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


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If thats the best you can muster, and you just agree with others with zero explanation as to why, I'll agree I'm wasting my time.

 

What is it with some people around here. They hang out because they want to learn something and turn a conversation into a butt kissing contest. Must be hell going around wearing all that wool. Most Sheepole shed it when they mature and have something to intellegent to add to a conversation.

 

Tell you what bob, Nothing else interesting hapening around here. Why dont you google it up yourself and give a coherent convincing explanation.

 

Better yet do it off the top of your head like I did. I'm sure I'll be able to find a flaw or two in your explanation like you might have in mine. I'm sure everyone would love to hear why you agree.

 

Maybe you can convice a guys like me with over 40 years in the business, a formal education on the subject, and was paid to teach it to amatures on the subject they are wrong or dont explain things properly. I might have fallen asleep and missed something back in the day or maybe I missed something that completely changed physics I just missing it some how, or better yet, alzheimers is setting in and with your explanation you can straighten out.

 

If you had any depth of understanding on the subject you would know Lee and myself are having a friendly joust on a subject knowing it may spur a some understanding for others on the subject, especially for those who havent hit the books and learned their basics. Then you would verify the subject for yourself and actually understand the truth.

 

I've read tons of Lees posts and consider him quite competent on the subject and respect his opinions. It doesnt mean I have to agree with all of his opinions. Theres many roads to hell and heaven and I have the freedom to choose my own route last time I checked. Lee doesnt require defence from others. I'm no threat to him na enjoy reading his well thought out posts. He is quite compentent on the subject and can stand up on his own hind legs if he cares too without anyones support.

 

We've been stickeling over a technical definition so noobs might be able to share in a littel in depth understanding on the subject. The subject comes up at least weekly and without some discussion some still cling to misunderstandings for lack of better definition to fill gaps in their education. Problem is there is always someone willing to take a cheap shot and feel thay dont have to be held accountable for their opinion. This isnt a contest, no need to declare a winner especially when there isnt one. Theres only loosers who fail to digest intelegent conversation and share in learning.

 

I appoligize for making you my mono focal point bob. It has nothing to do with you personally obviously. Your statement simply made for a good oppertunity of what should be said around here occasionally for some arent getting it, especially by those like yourself who know what I'm actually saying. HC can use a littel spicing up occasionally so give it your best shot.

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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.

 

Yes, that's exactly right. And those two microphones are an attempt to recreate the stereo sound field. X-Y, spaced pair, etc. all aim to do this, which is why they are stereo microphone techniques.

 

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

 

If you were to play back the recording you just made on one speaker, then you'd be back to mono; if on a stereo system, it would remain in stereo.

 

If you were completely deaf in one ear, you would hear in mono; if you can hear in both ears, you hear in stereo. We agree on that, right?

 

If you use a binaural microphone but blocked one of the microphones, it would hear in mono; if you recorded with both microphones, it would be in stereo.

 

ku100_180.jpg

 

Using two microphones in X-Y or a spaced pair is simply another way of recording in stereo.

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Its just you dont seem to understand that stereo requires two points of origin to be "defined" as true stereo.

 

 

It's interesting that you cannot seem to make your point without saying phrases such as "It's just that you dont (sic) seem to understand..." or "you just don't get it." That's considered argument ad hominem. We're simply having a discussion here.

 

 

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.

 

 

 

- What happens if there are two cello players, but they are both right in the center, perhaps one directly in back of the other? Is that stereo? Or mono?

 

- What happens if there are two cello players, one on each side of the stage. Both play simultaneously. According to your definition, that's stereo. What if one stops playing? Does the stereo sound field that we all perceive as listeners suddenly collapse to mono (even though we have two good ears)?

 

- What if there's one cello player. According to your definition, this is mono, yes? But wait...the cello player is singing. Is this now stereo? There are two instruments, after all. And every time the cellist stops singing, the sound field reverts back to mono? Mono, stereo, mono, stereo, mono, stereo.

 

- Now, let's say the cello player is playing and begins singing. Two instruments. Stereo, right -- even though the sound is emanating from the same part of the stage as the cello? But now, the cello player turns his head, resulting in an echo from one side of the stage. What is this considered?

