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SAMP
01-22-2002, 03:39 PM
I've heard that, when mixing down a song in Pro Tools, it's a good idea to listen to it in mono. Can anyone explain to me what advantage this offers? Also, since I'm doing everything in Pro Tools (no external board) where can I go to switch the playback from stereo to mono? Of course, I can bounce everything to a mono track and listen to it that way as well...but this seems like a lot of hassle. Advice?

Mr T
01-22-2002, 04:06 PM
<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:<HR>"I've heard that, when mixing down a song in Pro Tools, it's a good idea to listen to it in mono. Can anyone explain to me what advantage this offers?" <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>
It's not so much a question of advantage...The thing is that even in this year 2002, some people are still listening music on small mono boombox. When your stereo mix goes through the stereo to mono process, some frequencies can be lost (frequencies cancellation due to phase invertion and others "weird" phenomenons...).
My experience: I check the mono result when working on post prod° projects (since many TV sets are still mono +broadcast standards are pretty stricts) but I don't really care when it comes to music (specially my own). You would be surprised to see (hear) how many classical recordings are (almost) completely out of phase.
I mean, people listening to music on a crappy mono radio don't seem to care so much about sound quality so who cares if a part of the mix is lowered (or even cancelled) when going mono. I know I don't...I bet they don't...

SAMP
01-22-2002, 04:15 PM
Thanks Mr. T. I understand now-it's like mixing a tune down so it sounds fine even on a crappy mono radio.

I also agree with you about the music-most people will listen to something on a stereo system at least-but, if I wanted to send a piece for possible inclusion in a movie or TV project-then maybe checking how it sounds is mono may be a good idea. Thanks for the s'plaining. images/icons/smile.gif

bassmac
01-22-2002, 04:27 PM
Looks like Mr.T beat me to it, but here's my reply anyway...

Checking your mixes in mono isn't just for ProTools, it's for all mixes that want mono compatibility, as well as stereo. If you have a lot tracks panned wide, they can often create do-do when they're joined together. Some people say screw 'em if they don't have stereo, but since so much music is played on single speaker computers, I think it should be taken into consideration. Also, if you ever get real famous, your mixes will already be compatible in elevators, grocery stores, etc.

The way I check for mono; I put a Waves S1 on the master fader and set it to full mono, then I just command+click it to toggle the bypass.

SAMP
01-22-2002, 05:01 PM
I can only imagine...step into an elevator and I hear the file I bounced to a baby AIFF years ago. Sigh.
OK-excuse my ignorance please, but what is a waves S1? Is this a plug in? Third party? Or is this something built into Pro Tools?

And next question: I have some songs that were done on an analog 24-track reel. They sound great in stereo-but are pure caca in mono. Is there anyway to fix this in Pro Tools without having to remix the whole darn thing? Thanks!

Bonestown
01-23-2002, 05:11 AM
Ya, unfortunately still lots of mono listening happening - clock radios, offices with those nice speakers mounted in the ceiling, computers.

Could check by creating a stereo master and centering the left/right pan sliders.


Bones

where02190
01-23-2002, 07:58 AM
<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:<HR>Originally posted by SAMP:
I can only imagine...step into an elevator and I hear the file I bounced to a baby AIFF years ago. Sigh.
<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>
If you're being played in the elevator you at least made some money for your hard work!!!!!

kcarter
01-23-2002, 09:07 AM
<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:<HR>Originally posted by SAMP:
OK-excuse my ignorance please, but what is a waves S1? Is this a plug in? Third party? Or is this something built into Pro Tools?<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>Waves is a third party company which makes a lot of cool plug-ins which many people here really like. They sell them in packages, with the Gold package being almost everything they make bundled together. You can check them out at:

http://www.waves.com/

But since you don't have the S1 plugin, the suggestion by Bassamp would be an easy solution for you:
"Could check by creating a stereo master and centering the left/right pan sliders."

Mr T
01-23-2002, 11:33 AM
Hey Bassmac, seems like you got yourself a new name...

Rereading my post (I often do that to make sure I don't say too many stupid things...), I've forgotten to mention one of the important "weird audio phenomenon": when you turn a stereo sound in a mix or a stereo mix itself into mono, its level will increase by (if my memory's correct) +3dB (as long as the two sides of the stereo aren't partially or totally out of phase).
For example, if you have stereo drums+mono guitar/Bass/vocal, when going mono, the drums will be louder than the rest.
I thought you would like to know this aswell...

