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What is mono audio? Mono vs. stereo

What is mono audio?

Mono is any sound recorded or played back using one audio channel or 2 channels with 100% identical signal (called dual mono). The recording may contain voice, multiple music instruments, and audio effects — they’ll be transferred though one channel in mono.

Back in the days, radio broadcasters tended to use mono audio. Today, there are many devices that support stereo instead, which is definitely a choice of audiophiles. However, both models are still in use and have individual benefits.

What is stereo?

Unlike mono audio recordings, stereo tracks distribute sounds of voice, music instruments, and effects between two audio channels. Signals in a left and right channels should necessarily be different.

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

Such approach helps create the immersive sound for an outstanding listening experience in headphones. This is achieved thanks to using multiple microphones for voice and different instruments, and panning available with 2 channels only.

Many creators try to record high-resolution songs as stereo files. Is it actually necessary? Let’s find out whether the quality will be impacted greatly by using mono recording.

Is stereo better than mono?

Mono audio recordings may sound flat and not really impressive. This is because such songs lack panning and the sound seems to be static, while stereo simulates sound travelling through a medium. And that’s the most popular reason why people consider it outdated and useless. In reality, mono can be even better in some occasions.

Stereo creates more realistic sounds. It is certainly the best idea when you’re listening to music in headphones.

But stereo can cause phase cancellation in some situations. Imagine you’re watching a movie or listening to a song together with your best friend. You gave him/her one of the AirPods and…now hear sounds or speech your friend can’t perceive. Just because they’re in your earphone only!

Should you use mono audio?

In some cases, making a stereo recording is not necessary. Here are some examples when you need to choose mono.

  • In podcasts, stereo is often converted to mono by podcast hosting platforms anyway.
  • Ringtones or voice recordings are better stored in mono, as they take up less space and do not need a hi-res quality.
  • If you are a musician and want to make a sample library, many of them can be recorded in mono.
  • Vocals in studios are often recorded in mono because it gives them power and vibrancy.
  • In a YouTube videos, there’s not much sense in recording your voice in stereo. Some amateur stereo recordings even have the sound travelling from side to side, which creates discomfort.

As you can see, mono is not always worse than stereo.

How to change mono audio to stereo (and vice versa)?

In many popular apps, such as AVS Audio Editor, you can easily switch from stereo to a single-channel recording and vice versa.

  • Just open a recording in the program and click Save as.
  • From the dropdown list next to Channels, select the appropriate option.
Stereo to mono
Mono to stereo

Please mind that the initial recording parameters are essential. If you’ve recorded a mono audio, changing it to stereo won’t make it sound as authentic as it could be when taken in stereo.

Switch between mono and stereo easily — get AVS Audio Editor today!

The entire AVS4YOU multimedia suite is currently available with large discounts. Save 70% today!

Useful links

How to normalize audio. Read guide

35 examples of sound energy. Learn more

Top audio recording software. See list

Full pack of AVS4YOU applications. Download