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Mix it in mono--just a LITTLE--
Old 25th May 2006
  #1
Mix it in mono--just a LITTLE--

I believe that bitter jealousy is the best teacher, no doubt about it.

It really gives you a focus... and the lessons learned are not ones you forget. I knew these cats who had a band, Wetwerks, and after bopping around the local scene, they got the chance to go out to California to work with Rae Dileo. I was kinda surprised to see the CD EP that resulted didn't list the track times of the five songs, clearly intended as a foot in the radio door... seems like at the least a courtesy, at the worst a really good idea...

But the audio was brilliant, I immediately sampled the hell out of it and started to play with in the computer. The first thing I noticed is that it was crisp and clean when you mono'ed it, nothing of the impact or the detail was lost. I noticed the same thing with "Day Tripper" when I tried to slow it down to a Sly Stone-style funk speed, the kick drum sound, when you slowed it down, had a beautiful body to it that you only really noticed at a slower speed. The initial slap, the bottoming out, and the resolution was perfect and whole.

It's like the system these guys had was going to guarantee sizzling but smear-free sound. Like they're operating in a theater where whatever choices they make are all safely within the sphere of their own ineffable flawlessness. DAMMIT I hate that.
Old 25th May 2006
  #2
Gear Maniac
 

MONO!

Quote:
Originally Posted by joelpatterson
...the audio was brilliant, I immediately sampled the hell out of it and started to play with in the computer. The first thing I noticed is that it was crisp and clean when you mono'ed it, nothing of the impact or the detail was lost.
I thought I remember reading in post by Bob Olhssen that they would mix in mono through ONE speaker for hours on end and would only towards the end of a mix start to spread it out into stereo in order to absolutely insure mono compatability.

I would love to hear feedback from others regarding mixing in mono....

...yeah I know..."do a search"...okey dokey....
Old 25th May 2006
  #3
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mtstudios@charter's Avatar
 

I have mixed feelings about, although, mostly positive, we generally don't listen to music in mono anymore, not even TV. So any stereo phase tricks tend to vanish in mono.

www.bluethumbproductions.com
Old 25th May 2006
  #4
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I'm a mono ****. But then I regularly listen to mono TV (when our hard-disk recorder is recording on a different channel, I have to use the TV's built in mono speaker). I frequently hear bad sound that I attribute to poor mono compatibility.

95% of digital stereo effects sound stink in mono. The music I admire the most always sounds great in mono - it's possible, and used to be the norm.

I nearly died when Steinberg gutted the mono button out of SX. I use the Surround Mixer now to mono a mix and check it. It's easier to use than the pan control, and you can send the mix to one speaker.
Old 25th May 2006
  #5
Gear Head
 
Mr. Incredible's Avatar
 

Moving your pans around while listening in mono - now there's a freaky bit of magic.

Old 25th May 2006
  #6
Led
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Even though TV and radio is stereo, if you're out of the centre listening position you are essentially hearing mono. Most nightclubs pump everything to the dancefloor in mono. Mono will be around for ever till we get cohclear implants.
And as Mr Incredible mentioned, mono is in my opinion the best way to work out your panning and find each track's own space where it will be heard but not poke out.
Cheers Cheers
(that's in stereo)
Old 25th May 2006
  #7
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djui5's Avatar
 

mono is your friend.
Old 25th May 2006
  #8
Gear Addict
 

I just read Michael Stavrou's book "mixing with your mind". Great read, and really interesting stuff about needing to mix in mono.

I never realized how important this is, but he explains it really well. I'm still learning the ropes.

Now I'm wanting to buy a single speaker to have in front of me on the monitor bridge. Any recomendations? He uses an Auratone (old school - but no need to tell you guys that ;0).

I run Genelec 8040's, and at first I thought a single 8020 that I can switch to would work well - but I think it's best if it's just a single cone speaker right? To really hear any phase issues in the mix?

How about the Fostex 6301?

I'm saving for a Coleman for my mono summing and monitor switching.

