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The "Mixing In Mono" Debate and Why I Do Not....

Posted by Johnny Geib on April 27, 2017 at 6:40 AM

    While I agree that all mixes should be checked, from time to time, in mono, during the mixing process, to suggest that mixing in mono 85% of the time I can not agree with. To support my opinion, count how many ears you have. Sound like a silly argument? Maybe. But consider how much different things would sound with only ONE ear. Frequencies merging and canceling at random times (this is where checking a mix in mono from time to time makes sense) position and overall dynamics of a mix are hindered during a mono mix, then moving to a stereo mix for only the other 15%, will make you change about 49% of the mix you did in mono because of the change in overall dynamics "Per Channel".

    One thing that is missed by most people starting out in the Mixing Adventure is, in my opinion, learning what I call "Channel Dynamics". Sound placement and position, in a natural dynamic mix, is one of the great losses in modern mixing and the dreaded "Loudness Wars" which I believe can be due to over mixing in MONO. For example, in the Loudness Wars, over compression and Limiter use, to gain a constant 0db level, creates a wave form with little to no movement. This can cause a loudness factor that can wear out the ears very quickly and drive the listener away from the music even faster.

    Mixing in Mono does a similar dis-service to the Engineer doing the mixing if over utilized because of the sheer damage to the overall dynamics when forcing all of the audio into a single channel. This is why stereo was such a relief to so many really serious music listeners (otherwise known as"Audiophiles") back in the early 60's. The sheer relief from the "Center Channel" allows the brain to process while at the same time entertaining the listener. For the engineer doing the mixing, 2 channel stereo has the same relaxing effect but also allows more breathing room for a mix that contains many instruments and allows for a better Dynamic feel over all.

    So in closing I am not saying "Do Not Mix In Mono". I am actually saying "Use Mono To Check and Evaluate a Mix" but never use it to solidify one. Mix in mono 15% of your mix instead of 85% because your listeners are not engineers and they all have 2 ears, not one.

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Reply repairman7458
10:14 AM on April 27, 2017 
Very interesting.
Reply Guidokst
6:35 PM on November 1, 2017 
Reply Miko
9:17 AM on January 26, 2018 
I do my first pass in mono for placement, second pass I switch between, and the final passes in stereo, with mono checking. The reason I do this is because a lot of the music consumed will come out of a cell phone speaker, or one of those bluetooth mono speaker or even a soundbar, so to make sure it sounds the best possible in various situations, I prepare for various situations. Whenever it sounds balanced in mono, when flipped to stereo it sounds good in my opinion. Also I don't do mono in my mixing monitors I use a beheritone to get all that midrange.