Why You Should Check Your Mix in Mono

black and brown bookshelf speaker on black surface

If you mix music, you know how hard some decisions can be. Balancing the different elements so nothing is drowned in the mix is a huge accomplishment. The faster you can get the perfect mix, the better. So here’s how to use mono to speed up the mixing process, and ultimately, get the best possible mix.

Checking your mix in mono is important for delivering the best listening experience on mono sound systems such as phones and portable speakers. Mono also allows you to focus on one point, and so it’s easier to set the correct levels and make frequency adjustments.

Let’s talk about those benefits in more detail. I’ll also share my favorite plugins for getting a mix mono compatible.

Benefits to Checking Your Mix in Mono

There are several benefits to checking your mix in mono. You may even want to make crucial mixing decisions in mono, such as balancing volume and adjusting clashing frequencies. It’s so easy for one’s mind to focus on one point, and pretty much, line every element up. It feels like your stacking the elements in front of you, and when the mix is turned into stereo again, the outcome is often really good.

  • If your mix sounds good in mono, it will transfer well to any mono system such as phones, portable speakers, and certain speaker setups.
  • Mixing in mono will allow you to structure your mix quickly and effectively because it’s really easy to focus on a single point.
  • It will help to make sure you get clarity within the mix. Because when you mix in mono it’s really easy to make EQ decisions.

How to check your mix for mono compatibility

The easiest way to check your mix in mono is to flip the stereo width to zero on your master bus. If your DAW doesn’t have a knob or switch to do this, you may use a plugin such as the Brainworx Solo.

It’s a free plugin, but you need to register and activate the license. It’s the best plugin around for checking mono compatibility, however, your DAW should have the feature built-in so check that first.

Download Brainworx Solo

Getting A Mono Compatible Stereo Image

To get a mono-compatible stereo image, you need to do just a few things. Make sure that no phase cancellation occurs when you make the mix mono. In order to detect this, you need to listen to your mix, either the whole or the separate stems. If an element gets lower in volume when you make the mix mono, you might have a phase cancellation issue.

To resolve this issue, use plugins that work in mono as well as stereo. You might have a sample that is gets lowered in mono, to resolve this. Make the sample mono, and from there apply any effects you want.

Mono Compatible Stereo Expanders

Many stereo and expanders and widener plugins were not created with mono compatibility in mind. However, without sacrificing any wide goodness, you can switch to mono-compatible wideners and get the best of both worlds.

Here are two of those plugins. I’ve been using them myself for a long time and since then, I’ve never had any mono issues.

Polyverse Wider

https://polyversemusic.com/products/wider/

Polyverse widener is a straightforward and great-looking plugin. It was a game-changer for me. Its simplicity and effectiveness helped me get rid of phase cancellation while bringing forth that sweet widening effect.

Ozone Imager 2

Isotopes Ozone Imager 2 is another free mono-compatible stereo widener. It’s like a free Rolls Royce. You don’t say no to it. Let your mixes shine with this plugin from Izotope.

Why Problems Occur When You Make A Stereo Mix Mono

Those two waveforms would get completely canceled out in mono and no sound would be audible. It’s because they are completely opposite waveforms.

When you make a stereo mix mono. You make two signals one and some elements might cancel each other out because of phase cancellation. This is when a wave is mixed with another wave, with a partially opposite or totally opposite phase. It always results in a low volume or even no sound at all.

It might sound good in stereo because the waveforms are spread out in the stereo field, and so they don’t clash. But when you make it mono, they clash. It’s a common problem, but not a dealbreaker. A mix that works in Stereo is always more important than a mix working in mono because the majority of all systems are stereo. However. It’s just good practice to check in mono.

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