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#424156 - 08/02/17 03:53 AM [Recording, Mixing, Performance and Production] Tips for making a mix sound good in mono?
Registered: 11/30/07
Posts: 1979
Loc: Ontario, Canada
BlueAttitude Offline
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Registered: 11/30/07
Posts: 1979
Loc: Ontario, Canada
Morning folks,
I have read many times that when working on a mix you should always check to make sure it sounds good not only in stereo but in mono.

Does anyone have any tips on how to accomplish that??
When I listen to one of my mixes in mono it always sounds dull and lifeless compared to the stereo mix, not to mention that the levels are all off. But, how to fix the levels so it sounds good in mono without breaking the stereo mix? crazy


Edited by BlueAttitude (08/02/17 05:05 AM)
Edit Reason: removed reference to iPads
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#424160 - 08/02/17 04:55 AM [Recording, Mixing, Performance and Production] Re: Tips for making a mix sound good in mono? [Re: BlueAttitude]
Registered: 12/05/11
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Janice & Bud Offline
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I'm wondering about the mobile device listening. Most folks I know listen with buds in stereo. Heck if they are listening via most device's external speakers IMO nothing will sound decent.

BTW I know zip about Android phones/tablets but my Apple products have external stereo speakers.

OK...pardon the musings that did nothing to address your issue smile

Bud
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#424162 - 08/02/17 05:04 AM [Recording, Mixing, Performance and Production] Re: Tips for making a mix sound good in mono? [Re: BlueAttitude]
Registered: 11/30/07
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BlueAttitude Offline
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Hi Bud,
Shows what I know about iPads! I'm so out of the loop when it comes to that stuff, I don't even own a cell phone blush

I'll modify my original post to get rid of that line, thanks smile
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#424164 - 08/02/17 05:27 AM [Recording, Mixing, Performance and Production] Re: Tips for making a mix sound good in mono? [Re: BlueAttitude]
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Janice & Bud Offline
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I've also read about the reasons for the mono approach but have never understood it. We hear in stereo -- why confine any sound stage to mono when we've had stereo technology for decades?

And why remix just to hear it in mono? Simply converting a stereo mix to mono destroys all the work done to assign each track to its "place." A place where it has its uniqueness yet cooperates with fellow tracks. It seems that a good sounding mono mix would require a dramatically different approach and work.

Perhaps this is where I should be silent and appear to be ignorant rather than opening my mouth and confirming it. smile

Bud
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#424192 - 08/02/17 08:30 AM [Recording, Mixing, Performance and Production] Re: Tips for making a mix sound good in mono? [Re: BlueAttitude]
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#424195 - 08/02/17 09:34 AM [Recording, Mixing, Performance and Production] Re: Tips for making a mix sound good in mono? [Re: 90 dB]
Registered: 11/30/07
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BlueAttitude Offline
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Originally Posted By: 90 dB


Excellent article! Thanks! smile
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#424226 - 08/02/17 12:19 PM [Recording, Mixing, Performance and Production] Re: Tips for making a mix sound good in mono? [Re: BlueAttitude]
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Janice & Bud Offline
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I'm gonna make a second attempt to read that Bob and hopefully get schooled. On my first attempt I didn't get past the "...For example, a lot of portable radios are mono." In my old age have I missed some mono radio revival like the vinyl thing? Seriously....well mostly. smile I do remember walking around with my little mono transistor radio in the late 50's.

Edit:

I read it all but still have difficulty with: "However, if you can get the mix to sound good in mono first, it will definitely sound great in stereo too." That seems to imply that you just hit a stereo button and presto the mono is stereo. But know you can't do a wholesale conversion in either direction. And then he said mixing in stereo is "easy." I guess that is very relative as that has not been my experience. I'm gonna dig deeper and see if some epiphany can emerge. I know I'm still missing something given the expertise of the proponents.


