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Confused about when to load an instrument in mono or stereo...
Old 6th August 2012
  #1
Gear Addict
 
🎧 5 years
Confused about when to load an instrument in mono or stereo...

Okay...this one's a little embarrassing, but hopefully someone can help me out...

Firstly, I totally understand the difference between mono and stereo. I also understand that certain elements of the mix benefit from staying wide/at the front--and these instruments are best left in mono (the kick for example).

But here's where I get confused. Let's say I want to add a sample delay to a mono synth sound. I don't understand why it matters if that synth is in mono or stereo, because the effect seems to work either way...So why would I choose one over the other? (and why does something like stereo delay work in mono? It's a stereo effect--i.e. the L/R are reacting differently...)

When using mono instruments, it allows for more space within the mix (right?), and all loading a stereo instrument does is add perceived width? Or are there certain effects that simply don't work or don't work as well if the instrument isn't in stereo?

So basically what I'm asking is what's the advantage of putting some instruments in stereo? Although I will say that an unaffected stereo synth sounds "better" than an unaffected mono synth, it seems it's just louder...?

I'm just looking for some very general rules as to when I should be loading an instrument in mono and when I should be loading it in stereo, and what the advantages/disadvantages of each are.

THANK YOU to whoever clears this up for me because it's an issue I've been confused about for a long time. For the record I produce trance in Logic 9 if that helps influence anyone's answer as to when mono/stereo is most appropriate...
Old 6th August 2012
  #2
Gear Head
 
realstreet936's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
Not a professional but i usually only put baselines and deep kicks in mono sometimes toms and make the rest stereo but thats just one opinion... mono bass keeps the mix from getting too muddy imo...

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Old 6th August 2012
  #3
Gear Addict
 
🎧 5 years
Okay, I made that way too longwinded and difficult to answer.

Here's all I want to know: If making pretty much everything ITB, which midi instruments do you usually load as mono in your mix and which in stereo? Why? And this is very generally speaking, obviously.
Old 6th August 2012
  #4
Gear Maniac
 
🎧 10 years
Generally speaking (as there are no rules) I normally have mono instruments in mono - so individual drums, bass and vocals. However I pan them all to where they need to be in my mix.

Midi instruments (ITB Instruments in Logic Pro) - it depends on what I want in the mix and what sound I'm after. For example some VST Pianos have a full stereo spread which sounds great on it's own with just a vocal. But it would swamp the sound stage in a full mix. So I might take piano in mono to make it fit better in a more dence mix.

In Logic I also tend to split my stereo tracks into 2 mono tracks so I can process each side differently. Adding maybe a small delay to one side, or putting complimentary (or different) eq on each mono side to enharnce the sence of width. Dave Pensado covers this in one of his 'In the Lair' clips Into The Lair | Pensado's Place

Anyway, before I go - could I ask when panning sounds do you use Logic's Direction Mixer plugin or are you panning with the channel strip panning knob?
The Direction Mixer - YouTube

Last edited by SochiTag; 7th August 2012 at 02:24 PM.. Reason: spelling as normal!
Old 7th August 2012
  #5
Gear Addict
 
🎧 5 years
I almost always do my panning with the channel strip knob...I've never really used the Logic direction mixer, why would using it be advantageous?

Also, interesting point about splitting stereo tracks into mono. That would mean that each individual track in your mix is actually in mono right? Because for a stereo track you'd just load two instances of a mono track, and then I assume bus them to an aux if needed.
Old 7th August 2012
  #6
RiF
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RiF's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Grindonthemind ➑️
Okay...this one's a little embarrassing, but hopefully someone can help me out...
I don't get that you feel embarrassed by asking a question on a forum that is made for this kind of questions.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Grindonthemind ➑️
But here's where I get confused. Let's say I want to add a sample delay to a mono synth sound. I don't understand why it matters if that synth is in mono or stereo, because the effect seems to work either way...So why would I choose one over the other? (and why does something like stereo delay work in mono? It's a stereo effect--i.e. the L/R are reacting differently...)
A typical stereo delay has a mono input and a stereo output, although a delay plugin can (and most likely will) have a stereo input as well. On a stereo delay, as you know, you can adjust the left and right delay lines individually, thus creating a stereo effect. I'd feed a mono signal into a stereo delay. If you head for a stereo delay effect, it will most likely sound more stereo and more focussed if you feed the delay with a mono signal than if you feed it with a stereo signal.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Grindonthemind ➑️
When using mono instruments, it allows for more space within the mix (right?), and all loading a stereo instrument does is add perceived width? Or are there certain effects that simply don't work or don't work as well if the instrument isn't in stereo?
I don't know of any effect (mono or stereo) that does only work with stereo sources.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Grindonthemind ➑️
So basically what I'm asking is what's the advantage of putting some instruments in stereo? Although I will say that an unaffected stereo synth sounds "better" than an unaffected mono synth, it seems it's just louder...?

