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Stereo widening - question for pros Spatial Processor Plugins
Old 26th March 2010
  #31
t_d
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i use it quite a bit as i master mostly ambient and experimental types of music where space is king.

i've tried just about every widening plug in out there and keep going back to the Waves S1, as i find it the most natural sounding, either that or a couple db up on the "S" channel.

i also use a Portico 5014 which, when it works, blows any plug in i've heard away. it's very 3D, but it also is a very sensitive machine and can actually reduce the stereo image if used on the wrong material.

i don't use it every time i need widening duty, but when it works it's amazing.
Old 27th March 2010
  #32
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Quote:
Originally Posted by misjah View Post
we like em tight heh

ahhhhhhh. hahahhahahahahh
Gosh! no no, I won't.
Good fun people. Bye

KAyo
Old 27th March 2010
  #33
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Used very little, but can save a project when you need it. If things like M/S and multi-band come out, it usually means the mix has problems.
Old 27th March 2010
  #34
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I think ITB mixes have far less instrument-seperation then console mixes where the panning is just done different and sounds different .. for getting some "more" seperation and center focus and instrument details I use M/S a lot .. my Digital Weiss EQ is always in M/S mode .... does not have to mean I unlink it all the time but .. but, yes most of the cases it is ...

on great console mixes it's less way used , then it's just the analogue EQ's doing their L&R thing ...

there are occaisons where I push the sides from +00.50 to +03.00 dB up ... if the mix can handle it ... why not :-) nothing is standard here, okay the color of my socks and dithering maybe ...
Old 27th March 2010
  #35
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Quote:
Originally Posted by inlinenl View Post
I think ITB mixes have far less instrument-seperation then console mixes where the panning is just done different and sounds different .. for getting some "more" seperation and center focus and instrument details I use M/S a lot ..
Indeed, I also use MS in mastering a lot to open up a mix, to get more definition in the soundstage. Subtle tweaks can do a lot already
Old 27th March 2010
  #36
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I'm usually interested in trying to define the instruments places in the stereo image more rather than widening the image itself. For this generally the right eq choices using my analog boxes (which can provide nice sounding "phase distortion") can do the trick. Subtle tweaks eq'ing M/S using the Sonoris EQ can also go a long way as well. For more corrective/surgical/creative stuff I can go M/S on my Sontec MEP250-EX with the press of my button on my Manley Backbone.

Beyond that maybe 3 or 4% of the tracks I get end up having their stereo field manipulated. For tools just increasing the Side channel gain a 1/2 dB or so - either in the analog realm with my Manley Backbone - or in the digital realm with the Sonoris M/S codec or Flux Stereo Tool, usually does it. For going even farther than this I have an SPL SX2 (the original version of the "Vitalizer") with some upgraded IC's that has a "Stereo Width" control that does more than just side channel gain increases and can really open things up when you want this. The old Virtos Audio Stereo Processor DX plugin can also work in small amounts on rare occasions to do the "fake stereo" thing by frequency shuffling when dealing with really mono tracks that the client wants made stereo.

Again - in the vast majority of cases the stereo image as set in the mix is a very deliberate decision and is part of what helps to create the balance of the mix elements, and as such making things wider can often make the all important center weaker - so any manipulations to the stereo image generally should be done cautiously.

Best regards,
Steve Berson
Old 27th March 2010
  #37
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Darius van H View Post
Stereo widening is for ******.

It takes a real man to make the image narrower.
So with this philosophy, its wrong to use things that help you?

Maybe they should start putting that on CD labels along with the parental advisory? "Warning, Stereo imaging used on tracks 5.6 and 10."

Kills me when people knock the methods to get to a great song...If you prefer to climb up the mountain to get to the top of the mountain go ahead...But please do not knock the man who drives up it...Yes one was A LOT easier to accomplish then the other, yes the man who climbed it is "MORE MAN" but at the end of the day, both on the top? Both did what they wanted to do... Now take that analogy and change the top of a mountain and replace it with a good song .
Old 27th March 2010
  #38
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The end result is almost always a lot better if you fix the mix in the mix rather than after the fact. It's amazing what we can do today compared to the past but we haven't got anything approaching the horsepower that's available in a mix even with the most modest mixing tools.

Buss compression is a perfect example. The most expensive mastering compressor can't achieve what a simple plug-in can do provided the balance and eq. of each individual mix element is being tailored to what that plug-in is doing. The analog mastering compressor might sound better if the mix was tailored to it but we can't do this without time travel.
Old 27th March 2010
  #39
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Quote:
Originally Posted by IsRael Musiq View Post
So with this philosophy, its wrong to use things that help you?.
Pretty sure Darius was just joking around...
Old 27th March 2010
  #40
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aleatoric View Post
Pretty sure Darius was just joking around...
Hope I didn't offend anyone with that lol, but on these forums...YOU NEVER KNOW!!! Seems as if most people have this " Dont use that it sucks, do it this way" mentality... As if fans seen how the end result was accomplished or even cared for that matter... I just cant stand that...
Old 27th March 2010
  #41
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I like to use widening on some sources such as acoustic piano (if needed), spread out guitars or pads... but in mastering i rather leave things as they are with few exceptions....
Old 27th March 2010
  #42
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Thanks for your input guys !

