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SurfGuitar101 Forums » Recording Corner »

Permalink Mono vs Stereo Recording

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DeadRanchHands
I found another plugin that does a pretty good vinyl record imitation - I forget the name of it, but it was free. You can add scratchy sounds, motor noise, warping and select frequency cutoff, and convert to mono, if you wish.

http://www.reverbnation.com/play_now/song_4913604

Isotope Vinyl.

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DeadRanchHands
I found another plugin that does a pretty good vinyl record imitation - I forget the name of it, but it was free. You can add scratchy sounds, motor noise, warping and select frequency cutoff, and convert to mono, if you wish.

http://www.reverbnation.com/play_now/song_4913604

Isotope Vinyl.

Yup, that's it!

http://www.reverbnation.com/thedeadranchhands

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jZEW74mHjQk

Not mono or stereo. Each musician gets his own channel and sometimes some musicians get recorded in stereo.

The question then becomes: when should you as a surf guitarist be recorded in stereo (with stereo reverb) or mono. If course if you are playing through a mono reverb (e.g., a regular mono guitar amp) and being mic'd mono gets nearly all the information, although stereo can give a feel of the room.

Recording each musician in mono lets me place each musician in his own position left-to-right. Stereo diffuses the guitarist's placement but with rear speakers it can place the guitarist somewhere else, such as overhead. This is interesting.

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On the vintage vs modern production, I think that, apart from the novelty, you have to go with modern production values. People won't listen otherwise, and in any case, there are all sorts of advantages to using modern techniques and equipment, without sounding cheezy or inauthentic.

As for recording in mono or stereo, it depends on the instrument. In a stereo recording, it's probably most important to have the drums recorded in stereo; a solo voice, probably not.

Guitars can benefit from multiple mic placement, and there can be advantages to panning the microphones left and right; and, if you double-track, you can also have the two guitar takes panned either left to right, or stacked one on top of the other.

These days, I've been recording guitar cabs with 3 mics, 2 on the cabinet and a ribbon a few feet out. I also double-track the guitars, for a total of 6 guitar tracks. I can pan the two guitar takes left and right, but usually, I have one guitar as the "main" guitar, and the second track just gives it a little extra. I don't usually pan the individual guitar tracks hard right and left when I do that, but put them around 10 and 2 o'clock. Also, with three tracks, and panning, I will sometimes put one track dead centre, but most often, I will adjust the volume of two tracks, and pan them together in roughly the same place, awith the third track on the opposite side. It all depends on how it sounds and how I like it.

There are so many different ways of recording guitar, I find recording in stereo gives lots of flexibility in the mixing stage.

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I prefer mono. If you want a WIDE sound its better to record the same performance two different times and then pan each one hard left and right. Try it and tell me it doesn't sound HUGE and WIDE... Smile

I like to mix in MONO 1st, then switch to stereo & see what happens. I like to think that if I can make everything balanced, even, and sound good in MONO, stereo is just going to be the icing on the cake!

I'll go back & forth & luckily, my board has a 'MONO' button that will throw the mix into MONO instantly, so I can see the difference as I mix. Sometimes, my monitors lie to me & switching to MONO helps to reveal what might be too loud or not loud enough in relation.

I like to mix the drums into a stereo spread & I go hard left & right with the overheads, but it doesn't mean the ride is only heard on 1 side & the hi-hat on the other - they bleed across the mics & I find it creates a realistic live-drum environment.

And of course, all the cool stereo reverbs, phases, delays & such need both sides to really shine!

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I always mix in mono, and then whack it into stereo. I get a much better mix that way.
I want to make our next record in both mono and stereo versions, with separate mixes for each.

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JakeDobner wrote:

I don't know much about phase, is it an issue in stereo albums? I ask, because you should record mic'd instrument tracks in mono, and then pan the tracks to make them stereo. Correct?

Not correct for some instruments.

As for phase, it has to be considered in stereo. Look up standing wave. Wave cancellation by using phase is also how humbuckers work.

As for recording in stereo, some instruments definitely benefit from it. Organs with Leslies for example. Or any instrument that would not produce the same signal in both channels when listened to live. And it's not just a reverb thing, as in even a mono guitar amp doesn't produce a mono signal to the ears because it's in a room of some sort.

The biggest advantage to stereo is the ability to give room to the mix by the placement of instruments. They're not all on top of each other. This is particularly useful for vocals (and thus not as useful for surf Big Grin ). That said, I also often rough mix in mono to get the levels close to where I'd like them, then go stereo for placement, then tweak the levels a bit after that. Seems to produce the best results fastest for me.

And for me, hard left/hard right is a special effect thing, and used sparingly.

estreet wrote:

Yes, and they were not meant to be like that. Those early albums were originally mixed by George Martin in mono from the 4-track master tape and mono was their intended medium. Because it was done on 4-track, that master tape commonly contained one track that the bulk of the recording session had been bounced down to whilst the remaining three tracks contained the last three overdubs. However, when stereo became the latest thing and EMI came to produce 'stereo' versions of those early albums, all they did was get the 4-track master tape and pan two of the tracks hard left and the other two hard right and press it. That's why they sound like that. It wasn't what George Martin intended.

It's probably worth mentioning that 100% left or right on vinyl only ends up as about 70%. It wasn't until the CD versions of all this stuff that we hear the true 100%.

I remember the first stereo recordings very well. It was so new, and a sort of novelty, that sometimes the vocals would be hard right and all the instruments hard left. Most had everything either far right or far left, nothing just panned a little. They wanted to show off the effect, I think. Very strange and hard to listen to. Some of the Jan & Dean stuff was that way if I recall correctly. But, all we had to listen to was a mono phonograph and AM radios at home and in our cars until I was married in the late 60's. I still like mono recordings of many things, but I never use that at home for final mixes.

If only my playing skills were somewhat equal to my 50 plus years of experience playing guitar! Sigh

Depending on what it is, I tend to prefer mono

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Last edited: Dec 09, 2012 08:00:51

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