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Recording a track in mono or stereo...any general "rules?"


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Definitions of stereophonic on the Web: "Designating sound transmission from two sources through two channels"

 

If you're recording a single source with two mics its not stereo, its dual mono.

 

The only stereo simulated effects you get is room reflection, phasing, proxcimity, or tonal differences between the mics. Many of these can be a pain in the ass to get in proper phase so the waveforms dont cancel each other and detract tone from a mix. An example is guitar pickup 180 degrees out of phase there is nearly complete cancellation of the sound. The same can happen using multiple mics at different distances from a source. The mic will be out of phase if the 3 to one rule isnt followed or the mics are adjusted using a mono mix for unison.

 

To get true stereo you need more than one source, 2 guitars, 2 vocalists, 3 dimentionsal drum set, etc or two parts playing the same part to introduce the human varience that occurs when playing a second part.

 

Theres nothing wrong with experimenting though. I spent many hours using two mics and panning each mic to each side of headphones. It can be a pain in the ass for vocals because the slightest movement will throw the balanced field off. This can really cramp your vocal dynamics, but it can also train you to stay in field of the mic when singing.

 

Unless you have a horrible deformity of your mouth, You will find the sound coming from one side of your face is exactly the same as the other side of your face, so using two mics in a stereo spread has littel to no benifits.

 

 

Using two mics to capture any room reflection/ambiance can be used. Your results will vary depending on weather the room sound is worth capturing and actually enhances the mix.

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I routinely record mono sources in stereo when the ambient space is part of the sound.

 

A lot of my work has been with solo violin, a single point source. As noted above, solo violin in a decent concert hall benefits from stereo because you can capture the ambient space in stereo.

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And... the more crowded the mix is or will be... mono becomes the answer more and more. Case in point.

 

I had a track I've been working up that was crying out for some "surf organ". That'd be a Farfisa or a Vox Continental to us oldies. I actually do have access to a Farfisa which sounds very cool cranked through a little guitar amp but it was 10 at night and...

 

So I open up Xpand (digi synth) and go about creating a decent facsimile. I get it right and start working some ping pong delays to soften it and run those into a room sound and...

 

WAIT. Strip the fx and I put a mono spring verb on it and it sounded right.

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Hear that. I usually record my guitar with two different amps so I have a choice of sounds to blend but I can pretty much make either sound simular with an EQ. I do use stereo reverbs and choruses in the chain and all which allow for a nice wide wash if need it. I may do a full right clean with a deep reverb on the other side but it depends on the material. That kind of stuff usually sounds better with a small combo 3 piece or whatever. Maybe with Keyboard too where it carries the backgrouns and you need a cool center balance with low notes on one side and highs on the other.

 

Always thought it would be cool to get some of those individual string pickups and have pan settings for all 6 strings. As you strum across the strings the sound goes from one speaker to the other. It would require a stereo cable of course, pans and volumes for each individual string pickup. Dont think I've ever heard a recording made that way.

 

Again, theres not much sence in having a guitar panned to both sides only to have other instruments burried by one. You wind up with all kinds of masking that clutters the hell out of the mix for no good reason. I can say there isnt much that cant be done with a good mono source using various effects. If you do use two amps and want both to be spread you really got to focus on EQ and reverb depth so its there but not stomping on other instruments. A thin guitar sound with reverb and a fat one spread or vice versa can sound pretty cool but its all in how you build a mix, and weather the results really make that big a difference to warrent investing the time.

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You dont get it, there is no stereo field from a single source merely room reflection that may or may not add to the sound. If you're talking something like an acoustic guitar, you may get some differences from the neck and body, or if it was a band or drumset that "is" three dimentional and creates a stereo field stereo works.

 

But with a single vocalist or a single speaker you're merely triangulating in on a single "mono source", not a "stereo source".

 

Its pretty simple to verify in any case by switching between mono and stereo monitoring using two mics to hear the difference. If sound projection is different in different parts of the room and condencer or omni mics are used, sure, you'll get some difference on the two channels but the direct instrument still centers between the two if the mics are matched evenly spaced, levels matched and all that jazz. Depth micing with a close and far mic can be turned sideways in the mix the same way as you would turn your head in a room with one ear to the source and one ear to the reflactive room. This creates a "stereo like" effect which most consider to be stereo. In reality its reverb on one channel and direct on the other.