I' ve been asking myself this question lately and needed enlightenment
because I see that many rookies goes by default with stereo widener plugin on 2ch bus according to some video tutorials even serious one.
Old 28th March 2010
  #43
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jazbina View Post
Thanks for your input guys !

I' ve been asking myself this question lately and needed enlightenment
because I see that many rookies goes by default with stereo widener plugin on 2ch bus according to some video tutorials even serious one.
Honestly i guess ive been pro for 5 years then and recently became a "rookie" last 2 months cuz after i got Sonalksis Stereo Widener...Aww man, i havent tried them all but i WOW!!! Its soooo natral...I got Waves S1 (Which is still useful but sucks for widen a whole mix) and also ozone (Better and VERY useful) and also DrMS.

Even the PANS are better then Cubases standard defualt pan... But i NEVER judge by meters any more for things...ESP widening a mix, i play it by ear but ALWAYS listen in headfones also becuase it might sound HUGE on main monitors but sound "wierd" on the cans. Dont believe me, try it yourself, best one at least in MY opinion to my ears. Now of course we all have two seperate ears last time ive check so YMMV.
Old 28th March 2010
  #44
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jazbina View Post
hey guys,

how often do you find yourself using stereo widening and in which amount ?

...stereo widening is very pleasure for the ears, but, how to know when is enough?...are you using stereo analyzer or use your ears approach...

thnx
IMO stereo widening is one of the most often things using in mastering. There are many tools for it. Personally I was satisfied with the results when using Tfpro P38.
Old 28th March 2010
  #45
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Rarely needed. I'd say I've used it only twice in the past 12 months. And by that I mean 2 mixes, not 2 projects.
As said before... for good mixes, equalization alone is often enough and can slightly open up a track's image by default if part of the spectrum lacking is where the stereo cues are (eg, high mids).
Old 28th March 2010
  #46
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Hi Bob,

umm...thanks for the..umm..lecture.

Yeah, I am/was aware of all the reasons you mention, I was making a joke based on Darius' comment/joke about narrowing mixes he got in. Taking it to the logical conclusion (i.e. mono).

I guess it isn't always easy to convey irony on the 'net.



Cheers,
Thor

p.s. as far as 5.1 mixes go (one of my big interests these days), the few "major" productions I've heard in 5.1 have been amazing (no doubt largly due to the talents of Elliot Scheiner & others like him).

The stuff you're referring to, is there anything in particular, or has it become commonplace in Nashville to just throw together something at the very end of the session for 5.1? Just curious. We probably should start a separate thread to follow up.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Olhsson View Post
The mono is better because the mono mixes are better. The mixes are better because the production decisions were based on monitoring in mono and they had more time and effort put into them than the stereo. They represent the intent of the artists and producer.

Stereo mixes at that time were done after the fact much like today's 5.1 music releases. The same is true of Motown's mono mixes before the early '70s.

They are not better because they are mono.
Old 28th March 2010
  #47
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Remixes are a bit of a sore point because most people today have never heard our Motown records the way the artists, producers and engineers originally intended.
Old 28th March 2010
  #48
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Olhsson View Post
Remixes are a bit of a sore point because most people today have never heard our Motown records the way the artists, producers and engineers originally intended.
Nice comment! But Bob, how could we get to hear them that way? Play the vinyl, or what? Most of the old Motown Lps I have heard were way worn, and many CD versions too harsh - what examples come closest?

Thanks,

Lou
Old 28th March 2010
  #49
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Hi Bob,

I'm lucky enough to have more than a few Motown LPs, one of my favourite labels with a roster of artists like no other.

Jamerson is a personal hero to me (as I started my musical "career" as a bassist, and still play a little now and again), and you and Bob's presentation at the AES in NY really made clear the amount of talent assembled at Motown back in the day.

I haven't heard any Motown CDs, but it would be a shame if they weren't done proper justice when remastered/released for CD.

Let me add my voice to Lou's - do you have any recommendations for people today who want to hear how things were meant to sound? Are there any remixes/reissues that do justice to the original intent?

Cheers,
Thor
Old 28th March 2010
  #50
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The Hitsville box of monos is the best I've heard although the guy tried to be kewl and used an old Ampex whereas we were using Studer C-37s which were lots better sounding tape machines.
Old 28th March 2010
  #51
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Most times a client asks me which widener I used, I reply that it's good choices in EQ and dynamics processing. Most of the widening people think they hear with good mixes in the higher-end mastering houses isn't a stereo-widening processor at all.

