What is the Difference Between Mono and Stereo Sound?

Learn about what makes mono & stereo audio different & how they're used in music production & broadcasting.

What is the Difference Between Mono and Stereo Sound?

Mono sound is when only one channel is used to convert a signal into a sound, while stereo sound is when several channels are used to convert several signals into sounds. The difference between mono and stereo lies in the number of channels (signals) used. Mono uses one, while stereo uses more than one. Stereo sound (or stereophonic sound) is the reproduction of sound using two or more independent audio channels in a way that creates the impression that sound is heard from several directions, as in natural hearing.

Mono (monaural or monophonic sound reproduction) has single-channel audio, often focused on the “sound field”.Stereo sound has almost completely replaced mono due to the improved audio quality that stereo provides. Mono sound is preferred in radiotelephony communications, telephone networks and radio stations dedicated to talk shows and conversations, PA systems and headphones. Stereo sound is preferred for listening to music in theaters, radio stations dedicated to music, FM broadcasts and digital audio broadcasting (DAB). Mono sound recording is done primarily with a microphone, and only one speaker is required to hear the sound. In the case of headphones and multiple speakers, the routes are mixed into a single signal path and transmitted.

The signal does not contain level, arrival time or phase information that can replicate or simulate directional signals. Everyone hears the same signal and with the same level of sound. The sound played, for example, by each instrument in a band will not be heard clearly, even though it will have total fidelity. Portable recorders record sound in mono as it's cheaper and easier to record in mono sound. Stereo recording is done with two or more special microphones.

The stereo effect is achieved by carefully positioning the microphone that receives different levels of sound pressure, so even the speakers must have the ability to produce the stereo and must also be positioned with care. The signals have a specific level and phase relationship with each other, so that, when reproduced through an appropriate reproduction system, there will be an apparent image of the original sound source. It's expensive and requires the ability to record stereo sound. There are many possible configurations of multi-channel surround sound systems, including 5.1, 6.1, 7.1 and 9.1 systems, and more (with or without subwoofers). Mono has only one sound channel while stereo uses one channel for each speaker or headset.

In addition, mono was widely used in the past and is sometimes still used but stereo has generally replaced it because stereo gives a higher quality and realistic impression. The difference between mono and stereo audio is that mono audio has only one channel while stereo audio contains two channels. In addition, mono audio preserves all sound on a single channel while stereo audio separates sound into two channels: left and right. They are usually represented by M & S respectively. In November 1940, Walt Disney's Fantasy became the first commercial film with stereophonic sound. There are some stereo recordings that practically require some form of electronic analysis to prove that they are stereo.

A mono signal reproduced through a stereo system would be especially susceptible to this because the signals are exactly the same. For example, when the left and right speakers reproduce exactly the same signal you'll notice that the sound source is placed directly between the speakers; this is called a phantom mono sound source because the true sound sources (the speakers) are located on the sides. A stereo system normally consists of one main speaker (the “mono speaker”), but with the addition of a second smaller speaker (the “stereo speaker”) to help transmit sound to parts of the room where the monophonic main speaker cannot reach. Music produced with stereo sound has more depth because two headphones or speakers reproduce different sounds offering unique experiences that are not possible with mono technology. Regardless of the headset you use, the song will sound exactly the same because the mono version has only one sound channel. Therefore you are more than likely to believe that the sound comes from the center of the speakers which confirms the idea of a phantom mono sound source. A consecutive comparison of a mono guitar recording and a stereo guitar recording can be seen in this Steven Law video.

Leave Message

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *