Mono Audio: How to Fix Videos with one sided audio?

September 23, 2022

We enjoy plenty of media content like videos and songs because they have good sound quality. By having sound coming into both your ears, you get a better experience of the content. But sometimes, you must have encountered videos or music where the sound is heard only in one ear, or from one speaker. This means the sound is present in only one audio channel, or it has the "mono audio" issue.

By our nature, we are used to hearing audio in both our ears. Music producers and audio engineers are able to create a feeling of 3D space by using stereo channels creatively. The balance instrument sounds different in the left and right channels. This creates a rich soundscape, whether it is for movies, songs, or games. Normally, we don't even think about it, but having stereo audio is such a blessing. Hence, when you come across a video or audio that has sound coming from only one speaker, it becomes a problem.

How to Fix one-sided audio [coming from One Ear Only]?

Thankfully, it is quite easy to fix this "audio in one ear only" issue. All devices have the option to switch to "Mono Audio". This setting mixes together the left and right sound streams. If one of the channels has no audio originally, using the "Mono Audio" will bring the sound to both channels. And thus, we are able to hear the sound from both speakers/earphones/headphones. So next time you come across a Youtube video, Soundcloud audio, or any file/content that has audio coming from one speaker only, try this easy fix of using the "mono audio" sound option. Next, we will see how to find and use this "mono audio" setting in your various devices.

good headphone audio experience

How to use the Mono Audio option on various devices?

Let's use this random Youtube video as an example. As you can see for yourself, it has sound coming only from the left speaker/earphone.

1. Chrome Browser Extension

chrome extension audio channel mono audio

  1. Download and install the Chrome extension called "Audio Channel".
  2. Open the video or audio that has the problem of sound in one ear only. Stay in this tab.
  3. Click on the Audio Channel extension icon. You will see the audio settings dashboard.
  4. On the top right, there is the "Mono Audio" setting. Click on the text "Mono" to toggle it ON.

2. Windows Accessibility Settings

  1. Open the Windows Settings app > in the search bar type "Mono Audio" > Select the Mono Audio result
  2. Or you can get to this option by browsing: Open Settings app > Accessibility > Sound
  3. You will see the option "Mono audio". As the description says "Combine left and right audio channels into one". Simply toggle it ON.

3. MacOS Accessibility Settings

macos mono audio setting

  1. Open Apple menu > System Preferences > Accessibility > Audio
  2. Find the option called "Play stereo audio as mono". This will make your Mac play stereo audio tracks as mono audio in the left and right speakers or headphones.
  3. Toggle it ON.

4. Android Mono Audio Setting

  1. Android OS is modified on different phone brands. So the names of settings options can be different. But the common aspect is to look for "Mono audio" setting.
  2. So, you can open the Settings of your Android phone, and on the top search bar, enter the text "mono audio" and go to that option.android search settings for mono
  3. Alternatively, you can browse and find this. Go to Settings > Accessibility > Audio/Hearing > Mono Audio.android mono audio setting
  4. Toggle it ON.

5. iPhone Mono Audio Setting

ios accessibility hearing audio mono

  1. Go to Settings > Accessibility > Audio/Visual.
  2. You will see the option "Mono Audio". This will combine left and right channel audio to play the same sound from both speakers.
  3. Toggle it ON.

Why you must normally keep the Mono Audio Option toggled OFF?

The above fixes will help you to properly hear and enjoy the video or audio content that has only one channel sound. If you usually consume media content in a browser on a laptop, the Chrome extension will help you. The OS-level Mono Audio option in the Accessibility settings for Windows/MacOS/Android/iOS will help you fix the audio experience for local audio and video files as well. But remember to toggle OFF the Mono Audio after you have finished with the multimedia content with faulty audio. Here's why:

1. Video Entertainment

Movies and TV Series have stereo audio mixing. Such stereo mixing is used effectively to convey motion and different direction of sound sources in a scene. Imagine a car traveling from left to right. Or two people sitting in different parts of the room, speaking to one another. Audio engineers balance the volumes of these sounds in the left and right audio channels differently, to convey this. They will also dynamically change the balance of sounds for moving objects. Now, if you keep the Mono Audio option ON, you will not be able to hear and enjoy these effects.

2. Music and Songs

Similarly, in Music, mixing and mastering are essential processes for producing a professional-sounding audio file. A rich soundscape is created by using different settings for the volumes and reverb of different sounds that comprise the song. These include sounds like vocals, backing vocals, drums/percussion, bass, keys, and other instruments.

Usually, lead vocals are panned center, meaning their balance is equal in both left and right channels. Other instruments and backing vocals are balanced differently, so they don't overlap with each other and produce a muddled sound.

Music producers keep the volume, frequency, and left-right balance of different sounds in mind to ensure that all sounds have their identity and play their own intended role in the feel of the final mix. But, if the Mono Audio option is ON, you will miss out on all these rich effects and not be able to enjoy the music as envisioned by its creators.

soundscape artwork great stereo audio experience

3. Gaming

Video Games, just like Movies and TV series, use the stereo audio soundscaping to convey motion and direction. Knowing where a sound is coming from is a critical clue during gameplay. Let's say someone is shouting at you, or if a dangerous object like an enemy vehicle or adversary is approaching you. But because the Mono Audio is toggle ON, you cannot tell the direction they are coming from, then you will be at a disadvantage. This can cause you to play less effectively and lose out on points or lives unnecessarily.

4. Virtual Reality

Nowadays, online meetings and conferences have become commonplace. Metaverse or virtual worlds are also being used for carrying out live collaboration and discussion. The directionality of sound is used to create the effect of presence in a virtual environment. So, a speaker positioned to your left will sound louder in your left ear. Thus, similar to video games, stereo sound is used for functional purposes. This user experience will be hampered if the Mono Audio setting is turned ON.

For these above and other similar reasons, make sure to keep the Mono Audio setting toggled OFF on your device/browser normally. Use the Mono Audio option only for fixing issues with audio when the file/content has sound coming from only one audio channel.

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