When looking for a microphone, you may find that there are two types: mono microphone owning one audio track, and stereo microphone which includes two. You might wonder what is the difference and which to use. Firstly, let’s take a look at the definition of them.
What are they: the number of microphone capsules differs
Mono is short for monophonic. In English, mono means one, phonic means sound. Therefore, as the name suggests, a mono microphone is the mic that delivers one sound with one microphone capsule.
But pay attention, this doesn’t mean mono mic only captures one sound from one object. In fact, it captures sounds within its polar patterns and processes them through one channel, making them into mono sounds. So no matter how many sounds you are going to record, if you want them to be one sound, it is time for the mono microphone to be used. In most cases, cell phone microphone and camera microphones are usually mono.
What is stereo microphone? Stereo here means full. So it records and delivers full sounds.
But how can we know whether the microphone is stereo or not? The key is that the stereo mic owns two microphone capsules and plays back sounds through two channels. In general, there are two common techniques in stereo microphone design as of today.
This technique requires two cardioid directional microphones.
The microphone capsules are arranged in close proximity at an angle from 90 to 135 degree. In general, the microphones are panned hard left and right, with one microphone signal going to the left recording track and the other to the right recording track.
The technique is used in the SYNCO V10. It is a small diaphragm microphone that aims at recording sounds from music instruments and vocals. With an “X/Y” setup, it is able to show a full sound picture of the music show. So it is a best stereo microphone for location recording.
In this technique, two omnidirectional microphones are placed one foot away from the sound source while the capsules of the stereo pair microphone are two feet away from each other. But the distance can be changed to get different recording results.
Pros and Cons: stereo mic outweighs mono one in immersion
For content creators who are seeking an immersive, compact, and best budget solution to stereo recording, a stereo recording microphone is ideal.
The biggest advantage of using stereo microphone for android and other devices is that you can record what you exactly hear in your ears and play it to listeners. The sounds from different places are recorded via different signals. They can listen to the sound as if they have been on the scene.
As we all know, stereo microphone for dslr and suchlike is a two mic in one setting. Compared to carrying two mono microphones, it is much smaller and lighter. Moreover, since it is one microphone in fact, so you need less accessories. Both bring you great convenience whether you record inside or outside.
As is often the case, a stereo microphone is more expensive than a mono microphone to some extent. However, it is still cheaper than buying two microphones to work for stereo recording. What’s more, it requires less accessories, so the cost on the windscreen, mic stand, etc. is less. In a nutshell, it is somehow affordable to buy one if stereo is a must for you.
However, even the best stereo microphone has its shortcomings. Since the two inbuilt mics are set fixedly, you can’t change the angle, arrangement and stereo width as you want. This may affect your recording if the setting is not suitable for the scene. However, mono mic is flexible and offers more possibility.
To capture the sounds in a place and record as where it is, the stereo mic is sensitive to the change of sound. As a result, even a slight movement of the talents will distract the listeners. In this case, it is outperformed by mono microphone.
Mono VS stereo microphone: difference in recording
Photo by richard
Besides the difference in microphone capsules, they are also different in recording when we compare mono mics to stereo mics.
Microphone mono delivers mono sound, which converts a signal into a sound via only one channel. The mono stage is completely vertical and driven by level, with sounds that are either higher or lower in volume. There is no translation between left and right or forwards and backward. Therefore, with a mono microphone, all the musicians would be focused in the sound field as if they were all playing on stage in the same position.
In contrast to mono sound, stereo sound converts a signal into sound using several channels. This basically means that each output signal is distinct from the others. Stereo creates a new sound stage with the ability to pan sounds to the left and right. As a result, if you use a microphone for stereo to record a band, the individual musicians will be positioned where they were on stage in your recording, providing acoustic enjoyment.
As you know, a microphone only recording mono processes sounds via one channel and there is no sound stage difference among all the sounds recorded. Therefore, you can take the mic everywhere to get perfect audio. That is, it is free to use mono mic to record sounds. Moreover, there are many kinds of microphones to meet different needs.
However, as for the stereo mic, if the camera moves about, the sound of the music recording will change. And finding the sweet spot in the room where the music sounds best is the key. Place the camera on a tripod at that location with the external stereo microphone and leave it there, and you will record wonderful audio.
When using a dual channel microphone, pay attention to where it's set. Even when shooting a scene when someone is making a simple phone conversation, this rule is still crucial. The sight and sound must be in sync, otherwise the audience will be unable to follow along.
When the same sound comes from different locations, the two sound waves will interfere with one another. If a mono signal is played through a stereo system, it would come across this problem since the signals are the same. But by recording with stereo microphone, each signal is different from each other, so the phase interference problem between the speakers would be greatly decreased.
But here comes another problem. Although stereo audio is capable of avoiding phase interference between speakers, it can actually cause other phase issues.
Some listeners will use cell phones or other mono playback systems. When you record with stereo mics, the left and right channels will be mixed through the mono system, perhaps resulting in wave interference.
When to use: the recording purpose decides
A stereo audio recording offers a greater sense of place or listening environment than a microphone mono. When recording live music, a dual channel microphone for stereo recording is essential since two-channel sound can make the music come alive. It can be a good microphone for streaming like
- Band performance
- Live streaming with instruments
- Outdoor video footage
A mono microphone is flexible in placement and provides no stage differences. Therefore, it is a great choice for recording activities that require flexible movement or have no need of performing sound stage. Besides serving as an interview microphone, it is also ideal for
- Personal live streaming
As you can see, when deciding microphone mono or stereo, the better option isn't always the more expensive or complicated stereo microphone. To search for a suitable microphone for your video recording, it is important for you to take the sound source, shooting purpose and microphone operation into consideration.