Edit:

Short but seems to hit on the primary reasons: https://mixcoach.com/does-mixing-in-mono-really-help/
He mentions how mono mixing can help understand (help eliminate?) sonic issues of having tracks stepping on one another. I can see how it would help there except for the always troublesome kick and bass that are, at least by me, mixed in the center in a stereo mix. Hey Dave, hope you don't think I hi-jacked your thread. Janice will tell you that I have a penchant for thinking out loud...often to a fault smile

Bud


Edited by Janice & Bud (08/02/17 01:41 PM)
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#424257 - 08/02/17 03:13 PM [Recording, Mixing, Performance and Production] Re: Tips for making a mix sound good in mono? [Re: BlueAttitude]
Registered: 07/05/16
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Matcham Offline
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I've been following the mix-in-mono arguments too. While they are very logical, at the end of the day there seems no escaping that there are significant differences between mono and stereo mixing. You could do your head in trying to straddle both camps. Instead a lot of engineers talk about checking mono compatibility during their mixes. So they mix in stereo and check every so often that their work still sounds good in mono especially given that you can introduce weird phasing issues stereo to mono. There are plugins now that quickly convert the stereo buss to mono for an instant listen.

I like the idea that mono mixing can help you achieve frequency separation amongst instruments but as Bud says a lot of the main clashes are right down the centre anyway.
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#424263 - 08/02/17 03:45 PM [Recording, Mixing, Performance and Production] Re: Tips for making a mix sound good in mono? [Re: BlueAttitude]
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IMHO, it helps for 2 things.
1. As mentioned; sonics (frequency ranges and signal strength of various tracks).
It is possible to actually have phase cancelling going on and a MONO mix will make it more evident, let alone bass and bass drum stepping all over each other on certain notes, etc.
B. It's always good to at least know what the mix will sound like in MONO (maybe it will get played over a PA at some unknown location someday). At least you will have improved it .. whether or not it is ideal.

I do not do separate mixes. I'll do my stereo mix, listen to it in MONO (easy as clicking the MONO button on the mixer in PT or RB). If I can improve by doing so, why not? There will always be a happy medium.

Years ago bands/producers experimented with quadraphonic mixes .. but it had to still work in MONO, which was by far more common at the time than now. These were vinyl records.

These days an equivalent is 5.1 etc.

.. plus 'Soundbars', which are essentially a MONO source 'location' with smoke and mirrors to make you think it is something more. By that I mean all speakers are located within inches of each other .. like bolting your stereo speakers together; the sound comes from one location, but you do get multiple 'channels' ..

There are lots of various listening environments where checking the mix in MONO could be a good thing.
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#424290 - 08/02/17 06:37 PM [Recording, Mixing, Performance and Production] Re: Tips for making a mix sound good in mono? [Re: BlueAttitude]
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Janice & Bud Offline
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So your approach is that a stereo mix should be built around the possibilty that it might be heard in a mono environment? And that this can be achieved sans compromises with the stereo mix? That is all WAY above my paygrade. My first mixing was at a studio in Atlanta in 1965 when I was 19 and, yep, it was mono but I have not thought of mono mixes in many decades. Too old to go back. smile
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#424311 - 08/03/17 03:57 AM [Recording, Mixing, Performance and Production] Re: Tips for making a mix sound good in mono? [Re: Janice & Bud]
Registered: 11/30/07
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BlueAttitude Offline
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Originally Posted By: Janice & Bud
Hey Dave, hope you don't think I hi-jacked your thread. Janice will tell you that I have a penchant for thinking out loud...often to a fault smile

Bud


No worries Bud! I'm enjoying reading all the comments smile

What started this for me was I submitted my latest song to this new facebook group where you can have people critique your mix. Lots of comments, but one very detailed one from someone who really knew his stuff, and one of the many things he mentioned was that my mix sounded like crap when played back in mono.
And sure enough, it does!

In my case as you know our songs feature guitar, sometimes lots of guitar tracks, plus a female vocalist. Both occupy the same frequency range. When I'm mixing in stereo that is not a problem, I handle it via panning so everything has it's own space in the stereo spectrum.

The key thing I got out of the article is the need to use eq to carve out space for the vocalist:

"Yet, when that great‑sounding stereo mix is collapsed to mono, you will often find it no longer works, because those sources occupy the same spectrum and end up trampling all over one another."

That is something I don't do, but I think I should be. It seems if I do that it will probably improve the stereo mix too, it won't be as muddy. Anyway it is something I'm going to spend some time learning more about.
Also I've been checking into izotope neutron, it seems like that may be a great solution.


