- Wed Jan 25, 2006 5:31 pm
I don't want to be condescending, but I know audio recording very well. Sounds like you have phase problems.
Stereo spacialization exists because of the separation between two channels.
On an audio mixer, if you have a tone on the left and a tone on the right, and pan them both to hard left, you are making a mono mix. There are anomalies that exist in the form of phasing, that will effect the sound, but by putting both sounds on the left, you have removed the stereo separation between the two channels.
The way audio engineers measure this separation is my using a pair of monitors, with enough space between them to "matter" for the mix. These monitors are never moved, and the engineer learns the sweet spot in his studio. Not all studios are the same, but there are very common practices, where a standard near-field monitor rig is pretty much a standard. Mastering engineers know best how to deal with specialization. When the mix leaves the typical recording studio, a mastering engineer is the next typical step in radio-friendly commercial music. This engineer adjusts all aspects of the audio, including EQ and spacialization.
If you go back to the pair of monitors and stick them side-by-side, there is still separation, but only about 8" at this point. Very minimal, in other words. Now take these two speakers and shrink them down to the size of an earbud, and you have no separation between the speakers.
The human head has a TON to do with this concept. The mass of your head serves as a null spot between your ears. I won't go into it, but research binaural recording. VERY cool concpts there.
Now I go back to the point on PHASE CANCELLATION. I think THIS is where your problem lies. It's the doubling of two identical signals.
If you could look at a sine wave of a tone, you would see peaks and valleys, displaying the electrical current. When the identical waves overlap, they cancel each other out. [when one tone is at a peak +1, and the other is at a valley -1, then the sum = 0]
In the earlier example of slamming two tones to the left channel, if they are the same tone, they will likely cancel each other out, and sound muffled -- almost non-existent.
The same will happen with modern pop music. If you slam a stereo drum kit into mono, it will kill it. You're going to have phase problems all over the place, and it will sound weird ~ quieter.
There is software you can get to play with your own mix. I would STRONGLY suggest Sony Sound Forge. It's like $70 for the basic version. You can export to anything under the sun. SoundForge is for mastering and editing your two-track recordings. [podcasters should take note too]
Audacity is free, but the sonic quality & features of SF are worth it.
Play with flipping the phase and DC offset settings prior to converting to mono. Once you find your mono sweet spot, you can save all of your settings and create a batch command for your library.
I have found much better results by converting to mono using SF than any other consumer software.
By the way: a good audio engineer back at the studio when recording the band, will rely on the MONO switch on the recording console. I do it all the time. I actually have a single mono speaker for this very test. If things sound squashed, you tweak & go back and forth to stereo & tweak & tweak & tweak. But alas, the art of real [reel as well] recording is dying.
Wow, I Rambled-on.