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Why check your mix in mono?
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davemccall
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3rd March 2012
Old 3rd March 2012
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Why check your mix in mono?

I took it for granted that you always check your mix in mono.

Then I was watching a Pensado's Place podcast and he really derided that idea... he said that we should punish the people still listening in mono (that seems a bit extreme to me, but you get his point... you wouldn't want bands bringing in floppy and zip discs to take their mixes home on).

Can you get wider, deeper mixes if you totally ignore mono while mixing? Or do you just save the time you would normally spend tweaking the mono mix?

Is there really a good reason anymore to keep mono playback in mind?

I was thinking about it and the ONLY mono playback source I have is my phone's internal speaker... and who ever listens to music on that?
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3rd March 2012
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Think globally - not everyone is high tech... Millions of mono TVs, PA systems in grocery stores, portable radios...
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3rd March 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by davemccall View Post
Can you get wider, deeper mixes if you totally ignore mono while mixing? Or do you just save the time you would normally spend tweaking the mono mix?
The one thing I can think of is a car stereo, fm radio (rarely listen to) has a little stereo indicator. As I go slightly in and out of the optimal range of the station the program alternates in and out of stereo.
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There is at least 1 another obvious reason: most people don't (want to) sit exactly in a 60degr angle with the speakers when they listen to their favourite song or just a song. When you're in a car, shop, stadium, club, bar etc, most probably you'll hear most sound coming from 1 speaker.
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3rd March 2012
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Playback in places like stadiums, stores, etc, don't really count as no one is listening or caring.

I'm with Dave on this and have been hammered for that opinion for over a decade. Once you realize AM, FM, TV, boom boxes and Ipods are all stereo, what's left?

13" TV's in third world countries.

Personally, I don't mix for the third world. They don't buy the products I'm selling. I sell stereo, go buy one if you want to hear it.
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3rd March 2012
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If you have phase-shift issues, you will here it straight away when listening in mono. I mostly listen very soft in mono at the end of a mix. It is very easy to check levels, things that you don't hear on your big speakers in stereo. Things like the Hihat beeing a tick too dominant ...
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What music_herby said, time honored technique for identifying phase issues. I've seen it posted here also that a few like to assemble their mixes in mono and finish them in stereo. Never tried it, but I might one day soon.
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3rd March 2012
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+1 for checking phase issues in mono, it's a must.

but +5 for not worrying about what the mix sounds like in mono. UNLESS you specifically mixing for a medium that utilizes mono. I notice that A LOT of TV on the web is mono.
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3rd March 2012
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For me, checking a mix in ONE SPEAKER mono is just about getting another perspectiv but of course I will always make the final decisions in stereo.

Folks are getting to riled up about this, there is no right way and while checking in mono might not work for Dave Pensando, it does work for me.

And for me it's a much as using a bass-'challenged' speaker à la Aura-/Avant-/Behritone as it is about mono. Basically you create a severe bottleneck and check it things still translate i.e if the mix still feels right even when the details are brutally strangled.

Another reason for me is that I really like the 'Electric Ladyland'-type of panning in stereo where you are not afraid to really spread things out and have elements of the mix in motion. Checking in mono is a good way to get another perspective and hear phase issues.

And I really think that the quality of consumer playback systems are at an all-time low. I'm regularily amused by hearing teenagers play each other tracks (or rather SNIPPETS of tracks) on trains or buses on their smartphones. NO BASS at all and of course most of it is hip-hop.....It's pretty unbelievable really.

So should hip-hop and dance mixers forget about checking their low end just because a lot of folks don't even care for it?
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3rd March 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Williams View Post
Personally, I don't mix for the third world. They don't buy the products I'm selling. I sell stereo, go buy one if you want to hear it.
What an idiotic statement!
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Williams View Post
Playback in places like stadiums, stores, etc, don't really count as no one is listening or caring.

I'm with Dave on this and have been hammered for that opinion for over a decade. Once you realize AM, FM, TV, boom boxes and Ipods are all stereo, what's left?

13" TV's in third world countries.

Personally, I don't mix for the third world. They don't buy the products I'm selling. I sell stereo, go buy one if you want to hear it.
Pathetic- narrow minded statements. The "third world" probably doesn't want your mixes anyway.
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My alarm clock, which wakes me up every morning, is in mono.

It's set to a rock "mix" station and you can certainly tell (usually the new stuff) that has no regard for mono vs. listening to tracks from the 60s and 70s where mono was still dominant.
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I am not going to go into checking your mix in mono for any reason involving checking your actual stereo mix. I will say, I don't see any reason, what so ever, to make sure your mixing translates to mono for any practical reasons. Any modern playback system that is mono is likely so poor in quality that you likely won't hear a giant gain in quality pre and post mix anyway. That may be overstated but nobody is expecting these systems to sound good.


If anything, I think the major thing you need to worry about from a translation point of view is the vast differences of the quality of playback from modern systems. Headphones really suck more and more as they have become a fashion accessory. Cheap consumer speakers (small 2.1 systems) often can be incredibly hyped in one or more area of the frequency spectrum but don't seem to follow any pattern. Also, many people use a TV for everything, now that Blu Ray/DVD players have Youtube, Pandora, etc.

