Stereo vs Mono: Which one is better?

Stereo vs Mono: Which one is better?

on November 03, 2023

¿Stereo Vs mono? This is the question that has always been asked in audio theory studies. Anyone who wants to specialize in sound design, mixing, audio or music, and be able to understand the best way to make a recording needs to understand and handle these concepts.

One or the other turns out to be best, depending on what you require and the effect you want to achieve with the recording. However, if it's about enjoyment, the stereo is a better option.

The reason for this is that the stereo signal allows you to separate signals and distinguish sounds that could not be appreciated the same way in a mono system.

In addition, the stereo sound is surround, which means that you will be able to receive two signals that will be captured by your ears and there you will be able to have an acoustic appreciation of the combination of sounds.

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Stereo Vs mono: What’s the Difference?

If you want to conceptually understand the difference between stereo Vs mono, you have to acknowledge that it is basically about speakers and sound sources.

A stereo sound is one that uses an indeterminate number of speakers and sound sources, while a Mono sound uses a single speaker or sound source.

What best differentiates stereo Vs mono are three elements:

  1. The audio components
  2. The signal
  3. The system

However, the one needs the other, and we affirm this because a stereo recording of music needs at least two Mono components, so that the stereo signal is built.

A stereo sound simply cannot be played on a single speaker, instead, the sound becomes mono or will only play in mono. 

Using a mono sound to be reproduced by two speakers does not convert the signal into stereo, we will simply have a reproduction of two mono signals.

The use of TRS cables does not necessarily help transmit a stereo signal, this only happens with headphones, but not with the outputs and inputs of an interface. 

A trick that can be used is, the TS connectors, since the signal will be unbalanced, but will work the same way. 

Another thing you should know is that a stereo recording made with mono devices will result in a single sound recording.


What does “Stereo” mean?

conoce que es stereo vs Mono


Stereo is an abbreviation for the word stereophonic and it normally uses two speakers, which must be oriented correctly, with the same distance in relation to the listeners and between themselves. 

The optimal is to achieve an equilateral triangle design, so that an opening of about 60º forms between the speakers.

As for signals, a stereo sound has two, and can be transmitted in two different ways. Thus we can talk about the signal that comes out through the left channel, also called Left. 

The signal used by the left output is unique and different from the one transmitted by the right channel. Therefore, they will be two independent signals that will complement each other.

This is why it is called stereo sound, because the two signals are entirely different and independent, transmitted through different channels and the result is combined. 

This combination is achieved when the two signals merged into one and this may occur in two ways:


1. Electrical combination

An example would be to use the comparison in which you have two cables and you join them into one, so that their combination will create a sound different from the originals. 

That way, you'll be hearing both signals at the same time, electrically combined, which can be accomplished through software or in a DAW.

Any of these procedures will ensure that the signals are transmitted over a single cable from the output, without changing the impedance ratio in the speaker. 

What will change is the sum of SPL decibels when playing, which can be an inconvenience if the speakers are passive.

2. Acoustic combination

It means having two speakers reproducing a different signal, at the same time. 

What happens in this type of combination is that it is in our ears where the signals will merge acoustically. 

The optimal way to achieve this is by placing the speakers as we explained before, at the same distance from the listener, in the shape of an equilateral triangle. Thus the two signals will reach the listener's ears at the same time.


What does “Mono” mean?

Mono is an abbreviation for the word monophonic which means that it consists of a single speaker, which is usually positioned towards the position of the listener. 

The signal in a mono sound is one, so even if you connect two speakers, both will reproduce the same signal.


Stereo Vs mono: What’s the Difference?


Aprende las diferencias entre Stereo y Mono


When it comes to stereo vs mono, basically the difference is in the type of playback or recording signal. 

If it is a single signal, the sound will be the same, and it does not matter how many speakers you use to play it, because they will all be able to play the same signal. 

On the other hand, if recording or playback occurs through two different signals, at least two speakers are needed, so that each of them reproduces a different signal and results in an enveloping combination. 

Although the signals require the speakers to be placed in a fundamental strategic way, arranging them at the same distance, between them and in front of the listener, in the shape of a triangle. 

Additionally, stereo sound can be achieved by two methods:

  1. Electric
  2. Acoustic

In both cases it will allow you to fully appreciate the different sounds through two different channels.

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It doesn't matter what type of sound is, as you will always require a learning procedure that allows you to determine the functionality of each one. 

There are situations where mono playback or recording is the ideal, but when it comes to playback, electric or acoustic, stereo sound is what enhances the listener's experience.

At Genius Audio we help you determine which one is best for you.


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