As far as the remix thing is concerned, I'm affraid the only way to go would be to...remix. Sorry.
Just ask yourself this question: regarding the particular project you're working on, is it worth it to take the risk to end up with a mix that will be "acceptable" in mono and stereo, or should you stick with your "great"(?...) stereo mix. Once again, my opinion would be: if it's music, stick with a good stereo mix, if it's post prod° (or anything largely broadcasted in mono) do the (hard)compromise.

Park Seward
01-23-2002, 06:12 PM
Rock groups in the 60's would take a lot of time to mix to mono and then leave while some engineer made the stereo mix. The mono mix was the thing since that is what was played on AM radio. Stereo LPs cost more than the mono LPs and were not thought of as that important. No one mixed for stereo and then summed to mono because of the 3 db increase in loudness for center panned sources. Different mixes were always made.

SAMP
01-23-2002, 08:08 PM
Thanks so much for the input everyone. This particular project may be headed for possible inclusion in movies or television-which means that, gulp, I probably should remix. Oh well, I can look at this as a way to improve the sound and, hopefully, end up with a mix that sounds better than the one I have now...I always felt that my guitar solo should be louder anyway images/icons/grin.gif

raywonder
01-23-2002, 10:42 PM
I love extreme stereo mixes (with instruments hard panned in the left or right speakers a la Beatles, etc.), but I find that mixing in mono first gives you a better context for volume levels. Once you have all the levels adjusted, pan things off at various intervals and everything should be sitting tight.

apetrocelli
01-25-2002, 06:11 AM
a guestion: what is the Master Fader (Mono) option in Protools?
Can it be used to listen a mix in stereo? And can it be used at the same time as a Stereo Master Fader?
Cheers, Andrés

Nine Spine
01-25-2002, 08:54 AM
Andres - The master fader option you speak of is the same thing as creating a master fader. Which you probably already use, but in case:

Open one of your sessions and press "command+shift+N" to bring up the new track dialog box. Select - one - stereo - master fader from the pull down menus and a Master Fader will appear with inserts and panning to allow you to control the overall level of all tracks/auxes in the session as well as apply mastering effects to the master bus. By panning everything to the center you can listen in mono.

Hope this answers your question! images/icons/wink.gif

davidp158
01-25-2002, 09:17 AM
Although I haven't done it much myself, I've read that a few mix engineers like to do some fine tuning to their pan settings in MONO. Yes, mono. They claim that they can hear the summed result of pan moves when listening to the master fader in mono. I would guess that they are testing for mono compatibilty when doing this, so it may not apply to you if a mono mix isn't a priority. I've tried it, and only noticed a few subtle changes when in mono.

Good point about the mono computer speakers, BTW.

Dave Patterson
Knobville

bassmac
01-25-2002, 09:43 AM
<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:<HR>Originally posted by Nine Spine:
a Master Fader will appear with inserts and panning to allow you to control the overall level of all tracks/auxes in the session as well as apply mastering effects to the master bus. By panning everything to the center you can listen in mono.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>


I suggest you check your master fader again...

The stereo master fader does *not* have panning, nor are you able to use two master faders at the same time. You can certainly use a mono master to check your mixes, however, deleting/creating mono and stereo master faders doesn’t exactly allow quick for A/B’ing, which is why I gave the above example of using the Waves S1.

apetrocelli
01-25-2002, 09:55 AM
I wasn't at the mac, but I also remembered there was no panning.

What you can do is send everything to an aux stereo track and then use the panners on it. But using panners is a pain in the ass, you just have to move both exactly at 0. And you will be wasting one track.

The best thing would be to have a mono button, the second best will be what bassmac said (although there must be a cheaper way than buying the Waves bundle). The third one is that deleting the stereo master and creating a mono one. But I am sure there must be a way to use both. If not, why would they let you create both at the same time?

Mr T
01-25-2002, 01:54 PM
This might be a useless point..but the best and fastest way to check Mono is to have a mixer (as I do); most of them have a mono switch that allow you to check your mix in mono. And I'm not even mentionning all the others stuffs a mixer will allow you to do...so if you got some extra money...

Larbabe
01-25-2002, 02:11 PM
[QUOTE]Originally posted by Mr T:
I've forgotten to mention one of the important "weird audio phenomenon": when you turn a stereo sound in a mix or a stereo mix itself into mono, its level will increase by (if my memory's correct) +3dB (as long as the two sides of the stereo aren't partially or totally out of phase).