Edited by BlueAttitude (08/03/17 03:59 AM)
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#424313 - 08/03/17 04:53 AM [Recording, Mixing, Performance and Production] Re: Tips for making a mix sound good in mono? [Re: BlueAttitude]
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Janice & Bud Offline
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As I've often said Neutron's feature that allows you to compare multiple tracks to isolate competing frequencies has been for me worth the price of admission alone. It's easy to use and IMO effective. And not just for kick and bass but for any tracks that tend to occupy the same eq areas.
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#424324 - 08/03/17 06:12 AM [Recording, Mixing, Performance and Production] Re: Tips for making a mix sound good in mono? [Re: BlueAttitude]
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beatmaster Offline
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Mixing in mono is only done as a reference. You use it to check EQ separation without the extra "artificial" separation caused by panning. You don't leave it that way.

1. Collapsing the master to mono is sufficient
2. The assumption is you'd put the master back into stereo, where you can pan things wherever you want.
3. You should never have to do that
4. Reverb is tough to deal with in mono. Mixing in mono is really just to check levels and EQ. I wouldn't make reverb decisions in mono.
5&6. If the final song is in stereo (as 99% of music made after 1965 is), then you'd obviously master in stereo. Mastering is where you are making the final decisions. Whatever comes out is the song.
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#424338 - 08/03/17 08:28 AM [Recording, Mixing, Performance and Production] Re: Tips for making a mix sound good in mono? [Re: beatmaster]
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BlueAttitude Offline
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Originally Posted By: beatmaster
Mixing in mono is only done as a reference. You use it to check EQ separation without the extra "artificial" separation caused by panning. You don't leave it that way.



Well yes, I think that was understood. I don't think anyone thought you would leave it in mono eek


Edited by BlueAttitude (08/03/17 01:37 PM)
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#424374 - 08/03/17 02:25 PM [Recording, Mixing, Performance and Production] Re: Tips for making a mix sound good in mono? [Re: BlueAttitude]
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I recall Ozone has a button right there on the main screen where you can check mono compatibility. You'll know all about it if it seems half your song has been sucked out. Non-Ozone users have easy options too.
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#424414 - 08/04/17 03:24 AM [Recording, Mixing, Performance and Production] Re: Tips for making a mix sound good in mono? [Re: Matcham]
Registered: 11/30/07
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BlueAttitude Offline
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Originally Posted By: Matcham
I recall Ozone has a button right there on the main screen where you can check mono compatibility. You'll know all about it if it seems half your song has been sucked out. Non-Ozone users have easy options too.


I use reaper to mix, it also has a mono button on the main screen.
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#424416 - 08/04/17 04:46 AM [Recording, Mixing, Performance and Production] Re: Tips for making a mix sound good in mono? [Re: Janice & Bud]
Registered: 11/30/07
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BlueAttitude Offline
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Originally Posted By: Janice & Bud
As I've often said Neutron's feature that allows you to compare multiple tracks to isolate competing frequencies has been for me worth the price of admission alone. It's easy to use and IMO effective. And not just for kick and bass but for any tracks that tend to occupy the same eq areas.


Bud, which version of neutron do you have, the standard or advanced? I see they are both on sale at the moment,
standard is on sale for $199, advanced is $299. They both have the masking meter feature (elements does not)
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#424421 - 08/04/17 05:36 AM [Recording, Mixing, Performance and Production] Re: Tips for making a mix sound good in mono? [Re: BlueAttitude]
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Janice & Bud Offline
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I've got the standard version that I bought on the cheap from Izotope on a deal offfered to folks who own a host of their products. I have a filter that alarms before I over purchase with features that I'd likely never use (or understand) smile I did buy the advanced version of Ozone 7 solely for the reason that any of the modules can individually be used on a single track.

Bud
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#424436 - 08/04/17 06:29 AM [Recording, Mixing, Performance and Production] Re: Tips for making a mix sound good in mono? [Re: BlueAttitude]
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beatmaster Offline
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So sorry, but I seemed to have misunderstood the posting.

I will say I am guilty, on this occasion of not reading the post thoroughly.

I should have so I stand corrected and hung drawn, and quartered.

OUCH !
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#424440 - 08/04/17 06:50 AM [Recording, Mixing, Performance and Production] Re: Tips for making a mix sound good in mono? [Re: beatmaster]
Registered: 11/30/07
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BlueAttitude Offline
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Originally Posted By: beatmaster
So sorry, but I seemed to have misunderstood the posting.

I will say I am guilty, on this occasion of not reading the post thoroughly.

I should have so I stand corrected and hung drawn, and quartered.

OUCH !


No worries, it happens smile
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