Cheers - Rez
Old 25th May 2006
  #9
Led
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Hey, read the book - I worked with Mike as an assistant. Interesting guy. SOme poopoo some of his ideas, but some think it's brilliant. I liked assisting him. Some didn't. Very thorough. Don't get hung up on the horrortone thing (that's what we used to call them) but get any good single cone speaker in a small box. You could build your own if you were that way inclined. I think Warfedale made something good for this, but you're gonna have trouble finding just one, heh. Keep in mind the horrortones were there to approximate a ****ty car radio system, anything small will do. I think it was Buck Owens that first did it, I could be wrong.
Cheers
Old 25th May 2006
  #10
Gear Maniac
 

Hey, you guys you are finding panning positions for tracks while listening it in mono??? Could you write some more detailed about this technique, please?
Old 26th May 2006
  #11
When I get to the point when all the levels are okay and things seem to be on a boil, I'll flip it all to mono. Usually my stereo pairs of mics are panned hard left and right--when you're in stereo, it seems like that gives everything the most space.

But then in mono, you hear things cancelling each other out, there's a smearing and a smudging of detail that is disgusting. So I start panning some of the extreme left/right stuff towards the center, and goddam if that doesn't open up things and let the crispness of one thing or another poke through the murk.

And then the whole bottom line is, when it sounds great in mono, it sounds GREAT in stereo. It doesn't work the other way around.
Old 26th May 2006
  #12
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When the sound field is inefficiently consumed the mixing engineer is at risk of starting a chain of "negative compensations". The result of this is lost signal. To better avoid phase problems you can use a more effective miking technique such as M/S miking. In recording the more you can find out about the "true" sound the better. Checking for mono compatibility is generally considered a good idea. But don't leave it at that. Also check how the mix sits in the left and the right speaker separately (as well as in mid and side) and do these processes with several reference speaker sets. To better understand how the sound field has been consumed you can use different degree of stereo bus panning (with one speaker muted at a time) to find out different things about it (of course in stereo). If some sounds in the mix sound muddy in one speaker that will probably be what it will sound like in consumer speakers. stike
Old 26th May 2006
  #13
Gear Addict
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Led
Hey, read the book - I worked with Mike as an assistant. Interesting guy. SOme poopoo some of his ideas, but some think it's brilliant. I liked assisting him. Some didn't. Very thorough. Don't get hung up on the horrortone thing (that's what we used to call them) but get any good single cone speaker in a small box. You could build your own if you were that way inclined. I think Warfedale made something good for this, but you're gonna have trouble finding just one, heh. Keep in mind the horrortones were there to approximate a ****ty car radio system, anything small will do. I think it was Buck Owens that first did it, I could be wrong.
Cheers
Nice one Led - that's what I love about this forum! I just read a book, which blew my mind, posted on here that I read it and next thing someone's saying they interned with the author

Cheers on the tips for the single cone. I'll have a look into the Warfedale and DIY options.

So any war stories from your days with Mike Stav???
Old 26th May 2006
  #14
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Empty Planet's Avatar
 

Hey Kiwi, and other interested VST-compatible parties,

Here's a little free plug that helps in this area.


Cheers.


Old 26th May 2006
  #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Empty Planet
Hey Kiwi, and other interested VST-compatible parties,

Here's a little free plug that helps in this area.


Cheers.


Thanks for the hint...!
Old 26th May 2006
  #16
By removing the L-R axis from the mix equation (if only temporarily) you can learn a LOT about front-back depth. And mixing/experimenting in mono can also provide fertile ground for learning how to better place and make room for instruments/vox in the frequency spectrum, as well.


Whoever said "mono is your friend" above was smack on.
Old 26th May 2006
  #17
Gear Maniac
 

something I don't understand

I don't get how it's possible to pan when in mono.

When summing to mono, anything panned up the center will be louder than it is panned hard left/right (by 3 db is it? Or 6?). Therefore, when searching for the best pan placement, won't everything sound best to you if it's panned up the middle?

