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Hi there,

I would like to know whether there's any difference between recording rap vocals in a stereo track versus recording it in a mono track. I record my rap vocals in mono tracks for no particular reason. Should i be doing it stereo?



anonymous Fri, 12/01/2006 - 14:46

Do you have a stereo microphone in the first place? A mono microphone recorded to a stereo track should sound identical to a plain' ol' mono track.

FWIW, it's by far more common to record vocals in mono. Even when people track with a variety of mics, they're tracking multiple mono signals, not stereo pairs, in most cases.

Assuming you have your choice of using a stereo microphone or matched pair:

Since the human voice itself is really a "mono" signal (one waveform coming out of one source, your mouth-- that weird chant-singing-thing being a matter for debate) you would ideally just record it in mono and not choose the stereo option.

Also, an "in your face" kind of vocal like a rap, or the main vocal of almost any genre for that matter, is generally sent straight up the middle. A mono signal (or layered mono signals) will certainly help keep it there.


anonymous Fri, 12/01/2006 - 15:49

You do NOT record lead vocals in stereo, period.

While we are on the subject of MONO vs STEREO (which has come up somewhat often recently): when tracking one MUST keep in mind where things are supposed to be when the time comes to mix the project.

The more STEREO tracks you have to deal with the more difficult it is to mix and in fact you can very easily end up with mush.

Background vocals are recorded in stereo (or by overdubbing the same part(s) and panning later to spread them as desired). If you are only doubling some lead vocal parts (or doing a single harmony) then, that track too will be MONO and panned slightly different than the lead.

Acoustic guitars you should also record in MONO (unless the overall instrumentation is sparse AND the guitar is the MAIN support instrument-same for acousic piano). When laying down ac. guitar I sometimes like to record myself in MONO playing the same part twice and then Pan the two tracks to taste, if I am going to that type of sound.

Lead instruments are also recorded in MONO (sax, trumpet, guitar, flute, etc...).

anonymous Fri, 12/01/2006 - 17:42


1. The first rule is that there are no rules, there are only commonly-accepted guidelines. I can't imagine ever recording a lead vocal in anything but mono, but I'm not willing to say that nobody in the history of time has ever done it successfully. ;)

2. Many people record their acoustic guitars in stereo. Again, I don't either, but in this case it's a lot more common than in the case of the lead vocals.


RemyRAD Sat, 12/02/2006 - 12:17

I record plenty of vocals in stereo! Operatic stereo! In that respect, the singer is generally 5 to 15 feet from the microphone and so, cannot "cup" their hand around the rear air holes of their directional microphone, to turn their directional microphone into an omnidirectional microphone! Where did they get that technique from anyhow?? Sounds awful! Tell them to stop it! JUST STOP IT!

Ms. Remy Ann David

zemlin Sat, 12/02/2006 - 15:17

If you are using one microphone (unless it's a stereo microphone with two capsules), you're recording in MONO. Whether you record it to a MONO or a STEREO track really makes no difference, except that a stereo track will take twice the hard disk space and CPU load.

I mono input recorded to a stereo track is still mono - just twice as much of it.

therecordingart Sun, 12/03/2006 - 09:21

DIGIT wrote: You do NOT record lead vocals in stereo, period.

While we are on the subject of MONO vs STEREO (which has come up somewhat often recently): when tracking one MUST keep in mind where things are supposed to be when the time comes to mix the project.

The more STEREO tracks you have to deal with the more difficult it is to mix and in fact you can very easily end up with mush.

Tell this to Bruce Swedien and prepare to get your ass handed to you.

You can record in stereo until you are blue in the face. It's actually quite nice sounding.


For rap I would record the vox mono and then double like every other rapper. The cookie cutter approach that is the proven winner.

anonymous Sun, 12/03/2006 - 17:15

A thank you to all

I just have to say that i am so awed by the fact that i got so many replies(i thought if i got even 1 i would be lucky). Thank you for all the advice, and i will definately stick to the guidelines given here, as i feel i'm not really good enough to be experimenting-it's probably better for a rookie like me to just get the basics down as well as i can.

I signed up a little while ago, and this was my first post here. Thank you all. I feel very lucky to have discoverd this treasure trove of help.

For those who asked about my mic- i own a Samson CO1 condenser mic. It's my one and only condenser mic and i'm pretty sure that it's a mono mic (though i didn't know that there were such things as stereo mics- i'm assuming that that's the same thing as a paired mic).

