mono vs stereo tracks - any difference for a mono source?

I think every single user over here tried to explain you xx times, mono support on a vst plugin does not mean it works!
A reverb can do on a mono channel for instance only left channel and right nothing. Cubase works in stereo.
So the reverb processes the MONO as LEFT channel only, while hearing MONO channel left with Reverb and MONO right without reverb.
That is and can be the end result!

Even this user say you must test it, so it is not answered enough for you now ???

A quick and easy test to demonstrate to yourself a major difference between mono and stereo tracks:

Start with an empty project.

  1. Add one mono track and one stereo track to the same mono source. (A mic for instance)
  2. Insert the stock Cubase “Ping Pong” delay on both tracks. Select the “Lead Ping Pong Delay” preset for each instance.
  3. Monitor enable both tracks.
  4. Solo the Mono track and speak.
  5. Solo the Stereo track and speak.
  6. Nod head with understanding. :wink:
    Cubase Pro 9.5.21, Windows 7 64Bit

Thank you very much Mr. van der Velde for explaining to me the difference between a mono and a stereo track. After more than 40 years involved in music, I had not been able to figure out the difference :blush: . Too sophisticated for me. You are so kind!

Thanks for the Credit where the Credit is due…! :smiley: :smiley: :smiley: :smiley: :smiley: :smiley: :smiley: :smiley: Finally
Allways happy to explain a Junior Member how it is…

I suppose this statement of yours is actually what made the other member confused since you are not correct. The situation you have described is not going to happen. If a stereo-only reverb is inserted on a mono bus then the resulting signal - before entering the stereo masterbus - will be still in mono so you cannot hear the left channel processed and the right one not.

The situation you have described actually happens in the opposite case: when you have a mono-only plugin which has been inserted on a stereo bus.

Anyway, there’s no need to argue here.

Best regards


I started the topic linked below to discuss this subject a while ago. There are definitely differing opinions. Most differing opinions seem to point to a users workflow and purpose for using Cubase. But, no one has yet given me any really good reason for recording a mono audio source, connected to a correctly assigned mono bus to a mono audio track… for anything.

Because of this, I would venture to state that if Cubase didn’t even offer it’s current mono audio track option no one would miss it.

I would love to hear if my last statement is totally full of beans as my original purpose was to learn something about the mono audio track use. I don’t know if my topic in the Steinberg Lounge linked below is the place to discuss… or here. I suppose the mods will decide. :wink:

Regards :sunglasses:

I think that using only stereo tracks is okay - if you don’t mind the overhead associated with (sometimes unnecessary) two channels processing. What could be problematic is inserting a reverb directly on a stereo audio track since this method might bring unwanted issues with panning. In the extreme case, when you are going to pan an already reverbed track hard left on the mixconsole, you completely lose its presence in the right channel which definitely isn’t natural reverberation. That’s why it is advisable to use a separate group bus or FX track for stereo effects. Alternatively, you could insert a dedicated panning plugin before the reverb on the respective stereo audio track, however, manipulating the panner then becomes less intuitive. Those are the reasons why I preffer inserting dynamics and EQ processors on mono tracks and then connecting those mono tracks to stereo groups for reverbs etc.

Best regards


Thanks for your reply Miloslav :wink:

You can check this for yourself… I’ve done extensive tests and there is no CPU difference at all when playing back the same mono audio recording on either a mono or stereo audio track with the same insert (or inserts) applied.

The only difference is how Cubase processes an inserted stereo type of VST effect (like a reverb) during playback. It will not sound “correct” when playing on a mono audio track but it will sound good when played back on a stereo audio track. What I don’t know is if this phenomenon happens for “every” stereo type of VST effect. It does for every one I’ve tried.

Regards. :sunglasses:

I can’t see a disadvantage in using a stereo channel, if left and right are identical it will end up in the middle anyway.
And if not, you’ll end up with the advantage of a stereo channel, stereo spread.

