Thoughts on Stereo plugins in Mono Tracks


I’ve been using the fantastic Overtone plugins. I have found that the EQ500 and DYN500 VST’s are available in stereo-only. So when I add to a mono track, Ardour automatically makes the track outputs stereo. This seemed a little disconcerting to me, as I wanted the tracks to stay mono. So I asked Overtone support about it.

Basically, the short answer is that the VST standard includes a spec for “can do Mono”, in which case the host is supposed to allow the user to specify mono or stereo operation. Ardour does not apparently have this feature.

It seems like more and more VST’s I come across are only available in “stereo” and leave it to the host to deal with connections (i.e., use one side of the plugin only to maintain a mono track). I hadn’t seen this much before and have typically seen both mono and stereo versions of plugins (mostly LV2 up to this point) .

My question is: How are others dealing with this? It is appropriate to lobby the Ardour developers to provide a user-controllable feature to choose mono or stereo for a given VST plugin? Or is there other workarounds?

Thanks all!

There are also plugins which can support more than 2 outputs, for example u-he Uhbik which can support between 2 to 8 outputs. However, Ardours always seems to set the maximum possible number of outputs, which is 8 for Uhbik. It would be nice if the user could configure the number of outputs. Also, once a track has been configured for, say 8 outputs there seems to be no way to set it back to 2 even if the 8 output plugin is removed.

We will be changing these limitations sometime during the 2nd quarter of this year, I hope.

I just merge the left/right spacial placement back to centre. That won’t do much for, say, 8-output plugins (yikes). In those sorts of extreme cases I just map one of the outputs to a new mono track, dub, and use that in my final mix. But I almost never have to do that.