Anytime you introduce a new track to your DAW project, you’ll have to pick between Mono VS. Stereo.
But what does each word mean? And what are the major differences?
therefore, in this article, we’ll explain all you need to know about mono vs. stereo.

Brief History Of Mono To Stereo 

In the late 1930s’ and throughout the 1940s’, music recordings, releases, and devices like early record players, sound in movies, etc., were all done and arranged in mono.
Subsequently, By the 1960s’, recordings were mass-produced and distributed in stereo.
From here, stereo became the norm, continuing through cassettes, stereo playback devices, and into the current digital age.
However, stereo, as a concept, was achieved in the late 19th century and stereo technology was available throughout the early 20th century. 

Also, the main factor why mono stuck around for so long was that tech giants and radio broadcasters of the era weren’t willing to give up their mono systems.

Then, Alan Blumlein created and patented the stereo recording and production technologies we use today! He worked at EMI in the 1930s, and his innovation was developed behind the scenes until it ultimately became popular.

What is mono?

Mono is short for monophonic, defining one sound.

Mono = One

Phonē (Greek) – Phonic (English) = Sound

So, Mono sound is any sound — in most areas, audio, recorded and or played back with one audio channel.
For instance, one microphone recording a guitar is a mono recording, and you’re using one channel (with one mic) to capture the guitar’s sound.
Even though you record various instruments, using one microphone, it is still a mono recording because everything is being recorded and played back through one channel.
Additionally, you need to know about mono because it is a system of recording and playing back audio via one channel.
Besides, It doesn’t matter how many sounds or instruments there are in the recording. If it is all sent over one channel, it is mono.

Mono Vs Stereo Everything You Need To Know
A mono audio file.

What Is Stereo?

Stereo is short for stereophonic, signifying full sound.

Stereós (Greek) – Stereo (English) = Full

Phonē (Greek) – Phonic (English) = Sound

Stereo is audio captured with 2 microphones and or played back through 2 channels.
All our listening devices are set in stereo; our phones, laptop speakers, headphones, the sound in films, the sound in video games, the PA systems in clubs and festivals etc.
Everything which produces sound in electronic products and media has two channels and is therefore programmed to stereo.
There are two forms of stereo you’ll come across.

True Stereo and another kind, which we call Pseudo Stereo

True stereo is when a sound source like an instrument or speech is captured with two microphones.

Pseudo stereo is anything that plays over two channels but isn’t captured in true stereo. 

For instance, if you record a guitar with one microphone, the instrument will be in mono but played back in stereo, since all audio playback devices play audio across two channels.

Mono Vs Stereo Everything You Need To Know
A stereo audio file


Mono Vs Stereo Everything You Need To Know

Recording Techniques and Audio Quality

Mono Sound requires only one microphone to record the sound and one speaker to listen to it.

There is no level, arrival time, or phase information in the signal to reproduce or imitate directional cues. Everyone hears the same signal at the same volume level.

The sound produced by each instrument in a band, for example, will not be clearly heard, although having perfect fidelity.

Handheld recorders only record in mono. It is less expensive and simpler to record in mono sound.

Mono Vs Stereo Everything You Need To Know

This video provides an explanation for some of the differences between mono and stereo sound, as well as how to record stereo sound.

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