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"Stereo Widening" questions for pros.
Old 4th April 2009
  #1
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"Stereo Widening" questions for pros.

So I'm demoing the TC MD3 plug and I've come across the Unlinked/MS Decode Mode thingie where you can process the Mono signals & Stereo signals separately? I realize you can get into big trouble with this but I'm kind of liking it alot...in moderation.

The question for you Mastering Pros...what's common software/hardware used to "widen" the mix... & if you even do that? I really only just thought about EQ & Compressionn, etc.


In the past I've tried the Waves Stereo Width plug but I didn't care for what that did.
Old 4th April 2009
  #2
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a typical case for the DrMS plug in from our esteemed GS moderator

Jo
Old 4th April 2009
  #3
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Hey cool...downloading the demo. Thanks!
Old 4th April 2009
  #4
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Lagerfeldt's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by amost View Post

The question for you Mastering Pros...what's common software/hardware used to "widen" the mix... & if you even do that?
Simple M/S widening.

M/S equalizing, ITB or using the Dangerous Sum & Minus hardware and an equalizer.

Adding distortion to the sides.

A lot of analog hardware will add some width automatically.

Lots of choices but I don't think I ever prefer unlinked L/R processing. It can seem nice at first but it causes other problems where the image is less focused. That's different from M/S processing/compression that you're mentioning though.

Width should be obtained in a natural fashion or at least sound very natural, so I rarely go for a "wide" sound as it's lacks the focus and punch of a more balanced image.
Old 4th April 2009
  #5
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Hey thanks...yeah that all makes sense. I probably shouldn't use the term "widening"...I guess I mean I wasn't totally aware of the idea of processing the Stereo signal separate from the Mono signal all in the same 2 track mix.
Old 4th April 2009
  #6
Gear maniac
 

Widening a mix is not something I take lightly.
Widening on first listen may always sound more impressive but when compared to the original that has more impact which I will prefer. It is very easy to lose the middle information and can cause more problems then any benefits

If the master I do does come back wider then it is normaly a by product of trying to correct a element of the mix such as a to forward vocal etc. I normally will use m/s eq to do this rather than a specific widener tool and also in small amounts of correction.

Just my opinion of course.
Old 4th April 2009
  #7
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Most stereo width processing that happens as noted is via gain changes in the Mid and Side channels. There's a few other processors that do stereo width modification that do "something else" in their processing besides just Mid and Side channel gain changes that have been used as mastering processors as well. These include SPL Vitalizers, Digital Domain K-Stereo (whose algorithm is also included in the Weiss DNA), the Bedini B.A.S.E., and (modded) Behringer Edisons.

Currently the one high quality off the shelf analog M/S matrix I can think of is the Dangerous Music S/M. M/S matrixes are also included in the Dangerous Music Master, Manley Backbone, and Crookwood mastering consoles. Other options you might find on the used market are vintage Telefunken, Neumann and Lawo "Panorama" modules, the discontinued AEA MS38, and the discontinued ADR Propak Audiomate.

As far as M/S plugins some options are:
Voxengo MSED
Brainworx' various plugins
Waves S-1
Sonoris M/S Codec

There's a number of other stereo image modification plugins out there that might have some use such as the Algorithmix K-Stereo and Flux Stereo Tool as well.

I definitely mirror other posters cautions regarding tracks sound "wider" as you very often lose impact by weakening the middle when doing so - although got to say my modded SPL SX2 (original version of the Vitalizer) has really helped once in a blue moon to rescue tracks that were mono-ish to the point of being cluttered.

Best regards,
Steve Berson
Old 4th April 2009
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I discovered about 10 years ago that a short delay (Haas) between 15-30ms, 1 channel inverted and perhaps a low pass filter can really widen things without destroying the mono compatibility or changing the mix. It just takes a TINY bit of the delay to really liven up things. Aside from that, a simple M-S matrix followed by some envelope manipulation and finally, an L-R matrix is all I use. I'm going to build a passive analogue M-S matrix pretty soon so I can use it on analogue sources without going into the digital world first.
Old 5th April 2009
  #9
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Widening can happen subjectively with the right EQ and dynamics processing, but specific widening processors are used in high-end mastering far less than anybody might believe, given what you read on the internet and in magazine advertisements.

When it does happen, most often it is M/S (Mid/Side) processing, often EQ, but sometimes dynamics, and sometimes simple M/S level adjustments (bringing up the "S" channel). It also tends to be more often digital than analog, though analog M/S is on the rise with several products offering the feature over the past few years.

The Weiss digital EQ is one common place to do M/S processing in mastering (but by no means only). You can put it into M/S mode and, for example, on a rock project you may simply EQ a couple dB up on the sides in the mids to upper-mids to make the guitars come alive, sounding huge and wide. You don't necessarily need to globally increase the side component.

Of course, you must be careful not to lose the center, or lose the sharp imaging as you start mucking with M/S. Other times, M/S is simply a corrective tool rather than a widening tool, as in M/S de-essing, or EQ on the "M" to fix a vocal.
Old 5th April 2009
  #10
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Hey thanks guys...some great thoughts & tips on it, appreciate it.

I've been sitting for some hours with the TC MD3 & finally staring to figure out what the parameters are actually doing which is a drag...because now I'm going to have to have it. I'm liking it.
Old 5th April 2009
  #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by amost View Post
Hey thanks guys...some great thoughts & tips on it, appreciate it.

I've been sitting for some hours with the TC MD3 & finally staring to figure out what the parameters are actually doing which is a drag...because now I'm going to have to have it. I'm liking it.
I don't know how the MD3 compares to the MD4 but I use the MD4 (TC 6000) for my MS work corrective work.

For sweetening, a bit of S raised (+.2 dB on average) at selected frequencies with/without the K-unit is very effective.

As Lagerfeldt pointed out, some analog gear can make the program wider just by running through it. My Manley Mastering Vari-Mu with mods seems to be the box here with the most "magic". It needs no compression to affect the stereo field in a very positive way. I have had two other Vari-Mu units here and they did not sound as nice so I guess I've got a special one!
Old 5th April 2009
  #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cellotron View Post
I definitely mirror other posters cautions regarding tracks sound "wider" as you very often lose impact by weakening the middle when doing so...
And for that reason I will sometimes NARROW the image or maybe push the vocal or lead range forward with a mid EQ. It works both ways depending on what is so wrong with the mix that you reach for such a tool.


GR
Old 6th April 2009
  #13
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lucey's Avatar
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Greg Reierson View Post
And for that reason I will sometimes NARROW the image or maybe push the vocal or lead range forward with a mid EQ. It works both ways depending on what is so wrong with the mix that you reach for such a tool.


GR
Exactly.

I'll have a width template/energy shape in mind per track that has the right balance of center punch and width, and MS is there to make subtle tweaks toward that shape.
Old 6th April 2009
  #14
jdg
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this reminds me how much i love good mixes!
when the center is so hard hitting itsounds like there is a person or snare or bass right in your room.. and the ambience and room tones surround you, even go behind you.

any time i do any "width" tricks in mastering.. a chance for this type of soundstage is nearly impossible.
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