Mixing in mono on a single speaker?

Discussion of music production, audio, equipment and any related topics, either with or without Ableton Live
sporkles
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Mixing in mono on a single speaker?

Post by sporkles » Thu Aug 06, 2020 1:37 pm

For a long time I've been using Utility to collapse individual channels or the master to mono, in order to spot phasing issues. Recently, I've seen several recommendations to use a single mid-range (and not necessarily great quality) mono speaker for this task and for getting a better idea of what your music will sound like on various systems. I think I want to try this approach, but I was wondering how to set it up. Should I still use a Utility to convert my signal to mono first, or should I use some kind of stereo to mono cable?

GeoffModulate
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Re: Mixing in mono on a single speaker?

Post by GeoffModulate » Thu Aug 06, 2020 1:55 pm

Yup. There is certainly some logic to that. A lot of club PA's are kind of iffy when it comes to stereo, some have it, others have the speakers in some kind of array that might mix and match L and R channels and some are entirely mono. TV's - generally stereo now but some are still mono, phones, small radios etc. Listening on a variety of speakers and in different mono/stereo configurations is definitely a good idea. I've heard club tracks that have phase issues (some people or plugins do this as a stereo effect) that when summed to mono, the entire low end almost disappears.

The other thing is that in mono, you absolutely have to cut some space for each instrument in the frequency range. You lose the option of panning to give them space so you've lost that dimension in the sound, so all you can do is give each part room to be heard. Mono will generally show up a bad mix there.

As to small crappy speakers? They are closer to what consumers might listen on and making your mix work well on those is worth doing.

A lot of studios used to have Auratone cubes as a second monitor just to listen to a mono mix on an average sounding speaker.

https://www.google.com/search?q=auraton ... e&ie=UTF-8

Good article here from SOS on why people might mix on them and a review of the new Auratone 5C

https://www.soundonsound.com/reviews/au ... sound-cube

I think whichever way you hook them up you'll get the same result. Personally, if I was using one I'd use utility and put it in mono and then feed the amp from there.
Last edited by GeoffModulate on Thu Aug 06, 2020 2:03 pm, edited 1 time in total.

GeoffModulate
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Re: Mixing in mono on a single speaker?

Post by GeoffModulate » Thu Aug 06, 2020 1:59 pm

Good article here from SOS on why people might mix on them and a review of the new Auratone 5C

https://www.soundonsound.com/reviews/au ... sound-cube

Tone Deft
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Re: Mixing in mono on a single speaker?

Post by Tone Deft » Thu Aug 06, 2020 5:29 pm

normally you'd enable stereo outputs on your system. only enable mono outputs and your Master track should have a mono capable output. no need to take down the stereo cables and rewire your system. haven't actually tried this in Live.

great idea to beat up on a mix to hear how it holds up.

furthermore it's often said that the mono versions of early Beatles and Pet Sounds sound best in mono because that's how they were originally mixed.
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TLW
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Re: Mixing in mono on a single speaker?

Post by TLW » Thu Aug 06, 2020 6:24 pm

I’ve a “rubbish” mono speaker I built years ago out of a pretty cheap small woofer in a small home-made cabinet and power it using an old mono PA amp. I connect it to a mono hardware output on my interface so I only need to use a standard mono cable.

I’ve set Live’s preferences to see the interface output as a mono output and run a pre-fader send from the master channel to it. When I want to use it I turn the master channel fader all the way down and turn the send up. That way there’s no need to use utility to make the stereo turn into mono.

In my opinion, how useful these “lo-fi” mono speakers are depends somewhat on what kind of music you're producing. They can be very useful if the mid-range is critical to the mix, e.g. to focus on making sure vocals are intelligible. They were pretty much vital back when radios and TVs were mono and had at best a 4” speaker that couldn’t produce any worthwhile bass. If you listen to old BBC concert recordings from the 80s through a decent system you’ll get an idea of the compromises mixing for that kind of technology imposed.

For mixing for things like club systems - or for people using laptop or tablet speakers - which are often either mono or suffer from stereo information being lost to the listener due to the room or speaker placement a more full-range mono test might be a better option. For that just use Utility to put the mix into mono and use your usual monitors.
Live 10 Suite, 2020 27" iMac, 3.6 GHz i9, MacOS Catalina, RME UFX, assorted synths, guitars and stuff.

sporkles
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Re: Mixing in mono on a single speaker?

Post by sporkles » Thu Aug 06, 2020 10:22 pm

Thanks for the replies!

I'll look into how to hook things up - maybe there's some kind of switch box, even? (Switching outputs in Live's preferences isn't that much of a hassle, of course, but the idea of just pressing a button or turning a knob is nice ;)

Valiumdupeuple
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Re: Mixing in mono on a single speaker?

Post by Valiumdupeuple » Fri Aug 07, 2020 2:21 pm

If you have M4L, you can use Outist.
Put on your Master track, select your mono speaker output, turn off the "audio pass-through" button. Now map the device's on/off switch and you have a one button output selector!

fishmonkey
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Re: Mixing in mono on a single speaker?

