Why should I check my mixes in mono?

It’s true that we’ve been living in a stereo world for many years now. Television is broadcast in stereo. FM radio is stereo. And AM radio mostly broadcasts talk shows or older music recorded in mono to begin with. So why does ‘mono’ matter? Because there are still some cases where your mix might get played back in mono or something similar to mono.

For instance, there are several wireless speakers on the market that are switchable from either left channel/right channel or mono. There are alarm clocks that’ll play a CD but only have one speaker. And more often than not, PA systems are set up for mono.

So what might you discover when you listen to your mix in mono? Some stereo effects panned hard left and right can practically disappear in mono playback. This might not be a concern if you’re only dealing with reverb returns. But if you’ve recorded a piano in stereo and panned the tracks hard L/R, the balance in relation to other instruments may seem totally out of whack in mono.

There are ways to combat this. You might buss (send) both channels to a third channel, panned up the middle, and blend it in a little. Or you can move your hard panning in toward the center a bit, maybe around 7/5 o’clock or 8/4 o’clock.

Bottom line: This issue is really minor compared to, say, 20 years ago. But it’s worth spending 15 minutes per mix checking the balances in mono, just to be sure that your work will retain its impact no matter where it is heard.

The information above came from “Studio Buddy — The Home Recording Helper.” It’s a self-contained, easy to use database of recording tips designed specifically for people with home studios. If you find this article helpful, you should download the FREE program at Studio Buddy.

Reprinted with permission from TAXI: the world’s leading independent A&R company helping unsigned bands, artists and songwriters get record deals, publishing deals and placement in films and TV shows.

© 2002 TAXI. All rights reserved.


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