Helpful ReplyVirtues of Mixing a Mono Track

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Johnbee58
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2018/11/08 13:55:41 (permalink)

Virtues of Mixing a Mono Track

I've heard a few people recommend doing a mix in mono.  I tried that.  What should I be looking for?  Should I still be able to hear everything on a mono mix as I can on a stereo one?  Should everything still be in balance?  Actually, I think the mono mix on my tune sounds a bit better than the stereo one, especially on the monitor speakers but use of the master buss compressor was a must for the mono mix.
 
Thoughts?
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dwardzala
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Re: Virtues of Mixing a Mono Track 2018/11/08 14:19:09 (permalink)
The theory behind mixing in mono is that if you can get good instrument separation without using the stereo spectrum, it will sound better when played in stereo and it will translate to mono systems also.

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Johnbee58
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Re: Virtues of Mixing a Mono Track 2018/11/08 14:30:58 (permalink)
dwardzala
The theory behind mixing in mono is that if you can get good instrument separation without using the stereo spectrum, it will sound better when played in stereo and it will translate to mono systems also.


I just listened to both mono and stereo mixes of one of my tunes.  The mono sound pretty good, actually a bit better than the stereo, but I find the strings should be boosted a bit and the bass should be cut a bit.  Should this be? Or should they be just as balanced on both mixes?


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Leadfoot
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Re: Virtues of Mixing a Mono Track 2018/11/08 16:39:51 (permalink)
Johnbee58
Or should they be just as balanced on both mixes?


That's the goal, ultimately. It's also valuable for making sure that tracks aren't out of phase. If you have a stereo track or tracks that are out of phase with each other, they will pretty much disappear when you listen in mono. I had an old track about 12 years ago in which I recorded over 10 different violin tracks, so it would be very full sounding. I panned them hard right and left. Welp, you guessed it, there were serious phase issues. When I listened in mono, you couldn't hear them at all.
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bitflipper
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Re: Virtues of Mixing a Mono Track 2018/11/08 16:55:00 (permalink) ☄ Helpfulby Wayfarer 2018/11/08 17:58:01
Comes down to how the human auditory system perceives and parses audio. That system is quite sophisticated, but all the sophistication is in your brain, not in your ears, and the brain can only process what it's handed. Your ability to differentiate between components in a mix depends solely on the only three factors your bio-hardware can report: amplitude, frequency and phase. Consequently, those are the only things we can work with in a mix in order to manipulate how the listener perceives it.
 
Take away stereo perception and you take away 33% of those variables, leaving only amplitude and frequency. It's a smaller palette, but think about what Picasso did with a limited palette. Lacking color contrast, he focused on the other elements to make compelling paintings. 

The point being that by concentrating your efforts on a smaller subset of variables, you make them more effective. This is where the concept of "if it sounds good in mono, it'll only sound better in stereo" comes from. All the things you do in mono are applicable to the stereo mix, even if the converse isn't necessarily true. 
 
Which is a longwinded way of answering your question regarding whether EQ should be tweaked specifically for mono. Most of the time, the answer is "no". If an EQ change helps the mono mix, it will probably also help your stereo mix. 
 
I say "probably" because there could be situations where the frequency spectrum can become unpleasantly unbalanced in stereo. For example, say you have a major component that lacks highs and is panned left, and another major component that's all highs and it's panned right. Now you have an uncomfortable imbalance that'll drive listeners nuts on headphones, but hadn't been a problem in mono. But that's not an EQ problem, it's a panning problem. Or perhaps an arrangement problem - maybe that tuba and piccolo duet wasn't such a great idea.
 
Sorry for the ramble. The caffeine is just starting to kick in this morning...
 
 


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Johnbee58
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Re: Virtues of Mixing a Mono Track 2018/11/08 18:49:56 (permalink)
Makes one wonder if it might be a better idea to first mix in mono to get it all balanced before hitting the pan pots.
 
JB

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Leadfoot
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Re: Virtues of Mixing a Mono Track 2018/11/08 21:00:41 (permalink)
Some people do just that. I believe Craig Anderton is one of them.
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dmbaer
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Re: Virtues of Mixing a Mono Track 2018/11/08 21:54:58 (permalink)
Johnbee58
Makes one wonder if it might be a better idea to first mix in mono to get it all balanced before hitting the pan pots.

 
It depends in large measure on your targeted audience and how/where they will hear your mix.  If your production is destined for a club PA system (or that of a supermarket or an airport), the mono-compatibility could be important.  If your listeners will primarily hear your mix on headphones/earbuds, then worrying about mono-compatibility is far less important and quite possibly not worth devoting time to that factor, IMO
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