mclass stereo imager vs. mono compatibility (?)
this is an admittedly ridiculously long post, and i apologize in advance, it's just that it deals with some pretty complex/confusing stuff for me....
i'm working on my demo cd, and i've been exhausting myself (and google) as i try to learn the ins and outs of basic home mastering. i love the new mclass mastering effects, and have even jury-rigged my own multiband compressor using the dual-band crossover function of the 'separate outs' on the back of the new mclass stereo imager as a routing gate (2 imagers: 1 to split out the low band at around 150 Hz, routing the remaining audio band to the other imager to split it into the mid and hi bands at about 5 kHz), and routing each resultant band to it's own separate dedicated mclass compressor, ultimately using a spider to merge the three stereo outputs of the compressors back together to pass along into the equalizer, then another stereo imager (this time for the actual purpose of stereo imaging), and finally the maximizer, all within the confines of one combinator. ok, enough bragging.... i felt super big and bad coming up with it all by myself, and the sound is pretty slick, especially after tweaking around with the stereo imager....
but then in one of my google searches, i was totally knocked off my high horse and felt like a complete dooshbagg when i discovered for the first time the concept of 'mono compatibility'. how big a deal is this? given that much of what i produce tends to be dance music oriented, with my ultimate goal to have it blasting in clubs worldwide (haha, RIGHT), this is probably a huge issue for me, right? as i understand it, many clubs (if not most) route the audio to their speaker systems in mono, which only really makes common sense, given that the speakers are huge and loud, not to mention situated ALL OVER THE PLACE, thereby eliminating any concept of a stereo image (right?). is it standard practice to create separate mixes for clubs (mono) vs. for home stereo use?
does phase cancellation occur in audio being summed to mono, regardless of the source? i read somewhere that said 'this can become an ugly issue if the samples you are using were not recorded properly' - like, are the samples in reason (at least the factory-provided ones) engineered not to produce phase cancellation? likewise, are the synthesized sounds also engineered not to do this either? or is it just a basic audio summing principle that has to be dealt with and considered all the time everywhere? also, does it (phase cancellation, combing, etc.) sound especially funky, or does it just reduce (or remove altogether) the levels of the cancelling frequencies?
everywhere i read any tips on mastering, it says, 'be sure to constantly toggle the mono/stereo button on your output mixer to check for mono compatibility'.... given that there is no 'mono/stereo' button on reason's mixer, how should i go about doing this? is it as simple as spider-merging the left and right outputs of my mclass mastering suite together, then spider-splitting the same merged signal back into 2 now-identical left and right signals and routing them to the hardware interface? (i did this as a separate combinator so i could then just use the main bypass switch on the combinator to toggle between original stereo and processed mono - though i also had to route the spider output to a line mixer with the level set at about 84 to reduce the combined mono signal to a level similar to the original stereo signal, so i wouldn't be distracted by any volume change). is this the way mono/stereo switches on mixers work, and consequently the way a mono television set or radio will convert to mono - by simply summing the two signals? or is there some more complex addition/subtraction of frequencies going on under the hood?
finally, how much of a mono-incompatibility problem does the mclass stereo imager inherently present? cuz it sounds awesome and really adds a depth and clarity to the sound, especially ambient and reverb-heavy stuff, but if it's only working to ensure that half my music won't end up blasting out those huge club stacks, then maybe i should lay off....
sorry for such a hugely long post, but i just haven't been able to find much on this stuff anywhere at all....
Re: mclass stereo imager vs. mono compatibility (?)
I'm not sure about "most clubs", but if the PA is setup right you can have a nice stereo mix in any club. Most area clubs in Detroit that I've been to have a stereo mix being pumped and performed on the dancefloor. I've heard mono mixes on club PA's; in my opinion they're the result of engineering lazyness (or a lack of club funds to setup the PA right). By hey, that's just my opinion. At any rate, don't mix your tracks thinking they'll only be played in mono - this 'aint AM radio! If a club is mixing down to mono for their PA, your mix shouldn't suffer too much.
As for Reason's MClass Stereo Imager, from the 'Operation Manual':
"The MClass Stereo Imager does not create stereo from mono input! For the device to work properly it must be connected with stereo in/out, and the input signal must contain a stereo audio signal."