It seems to me like panning when in mono is actually serving as a "fine" volume adjustment (with the fader being the main volume adjuster of course). The further out you go from center, the less loud it is to you when in mono. After all, you can't hear the sound being panned.

I've seen people talk about mono-panning quite a bit. I've tried it, but only noticed what I described above. Am I missing something? I'm not trying to disspell a theory, just trying to understand the technique.

Thanks.
Old 26th May 2006
  #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wolffy
I don't get how it's possible to pan when in mono.

When summing to mono, anything panned up the center will be louder than it is panned hard left/right (by 3 db is it? Or 6?). Therefore, when searching for the best pan placement, won't everything sound best to you if it's panned up the middle?

It seems to me like panning when in mono is actually serving as a "fine" volume adjustment (with the fader being the main volume adjuster of course). The further out you go from center, the less loud it is to you when in mono. After all, you can't hear the sound being panned.

I've seen people talk about mono-panning quite a bit. I've tried it, but only noticed what I described above. Am I missing something? I'm not trying to disspell a theory, just trying to understand the technique.

Thanks.
Mono panning works in a very interesting way. When you check for mono compatibility you often have frequency masking on several instruments. By panning these (or the blocking tracks) in a mono mix you might notice when the instrument gets louder, that's when some of the problem is fixed. When you then listen in stereo you realise the sound is much more well defined. This can be pretty hard to notice when panning only in stereo and it's a great way of solving these problems since you only have to pay attention to relative loudness. It's not so fun when the mix sounds awesome and you check mono compatibility and it sounds like crap. But this is really a very useful scenario and should be used for confirming that the mix actually sits like it should. I think one tricky thing about this is to know which track to pan. Sometimes you need to target some other track than the one that is "gone". I sometimes use mono panning as a way of "adding space" for important elements in the mix. Typically the scenario could be like this: I know the drums are as loud as they should. They sound exactly like they should. But the signal is not good enough in the mix. I have tried to marginally move things around in the center to clear things up, it didn't work. I have already killed as much signal as possible to create the maximum amount of room for the drums. So what can I do? This is when I go to mono mode. Typically I first mute other tracks to better hear when the drums get loud enough. When I've found the track that removes the most signal from drums I target THAT track first, especially if it's a "low priority" track. When I pan I notice how the drums are getting louder. Then I check in stereo and most of the time I end up with a smile on my face. So it happens that I actually use mono panning as a way of clearing up the center by moving things to the sides rather than moving tracks to the center to clear things up. I think this is a very difficult process and I have a lot to learn when it comes this... Generally I think this is a process that is very important and can mess up a lot if you start "compensating" in the wrong way. But when it is used properly it can do wonders!
Old 26th May 2006
  #19
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chrispick's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by joelpatterson
When I get to the point when all the levels are okay and things seem to be on a boil, I'll flip it all to mono. Usually my stereo pairs of mics are panned hard left and right--when you're in stereo, it seems like that gives everything the most space.

But then in mono, you hear things cancelling each other out, there's a smearing and a smudging of detail that is disgusting. So I start panning some of the extreme left/right stuff towards the center, and goddam if that doesn't open up things and let the crispness of one thing or another poke through the murk.

And then the whole bottom line is, when it sounds great in mono, it sounds GREAT in stereo. It doesn't work the other way around.
Exactly. My experience as well.

Plus, it's worth noting, as someone already alluded, that big venues (i.e., dance clubs, sports arenas, etc.) pump out mono, so mixing in mono will ensure your tracks work there.

Mostly though, combined mono mixing allows you to really focus on frequency. You can immediately tell where frequencies weaken, cancel, pop out, hold strong, etc.

