Saturday, May 16, 2020

is it better to use guitar plugins in mono or in stereo?

Hello and welcome to this week's article!

Today I have come to this question because I was mixing a project which was quite cpu intensive, lots of plugins involved, and on each guitar track there is a gate, a booster, an amp simulator and a cabinet simulator, then both tracks (left and right) are routed into a stereo buss with eq and compression.

I was looking at the cpu struggling and I have decided to make some trial: to see the difference in cpu load when loading 2 mono instances of a plugin in 2 tracks, or 1 stereo instance into a stereo track.
The logic would suggest that by loading the stereo plugin into the stereo track and routing on it 2 or 4 d.i. tracks there would be less cpu stress, but not always is like this!

I have tried Ignite Amps ProFET, the Tyrant Screamer and Pulse, both in mono and in stereo, and I have seen for example that they respond very well: 2 mono instances are not too heavy on the cpu, 1 stereo instance is even lighter (this means it's good code!), but with other amp simulators (one of which is one of the most praised in the forums) I have noticed a 20% cpu usage per each mono instance, which skyrocketed to a 50% for a stereo one, basically jeopardazing my project.
Needless to say, I couldn't use that plugin in my project (even if my pc is not that bad).

What is the lesson to learn from this?

That we cannot tell how much a plugin is cpu intensive until we load it, and that sometimes there is no correlation between how heavy it is in mono or in stereo.
We just need to test it ourselves.

If the plugin drains in stereo as much as the sum of the single instances or less, then it's suggestable to run it in stereo, so that we can control the various rhythm guitar tracks faster and all with one fader (if we have an impulse loader that lets us load 2 impulses and use them as dual mono we can also use different irs for the 2 sides), but if the stereo instance of the plugin drains more cpu than the sum of the individual mono ones, then let's stick to the mono ones.

And let's note that it's not a good plugin to be run in stereo.

I hope this was helpful!

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