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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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.
 
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Re: Virtues of Mixing a Mono Track 2018/11/08 21:00:41 (permalink) ☄ Helpfulby jude77 2018/11/13 17:20:06
Some people do just that. I believe Craig Anderton is one of them.
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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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Re: Virtues of Mixing a Mono Track 2018/11/13 16:29:42 (permalink) ☄ Helpfulby jude77 2018/11/13 17:20:58
So what I do, and its based on what other mixers say they do, is this:
Get a basic static mix in stereo - kind of a "gut mix", no plug-ins just faders and pan knobs
Switch to mono and use EQ and compression to get better definition of each instrument (if I am going to use mix buss processing I add it at this point).
Switch back to stereo to add effects and automation and then address "problems"
 
I will do mono checks after I switch back to stereo.
 
The theory is that a good sounding mix in mono will sound even better when its put back into stereo (and that has been my experience.)

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jude77
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Re: Virtues of Mixing a Mono Track 2018/11/13 17:22:15 (permalink)
bitflipper
Or perhaps an arrangement problem - maybe that tuba and piccolo duet wasn't such a great idea.



And I worked so hard in it.  Dang.

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batsbrew
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Re: Virtues of Mixing a Mono Track 2018/11/13 17:31:20 (permalink)
i don't know anyone that listens to music in mono.
 

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davdud101
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Re: Virtues of Mixing a Mono Track 2018/11/13 19:02:12 (permalink)
I love mono mixing. It gives a strong sense for how well my mixes translate to open-air playback (since I mix a lot in cans)

I've also experienced that working in mono can help with editing when two similar-but-distinct stereo tracks are played at the same spot in the stereo field and then you can really hear if they actually conflict timing or pitch-wise, for example.

The best mixes I've heard almost feel stereo when put in mono because they're so well-mixed... just so deep and alive!!

 
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batsbrew
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Re: Virtues of Mixing a Mono Track 2018/11/13 22:21:42 (permalink)
yea, checking in mono.
 
mixing, no.
 

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Chandler
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Re: Virtues of Mixing a Mono Track 2018/11/14 02:03:17 (permalink)
It’s usually used because you can hear problems more easily. Its also helpful to know if your mix sounds good in mono. Mono listening is more common than you might think. Phones and tablets are usually mono, so if your vocal drops out when someone is showing their friend on their iPad that isn’t ideal.

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davdud101
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Re: Virtues of Mixing a Mono Track 2018/11/14 15:29:23 (permalink)
batsbrew
yea, checking in mono.
 
mixing, no.
 


Different strokes for different folks I suppose

I personally never do extensive multi-hour mixing in mono, but every once in a while especially when setting EQs and deciding on effects that are very L/R-critical like delays, wideners, etc. I like to see if they still translate well volume-wise in mixes.

Sure, not many listen in mono, but plenty of folks like to show people demo mixes on our phones or with mono or narrow stereo speakers where knowing how it sounds in mono would help

 
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batsbrew
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Re: Virtues of Mixing a Mono Track 2018/11/14 16:13:51 (permalink)
davdud101

Sure, not many listen in mono, but plenty of folks like to show people demo mixes on our phones or with mono or narrow stereo speakers where knowing how it sounds in mono would help



i would surely never bother mixing a song with the intent of someone listening on phones!
hehh
you can't make any serious decisions listening on a playback system like that,
so why focus on it?
 

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davdud101
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Re: Virtues of Mixing a Mono Track 2018/11/14 23:57:08 (permalink)
batsbrew
davdud101

Sure, not many listen in mono, but plenty of folks like to show people demo mixes on our phones or with mono or narrow stereo speakers where knowing how it sounds in mono would help



i would surely never bother mixing a song with the intent of someone listening on phones!
hehh
you can't make any serious decisions listening on a playback system like that,
so why focus on it?
 

 
 I just mean more as far as showing people songs I'm working on
But you do check your stuff in mono I guess bats? I don't mean sitting down for a serious mixing session purely focusing on making it sound good for a phone, no way, that'd be a waste of time
But since I don't carry around great speakers or have such a good one in my car for example sometime I like to show stuff just by playing back real quick on my phone.
 
 
 
On the other hand I still can attest to that taking 5 or 10 minutes while mixing to get rid of any EQ and stereo image-issues in mono has ALWAYS helped my mixes sound clearer, tighter, and more spacious - without fail! 
 