In short, yeah -- if you can get it to sound good and strong in combined mono, it'll sound great in stereo.
Old 26th May 2006
  #20
Gear Maniac
 

Thanks Rainbow. That makes more sense thinking of it as a way to clear up a certain track by panning a different track around.
Old 26th May 2006
  #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wolffy
Thanks Rainbow. That makes more sense thinking of it as a way to clear up a certain track by panning a different track around.
Yeah, I usually try to do it like that. I often use this technique in other scenarios as well, since it allows me to use the sound field more effectively. It's not something that is totally unique, a lot of professionals use similar approaches. Actually this "work-around" approach works very well in recording and mixing. I think that's partly because sound is consumed under psycho-acoustic terms. Besides this I always try to find alternatives that I don't seem to have when I target a problem. That's a part of the "decision making" approach that I have on recording, since bad decisions are always made when you have come as far in your way of dealing with a problem that you realise you "must" choose one of several bad options. I use that as an alert when I'm mixing... That alert goes off when I am about to start panning a problem track in mono...
Old 26th May 2006
  #22
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kudzu's Avatar
 

Yeh ... Thanks for reminding me ... I used to mix in mono all the time. Great for snare / vocal positioning ... I'm gonna start doing it again .... man, there's so many things to remember with this mixing malarky
Old 27th May 2006
  #23
Gear Nut
 

I hardly make any compensation to get things to sound better in mono these days cuz no one gives a #$%^. Any system that is in mono these days is of so low fidelity that no one cares. With that in mind, it doesn't seem logical to sacrifice what ultimately kicks the most ass in stereo, for a little more clarity in mono. Do you really want to put a disclaimer on your product that says, well it could have sounded much better but I had to make sure I had the most clarity in mono just in case. I guarantee if you listen to alot of amazing sounding records in mono they just don't sound as amazing. That's cuz this mixing thing is all about sacrifice and compromise. We live in a stereo world, hell we have 2 ears. Wide is good, it's what makes things sound alive. As long as the vibe comes through in mono these days things are A OK. Just my 2 cents.
Old 27th May 2006
  #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by andymixer
I hardly make any compensation to get things to sound better in mono these days cuz no one gives a #$%^. Any system that is in mono these days is of so low fidelity that no one cares. With that in mind, it doesn't seem logical to sacrifice what ultimately kicks the most ass in stereo, for a little more clarity in mono. Do you really want to put a disclaimer on your product that says, well it could have sounded much better but I had to make sure I had the most clarity in mono just in case. I guarantee if you listen to alot of amazing sounding records in mono they just don't sound as amazing. That's cuz this mixing thing is all about sacrifice and compromise. We live in a stereo world, hell we have 2 ears. Wide is good, it's what makes things sound alive. As long as the vibe comes through in mono these days things are A OK. Just my 2 cents.
You're missing the point, I think. Maybe you need to reread the thread.

We're all still talking about stereo mixes here. We're saying that if you refine your mix to sound good in mono, you'll improve your stereo mix. We're talking frequency space and phase cancellation, important aspects of any stereo mix that are easily identified and alleviated with mono listening.

Aside from that, I'll add again: Most large venues playback stereo audio in mono. You don't want your brilliant stereo mix to suck when played back to large audiences, do you?
Old 27th May 2006
  #25
In addition to venues, it should be noted that many people end up hearing mono over their FM radios some of the time, depending on their listening habits and geogrpahy, since many tuners (particularly car tuners) switch to mono as reception deteroriates.

Until they started simulcasting over the web, I almost never heard the influential station KCRW (only about 30 miles away from me) in stereo. So out of phase material simply disappeared. Another time, a different college station (that was playing some tracks from a project I'd produced) somehow got the polarity of one side of their broadcast signal inverted. Since the only way they came in on my set, 40 plus miles away was mono, everything but OUT of phase stuff disappeared. THAT was interesting. (It was spring break, if I recall, so it went on for days. I finally called and made the confused DJ write down "channels out of phase" and leave it for the technical staff. College radio. Gotta love it.)
Old 27th May 2006
  #26
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cheeky b's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by andymixer
I hardly make any compensation to get things to sound better in mono these days cuz no one gives a #$%^. Any system that is in mono these days is of so low fidelity that no one cares. With that in mind, it doesn't seem logical to sacrifice what ultimately kicks the most ass in stereo, for a little more clarity in mono. Do you really want to put a disclaimer on your product that says, well it could have sounded much better but I had to make sure I had the most clarity in mono just in case. I guarantee if you listen to alot of amazing sounding records in mono they just don't sound as amazing. That's cuz this mixing thing is all about sacrifice and compromise. We live in a stereo world, hell we have 2 ears. Wide is good, it's what makes things sound alive. As long as the vibe comes through in mono these days things are A OK. Just my 2 cents.
Hey, my Tivoli audio model one radio is mono - it sounds great for the size and almost all of my friends have one in their kitchen.

