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Mono is better than Stereo Studio Monitors
Old 25th July 2014
  #31
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whestworld's Avatar
 

I was just watching 'Friends' and all the dialogue is in mono according to my phase-scope. The audience is stereo. When I was working in film/TV back in the 80s, this is how sound was done. But saying that ... For music it's a very different thing. I have a recording by 'Ella and Louis' which is minimalistic and mono. This sounds very good but it's of a time and style, just like 'hard left/ hard right' recordings of the 50s/ 60s.

I couldn't imagine listening to mono today. In fact when I'm recording and using M/S the last thing I think about is its mono capability.
Old 25th July 2014
  #32
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Never forget mono
Its still with us on the web
Thats why MS is so useful.
Old 25th July 2014
  #33
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rolo 46 View Post
Never forget mono
Its still with us on the web
Thats why MS is so useful.
There is nothing about "the web" that compels use of mono (or even that makes it easier or more desirable). Virtually all "web" methods of transporting audio are at least stereo (2-channel). Now you may view lots of amateur videos on YouTube, etc. that are mono. But that is not the limitation of "the web".

OTOH, there are some things that are perfectly fine in monaural and doing them in stereo would be superfluous and/or even silly. e.g. telephony (including high-tech forms like cell phones and Skype, et.al.)
Old 26th July 2014
  #34
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rumleymusic View Post
Voice dialogue comes to mind. Live event backing tracks that have to be reproduced in mono, some sound design etc.

I can't think of any music I would prefer in mono for personal enjoyment.
I'll give you a couple examples that you might agree with, especially if you were in the situation of mastering, hard to give a clear description in words:

1. recording a concert of a vocal ensemble, solo piece where the singer slowly approaches the audience as a theatrical gesture, walking around the mic array. In stereo it would not make sense to hear the singer moving far to one channal and back to the middle. More stable, completely symetrical recording in mono (but reverb processing could be in stereo).

2. recording amplified blues harmonica in a subway station, would sound completely symetrical and centered in mono, opposed to stereo details describing the "real" picture distracting from the music, such as asymetrical reverberation and localized random noises. Again though, reverb processing in stereo could improve the recording, and if a mono recording has stereo reverb processing, technically the end result is a stereo recording. The combination of mono recorded harmonica in subway + stereo reverb processing helps create a "tunnel" effect.
Old 26th July 2014
  #35
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Quote:
Originally Posted by boojum View Post
Vocal dialog is maddening in mono. Watch any news show with a bunch of talking heads. It's in mono and a jumble of sound. The same with speakerphones. In stereo each voice would have its place in space and be more identifiable. I wish that the news shows were in stereo.
The vast majority of film dialogue is in mono, and "centers" the overall stereo image giving it stability.
Old 26th July 2014
  #36
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In the 80s and 90s we did stereo dialogue for film
It could be very effective with the right editor and dubbing mixer
Stereo reinforcement worked better than full stereo field.
It fell out of favour in the cutting room after misunderstandings of MS (whats new!)
BBC 4 does excellent music docs,only the set performances are in stereo, the actuality is mono..........
My friend has just done a 90' music doc about the Sydney Con , and its all in stereo, and wonderful
Old 26th July 2014
  #37
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rolo 46 View Post
In the 80s and 90s we did stereo dialogue for film
MS stereo dialogue can be interesting on continuous shots in busy city settings. What would sound like noise recorded through a mono boom mic is cleaned up through the stereo separation.
Old 26th July 2014
  #38
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aracu View Post

<snip>

What would sound like noise recorded through a mono boom mic is cleaned up through the stereo separation.
This is why I would love to have those "talking head" shows in stereo. When they all start talking it is cacophony. We hear in stereo for a reason. Our ancestors who did not were sabre tooth tiger lunch.
Old 26th July 2014
  #39
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A few thoughts...