 

- Let's say there is one person on stage. That person is singing. This is mono, according to your definition, yes? Of course it is. It's one instrument. That's what you said. Another person comes up on stage, and now two people are singing. This is stereo, right? "Two points of origin is stereo", you said. Now, four more people come up, one of them a basso who is dead center. All are singing simultaneously. By your logic, we would now have 5.1 surround sound, isn't that right? Of course, it is because by your logic, one instrumentalist = mono and two instrumentalists = stereo, so therefore, this would be 5.1 surround.

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"It has nothing to do with you personally obviously. Your statement simply made for a good oppertunity of what should be said around here occasionally for some arent getting it, especially by those like yourself who know what I'm actually saying. HC can use a littel spicing up occasionally so give it your best shot."

 

To be honest, I've written four or five responses over the course of this thread, but I delete a whole lot more than I write. The original post I wrote had three paragraphs about why you are wrong, but I deleted it because I thought it was pedantic.

 

The other folks have made the case, and you are not agreeing with them, so rehashing what they have written doesn't do much; you're wrong. It isn't a cheap shot; you're perfectly capable of understanding why you are wrong, yet you are unconvinced.

 

That is fine with me. I'll go on making stereo recordings of mono sources every day. I -do- "have any undrestanding", both of the forum and of stereo recording techniques.

 

But to say that

 

"Stereo equals two. Two points of origin. "

 

is wrong.

 

I am sure that we're all just quibbling over a definition, and that you know how to make a good recording.

 

But look:

 

in any acoustic transduction of a recorded event, there are multiple "sources," because in addition to the primary source there are (with the exception of an anechoic chamber or a synthesized sound) a myriad of reflected secondary and tertiary reflections that are inherent to a vibrating body in an bound space.

 

Yet even though a single mic might pickup a myriad of sources (i.e be "stereo" under your definition, what make a system "stereo" is that it attempts to recreate a phenomenon humans experience in the real world.

 

It has nothing to do with how many sources there are.

 

It has nothing to do with the width of the source itself.

 

Stereo recording techniques are techniques to replicate the localization that humans experience with their ears. That is all the word means.

 

So even the most basic changing levels between two playback sources (i.e. panning between two speakers using only level) of a "mono" source is a stereo technique: it is an attempt to imbue the recorded material with localization information.

 

It is stereo,

 

and if you can't agree with that, you are wrong.

 

I am sure you're nice and all. Maybe you can stop by and say hi if you're in Lubbock. I'm playin in Austin, Temple, New Braunfuls, Lubbock, and Abilene over the next two weeks, and you're welcome to say hi. You sound like a cool dude and all.

 

But you're still wrong, and I'm not trying to kiss up to you or Ken or Lee by noting that fact.

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But to say that


"Stereo equals two. Two points of origin. "


is wrong.

 

 

If he's talking about a speaker playback system, he's right in that a single speaker is not stereo...by its very definition.

 

But of course, we're not talking about that. No one's arguing that. We're simply stating that we can record stereo with two microphones from a single source in many (but definitely not all) instances.

 

 

I am sure that we're all just quibbling over a definition, and that you know how to make a good recording.

 

 

That's my feeling as well.

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So even the most basic changing levels between two playback sources (i.e. panning between two speakers using only level) of a "mono" source is a stereo technique: it is an attempt to imbue the recorded material with localization information.

 

Actually....just to open *another* can of worms (wheeee!!! :D ), I'm not sure that it's accurate to say that panning a mono source between two speakers is "true" stereo image (this is what we have been discussing, right?), although of course you are correct in saying that it is an attempt to imbue the recorded material with localization cues. I mean, I know what you're saying, obviously, but I'm not totally sure that this qualifies as "true" stereo any more than taking multiple inputs from a drum machine and panning them constitutes "true" stereo image. To me, that's more "dual mono" than stereo if we are defining stereo as trying to replicate the sound field.

 

http://www.asc-studio-acoustics.com/swedien.htm


Finally Swedien insists that the recording be "true stereo".


