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Mono Vs. Stereo Tracks in Garage Band

Learning to produce music with your computer is great fun! However, if you haven’t yet figured out how to get audio into the computer… No fun at all!

Todays quick tip addresses an issue that a lot of folks who are new to the wonderful world of digital recording suffer from in the beginning.

When should you choose a mono track vs a stereo track? I mean, after all, we want our music to be in stereo right?

 

Transcript »

Hello again! Dezz Asante here from the TechMuzeAcademy with another MixLessons.com video quick tip. This one is a simple one. I’m going to give a little bit of a walk through to answer a question that came in from Joey. Now, Joey I won’t read this question verbatim but he basically has…took his gear out of storage and he’s able to start working again.

He started working with GarageBand and his problem is that he’s having trouble configuring his analog inputs, getting his microphone to work and to capture audio. And the… one of the symtoms that he is experiencing is that when he’s recorded, when he does managed to get sounded and he hits play, the playback is only coming out of one speaker, out of the left speaker for example. And there is a solution for that and there’s a reason why it happens and it’s a question that I get asked a whole lot especially by folks just learning a new piece of software, just getting into it. So, I’m going to flip over to the GarageBand here and I want to show you how to set it up in a basic way, how to configure it to capture audio off of your microphone.

So, there’s a couple of steps that need to happen. First of all, if you hit command, or if you go to the preferences, to the GarageBand menu under preferences that will bring up your general preferences so this is a place to start. What you want to do is click on the audio midi tab and from there you can chose your audio input and output settings. Now, by default it’s going to be set to systems setting and that means that its going to use whatever audio device that you have configured in your general Mac OS10 system preference under sound. So, I’ve got my Yamaha Steinberg, excuse me my Firewire interface that I use called MR8-16. Ofcourse, if you do not own an MR8-16 that will not show up in the list but the device that you do use will assuming that has been installed correctly if it requires drivers so on and so forth. So, in your systems setting you can choose your inputs and outputs here. However, if you want to get more specific right inside GarageBand, I can then choose my Yamaha Steinberg and for my audio output and my Yamaha Steinberg for my audio input. If you’re using a different interface ofcourse then thats the name you would choose. For now, I’m going to leave mine in system settings because that’s already configured correctly in the OS10 system preferences. So, that’s step one – make sure your GarageBand is communicating  with your audio device. Okay!

Step 2, after you’ve created a track and ofcourse you do that by hitting add track, you’re going to use real instrument for something that’s being plugin to the front of your audio device you would hit create and I’ve already got one here so I’ll just cancel that. So, here’s my audio track. Now, couple of things you’ll notice, one thing you want to do is look over here on the right in the inspector and if  you don’t see it  you may have to hit this button right here to open it up. You might be looking at something else so you may have to click on the eye for inspector for info. And then down here at the bottom is where you want to determine your input source. Now, here is where the mistakes are commonly made. Right now by default, GarageBand has set my input source to stereo 1 & 2 of my Yamaha Steinberg device. That means that it is a stereo track and it is listening to boths inputs 1 and inputs 2. Now, on a stereo track its 2 channels, one for left and one for right. So, if I’ve only got my microphone plugin into input no. 1 and it’s listening to 1 and 2 then I’m only going to get sound on the left channel, channel one out of the one and two stereo pair. Okay!

This is a common mistake. So, what you want to do to avoid this playback through only one channel is change from a stereo input to a mono input. Now, I’ve got 16 inputs on my audio device. You may not have 16, you may only have 2 left and right, 1 and 2. So, what you would do is if you were plugin to input no. 1 you would choose mono 1. From that point when I hit record, you’ll also notice by the way that my metering is now both sides both speakers, left and right channels even though its a mono track. And this is where people get confused because people assume that when I choose mono or stereo they think well stereo is better. Right? Or my music, I want it to be in stereo. But with an option like this, the software is not asking you, “Do you want stereo playback?”  The software is asking you “Are you using a stereo input source?” not for playback for input. And if  you’re not, if you’re using a single microphone, a single guitar cable, if you’re only pluging into a single input then that is not a stereo input. And so, you want to make sure that you want to sellect a mono input and choose the appropriate channel.

And you’ll notice again, you’ll see my levels on both sides equal. If I switch that back to the way it was again, stereo 1 & 2. And now you see that the…my voice I am speaking is only coming in to the left channel out of a two channel pair. Okay! So, again that’s a simple fix, simple solution. Just a …just a slight misunderstanding that I find a lot of people have in the beginning. If they’re new to recording or new to a particular piece of software and that is how you solve it.

So, Joey I hope that helps you and I hope perhaps some other people out there who wrestled with the same question have been helped by that little quick tip. And as always, we’ll see you on the next one. Just before I go, I want to encourage you if you haven’t alreadyt done so to pop on over to MixLessons.com , throw your email on the email list so that I can send you for free my video training series called “3 Simple Steps To Amazing Home Recordings” A lot of people have been helped from it and they’ve found it very beneficial and if haven’t checked it out already, cost you nothing but a click so head on over and we’ll see you there.

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