How Mixing in Mono Makes The Instruments Fall Into Place

mixing in mono

I unwittingly did this incredible exercise yesterday.

I was starting work on this mix and did all the usual stuff:

  • Grouped similar instruments together.
  • Did some levels.
  • Added some compression and EQ.
  • Added 3 different reverbs to the drums, guitars and vocals.

The intended exercise was to mix quickly and simply. Also, I tried to mix at a very low level just for fun.

And all without touching the solo button.

It was pretty hard actually.

I did touch the solo button a few times. Couldn’t help it. The song was just so quiet!

But during all of this I always felt that the mix was a little flat. Nothing was necessarily competing for space or frequencies, it just sounded narrow.

Then it hit me.

I had been mixing in mono!

I had forgotten to turn my interface from mono to stereo from the day before! I was mixing in mono the whole time.

The mix had sounded pretty decent up until this point. Especially considering the fact that I had used the bare minimum of processing and effects.

But once I flipped it to stereo everything fell into place. It was beautiful.

The vocal that had laid on top of the mix fell into place in the center of the stereo spectrum. The drums, backing vocals and guitars that were filling up the “center” were now panned around the vocal, making it fit perfectly in place around the supporting instruments.

Now, you might be thinking to yourself: “Why is he telling me this if he already recommends mixing in mono in The Strategies Bundle(www.audio-issues.com/strategies) , alongside dozens of other tips?”

Well, because I usually “check” my mix in mono. I’ve never actually done most of the mix in mono before flipping it back into stereo. It was just a stupid mistake.

A mistake that paid off really well, and something I think you should try next time you’re starting a mix.

That’s all for now. Have a great weekend.

Björgvin

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  • http://www.starthomerecording.com Vincent

    I 100% agree.
    I’ve been mixing entirely in mono for a few months, and only panned instruments in the end of the mix, when I automate things.
    It works great.
    If you craft a dynamite mix in mono, it sounds killer in stereo.
    Great post.