"I always try to preserve a true stereo image. Most recordings today are what I call two channel mono, and for that reason they don't have much emotional impact. I use a basic 'X-Y' or 'coincident pair' microphone setup in many of my recordings. What I frequently do is to place a pair of my Neuman M49's or my B & K 1006's very close together, and that basic mike set-up then forms the core of the recording. They're so close-maybe a foot or less-that the the arrival time of the sound from the sound source hits the two capsules at essentially the same moment in time. This way there is virtually no phase difference. As a result the sonic image that you get has almost no left/right intensity, but you will get a wide feeling sound field."

 

 

http://www.hometheaterorganizer.com/glossary.htm


Sound Field:

The overall acoustics of a given space
.

 

And by the way, if someone is really attempting to pan something around, it'd sound even more realistic if one added reverb or delay times in an attempt to replicate the space and not simply the movement, but that's another story.

 

And I apologize because now I feel like I'm quibbling, but I just wanted to try and point this out.

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"in any acoustic transduction of a recorded event, there are multiple "sources," because in addition to the primary source there are (with the exception of an anechoic chamber or a synthesized sound) a myriad of reflected secondary and tertiary reflections that are inherent to a vibrating body in an bound space".

 

The string is the source, The reflection is created by the source not a generation of its own.

 

"- What happens if there are two cello players, but they are both right in the center, perhaps one directly in back of the other? Is that stereo? Or mono?"

 

Ah - But thats what close micing is for isnt it to develop a stereo field between the two?

 

 

"I mean, I know what you're saying, obviously, but I'm not totally sure that this qualifies as "true" stereo any more than taking multiple inputs from a drum machine and panning them constitutes "true" stereo image. To me, that's more "dual mono" than stereo if we are defining stereo as trying to replicate the sound field".

 

If Different drums are coming through different speakers, its considered stereo.

 

 

"And by the way, if someone is really attempting to pan something around, it'd sound even more realistic if one added reverb or delay times in an attempt to replicate the space and not simply the movement, but that's another story.

 

And I apologize because now I feel like I'm quibbling, but I just wanted to try and point this out"

 

Not at all both of you make some decent points. Theres simply a littel blur going on there. To a listener hearing something panned sounds "stereolike". I have no problem with that term being used properly. It just goes against my knowlege when subcatagories are grouped together like they dont matter. Thats the heart of the debate all along here. And why you consider my disection pointless and give it a fail.

But I will continue on to see if i can explain why my specific use of a term is important.

 

Panning can be done with mono speakers was well as stereo speakers. What you hear in the room is movement. Within that room there is a stereo event. Having those great refractions also add depth to the aural event. We totally agree on that.

 

If we sit in a hall and a cherry bomb goes off, we immediately turn to see what caused the single event our ears act like radar and our mind being a singular entity turn their focus to that single event.

 

Set off two at each end of the hall, and some will turn to see one that is closer to them and others to the other. A sudden stereo event with mixed results cause by those events. Most people will quickly realise there is a threat from in front and behind and deal with the "plural" event.

 

Most dont say the explosion was one event, and the echo was a separate event making for two separate events. Thats a rediculous argument.

 

We all know what caused the echo. Weather the reflections appear to be 3d or not isnt the point. That reflection has its own set of parameters and definitions but they arent generated on their own, they are an effect not a cause.

 

They say man can only focus 100% on a single event. Even when watching a movie our mind flips between one actor and another. Same holds true in music. It takes alot of effort for someone to hear a complete stereo mix as a single mono event, but thats what we do all the time when we judge a mix for parts that may be too loud in comparison to others.

 

We also listen to each individual part completely through to be sure it doesnt get burried by the background noise our mind is capible of blocking out.

 

Our minds are capible of blocking out background ambiance created by and event. When the bomb goes off in a theatre, we arent looking around the room going wow man look at that echo travel around the room. We turn attantion to the cause of the possibly dangerous life threatining "mono" event.

 

 

The definition of stereo sepeartes the cause from the result. We tend to lump them together and rarely piece them appart because its more of a hands on "just do it type of thing" when mixing. We dont usually mix a solo instrument, and even in the case of an acoustic player, theres often a vocal or in the case of the cello player, there may be other players who kick in after a solo returning our focus to a wider soundscape.

