Listening (to) space: Mono vs stereo

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outdoorhorseshrine
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Listening (to) space: Mono vs stereo

Post by outdoorhorseshrine »

I know there are potentially strong feelings around this subject, so I thought it would be a great topic to open a discussion on. I saw a few posts on mono vs. stereo in an earlier thread, but it was only briefly touched upon. As someone who is looking to dub more tapes, some things I am pondering: do you prefer mono or stereo recordings for noise/industrial/experimental? Why? How does the listening experience on mono or stereo effect you? (This question is just as much about the listening experience as it is about your recording process, assuming that you record noise in the same format that you choose to listen to it.)
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bobMarinelli
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Re: Listening (to) space: Mono vs stereo

Post by bobMarinelli »

Stereo - 100%. I tend to use headphones for listening to noise, but I also have a stereo I run the turntable and tape deck through.

I do not listen to noise through a phone or single blue tooth speaker setup, which I'm supposing are the traditional mono setups?

also, for what it's worth, I tend to do active listening. I'm not putting something on in the background while I do x/y/z. I'm sitting there paying attention. so I kindof need noise that holds my attention, so it probably has to be somewhere in the active to highly chaotic range. slow developing atmospheric stuff isn't usually on my playlist.

but yeah, put a checkbox in the stereo column for me.
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Re: Listening (to) space: Mono vs stereo

Post by holy ghost »

I had always heard that Phil Spector mixed his recordings in mono because the average listener wasn't able to afford/comprehend/manage a "real" stereo setup (I've heard variation on this that he thought people were too dumb to set up properly or that radio was not capable of delivering a full spectrum of sound. Whatever, he's A MURDERER. But he made some damn fine sounding tunes.

I have a nice system and I think I have my big arsed speakers set up correctly but do I really? Am I getting the full rich spectrum of sound I feel I deserve? I'd like to keep trying to make sure things sound the best they can. Maybe I'll never know.....
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Re: Listening (to) space: Mono vs stereo

Post by Bubble-Congeries »

As long as a modern recording is intentionally recorded and duplicated in mono, I am fine taking it for what it is. I can only judge something based on hearing it for myself.

I do typically work in and "prefer" stereo sound, though. Even without headphones, the stereo image is perceptible and adds a quality of depth/immersion that I find satisfying, even with tonally static HNW. When you separate the tonal bands or even modulate them around the stereo field, it makes for very enjoyable active and background listening... IDK, maybe it just helps to focus my ADHD or something to have that level of absorbing "dimensionality", perhaps.
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Re: Listening (to) space: Mono vs stereo

Post by Thomas_B »

I’m with Bubble and Bob in that I prefer stereo. Most of my favourite noise recordings utilize the stereo field and pan or split audio into different channels. For me, it’s more interesting to listen to music recorded in stereo as it has more depth, more excitement, more activity, etc. I’m working on recordings and editing right now and I’m mixing up some mono recordings with stereo recordings, sometimes separate and sometimes editing them together, and sometimes mixing/layering them together. The richness in stereo as compared to mono is pretty apparent when the two are placed side by side.
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Re: Listening (to) space: Mono vs stereo

Post by outdoorhorseshrine »

bobMarinelli wrote: Wed Nov 22, 2023 2:43 pm Stereo - 100%. I tend to use headphones for listening to noise, but I also have a stereo I run the turntable and tape deck through.

I do not listen to noise through a phone or single blue tooth speaker setup, which I'm supposing are the traditional mono setups?
I think this is an important note since most folx have some sort of stereo setup, whether its their home stereo system or just listening to noise off their laptops (not something I am a fan of, but certainly is accessible and usually a stereo listening experience). Many phones have two speakers when turned sideways so stereo listening is possible there as well!
Bubble-Congeries wrote: Wed Nov 22, 2023 8:11 pm I do typically work in and "prefer" stereo sound, though. Even without headphones, the stereo image is perceptible and adds a quality of depth/immersion that I find satisfying, even with tonally static HNW.
I would agree that the panning/spatial effects in stereo really engages the ear and offers something that having the same sounds duplicated in each ear does not. I am curious, though, how to create the illusion of space in mono, but that's probably a deeper, tangential conversation (adding reverb with long decay times, utilizing a lot of variety in the lows-mids-highs).

