Mono Rant

Uggh …

Was up till the break of dawn both days this weekend working on a song. It’s just a piano with two harmony strings and a nuphase piano lead, simple by y’all’s standards. So, it sounds nice, pat self on back, put it up on the family/friend youtube site, then listen to it on my mono laptop … it S*CKS!!!

The frequency-volume relationship is ALL messed up in mono. The lead voice turned SO LOUD, it’s like being hit in the head with a sledgehammer every time a note is played. And there were a lot of other tonal balance things. It sounds nice enough on little desk top computer speakers (stereo) but as soon as it goes to mono, Fuggedaboudit.

I’m going to have to sort through how to prevent this … most of my Motif voices are fairly wide stereo, and they sound like Cr*p when panned to mono - all phasy and stuff. I’m sure I’ll figure a way, but for now I’m just tired and quizzed off.

Maybe I can put a note on “the liner” like John Lennon did with his single “Cold Turkey” (he wrote on it, “Warning: play LOUD”) … “Warning: Play in STEREO”!! :laughing:

  1. Insert the Multi-Scope

Check the signals - specially the value “Correlation”.

The marker should be mainly between 0 and +1.
This means: Your final Audio-File will be “mono-compatible”.
If the signal most of the time is between -1 and 0 switch the phase “on” (top of the channel) and observe the correlation again.

A better solution is to search the “source” of the bad phase.
Often we have audio effects which are producing those bad “phases” such as reverb, chorus, stereo widener, etc.

Sometimes we also got bad recorded samples from ensembles (Horns, Strings etc.)

From :wink:

Nice reference, Strophoid, thanks! :smiley:

I may wind up doing that, maybe I’ll get lucky and it’s a phase thing. But one thing I do know … the wide stereo spread on almost all the Motif voices is a potential problem in and of itself. It’s so bad that even the Motif manual “warns” people about the quality of the sound when you run the voices out via the “L/Mono” jack.

I may have to restrict myself to whatever “mono” voices the Motif may have that I can control the pan on. Anyone know off-hand if the Halion that comes bundled with C6 has a lot of mono voices (do I remember correctly that many/most of the Halion voices are from the Motif…)?

Who is actually going to listen in mono these days… unless you expect to be piped to elevators and lavatories… :astonished: While I understand you’re technogeek side needs to be appeased, this could be a case where you should just walk away with your stereo buds firmly in your ears. :wink:

I think most synths create the impression of stereo by simply taking a mono source, doubling it, and flipping the phase on it – entirely why your sounds don’t come across well in mono

Of course, a great many people ARE listening these days with earbuds… but we still hear a fair amount of music that we experience, for all practical purposes, in mono – in bars, in grocery stores, even in our cars to some extent, and in our homes – if we’re not sitting in the “sweet spot” but moving around doing other things. So it’s a good idea to check a mix in mono. All the “name” pro’s do it.* :sunglasses:

*This may be construed by some as an “Appeal to Authority” but in this case I think I’ll side with the authorities :laughing:

Really? Holy cow, that’s interesting. I’ll have to see about how to test that … I suppose I could just look at the wave forms. Then if that’s the case, I guess it would be easy enough to flip the phase on the Cubase input mixer meter. Wouldn’t that be cool if it turned out to be as simple as that!!

Thanks -

I’m always suspicious of super wide or even just wide synth sounds, they rarely combine into mono very well.

All true, can’t argue against, just sayin’ these days, its a stereo world or more… though in some of those locations you’ve mentioned, the majority are not truly listening, basically they are just hearing, less likely to be digesting the dynamics of the mix… so mono testing might still be a moot point. But you cannot predict the places where you’ll be heard, and of course, the more, the better! :smiley:

Slightly OT, but I love those old stereo mixes where stuff is left, center or right… high tech back in the day! :laughing:

Thinking about it some more, I believe the stereo field on the Motif is achieved by doing more than that ^^, at least on many of the sounds. What makes me think this might be the case is that the pianos/keyboards etc. have a “wide stereo field”, with the left side of the keyboard coming out the left side of the speakers more than the right, and the right side of the keyboard coming out the right speakers more than the left. That would mean it’s more than a phase inversion, right? … or ??