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Always thought it would be cool to get some of those individual string pickups and have pan settings for all 6 strings. As you strum across the strings the sound goes from one speaker to the other. It would require a stereo cable of course, pans and volumes for each individual string pickup. Dont think I've ever heard a recording made that way.

 

 

Listen to Steve Morse's "Modoc," from his album High Tension Wires. He has strings 1, 3, and 5 panned hard left and strings 2, 4, and 6 hard right. Not quite what you described (a progressive left-to-right pan from string 6 to 1), but a pretty cool effect. Listen with headphones for best results.

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"Listen to Steve Morse's "Modoc," from his album High Tension Wires"

 

 

I'll have to check that out. I figured someone would have done it by now. I build alot of guitars and always thought the idea would be cool. I suppose you might be able to squeeze 2 or three single coils lengthwise with the strings and get a right left and center too. Place them far from the strings so the magnets dont pull the strings down, they might need heavy strings too.

There was a fad for midi guitars awhile back where this was much easier to do but playing them just felt wrong, they lacked the feel factor.

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You dont get it, there is no stereo field from a single source merely room reflection that may or may not add to the sound. .

 

I think Ken does get it. :)

 

Of course a solo violin in an auditorium is stereo. I don't care if it's a single point source or what ever you're calling it. The room refections are an integral part of that performamce or production choice for that recording.

 

STEREO!!!!!

 

If that's dual mono... uh... you mean all those Horowitz recordings I've been digging are dual mono? {censored}!

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"Listen to Steve Morse's "Modoc," from his album High Tension Wires"

I'll have to check that out. I figured someone would have done it by now. I build alot of guitars and always thought the idea would be cool. I suppose you might be able to squeeze 2 or three single coils lengthwise with the strings and get a right left and center too. Place them far from the strings so the magnets dont pull the strings down, they might need heavy strings too.

There was a fad for midi guitars awhile back where this was much easier to do but playing them just felt wrong, they lacked the feel factor.

 

 

All you need is a hex pickup with separate outs, such as those found on the Gibson Dark Fire and the (unfortunately named) HD.6X-PRO. I know Craig Anderton does music where he'll process the lowest two strings one way (as a synthesized based, say) and the upper four strings another way (for more of a lead type sound). Any synth guitar setup, like the Roland VG-88 and VG-99 can do this. I'm not sure I would call it a passing fad, as these are all current technology.

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"Of course a solo violin in an auditorium is stereo. I don't care if it's a single point source or what ever you're calling it. The room refections are an integral part of that performamce or production choice for that recording."

 

I agree.

 

I really like ORTF in a good room. It is stereo, even if you're just talking about the single instrument, as it is an attempt to simulate the stereo sound field we encounter when listening to an instrument in that situation.

 

I dunno what you're talking about with "dual-mono". The room reflection is a stereo phenomenon in this case.

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I'm surprised lee. Yes I will have to remain a stickler on the definition of this one and say, yes you are hearing a mono source with stereo ambiance. The direct sound is mono and the ambiance is stereo. Simple triangulation, no more no less. The sound reaching the mics simply have time differences from the acoustics but the direct/unrefracted sound remains dual mono. If you blocked the direct sound then all you would have is stereo ambiance, block the ambiance and all you have is a mono playback.

 

Those time differences can sound great obviously given the room is an auditorium, but wouldnt a stereo source sound great too? The only way to get "direct" sound width is to have more than one triangulation between two separated sources which creates a left and right from the direct sound. This separates the sources "From Each Other" giving a 3 dimensionally image of two separate sources using the, width the mic triangulations create.

 

I'm being a stickler on the sefinition I know but it does organize all the vodoo many associate with recording and use of microphones.

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I'm surprised lee. Yes I will have to remain a stickler on the definition of this one and say, yes you are hearing a mono source with stereo ambiance. The direct sound is mono and the ambiance is stereo. Simple triangulation, no more no less. The sound reaching the mics simply have time differences from the acoustics but the direct/unrefracted sound remains dual mono. If you blocked the direct sound then all you would have is stereo ambiance, block the ambiance and all you have is a mono playback.