1. We absolutely, definately do not hear in stereo ! We record and reproduce music in stereo. Our hearing is far more comple and powerful.
2. Good mono trumps bad stereo any day. There is a tonal superiority (no coloration of the phantom mono image), and lots of spatial information.
3. Most popular reproduction systems tend to be almost mono anyway. Look at all those compact streaming enabled devices.
4. Good stereo on its best day comes not even close to discrete sources, as in real life.
4b. This is why those early days leftright stereo sounds so good. It is basically dual mono.
5. This article is 30 (!) years old !
Somehow it seems those 30 years of evolution in stereo reproduction (in mainstream audio systems) actually prove the worth of this article ?
6. Point 4. Stereo is not the same as the real life sound field we hear in a concert hall. It is a saddening, pale reproduction of that. Sometimes it can sound sublime. Most often it does not come close to the real thing.
Old 27th July 2014
  #40
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NathanShirley View Post
No, I disagree. It has not BECOME absurd. It BEGAN straight-up, provably absurd.

But seriously, for those of you with more historical knowledge of mono recording techniques than me- What is this about the old mono Mercury recordings "nearly" perfecting mono? Is there actually anything to that?



And how does this work? Sounds intriguing.
Part of what I believe is enhanced mono is positioning two microphone diaphragms on the same point of axis, and then listen to two discrete channels, letting the speakers in the room define what it all sounds like. I stack my speakers, one on top of the other, on the same vertical axis as the microphone's two elements. It's phat mono man.
Old 27th July 2014
  #41
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jacktadoussac View Post
Part of what I believe is enhanced mono is positioning two microphone diaphragms on the same point of axis, and then listed to two discrete channels, letting the speakers in the room define what it all sounds like. I stack my speakers, one on top of the other.
Jack, if you stack your mics and then your speakers you have stereo. Maybe not great stereo, but stereo. You are recording and playing back from separate points with two channels, no? Tabernacle!
Old 27th July 2014
  #42
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Quote:
Originally Posted by boojum View Post
Jack, if you stack your mics and then your speakers you have stereo. Maybe not great stereo, but stereo. You are recording and playing back from separate points with two channels, no? Tabernacle!
No as I explained in my reviews -- the speakers are stacked on the vertical axis, one on top of the other, just like the elements or diaphragms of the Josephson C700A. David Josephson agreed with that aspect of my review -- which I ran by them -- to ensure I wasn't talking nonsense.
Old 27th July 2014
  #43
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jacktadoussac View Post
No as I explained in my reviews -- the speakers are stacked on the vertical axis, one on top of the other, just like the elements or diaphragms of the Josephson C700A. David Josephson agreed with that aspect of my review -- which I ran by them -- to ensure I wasn't talking nonsense.
Jack, I understand. However, they are separated and playing channels recorded separately. If they are not 100% congruent there would seem to be some stereo effect, even if slight.
Old 27th July 2014
  #44
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nosajjao View Post
The only way to truly enjoy the stereo experience is to sit in a perfectly measured listening position, such as how a mixing engineer positions him or herself in front of the monitors. Otherwise you're getting an inaccurate stereo image.
wrong. if I have a stereo-recorded album I am listening to, I have in some positions the + of stereo. when I move around, walk into another room for example, I have the same information that would come from a mono-recorded album. so I have an advantage: if I want to, I can have it stereo. try that with a mono-recording. you want it stereo? you are f***ed.

anyway ... if you think mono is better, switch it to mono. oh, the producvers and the artists didnt mix it for mono ... hm, maybe they wanted it this way? maybe it was a comscious decision? so ... I dont want something mono, if I would, I make it mono myself. as said: I cant make mono stereo, but the other way round.

so ...
Old 29th July 2014
  #45
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whestworld's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Yannick View Post
A few thoughts...

1. We absolutely, definately do not hear in stereo ! We record and reproduce music in stereo. Our hearing is far more comple and powerful.
2. Good mono trumps bad stereo any day. There is a tonal superiority (no coloration of the phantom mono image), and lots of spatial information.
3. Most popular reproduction systems tend to be almost mono anyway. Look at all those compact streaming enabled devices.
4. Good stereo on its best day comes not even close to discrete sources, as in real life.
4b. This is why those early days leftright stereo sounds so good. It is basically dual mono.
5. This article is 30 (!) years old !
Somehow it seems those 30 years of evolution in stereo reproduction (in mainstream audio systems) actually prove the worth of this article ?
6. Point 4. Stereo is not the same as the real life sound field we hear in a concert hall. It is a saddening, pale reproduction of that. Sometimes it can sound sublime. Most often it does not come close to the real thing.

