Neural on mono vs stereo tracks

Hello everyone, I feel like such an idiot for asking this but I’m really struggling to figure this out.

I am using neural dsp (I have tried this with each plugin, the results are the same). I am using studio one. My gain on my interface is set appropriately, my di is clean and the level is set appropriately, I am monitoring through great mixing headphones.

Firstly, if I am recording a tone that I expect to be in stereo (ie a tone with reverb, or a ping pong delay, etc), I put neural on a stereo track, set neural to mono mode, and the output is indeed in stereo. Sounds fantastic. After printing the recording, I get a stereo track with two different sides, since the reverb makes the mono signal into a stereo one.

My problem arises when recording mono, rhythm tones that I later hard pan to either side. I have found two approaches to doing this.

Approach 1)
This is what I understand to be the correct way. I have a mono track, neural is on the mono track. Neural is set to mono mode, set to a rhythm tone (let’s say, straight down the middle using gojira, every setting is default). Not happy with the tone. It sounds extremely unclear, unfocused, and also very noisy; any slight noise that I make with my fingers is amplified much more that I would normally expect it to be. After printing the recording, I of course get a mono track.

Approach 2)
This is what I understand to be the incorrect way. I put neural on a STEREO track. Neural is in mono mode. Gojira, default settings, just like before. Sounds fantastic. The tone is much more focused, clearer, and MUCH less noisy. Just like YouTube demos I’ve watched. The output shows as stereo, but each side is identical, so it sounds like mono. After printing the recording, I get a stereo track with two identical sides. (It’s worth noting that when I try the standalone, it sounds like approach 2).

It almost sounds like approach 1 takes the two identical sides of approach 2 and sums them together or something, or at least that’s my working theory.

Is there a way to get results that sound like approach 2 while recording on a mono track? Why do the two methods sound so different?