Today we're going to talk about Stereo vs. Mono

I've got a killer stereo. Oh, and I remember in 5th grade my friend Terri had Mono.

Umm, yeah, we're actually talking about Stereophonic sound vs. Monaural sound

Pop. What was that? Top of my head. It's preparing. Don't panic this is... Stop! Hush, super easy. Grumble.

If you are recording a single mic, or perhaps a single instrument like a guitar, you have to set the track to Mono, (Generally "Channel 1 (Mono)" by clicking on the backstage quickies button and then selecting it from the input popUp menu

Go from this
backstage quickies

To this
backstage quickies

But if I'm singing I want the sound to come out of BOTH speakers. I don't want mono, I want stereo. You can't always get what you want, but sometimes you get what you need. In this case, you're misunderstanding Stereo and Mono. No, I'm not. Yes you are. No. I am not. Yes. You are.

Stereo is not just sound coming from two speakers. It's two different sounds coming from two speakers. Often times this "Difference" is a difference in time. Pop! Stop that. All that means is that there might be a tiny delay between the time the sound comes from one speaker, and the time it comes out of the other.

Since we have two ears, our brains can measure the difference in time between 2 sounds entering our ears. By doing this the brain calculates where things are in relation to us.

You mean like to the left or right of me? Exactly. If something makes a noise to the right of you the sound will enter your right ear first. There's a whole lot more to psycoacoustics... Boom! Your brain again? Yes. Well, let me finish. There's a whole lot more to psychoacoustics, but it's much too involved for this article, and it's really not important that we fully understand that, just know that hearing different things in each ear (different usually because of a time difference, but there are other recording tricks) is stereo. If you hear the exact same thing at the exact same time in both ears, it's basically monaural.

Even if it's coming out of two speakers? Yes, if the same sound is coming out of both speakers at the same time, it's essentially mono, at least your brain will process it as such.

So to record in true stereo, you would have to use two microphones. The two mics work a little like your ears, capturing the sound with delay between them so that when you play it back you hear those differences and the brain uses those cues (the delays) to tell you where in "the stereo field" a sound was when it was recorded. And before you say anything "Stereo Field" is just an easy way to describe the area that your brain perceives when listening to something recorded in stereo.

Think about standing in front of a band that's playing. Even if you were blind folded you could tell which instrument is where on the stage in front of you. In this case that is the "Stereo Field"

So to sum up, if you're recording a guitar plugged into your mac, you set the track to Mono. If you're recording a single Microphone, you set the track to mono. If you're recording two microphone's you can set the track to stereo

I think I get it. I knew you would. One Mic: Mono. Two Mics: Stereo. Sounds like you've got it. Thanks! BTW Terri really did have Mono in 5th grade. Well, record her a song, and she can have stereo now. ::sigh::

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Backstage Quickie: Stereo Vs. Mono
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