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Stereo - Mono question

Discussion in 'Recording' started by Calc, Dec 29, 2008.

  1. Calc

    Calc Active Member

    Dec 25, 2008
    Hi, I am just starting with all this recording business.

    When I record vocals, I am assuming that I should record in Stereo.
    But when I record a guitar, should I record in Mono. I mean, should I set my software to receive a mono signal? So If I want stereo guitar, I could either make a copy of the mono track and pan hard, or overdub?

    My terminology may be totally off, sorry bout that :)

    Thank you.
  2. StephenMC

    StephenMC Guest

    Incorrect, sir.

    In fact, the opposite tends to be true. In any setting, you want your software to receive one or two mono signals. I can't think of a reason right now that you'd want a stereo signal.

    You want mono vocals as the vocals ought to be placed in the phantom center, equal left and right. You want two mono guitar (essentially stereo guitar) to create a sonic center space for the vocals. To get stereo guitar, you'll want to either record with two microphones (a matched pair of condensers, typically) or to record two takes of the guitar part, panning (in both methods) the tracks L and R. The first method is stereo recording. The second is called double-tracking.

    Making a copy of the mono track does nothing but double the amplitude, likely creating digital distortion during peaks and panning that hard left and right will sound exactly the same as leaving the single mono track in the center.
  3. Calc

    Calc Active Member

    Dec 25, 2008
    Thank you sir!

    When I start up Sonar, and without touching anything else start recording, it records in stereo. What I mean is that I see two waveforms on each track :)

    So basically, I always want to record in mono..

    Feel free to correct me.
  4. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Guest

    Sep 26, 2005
    Your assumptions provide the same definition as opinions.

    When you record anything, be it with a single microphone, depending upon the software you are utilizing when mixing, it might be easier working from a single mono source track? Or it may be easier, depending upon what you are doing, to have a single source, dual mono "stereo track". Particularly important if for whatever reason, you want to render that track out in stereo. This is applicable when utilizing a single microphone or single input to record anything.

    If on the other hand, you find yourself with 2 microphones on a single sound source, you'll want to record, generally, in stereo. This is only applicable, if in fact you want a stereo sound field. Not applicable, if you simply want to combine the tonality of 2 sources into a single source. But then, you have to understand something about engineering. In fact, sometimes you may want to combine 20 separate inputs to a single channel. That's still mono from 20 separate sources. It's only stereo, if you know how to engineer it that way. Some of these techniques actually require a real recording console. Not a multi-track audio interface. Like I said, this depends upon the software you are utilizing. Not all software will provide you with a spacious stereos spread of reverb, for instance, from a mono track if you are applying the effect to the track. You'll get your stereo effect in mono. And so a mono track built into a dual mono "stereo track" will allow you to apply a stereo effect upon that track. But it depends upon the software you are using. So you need to read more about this.

    Cynical bitch
    Ms. Remy Ann David
  5. BobRogers

    BobRogers Distinguished Member

    Apr 4, 2006
    Blacksburg, VA
    Shorter summary: Things that get record as mono tracks: anything with only one output (e.g. a single mic or DI box). Things to record as a stereo track: synthesizers or electronic keyboards or effects units with stereo L/R output; pairs of microphones set up in a balanced stereo configuration like AB, XY, ORTF.

    Just to make things a bit more confusing, there are times when it is best to record a "pair" of mics as two mono tracks. E.g., when you record an acoustic guitar with one mic on the bridge and one on the twelfth fret. Basically any time you want to treat the two tracks separately, say with different eq settings. The only real advantage to using a stereo track is that you can use stereo effects rather than two mono effects and save some processing power and a (very) little work.
  6. Calc

    Calc Active Member

    Dec 25, 2008
    Say I set up a pair of mics in some stereo configuration.
    How much of a difference is it between this and copying a track and panning it?

    Thank you for great replies!
  7. Codemonkey

    Codemonkey Distinguished Member

    Dec 11, 2007
    Scotland, UK
    Copy+pan = mono
    Because the L + R are the same.

    You need to make L different from R, using delay, 2nd mic, double track etc.
  8. Calc

    Calc Active Member

    Dec 25, 2008
    Now that I can understand! Not too bright :)

    Thank you

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