Mono vs Stereo: What’s The Difference?

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Music is the cure for the soul. It’s really powerful in the way it can decide whether you will be sad or happy for the rest of the day. 

There are 2 kinds of signals to create sound, and they are

  • Mono Sounds
  • Stereo Sounds

Mono sound also known as monoaural sound brings into play only one channel when it’s converting the signals toward creating sounds. There can be many different speakers, but still, the sounds will come from the same signal. At the same volume, everyone hears the exact same signal.

Stereo sound gives a different vibe by producing signals that come from different sources and positions. If you have noticed the so-called “Surround Sound System”. This system is basically delivering sounds in multiple forms from different angles including two channels.   

Back then, mono was previously used for broadcasting, now they started to fade over time just like the radio did..

In this technology era, stereo has a wider use and most devices are compatible with stereo. 

Mono vs Stereo Sound: Which One is Better?

There is no exact answer to that question, it really depends on the circumstances.

If you are an average music listener, obviously the stereo audio system is way better than the mono sound system. The voices from stereo come more realistic, and natural and make you truly feel the moment.

Mono sounds would be a better choice if the multiple speaker sound technology is in question, for example, in clubs, restaurants, coffee shops, and many more music-playing environments.

Mono is preferred because stereo audio can create phase-cancellation. This happens when 2 waves can’t catch the same frequency level from the same source.

The Volume Level in Mono & Stereo Sound

The majority of people think that stereo is louder, but that is not entirely true. It differs from the quality of speakers you use. 

Mono audio played through a solo sound amplifies +3 dB is more booming than the same sound played through both speakers.

This is because when you combine two uncorrelated signals of the same strength, the summation of the two speakers is 3 dB stronger than each signal alone. The aggregate, however, climbs by 6 dB when they are entirely coupled, as in mono audio.

The Sound Quality in Mono & Stereo Sound

Both Mono and Stereo audio systems are producing the same quality sounds in their own way. 

Mono sounds are mainly focused to make the airflow in one direction, whereas the stereo gives signals from both directions. 

Stereo audio serve us a more natural and realistic experience, that went even far by creating 3D sound surroundings. That is making you live the moment not only to hear. On the other side stands the mono audio where you don’t get that surround feel, you do know exactly where the voice is coming from.

When the Mono Sound Fit Perfectly?

Mono Audio Sound

Mono recording is ideal when you want to refer to one audio channel via one speaker only. This makes mono signal ideal for vocal recordings in a single microphone. The voices will come punchier and more precise. The mono system is also placed in camera recordings.

On the other hand, stereo recording is made using two or more special microphones.

There’s one more thing. Nowadays, we come across more advanced recording equipment called “Dual Mono” or “Double Mono”. This system can record 2 similar signals on 2 tracks, leaving space for later surround sound refining. For example, mono audio makes the music or voice that comes from headphones “monaural” in which both ears are receiving the single-channel sound system.    

The Devices that Produce Mono Sounds

  • FM and AM radios.
  • Phones (but the latest models tend to have both mono and stereo sound).
  • Some Camcorders. 
  • Videocassette Recorders that feature MTS. 
  • Doorbells.
  • Microphones
  • Monophonic instruments that produce one note at a time.
  • Walkie-talkies.
  • Speakers (in restaurants, coffee shops,)
  • Phone calls are supported. 

When the Stereo Sound Fit Perfectly?

Stereo Audio Sound

The stereo system is adored by a wide range of technology lovers. It gives the illusion like the music is playing inside your living room. You feel your favorite singer or instrument is performing in front of you in flesh and bone. 

Almost everything that has to do with sound is connected with stereo, like MP3 players, the newest type of headphones, TVs, and many more electronic devices.

The theatre and movie experience is best enjoyed with a stereo system, no doubt about that. The voices that come from a different direction (3 Dimensional) create a figment of your imagination, it’s like you can notice exactly from which side the actor or actress is speaking.

There is also the stereo image. A crucial component of a successful mix and a good listening chain — is a strong stereo image.

