Helpful ReplyInterleave = Mono or Stereo - educate me

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pdarg
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2013/12/24 15:33:40 (permalink)

Interleave = Mono or Stereo - educate me

I'm not sure how to set this for mono tracks; Sonar seems to want to default this to Mono, but doesn't that affect the stereo processing of a mono track?
 
What's the purpose of setting interleave to mono when the mix is going out in stereo? Someone want to educate me?
 
Thanks!
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sharke
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Re: Interleave = Mono or Stereo - educate me 2013/12/24 15:59:26 (permalink)
The master bus is what goes out. It's a stereo mix containing the sum of all the tracks, whether they're stereo or mono. The way I look at it is that instruments in mono tracks have no width in the stereo field, you can pinpoint their location left to right, whereas instruments in stereo tracks can have width, from the pinpoint of mono tracks all the way to the full width of the stereo field.

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sharke
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Re: Interleave = Mono or Stereo - educate me 2013/12/24 16:02:57 (permalink)
So if it's a mono recording you'll want to make it a mono track, unless of course you're using a stereo effect like a ping pong delay.

James
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Re: Interleave = Mono or Stereo - educate me 2013/12/24 16:04:19 (permalink)
Set a mono track on mono interleave and put in a stereo reverb in the FX BIN and it will still come out in mono (for that track).
 
Cheers....
 

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pdarg
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Re: Interleave = Mono or Stereo - educate me 2013/12/24 16:10:12 (permalink)
Okay . . . more complex than I thought.
 
Hey Sharke - you ever record at SMASH STUDIOS in Manhattan? I was there last July!
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Re: Interleave = Mono or Stereo - educate me 2013/12/24 16:23:00 (permalink)
I have a lot of stereo efx on mono tracks, so I will have to pay attention to this.
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Re: Interleave = Mono or Stereo - educate me 2013/12/24 17:54:02 (permalink) ☄ Helpfulby René Torenstra 2013/12/24 21:09:17
Yeh, unfortunately it's more complicated than you might think. Any simple rule one might offer will always have at least one exception. Stereo effects on mono tracks, for example. Sometimes you really do want to do that.
 
But it's Christmas Eve and I'm blowing off work, so I'll take a stab at summarizing - bearing in mind that any of these statements can and do have exceptions.
 
1. If you're recording a mono source, set the initial interleave to mono and choose a mono input from your interface. Anything you put into a single microphone is mono and should be recorded mono: guitar cabinets, acoustic guitars, individual drum and percussion mikes, brass, woodwinds, violins, vocals. 
 
Note: M/S miking is not stereo, it's two mono tracks with mono interleave.
 
2. The output of every mono track will normally be routed to a stereo bus. This is not a conundrum, it's how it has always been. The single audio stream is simply split and sent to both sides of the stereo bus. The track's pan knob merely determines how much of the signal goes to the left side and how much goes to the right side.
 
3. You'll usually want to set the track interleave to stereo - even if it's mono data - if you want to insert stereo effects in that track's fx bin. If you're using only mono effects, this is neither necessary nor recommended. Whether this is truly necessary depends on the plugins being used, but it's best to assume a stereo interleave.
 
4. Don't use mono effects on stereo material, or on stereo busses. Some plugins handle this mismatch intelligently, but most do not. Typical symptom: a track doesn't pan the way it should.
 
5. Don't set the interleave to mono if the track data is stereo (you see two waveforms on the track). Better to convert the data to mono and then treat it like any other mono track.
 
6. Avoid mixing mono and stereo effects on the same track if you can. SONAR is smart enough to know about the inputs and outputs of each plugin and will create internal mono and/or stereo paths as needed. But you can't see this happening, so it can lead to confusion. More than one forum thread has started with "the pan knob is broken!". It's often a result of mixing mono and stereo effects.
 
7. It's not always obvious whether a plugin can or cannot handle mono inputs, or whether its output is mono or stereo. But this is crucial information that you have to know before inserting a plugin.
 