I think we're talking about the same thing but describing it differently 

 
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batsbrew
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Re: Virtues of Mixing a Mono Track 2018/11/15 16:30:08 (permalink)
davdud101
 
I think we're talking about the same thing but describing it differently 




DAVDUD,
yea, same thing, different descriptions....
 
the title of the post says "mixing a mono track"
 
so my comments are strictly in reply to the OP.
 
 
i always check every mix i do in mono.
i even have a single speaker that i play it thru, to facilitate figuring out translation problems.
 
i have several elements in every single mix, that are mono tracks panned straight up,
effectively mono:
lead vox, bass, kick, snare, mono reverbs.
 
 

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Lynn
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Re: Virtues of Mixing a Mono Track 2018/11/18 16:54:56 (permalink)
I realize most people don't listen in mono unless it's an accident.  Such as;  listening to a mix in a different room or listening from a distance.  Then all the elements in a mix narrow until stereo separation is impossible to discern.  Like Bat, I have an old Auratone speaker that I listen to in mono which emulates a mono radio quite well.  I have my main monitors in the center of my room, so one trick I use is to stand behind them and listen in stereo.  This helps to pick out parts that don't sound quite the same when listening direct, as well as hearing volume levels between parts.
 
It's funny, but people of different ages listen on different monitors.  I perceive that older people listen on speakers, while younger people listen on ear buds more often.  I use Mixchecker Pro for monitoring emulations of cellphones, pads, and laptops.  It helps a great deal.  In case anyone wonders if a mix can sound good in all situations, try most Steely Dan recordings on any monitor, and you'll be amazed at their consistency.  John, overall, you're mixing has increasingly improved in the time I've known you.  Keep asking good questions!  
 





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Re: Virtues of Mixing a Mono Track 2018/11/18 16:59:41 (permalink)
Lynn
I realize most people don't listen in mono unless it's an accident.  Such as;  listening to a mix in a different room or listening from a distance. 






or listening through a phone's in-built speaker
 
my teenage kids' most common method i reckon
 

just a sec

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Re: Virtues of Mixing a Mono Track 2018/11/18 17:15:10 (permalink)
pwalpwal
Lynn
I realize most people don't listen in mono unless it's an accident.  Such as;  listening to a mix in a different room or listening from a distance. 






or listening through a phone's in-built speaker
 
my teenage kids' most common method i reckon
 


It's funny, when I was growing up, the bigger the playback system, the better.  Now, it's miniaturization with both listening and viewing.  I suspect this will aid in the evolution of human ears and eyes ;)

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Re: Virtues of Mixing a Mono Track 2018/11/18 22:27:31 (permalink)
LynnI have my main monitors in the center of my room, so one trick I use is to stand behind them and listen in stereo.  This helps to pick out parts that don't sound quite the same when listening direct, as well as hearing volume levels between parts.
 


Walking into a different room and leaving the doors open can be a useful way to hear how a mix sounds when not hearing it directly as well.

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Re: Virtues of Mixing a Mono Track 2018/11/18 22:30:46 (permalink)
batsbrew
i would surely never bother mixing a song with the intent of someone listening on phones!
hehh
you can't make any serious decisions listening on a playback system like that,
so why focus on it? 


Some “audiophiles” regard headphones as the “purest” and only truly acceptable way to listen to recorded music. They often seem to be under the impression that’s how mixes and mastering are done.....

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dwardzala
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Re: Virtues of Mixing a Mono Track 2018/11/19 14:12:28 (permalink)
batsbrew
i don't know anyone that listens to music in mono.
 


I think you'd be surprised.  Apart from the ambient sound I might hear in a restaurant or retail environment, I will listen to streamed music on a TV or from my laptop speakers which are really mono sources.  I suspect a lot of other people do too.




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Re: Virtues of Mixing a Mono Track 2018/11/19 20:48:22 (permalink)
tlw
Some “audiophiles” regard headphones as the “purest” and only truly acceptable way to listen to recorded music. They often seem to be under the impression that’s how mixes and mastering are done.....



then, they would not be audiophiles!


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Johnbee58
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Re: Virtues of Mixing a Mono Track 2018/11/20 10:57:58 (permalink)
Lynn
 
 
It's funny, but people of different ages listen on different monitors.  I perceive that older people listen on speakers, while younger people listen on ear buds more often.   
 


That might be the case, but I'm 63 and music sounds best to me on headphones/buds.  I think with older people it becomes harder to wear those things or have something around their heads for an extended period of time.


JB





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