Questions & Answers

What advantage is there to recording to a stereo track vs. separate L and R tracks (or even using all three)?

+2 votes
asked Aug 23, 2020 in Studio One 5 by roberttrede (3,150 points)

Ladies and Gentlemen (I'm campaigning against the irritating ubiquitous "Yo... Sup?" ... but I digress. wink)

This is a general question about the use of stereo tracks vs. dedicated Left (L) and Right (R) tracks. I'm curious about your opinions.

When recording my single acoustic guitar (using two mikes), I feed one mic into a mono L channel (track), the other into a mono R, then because it's easy to do (toooo easy), I always record a third track in stereo. My theory was that the stereo track could (in theory) be useful somewhere down the road.

As it turns out, that stereo track just adds a lot of work and eats up unnecessary storage space (with all the wav files it creates).
Just as an example, when I edit events in Melodyne, that third stereo track is just one more track I have to deal with there.

Additionally, with the L & R tracks feeding (via buses I have set up for them) into my Main output, that stereo track (also feeding to the Main output through its own bus) tends to "step on" edits and effects I have done on the individual channels.

I also can (in theory) easily create a stereo track if I need one by bouncing the two mono track to it... Or I could (I think) create a stereo bus from the two respective mono tracks.

So my current thinking is that there is almost no (if any) reason to always record into a stereo track in addition to the two L and R channels. I'm seeing a lot of disadvantage in creating and editing three tracks when two would do just fine.

I'm sure stereo tracks have their purposes but I'm thinking I should either choose separate mono tracks or a stereo track... but not both.

Does anyone have any opinions on this? I'm curious as to what you have decided for your own recordings under similar conditions. I'm looking forward to reading your thoughts.

Stay safe, everyone!

4 Answers

+1 vote
answered Aug 23, 2020 by cdricblanqui (7,530 points)

I think L&R is better, just because it gives you the opportunity to apply different audio treatment to the tracks,

Adding a stereo is not useful IMHO but may be good for a specific purpose, like for example using special effects with M/S processing on the stereo signal

0 votes
answered Aug 23, 2020 by roberttrede (3,150 points)

I don't see a way to reply to your post directly, so hopefully you will see this reply to your post.

Thanks so much for your thoughtful approach and reply. I tend to agree with you that recording to a stereo track may have its uses, in general, however, a person has a greater number of options by recording two L and R mono tracks. Your thoughts confirm what I already suspected. It's good just to hear someone else's perspective.

Thanks again!
0 votes
answered Feb 6, 2021 by jerryconnolly (1,190 points)
I'm just seeing this discussion now as I recently pondered the same question.  The entire conversation reaffirmed my thought that I should record to two tracks rather than to a single stereo track.  It just seems that I have more control over the audio result that way.
0 votes
answered Feb 6, 2021 by roberttrede (3,150 points)

Yes Jerry, after my original post, I started to almost exclusively record on two separate Left and Right tracks instead of a single stereo track. I'm sure a stereo track has its uses but for me, using one seemed to create more problems than it solved. I like the control I have over two distinct L/R tracks. I always know what is being edited and what isn't.

Additionally, I've found that editing in Melodyne (as a S1 add-on) works really well with two distinct tracts. When I was trying to edit with Melodyne on a stereo track, I was never quite sure what exactly was being edited.

So for my money, two distinct L/R tracks are the way to go.

Good luck with your recordings!