(Unfortunately, Plugin Manager will only tell you how many inputs there are, not whether its output is stereo. You can look in the VST Inventory in the registry to find out how many inputs and outputs a plugin has, but that's all - not how it behaves when the "wrong" data is fed into it. You just gotta know your tools, and if you're buying a new plugin every other day chances are you don't know any of them well enough, and should think about paring down your tool set.)
 
Take reverbs, for example. There are, AFAIK, no mono reverbs in the digital world. They can, however, accept mono input (some, like PerfectSpace, require setting a mono switch) -- but they almost always have stereo outs! (Part of the effect is to randomly spread your mono signal left-to-right to emulate natural reverberation.) That means any time you use a reverb as an insert effect on a mono track, you have just made your track stereo regardless of the original data.
 
Another example: amp sims are typically mono-only (like a real amp). Run a stereo source into an amp sim and you've just converted your data to mono. Another reason to record electric guitars in mono! As stated above, you should avoid using mono effects on stereo data, regardless of the interleave.
 
You can see how this can get very confusing if you have lots of insert effects on a track. The data might actually be switching between mono and stereo several times before it finally reaches the bus, and it's possible the end result will not be what you had in mind.
 
Oh boy, and I arrogantly thought I could keep this simple. Instead I barfed out a stream-of-consciousness brain dump. OK, try again...
 
1. Mono data -> mono effects = mono interleave
 
2. Mono data -> stereo effect = stereo interleave (most of the time)
 
3. Stereo data = stereo interleave = stereo effects ONLY
 
4. Stereo data + mono effects = avoid
 
Whew. Maybe I should have just gone to work instead. I am not gonna proofread this post, so you'll have to tell me which parts were gibberish.
 
Maligayang Pasko, everyone!


All else is in doubt, so this is the truth I cling to. 

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Re: Interleave = Mono or Stereo - educate me 2013/12/24 18:12:43 (permalink)
> You can look in the VST Inventory in the registry to find out how many inputs and outputs a plugin has
 
That's a cool tip thankyou!
[HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Cakewalk Music Software\SONAR Producer\Cakewalk VST X64\Inventory]
 

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Re: Interleave = Mono or Stereo - educate me 2013/12/24 20:40:14 (permalink)
bitflipper
That means any time you use a reverb as an insert effect on a mono track, you have just made your track stereo regardless of the original data.
 



Is this true? I always assumed that reverb on a mono track would just be in mono, i.e. no width. 

James
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Re: Interleave = Mono or Stereo - educate me 2013/12/24 20:48:53 (permalink)
Thanks, Bitflipper.
 
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Re: Interleave = Mono or Stereo - educate me 2013/12/24 20:49:34 (permalink)
?> Is this true? I always assumed that reverb on a mono track would just be in mono, i.e. no width. 
 
Set a mono track on mono interleave and put in a stereo reverb in the FX BIN and it will still come out in mono (for that track).
 
Set a mono track on stereo interleave and put in a stereo reverb in the FX BIN and it will come out in stereo (for that track).
post edited by CakeAlexS - 2013/12/24 21:06:35

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Re: Interleave = Mono or Stereo - educate me 2013/12/24 21:02:03 (permalink)
 
Thanks bitflipper, you just answered a bunch of outstanding questions I had lying around.  Great post.
 
Merry Christmas.
 

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Re: Interleave = Mono or Stereo - educate me 2013/12/25 09:49:46 (permalink)
Ok, thanks to this thread. I have a noob question. I'm using a third-party electric bass library (Shreddage Bass) in Kontakt, and I believe this bass only uses mono samples. In the screenshot below, you can see the bass module in Kontakt indicating stereo output meters, and this is because I'm using a stereo output in Kontakt's mixer. If fact, I only use stereo outputs in Kontakt whether the instruments are mono or stereo because Kontakt's output configuration in the mixer is somewhat confusing and not very convenient (for me). I hope there's nothing wrong with using a stereo output for a mono instrument like this if I'm not inserting any effect into the Kontakt's mixer. My question is, should I change the Interleave on Sonar's bass track to mono if I'm only inserting a mono effect into the track's effect bin? And, if it's not recommended to leave the interleave stereo, why is it not recommended? (I'm asking this because the other daw I use doesn't seem to have the interleave switch).
Also, why is Sonar still showing left and right meters after the Interleave is switched to mono?
 

