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In the sound recording studio almost all analogue leads carry a single mono signal. To connect a device in stereo you must therefore use 2 mono leads (left and right).
There is 1 exception ...
- Headphone leads carry a stereo unbalanced signal down a single cable that uses a 1/4" (stereo) jack plug
Because digital signals can encode multiple channels in a single signal only one lead is required to carry mono, stereo and multi-channel signals. Examples include ...
- An AES XLR lead, carrying an AES/EBU 2 channel signal
- A digital phono lead, carrying an S/PDIF 2 channel signal
- A Toslink optical lead, carrying an 8 channels ADAT signal
- A BNC lead, carrying a 56 channel MADI signal
Note: AES (XLR connectors) and SPDIF (phono connector) leads require a different cable to their analogue counterparts (mic and phono leads).
NOTE: You may also want to read about digital audio synchronisation.