work.
  14. MediaMurder

    MediaMurder Guest

    Lots of good info here guys, thanks for the sincere responses!
    I can definately see how it makes sense to sometimes use a mono track instead of a stereo track if its going to be hard panned. You would seriously save on cpu/ram usage.

    Im going to start toying with the idea of using dual mono instead of stereo. The reasons being that a stereo vocal track is essentially two mono tracks completely lined up with no intonation whereas a dual mono take on the matter could result in much better sounds (ie effects on one channel or verb on one channel, eq on one channel only, etc...)

    Thanks so much!!!

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