 

We have been combining stereo simulated events with a coined definition of true stereo. This is a good topic worthery of scrutinization. I've read hundreds of posts by people trying too create a stereo signal out of a mono event and I'm sure those questions will be continued to be asked because those who ask it are focused on results, not definitions.

 

I dont even know if its good to define the differences at this point judging the controversy it creates with those who havent been formally taught the individual parts of the science because of the confusion that creates in the process. But you should consider the possibility that acoustics is a science like any other that are be broken down into mathamatical equasions and the individual parts that all have their own definitions. Some have a trained perspective and had to break old bad habits of lumping unrelated terminology together and eventually understood the wisdom behind it.

 

There are many words that get abused in specific sciences that get abused regularly to the point where people think its part of an inclusive understanding and dont realize the subject has its own subcatagory clearly defined. Theres also many who learn the individual parts and never grow to the point of using those parts as a single talent in a creative way either through lack of experience using those tools or failure to climbing above it and looking around so to say.

 

Most who have gone through the riggors of learning things by the book will view them as a complete picture when putting the knowlege to use. That is untill untill a problem or challange props up.

 

A trained individual "should" be able to focus on individual parts for the best solution or a creative bending to achive good results. Those who havent pocketed the individual parts may grope around much longer dealing with unnamed thought processes and blurred definitions and eventually get the same results. The trained individual should be able to retrace his steps quite clearly and get the same results again and again if needed, the other may have littel recall of the process that brought about the results.

 

 

Yes I'm splitting hairs here. I was formally trained in the subject and used to group things together in generalities like everyone else here way back when the curiosity first grabbed me. Even after being trained it took many years to use the tools I was given and learn how creatively they can be used.

 

You guys are free to believe what you want. Just keep the possibility open that theres always new perspective out there you may not have experienced yet. If you think theres only one perspective thats correct you need some reccesitation like I've trying to provide here prying open some hidden doors you havent opened yet.

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I'll throw another one in there just for the hell of it..

 

How about four mics on a single instrument. Does that make it Quadraphonic? No. You can Have mics centered around a single player who rotates. Ids that Quadraphonic? Thats considerd simulated Quadraphonics.

 

Have 4 separate players with 4 separate mics played back through 4 separate speakers and now you have true quadraphonics. 4 sources, 4 events occuring and 4 independant playbacks to to obtain separation between them all. Thats all, very simple, no need to read more into that specific simple definition. The term gets coined of the number of sources, and they're reproduction to create the same event back through a loudspeaker to create a sence of space between tha same sources. Plural sources is the key item AND separation of those sources during playback" if you dont have both, its a form of simulation.

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Terry Manning tracks virtually everything with one mic. At least that is his strong prefernce. (of course drums kits are special)

 

Bruce Swedien tracks almost everything in "stereo".

 

Both of them produce killer results.

 

My conclusion: there are no useful rules about this

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You can use 200 mics if you want, it isnt going to create a plural source of sound, merely one of the suncatagories of stereolike sounds.

 

According to the definition "by the book" stereophonic requires two "sources" of sound to create a field between the two. Revibration IS NOT A SOURCE its a result eminating from the source. So even though there is revibration info there that creates a sence of space "Room" it doent fit all the crieteria of being truely stereophonic. No, an XY with a single source is not true stereo,

 

I'm not going to be an idiot and say it doesnt sound great or "Stereo Like" it definately does.

But there is only going to be a singular source creating that sound within a stereo field.

 

There are many variants that are incorperated in the stereo like catagory including the comb filtering, adding reverbs, various forms of digitizing one channel over the other, harmonisers, ping pong echos, reverse echos, and any kind of delays used to generate space. Sorry to say none of these meet the criteria of true stereo. Many of these can be very convincing.

 

I could even say a regular instrument in one channel and one in reverse in the other comes probibly the closest to being synthetic stereo because of the timing variants between the two direct sources, but it fails the definition again, its simply a variant of the above.

 

 

If you want to lump them all together and say I'm wrong here, thats fine and dandy, I'm not trying to hard ass here, its simply a specific reproduction process as all the others are. If you want to think a mono source signal is stereo, Thats fine, (just share a littel of what you're drinkin with the rest of us so we can hear or see doubble too). :thu:

 

 

I really dont know how to explain it any simpler than I have.

