Joint Stereo vs Stereo (The REAL Difference)

Most people like the sound of their stereo over headphones because it has a more full, balanced and open sound. However, this is simply not true. Stereos generally have worse bass response than stereos with 3 separate speakers due to design limitations in the speaker cones that make them less efficient at reproducing low tones while also making them prone to standing waves which interfere with each other’s reproduction of high frequencies causing distortion.

“Joint stereo vs Stereo” is a common question that many people ask. This article will help clear up the confusion. The “mono” is one channel whereas “stereo” has two channels.

Joint Stereo vs Stereo (The REAL Difference)


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Audio is encoded in digital forms such as MP3 in current audio systems. Digital encoding used to be done via a single channel known as mono. Most music nowadays is recorded on two audio channels (left and right) and played back on a stereo system, such as two speakers or headphones. The manner in which this is accomplished has a significant impact on the sound quality of your audio files, which is why combined stereo versus stereo is so crucial.

We’ll go over what stereo and joint stereo are, as well as their benefits and drawbacks, in this post.

What is the difference between stereo and joint stereo?

MP3 encodes the Left and Right channels individually into an audio file in stereo mode, which boosts the bitrate (bitrate may be split between Left and Right as required). “Stereo Pairing” is a way of combining the Left and Right channels into a Mid channel and a side-channel in order to conserve space while still preserving a stereo signal. 

Continue reading to find out more.

What’s the Difference Between Stereo And Joint Stereo?


Stereo is a sound-production technique that uses both the right and left audio channels at the same time. The music seems to emanate from two directions at once when loudspeakers are employed.


MP3 contains independent Left and Right channels in standard stereo mode and may therefore be used to play individual signals on each channel. The channels are usually encoded independently into an audio file, which raises the bitrate.

This kind of music is so complex that it’s also referred to as three-dimensional sound. Furthermore, the equipment that produces this kind of sound, such as a stereo radio, is referred to as stereo. 

If you’re encoding audio at a bitrate of 256kbps or above, stereo is often suggested.

Joint Stereo

Joint stereo is a technique used by music engineers to minimize file capacity while keeping the stereo signal’s integrity. This is done because stereo files may be excessively big since the audio input to the Left and Right channels is almost identical in most circumstances.


In joint stereo, the two stereo channels (Left and Right) are transformed in a lossless and reversible procedure to two channels of L+R (called Mid) and L-R (called Side). Joint stereo, in other terms, combines the Left and Right channels into a single Mid channel.

What Is Joint Stereo and How Does It Work?

Because the data in the left and right channels is comparable, the media encoder can determine the average of the Left and Right channel data and combine it into a smaller file when audio is output as a joint stereo file.

Because the quantity of data being averaged is already substantially smaller, joint stereo gives considerable advantages (in terms of small file size) at a lower MP3 bitrate. 

The Benefits of a Joint Stereo

  • The Left and Right channels are usually the same. As a result, the majority of the data appears in the Mid channel, with just a few bits of data appearing in the Side channel. 
  • It is not necessary to keep the redundant par twice. 
  • Can make better use of available bits than regular stereo mode.

The Benefits Of Stereo

  • It aids in the prevention of speaker phase interference. 
  • Listening that is more immersive. As a result, you hear sound originating from the area between the speakers rather than from one speaker. 
  • Difference in interaural level. 

Joint Stereo’s Drawbacks

  • Only useful at lower MP3 bitrates; at larger bitrates, it’s less useful. 
  • When the Left and Right channels are completely different, such as when a French dialog track is on the Left and an English dialog track is on the Right, it is not acceptable.

Stereo’s Drawbacks

  • It’s more expensive and more difficult to set up. This is due to the fact that separate signal chains, amplifiers, and speaker circuits are required. 
  • With the spoken word, it’s not feasible.
  • When plaid via a mono system, there is interference between the Left and Right signals.

Stereo vs. Dual Channel vs. Joint Stereo

Let’s start with a comparison of stereo and dual channel. If you’re familiar with dual channel, you’re aware that it sets the bitrates of each channel such that each channel receives exactly half of the bitrates throughout the duration of your audio.

A dual channel track, for example, will transmit precisely 192 kbits/s to the Left channel and 192 kbits/s to the Right channel if you play 384 kbits/s stereo audio. 

Standard stereo, on the other hand, distributes bitrate to the channel that seems to need it the most. If the R channel is mute and the L channel contains audio, the stereo will give the L channel the majority of the combined bitrates. 