 
Thanks
 

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Re: Interleave = Mono or Stereo - educate me 2013/12/25 11:15:15 (permalink)
Most Kontakt samples are stereo, even for monophonic instruments such as bass guitars. However, you can usually get away with selecting just one side of the stereo output as your track input. In the dropdown list in the track header, choose the first item, which will be the left side of Kontakt's channel 1 output. When you do so, SONAR will see that it's a mono source and automatically set the track interleave to mono. This works for any synth or sampler that normally outputs stereo, such as kick and snare drums.
 
Whether or not the samples are "really" stereo (versus the same data on both channels) depends on how the developer created them. If they were captured with two microphones originally, it's possible you might lose something significant by taking only one side. There's an easy test to find out: record the stereo sample, insert an instance of Channel Tools and flip the phase of one side (click one of the two phase buttons in the upper-left). Play it back and see if the track goes silent. If it does, then it's a true mono sample and you'll lose nothing by only recording the left side.


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Re: Interleave = Mono or Stereo - educate me 2013/12/25 11:31:01 (permalink)

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Re: Interleave = Mono or Stereo - educate me 2013/12/25 11:32:24 (permalink)
sharke
bitflipper
That means any time you use a reverb as an insert effect on a mono track, you have just made your track stereo regardless of the original data.
 



Is this true? I always assumed that reverb on a mono track would just be in mono, i.e. no width. 


Here's a simple test. Take a mono track, mono interleave. Insert an instance of Channel Tools and note that only one of the two phase switches is enabled. That's because CT knows it's mono data and is smart enough to automatically configure itself as a mono effect..
 
Now insert the Sonitus Reverb before Channel Tools. Watch the second phase button on CT become enabled as soon as you insert the reverb. CT has detected a stereo input and reconfigured itself accordingly.
 
If you're still not convinced, play back the track while toggling one of the phase buttons. With the phase reversed on one side, the low frequencies drop out as expected - but it doesn't go silent! If it were a true mono signal at this point, flipping the polarity would make the track go silent.


All else is in doubt, so this is the truth I cling to. 

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icontakt
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Re: Interleave = Mono or Stereo - educate me 2013/12/25 11:58:54 (permalink)
bitflipper
Most Kontakt samples are stereo, even for monophonic instruments such as bass guitars. However, you can usually get away with selecting just one side of the stereo output as your track input. In the dropdown list in the track header, choose the first item, which will be the left side of Kontakt's channel 1 output. When you do so, SONAR will see that it's a mono source and automatically set the track interleave to mono. This works for any synth or sampler that normally outputs stereo, such as kick and snare drums.
 
Whether or not the samples are "really" stereo (versus the same data on both channels) depends on how the developer created them. If they were captured with two microphones originally, it's possible you might lose something significant by taking only one side. There's an easy test to find out: record the stereo sample, insert an instance of Channel Tools and flip the phase of one side (click one of the two phase buttons in the upper-left). Play it back and see if the track goes silent. If it does, then it's a true mono sample and you'll lose nothing by only recording the left side.


 
Thanks. So, in the screenshot below, I chose the left channel from the track header's pull-down, and changed the Interleave to mono. Is this what you're recommending? (Btw, the meter in the mixer cannot show just one bar if it's mono?) 
 

 
I guess what I wanted to know was, why do you need to choose the mono channel and switch the track's interleave to mono if it's also OK to just leave it as a stereo track? What kind of problem does it cause if you insert a mono effect (mono compressor, etc.) into a stereo track? I mean, I prefer not to run a test to find out if it's truly stereo or just two monos every time I choose an instrument in Kontakt.
 
Thanks




Tak T.
 
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scook
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Re: Interleave = Mono or Stereo - educate me 2013/12/25 12:12:56 (permalink)
The meter shows two bars because the mono track is panned to the center.
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Re: Interleave = Mono or Stereo - educate me 2013/12/25 12:28:54 (permalink)
scook
The meter shows two bars because the mono track is panned to the center.


 
Thanks Scook. I guess my question was misleading. I wanted to mean the "one bar" by this: 
 

 
This makes it easier to identify if it's a mono track or not, but I guess it's not that important.

