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Always Mono The Low End?
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Trakworx
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20th May 2013
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Always Mono The Low End?

It has been asserted in another thread that professional MEs always mono the low end below around 120Hz.

Do any of you always mono the low end, even for digital or CD releases?

If so, below what frequency?

Thanks!
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never.
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This should really be handled as best as possible at mixing. With analog equipment, it is not suprising to have irregularities between channels. But using a crossover on the master only to sum the low bands is not good practice.
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I see no practical reason to mono the low end in mastering unless you're cutting lacquers and the bass has incoherent phase information causing tracking difficulties. But unless you're the one cutting lacquers, your usually just making assumptions, and shooting in the dark.

For CD and Internet releases, it serves no point, other than to destroy the mix.
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well , if you like your track be plaid in a club u r better off with mono sub info
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20th May 2013
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There's no hard set frequency to cut off. Below 120 or 90 or 60 or 40 or whatever, it varies from track to track. One trick you hear commonly in some styles of electronic music for example to use a slow phaser or flanger on the bassline to add movement and interest to an otherwise repetitive 1 bar loop. But by doing so you're potentially introducing a lot of stereo bass that won't translate well on speakers.

Ultimately the real question is - do you actually want to have deep sub bass moving in a stereo fashion?

For frequencies that are mostly directionless in the way our ears percieve them, it makes sense to take panning out of the equation and free up room for elements to move around the stereo field that will actually add something to the overall mix.

Using a gentle slope filter around the frequency where the bass information starts to lose much of its musicality and turns into just the "thud" of the track, to reduce stereo imaging and emphasise the mono, can increase the overall clarity and sense of depth in a track - especially in a highly compressed and limited mix.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AUDIOBOMBER View Post
well , if you like your track be plaid in a club u r better off with mono sub info
I agree subs sound better down the middle on a large system.

But that's something that should be handled in the mix. Doing it at the mastering stage can destroy important spatial information and warmth that may have been intentional.
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Only if I here problems down there will I try it. But I'll always make sure that it sounds better than bypassed.

When working with vinyl it might be a good idea to try it on the records that need to be loud...
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There's nothing I always do apart from listening to the mix.

Sometimes after listening to the mix I think making the LF mono might help.

Occasionally it does.
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I'm no veteran ME, I've mastered a few albums/EPs for various people, and have only done it once.

It's a case of try it out - if it sounds good, then do it. If it doesn't sound good, then don't. I tried it on every project, and only worked on one of them.
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Just mix it properly in the first place, most lower frequencies such as kick and bass should already be in mono.
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I think it's a pretty standard procedure when mastering EDM. At least it is for me.

Other than that; hardly ever need to do it.
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Thanks for the answers!

I agree with the general consensus that sometimes mono-ing the low end is helpful, and I only do it when appropriate, which isn't very often. I've only ever needed to do it a handful of times. Most mix engineers know how to mix for their intended playback environment, be it a club system or a consumer's turntable.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ben F View Post
Just mix it properly in the first place, most lower frequencies such as kick and bass should already be in mono.
Mix it properly? thats preference.

what if they are not centered in the mix? What is your approach?
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Originally Posted by Trakworx View Post
Thanks for the answers!

I agree with the general consensus that sometimes mono-ing the low end is helpful, and I only do it when appropriate, which isn't very often. I've only ever needed to do it a handful of times. Most mix engineers know how to mix for their intended playback environment, be it a club system or a consumer's turntable.
And when is it appropriate? Isn't that when the low end Isn't already mono?

The "Not very often" response could probably be because the mix already has the low end mono, right?
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Originally Posted by Nick Morris View Post
And when is it appropriate? Isn't that when the low end Isn't already mono?

The "Not very often" response could probably be because the mix already has the low end mono, right?
It's appropriate when the client wants loud vinyl or when playback in large club PA systems is important to the client.

Right. Usually, if it's appropriate, the mix engineer takes care of it so there's no reason for MEs to mono the low end of everything they encounter.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Trakworx View Post
It's appropriate when the client wants loud vinyl or when playback in large club PA systems is important to the client.

