When to use Mono or Stereo FX and Panning

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Mustang Martigan
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When to use Mono or Stereo FX and Panning

Post by Mustang Martigan » Sun Sep 15, 2019 4:54 pm

I recently realized that every time I add an effect I always go Stereo. Let's take vocals. I'll record a mono vocal track and everything in the chain, EQ (subtractive) -> Compressor -> EQ (additive) and then any time based, modulation, what have you, all Stereo. I feel like I may be cluttering up the mix doing this.

And as for panning, I never fo past 90, to leave room for the Stereo FX. Is this a good idea, or does it not matter? Besides the usual dead center stuff, like Lead Vox, Kick, Snare, Bass, should I be giving each instrument it's own value? Like if I pan something L80, should I not put anything else at that value?

Thanks.

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Re: When to use Mono or Stereo FX and Panning

Post by A.David.MacKinnon » Sun Sep 15, 2019 11:19 pm

No hard and fast rules here but one of my usual templates is to do reverbs as mono in, stereo out and delays as stereo in but with the outputs panned reversed from the inputs

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Re: When to use Mono or Stereo FX and Panning

Post by vvv » Mon Sep 16, 2019 2:47 pm

Try mixing while listening in mono, but with your usual pans.

Start without FX, then listen in stereo.

Then start adding the FX, listening between mono and stereo.
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Re: When to use Mono or Stereo FX and Panning

Post by Nick Sevilla » Mon Sep 16, 2019 4:41 pm

Easy fast rules for processors:

MONO = EQs, Compressors, pitch correction, and anything that does NOT need a Stereo sound field. Say a mono delay that will definitely stay in the same pan position as the vocal, and follow around if it gets panned. Vocoders / Flangers / Phasers.

STEREO = Anything that DOES need a Stereo panorama: Reverbs, complex delays (ping pong, etc), doppler effects, real chorusing, etc.
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Re: When to use Mono or Stereo FX and Panning

Post by MoreSpaceEcho » Tue Sep 17, 2019 8:26 am

Mustang Martigan wrote:
Sun Sep 15, 2019 4:54 pm
And as for panning, I never fo past 90, to leave room for the Stereo FX. Is this a good idea, or does it not matter? Besides the usual dead center stuff, like Lead Vox, Kick, Snare, Bass, should I be giving each instrument it's own value? Like if I pan something L80, should I not put anything else at that value?
I'm a big proponent of LCR mixing: anything that isn't panned dead center is panned either hard left or right.

One thing I noticed a long time ago was that if I had say, a guitar track panned to L90, when I moved it all the way left I immediately felt like I could hear more of the character of the sound.

So for me, the only things in a mix that aren't LCR would be toms, percussion, backup vox, things like that. Maybe I might have the guitars on the verses pulled in a bit so the song gets wider at the chorus, but more often than not I leave them hard panned.

Worth trying it out. You can have a lot of stuff 'on top of each other' on the sides and still hear it all clearly. As far as 'leaving room for the stereo fx', I wouldn't worry about that. What's more important, your guitars or the reverb?

I tend to use mono delays more than reverb...sometimes panned to the same spot as the source, sometimes opposite, or I might have a guitar hard left with its delay panned to the center. If I'm using reverb it's likely stereo, but sometimes mono, and if it is mono the reverb is probably panned opposite the source.

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Re: When to use Mono or Stereo FX and Panning

Post by Recycled_Brains » Tue Sep 17, 2019 9:21 am

Mustang Martigan wrote:
Sun Sep 15, 2019 4:54 pm
I recently realized that every time I add an effect I always go Stereo. Let's take vocals. I'll record a mono vocal track and everything in the chain, EQ (subtractive) -> Compressor -> EQ (additive) and then any time based, modulation, what have you, all Stereo. I feel like I may be cluttering up the mix doing this.

And as for panning, I never fo past 90, to leave room for the Stereo FX. Is this a good idea, or does it not matter? Besides the usual dead center stuff, like Lead Vox, Kick, Snare, Bass, should I be giving each instrument it's own value? Like if I pan something L80, should I not put anything else at that value?

Thanks.
I'm not sure I see any point in adding stereo EQ or compression to a mono source. At the very least you're taxing your CPU resources more than you need to. Some delays, reverbs, modulation effects, etc... stereo for sure. Usually with a stereo send to feed it too, but now I'm thinking about how people use mono sends to reverb and wondering what that is like.