The Devices that Produce Stereo Sound

  • Smartphones (they also have a mono option to activate in the settings).
  • TVs (some TV have Dolby Atmos Technology to surround the sound and make it appear in three dimensions).
  • Mp3 players
  • Modern Headphones 
  • Laptop and Computer speakers
  • A video production 
  • CDs

How to Notice the Mono Sounds?

Mono audio in brief refers to one audio signal which is pretty noticeable when it’s recorded. For example microphones, and guitars with a single cable.

For better understanding, listen to “The Turtles – Happy Together” mono version and then stereo mix, the sounds are less immersive. It sounds like is coming straight, not that mesmerizing and captivating.

How to Notice the Stereo Sound?

To better understand how the music works on the stereo audio, check out “Bob Marley & The Wailers – Turn Your Lights Down Low”. Here, you will notice the highest reflective appearance of HI-FI sound. This song shows beyond doubt the spacious recording and how every included instrument owns the soundstage.

In the “Max Roach – Lonesome Lover” song the treble is highly emphasized.
Roach, a jazz daredevil drummer, is the soloist here, and his flawless hi-hat and ride cymbal hitting is a good treble fidelity for testing stereo audio. Saxophone, however, truly distinguishes the high-frequency men from the boys.

Mixing Stereo Tracks and Mono Tracks?

If you are familiar with how the sound system works, I’m sure you have heard about the “Tree” formula for mixing both mono and stereo audio.

First off, you have to start with mono audio because the microphone is used on top for singing vocals. Then, you add a bass, drums, and extra back vocals to the ingredient list.

If you don’t start from the mono audio which sounds clearer in the mic, you won’t be able to catch what is missing after mixing with stereo sound.

To increase the quality level and make the sounds coming not only from one direction, we mix it with stereo.

During mono and stereo audio mixing, we can divide the channels or the elements in the stereo area to make them easier to hear when we mix them. When we reduce the mix to mono, the various elements begin to obstruct each other once more. In reality, if your mix isn’t transparent and punchy in mono sound, it’s simply “not prepared as it should yet.”

Experience the Mono Audio Quality on Your Smart Devices

Did you know that your smartphone offers to switch the sound from stereo to mono? If you want to distinguish the difference between these two sound types, follow the given instructions. It is super easy. Why not give it a shot?

IOS Operating System

There are 3 steps to activate mono sound:

  1. Go to the settings.
  2. Find where the Accessibility is and tap on it.
  3. You will see the Audio/Visual and again tap on it.
  4. Now drag your finger to activate Mono Audio

Android Operating System

The same rules are applied in the Android too

  1. Open the settings
  2. Look for Accessibility, then press it
  3. You’ll see the Mono Audio written to activate it

Final Words

To sum up the article above in a short, read this.
The difference between the mono and stereo audio stands in signals. Mono audio come from a single channel converted into a sound. Stereo uses two or more channels to produce the sound.

When it comes to quality, there’s no strict answer to that because both are ideal in their own way. For example, to emphasize more vocals, you use a microphone, and mono audio is the perfect choice for that. In case you want more natural and immersive sound, you go for stereo because when you watch a movie or listen to music, it sounds more lively.

Stereo sound is preferable and I think is better than mono. Stereo creates that 3-dimensional sound technology that is also known as a surround system. This system is basically making the sounds come from different angles which I mentioned above and is most noticeable when watching movies.

When an action scene occurs, you can predict from where will it happen, and in which direction. The new TVs include the Dolby Atmos system to provide that experience for you.

For a basic understanding, I mentioned some songs where mono and stereo are more noticeable. To find out yourself, apply it to your favorite track, you can use your smartphone and make a switch to mono audio. It is quick and easy to do in your Android or IOS operating system.

Lastly, it’s quite common to mix the mono and stereo sounds to create that extra immersive vibe you can. First off, you have to start with mono audio though.

Further Reading

Are you suffering from constant echoing headphones, have you wondered the reason behind it?

For soundstage headphones, I’ve got some picks for you at any budget type, and if you’re entry-level, knowing the difference between studio headphones and gaming headphones has a huge impact.

Whether you’re looking for information on audio equipment, looking to learn more about how things work in the music field, or looking for reviews of products, we got you covered!



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