I wonder if there is any kind of plug in that lets me process those things so they can combine without major phase issues (if it turns out it’s more than just a phase flip fix), seems like I remember maybe Voxengo or Brainworx having something like that …

I think any decent M-S plug might have this capability. There’s lots of free ones out there – check out

I wish Woodlock were still here – he’d know all about this stuff :exclamation:

What constitutes “stereo” after all? Isn’t simply volume differences between two correctly positioned speakers that emulate locality/position?* So you need to be more or less in the “sweet spot” between the two speakers and equi-distant from them to get the actual stereo effect.

The higher the frequency of a sound, the better we’re able to ascertain its location in space. The waveguide of a tweeter is HIGHLY directional, that is to say, unless we’re directly in the "sweet of the waveguide, we’re far less able to hear the timing/volume cues that we hear as “stereo.” So, if you’re in a bar or even your car, you’re more or less hearing things in mono, anyway.** That’s why it’s essential to check a mix in mono, assuming you expect anybody to be hearing your tunes over some sort of playback setup in any number of possible locales. Like I said, most if not all professional mixers check a mix in mono before turning it in.

*it’s actually worse if you’ve mic’d something in stereo, like with an x-y coincident pair. In the real world, a sound emanates from a single point/source and reaches our two ears at different times, depending on our position relative to the source. But when you mic something in stereo, it’s actually two signals, coming through two speakers, reaching our two ears, and the two signals can often be out of phase with each other to varying degrees. That’s why they say M-S is a better method for miking in stereo because it is better for mono compatibility, because one channel has its phased flipped so it doesn’t cancel out with the other

**some very expensive sports cars are set up so the driver is in the sweet spot :sunglasses:

Re: the “Is Mono even relevant nowadays” question: I just read that many/most FM receivers automatically switch over to mono output in the presence of a weak signal.

That’s probably more important to John Kennedy and some of you guys (Horn for Hire!) than to me, but still I thought that was pretty interesting.

Also, I figured out a bit what was happening with my recording. When listening in mono, it was the centrally panned lead twangy thang that got so loud … as predicted, compared to the non-centrally panned voices (meaning that it probably wasn’t a frequency-summing/destruction thing as much as a simple addition thing). I also just read the rule-of-thumb is that centrally panned voices will get 3 dB louder than those at the periphery when summing to mono (p. 36, Mike Senior’s book).

So I guess if someone is mixing for mono, that means that their mix in stereo is not the best it can be? Really?

I can’t answer that question, but I can say unequivocally that the Beatle’s boxed set that has all the original mono recordings sound (to me) better than the fakey stereo ones


sound (to me) better than the fakey stereo ones

do you mean the ones with the drums, bass and rhythm guitar coming out of one channel and the voices and solo guitars coming out of the other? I think that was because of the limitations of the multitrackers of the day. It wasn’t noticeable being played through mono record players, and tolerable through close-spaced stereo speakers. Through headphones though - nasty!

Just record your motif as two mono tracks and pan l20 r20 if mono compability is important to you.


Hi braunie - thanks for that suggestion. I’ll give it a try when I get home. But you know, thinking about it, I’m a little puzzled …

If the problem occurs because the L and R signals from the synth are collapsed to mono, wouldn’t the same condition be present after doing what you suggested? I’m not able to get past thinking that the process you suggested gets to the same situation, but in two steps rather than one (the two steps being first panning to L20/R20, then collapsing to mono when listening on a single speaker, like a laptop). Where am I going wrong in that thinking?

I guess just trying it out is what I need to do, irrespective of the theory … I just like to figure the “why” of how things work as well as just doing them!

Thanks -

It’d have less stereo width and thus might work better on mono. Might :wink:


Na… thats wrong, it has the same information regardless.

Not really. Best mono performance would be mixing all tracks to center and then find the balance. Wider the mix poorer mono as a rule of a thumb. Depends slightly on a pan law as well.