Hello, Prock,

yes, I believe that you observation is true since some (maybe be the majority of?) stereo plugins work in stereo (i.e. they process both channels internally) regardless of the fact that they are actually inserted in a mono bus. But they are developers (e.g. MeldaProduction) who take care of optimization and whose plugins applied on a mono track effectively consume fewer resources.

Of course, you cannot achieve a stereo result on a mono bus. If you place a stereo plugin on a mono bus then the incoming signal is usually linked to its left channel only and its right channel processes just silence. However, the plugin output continues through the mono signal flow so you will not hear “reverb only on the left channel” as Denis van der Velde wrote. In fact, you will hear the processing applied on both the master bus channels but without any stereo spread (i.e. left and right signal will be identical).

Best regards


Yes, but you should bear in mind that the mixconsole panner is placed latest in the signal flow. Consequently, if you pan already reverbed channel hard left/right then you will actually lose any stereo spread.


In this case maybe Steinberg should add the option to pre/post-insert the channel panner. Otherwise as an insert, I much like the Alex Hilton A1StereoControl, especially with the “Safe Bass” function and Steinberg’s VST MultiPanner.

These discussions are good. :wink:

But, just to clarify…
I never said that you can achieve a stereo effect on a mono bus. What this discussion is about is if there are any benefits for recording your mono source (like a guitar or mic) through a mono bus onto a mono track… Ever.

I believe that some users do record to a mono track. Then they insert a stereo VST effect on that mono track (which would be inserted after the recording) expecting that it will sound correct. In fact, it does not. For it to sound correct you would have to move that mono recording to a stereo audio track or… just record the mono audio on a stereo track in the first place so that whatever VST effects are inserted sound correct.

Regards :sunglasses:

How dare you Miloslav, poor Junior Member, to correct an authentic Member who has written 37 posts more than you? How daring! :astonished:

In the end, it turns out that I was right in asking for clarification of such an absurd statement. I already knew it, but I was surprised that nobody reacted. :laughing: :laughing: :laughing: :laughing: :laughing: :laughing:

Fortunately in this forum there are many members, even Juniors, with high knowledge and great help.

  • Some stereo VST effects will not work properly when inserted on a mono audio track.

So, recoding a mono source such as a vocal into a stereo channel means you’re less likely to hit problems when possibly inserting stereo effects, such as track presets from Cubase where you’re not entirely sure what you’re getting.

But, if you’re wanting to pan your signal in an actual space itself, such as a reverb, you’re better of using a send fx.

What i’d like to know is, is there any audible difference between recording a mono source into a mono track vs a mono source into a stereo track, and, also is there any audible difference if you then setup a send and pan these sources into a stereo effect such as a reverb?

I can do some tests myself on this, but, not until tomorrow, so any insight to save me the time would be appreciated!

All i can say basically i record vocals in stereo into cubase even with a mono source.
I think i even use a plugin that is basically a mono to stereo convertor (think it is called mono check or something) on the record channel input.
What it does is i record in mono vocals with a mic, but the plugin on the input channel of cubase converts it directly to stereo.
I think the left channel is the mono mic, right channel is empty no signal.
The input channel is stereo and the plugin on it converts left to mono, so it writes actually Left to Left and Right while recording.
I will recall later what plugin i use… dont know right now…

Afther that i create a stereo track for this vocal and copy the stereo file from the input channel to that track.
So i can record vocals again on the input channel…


I have Kelly Industries Stereo Tools on the input channel of the mic in cubase. I set it on mono. Now it does not matter while recording, all is converted to a mono track on a stereo channel (left right are the same)…

Fyi… clarfying…
If you record a mono source (like a mic) through a mono bus (which you should), to a mono or stereo audio track, the resultant file is mono (exactly the same actually) and the dry recording sounds the same. Both l/r sides sound the same on either track.

It’s only after assigning a post recorded stereo insert on these tracks does the playback sound bad on a mono track.

Regards. :sunglasses:

So this is more profing wrong or right… i know better stuff… i do it my way and i know it works. Thanks for your tips…