Post by fishmonkey » Sat Aug 08, 2020 12:06 am

there's also an older thread related to this here:

viewtopic.php?f=1&t=227639&p=1727353&e=1727353
badbrainz wrote: I'm a drummer, so I'm already at an intellectual disadvantage here

jlgrimes
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Re: Mixing in mono on a single speaker?

Post by jlgrimes » Sun Aug 09, 2020 1:39 am

sporkles wrote:
Thu Aug 06, 2020 1:37 pm
For a long time I've been using Utility to collapse individual channels or the master to mono, in order to spot phasing issues. Recently, I've seen several recommendations to use a single mid-range (and not necessarily great quality) mono speaker for this task and for getting a better idea of what your music will sound like on various systems. I think I want to try this approach, but I was wondering how to set it up. Should I still use a Utility to convert my signal to mono first, or should I use some kind of stereo to mono cable?
Utility works good for that. Also I like using PC speakers. Like go to a computer store and buy the cheapest pair of PC Speakers you can find. They help with focusing on the mid range and also highlight issues that often gets overlooked when mixing on a good pair of speakers.

One time I had a vocal with a bad high mid peak. Sounded perfectly fine on my expensive monitors but sounded distorted on the crappy speakers. I was then able to easily EQ the offensive peak out.

Tekhed66
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Re: Mixing in mono on a single speaker?

Post by Tekhed66 » Sun Aug 09, 2020 11:16 am

sporkles wrote:
Thu Aug 06, 2020 10:22 pm
Thanks for the replies!

I'll look into how to hook things up - maybe there's some kind of switch box, even? (Switching outputs in Live's preferences isn't that much of a hassle, of course, but the idea of just pressing a button or turning a knob is nice ;)
I use a single Avantone mono speaker to do my main mix.... it's a poor sounding speaker by itself (very prominent mids) ... if your mix can sound good on this speaker, it will sound great on your main monitors.... my main monitors are Yamaha HS7's but I use these to give the mix a final polish.

To switch between the two sets of monitors, I use a Mackie 'Big Knob' .... both sets of monitors plug into this box and you can then select which monitors to listen to and also send a L+R mono signal to the Avantone.

sporkles
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Re: Mixing in mono on a single speaker?

Post by sporkles » Sun Aug 09, 2020 9:18 pm

Tekhed66 wrote:
Sun Aug 09, 2020 11:16 am

I use a single Avantone mono speaker to do my main mix.... it's a poor sounding speaker by itself (very prominent mids) ... if your mix can sound good on this speaker, it will sound great on your main monitors.... my main monitors are Yamaha HS7's but I use these to give the mix a final polish.

To switch between the two sets of monitors, I use a Mackie 'Big Knob' .... both sets of monitors plug into this box and you can then select which monitors to listen to and also send a L+R mono signal to the Avantone.
Ah, of course! The Big Knob, I should have thought of that. Thanks, ordered one just now! :D

mr.adl
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Re: Mixing in mono on a single speaker?

Post by mr.adl » Mon Aug 10, 2020 11:01 am

For a cheap yet "pimped utility" solution use this free plugin:
https://www.airwindows.com/monitoring-redux/

It offers several things such as mimicked auratone frequency responses and also handy speaker but also stuff like listening to mids or sides only.

miyaru
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Re: Mixing in mono on a single speaker?

Post by miyaru » Mon Aug 10, 2020 11:54 am

@ Mr. Adl - can't get it to work, dunno why........ :cry:
Greetings from Miyaru.

Prodaw i7-7700, 16Gb Ram, Focusrite Scarlett 18i20 3rd gen, Live Suit 10, Push2, Reason Suite 11, Presonus Eris E8, Lexicon MPX1,
Korg N1, Korg R3, NI Massive, Rob Papen's Predator 2, Sonarworks Reference 4 and Scaler.

mr.adl
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Re: Mixing in mono on a single speaker?

Post by mr.adl » Mon Aug 10, 2020 2:08 pm

miyaru wrote:
Mon Aug 10, 2020 11:54 am
@ Mr. Adl - can't get it to work, dunno why........ :cry:
It´s just a single file, drag it in your plugin folder and rescan. The plugin has no gui, so it´s just a slider (hit the little triangle to see the slider). If you drag the slider you are sliding through the different options.

miyaru
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Re: Mixing in mono on a single speaker?

Post by miyaru » Mon Aug 10, 2020 2:31 pm

Thanks, I've got it working in Live, but it does nothing in Reason 11 Suite though, any tips maybe?
Greetings from Miyaru.

Prodaw i7-7700, 16Gb Ram, Focusrite Scarlett 18i20 3rd gen, Live Suit 10, Push2, Reason Suite 11, Presonus Eris E8, Lexicon MPX1,
Korg N1, Korg R3, NI Massive, Rob Papen's Predator 2, Sonarworks Reference 4 and Scaler.

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