Should I record in Mono or Stereo

For guitar and vocals


more expert advice required…

Obviously the signal from my mic and guitar is mono, when I record them, should I record the signal as stereo or mono? I understand that some effects can only work on a stereo signal - should I therefore always use stereo?

On a related matter, how do you get that ‘width’ to a guitar sound? Which sort of effects will add ‘stereo’ sound to a guitar, rather than having it certrally placed in the mix

thanks in advance


If it’s vocal you don’t have to record stereo.

If you need a stereo source for an effect you can expand the track to stereo afterwards.

Guitar should be the same (unless you have a dual microphone pair pointed to the guitar or some stereo chorus effect).

Before I bore you with details about my setup :) - is it accoustic or electric whe are talking about here ?



Its an acoustic guitar, with no effects applied outside n-track so I’m gues the answer is mono again?

thanks for the advice

Cool !

This is what I do to get a better (and wider) sound on accoustic. (again, maybe not the right way, but it works for me)

If you only have one mic, point it at the place where the sound is best recorded (for me it’s pointing at the neck where the neck meets the body, mic pointing slightly towards the headstock, about 5 - 10 inches away - again this is different for every scenario / guitar)

Then you record what you want to do (mono).

Hit record again for a 2nd take. Try to play the same as before.

Now hardpan the two tracks left and right.

You can either put EQ and effects on them seperately, or you can send them to an AUX and have the same effects apply to both (still hardpanned)



I get the impression you’re recording your guitar direct, using its pickup.

Even with the best built-in pickups, this produces a sound that is immediately identifiable as a pickup, and literally screams “amateur”. I listen to a lot of home recorded music, and it’s a common mistake. Admittedly, there are artists who take advantage of the sound of a pickup and use it artistically, like Dave Matthews. If you’re in the minority where you’re really using that sound for it’s particulars, then ignore my post. But if you want the sound of an acoustic guitar, mike it.

Definitely try what Wihan suggested, it’s a great tool – especially if you have good solid meter. And you can occasionally play an alternate part on the second guitar: experiment with this because it can work out very nicely.

Finally, try recording with mike and pickup, and see if blending the two gives a better sound: it often does. Try panning the two apart. This (panning apart) usually leads to an unbalanced sound, but that’s fine if you didn’t plan to put the guitar in the center. If the acoustic guitar part is central, so it needs to be balanced, there are several ways to solve this problem.

One is recording two parts (both using two signals), and either blending each mono and panning or else inverting one (mike on left, pup on right for 1st track, and opposite for 2nd track).

The other is to use a plugin like MDA Image (go to and download their plugin zip file) and use Mid Side technique: mike signal in center and pickup added to left, subtracted from right. Whenever using MS technique, be sure to check left and right side independently for any undesirable phasing sound.

Actually, I am using a mic-ed guitar, not a pickup. however, I really like the idea of two guitar parts separated with panning.

Are there value to these stereoizer type plugins to widen the sound?

thnaks again


See some of my notes on this thread on AudioMinds. I am mainly talking about drums, but there is an acoustic example on there too.

My favorite for acoustic guitar, other than doubling by playing the part twice, is to check “expand mono track to stereo” in track properties (by itself this does nothing, just allows stereo plugins to work in stereo) and n-Track reverb with “ambience 2” setting or thereabouts.

Most other methods for stereo image creation cause artifacts that sound unnatural on acoustic instruments (e.g., clone & drag, stereo chorus, etc.)

Note that the thread Bubba mentioned above is about Mid-Side miking, which is another matter altogether – takes two mikes, one of which should be a fig-8 (but doesn’t totally have to be). Very interesting and applicable technique, and the thread has PICTURES! :wink:

well firstly i’m not a very good sound shaper
the thing i usally to is to the bass line
however if its an accoustic “backbone” melody that the whole thing hinges on, well, i want it to stand out but not bee too LOUD. so what i do is expand the track to stereo if its mono then go to the eq box for the channel (the one with the frequency analyiser on it) and click that little button “left phase shift” its a cheap trick i think but i find that once i do this to one or maybe two tracks then its very hard to loose thier contribution to the overall melody in the mix.
i know the other guys know way more than me and the left phase shift thing might be a preety “amature” thing to do but hey, i’m not trying to crack open the music industry. i’m just having a bit of fun

Quote (james kelly @ Feb. 16 2006,18:24)
i know the other guys know way more than me and the left phase shift thing might be a preety “amature” thing to do but hey, i’m not trying to crack open the music industry. i’m just having a bit of fun

Two comments :

1: I’m defenately not one of the other guys. I’m a hack myself :p

2: That’s what its all about - if you’re in it for yourself and the fun of it, there are no rules - If it works for you, its right !


The problem with inverting one side is that if the mix gets summed to mono, you lose that part entirely. Zip, nada, gone. That lo-fi feed on your music site? Hope it’s stereo or no guitar!

Also, you’ll get different phase cancellation sounds in different parts of a listening room. In the sweet spot it’ll sound nice, but as you move around the sound can change pretty dramatically. Whenever you’re very close to just one speaker it will sound fine, though. On systems like boomboxes where the speakers are close together, you’ll lose low midrange and bass (which is usually OK for acoustic guitar). This will even happen for systems with speakers up to 6 or 8 feet apart, if the room is big enough.

On the other hand, the image for the guitar will be very wide on that boombox.

I don’t recommend this method in general due to all the technical problems (listening problems) it causes. It sounds so different on each stereo, it’s hard to make a good mix that sounds good on all systems. Sounds fantastic in the car, though!