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Snare, Kick, Bass: Stereo or Mono?
Old 20th December 2010
Here for the gear

Snare, Kick, Bass: Stereo or Mono?

Hello all,

This is a newbie question about using kick or snare sounds in stereo or mono. I know that there are no real rules, but it would be nice to hear about how some of you approach this.

In general, would you use kick/snare sounds in stereo if you wanted more width to its sound in the mix? And use mono for a more focused sound?

How about bass lines? There are a lot of bass synth patches that utilize stereo effects.

Appreciate any tips or insights! heh
Old 20th December 2010
Gear Maniac
DamZ's Avatar
usually key-sounds have to be placed in the center to force the mono compatibility. however, having i.e. the kick drum going out a mono channel, u could create a send such as i think u already do for reverbs.
I do almost always this: mono dry channel and a stereo one for the effects related to it.
Old 20th December 2010
Lives for gear
Stoneface's Avatar

I always work with individual drum hits as mono files. Don't see much point in having stereo kicks, snares and hats. Overhead mics would be the exception.

Bass lines as well. A synth bass may have stereo effects on it, but I will usually track it dry and save effects for a good mix engineer.
Old 20th December 2010
Lives for gear
illacov's Avatar

Kick, snare and bassline mono.

Sounds great.

Can it be done differently, of course.

I'm always willing to try different things. I hate stereo overheads on drums but I do it if thats what people want.

Mind you if the drummer or bassist suck then it wont matter how you arrange your stereo field. It will just sound like ass on both sides of your control room

Old 20th December 2010
Lives for gear
phillysoulman's Avatar

Old 20th December 2010
Kicks & bassline -> mono.

SD's are most often on a stereo channel. I like them with a stereo effect (the layers are panned slightly against each other and light stereo reverb or plate).

Hats go on a stereo bus.. I seldom use only one hat so the several hats (2 - 3) get their place in the stereo panorama.

Percussion sounds also go on a stereo bus (same reason as with the hats).

A little stereo field for the drums (mid to high frequency spectrum) does wonders imho.
Old 20th December 2010
Lives for gear
Generally speaking kick and snare almost always mono, but there are exceptions. Basslines are also mono, but I'll go stereo on them a little more often than say with kick/snare. It really just depends on the situation and the emotional effect you are trying to create.

If you do go stereo with any of those three instruments, you have to be VERY careful about mono compatibility. It's not like some piano part where if it drops a bit in mono it's not a big deal. If your kick drops noticeably, or snare or bassline, you've got a big problem. It's not just for mono playback systems - as you move farther away from a stereo playback system it will start to collapse into mono with the acoustics of the room playing a more dominant role in the perception of stereo.
Old 21st December 2010
Mono. Almost always.

Some drums have some stereo content, but in hip hop I'll often just fold that down (as long as there aren't phase issues). Synth bass occasionally has some stereo movement, but in those cases I'll often mult the track and let the low end live in the middle, with a HPF'd thing happening to fill out the sides.

There's plenty of exceptions, though, so take it with a grain.
Old 21st December 2010
Gear Head

I'd say it'd depend on the sample library you have and if you're blending stereo room or o/h samples in with the direct sound. Real drums always mono kick and snare. Bass would depend on whether it is recorded with stereo effects or not.
Old 21st December 2010
Lives for gear

mono, like 99% of the times.
Old 21st December 2010
Snare, Kick, Bass: Stereo or Mono?

Play "stereo" sample in question in loop mode. Close eyes and listen while flipping CR monitoring between mono-stereo.
Any stereo image loss when monitoring in mono?
No,'s mono. Yes, it's stereo.
*headphones help

"but what if I only have one speaker or worse...have no speakers and can't do that?!?"

Look record/import sample into daw. Zoom in on waveform. Is there a visual difference between L & R?
If the waves share the same exact movement, mono. Different, stereo.

Personally I split to mono and choose a side rather than summing the 2.
Old 21st December 2010
Lives for gear
Dayl's Avatar
Mono has always worked best for me.
Old 21st December 2010
i have been hearing a lot of stereo snare and sometimes kick esp. in dubstep where it's almost the latest production trick besides overcompression to make that "pro" sound. given the genre is pretty much entirely perc and synth, i'd have a hard time fitting anything else in there.

from a traditional POV, the kick and snare is mono or center, there might be a little pan in the hat or toms or any other perc. and most synths just sound better stereo, with the chorusing. and i suppose it's the traditional "chorus" part of the song that stereo lends to, except if your K+S is singing "Hallelujah"?
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