Your Questions: Why Am I Told To DJ In Mono Not Stereo?

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Mono Pro Stereo
Last updated 28 March, 2018

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Mono Stereo
For home listening, stereo rules, and music is recorded in stereo – so why is it that our reader has been advised to always DJ out in mono?

One of our long-time readers Michael writes: “What’s best when you’re DJing out: To play your gigs with your hardware/software set to play in stereo or mono? I’ve read that it’s best to always set your DJ gear up and and play in mono. Why is this, when the music is recorded in stereo?”

Digital DJ Tips says:

Good question Michael! The general rule of thumb here is to “play out in mono, play in in stereo”. In other words, any gig in public is usually best in mono, while when you’re DJing at home – stood or sat in a perfect “stereo soundstage” between your two monitor speakers – might as well leave your system in stereo. (Depending upon exactly how your set up works, this will ensure stereo mixtapes too.)

Why? Because most venues are set up in mono “zones”, not left/right pairs of speakers like in a home stereo. Even where a venue only has two speakers that appear to be “left” and “right”, chances are everything’s been wired up in mono. The reason for this is that unless you’re one of the 5% of the audience who is equidistant between both speakers, you’re not going to get the “stereo effect” anyway, and for everyone else, you’re effectively getting one channel more than the other were everything left in stereo.

Of course, if the venue is set up like this it doesn’t make a blind bit of difference what your gear is set to as the venue’s gear will sum your stereo signal into mono so you’ll be playing in mono anyway, but if you are playing a small venue with a stereo PA that’s never been set up this way, it makes sense to switch to mono anyway.

How to play in mono

So how do you do it? Traktor and Serato both have “mono” tickboxes right there in the config, although Virtual DJ doesn’t.

Traktor's 'mono' options in the audio output settings. Serato has a similar option.
Traktor’s ‘mono’ options in the audio output settings. Serato has a similar option.

Some DJ controllers have a stereo/mono switch on the back panel too, such as the recently reviewed Denon DJ MC6000 Mk2. And if you’re DJing into an existing club’s mixer, many also have a stereo/mono switch. Incidentally, if you’re using a DJ mono splitter cable to DJ, naturally you’re automatically DJing in mono.

Have you made a conscious decision to play in mono or stereo? Why? Got anything you’d like to add to this? Please do so below.

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