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I'm not sure if it's something in my setup, something I'm doing wrong or a general lack of knowledge, but I find that recording my electric Guitar->Amp(w/fx)->audio in Mono produces a much fuller, more pleasing sound than recording in stereo. Is this normal?

Equipment:

  • Les Paul special w/ new 10-52's
  • Line 6 Spider IV 15 15W Amp
  • MXL 910 Condenser Microphone w/ XLR to USB 3.0
  • 1/4" audio to USB 3.0
  • Windows 10 PC w/ Propellerhead Reason 8.1 & ASIO4ALL sound drivers

Setups:

  • Guitar -> Amp -> Condenser Mic -> PC (Reason)
  • Guitar -> Amp (Audio out) -> 1/4" to PC (Reason)

Fx:

I typically play with drive, chorus and the "metal" or "insane" preset. My levels are roughly BASS 1.2, Mids 1, Treble 1.1 (where "1" is default level)

Audio Samples (full set @ Soundcloud):

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    What amp is it? – topo morto May 3 '16 at 6:30
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    My amp sim sounds much better in stereo so, please provide the gear info and what effects do you use. – teodozjan May 3 '16 at 7:52
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    A well known way to accidentally create "hollow sounding" stereo is to flip the phase of one of the channels, for example with an incorrectly wired cable. If that happens, sounds that should be in the center of the image disappear because the left and right channels cancel each other out. But without knowing any details of your stereo recording setup, that comment might be irrelevant. You can check that by flipping the phase of one channel in the final stereo recording. Your recording software probably has an option to do that. – user19146 May 3 '16 at 9:44
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What device is indicated by 1/4" audio to USB 3.0? Do you have some kind of audio interface? That is almost definitely where your problem lies. Rarely do devices have 1/4" stereo inputs, but your Line 6 has a 1/4" stereo output.

You probably have to get a splitter cable that has a male 1/4" stereo (TRS) connector on one end, and then either two male 1/4" mono (TS) connectors on the other other or two mono RCA connectors on the other end.

If your 1/4" input is mono, then it is summing the left and right channels of the 1/4" stereo output, and the audio at that output wouldn't sound stereo at all if it were 100% correlated and in-phase. When the decorrelated audio is summed, some of it cancels, creating a filter (usually a comb filter) and causing the "hollow" sound.

  • There are many comments here that I'm sure will help other people, and me once I'm more familiar with my equipment - but your answer led me to find that my 1/4" audio to USB (a fat cable with a box) unexpectedly gives me mono and neither my DAL (Reason) or Audacity seem to give notice - but then I checked and they were both also letting my MXL Mic record as stereo. The ASIO4ALL control panel shows only 1 channel each. You also eloquently explained how it affects the sound by summing the left and right channels. Great answer. Cheers! – TaterJuice May 6 '16 at 6:34
  • Digital Audio Workstations (DAWs) often have a misleading default configuration of automatically splitting a mono input and recording to two identical channels for faux stereo. It definitely helps to have a complete understanding of your hardware (the little USB interface, in this case) and getting a good quality interface is a first step in getting quality recordings. I'm glad you were able to find the problem. – Todd Wilcox May 6 '16 at 12:07
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A sound example would be helpful here.

In my opinion, you should record guitars always in mono, because mostly you will just have one mono signal (if you are working with one mic or a line in signal) If you want to have stereo, which is recommended, record two different tracks and set them to your left and right channel with a bit of variation in your amp settings. That way it will sound much fuller, but it depends on your style of music you are recording.

For answering everything else regarding your tone, we would need to know your recording setup and some sound examples.

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    "we would need to know your recording setup" - exactly, we don't actually know ATM how the stereo effect is being created. – topo morto May 3 '16 at 7:39
  • Thanks for the information. I've updated my post with setup info and samples. – TaterJuice May 3 '16 at 15:46
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Your entire signal chain into the DAW is mono, so any stereo effect you're having is coming from the DAW itself. I would check that the DAW does not have any sort of phasing effects, chorus, modulation, etc on a single channel (or both, if you also have it on your amp) which could cause phase cancellation on your audio source when played back with both channels. This includes effects, subtle timing adjustments, etc.

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