One Speaker or Two, and Why?

Looks like I have to move my speakers so I have some questions for you guys.

Space is a huge issue here in Japan and especially now the pitter patter of little feet are due it is even more so. At best I can fit my NS-10’s directly in front of me or one of my Adams. Although they’ve never been in the ideal listening position (re: the triangular two speakers and head deal), this conundrum has really got me pondering why we all do what we do.

You make Techno music? I assume it is for a club environment and therefore it will be played back in mono. Why do you have two speakers. Why not have one directly in front of you?

You record bands or like making stereo tracks? That’s great. I can understand why more producers/engineers would need 2 speakers.
I do wonder why I don’t see more pictures in the ‘Your Setups’ thread with more surround sounds like 5.1 etc.

I’m really interested to hear the real reason why you have to have 2 speakers?

It was interesting to read Mr. G’s interview the other day courtesy of @the_PMO’s thread. He bangs his stuff out in mono always.
I was also curious as to why there are discussions and quandaries about speakers being placed on their sides when actually the real question maybe the title of this thread;

One Speaker or Two? And why?


Well I think working with one monitor is fine for club music. As long is it is being summed correctly.

There are other reasons to work in mono too. In my workflow I us the Avantone Pro headphones during my composing/jamming/rough mix stage as my studio is in a common area of the house. With these I can switch between regular stereo, their mixcube emulation stereo and a full range mono. Ideally I’d incorporate a switchable mono monitor to my stereo pair but my setup does not allow an easy way to do so. Until then these headphones are a great compromise.

Mono referencing is actually a good way to sort panning placement. It is also a great level translation reference. Something that may seem up front in stereo can drop to the background in mono. This will most often not translate well on stereo devices after mixdown either.


Thanks for your words, mate.

Mono is great for soooooo many reasons. If a mix sounds great in mono, it’ll definitely sound great in stereo … but like you said… that can’t be said for the other way around. An instrument may drop to the back or even disappear completely.
It also easier to eq frequencies the clash and get the mix sounding tighter.

I was listening to Blawan the other day and some of his productions sounded like they had a few special stereo effects that helped the stereo/headphone experience but wouldn’t be missed in a mono situation as the track would still kick ass.

I guess people produce in stereo because that’s what the standard hifi comes with. However, that was many years ago and consumers seem more content with small wireless Bluetooth numbers they can put anywhere. I’ve got one myself in the shape of a Harmon Kardon Onyx Mini. It sounds great when I’m rustling you some grub in the kitchen and can be paired to another for stereo. I can definitely enjoy music from just that small speaker.

Having 2 speakers to mix on seems like more of a hassle. There are more things to adhere to but things do sound great.

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Because this isn’t always the case.
Yes, many clubs run mono sound. Many also run mono subs and stereo mids and highs. The club I managed did, and it sounded great.
Many will also run quad sound (two stereo offset pairs, surrounding the dance floor).

But more importantly, you may intend for your music to be heard in a club, but people who are going to be paying attention to it, and to the fact that you produced it (referencing the artist name on their phone or computer) will often be listening in stereo. It could be headphones, it could be your Subaru’s stereo system.
In fact very little techno has been heard in clubs this year at all.

The great thing about stereo is you can monitor it and adjust the mix for mono compatibility.
Whereas doing the inverse is a bit more complicated. A pair of headphones and a pair of monitor speakers that you can trust will give you the best chance that your sonic intentions will translate, no matter the final destination.

Otherwise, a brief anecdote…
A friend of mine has me remaster some of his older 90s techno tunes from DAT tapes.
They often have very little stereo specific information. Usually, a tiny bit of side-only mid/side reverb in the 800hz-6khz range does wonders to give the tracks ambience. With the reverb, they still sound great in mono, and that reverb blends in nicely in mono, but in stereo they really breathe, with added dimension.


one speaker should be fine as long you can make sure you
only use mono sources.

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I keep reading these statements everywhere but around here that’s not true.



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not true anywhere on this planet i think as long there is just one speaker… stereo is standard for media players and most people
just plug that in their (stereo) system

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I can always sum to mono with my monitor controller however in a really tight space constraint I would happily compromise with using one speaker (and a pair of headphones). nothing wrong with mono.


Honestly if I was going to be that limited and in a cramped environment (together with upcoming kid situation!) I would switch to headphones.


there are such great bluetooth speakers as well if you are
running out of space. they sum that common stereo up pretty well

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Happened to be listening to The Knob Twiddlers show. I picked one at random this morning and they are going into deep territory about this discussion.

I remember watching this interview with El-B years ago and being shocked at his speaker placement when I thought stereo speakers were really important.

I’m currently testing my room and I love having stereo speakers. It makes the experience sooooooo good!!! That makes me happy, making music makes me happy, stereo speakers makes me smile from ear to ear. I guess that’s the crux of it, as a lot of things, happiness.

That said, I’ve just turned 38 and although I grew up in a household with a stereo system do modern places have that? The younger adults I know don’t have a stereo system set up in their home and come to think of it it’s only the producers I know or (some) mates my age that do have a stereo set up.

It has been great to read your replies so far. I’ll be replying later!

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Well, I had a choice between fitting a pair of NS-10’s or 1 single Adam A8X… couldn’t do both! After running tests the stereo pair just sounded so good so that’s what I went with.

I can see your point @AdamJay despite all the advice on t’internet being mix in mono and then adjust later. Exactly how I’ve always done it. I love making a break and then being like wow now I’ve got the stereo field to play in.

I have my headphones at the ready… Sennheiser 750’s no less. Plus a bunch of other headphones to keep me covered for eventualities.

I’m looking forward to the future. I’ll use the monitors when I can and when I can’t the headphones are steady and ready :wink:


I have one monitor and mid-range headphones for stereo mixing. Works really well for me!

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What was your reasoning behind one monitor? Was it a choice or due to something else like space/monetary constraints? You obviously like it but how does it sound when listening to other peoples music?
For me, I can sit on the sofa or in front of the monitors and enjoy a wider sound spectrum. Do you use this set up for your productions only or also as playback for easy listening?

I was on the lookout for monitors, and happened to read an article on Sound on Sound or some magazine about mono mixing. It was quite inspirational and then a pretty good single Yamaha monitor happened to be on sale at a local music shop. I bought it, figured I could get a pair if I needed one but never actually did. I like mixing in mono because I feel like I listen to the whole as opposed to nuances more, which in the end I find more important. I usually start with finding sounds in mono, then making a rudimentary structure and then switching to stereo for stereo tricks. I then switch between mono and stereo for the mixing and in the end make sure it sounds especially good in mono.

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You are the saint in this thread :metal:

How would you produce with Bluetooth? there is too much latency. It’s one thing if you program everything, but if you play anything in live at all it’s near impossible in my experience.

you could place Adams where they should be (tweeter at ear level), and then put NS-10 on top of Adams — but upside down.
so, NS-10 tweeters would still be at ear level.

Nope, the Adams won’t fit. Tried every which way but loose my dear friend! :joy: