How can I record speech in stereo?
August 4, 2006 4:53 AM   Subscribe

Oh, how I wish I could record in stereo, but as things stand, it's looking like it's going to have to be a mono-podcast. Help me get into both channels.

So, I'd like to start podcasting, and I've been experimenting this week, but at the moment I can only seem to record in mono (coming through the left channel).

I'm using an old Peavey dynamic mic from my days as a singer, which has an XLR cable to 6.3mm jack, which in turn is plugged into a 6.3mm to 3.5mm converter, that goes into an iMic which is stuck in the USB port of my iBook G4 (OS 10.3.9). I've tried Garageband and Audacity, but nothing gets recorded in the right channel. Even though I've told it to record in stereo.

Is it something in my set-up that's causing the problem, and are there any get-arounds? Is there some way I could copy what's in the left to the right to give the impression of stereo sound? Would it work better if I went through my amp and then to the imic's phono input?

I'm not that technically skilled and I've only ever used Audacity to trim recordings down, so this is a bit beyond my capabilities, but I want to learn!
posted by featherboa to Technology (13 answers total)
Your input is a mono source which will only appear on the left channel. I'd imagine the easiest way to do it is to record in mono, copy that recording to a new track in audacity or whatever and then pan one left and the other right, and then do a stereo mix down.
posted by TwoWordReview at 5:09 AM on August 4, 2006

You have a mono source, and really you should be making a mono file. In Audacity, click the triangle next to Audio Track and choose mono. If you need to, you can also make a stereo file by copying the left channel stream and labelling as the right channel.
posted by riotgrrl69 at 5:35 AM on August 4, 2006

Since you have a mono source, what're you hoping to gain by making a stereo mix? Do you have sound effects or other elements in stereo? If not, why bother? There's no point in making a stereo mix of a mono source. If you do want to add other stereo elements to your output, I reccomend getting ahold of Ardour or another multitrack editor and laying in the effects on top of your mono vocal track (pan the vocal track to the center, so it gets equal levels in the left and right channels).
posted by Alterscape at 6:19 AM on August 4, 2006

Response by poster: Right, it sounds like I might have been trying to run before I could walk! Is it just that I should record it in mono?

Alterscape - it's mainly that it sounds a bit strange only coming out of one side of my headphones, it throws me a bit off-balance. Most podcasts I listen to come out of both, and I wondered if there was some trick to make it do that.
posted by featherboa at 6:41 AM on August 4, 2006

Best answer: Yeah, if you record in mono it will play back panned centre (ie out of both speakers), but if you record in stereo it will only record - and therefore play back - on the left channel. You can do the copy and pan trick if you specifically need a stereo file but really it's not necessary if you just want voice only coming out of both speakers.
posted by TwoWordReview at 7:17 AM on August 4, 2006

In order to get your mic coming through both sides of your phones, if your software won't do it, you need a mono-to-stereo adaptor, which will add to the two widgets already connected to your mic. Or get a cheap mixing desk, which will give you a lot more control and make you look cool too.

A google for "mono to stereo adapter" will turn up some helpful things, including this (scroll down) and this, which is the widget you want.
posted by cogat at 8:01 AM on August 4, 2006

Best answer: Can you record in mono? Recording in mono will get the same sound out of both speakers, panned center.
posted by muddgirl at 8:08 AM on August 4, 2006

Best answer: You need two microphones to record in stereo. Just record mono.

I'd imagine the easiest way to do it is to record in mono, copy that recording to a new track in audacity or whatever and then pan one left and the other right, and then do a stereo mix down.

That wouldn't accomplish anything.
posted by ludwig_van at 8:10 AM on August 4, 2006

Do you have other stereo sources in your podcast?

Vocal recordings will almost always be mono, unless you have two input sources. There's not really any point in duplicating the mono channel to make it stereo unless you want to make a bigger file with absolutely no benefit over a mono one.

If you're just doing vocals without music or other stereo sources, keep it mono. Stereo sources? Leave the vocal part in mono (otherwise you'll have a dead channel like you're having now) and overlay the music in stereo.
posted by onedarkride at 8:17 AM on August 4, 2006

That wouldn't accomplish anything.
posted by ludwig_van at 4:10 PM GMT on August 4 [+fave] [!]

You're correct of course, that's me overcomplicating things as usual. Doing a stereo mixdown of a single mono file panned centre would do exactly the same thing (create a 2-channel file from a single channel source, which wasn't even what the OP was asking) without the copy and pan nonsense.

To clarify the simple answer is just record in mono. I'll go back to sleep now!
posted by TwoWordReview at 8:36 AM on August 4, 2006

I want to point out that the majority of podcasts are done in mono. My own, which is a public radio show, is sent to public radio stations in mono via satellite and then uploaded onto iTunes in the same format. We NEVER have received complaints about our show not being in stereo. I also want to point out that mono podcasts have much, much faster download times.
posted by parmanparman at 8:49 AM on August 4, 2006

Response by poster: Thanks for your patience mefites - I am a dumbass. It really was as simple as record in mono. Cheers.
posted by featherboa at 11:03 AM on August 4, 2006

Glad the question was answered.

Brief hijack: Has anyone collected a list of MeFi member podcasts? (Individually, though I think a community podcast would be neat, too. With funny voices.) It'd be fascinating to listen to a day's worth of aggregated shows...
posted by pzarquon at 1:36 PM on August 4, 2006

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