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JohnSorcer

Mono or stereo recording?

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Posted (edited)

Hi guys, I'm a new user and starting to record rock songs in Cakewalk.

Before that I would like to determine some stuff that I'm still not familiar with so I have a question about stereo and mono recording - which one to choose when recording guitars and which one for drums? How is it usually done?

I will make drums with every drum part on a separate channel (snare channel, hi-hats channel,..) so I can pan them easily later - so before I start - should these drum channels  bi in stereo or mono?

And also, when recording guitar (solo guitar channel, rhythm channel,..) should I do it in stereo or mono?   I will record guitar through audio interface (no miking).

Thanks, I appreciate your help

 

Edited by JohnSorcer

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Hi,

if you play your guitar using some fx to get the right sound, I suggest to record it in mono; then the effect that you will use will probably give you a stereo sound, based on the mono track that you recorded (electric guitars are connected with 1 single cable, so mono will be fine).

Regarding drums it depends: if you want to record "real drums" you need some mics and every mic needs to be connected, in the end, into the audio interface that must be a multichannel model (usually, at least 8 channels).

Given that if you plan to use an instrument for drums you will record a midi track that will feed the plugin, so no problems in this scenario. You need then to set the instruments and its multiple outputs into multiple channels in Cakewalk (BD - CHH - SD etc.).

Regards,

 

Giorgio

 

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in general, unless the source is stereo (e.g. keyboard direct in, drum overheads or room, guitar stompbox  chorus effect, etc) record it in mono. on outboard effects applied to an instrument, it's always a good idea to record another track clean in case you want to "re-amp"  later or just overlay a clean version etc. for MIDI capable instruments, record the MIDI as well. you don't want a good performance to not be captured with all options for using it in the mix. you can always delete unneeded stuff later if space or organization is a concern.

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On 3/27/2021 at 11:52 AM, Giorgio Gabriel said:

Hi,

if you play your guitar using some fx to get the right sound, I suggest to record it in mono; then the effect that you will use will probably give you a stereo sound, based on the mono track that you recorded (electric guitars are connected with 1 single cable, so mono will be fine).

Regarding drums it depends: if you want to record "real drums" you need some mics and every mic needs to be connected, in the end, into the audio interface that must be a multichannel model (usually, at least 8 channels).

Given that if you plan to use an instrument for drums you will record a midi track that will feed the plugin, so no problems in this scenario. You need then to set the instruments and its multiple outputs into multiple channels in Cakewalk (BD - CHH - SD etc.).

Regards,

 

Giorgio

 

Thanks to all.

Ok, so guitar is mono, right.

 

For drums, I will not use real drums, but a plugin in Cakewalk. And then I will make separate tracks for drum elements (snare, ride,...) and then I will use step editor to lay my drum beat for entire song. I find step editor much easier than piano roll.

So as I understand, these tracks will also be 'mono', not stereo, but when I press play, I will hear the drums on both speakers, right? This is what I am trying to understand.

 

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A mono track panned center will play from both speakers equally.

Mono sources should always be recorded to a mono track. In Cakewalk, even stereo sources like keyboards should be recorded as dual mono (separate left and right tracks).  In Pro Tools (and some other DAWs I believe), there are separate left and right pan knobs for stereo tracks. But in Cakewalk the pan knob in a stereo track is a balance control. It only reduces the volume of the side you pan away from. If you record dual mono you can pan each side anywhere in the stereo spectrum without using a plugin like Channel Tools.

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Posted (edited)

Drum VST instruments have their own stereo mixer and a lot of them allow multi channel output. Therefore midi instruments are not generally considered mono or stereo. It’s the VST interface That outputs however many tracks that you desire. 
Guitar is normally a mono track unless you recorded using a guitar multi effects box. 

Edited by John Vere

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When recording guitar, I normally record the stereo output of my effects processor (VG-88), and also the dry guitar signal. 95% of the time, I'll just use the stereo signal I recorded, but occasionally I'll use the dry signal and reamp.  What I would say though, is that in many ways a mono guitar is much easier to mix - especially when you're starting out. You can add reverb / chorus, or double track to make it stereo later.

For drums, I've had success with anything from one mic to 12 mics. The more mics, the more control you have.   Also, with less mics it's more important that the drummer can play with a balanced sound as you're ability to balance the individual drums is reduced.   In the days where I only had a 4 or 8 track recorder, I used to run the mics into a mixer and record the drums as a stereo pair... not ideal, but it did give me a bit more control over balance.

In saying that, it can definitely be done - pay attention to the techniques he uses for the overheads with regard to distance from the snare.


Regardless of how you're recording drums, make sure you get several recordings of each drum on its own once you've mic'd up the whole kit.

You can cut/paste these as samples on separate track and mix them in on a case by case basis should you need to change the level after the fact, or you find you've got too much bleed in a particular area.
 

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^^ Killer advice! :)

But I'll counter what Mark says slightly in that while more mics means more control, it also means more potential issues with bleed from other drums or phase issues. I'm a guy who uses a LOT of mics on a kit, and I'm not scared to try something unconventional, like close-mic'ing cymbals and all of that kind of stuff, but I definitely remember the first time I tried a multi-mic kit after coming from using drum machines almost exclusively before then... wow, was it ever confronting! "I want to turn the snare up. Oops, too much hi-hat in the snare mic! Can't."   "The cymbals should be louder. Oops, too much snare in the overheads! Can't."  "Yes, huge tom roll! We'll EQ and compress those to sound huge. Oops, cymbal bleed sounds terrible in the tom mics."  AAARGGHH!!

I'd recommend going as simple as possible and using as few mics as you can get away with. Start with a good overhead sound to get the kit itself sounding good. This is where I completely agree with what Mark said - the drummer needs to play well and very balanced, and the kit needs to sound great, so that those mics just hear a great drummer playing a great kit first and foremost. Then use the rest of the mics to fill in the blanks. You'd want a kick mic for sure, possibly a snare mic, and then work backwards, being careful that whatever mic you're adding isn't causing you more issues than what the goodness you're trying to gain.

And yes, absolutely recording a sample set of the drums is really handy. We have great tools like Audiosnap and Drum Replacer that can enhance or even fix some disasters.

I would go exclusively mono mics on any drum stuff, so you have better control over panning, and you're not introducing even more potential points for phase issues. Keep it simple and work up.

Guitars, it's incredibly rare for me to go stereo because I normally record DI and re-amp later or run through plugins. I've been locked into a sound that I've had to revisit later for a remix or whatever and kicked myself for not having any flexibility to change anything. And stereo can sometimes really limit how you place stuff in the stereo field. But each to their own - if you're getting exactly what you want to hear out of your effects and it's stereo, absolutely by all means go that way. The end justifies the means, so feel free to ignore everything I said here if you're getting the results you're after. :)

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Posted (edited)
On 4/1/2021 at 10:38 PM, Base 57 said:

A mono track panned center will play from both speakers equally.

Ok, these kind of 'simple to understand' answers is what I was hoping for, great!  I am tryin to get the basics, so that when I start recording, I lose as little time as possible thinking about technicalities, and spend more time developing riffs and solos and actual song. Although I'm aware that recording is a long term learning process.

Thanks all

Edited by JohnSorcer

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