Stereo to Mono improved sound?

(MacBook Pro, Snowleopard)
(Reel to Reel speaking voices, converted to WAV form.) I’m experimenting to learn Audacity and to try to improve the sound.

Another basic question:
When I open the file in Audacity, I have the main waveform on top and just below is another, almost bare with just a few waves/marks at the very beginning. (I’m not sure whether to call this a track or a channel. If I named this set with the dropdown menu, they would both be under the same name.)

Assuming the almost empty part was an empty stereo channel, I did a “track, stereo to mono” operation on it. (That left me with only the top main channel.) The interesting thing is that It now seems to have better quality: softer, less harsh, less distortion, etc.

Is that possible? and should I have done it, or will it permanently mess things up for a future guru who wants to work with the WAV file?

Advice, thoughts?


So you do have a stereo track, right? One left and one right married, but the left (top) track has the most of the work and the bottom (right) track has little significant sound? It may seem magic, but not to me. There is a common series of audio adapters that incorrectly adapts a balanced audio signal (as from a professional tape machine) to a computer stereo socket. The error usually appears as a stereo track with out of phase sides, but it doesn’t have to. It represents an unstable condition and I wouldn’t be shocked to find a mono show unevenly shared between computer left and right – further, that it only sounds good when you remarry them into one mono show.

I’m not going to blanket urge you to fix it without finding out how you’re listening to the show. Someone did a survey a while back where they found college kids almost universally preferred MP3 compression distortion to high quality audio.

Also, if you’re listening on laptop built-in speakers, you shouldn’t make any audio decisions at all.