Again, many thanks


P.S. If you'd like to download and listen to my songs, they're posted at

The next song i post on there can be subjected to everyone's professional opinion(regarding things like my mix technique, recording technique, etc) but these ones i'm still a bit self-concious about, so please hold any comments for a short while at least.

anonymous Sun, 12/03/2006 - 21:07

That's definitely a 'mono' mic (I don't even know if that's an industry-standard term, but there ya go), so you are DEFINITELY not getting any advantage out of recording to stereo.

Stereo microphones aren't uncommon, especially for (but not limited to) field recordings and press events. A quick Google pulled this one up as an example:

But they come in many shapes, sizes, and configurations.

Best of luck, and you're right about how helpful the folks here are. :D


RemyRAD Mon, 12/04/2006 - 17:18

Dear Mr. MasonBlack, so now I am slightly confused? Are all of the songs that you have posted, examples of your engineering and recording/performing capabilities?

I'm not one who enjoys hip-hop but I find your compositions, your engineering expertise, your ability to blend a beautiful melodic vocal with your rap and exquisite use of orchestral string ensemble samples along with a coherent message, is I think, an incredible work of art and musical genius! This is exactly what I have been trying to convey to others who profess themselves to be "rap artists". Yeah.... Let's hear them sing!

I thought the engineering was done more than quite well and if you're trying to tell us all that your vocals were recorded with that Samson microphone, it is you sir, that should be giving advice to all here. In America that's like a $60 microphone! Not what we would call a stellar Chinese import but your use of and technique made your performance with that microphone really shine!

I was really quite amazed at the intricate musical arrangements you so artfully accomplished, in an art form that I would normally considered to be artistically dearth! I would listen to more hip-hop/rap and would even consider recording others, if only others were as talented as your self. Alas, I don't think most rap is worth the salt on my food but yours has megastar class. It is you who should be making a lot of money from this incredibly talented endeavor. Where's your record contract?!?! I think you have risen above the rest? I would like to hear how you went about recording the songs you posted??

Now do you really want me to tell you how I feel??

I was touched by your art
Ms. Remy Ann David

anonymous Mon, 12/04/2006 - 21:02

Operatic live recording is NOT the same as recording POP music in a studio.

We are talking about different things and I think my post was clearly took the wrong way.

The decision of recording an instrument MONO vs STEREO is a PRODUCTION decision, as far as I am concerned. As a Producer, I do NOT like to have a bunch of stereo tracks, because the focus of the music seems to be lost. Instead, I reserve the STEREO tracking for certain elements, when appropriate.

To me it's a matter of space. If I have a mono track and I want to increase its space a bit I may use a short delay panned opposite, etc.. If I want a HUGE space, I will of course record in STEREO, or overdub the same part and pan L/R. Again, a matter of production requirements and envisioning what the final mix is going to sound like and working toward that sound.

I believe that the utilization of the STEREO field has to have a meaning, an emotion, a specific, creative end to it and cannot be arbitrarily used just because we can.

Someone mentioned Bruce. I was actually hired to produce a record for a Latin singer about 8 years ago or so and I had the pleasure to talk to Bruce in preparation for that project as he was to be the engineer. I am familiar with his work and techniques though unfortunately, that project was later cancelled by the label and I never got to working with him. Bummer :( Howeer, every engineer has his/her own ways and they are ALL good. I keep my mind very open to any ideas when in the studio.

Mine are only suggestion. And I think, when talking to beginners it's better to keep things as simple as possible. I also firmly believe that for a beginner it's BEST to get used to recording tracks in mono and then, learn how to place them in the mix, how to use certain EFX to create a stereo spread (like delay/chorus), etc... Later, it will more meaningful to record stereo tracks as their impact to the final mix would be more readily understood and even appreciated.

Eriksmusicproduction Tue, 12/05/2006 - 14:44

Digit. It's funny how your post went from "don't record stereo ever, period" to "only suggestions. " "every engineer has his/her own ways" etc.

Sorry, not trying to rag on you too much. I just think that 'true' stereo recordings are rarely used and it's a shame. Just because it's pop, rap or whatever doesn't mean that the ear doesn't use various cues to locate where the signal is coming from. I frequently record even centered 'mono' parts using a stereo mic arrangement to help with the localization. Although with rap I prefer to record with as few track as possible, prefferably less than 1 :wink:.