Far as panning, do what sounds good. I get wrapped up in left/right symmetry because it sounds good to me most of the time. Don't impose rules though. Too many variables to every song we mix to do that. I used to, and would just stubbornly adhere to them even if they weren't working. Wish I could get all those hours back.
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Re: When to use Mono or Stereo FX and Panning

Post by A.David.MacKinnon » Wed Sep 18, 2019 6:10 am

Recycled_Brains wrote:
Tue Sep 17, 2019 9:21 am
Usually with a stereo send to feed it too, but now I'm thinking about how people use mono sends to reverb and wondering what that is like.
For me it's almost always mono in, stereo out for reverbs. Think about how sound effects a large hall in the real world. By the time you're far enough back to hear the sound of the hall itself you're not hearing things localized on one side of the hall or the other. It's not like the guitar on the left side of the stage is only exciting the left side of the hall. The sound is bouncing off of so many things that the hall "effect" is stereo but no element is localized left or right.
Beyond that, I've never hear a huge difference in feeding reverbs in mono vs stereo and lots of hardware reverbs would sum to mono before processing in stereo anyway.

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Re: When to use Mono or Stereo FX and Panning

Post by Recycled_Brains » Wed Sep 18, 2019 7:47 am

A.David.MacKinnon wrote:
Wed Sep 18, 2019 6:10 am
Recycled_Brains wrote:
Tue Sep 17, 2019 9:21 am
Usually with a stereo send to feed it too, but now I'm thinking about how people use mono sends to reverb and wondering what that is like.
For me it's almost always mono in, stereo out for reverbs. Think about how sound effects a large hall in the real world. By the time you're far enough back to hear the sound of the hall itself you're not hearing things localized on one side of the hall or the other. It's not like the guitar on the left side of the stage is only exciting the left side of the hall. The sound is bouncing off of so many things that the hall "effect" is stereo but no element is localized left or right.
Beyond that, I've never hear a huge difference in feeding reverbs in mono vs stereo and lots of hardware reverbs would sum to mono before processing in stereo anyway.
That makes sense. I don't ever really notice and locational differences when I'm panning the send to a reverb either. So here's another question... if I'm using a stereo send, but just keeping it hard panned L/R, is that basically the same difference as using a mono send?
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Re: When to use Mono or Stereo FX and Panning

Post by A.David.MacKinnon » Wed Sep 18, 2019 2:11 pm

Recycled_Brains wrote:
Wed Sep 18, 2019 7:47 am
A.David.MacKinnon wrote:
Wed Sep 18, 2019 6:10 am
Recycled_Brains wrote:
Tue Sep 17, 2019 9:21 am
Usually with a stereo send to feed it too, but now I'm thinking about how people use mono sends to reverb and wondering what that is like.
For me it's almost always mono in, stereo out for reverbs. Think about how sound effects a large hall in the real world. By the time you're far enough back to hear the sound of the hall itself you're not hearing things localized on one side of the hall or the other. It's not like the guitar on the left side of the stage is only exciting the left side of the hall. The sound is bouncing off of so many things that the hall "effect" is stereo but no element is localized left or right.
Beyond that, I've never hear a huge difference in feeding reverbs in mono vs stereo and lots of hardware reverbs would sum to mono before processing in stereo anyway.
That makes sense. I don't ever really notice and locational differences when I'm panning the send to a reverb either. So here's another question... if I'm using a stereo send, but just keeping it hard panned L/R, is that basically the same difference as using a mono send?
Theoretically yes. I guess it depends on the reverb plug and if it's doing anything with the stereo input info or just summing it to mono before it hits the reverb engine

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Re: When to use Mono or Stereo FX and Panning

Post by vvv » Wed Sep 18, 2019 2:40 pm

Recycled_Brains wrote:
Wed Sep 18, 2019 7:47 am
So here's another question... if I'm using a stereo send, but just keeping it hard panned L/R, is that basically the same difference as using a mono send?
If I understand your question - probably, mebbe, no. Mebbe ...

Easy enuff to test, but you may hear a difference between just listening to the L panned L, versus listening to L+R panned L.

L is not the same as R, if it is a true stereo pair. There are EQ differences, mebbe delay differences, etc. - all those things that differentiate the individual tracks that combining 'em with more or less opposite panning makes the stereo result.

Will it sound like a different instrument to lose one track, or eliminate panning? No, and the difference may or may not be audible, but L will be different than L+R of a stereo pair.

Easy example: stereo pair of drum tracks, hats hard-panned L. If you listen to only the R track, you will likely get little to no hats, correct? Listen to the L track, likely lotsa hats. L+R will likely at the least change the level of the hats versus just L, or just R.

