ALL THE MONO
It doesn't really matter when "today" is, as I'm writing this article ahead of time. Being busy and all that means I have to have some of these bad boys in storage.
...Without the aid of panning, all the elements of a song pile up on top of each other. This forces you to deal with all the frequency masking issues. Once you flip back to stereo, the width will be increased, with every element having its own place.
Mixing in mono is hard and annoying, but rewarding. Yes, you might have to re-balance a few elements, such as the lead vocals or a lead guitar, but it's worth it.
Is mono still relevant today?
Most people consume music in mono: on their phone/tablet/laptop speakers, in their cars, while on the bus or in shopping malls.
When the sound waves gets to their ears, they're mainly mono.
Then you've got the young 'uns listening on earbuds. That's stereo.
As I said above, mixing in mono reveals all the frequency masking issues within your song. The tracks can't hide behind hard-panning anymore.
You need to face them, carve space for every single one of them and work towards 'mono depth'. That's possible, just listen to music from the pre-stereo era.
Another great reason to mix in mono most of the time is that it can effectively prevent you from using phase trickery to increase the stereo width of a track or of the whole mix. If a stereo instrument is out of phase, such as a very wide synth pad, it'll virtually disappear from the mix when you switch to mono.
I'll post a tutorial on increasing stereo depth without manipulating the phase really soon. Subscribe to my newsletter to be kept up to date with my activities.
*FYI, "today" was the 27th of September, 2015. This took a while to post*
Have a good one.
Photo Credits: artwork by Sean Buckley at Aggressive Logo Design for the "Monophonic" album by the band "Pray for Sound". They classify themselves as post rock. Check them out on Bandcamp or visit their website; like their Facebook page too. They provided the guest opinion on the post on the death of pre-production here, on this very blog.