Is this considered "normal" for one-channel input? Or something you get used to? Or do people work around it?

Background: With zero experience in recording, I'm considering two entry-level audio interfaces by the same company with the with very similar specs. Both feature two inputs and direct monitoring, but the better model has a "mono" and "stereo" switch for monitoring that allows you to hear one-channel input in both ears.

To me, this seems to be a critical feature, and yet it is lacking in many entry-level interfaces and is never remarked upon in various reviews. Why is something that seems like a necessity to me so unimportant to other people (who presumably have more experience)? Do people use mostly indirect monitoring through DAW? Or is hearing through only one ear not as weird as I think?

PS Although the price difference for the two models individually is not great, the better one is not available as a bundle that offers a significant saving, so the decision is quite difficult for me.


It's not only a feature lacking in many entry-level interfaces, it's lacking in nearly every interface I can recall! I can imagine that a stereo/mono switch for the monitoring channel is useful for checking fold-down of the audio to mono, but really nothing more than that. Direct monitoring is really more about reducing latency, but if you are overdubbing additional tracks you would need a low-latency mixer - something like totalmix which RME provide. All the monitoring configuration is done in software and the interface itself provides the mixing capaiblity - which is how you achieve low latency.

So really theycritical feature for monitoring isn't so much whether you have mono or stereo monitoring - it's whether you are able to achieve low-latency monitoring or not.

  • So you are saying that people usually don't monitor directly then? For example, I thought direct monitoring was a natural choice for a dramatic reading that contains only voice with no overdubbing, but I don't like the idea of hearing the voice only through one ear. Are you recommending indirect monitoring even in that case? – bongbang Jan 3 '20 at 20:20
  • mono doesn't mean one ear. It usually means that the left and right signal are mixed in the monitor chain and then routed to both output channels. Each ear hears a mix of L+R – Mark Jan 5 '20 at 11:44
  • Precisely, that's why I want the "mono" option. With stereo (which I assume is the default), a one-channel input would be output to only one ear in direct monitoring. – bongbang Jan 5 '20 at 21:56

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