Stereo Effects On Mono Tracks

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Mike Warren
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Stereo Effects On Mono Tracks

Post by Mike Warren » Sun Feb 02, 2020 6:10 am

I can't believe this is still a thing, so this post is me hoping I'm just too stupid to see something obvious. I've just spent the last 2 hours Googling this and experimenting for myself.

If you put a stereo effect on a mono track, the output is mono, not stereo.

I don't know of another DAW that doesn't give stereo output from stereo effects on mono tracks. This has been the default mode of operation for hardware effects almost since stereo was invented. Hardware has L/Mono and R inputs to allow for this because it's the most logical way of working.

Yes, I know there are several workarounds, probably the easiest of which is to create a stereo track and drag the mono clips into it, but that should not be necessary. The software should do it automatically.

Please tell me I'm mistaken and just have just something glaringly obvious.

If not, I guess I'm going to have to waste disc space and record all mono tracks (which is nearly everything I record) in stereo, taking up twice the storage space, because the time to create new tracks and drag files to them adds too much time to my workflow.
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svennilenni
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Re: Stereo Effects On Mono Tracks

Post by svennilenni » Sun Feb 02, 2020 7:40 am

Mike Warren wrote:
Sun Feb 02, 2020 6:10 am
I can't believe this is still a thing, so this post is me hoping I'm just too stupid to see something obvious. I've just spent the last 2 hours Googling this and experimenting for myself.

If you put a stereo effect on a mono track, the output is mono, not stereo.

I don't know of another DAW that doesn't give stereo output from stereo effects on mono tracks. This has been the default mode of operation for hardware effects almost since stereo was invented. Hardware has L/Mono and R inputs to allow for this because it's the most logical way of working.

Yes, I know there are several workarounds, probably the easiest of which is to create a stereo track and drag the mono clips into it, but that should not be necessary. The software should do it automatically.

Please tell me I'm mistaken and just have just something glaringly obvious.

If not, I guess I'm going to have to waste disc space and record all mono tracks (which is nearly everything I record) in stereo, taking up twice the storage space, because the time to create new tracks and drag files to them adds too much time to my workflow.
Itˋs a mono track so yes, it will output mono. Even hardware will output mono when patched into a mono channel.
And no, you donˋt have to waste disk space since also on stereo tracks you can record mono files, when fed with a mono input bus - plenty of posts in here also. So honestly in real life, it all is not really as dramatic as you are trying to make it.

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Re: Stereo Effects On Mono Tracks

Post by Mike Warren » Sun Feb 02, 2020 10:45 am

Thanks for your reply Sven.
svennilenni wrote:
Sun Feb 02, 2020 7:40 am
Itˋs a mono track so yes, it will output mono. Even hardware will output mono when patched into a mono channel.
When patched into a mono track, yes, but most stereo hardware effects units will output stereo from a mono input. And mono tracks in DAWs are typically fed into stereo busses.
And no, you donˋt have to waste disk space since also on stereo tracks you can record mono files, when fed with a mono input bus - plenty of posts in here also. So honestly in real life, it all is not really as dramatic as you are trying to make it.
This is an excellent piece of information, which did not show up in my searches, and was a big part of why I posted this.
I never even attempted to record from a mono input onto a stereo track because every other DAW I've used would always record in the format of the track, regardless of the input signal.

I just tried it and it works great.

This is a perfectly acceptable solution. Thank you.
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Re: Stereo Effects On Mono Tracks

Post by svennilenni » Sun Feb 02, 2020 11:35 am

Mike Warren wrote:
Sun Feb 02, 2020 10:45 am
Thanks for your reply Sven.
svennilenni wrote:
Sun Feb 02, 2020 7:40 am
Itˋs a mono track so yes, it will output mono. Even hardware will output mono when patched into a mono channel.
When patched into a mono track, yes,
Thatˋs just what you do when you load an insert FX in Cubase. If you use sends, Cubase also allows you to send from a mono channel and output from a stereo FX - as long as you use stereo FX channels of course.
Mike Warren wrote:
Sun Feb 02, 2020 10:45 am
And mono tracks in DAWs are typically fed into stereo busses.
Typically they do that in almost any audio device. That does not change the fact though, that a mono track by definition consists of one channel only and therefore canˋt process in stereo. I donˋt remember any mixing desk (digital or analog - but of course I do not know them all) that outputs a stereo signal from a mono signal.

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Re: Stereo Effects On Mono Tracks

Post by Mike Warren » Mon Feb 03, 2020 3:08 am

I think we both know what's going on, but the communication is a little lacking. Based on the number of posts you have I'm pretty confident you have a lot of experience.
Just so you know that I also know my stuff, I've been using DAWs since 1994 (before they were called DAWs) and multi-track tape based systems synched to MIDI sequencers (computer and hardware) since the mid 80s (yes, I'm old :) ). I'm an electronics engineer who has designed specialized audio mixers (many years ago) and have run a studio for quite a few years. These days, 80% of what I do is hobby.

So just to clarify, mostly for anyone else who comes across this thread:


Mono channels on hardware mixers typically have a configuration similar to this. Any inserted effects must be mono in and out:
Image

Stereo channels on hardware mixers often have a configuration similar to this. Any inserted effects can often be stereo or mono: There is a lot of variation from mixer to mixer with these types of channels. Modern digital mixers operate more like DAWs (see next post).
Image
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hardware-mono.jpg
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Last edited by Mike Warren on Mon Feb 03, 2020 3:12 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Stereo Effects On Mono Tracks

Post by Mike Warren » Mon Feb 03, 2020 3:09 am

Typical DAW mono channels work like this. They are basically a stereo channel with a mono front end:
Image

Typical DAW stereo channels work like this:
Image

Cubase's mono channels work like this:
Image

Since Cubase's stereo channels allow using either a stereo or mono front end, the requirement for the use of mono channels is very limited. It's actually great that Cubase intelligently reconfigures itself

This is a perfectly valid way to work. It caught me out because I have so much experience with other DAWs and have never seen this configuration before. Also, my searches used the terms "stereo effects on mono channels", which is not what it is. It's mono tracks on stereo channels.
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cubase-mono.jpg
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daw-mono.jpg
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DigitalFakeBook Free Windows chord/lyric display software for performing musicians.

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