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

Fyi… recording a mono source through a mono bus to a stereo audio track does not duplicate the space on your hard drive. The file is mono. The same as if you recorded it on a mono track.

Regards. :sunglasses:

I use mono tracks for nearly everything because I mix in mono, with the benefit that file sizes are smaller when exporting to other applications.

Good for you. It still doesn’t change the fact that the resulting file is identical whether you record a mono bus to a stereo or mono track.

Just tested again - had not since Cubase 7(.5?). Same result. Unless things have changed from 9 -> 9.5 (I have yet to update), a mono bus assigned to a mono or stereo track results in the same file.

Here’s what I did - try it for yourself …

  1. Open a new, empty project
  2. Create a mono input bus (in my case, input 1 of my Focusrite Pro 40)
  3. Assign said bus as input to a newly created mono audio track
  4. Assign said bus as input to a newly created stereo audio track
  5. Record enable both tracks
  6. Press “Record” and proceed to bust out a few licks on your Squier mini-Strat (or, whatever … )
  7. Analyse and compare audio statistics (and identical file size) for each track
  8. Ask yourself “why have you been using mono tracks?”
  9. Carry on with life in a more open and energetic way, now that you have realized the truth

The other image …

You can send/return as mono or stereo (among others) from a stereo track.

That’s right. I was referring to the method described by Denis van der Velde, though.

Now I get it… Cool :wink:

Regards :sunglasses:

Great posts. Thanks :wink:

Regards :sunglasses:

Great that now everybody is on the same page… pfffffffffffffff

I guess none of you “stereo track for mono sources” folks are using outboard hardware via “external fx” inserts. If you were, then you’d know that only the left channel of your stereo track would be processed by your 1176 or Pultec or whatever other mono outboard you have. This means the resulting returned signal would be unusable and lopsided (because the right channel of your “stereo” track would not be processed). A workaround would be to route your “stereo” track (that’s really a mono source) to a mono group and insert the external fx plugin there. But that’s a lot of extra steps to make something that’s mono end up as … mono!

You got a point there, one reason I prefer mono sources on mono tracks.
I would personally be happy if there was a way to quickly change a track between mono and stereo.
And now we are talking about it, a much improved way of handling external fx.

Maybe this could help?

The information being shared here is completely wrong. Even though they will SOUND identical, processing VST plugin inserts on a STEREO audio track playing back MONO source clips will use signifigantly more DSP (~13%) than loading the same plugins on MONO audio tracks. Here is a link to an Imgur explaining why:

PROOF: Using STEREO TRACKS to play back and process MONO WAV CLIPS in Cubase 9 PRO wastes substantial DSP / CPU processing!

  • Added one MONO AUDIO TRACK and one STEREO AUDIO TRACK to an empty CUBASE 9 PRO project.

  • A single MONO wav clip was imported to each audio track respectively. Cubase allows MONO audio files to exist in STEREO TRACKS.

  • A single instance of “UAD Teletronix LA-2” was added to each audio track insert respectively. The exact same VST 2.4 plugin was used.

  • The plugins were both disabled, leaving the UAD DSP Processing meter at 0% for this snapshot.

  • In this snapshot, I have enabled the “UAD Teletronix LA-2” on the MONO AUDIO TRACK insert only. The result shows a reading of a single UAD DSP chip using about 17% to power the compressor plugin.

  • In this snapshot, I have enabled the “UAD Teletronix LA-2” on the STEREO AUDIO TRACK insert only. The result now shows a reading of a single UAD DSP chip using about 22.9% to power the same compressor plugin.

  • By running the SAME wav clip (MONO) with the SAME insert plugin on a STEREO AUDIO TRACK, we now have a 6% increase on the DSP demand of the project to playback the SAME processed audio.

  • Now I duplicate the MONO AUDIO TRACK nine times (with the UAD insert plugin enabled) to simulate the growing demands of a typical project.

  • The STEREO AUDIO TRACK was disabled temporarily so it would not affect the DSP score.

  • Running a total of 10 MONO AUDIO TRACKS playing back 10 MONO WAV clips with a single UAD Vst insert plugin (LA-2) on each track costs about 15% of the total UAD-2 processing I have available (at 128 samples).