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Re: Interleave = Mono or Stereo - educate me 2013/12/25 12:30:46 (permalink)
> This makes it easier to identify if it's a mono track or not, but I guess it's not that important.
 
It's something I would like to see, could you do a feature request?

Thanks...

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Re: Interleave = Mono or Stereo - educate me 2013/12/25 12:31:51 (permalink)
Ah, ok, sure I will. :)

Tak T.
 
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Re: Interleave = Mono or Stereo - educate me 2013/12/25 12:35:19 (permalink)
bitflipper
sharke
bitflipper
That means any time you use a reverb as an insert effect on a mono track, you have just made your track stereo regardless of the original data.
 



Is this true? I always assumed that reverb on a mono track would just be in mono, i.e. no width. 


Here's a simple test. Take a mono track, mono interleave. Insert an instance of Channel Tools and note that only one of the two phase switches is enabled. That's because CT knows it's mono data and is smart enough to automatically configure itself as a mono effect..
 
Now insert the Sonitus Reverb before Channel Tools. Watch the second phase button on CT become enabled as soon as you insert the reverb. CT has detected a stereo input and reconfigured itself accordingly.
 
If you're still not convinced, play back the track while toggling one of the phase buttons. With the phase reversed on one side, the low frequencies drop out as expected - but it doesn't go silent! If it were a true mono signal at this point, flipping the polarity would make the track go silent.


 
This is interesting. I checked the definition of "stereophonic" (although just in a free online dictionary) and it indeed doesn't say anything about width. 

Tak T.
 
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scook
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Re: Interleave = Mono or Stereo - educate me 2013/12/25 12:39:59 (permalink)
Turn segmented meters off in Preferences > Customizations > Audio Meter
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Re: Interleave = Mono or Stereo - educate me 2013/12/25 12:45:45 (permalink)
scook
Turn segmented meters off in Preferences > Customizations > Audio Meter




Yup that's universal (either this or that) rather than a "per mono" basis.
I also don't see an option to manually set this per track or bus.
 
ta
post edited by CakeAlexS - 2013/12/25 12:51:56

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Re: Interleave = Mono or Stereo - educate me 2013/12/25 12:49:46 (permalink)
Will check the option tomorrow. Thanks. (Nearly 3 a.m. here. Off to bed...)

Tak T.
 
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DAW: SONAR Platinum x64 (latest update installed)
#25
scook
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Re: Interleave = Mono or Stereo - educate me 2013/12/25 12:52:08 (permalink)
CakeAlexS
scook
Turn segmented meters off in Preferences > Customizations > Audio Meter




Yup that's universal (either this or that) rather than a "per mono source" basis.
I also don't see an option to manually set this per track or bus.
 
ta


It has always been a global preference setting. I believe it is because the segmented meters rely on image files.
#26
Splat
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Re: Interleave = Mono or Stereo - educate me 2013/12/25 12:53:40 (permalink)
Well #15 was a bit of an eye opener for me....

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#27
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Re: Interleave = Mono or Stereo - educate me 2013/12/27 20:15:55 (permalink)
CakeAlexS
> This makes it easier to identify if it's a mono track or not, but I guess it's not that important.
 
It's something I would like to see, could you do a feature request?

Thanks...


 
I just realized that the single bar representation isn't good, because when the track is playing an audio clip, the track's audio meter should a stereo output (L+R), so there should be two bars (which is the case in Sonar). And when the track is panned, Sonar's meter shows the left/right volume balance correctly even when the Preferences > Customization > Audio Meter is turned off, and whether the two bars are separated or not isn't important, I think (hence no feature request). 
 

 
 
Strangely, it doesn't work like that in Studio One. Even when you pan the track, the meter is still showing just one bar as if it was an INPUT meter.
 

 

There's a button called Channel Mode on the strip (which only appears in the Inspector pane, though) that seems to do the same job as the Interleave button in Sonar. The meter shows two bars when this button is switched to stereo mode, but, strangely, both bars are still showing the same level even when the track is panned. I'll have to consult the S1 forum...
 


Tak T.
 
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DAW: SONAR Platinum x64 (latest update installed)
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