Thursday 9 December 2021

Stereo vs Mono Sound

Stereo vs Mono Sound

When it comes to the discussion of Stereo vs Mono, the first aspect that differs them is the number of channels. Monophonic and stereophonic sound use different channels to record and playback audio. A single audio channel is used for Mono signals to record and playback. But for stereo sounds, two audio channels are used for recording and playback purposes. Stereo sounds can generate the perception of width, but it is not possible for mono sounds.

What is Stereo sound?

Stereophonic sound is the creation of two or more independent audio channels. It is designed in such a way that it seems the sound comes from different directions.

What is the Mono sound?

Monophonic sound uses audio in a single channel, and it is centered in the "sound field."

Stereo vs Mono Difference:

Audio Files:

A stereo system allows you to use two speakers. It comes with audio channels like stereo MP3 and WAV files. MP3 contains the information of the left channel, and the WAV files contain data of the right channel. These files control both speakers and ask when to push and pull air.

When you see a digital audio workstation (DAW), look at the waveform of a stereo audio file. You can see two waveforms display their audio channels. But the Mono files have merely a single audio channel.


Stereo systems can generate the impression of sound source localization. It indicates users' capability to locate the position of a sound source within a space.

For instance, if any dog barks, you generally can detect the direction of the sound and the distance of its coming. People are capable of localizing sounds with decent accuracy.

Our brain uses typical tricks to use standard concepts to localize sounds. For example, people can detect the sound timing differences between sounds for your left and right ear, sound wave pressure levels, sound wave frequency, dynamic range, and reverberation amount.

Our brain depends on the sound wave timing differences that are useful for deciphering a sound's left/right positioning. When a Sound source is near your left ear, the sound comes first to your left ear. Then, it reaches your right ear. The difference in timing is minimal, but still, it is useful to localize the sound.

If you want, you can mirror the method with the help of a second speaker. Hence, you are required to feed both speakers at the same signal. In this case, it seems to you that your sound source comes in front of you.

Width (X-axis) is a dimension that you can perceive with the help of a stereo system. Other dimensions also follow height (Y-axis) and depth (Z-axis). The collection of these three dimensions forms a 3-D space. It is known as a stereo image. 

Playback System

Ensure that you are hearing any sound or audio taking the help of a pair of headphones or a stereo playback system. Whether you select a stereo playback system, make sure that you keep your head position in an equilateral triangle with the speakers. Hence, the speakers must present at an angle of 45° toward you. Thus, you can make sure that you can perceive the stereo image.

With the help of frequency, you can detect the height where the sound is perceived within a stereo field. If you have high-frequency sounds, you find these localizing above low-frequency sounds.

The depth relies on the relative sound level, dynamic range, and reverberation amount. Sounds having a weak level and less dynamic range usually appear toward the back of the stereo field.

If you use Mono systems, you can only find them using one speaker. These can generate a two-dimensional image of height and depth. You must have two speakers for making the directional timing differences.


If you use one Microphone to record a sound source, you can capture a single channel of audio. You can use a single speaker or two to playback a mono recording.

Mono sounds in which you playback with the help of a stereo system, will playback in dual-mono. You need to duplicate the single audio channel and send the signal to both the left and right speakers.

If you are willing to record stereo sounds, you must take the help of two microphones. At the same time, you will record a stereo sound; one of the microphone recordings needs to be panned to the left side whereas the other one to the right side. There are multiple handheld recorders where you can record sound in Stereo, even capture sound using a pair of built-in microphones for recording.


The single audio file supports Phonograph cylinders, AM radio, FM radio stations, etc. Besides, it is compatible with Disc records, such as 78 rpm and 16⅔, 33⅓, and 45 rpm microgroove. Both these files are used in MiniDisc, compact audio cassette, VCR formats (NICAM Stereo), and TV (NICAM Stereo). These support FM radio in most cases and AM radio broadcasting in rare cases. However, people don't use this in 8-track tape and audio CDs.

Mono Vs Stereo Applications:

People use Mono sound in radiotelephone communications, telephone networks, public address systems, hearing aids. Besides, radio stations also use it for talk shows and conversations. When it comes to Stereo sound, you can find its use in hearing songs, theaters, and radio stations dedicated to music, FM broadcasting, and Digital Audio Broadcasting (DAB).

Stereo vs Mono- Which one is better?

You have to choose according to your need and preference. If you are willing to see a movie with lots of music and environmental sounds, it is better to use Stereo sound. When you use this, you have the feeling like you are in the movie.

But sometimes, you may want to wear only one earbud. In this case, you should choose the other one. This sound can provide the same experience as the whole music, even if you are wearing one earbud.


Mono sound is used while merely one channel is used for converting a signal to a sound. But the other sound comes while many channels convert many signals to sounds. It entirely depends on you which sound system you are willing to choose.

Frequently Asked Questions:

  • Q. Is it better to record Mono or Stereo?

Whether you are willing to record a vocalist, you need to select Mono as your choice. However, Stereo is better when you record two vocalists or more. You can use this when you are willing to record in a room with unique acoustics. Using Mono, you can get a strong, clear, and upfront sound.

  • Q. Is Stereo better than Mono?

One channel is used for Mono, whereas many channels are used for the other one. It is upon you which one you are willing to use.

  • Q. Is Mono audio good for music?

As you know that the sound is based on one channel. Therefore, it is better to use because you will hear the sound in one direction. The song is available in a very shallow and plain 2D form.

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