Right. Usually, if it's appropriate, the mix engineer takes care of it so there's no reason for MEs to mono the low end of everything they encounter.
This makes sense.

The MEs don't have to if all the mixes are already having mono sub lows.

I obviously leave it to my ME to check whats needed there. LOL
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Originally Posted by prog View Post
I think it's a pretty standard procedure when mastering EDM. At least it is for me.

Other than that; hardly ever need to do it.
It is not standard procedure.
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If there's significant stereo stuff going on in the lows and I think it might be problematic in certain scenarios then I will talk to the client about it.
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Low end of tracks aka drums and bass should be in mono, but seeing more stereo this weather, but the thing is to get a good foundation do mono on bass and drums.
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I often start a curve on mono in Sequoia with stereo synths that are either bass or low end. However I do advise against it if you do not have full range speakers/monitors and your acoustics in the room sorted. If you do though there is no question it can make a better master when cutting to vinyl as you can target individual problem areas.

My music is mostly techno music so low energy frequency content tends to be pretty strong so this may not be as important in other genres of music. But it is nice to go ok hey this moog bass line is not liking the 80Hz X-over point but is ok at 90Hz as an example.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by huejahfink View Post
If there's significant stereo stuff going on in the lows and I think it might be problematic in certain scenarios then I will talk to the client about it.
Good point.

I have never mono'd the lows without first discussing it with the client. Some clients have asked me to leave it alone, or to leave it to the cutting engineer.
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Originally Posted by huejahfink View Post
If there's significant stereo stuff going on in the lows and I think it might be problematic in certain scenarios then I will talk to the client about it.
This is exactly my approach. Unless it was creative decision, it should be addressed. It can cause problems in cutting lacquers, club sound systems, broadcast, etc. We're the final check, quality control, etc. The reason people come to us is usually to trust our ears, and our familiarity with our monitoring system. They want us to translate their creativity to listeners and identify any issues like this.

If someone can record and mix an entire project, there's a good chance they can clip an A/D converter, or bit torrent an Oxford limiter plugin. They're not spending their hard earned money to leave things alone, to not bring up topics based on technical morals, or to just make things loud.

It means a great deal when someone chooses you to work on their project. There needs to be open lines of communication about unintentional issues. It would be irresponsible as an ME not to bring this up, or just decide it's an issue you don't feel is your place to address.
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Originally Posted by Listening View Post
This is exactly my approach. Unless it was creative decision, it should be addressed. It can cause problems in cutting lacquers, club sound systems, broadcast, etc. We're the final check, quality control, etc. The reason people come to us is usually to trust our ears, and our familiarity with our monitoring system. They want us to translate their creativity to listeners and identify any issues like this.

If someone can record and mix an entire project, there's a good chance they can clip an A/D converter, or bit torrent an Oxford limiter plugin. They're not spending their hard earned money to leave things alone, to not bring up topics based on technical morals, or to just make things loud.

It means a great deal when someone chooses you to work on their project. There needs to be open lines of communication about unintentional issues. It would be irresponsible as an ME not to bring this up, or just decide it's an issue you don't feel is your place to address.
+1

You are the type of mastering engineer I always use.
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What mastering hardware will give you the option to mono your subs?
I know few in plugins.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WBM View Post
What mastering hardware will give you the option to mono your subs?
I know few in plugins.
An elliptical filter like the one found on a Maselec MTC-1
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What mastering hardware will give you the option to mono your subs?
I know few in plugins.
A high pass filter inserted on the side channel of a M/S network also works.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Trakworx View Post
A high pass filter inserted on the side channel of a M/S network also works.
The main difference between the EE on the Maselec and your technique is that the Maselec is actually summing the LF information rather than ditching whatever was in the sides.

Whether either is more effective is a matter of taste I suppose. I tend to prefer neither, in mastering.

Here's an old thread that talks a bit about it: Elliptical Filter Plugin
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Trakworx View Post
It has been asserted in another thread that professional MEs always mono the low end below around 120Hz.
Run away just as fast as you can from any mastering engineer who always does anything!
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