In fact I often 'borrow' it to check out mono compatabilty - funnily enough it really lets you know if there are some problems in the low mids.
Old 27th May 2006
  #27
Gear Nut
 

I completely disagree that making most elements sound better in mono will improve them in stereo and yes I did read the thread. I am of course assuming that people are not making significant "mistakes". Ideally a mix will sound amazing in stereo and good in mono. I was mainly addressing the idea that moving pans around in mono is not a very valid mixing technique because the whole purpose of panning is to place something specifically in the stereo spectrum creating a "space". I am saying that someone should not sacrifice the desired panning position in a stereo mix to improve the mono re-representation. Stereo is just so much more important these days. As far as large PA systems running in mono, no of course I don't want my mixes to sound bad on these, but the reality of that is, even more than the mono representation of the material, the affects of over the top limiting completely ruin the audio experience in the first place at hi sound pressure levels (1/4 db dynamic range at very hi sound pressure levels translates into not being able to distinguish anything in a mix). Furthermore 99 percent of large PA systems are in horrible audio environments and vary so much in their setup and have so many deficiencies no one is getting a "relatively realistic" audio representation anyway. This is a situation where the material has to do the job, but any subtleties are not represented in the environment. Hence once again, I say these days we mix in stereo, for stereo.
Old 27th May 2006
  #28
Gear Nut
 

I think a perfect example recently of this is several months ago I was down at Steve Marcussens with and Louie added some M/S widening to a track. In mono the guitars drop significantly in volume compared to listening in stereo, not to the point of ruinning any representation of the song, but enough to significantly hear a difference. In stereo though the mix got significantly more exciting. It was a choice made specifically with the significance of stereo being much more important these days.
Old 27th May 2006
  #29
Gear Maniac
 
Tom Sigmond's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by chrispick
Exactly. My experience as well.

Plus, it's worth noting, as someone already alluded, that big venues (i.e., dance clubs, sports arenas, etc.) pump out mono, so mixing in mono will ensure your tracks work there.
Are you shure about this.
I thought most club these days play stereo.

Any experienced danceclub(s!) engineer here who can tell for shure?


gr. Tom
Old 27th May 2006
  #30
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djui5's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by andymixer
I completely disagree that making most elements sound better in mono will improve them in stereo and yes I did read the thread. I am of course assuming that people are not making significant "mistakes". Ideally a mix will sound amazing in stereo and good in mono.


If you do a mix in stereo, then fold it to mono it might not rock properly.

If you make a mix rock in mono, then switch to stereo, it will rock even more. You ABSOLUTELY CAN NOT go wrong with making a mix sound kick ass in mono. There is no reason NOT to do it.....


Regarding clubs, most clubs do pump in mono. Some are in stereo, and a few have surround systems. The problem with this is that unless your right in the middle of the dance floor, you won't realize the full effects of it. This is why it is so important for dance mixes to work well in mono, so it sounds good no matter where you are in the club. Then you got the bathrooms and patios and such, all in mono.

Trust me, nothing is more annoying than some mix sounding funny in a store cuz the mixer mixed the whole thing in stereo, without checking it's mono response. Some guys use stereo entirely to their advantage, and this is fine, until it's played over a mono system.

Also, you have to consider how many people don't properly place stereo speakers. How many times have you been to someones house where 1 speaker is on a shelf, and the other is in the other room.....

Mono is more important than you think it is.
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