Joint stereo mode now optimizes coding by taking into consideration the redundancy between the L and R channels.

The stereo quality of joint stereo audio, on the other hand, varies with the stereo picture of the coded signal and is best suited to low bit rates. As a result, combined stereo should only be used for applications that need low bitrates, such as broadcasting. 

Stereo vs. Mono vs. Joint Stereo

People used to record music using a single channel, often known as mono, in the past. The majority of current music, on the other hand, is recorded on two audio channels in order to be heard on a stereo system, such as a set of headphones. 

In addition, the digitalization of audio into MP3 files has made it simpler to control the quantity of data encoded or the bitrate, depending on the encoding method. It also makes the distinction between stereo and joint stereo simpler. 

Joint stereo, as previously stated, prioritizes redundancy between the L and R channels and is only suited for sending low bitrates. The approach is mostly used to reduce file size while maintaining stereo signal fidelity.

As a result, the media encoder averages the data from the Left and Right channels and combines it into a smaller file. However, the benefit you get is proportional to the quantity of material you have. 

Stereo, on the other hand, provides separate audio signals to the L and R channels depending on the situation and is best used when encoding audio at 256 kbps or greater.

This differs from mono, which is only relevant to single-channel audio or when the L and R signals must be divided into two distinct files to make it simpler to act on them separately. 

Mono vs. Joint Stereo

While mono creates sound in just one channel, joint stereo merges the Left and Right channels of your sound output into Mid and Side.


Although mono signals may still be sent to headphones, they remain mono since the identical audio signal is given to both speakers at the same time.

The term “joint stereo” was popularized by MP3 recordings. MP3 files, in general, compress data, saving storage space and reducing download times. Similar effects may be achieved using joint stereo. 

Is it true that joint stereo is preferable than mono? Consider a circumstance where all of your tracks are mono, such as speech podcasts, before answering this question. To get the greatest results, the audio should be encoded in mono in this situation. 

So, is it true that joint stereo is preferable than mono? The answer is that it depends on the songs you want to listen to as well as your listening environment. 

Stereo vs. Mono

Mono sound is created when just one channel is used to convert a signal to sound, while stereo sound is created when several channels are used. 

When utilizing mono, the same signal is supplied to both speakers, even if you have several speakers. As a result, even if the sounds are emanating from multiple speakers, the ear perceives them as originating from one location. 

In contrast, stereo transmits distinct signals to each speaker. The ear perceives the impression of sound originating from various sources and places while listening to a stereo. This is characteristic of modern technology, particularly when it comes to surround sound effects. 

Which is the superior option? It all relies on your own preferences and circumstances. If you’re watching a movie, stereo is the ideal sound format since it provides the best sound effects, making you feel like you’re in the movie. Mono is a good option if you simply want to use one earphone. 

Bitrate vs. Stereo vs. Joint Stereo

The bitrate of a digital audio file refers to the quantity of data (bits) it contains per second (kilobytes per second or kbps). When people talk about bitrate, they usually mean the quality of compressed audio formats.

The greater the bitrate, the more data a file can carry, the higher the quality, and the less compressed it is.

Depending on how you want your DAW to encode the files, you may choose the bitrate of your audio. 

Is it better to use stereo or joint stereo?

When encoding, your choice of stereo or joint stereo is determined by the file size required as well as the desired output quality.

It also depends on the compression engine you’re using, since some compression engines are better than others at encoding audio in joint stereo.

You should also think about the bitrate size you want to achieve. In general, if the bitrate is more than 256kbps, stereo should be used. You may test joint stereo with a bitrate of less than 256kbps. In any case, do experiments to determine which sounds better and which file sizes are more appropriate for you. 


You have complete control over whether you encode your music recording in stereo, joint stereo, or mono. This is because it all relies on your listening habits, the setting, and the sound-encoding and-playing technology you have. If your bitrates are greater than 256kbps, however, we suggest using stereo. 

Watch This Video-

The “mono vs stereo” is a common question that people ask. However, there is no real difference between the two.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is joint stereo and stereo?

A: Joint stereo is the state of having two speakers playing a single sound source. Stereo has 3 sources- left, right, and center.

What is joint stereo audio?

A: Joint stereo audio is a way of sending multiple sound channels to speakers. It relies on the fact that each speaker can be placed in close proximity to one another, so they can deliver sounds simultaneously with no audible difference.

What is joint stereo mode in Itunes?

A: Joint Stereo mode is the way in which a set of headphones would have two separate but connected stereo speakers to produce sound through both ears.

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