I'm just sorry so many lump it all the various subcatagories together and call them all stereophonic instead of by their true subcatagory names.

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According to the definition "by the book" stereo requires two "sources" of sound to create a field between the to. So even though there is revibration info there that creates a sence of space "Room" it doent fit the defination of "True stereo" because theres a plural source missing. So going strictly by the book. No.

 

 

I think you're misreading this. The two sources here are the two mics. The Left and Right signals are different at the outputs, reflecting that. Lee's example is really the simplest and most natural stereo there is, and the reason it was invented--to better match the way two-eared humans hear.

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If you were to play back the recording you just made on one speaker, then you'd be back to mono; if on a stereo system, it would remain in stereo.

 

If you were completely deaf in one ear, you would hear in mono; if you can hear in both ears, you hear in stereo -- regardless of the number of sound sources. We agree on that, right? We always hear in stereo.

 

If you use a binaural microphone but blocked one of the microphones, it would hear in mono; if you recorded with both microphones, it would be in stereo -- again, regardless of the number of sound sources.

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True Stereo
: Two sources recorded to two discrete tracks (e.g., X/Y mics recording a cello going to Channels 1 and 2, and then to two tracks--multi or L/R stereo).

 

 

It's this definition of stereo, not "simulated" stereo, that we are achieving when we use two microphones to replicate the sound field REGARDLESS of the number of sources present.

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It's this definition of stereo, not "simulated" stereo, that we are achieving when we use two microphones to replicate the sound field REGARDLESS of the number of sources present.

 

 

I'm using "sources" here to mean discrete signal paths--not as in "two things making noise." Sorry if I wasn't clear on this. So, yes, two mics equals two sources.

 

P.S. I fixed my original post in an edit.

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:facepalm: A Microphone IS NOT A SOURCE of any sound. You're sticking your own interpetation in there to suit your belief. You are viewing the term as a sound engineer using mics vs the source of sound as your source. Cant help you much with that form of blindness. It does take some imagry of the inner eye to understand the term when you're into recording, for a laymen its very simple because there is littel technology involved hearing two distinct sources, which are the loudspeakers. In their case, the speakers are the instruments.

 

Mics arent speakers so they are not a source. They are recievers of the sound that attempts to mimic what out ears hear. You cant assume all the other paths of recording are there, this can be a live performance and a PA. The mic converts the recieved signal to a voltage that can be converted back to a reasonable faxcimilie of sound.

 

A microphone can be an extention of your ears if you want, but they are not sources of sound. The headphones you have clamped to your head can be considerd a source. But you would need to hear beyond all of that to the actual image on stage and not be staring at the speakers in front of you to "get it"

 

You got to remember all of this is based on the word Stereoscopic. If you study that definitian a littel you can see how Stereophonic was defined the way it was and how it relates directly to how we recieve sensory input.

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Revibration IS NOT A SOURCE its a result eminating from the source.

 

 

This is where you're going wrong. I'm not trying to be in your face by using the word wrong. But I do believe you are wrong.

 

Yes, reverberation is a source as well. As I stated earlier, the machinery doesn't care. Look at the meters even. The room will react differently side to side. The meter activity will sometimes show this. Not always. But I've seen stereo recordings of a centered instrument like a cello and seen the activity in the meters vary.

 

But even if they don't vary. Reverberation is complex. Why? Because the room, no matter how symmetrical we can attempt to make it, the instrument, no matter how symmetrical we can attempt to make it, the mic pair, no matter how meticulous we place them for symetry...

 

...will vary side to side. As the cellist leans into his bow and brings out more rosin sound, one side of the hall will react differently to that little bit of information.

 

Stereo.

 

And really, when you get right down to it, a cello itself isn't a single source. The sound off the bow itself. The sound off the rear of the instrument. Off the front of sound board. The sound being absorbed by the player on one side but not on the other. Humans have great absorption coefficients.

 

The only way to insure mono... is to use one channel.