I'm not sure I can agree on most of the above. Yes our ear/brain system is very complex but we locate sounds using 2 ears and a head/baffle. Therefore there is a time element involved which tells us what sounds are on our left-centre-right. Mono cannot do this.

Point 4 is not in question. 4b with 2track mono or 3 track sounded good for the day and the type of music. 'Dark side of the moon' would sound like a pile of poo if mixed like an old Elvis Presley track.

Most of the the streaming devices available today are in fact stereo. There is no cost saving in doing mono. Stereo FM needed a 19khz demodulator to get both channels up. That's why there was a price difference.

Today with streaming it's all 2 channels and the difference in price between a single channel IC audio chip and 2 channel one is nothing.
Yes ...DAB radio for the kitchen maybe mono but the sales of DAB are still nothing compared to portable devices.

Would I take mono over stereo...NO WAY. As to whether recorded music comes close to live as in your point 6.... When we record and mix we are not trying to get as close to the actual layout and sound of the live performance.... We are trying to give the listener a 'soundscape' that he/she can enjoy at home. If we were to try and replicate a live performance in our homes, well you need a very good volume control to start with as well as the ability to control a huge dynamic range. We are not trying to achieve that and that is why stereo is soooooo good!
Old 29th July 2014
  #46
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Traditional recording consoles always had a mono switch in the monitor section. I can't tell you how many times I hit the mono switch and every musician in the room asked "What did you do? It sounds so much better!" Pop music usually employs multi-mono and not real stereo. And FYI, late '50s 3 track Elvis Presley records were recorded live and probably employed more real stereo that DSOTM!
Old 29th July 2014
  #47
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Olhsson View Post
Traditional recording consoles always had a mono switch in the monitor section. I can't tell you how many times I hit the mono switch and every musician in the room asked "What did you do? It sounds so much better!" Pop music usually employs multi-mono and not real stereo. And FYI, late '50s 3 track Elvis Presley records were recorded live and probably employed more real stereo that DSOTM!
That's a pretty awesome point there Bob, that most of the sources on many stereo "pop" genre records are even to this day recorded in mono. One thing I love about listening to Bruce Swedien's work, is his tendancy to record single point sources in stereo. to my ears, this makes his work sonically unique (and imo superior) compared to his contemporaries, especially the stuff from the 80's, with MJ for example.
Old 29th July 2014
  #48
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Quote:
Originally Posted by whestworld View Post
I'm not sure I can agree on most of the above. Yes our ear/brain system is very complex but we locate sounds using 2 ears and a head/baffle. Therefore there is a time element involved which tells us what sounds are on our left-centre-right. Mono cannot do this.

Point 4 is not in question. 4b with 2track mono or 3 track sounded good for the day and the type of music. 'Dark side of the moon' would sound like a pile of poo if mixed like an old Elvis Presley track.

Most of the the streaming devices available today are in fact stereo. There is no cost saving in doing mono. Stereo FM needed a 19khz demodulator to get both channels up. That's why there was a price difference.

Today with streaming it's all 2 channels and the difference in price between a single channel IC audio chip and 2 channel one is nothing.
Yes ...DAB radio for the kitchen maybe mono but the sales of DAB are still nothing compared to portable devices.

Would I take mono over stereo...NO WAY. As to whether recorded music comes close to live as in your point 6.... When we record and mix we are not trying to get as close to the actual layout and sound of the live performance.... We are trying to give the listener a 'soundscape' that he/she can enjoy at home. If we were to try and replicate a live performance in our homes, well you need a very good volume control to start with as well as the ability to control a huge dynamic range. We are not trying to achieve that and that is why stereo is soooooo good!
Judging by your response, i have to realize that there is probably a huge difference in opinion about this between 100% classical guys and the rest.

Although judging by Bobs post, maybe not.

Stereo is not only about time differences. Also about tonal cues, and level differences. about multiple echoes with different kinds of coloration.

Streaming stereo devices are a joke. Stereo soundbars, stereo speakers 65 cm apart etc. If you want to call THAT stereo...

I am able to replicate the dynamic range of a symphonic orchestra just fine.