  • Now I duplicate the STEREO AUDIO TRACK nine times (with the UAD insert plugin enabled) to simulate the growing demands of a typical project, but with the added carelessness of using STEREO AUDIO TRACKS (instead of the proper MONO AUDIO TRACKS) to playback and process MONO WAV clips in the timeline.

  • The MONO AUDIO TRACKS were disabled temporarily so it they would not affect the DSP score.

  • Running a total of 10 STEREO AUDIO TRACKS playing back 10 MONO WAV clips with a single UAD Vst insert plugin (LA-2) on each track now costs about 19% of the total UAD-2 DSP.

  • By using STEREO AUDIO TRACKS instead of MONO AUDIO TRACKS we caused a 4% increase on the load to the system (when using only 10 tracks with a single plugin instance)

  • However, considering the RATIO of that increase, we now know by using STEREO AUDIO TRACKS in place of MONO AUDIO TRACKS we lose 12.6% more DSP to processing qualifying MONO audio program material…

  • Moral of the story: USE MONO AUDIO TRACKS when arranging single-source MONO WAV clips in a stereo Cubase project… especially if your audio will require any realtime signal processing.

Your example uses plugins running on external DSP hardware (UAD), which has its own rules and distributes its particular DSP resources, so I’m not sure if it exactly fits what has been talked about here. It would be nice doing the same comparison but with native plugins, especially those that could benefit from being used in stereo instead of mono, such as reverbs or delays.

I did UAD plugs because it gives an easy meter with very specific DSP results. Way more difficult to track the native thread from a single instance of a plugin against the background process wave of activity constantly in the PID.

It comes down to the plugin itself (VST 2.4) knowing exactly whether it is being loaded as a mono or stereo plug… but it also doesn’t know when you are feeding it mono… to be more efficient, the plug isn’t “smart” it just chuggs away as if you have two unique channels for the sides, doing the same work you ask of it twice, and exactly the same each time… ending up with identical processed sound in each speaker, summed into what we know as MONAURAL sound. This isn’t just UAD… it’s definitely how the tech works. Not sure if VST3 is able to save processing power by being more intelligent. It doesn’t other things sneaky like that… who knows?

I have to pause for consideration as I have never, EVER, put time and space (stereo fx), nor any type of imaging chains directly onto a source playback channel… a.k.a. audio track. It seems like the perfect opportunity to do proper stereo management of your entire mix… L C R (m/s) into sub groups which always are STEREO groups. This is exactly why many famous types of processing plugs (waves verb, delays etc… typically stereo driven stuff) has a version of the plug named “mono/stereo”.

This is literally the version of the plugin that is DESIGNED to be placed on a STEREO GROUP FX Insert… but the plugin understands that you will be routing MONO program audio INTO the STEREO group e.g. a send from a MONO lead vocal for instance. As for flangers, and other types of sounds that imply a stereo field… it’s just as easy to produce the audio properly. have a C vocal and then maybe take the revoice doubles left and right and flange them instead of trying to direct process a SOLID lead intoa some kind of special effect… its kind of the reason we have stereo production in the track arrangement to begin with.

Also if you are just GOING to do this, waste your processor, and you just can’t live without stereo space delays directly on the inserts on your MONO tracked PBass, set your pan law to 0db.

FWIW… I always pan my bass and vocal audio tracks.

You do what you want I just explain why pan a bass track give not really a result :smiley:

Sorry if I offended you in some way. The only reason I commented on this was because I thought you were implying that bass tracks are not typically panned.

Regards :sunglasses:

It’s probably already been explained but just in case, it depends on what you are using as an FX. For example, if you use an amp sim with stereo stuff (reverb/room ambience/delay/etc) then you MUST use a stereo track or all the FX will be mono and sound funny. In this case you want a mono input to a stereo track (trickier in cubase than some other hosts)

This isn’t important if you are using mono recorded tracks and are having your stereo sounds with buses.

As far as the track itself being mono or stereo, I can’t comment. That seems to have a life of it’s own on here. (too complex for me)

Thank you very much, but it was a simple rhetoric question as in fact I knew that this assessment was completely wrong. In fact, this thread is plenty of confused and erroneous information, with the exception of some few posts, specially those of Valsolim.

Just imagine that you’re using analog gear, including tape and extract your own conclusions about using mono or stereo tracks.