It seems like most people prefer listening to stereo recordings, although some mono records are prized because they are originally recorded in mono (e.g, Beach Boys Pet Sounds). Luke of Skeleton Dust/Heat Signature reminded me of this and actually noted that many Blue Note releases that were originally recorded in mono sounded terrible when remixed in stereo. I do know there are some mono zealots out there, so I would love to hear their perspective! Personally, I would like to do more side-by-side comparisons of mono versus stereo in recording my own material.
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Re: Listening (to) space: Mono vs stereo

Post by Natalia »

Stereo one hundred percent. Most music I listen to is alone, in my bedroom, with headphones on. I like engaging with deep listening and immersing myself in soundscapes. The panning effects in experimental music are one of the most exciting aspects for me. The amount of different effects you can achieve with panning, creating a sense of space, movement, and psychedelic arrangements really engages me.
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Re: Listening (to) space: Mono vs stereo

Post by holy ghost »

outdoorhorseshrine wrote: Sat Nov 25, 2023 11:11 am Luke of Skeleton Dust/Heat Signature reminded me of this and actually noted that many Blue Note releases that were originally recorded in mono sounded terrible when remixed in stereo.
I remember reading this https://rvglegacy.org/mono-and-stereo/ about RVG Studios - very interesting! In fact the entire website it just amazing to read through - crazy to think of stereo as a "trend" in the 50's and LPs being released in multiple mixes (but I guess the format wars have and will always exist). I took a look through my discogs collection and the majority of hits when I searched "mono" were noise releases and a few notable rock LPs (13th Floor Elevators, Twink, Velvet Underground singles, etc) and jazz records (mostly early Coltrane reissues and live recordings, Ornette Coleman live recordings and "Spiritual Unity" by Albert Ayler). That doesn't mean it's a reflection of anything. I guess I'd always prefer to hear the stereo recording if that's what it was originally intended.... personally when buying records I sort of take what I can get, I don't really hold out for one version or another but if there's a version with both mixes I'd be really down to hear both and make a comparison.

I know there's a lot of back and forth about say, Beatles albums in mono vs stereo (or I assume, based on Lemmy's comments in the Lemmy doc) and when they did those remasters they released mono and stereo versions. Seems like a lot of those early stereo records over emphasized the new format with too much phasing, panning, etc.
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Re: Listening (to) space: Mono vs stereo

Post by Scream & Writhe »

holy ghost wrote: Sun Nov 26, 2023 1:56 pm
outdoorhorseshrine wrote: Sat Nov 25, 2023 11:11 am Luke of Skeleton Dust/Heat Signature reminded me of this and actually noted that many Blue Note releases that were originally recorded in mono sounded terrible when remixed in stereo.
I remember reading this https://rvglegacy.org/mono-and-stereo/ about RVG Studios - very interesting! In fact the entire website it just amazing to read through - crazy to think of stereo as a "trend" in the 50's and LPs being released in multiple mixes (but I guess the format wars have and will always exist). I took a look through my discogs collection and the majority of hits when I searched "mono" were noise releases and a few notable rock LPs (13th Floor Elevators, Twink, Velvet Underground singles, etc) and jazz records (mostly early Coltrane reissues and live recordings, Ornette Coleman live recordings and "Spiritual Unity" by Albert Ayler). That doesn't mean it's a reflection of anything. I guess I'd always prefer to hear the stereo recording if that's what it was originally intended.... personally when buying records I sort of take what I can get, I don't really hold out for one version or another but if there's a version with both mixes I'd be really down to hear both and make a comparison.

I know there's a lot of back and forth about say, Beatles albums in mono vs stereo (or I assume, based on Lemmy's comments in the Lemmy doc) and when they did those remasters they released mono and stereo versions. Seems like a lot of those early stereo records over emphasized the new format with too much phasing, panning, etc.
A lot of times in those early stereo days artists were only involved in the mono mixing (if they were involved at all), and the producer or whoever would do the stereo mix on their own without artist input or oversight. I don't like The Beatles and can't say one way or the other how involved they were in the studio mixing for something like Sgt. Pepper's, but in my opinion it's one of the examples of how not to do stereo: entire instruments hard-panned to one side, which is incredibly annoying/disorienting - i.e. all the drums in one channel, rather than mixed in the center, or even worse, all the vocals in one channel rather than being centered. I know in some instances it was a case of the engineer trying to recreate a "live" sound via home stereo, but it resulted in mostly failures imo.
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Re: Listening (to) space: Mono vs stereo

Post by confuzzled »

For me, stereo is important because I like the ability to hear depth and how noise can be manipulated spatially for both the artist and the listener. I do like recordings where a track is thrust upon the listener in mono to create a vacuum of sound but I do prefer stereo.
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