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Mixing in Mono with two speakers?
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Saddle
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4th February 2013
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Mixing in Mono with two speakers?

I mix in mono at times to help me get a better mix. And I've recently read that mixing with Two speakers in mono is not the same a mixing with one speaker. Two speakers tend to create a 'phantom image' between the speakers.

So what about having two speakers side by side in mono? Like two small full range speakers, computer speakers, etc.? Would that do the same?

I'm just trying to figure out options and what speaker(s) to get and place on my desk.

Thanks for any input

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4th February 2013
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Or maybe just to have one speaker at the middle I've heard Alan Moulder does most of his mixing on single auratone at the middle
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Just unplug one speaker?
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Really? That sounds strange... No pun intended!
I always mix in double mono...
Never noticed a phantom image in the center...


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I just turn off one speaker. I can just turn my head if I want to hear that speaker head on, but I dont mind hearing it in mono and coming from one side.
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4th February 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Spede View Post
Or maybe just to have one speaker at the middle I've heard Alan Moulder does most of his mixing on single auratone at the middle
And that is the goal, to mimic a single speaker, in the center. I just wondered because it's easy to slide the two together in the middle.

Of course a single, by it's self is my other option, and probably the one I will take. Single mono, Computer speakers, and my mains.

Thanks,
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr. Tom View Post
Really? That sounds strange... No pun intended!
I always mix in double mono...
Never noticed a phantom image in the center...


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Tom
I just read that yesterday. Don't know where, but I thought here on gearslutz.

Phase difference from two speakers that are not perfectly matched, levels different with two vs one. Stuff I haven't had the pleasure of experiencing yet!

Now I'll have to go look again.

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The phantom image in the middle is what you get if you pan everything in the centre or listen in mono and that is how it should be. Think of voc in the middle -where else should you hear it. 5.1 surround for films is a different thing as it has a special centre channel,
usually for dialogue

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out of curiosity, why would someone want to mix in mono? is it strictly for mono compatibility? or does the type of song you are mixing call for it to all be in mono? do you still do panning in mono and adjust levels of panned tracks?
Sorry for seems like a stupid question, I am new to checking my mixes in mono on my Avantone, just curious.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mphazes View Post
out of curiosity, why would someone want to mix in mono? is it strictly for mono compatibility? or does the type of song you are mixing call for it to all be in mono? do you still do panning in mono and adjust levels of panned tracks?
Sorry for seems like a stupid question, I am new to checking my mixes in mono on my Avantone, just curious.
I can't speak for everyone, but here's an example of a situation where I'll mix mono:

Sometimes, if I want a ton of separation between parts, I'll mix in mono and achieve the separation through very heavy handed carving of competing frequency ranges (EQ) and dynamic ranges (compression). I'll do this in a much different way than I would with a stereo picture in mind. Once I have everything separated despite being panned center on all channels, I'll start panning each part to its respective location in the mix. Tends to create a ton of separation, which works great for some stuff, not so great for others. Basically, if they're separate when they're living on top of each other, they're REALLY separate when you pan them apart.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Saddle View Post
I mix in mono at times to help me get a better mix. And I've recently read that mixing with Two speakers in mono is not the same a mixing with one speaker.
It's the same. Don't worry and carry on mixing.
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My Trident Series 80 has a "mono" master switch that (when depressed) sends a multed mono signal to both L & R outs. I use this mostly with a pair of Auratones, and it works great.

I tried the single Auratone thingy in the center of my console bridge, and TBH there was virtually no difference compared to the pair of Auratones set at about 3 ft. apart from each other; definitely not enough of a difference to warrant reconnecting the second Auratone and moving the pair back in place every time I want to go back to normal stereo monitoring with them (which is also a VERY important way to use them IMAO).

IME the whole "mono" Auratone thing is a bit overrated; I sort of share Charles Dye's opinion on this. I mean, you should probably do it for every mix at least a few times as you are building it, especially if you are sensing masking problems -- for that it can be a game changer as it will force you to do RADICAL carving with EQ.

But once those issues are sorted out I have always found it pretty much useless when you are heading towards the finish line.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Saddle View Post
And that is the goal, to mimic a single speaker, in the center. I just wondered because it's easy to slide the two together in the middle.
I hit the mono button on the monitor controller and shut off one speaker. If you are listening in mono, it doesn't have to be in the center anymore.

The amount of time I spend listening in mono is not that much, so a dedicated speaker for this seems like a waste.
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Think about it from the other perspective ... if you were monitoring with just one speaker, how would you go about recreating the sound of a mono mix being played through two speakers? I would probably use a Haas delay at 50/50 mix to recreate the effect of that big ol' notch filter effect ... that should work ...

Would anyone really want to monitor a critical mix through a notch filter ... I wonder?
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This is one way to do it.

Make sure your DAW has gain compensation on for panning. Most have this by default.

Listen to both in mono mode and start the mix from there
(two monitors in mono mode has the advantage of less of a volume drop than when using only one speaker alone; doesn't detect anomalies as well)

When you've got your mix separated switch to stereo for pans and verbs, automation like cross fades etc

Switch back to mono mode after each of the above briefly for phase issues.


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Thanks everyone, you are giving me a lot to consider.

I gather then that checking in mono, rather one or two speakers, and on ALL your monitors at different times, to see how your mix is doing, check for separation in frequencies, depth for mono reverb, etc. should just be a standard part of your mixing.

I like the idea of starting with everything in the middle, in mono to get your initial frequency balance. I haven't done that yet. I usually pan everything then go back to mono, and back, to get things off to a start. Seems I have a new workflow to try out.

