audiobook recording - is recording in mono a good idea?

I apologize if this has been answered elsewhere. I’ve spent an hour or two trying unsuccessfully to get an answer.

I’m recording from streaming stereo audiobooks played on an Asus ZenPad 8 purchased in October of this year.

I’m recording through the microphone input on a MacMini3,1 from late 2009, OSX 10.11.6 with Audacity version 2.1.3.

If I choose to record a single mono track in does Audacity combine the stereo tracks coming in to a single mono track or am I losing one of the tracks?

The reason for the question is whether recording in mono creates a smaller file which would seem to be a good idea - faster conversions and less disk space. In general, an audiobook doesn’t need a stereo effect.

When recording in stereo from the stereo audiobook, the stereo tracks appear to be identical which suggests it doesn’t matter if I lose one of them. But some audiobooks may use both stereo tracks to add music or effects.

Recording in mono has not seemed to make any noticeable degradation in sound quality so far.

I hope this has been submitted properly with all needed information.

Thanks very much, Peter

Thanks for a complete question.

I think the Mini(s) are the only machines that still have a good-quality stereo analog input, but I don’t know about the one that came out about ten minutes ago.

You’re right. ACX recommends strongly that you submit your voice in mono, and for all the reasons you listed. I suspect unless you stop breathing if the stereo interstitial music is in mono, you can do all the production in mono with no ill effects. Audiobooks are carefully straddling the difference between audiobooks and radio production. Even if the book appears in stereo (two waveforms) the voice will be in mono.

I’m sure your audiobook submission would be rejected if you “wander” left to right as you read. ACX would consider that “distracting,” (and so would I).

You could split the difference and capture in stereo, but convert later with Tracks > Mix > Mix Down To Mono.

There is one damage condition which might occur if you mix down (anywhere). Anybody that has a Left-Right phase error in their music will cause serious musical damage if you mix. Honky, echoey, very low volume or distorted music. That could mean the stereo music was damaged during production and short of you doing difficult corrections yourself, staying stereo will the best way around that.

If you do find one of those, you should probably complain. I know the audiobook people go to strenuous testing to make sure you get a quality product.


Hello Koz,
It looks like I never thanked you for your very helpful and complete reply to my question. I’m painfully embarrassed because I really value good manners - you know, they help make the world a bit more pleasant. So my apologies and sincere thank you. Peter