With people my age (late 20's), I rarely find people who have a home playback system that has a woofer over about 1 or 2 in at biggest. Car speakers are bigger but stock car speakers are rarely better than terrible. But, the people who have a great playback, both car and home, expect things to sound great on their high buck system so it can't be ignored either.
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3rd March 2012
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Pensado did NOT say mono is useless...just that he does not rate it anymore.
And to be honest...i feel that is only because he has done hundreds of records.
so for him...life is too short and he is confident in his sterio..

I have a mono Avantone set up ( a nice new black one!!)....and as soon as i switch to it....i know it was a good idea.
My drums are nearly always top prominent...and when i flip back to nearfields...i am pleased i checked.
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3rd March 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by doorknocker View Post
What an idiotic statement!
It's still true, even if it offends your sense of right/wrong.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Williams View Post
It's still true, even if it offends your sense of right/wrong.
It doesn't offend me, it saddens me.
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Ii do it to make sure all instruments can be heard and dont collide at certain frequencies, then adjust as needed. But i dont mix in mono, just use it for referencing.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by doorknocker View Post
What an idiotic statement!
Personally I don't trash what Jim Williams says PERIOD...This man has paid his dues and is quite respected.

He's telling the truth.

Me coming from a large professional post-production background have the hardest time with foreign, mostly "third-worldy" tracks that come through. Countries like that don't care about quality a lot of times. Just listen to a dub for a newer movie in B-Port, then you've see how a lot of times it's set it and forget it for them.

If the mix doesn't sound great in mono for them, well, too bad.
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I'd venture to say that 75% or more of iPod dock players, radios, and boom boxes are single speaker systems. These systems make up a rather large percentage of what people are listening on wouldn't you say? Not to mention potential crosstalk on cheap stereos, and headphones.
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It's especially wise to consider mono compatibility if you intend to release things on records.
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I'm actually quite shocked at what I've read here, I am always switching the mono button in on a console whilst mixing, checking in mono shows many issues you can easily overlook with stereo, but to me the most important; if you can make your mixes rock in mono, its all gravy when you switch that button back out again.
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Tons and tons of kitchen radios and alarm clock radios only have one speaker. Lots of TVs have one speaker. The little battery powered speakers that kids plug into their phones that annoy the hell out of people on public transport - one speaker. Music in nightclubs - always mono. Not to mention shopping mall systems, where everything is routed to mono too. Elevators. Customer service on hold music. I'm sure there are many many more examples. Whoever says mono compatibility is not important is just plain wrong. And what's this 3rd world nonsense about?
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jolly Jimmy View Post
...The little battery powered speakers that kids plug into their phones that annoy the hell out of people on public transport - one speaker...
Haha,

I was just about to comment on this. It seems we were doing a good job moving away from mono until these obnoxious little speaker incarnations




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3rd March 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gravyface View Post
It's set to a rock "mix" station and you can certainly tell (usually the new stuff) that has no regard for mono vs. listening to tracks from the 60s and 70s where mono was still dominant.
I have a Tivoli mono radio in the kitchen and it's amazing how much bigger and punchier a lot of older tracks sound. Say some old Motown stuff usually is HUGE.

I've said it before, listen to 'Thriller' or 'Aja' in mono and NOTHING gets lost, it sounds absolutely great.

It doesn't matter whether a mixer did actually check in mono or not, I just think it's important that a mix still sounds good in mono.

And yes, when I bought my iPad2 I was surprised that it only has one 'speaker'.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Williams View Post
Personally, I don't mix for the third world. They don't buy the products I'm selling. I sell stereo, go buy one if you want to hear it.
Do you have any idea how obnoxious that sounds ?

Fool.
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we have two ears that give us so much information regarding the sound source.
Where it is coming, how far is it, balancing, and etc. Seriously, if you do slow stereo motion of a sound, it can give same dizziness as people turn around like a kid.

The truth is, weather the sound source is mono or stereo, we hear it with two ears (stereo) that happens to be exact same location and distance.

Therefore, I still check my mixes in mono just to make sure it sounds pleasing to anyone in any given situations.
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anyhow...everything i listen to on line is mono here as i personally use a single Tivoli audio radio Aux in as my speaker.

This speaker is fantastic for this function....

So i for one..still admire mixes that work well in mono.....and so many seem not to...
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I think any phase issues must be taking care of in the mixing stage, because there is just so little the ME can do to correct it. If the music is to be used on TV and radio you don’t have to worry too much about mono, but if the mix is to be used in dance clubs and stadiums, I do believe mono is very important just because many dance clubs don’t care much about stereo. Waves have just released a new plug in to help correct phase cancellation check it out.




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4th March 2012
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Listening in mono is probably the easiest way to hear phase problems.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Terce View Post
Listening in mono is probably the easiest way to hear phase problems.
Well said, and the whole reason that you "check" your mix in mono, if for no other reason. It really has nothing to do with actually mixing for mono, just looking for that all important phase cancellation.

Now if you are the only person listening to your music on your set of el cheapo sound blaster 2.1 channel stereo speakers at your "other" computer, then don't worry about it. Most of the people on this board though, don't have a studio/home studio just so they can do that.

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