As Bob points out, there is a lot of misunderstanding here about mono. true mono. And how one can use proper stereo techniques in a pop production on mono sources.

One can also use mono mic techniques on stereo (grand piano) sources, with great succes.

I never said mono trumps stereo. I said, good mono trumps bad stereo.

A lot can be learned from good mono techniques and playback.
Old 29th July 2014
  #49
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One example.

Surely some here have already heard the difference between a solo soprano plus orchestra with a mono spot on the voice on a 2chsystem, and then the same mix on a 3.0 system, with only the solo mic in the C speaker ?

Can anyone confirm this is tonally, physically, VASTLY superior to the mono image 2ch facsimile ?
Old 29th July 2014
  #50
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Many moons ago I was under the Jedi guidance of Michael Stavrou whom proceeded to rip me to pieces (in a nice way) over the fact that I had supplied him with a mix that contained just stereo tracks. I watched him take the best side of each track and craft a stunning mix from mono material. The comparison between the rough and the stav mix was quite incredible. Sadly the song sucked.... but that was the day I learnt mono is king and boy have I never forgot it. Indeed when I mix I curse the producer (in a nice way) because every track is stereo. lol

Now I must state, the final mix was Stereo but it was so easy to digest.

Last edited by BlackBackDrop; 29th July 2014 at 09:42 PM.. Reason: typo
Old 29th July 2014
  #51
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I was listening to some old opera recordings and highlights on YouTube last night, Caruso, Conchita Supervia, Franco Corelli, Leontyne Price.

What an absolute SHAME these were not recorded in stereo.

This is a silly thread.
Old 29th July 2014
  #52
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Yannick View Post
Judging by your response, i have to realize that there is probably a huge difference in opinion about this between 100% classical guys and the rest.

Although judging by Bobs post, maybe not.

Stereo is not only about time differences. Also about tonal cues, and level differences. about multiple echoes with different kinds of coloration.

Streaming stereo devices are a joke. Stereo soundbars, stereo speakers 65 cm apart etc. If you want to call THAT stereo...

I am able to replicate the dynamic range of a symphonic orchestra just fine.

As Bob points out, there is a lot of misunderstanding here about mono. true mono. And how one can use proper stereo techniques in a pop production on mono sources.

One can also use mono mic techniques on stereo (grand piano) sources, with great succes.

I never said mono trumps stereo. I said, good mono trumps bad stereo.

A lot can be learned from good mono techniques and playback.
Rolo posted this clip back in March of an MS Fig. 8 recording he did of a small ensemble:
https://www.gearslutz.com/board/attac...yness-kh-2.mp3
I defy anyone to prove to me how it could be improved in mono. Stereo techniques, particularly the co-incident techniques that Blumlein developed, just sound more 'real' to me. I will agree that sometimes a good mono capture is better than a bad stereo one.
Old 29th July 2014
  #53
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OzGizmo's Avatar
 

I think a lot of people are missing some points here...

Lets talk in picture terms then.
No picture will be as good as a 'real life' scene, even 4k, 3D, HD, mobile phone, or in black & white or even an abstract painting are just a representation of that 'scene'.

So in sound terms no recording will be as good as real life and therefore everything else will / must be less. So a 'surround sound' recording = 3D, 96k might = HD, 44.1= Color, Mono = B&W, MP3 = Mobile phone camera and listening to something over the phone = an abstract painting.

If you honestly think that Mono is better than Stereo you need to get out more and stop listening to AM radio.

Stereo is JUST a representation of a sound image and will NEVER be or try to be better than the real thing.
Old 30th July 2014
  #54
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whestworld's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Yannick View Post
Judging by your response, i have to realize that there is probably a huge difference in opinion about this between 100% classical guys and the rest.

Although judging by Bobs post, maybe not.

Stereo is not only about time differences. Also about tonal cues, and level differences. about multiple echoes with different kinds of coloration.

Streaming stereo devices are a joke. Stereo soundbars, stereo speakers 65 cm apart etc. If you want to call THAT stereo...

I am able to replicate the dynamic range of a symphonic orchestra just fine.

As Bob points out, there is a lot of misunderstanding here about mono. true mono. And how one can use proper stereo techniques in a pop production on mono sources.