Just kidding, I do enjoy creative, well written rap, just not most of whats been coming out lately. I guess the same could be said about most gener's nowadays.


anonymous Tue, 12/05/2006 - 17:15

First to Reginald: Thanks for the compliment and i'm glad you liked my music. You definately can use Fruityloops(or FL studio to get the same results). I used to use it quite a bit but switched over to Propellerhead's Reason earlier this year. What caused me to switch, even though i prefered Fl studio's interface to Reason's, was that Reason had such bigger, better soundbanks. My opinion is that you can create good music with anything, and that the software is just a tool to allow you to express yourself. Don't let people tell you you need this or that. All you need is a little bit of inspiration and a good amount of hard work. Software is secondary to that.

To Remy: I don't deserve your kind words. The songs that are up on myspace are examples of my musical and technical(when it comes to recording,mixing,etc) skill- at least where they are at now. I'm always striving to improve.

I'll tell you how i produced all the songs.

"Shadows" was actually recorded with a mic a lot cheaper than the Samson condenser(here in South Africa that mic cost me about 600 Rand, about 90 dollars). I used to use this cheapo Carol dynamic mic, cost me about $5 if you do the currency translation. I produce all my songs with Reason & Adobe Audition 1.5. I try and keep my live recording down to a minimum, as i don't have a vocal booth, and have to record everything in my bedroom/make-shift studio. It's creates some reverb issues, but i hopefully will have enough cash to get a booth built in the next 4 months or so.

I used to have a serious problem with sibilance, but i've been fiddling around with recording with the mic off-axis(i.e. not directly in front of me) and have been trying to see what the difference between having the mic above me and pointed downwards(so i have to look up, therefore opening up my throat) and pointed dowwards. So far, i haven't found either significantly better than the other, but i'll keep trying stuff out, and see if i can hear a difference.

My PC is a joke. It's 3 years old, and constantly overheats, causing me to have to stop producing whatever beat i'm working. At least when i'm mixing/editing or mastering it doesn't cause me any grief. Here are it's specs:

Intel Celeron 1.8ghz(not a dual-core!)
1GB Ram
A whole bunch of hard-drive space
Windows XP.

I finally saved up enough cash and am going to be buying a new pc this month.

Also, i have a pair of Yamaha hs-50 monitors and a behringer 4 track mixer(i think it's the eurorack ub802) which also acts as my pre-amp.

When i hear about some of the stuff that people own in this forum, i'm just overwhelmed. It's hard enough just getting the cash together for these few things(then again, i'm just starting out. Maybe after a while, i'll be able to afford some more things/gadgets and gizmos).

I am very touched by the fact that you thought my engineering/recording skills were any good. I think that they're improving with every song i do(a big part because of the forums here), but i don't think they're at the level where i could advise anyone who wasn't a total newbie.

I started up a side-projects page. It only has one song on it(a ambient track) at the moment.(the address is
The sideprojects stuff is just for my tracks that i produced that are too weird to go anywhere else. As much as i love hip-hop, i also have a really strong love for both rock and electronica.

YOu made my day Remy


P.S. If you want me to go into a really detailed discussion of how i produced,recorded,mixed and wrote lyrics for any song(btw, "The Letter" was the only song there that i didn't produce) i can. Just say the word. I'm really happy to have someone who's interested in the intricacies of how i put it together. Most people only care that it sounds good at the end.

anonymous Tue, 12/05/2006 - 19:48

>>"don't record stereo ever, period" to "only suggestions. " "every engineer has his/her own ways" etc. <<

But, that's exactly what it is, a suggestion and MY suggestion is NEVER use TWO microphones for recording a POP vocalist in a studio (where both mics are pointed at the mouth-the source), period.

Recording the room reflection is a different story of course.

Since the poster didn't describe the sort of stereo placement I assumed they would both point at the mouth. I would see little reason to do that. I'd rather use an OMNI or Figure of Eight if I wanted more room sound.

The comment about every engineer having their own ways it's to illustrate that there are many, many ways of doing things.

If you talk to 5 top engineers about recording x/y/z they all will have their own, different ways. And that's GOOD because there is NO 'one' way of doing things, except the way WE like to work. And, suggestions are based on individual preferences, they are NOT legally binding statements forcing people to do as described or else (that only happens in the ProAudio/BDSM forum) :)

It's a forum, it's hard to write in a PC manner, and in fact I am not much for PC writing :)

I just throw them as I see them...or in this case, didn't see them (microphones, that is).


RemyRAD Thu, 12/07/2006 - 09:03

While you can certainly record like that, you don't necessarily want to print reverb while tracking a vocal to the same channel. Things will start to sound really screwed up when you start doing punch in's. Adding reverb and room synthesis is usually best left for the mix, after you have recorded the vocal.

Tracking in the snow
Ms. Remy Ann David