Also, generally, L+R will be louder than just L or R.
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Re: When to use Mono or Stereo FX and Panning

Post by Recycled_Brains » Thu Sep 19, 2019 8:35 am

vvv wrote:
Wed Sep 18, 2019 2:40 pm
Recycled_Brains wrote:
Wed Sep 18, 2019 7:47 am
So here's another question... if I'm using a stereo send, but just keeping it hard panned L/R, is that basically the same difference as using a mono send?
If I understand your question - probably, mebbe, no. Mebbe ...

Easy enuff to test, but you may hear a difference between just listening to the L panned L, versus listening to L+R panned L.

L is not the same as R, if it is a true stereo pair. There are EQ differences, mebbe delay differences, etc. - all those things that differentiate the individual tracks that combining 'em with more or less opposite panning makes the stereo result.

Will it sound like a different instrument to lose one track, or eliminate panning? No, and the difference may or may not be audible, but L will be different than L+R of a stereo pair.

Easy example: stereo pair of drum tracks, hats hard-panned L. If you listen to only the R track, you will likely get little to no hats, correct? Listen to the L track, likely lotsa hats. L+R will likely at the least change the level of the hats versus just L, or just R.

Also, generally, L+R will be louder than just L or R.
This just confused me. haha. I didn't mean taking a stereo send and panning both sides to one side. What I mean is leaving the left panned left and the right panned right. My logic is like, say you have a mono source on a stereo track (I weirdly get stems like this all the time)... it's still mono as long as you have the l and r panned respectively, because you're getting the same thing on both sides. Similar to duplicating a track and panning one to each side. Still sounds mono (unless you add delay to a side or something). Unless I'm misunderstanding your response.
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Re: When to use Mono or Stereo FX and Panning

Post by drumsound » Thu Sep 19, 2019 2:05 pm

I was mixing today, and I had a nice simple space setting going for vocals, but it was not quite right. For Shits and giggles, I muted one side and panned the reverb center, and I worked really well. I think it just helped to make the vocals have air and depth, but have the band curled around the singers. The 2 guitar parts, drums and tambourine all had a direct mic and a room mic, panned some version of opposite, with the vocal center, and its reverb center as well.

It was a very "whatever works" moment for me.

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Re: When to use Mono or Stereo FX and Panning

Post by Recycled_Brains » Thu Sep 19, 2019 2:34 pm

drumsound wrote:
Thu Sep 19, 2019 2:05 pm
I was mixing today, and I had a nice simple space setting going for vocals, but it was not quite right. For Shits and giggles, I muted one side and panned the reverb center, and I worked really well. I think it just helped to make the vocals have air and depth, but have the band curled around the singers. The 2 guitar parts, drums and tambourine all had a direct mic and a room mic, panned some version of opposite, with the vocal center, and its reverb center as well.

It was a very "whatever works" moment for me.

Nice. I like a centered mono verb on the vocal too. Currently I have a mono aux set up with an insert that is reamp - memory man - reverb pedal. The slap from the MM takes care of the pre-delay on the verb and I just mix in as much of the reverb as I want. Digging that lately.

I really need to fuck with that opposite panning idea. That seems like it'd be rad.
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Re: When to use Mono or Stereo FX and Panning

Post by drumsound » Thu Sep 19, 2019 8:43 pm

Recycled_Brains wrote:
Thu Sep 19, 2019 2:34 pm
drumsound wrote:
Thu Sep 19, 2019 2:05 pm
I was mixing today, and I had a nice simple space setting going for vocals, but it was not quite right. For Shits and giggles, I muted one side and panned the reverb center, and I worked really well. I think it just helped to make the vocals have air and depth, but have the band curled around the singers. The 2 guitar parts, drums and tambourine all had a direct mic and a room mic, panned some version of opposite, with the vocal center, and its reverb center as well.

It was a very "whatever works" moment for me.

Nice. I like a centered mono verb on the vocal too. Currently I have a mono aux set up with an insert that is reamp - memory man - reverb pedal. The slap from the MM takes care of the pre-delay on the verb and I just mix in as much of the reverb as I want. Digging that lately.

I really need to fuck with that opposite panning idea. That seems like it'd be rad.
The ambience on the other side of the direct thing is really great sometimes. It depends on the production, and how ambient the room sound is. If its really diffuse, its sometimes better to pan it with the direct. If it has some good definition it works better for panning opposite. In today's mix I didn't do mirror panning, the direct sounds are closer to center, but the room mics are further out.

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