Those time differences can sound great obviously given the room is an auditorium, but wouldnt a stereo source sound great too? The only way to get "direct" sound width is to have more than one triangulation between two separated sources which creates a left and right from the direct sound. This separates the sources "From Each Other" giving a 3 dimensionally image of two separate sources using the, width the mic triangulations create.


I'm being a stickler on the sefinition I know but it does organize all the vodoo many associate with recording and use of microphones.

 

 

I appreciate where you're going with this but I think you're mixing things up a bit. You have two ears. Life is stereo. I stand in front of Pablo Casals and I hear him play and it's stereo. He's dead but you get the point. Two ears. I can be 2" from his cello or 20 yards back and it's stereo. Unless I'm Ludwig Van or Brian Wilson.

 

Now... mic it up with one mic and play it back to me through two speakers? Mono. Give or take a millisecond.

 

The concept of dual mono comes from the true stereo masters, Swedien comes to mind, who recognize that when you pan a bunch of mono sources it really isn't stereo. Put a tambourine recorded with one mic (or rather a single channel) in your left and a single channel shaker in your right, they were recorded at different times, meaning not in the same room together.

 

That's not stereo. That's dual mono.

 

Back to the Pablo Casals example. Stand in front of him as he glides through Bach's solo pieces and enjoy nature's stereo. Now plug one ear...

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You have two ears. Life is stereo.


Now... mic it up with one mic and play it back to me through two speakers? Mono. Give or take a millisecond.

 

 

Exactly, you got it. And that's why I specifically discussed the stereo sound field. In the scenarios you are describing, what the two mics are doing are recreating the stereo sound field (or at least approximating it, but still, in true stereo) as we experience it.

 

And your description of dual mono is exactly right.

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Some applications just aren't mono friendly, which drives me nuts. Ableton Live is one that assumes every track has stereo information on it. If the file isn't really stereo, then I guess you just get it in mono, but twice as loud.

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In that case you could say a mono speaker played back in a room is actually stereo because of the room ambiance?

 

I think the definitions of what stereo is is being skewed here and not for the good of amatures who dont truely understand the definition. Sure our ears are stereoscopic the same way as our eyes are. But they're tied together to see a singe image when focused on a single source, and multiple images when theres multiple sources. Depth perception is not nessasarily stereo perception. People with a single eye or single ear can percieve weather something is near or far, (maybe not as well).

 

People in audio do tend to dicect music and have the ability to focus on individual elements that make up good recordings including the ambiance in fact its hard for them to overlook.

 

Stereo ambiance creates depth when playing back in the same triangulation as it was recorded but the direct sound is mono centered solo. You have depth but no width other than whats created by the sides of the triangle and ALL that ambiance is created from a single mono source.

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In that case you could say a mono speaker played back in a room is actually stereo because of the room ambiance?

 

I think the definitions of what stereo is is being skewed here and not for the good of amatures who dont truely understand the definition. Sure our ears are stereoscopic the same way as our eyes are. But they're tied together to see a singe image when focused on a single source, and multiple images when theres multiple sources. Depth perception is not nessasarily stereo perception. People with a single eye or single ear can percieve weather something is near or far, (maybe not as well).

 

People in audio do tend to dicect music and have the ability to focus on individual elements that make up good recordings including the ambiance in fact its hard for them to overlook.

 

Stereo ambiance creates depth when playing back in the same triangulation as it was recorded but the direct sound is mono centered solo. You have depth but no width other than whats created by the sides of the triangle and ALL that ambiance is created from a single mono source.

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In that case you could say a mono speaker played back in a room is actually stereo because of the room ambiance?

 

I think the definitions of what stereo is is being skewed and not in a good way for amatures who dont truely understand the definition. We are getting the "source" and a "recepiants perception" blurred here.

 

Sure our ears are stereoscopic the same way as our eyes are. But they're tied together by the brain to see a singe image when focused on a single mono source (for most sober people), and multiple images when theres multiple images or stereo sounds. Depth perception is not nessasarily stereo perception. People with a single eye or single ear can percieve weather something is near or far, (maybe not as well).

 

People in audio do tend to diesect music and have the ability to focus on individual elements that make up good recordings including the ambiance, in fact its hard for them to overlook.

 

Stereo ambiance creates depth when playing back in the same triangulation as it was recorded but the "direct sound" is mono centered solo. You have depth but no width other than whats created by the sides of the triangle. ALL that ambiance is created from a single mono source.

