Mono vs Stereo channel for vocals

I’ve to choose between mono vs stereo channel for vocals. I’d like to stay mono than send the signal to specific fx channels, but also curious about the stereo approach: some track presets are stereo and I cannot understand how a stereo channel can centre the vocals. How do you route it? On the other hand, should a reverb channel receive the delay processed signal or take effect only on the dry one? How are professional producers doing the chain?

If you record a Mono Input onto a Stereo track the Left & Right Channels will be identical and so the audio will sound centered between them. Lot’s of folks always record to Stereo for both Stereo & Mono sources. There are several reasons for this.

  • Simplifies workflow because all Tracks are Stereo, so Mono/Stereo isn’t a consideration.
  • Spacial Inserts only work on Stereo Channels, so now they work everywhere

Routing is basically the same for Stereo & Mono Tracks

Neither is correct or incorrect. Each of these two approaches (along with a jillion others) will sound different, it’s up to you to decide which sounds better in the context of the piece you are working on.

Thank you @raino, but I can’t figure how to configure the same input source to the stereo channel. I’ve just tried to set up an alternative “mono to stereo” input channel but the setting seems to be mutually exclusive on the specific input. How to put your input X on both L and R?
Anyway I really appreciate your answser, it clarifies a lot to me :slight_smile:

You don’t need to do anything special. Your Stereo Track lets you set its Audio Source. You can set this to any Input you like. Doesn’t matter if the Input is Stereo or Mono - you can set either type as the Source on a Stereo Track. Cubase will sort out the signal and change the Mono into Stereo.

In this you can see both Audio Tracks are Stereo and the first is using a Stereo Source while the second is using a Mono Source. Both work just fine.

My lead vocal is mono all the time. Sometime, anyway, I need some special processing or effect. So, that’s OK to use the direct offline processing without load the CPU. In this situation, using a stereo audio track results in a stereo track processed (you think something like delay, stereo auto panning, MultiTap, etc.).
I’m an old school guy and I’m using a lot of external hardware: what is mono stays mono and what is stereo stays stereo. Processing a lead vocal into a Pultec is a mono job, isn’t it? :slight_smile:
My 2 cents.

I have a 500 series rack so I kick myself when I use a stereo track on a mono source however stereo tracks are useful when applying reverb as an insert.

Reverb as an insert is particularly useful if you’re just adding room ambience to a sound source to make it sound more realistic or just a bit more stereo.

Yeah you probably want to keep it mono until you send to any external mono FX.

Suspect @mmoreo is not dealing with that additional level of complexity.

Thank you all, I didn’t know the mono routing to the stereo track input, great @raino ! Nowadays with the track lanes is understandable the usage of stereo tracks for small projects but I already used fx channels and maybe is the best way to go because you add fx instead of subtracting the dry signal level. I was curious about your approach and how to route it for small projects (say acoustic guitar plus voice, maybe I’d do it with two stereo tracks as @Manike described).

@lordadb thank you for your tip, I’d go for outboard at least for pre and comp, but it would cost so much more than an Apollo x8p (an all in one digital sounding compromise). The main problem is the converters because recall it’s not really an issue in my case (I am setting up a project studio). I’d like to record my stereo guitar amp setup with 4 or 6 mics so it would become really expensive.
If you have any idea on a hardware full setup with an Apollo x8p budget please share it! :grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes:

If I go mono for a vocal track and have a dedicated fx reverb track, should other instruments work “in the same room” sending their signal to the same fx? Is it a common practice?

Really, it depends . If you want to get a natural sound, maybe you can use the same virtual room. For example when you have a vocal and acoustic guitar situation could be the right thing. In more complex situation I tend to diversificate the 3d perception with different reverbs. Anyway, no rules in music production.

Awesome! This community is really a big plus on Cubase. :heart_eyes:

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I always record vocaltracks in mono, also to save space on the SSD.
If I want to add a stereo effect to this mono track afterwards, I simply convert it to a stereo track. This can be done by duplicating the mono track and then calling the function:
Project> Convert Tracks> Mono to Multichannel

The fact that a copy of the audio clip is used means that no additional file is created, the memory consumption corresponds to that of the mono file.

You don’t need to do any of that. If you record a vocal to a stereo track with a mono source - it will be mono and is saved to the ssd drive as a mono .wav file. It’s on a stereo track so you can apply stereo processing.

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You are right, thanks for the hint!
For a long time I’ve only recorded the vocal tracks in mono, so I didn’t even notice that a stereo track can also be connected to a mono input, and that in this case no stereo audio file is saved.

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The “confusion” might result from some strange Youtube Clips where a prominent Producer that uses tons of superexpensive gear explains that it is bad practice to record a mono source to a stereo track. (This guy promotes “power tank” to have “clean electricity” for his gear…).He claims that this (recording mono sources to a stereo track) ruins the stereo image. I dont want to post the link here - I replied on youtube that what he writes is simply not true.
Some Pros are somehow mislead. Mind your sources of information ;o)

My advice would be to track mono items in mono.
Some effects behave differently with a mono vs, stereo source. Mainly inserts.

So, you may decide later. You can simply drop the mono recording onto a stereo track in those cases. Or, rout them to a stereo subgroup and apply effects there.

I’m with @lordadb ; Mono is mono and stereo is stereo. Best practice.

If nothing else, you know what’s mono just by looking at it.

@stevont generally I’m with you with this approach, maybe because I’m a software engineer and I’m used to working in a “precise” way. Maybe a pre-stereo-output insert could be a good feature to insert something before hitting the stereo bus, that @Manike would use.

I’m sure I’ve been able to make a new stereo track and simply place the mono files onto it and then it acts as a stereo track for stereo inserts…

Yes, just read that. That’s what I meant…

Yes, but remember that if the direct offline processing is “file-based”, so if you have a mono audio file, also in a stereo track, and you use the direct offline processing, the file stay mono. Just saying.

Indeed. My offline processing is usually limited to “insert” type items; eq, compression, limiter etc… And even then very rarely.
If I were giving advise to a young person I would recommend avoiding “effects” in file based “offline processing”.
If you need a file with an effect baked in, better to bounce the track with the effect to a new track. Then hide the original if you want.