I'm just looking for some very general rules as to when I should be loading an instrument in mono and when I should be loading it in stereo, and what the advantages/disadvantages of each are.
Rules... hmmm... let's try (but feel free to break those rules any time):
  • In a dense mix with lots of instruments, try to keep most of them mono. Most stereo (virtual) instruments have kind of a "fake stereo" effect on them. They just get widened by chorusing, short stereo delays or reverb. This messes up the stereo center and you'll end up with a muddy and unfocused mix.
  • On the other hand, if you have a very sparse mix (like just a piano and vocals), I'd keep the piano in stereo.
  • A very obvious one: Instruments that are naturally mono (like bass, kick or any other percussion instrument) should be kept in mono. If an instrument or sample "pretends" to have a nice stereo kick or stereo bass, convert them to mono unless you have a very good reason for keeping it in stereo.
It seems a bit strange, but keeping instruments in mono will make your mix sound wider in the end. A huge stack of stereo pads, stereo percussion, stereo whatnot will end up in a foggy mess and not in a wide mix.

Same goes for reverbs. A lot of guys use two seperate mono reverbs (panned hard left / right) instead of a single stereo reverb to keep the stereo center clean to leave room for things like kick, snare, vocals and bass to cut through.
Old 7th August 2012 | Show parent
  #7
Gear Maniac
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Grindonthemind ➑️
I almost always do my panning with the channel strip knob...I've never really used the Logic direction mixer, why would using it be advantageous?
The channel strip panning knob is actually a balance knob - it just turns down one side or the other of your stereo track.

The Direction Mixer is where you will find pan.
Old 7th August 2012 | Show parent
  #8
Gear Maniac
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by RiF ➑️
Same goes for reverbs. A lot of guys use two seperate mono reverbs (panned hard left / right) instead of a single stereo reverb to keep the stereo center clean to leave room for things like kick, snare, vocals and bass to cut through.
I use this technique a lot. It works best with different reverb settings (even a different reverb unit) on each side and different eq etc.
Old 7th August 2012
  #9
Gear Addict
 
🎧 5 years
Thanks RiF. That clears things up for me quite a bit. Was exactly the kind of answer I was looking for.
Old 7th August 2012
  #10
RiF
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RiF's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
You're welcome!
Old 7th August 2012
  #11
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BillSimpkins's Avatar
 
1 Review written
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Of coarse it is more complicated than just spitting out some examples (depends on song/arrangement etc...), but here are a few:

MONO: kick, snare, guitar violin, flute, finger bass, lead synth, rodes
STEREO: string section, synth bass, piano, percussion section

Generally, you don't want a lot of stereo patches stacked. Lead instruments are generally mono. Solo your stereo synth patches then solo each side. Listen to check if one side is just chorused or delayed. I usually make these mono unless is just sounds rad or does the trick. Put a stereo phase scope on stereo patches to see how "wide" they actually are. If they aren't that wide, just go mono.
Old 8th August 2012
  #12
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GJ999x's Avatar
 
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🎧 5 years
Is there a processing power issue? Cos if not, i'd be tempted (in fact i do) only use stereo instances... you can mono if you need to for mixing afterwards, you still have full control over that... replacing a mono instrument wiht a stereo version way into the mix feels a bit more risky / complex (risk of loosing settings, general mix gremlins etc)...

I have no idea if this is all complete BS and happy to be challenged, this is the principle that i seemed to have worked to over the last year tho...
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