Re: mclass stereo imager vs. mono compatibility (?)
well ive had to remove your big long post in deferrence to those of us on the forums that have trouble coping with terribly long scrolling (er me as well lol) you know who you are!!!
about stereo and mono compatibility..
standard stereo mono switching is simple 50% + 50% summing... that is the new 100% mono signal is equally made up of half the output from each channel. this can be acheived by summing the two together and taking off (-)3dB which is affectively like halfing the level in voluminous terms..
you may find more unusual circuits to provide the switching but this standard one provides the most transparent means of testing the compatability for your mixes right thru from start to finish...
yes it is important if you require the exact same balance of sound(s) as you mixed them to be as close as possible in all playback situations (a theoretical 'ideal' of course), but one you can get close to. the closer the better if you dont want a nasty surprise at a make or break playback session/opportunity...
the spider technique you have used will probably surfice but be sure that you test the on/bypass level balance very carefully with a LED readout in reason somewhere to ensure it is as close to equal as you can get it. this is also important when taking into account a thing called the fletcher-munsen curve (the way your hearing changes its frequency response sensitivity according to how loud the sound is)... on the same subject, try to remix your work at a decent level but not too loud as its been shown that this can make it less lively and that can be fatal for dance music of course... the old mix it at the intended volume is a good adage but of course not TOO loud as your ears will turn themselves down if pushed and of course you may be deaf to certain defficiencies in your mix in this situation...
and for the stereo mono test try to test on monitors/loudspeakers as well as headphones..
try as many rigs as ou can to find a happy medium between them ALL sounding very decent...
groundwork in this can pay dividends once its out there..
there are a million views out there about mastering let alone about sound production/engineering techniques as a whole... by all means view and interpert all opinions but please learn to express and live by your own views on this since thats how you'll get your own sound... course im sure you know what youre doing since that combi you mentioned at the start sounds a beast... you gonna post it on combinatorhq.com then or what? :-)
always test your mono compatibility cos if your mix only EVER gets played in 'joe soap's club' (eg) in mono you still want the echo-heads to be able to peak of it dont you? :-D
might as well sound as good as it can... then when you flip to stereo ti will sound OMG! if you see what i mean..
as for the sounds in reason being recorded right...
the thing that i think those articles are getting at is DC offset...
this will not have been something that will have been left in ANY reason sounds... you could create it with synthesis easy enough but not the samples...
again this kind of analysis will become second nature to you..
when you get weird phasing/combing going on then something is amiss with your mix (shruggs)...
although, apart from teh backbeat which you probably just want to stay phat... its things like DC offset that give a track its movements sometimes... its like anything away from the standard... a less is more approach is always a good thing to consider before you trawl into too much of something!
Re: mclass stereo imager vs. mono compatibility (?)
thanks so much for your input, it really helps clear up stuff and put things in perspective.... i realize a lot of good music relies on just having the nutz to go in the end with what you think sounds 'good'. i just don't want to screw up some mundane but fundamental technical thing. rpug, when you said:
: : the spider technique you have used will probably surfice but be sure that you test the on/bypass level balance very carefully with a LED readout in reason somewhere to ensure it is as close to equal as you can get it. this is also important when taking into account a thing called the fletcher-munsen curve (the way your hearing changes its frequency response sensitivity according to how loud the sound is)... on the same subject, try to remix your work at a decent level but not too loud : :
do you know of a way in reason to specifically check the levels, like decibel-wise or at least somehow numerically? or are you saying that i should just run the mono signal through a full 14:2 mixer so i can see the expanded LED level meter?
also, about monitoring levels as i work, no worries there, as i am really conscientious about my hearing, so i tend to keep it within the casual chillout-listening comfort zone, maybe a little louder sometimes if i wanna step back after a decent session and see how a beat is coming along as far as rocking out, but definitely never ear-splitting or anything you would have to shout over just to be heard by another person in the same room. i make music. therefore i care about my ears. i really don't get how there are so many fools are out there who just don't fundamentally grasp how the two ought to go hand-in-hand. anyways, cheers!
heh.. i think you answered your own question my friend :-P
:do you know of a way in reason to specifically check the levels, like decibel-wise or at least somehow numerically? or are you saying that i should just run the mono signal through a full 14:2 mixer so i can see the expanded LED level meter?
yeah... theres several ways of checking levels now with reason... but any that has the most (virtual) LEDs is good... this means its pretty sensitive to level change...
try the m-class finaliser for one... or the 14:2 mixer..
take your pick
but decibels dont become an issue until you are dealing with 'actual' soundwaves and even then it is tricky to be ojective about level... there are lots of variants...
basically each increase of 3dB is a doubling of level from threshold of hearing (which the symbol is like a figure of eight turned on its side) up to threshold of pain (often around 120dB but of course will vary with person to person - for instance mine is much lower than that lol - i often put my fingers in my ears at the movies!!)
trust your instincts.. they are often right with your work... otherwise you would not be doing it..
own best critic and all that ;-)
cheers and dont forget to come and share your rps files so we can all listen and maybe learn stuff too ;-P
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