Thanks!
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I like hearing it from just one speaker, definitely.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mphazes View Post
out of curiosity, why would someone want to mix in mono? is it strictly for mono compatibility? or does the type of song you are mixing call for it to all be in mono? do you still do panning in mono and adjust levels of panned tracks?
Sorry for seems like a stupid question, I am new to checking my mixes in mono on my Avantone, just curious.
Well there could be many reasons to check your mix on various platforms and devices. Many folks rely on their car stereo since that is a major listening device of listeners. But there are quite a few that still own single speaker boom boxes and devices. Try listening to your mixes in mono once... if it sounds shitty, THAT is what they hear and prolly won't listen very long. Some frequencies need finer adjustment in mono. An example, you may believe the bass and beat to a recording is great on your pair of Adam monitors and really huge in your car stereo, but those bass and beats are making a mono boom box fart; it ruins the sound. So mixing in mono enables you to adjust certain frequencies differently than in stereo. Additionally, many vehicle stereos are adjusted to be near mono since they know the driver would ingest most of the song sound. Especially older vehicles with a speaker on the center dash.

A good mix is one that sounds great on all devices, whether stereo or mono. It would be wise to at least check it.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DarbyOhara View Post
Well there could be many reasons to check your mix on various platforms and devices....
A good mix is one that sounds great on all devices, whether stereo or mono. It would be wise to at least check it.
Another situation is that people may be hearing the mix in mono or near-mono, even if it being played on a stereo system. For example, they may be positioned behind the speakers or in the next room.

In fact, a "next room" check on your mixes should be added to the mono check. It's amazing what can pop out at you that you did not hear for 3 hours with your face in the speaker!
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5th February 2013
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awesome tips! thanks! Actually read the section in "mixing with your mind" about mixing in mono a day after I asked about it, makes a heap of sense
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Quote:
Originally Posted by joeq View Post
In fact, a "next room" check on your mixes should be added to the mono check. It's amazing what can pop out at you that you did not hear for 3 hours with your face in the speaker!
Yep, the "standing behind the half opened door in the next room" test may actually be one of the most important monitoring positions for hearing the BIG PICTURE.

In other words, if the main vocal isn't speaking to you in the next room, and if the the primary featured instruments seem blurred, then you still have some major work to do.

For me I find that NS10s, Auratones, and the Sony SRS-88s pretty much cover all the bases and force you to shape a mix that translates beautifully across the board in the consumer domain.

I mean, the SRS 88s sound like mono whether the console "mono" button is engaged or not -- they are absolutely BRUTAL towards an anemic, ill defined mix ! Horrortones sound like big slutty Lipsinkis compared to them.

Oh yeah, and don't forget the all important internal PC speaker test. Ya know, that little shitty speaker the size of a quarter inside your PC. That may actually be the most important (and brutal) test of all; if it translates well there, then you DEFINITELY have a good mix !

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In my own experience:

1) listening to one-speaker mono is different than two-speaker mono (each speaker activates unique combinations of modes in the acoustic space, and the two together yield a 3rd unique set of modes)

2) listening off to the side or from another room is not the same as monitoring in mono. This is easily confirmed by going into the next room and having somebody hit the mono button... even from 20 feet away thru an open door, you'll hear the difference in the mix as the balances change radically.


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Lots of people go with one single Avantone Mixcube (since they can't find or afford an Auratone 5C) and put it in the middle. If I had the money and mojo I'd get one, too.

Turning one speaker off might work, but like one other person noted, using two in mono shouldn't do anything too tricky unless your speakers are poorly matched. Shouldn't be the case if you have decent monitors.

Either way, listening through one speaker can be practical for other reasons, too. Overall volume will drop and music will seem more directional, which is how it might be when you walk into a store and it's playing through the crappy ceiling speakers for example. In other words, it still might be a good test to see how your mix translates to real world.
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If you are working in the DAW the differance will be less noticeable, as you will be in the sweet spot, but if you are down one end of the console and are listening to two speakers in mono you will notice phase issues.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mphazes View Post
do you still do panning in mono and adjust levels of panned tracks?
You do realise what you just said, right?
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Saddle View Post
I mix in mono at times to help me get a better mix. And I've recently read that mixing with Two speakers in mono is not the same a mixing with one speaker. Two speakers tend to create a 'phantom image' between the speakers.
Listening mono with two speakers causes comb filtering around 3K depending on the distance of your ears and angle of your speakers. Not the case with a single speaker. That's why e.g. a centered panned (mono) vocal sounds different on a stereo playback than on a mono speaker.

A phantom image simply means that centered panned element like vocals, lead instruments, bass, bass-drum, snare, ... on a stereo playback appears in the middle between the two stereo speakers although there is actually no speaker (in the middle).
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tomtomtom1230 View Post
You do realise what you just said, right?
yeah stupid question after reading it back, forgive me oh great gearslut.
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Originally Posted by mphazes View Post
yeah stupid question after reading it back, forgive me oh great gearslut.
Not really stupid, it is indeed a technique to make panning decisions, leveling and eq in mono.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hans_beiger View Post
Not really stupid, it is indeed a technique to make panning decisions, leveling and eq in mono.
Yep! Try the following:
Start with your stereo OHs panned and your mono hihat centered. Your balance should already be near perfect.
Switch monitoring to mono (preferably 1 spkr.).
Start panning the hihat around. There will be one spot where your hihat will sound like it belongs there and nowhere else.
Switch back to stereo.
Now,how's that sound?
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you guys complicate things unnecessary

to all practical intents and purposes, when both speakers are playing mono IT IS mono.

no production decision will be different because it is listened on two instead of one speaker, or if the speaker arrangement, modes etc is different.
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