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Sure you can have stereo ambiance, I'm not denying that, Cut the mix so its 100% ambiance, what do you have? 100% stereo ambiance from a mono source. Does that ambiance create two separate direct sources within the sound field? To me its merely stereo wash that eminates from a single source.

 

The ambiance cant exist on its own and the mind can usually figure that out, so it can never be more than a "stereolike" experience. Is stereolike bad? Of cource not. It surely has everyone convinced it is true stereo.

 

Lets try this and keep it simple, and ask this question. At what point when panning two signals center does the signal become mono?

 

My answer is when the listeners perception can no longer distinguish space between the two entities as having distance between them.

 

Can a mono signal in that case with ambiance fake someone out and make them think they're hearing separate left and right experiences?. Sure can. Its got quite a few faked out around here who consider themselves to be pros.

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:facepalm:
A Microphone IS NOT A SOURCE of any sound.

 

Who said it was? It's a stereo method of CAPTURING sound. You're now twisting words around.

 

Cant help you much with that form of blindness.

 

I've already pointed out your penchant for attacking the person rather than discussing points. If you can't discuss something without resorting to "you just don't get it" or :facepalm: or "Cant (sic) help you much with that form of blindness", then it's no longer a discussion.

 

Since you believe that stereo binaural microphones are not recording in stereo and if there is a single source we hear in mono even though we have two ears and you are attacking people instead of discussing, I'm rapidly losing interest in this.

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This is where you're going wrong. I'm not trying to be in your face by using the word wrong. But I do believe you are wrong.


Yes, reverberation
is
a source as well. As I stated earlier, the machinery doesn't care. Look at the meters even.

 

 

Yes, this is exactly right. Our equipment - or our stereo hearing - doesn't care whether it's direct, ambient, reflections, or whatever. Our stereo microphone setup or our stereo hearing is picking up all audio occurrences in stereo. It's really as simple as that.

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I'm using "sources" here to mean discrete signal paths--not as in "two things making noise." Sorry if I wasn't clear on this. So, yes, two mics equals two sources.


P.S. I fixed my original post in an edit.

 

:thu:

 

I was actually just pointing out which definition of stereo we were discussing when talking about stereo micing something.

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Just a basic question that I haven't seen addressed (or missed it, if it was):

How do you decide whether to record a track in mono or stereo?

Vocals?

Guitar?

Drums?

Yodeling? (err...nevermind)

Many thanks!

 

 

I joined Harmony Central today after reading the many posts in this thread. As you can see from the very long thread, people with a lots of experience have strong opinions about what the words "mono" and "stereo" actually mean.

 

Here's my 2 cents on recording:

Vocals - 1 mic per soloist; 1 or 2 for groups, ensembles, choirs

Guitar - 1 or more mics

Drums - 1 or more mics

 

Here's my reasons:

1. A single mic on a a wide sound source (e.g. a choir) can capture a panoramic image when placed at a distance. The closer the mic gets to the singers, the more focused it will become on the singers in close proximity to the mic.

 

2. If your sound source is very narrow, a single mic could work very well. But, is your sound source narrow or not? An acoustic guitar produces a wide variety of frequencies from all over the instrument. A mic near the sound hole will pick up an abundance of low frequencies. A mic placed near the bridge will pick up higher frequencies and picking sounds. A mic placed near the fingerboard will pick up more fingering sounds.

 

3. Drums can be thought of like a choir, or like a number of soloists. A mic for each drum an cymbal will give you control in the mix over each source. One or two mics at a distance from your drum "choir" will give you a blend of the different sources in a drum set or ensemble.

 

4. Mics are often used specifically to pick up room ambiance, and blending of sound sources. This can help reduce a "sterile" sound that can occur with a single mic placed close to a sound source.

 

5. With the use of multiple mics on a narrow sound source, you may have to deal the wave form amplification and cancellation, such as phasing or comb filtering that can occur when you play your recordings through speakers.

 

As you can see, there are many ways to record, each with advantages and disadvantages. Carefully consider the views of the pros, paying particular attention to "why" they record in a particular manner, and what "effect" they are trying to capture in their recordings. And, most of all, experiment. The wrong way of recording something might just be the perfect solution if it captures the sound the way you wanted.

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