That's been my experience also. That's why, way back when, we used to never center anything in the mix. Even vocals & bass, we would slightly pan off center. As I remember, this solved the problem. I hope I've helped. images/icons/wink.gif

apetrocelli
01-25-2002, 02:35 PM
the +3db increase is the result to add the two signals (left + right) when you put them in the middle. If the signals are in-phase, then the resulting signal is 2 times the voltage of the original. It is 3 db cause 3 is the log of 2 times 10, which is the definition of decibel.
However, if they are not completely in phase, different levels can occur. They can even cancel out (listen to The Police's "Walking on the moon". The guitar vanishes in mono).

That's why I wanted a mono button, to test that kind of things.

Thanks for the advice on buying an external mixer, but I want to do it inside Protools, so I can also check resulting levels.

Cheers, Andrés

Nine Spine
01-26-2002, 12:03 AM
Oops, my bad. I was thinking Master Faders had pan pots on them, but as it turns out I was thinking of Auxes. Sorry for any confusion Andres. I'm not near my mac at this point, but would it be possible to create two Auxes (i.e. one mono and one stereo) both with the same bus inputs and swith between them using the solo/mutes?? Probably not because I think when you send something to a mono output the pan pots on the individual tracks disappear? Either way I can use the S1 or I have the console I monitor through set up to monitor many different ways including mono, maybe this is an option for you? Are you using a console of any kind to monitor through?
By utilizing buses or auxes on a hardware console you could accomplish this, I do.

P.S. By the way Andres, if you option click the pan slider it will automatically move to "0", even on a stereo track. I do this all the time.

Nine Spine
01-26-2002, 12:08 AM
Oh yeah and to reenforce what Dave and Raywonder said, I have read several books with engineers/producers who like to start thier mixes in mono to set the basic balances and pans. Then they switch to stereo to fine tune placements. I haven't done this enough to be comfortable with it but one of my better mixes was started this way...coincidence?? I don't know, probably not.

Good Luck, and thanks to all for the interesting posts.

bassmac
01-26-2002, 12:08 AM
I forget the exact number (30db?), but the master fader has far more headroom than an aux track, so if you do route your entire session to an aux track for panning purposes, you'll probably also need to lower the levels of every track as well...which would probably reduce that option to last place.

SAMP
01-26-2002, 01:22 PM
Let me say that all you Pro Toolers in here have been an amazing help-a true discussion of mixing with the 001 with little flames and lots of good info. Thanks again. Turns out that the eight songs (out of 18) that had mono problems were all originally done on reel. The songs done completely in Pro Tools were fine-whatever that means. I'm sure this was a cockpit error of some sort. At least, now I know enough to watch out for it next time. images/icons/smile.gif

Doug Ring
01-28-2002, 09:25 AM
SAMP - maybe your tape mixes were done in a studio with large and distant monitors where the stereo mix had to be widened just to hear something happening. On the other hand the Pro Tools mixes might have been done on nearfield monitors where the stereo effect can be much more obvious?

The broadcast company I work for takes mono compatibility very seriously, because our programmes feed both FM stereo and AM mono transmitters. Once there was a fault in the lines between my studio and the continuity suites - one channel of the stereo pair was phase reversed. I put the live programme on air and monitored the AM receiver. The sig tune played okay, though it sounded weird. Then the presenter spoke....I heard nothing, though my meters were all moving. What happened was there was enough out-of-phase info in the stereo sig tune already, so the line fault didn't cancel the sound completely. But the presenter was in mono, so his voice did cancel...completely. Now whwen I do pre-transnission checks with continuity suites, I always get them to read their phase meters for me!

Our studios leave you no excuse for not spotting out-of-phase errors. Apart from a phase meter on the stereo output, the monitoring has switches for Mono on Left & Right, Mono on Left only, phase reverse Right, cut Left and cut Right. If you can solder, you could make yourself up a box to do all this.

Here's how you can tell if you'll have mono-compatibility problems: Switch to phase reverse right, then switch to mono left and right. If you hear nothing, it was mono to start with. If you hear a fainter but mostly reverbed signal, you've relied on your reverb box to create stereo, and the mix may sound dry in mono. If what you hear is the same level or even louder, you've got more out-of-phase information than in-phase, and your mono signal will sound very different from your stereo signal.

Hope this helps someone. Happy to expand on it if anyone's interested.