 

This was the posters original question about being able to create a stereo recording from a mono source. My answer remains, no. The ambiance, wash, depth or whatever, can be stereo or a stereo simulation including psuedo/quasi/or rechanneled stereo but the recorded source remains mono. "Without two sources there is no stereo image" of left and right directions "between the sources" to create a true stereo image. Mono =1 Stereo =2

 

This article may explain it from another perspective, but even they confirm in the second paragraph under Stereo about a mono centerd signal not being a true stereo signal. http://www.mcsquared.com/mono-stereo.htm

 

 

Heres the definition comparing the mono vs stereo as pere Wiki. Notice they reference the source not the listeners perceptions.

 

"Mono (monophonic, or monaural) is sound from a single source. All speakers in a mono system (like an intercom) will carry the same signal. Stereo (stereophonic) is sound from two sources, ideally spaced apart, and reproduces sound the way we hear it naturally, with two ears".

 

Simulated stereo can be debated from a "perception" point of view all you want, in fact its an audios techs job to fool the mind of the listener into thinking things are something they arent in the most convincing manor possible. Lets be sure not fool ourselves in the process.

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In that case you could say a mono speaker played back in a room is actually stereo because of the room ambiance?

 

 

No, but if you are utilizing two microphones that are pulled apart far enough from the sound source, you could record the audio in such a way that it makes a fair attempt at reproducing the sound field as we hear it.

 

Definition of stereo: reproducer in which two microphones feed two or more loudspeakers to give a three-dimensional effect to the sound

 

http://wordnetweb.princeton.edu/perl/webwn?s=stereo

 

Here's an article that discusses stereo microphone techniques:

 

http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/1997_articles/feb97/stereomiking.html

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"Without two sources there is no stereo image" of left and right directions "between the sources" to create a true stereo image. Mono =1 Stereo =2


 

 

You're correct. "Without two sources there is no stereo image". But those 2 sources are the two microphones picking up different info in each. Even with a solo cello.

 

"Mr. Casals. Would you please do me a favor and move your cello, stand and chair 20 feet to your right please?"

 

But I'm centered between those microphones!

 

"Yes, I understand that but I'd like to make a point here. Oblige me please."

 

Anything for you Lee. I'm sure you have your reasons.

 

So, what happens to our playback now? Does the cello move to the right? Of course if does. This is indeed stereo. And you haven't even touched a pan knob. One "source", but in actuality, many, many sources. The reflections. And the location of the source with respect to the two mics.

 

"Mr. Casals, have you met Jascha Heifetz? Great. My Heifetz? Would yo do me the favor of standing 20 to the left of the that mic pair."

 

I would be honored Mr. Knight.

 

This is stereo too. One or two instruments. Doesn't matter. In the case of the one instrument, those room refections are auditory events. The mic, the tape, the speakers do not care if it is a direct cello or refections of that cello. Those 2 mics are documenting an event emanating from one source that is stimulating many sources. Reflections.

 

That is stereo, my man.

 

Oh, and Pablo and Jascha, thanks for your time. See at the poker game Thursday.

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Sorry, again its only a mono source panned within a stereo field. The mics arent the sources they're the receptors. If the player was to run side to side on stage as they played, I can see where the panning might be interpeted as true stereo. again every sound the instrument makes is only being made by one instrument including all of its ambiance.

 

Mono equals one. One point of origin.

Stereo equals two. Two points of origin.

 

Its not that I dont completely agree with you on stereo ambiance and phase relationships, I get it man believe me.

 

Its just you dont seem to understand that stereo requires two points of origin to be "defined" as true stereo. No matter what you do with that solo player, theres still only gonna be a solo player in that stereo field. Put two players on that stage and you "can" have a stereo image "between the two" panned to either side.

 

Pan them both "center" and again you have two instruments in mono.

 

Without left and right separation of "two" sources, it doesnt fit the definition as being true stereo by most well written acoustic manual definitions.

 

Sorry you may disagree, Its your right.

 

But I'm not the one who defined the term stereo nor am I trying to abuse the term to fit a point. I'm just trying to explain the definition of a very simple way. What sound I may actually hear is considerd percption or Hearing. It has nothing to do with a single string being bowed by that single player on that stage within a stereo field. Its a single source no matter how you look at it.

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