One can also use mono mic techniques on stereo (grand piano) sources, with great succes.

I never said mono trumps stereo. I said, good mono trumps bad stereo.

A lot can be learned from good mono techniques and playback.

Can you tell me how you're able to replicate the dynamic range of a symphonic orchestra? That's about 70-80dB!
Old 30th July 2014
  #55
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I remind you that 'art' makes up the first three letters of 'artificial'.

A recording is an artifact that tries to create the impression of reality in the mind of the audience. Sometimes that impression, and the resulting emotion is best served by limitations that might otherwise cause a distraction. The mono centre speech track convention overcomes limitations imposed on the pix editor in cutting and choice of angles. (Check out some early CinemaScope or Cinerama soundstracks, which were miced in genuine stereo prerspective). Likewise, think of the effectiveness of an atmospheric black and white photo where bad or inapprioriate colour may otherwise be a distraction.

Human engagement in a story requires some degree of abstraction, to leave room for our imagination to bring us into the situation. Creating reality by leaving that space is part of the art. Often, like the cliche, less is more.
Old 30th July 2014
  #56
Wilkinson mixed in stereo. He was right. The results were amazing! To my ears his technique is still the best representation of orchestral sound that anyone's come up with, the way the strings spread all the way across, with winds and percussion filling their spaces in the stereo image. This would have been impossible in mono, it couldn't even be approximated. No question about it, stereo is in every way superior.

Now, as for "multi-mono" studio recording, where mono sources are mixed on the board or ITB, there is much to be learned from mono recordings wrt phase relationships, balancing volume and making space in terms of EQ, this is why Gods created the "mono" button. But if you are doing it right, stereo is still the way to mix for the most clear, powerful, and full-range sound. I didn't think this was up for discussion, don't you guys listen to music?
Old 30th July 2014
  #57
KEL
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"It is important to understand that there are no stereo sound sources. From any given position in space, all sound sources are monophonic"

Wait, i saw Gravity..it seemed pretty quiet in space except where there was air or she touched the space station

I guess that's sort of true depending on how far away you want to get from the sound source. Niagra falls is a single point source of sound from 7000 yards
Old 30th July 2014
  #58
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I used to work with a classical producer who clearly was unable to process location cues in a stereo recording - in fact, as memory serves me, if I switched the playback to mono, he was unable to tell the difference. An otherwise great producer with a superb analytical ear for performance errors or inadequacies. I wonder whether the author of this article is similarly afflicted.

As for having to be correctly positioned to enjoy stereo reproduction - my ears are seriously different when I listen to test tones through headphones. But when I listen to music through headphones, I have no trouble in discerning what is at the left, right and centre. The vocal of a pop song comes from the centre, even though a mono test tone around the same kind of pitch would sound off-centre. Funny thing, human hearing.
Old 30th July 2014
  #59
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KEL View Post
"It is important to understand that there are no stereo sound sources. From any given position in space, all sound sources are monophonic"

Wait, i saw Gravity..it seemed pretty quiet in space except where there was air or she touched the space station

I guess that's sort of true depending on how far away you want to get from the sound source. Niagra falls is a single point source of sound from 7000 yards
Ok, point me to ONE stereo sound source in nature. One that has two sound sources and a phantom image.

You can view a piano as a wide source, or a gazillion point sources, but NOT a stereo source.
Old 30th July 2014
  #60
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David Spearritt View Post
I was listening to some old opera recordings and highlights on YouTube last night, Caruso, Conchita Supervia, Franco Corelli, Leontyne Price.

What an absolute SHAME these were not recorded in stereo.

This is a silly thread.
I just worked with a top opera voice. He has those recorings, not in the youtube facsimile, but on original discs.
He also has a collection of ancient/old record players.

He swears he never heard any stereo reproduction that was as tangible, physical as these old recordings on his mono sources.
I believe him.

Does that mean these are superior in every way to stereo ?
Of course not !

But in a few areas they are.

That is the point many are failing to see.

If you really do not want to have an open mind or ear about this, it is only your loss. There is something to be learnt here.

One of the easy things to get is, the phantom mono image sucks. Tonally.
And there is no way around that.
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