Even if I use M/S EQ for some widening, its more likely to be a side EQ boost to pull out certain wide-panned elements rather than a wholesale boost of gain on the side channel. Sure, sometimes it's gain in conjunction with the EQ - whatever the track needs - but so often the cure is worse than the disease.

If you lose focus, punch, and the emphasis of the center elements which are usually most important (vocal, kick, snare), not to mention a less-defined stereo (placement of individual elements across the soundstage) image at the cost of initial perceived wideness, then you've done the song a disservice.
Old 28th March 2010
  #52
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Very rarely. Most of the times in order to correct mix issues when the problematic element is either in the middel or widely panned.

On some (rare) occasions on a good mix only IF it is really useful to the song and even then tweaks are minute. There have also been mixes where a tiny shrinking worked in regaining cohesiveness (too large soundstage with a hole in the middle.......)
Old 29th March 2010
  #53
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Well, I have to say that I don't have anything against stereo widening plugins, MS widening or any other technique that helps improve stereo picture, but rather against using something by default on every session whether is needed or not.
Old 29th March 2010
  #54
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Yet another Myth of Mastering.

Like a few other real MEs have said, I rarely use any stereo widening.

If really needed or requested I'll bring the sides forward a dB in M/S mode.

Or pull the center back a little, whatever is required.

Also agree with Bob O, that it's better fixed in the mix.

JT
Old 29th March 2010
  #55
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jerry Tubb View Post
Yet another Myth of Mastering.

Like a few other real MEs have said, I rarely use any stereo widening.
Interesting how this discussion has polarised.

Perhaps those who use the technique frequently and by a large amount in mastering, most of whom don't appear to be pro, should ask themselves if there might be a good reason why those who make their living as MEs tend not to use it much.

Stereo width manipulation is one of those things that has a 'wow' factor when you first hear it, and then as you develop your listening skills you realise what the tradeoffs are; it has this in common with things like adding brightness or loudness at the mastering stage, and with all these you have to learn to reconcile any improvement against the damage done. To quote Bob O, not for the first or last time, 'mastering is the art of balancing objective degradation against subjective enhancement' and IMO the truth of that only starts to become apparent with many, many hours of critical listening to, and processing of, all kinds of audio.
Old 29th March 2010
  #56
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If the mix collapses to much in mono, I'll back off. But mostly I only add subtile
widening to capture more of the atmosphere/ambience of the instruments in the mix.

Old 29th March 2010
  #57
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I can tell you that Chris Muth added the S&M (cute huh) section to the console to help with masters that must be heavily compressed and the center information is pulling down the sides too much (or changing the mix). Chris added it as a corrective tool mainly... at least that's how he explained it to me.

It has been a savior at times... as, we've all "been there". For the most part it hardly ever gets used... however if I need to de-ess just the vocal only than I'm going to make sure I use M/S so as to not touch the cymbals on the sides... or vise-versa...

It is a handy feature to have and a "must have" in mastering IMHO.
Old 29th March 2010
  #58
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SafeandSound View Post
Nigel, do you not agree that defining whether someone is professional or not by their use/or not of a stereo widener over other rather more significant factors could be a tad insulting and err... completely wrong.

There is no stronghold on working methodology.

If your work is good, that's all you need to worry about.
Hi Barry,

You seem a reasonably intelligent chap, so why don't you read my post again, carefully this time, then read back through this thread?

On a more sensible note, picking up the MS de-ess point made by Larry, this is how and why I de-ess mostly too.
Old 29th March 2010
  #59
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I fund DrMS plug in very efficient ...
Incredible tool to get all the songs even, wide or narrow.
Old 29th March 2010
  #60
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Quote:
Originally Posted by csl View Post
Widening tends to sound pretty 2D when overdone, reducing the depth and distance of the instruments. Heard plenty of tracks which really do sound like only two pan positions -- mono or extreme L/R.

It's like viewing a video with some sort of inverse fisheye lens strapped over it.
Would anybody care to conjecture on some recent commercial releases where they think may detect some M/S, good or bad? (Obviously if you don't know the source or weren't there, you can't be sure)

Anybody here listen to Alicia Keys Elements of Freedom / "Love is Blind"? Sounds like a fine pop track to me. Looking at it in the TT Dynamics Meter, it's up there in the -6 to -9 rms range and doesn't sound strained (to me). The Side looks like it measures LESS dynamic range than the Mid (and a lower overall level). Its got pLenty of depth too. Maybe not holographic 3D glasses depth, but a clear foreground / background soundstage ( at least 2.5D . Its an elaborate production and I don't think there's any intent to make it sound like a live band in a real space, so it seems appropriate.
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