The No.1 Website for Pro Audio
 Search This Thread  Search This Forum  Search Reviews  Search Gear Database  Search Gear for sale  Search Gearslutz Go Advanced
Stereo widening - question for pros Spatial Processor Plugins
Old 29th March 2010
  #61
Lives for gear
 
Jerry Tubb's Avatar
 

Verified Member
Excellent post Nigel!

It's funny the things that attract the neophytes to mastering:

stereo wideness, limiting loudness, exciters/enhancers, multi-band compression, spectrum modeling, plug-ins, etc.....

When it's really just about basic audio quality, more about the cake, than the icing.

JT

Quote:
Originally Posted by lowland View Post
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
  #62
Lives for gear
 
saovi's Avatar
 

Personally I think any widening if truly needed should actually be on the individual stems leading to the final raw stereo mix first. I'm unconvinced that psuedo widening using some stereo algorithm after the fact doesn't actually end up having the end effect of skewing the mix you're applying it to.
Old 29th March 2010
  #63
Mastering Moderator
 
Riccardo's Avatar
 

Verified Member
Quote:
Originally Posted by SafeandSound View Post
For anyone trying to choose a mastering engineer they will have a tough time making any sense of what is written here.

???
Old 30th March 2010
  #64
Lives for gear
 
Adam Dempsey's Avatar
 

Verified Member
width shmidth

Quote:
Originally Posted by SafeandSound View Post
Using a subtle widening tool is perfectly ok and of benefit when used judiciously (checking phase compatibility) and with overall taste
... and if actually needed. In my (and others') experience it's simply rarely been needed. Additionally, I can't think of a time when a client has walked in the door requesting it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by SafeandSound View Post
Best to keep an open mind.
Every job's a clean slate.
Old 30th March 2010
  #65
Lives for gear
 
Ben F's Avatar
 

Verified Member
Quote:
Originally Posted by saovi View Post
Personally I think any widening if truly needed should actually be on the individual stems leading to the final raw stereo mix first. I'm unconvinced that psuedo widening using some stereo algorithm after the fact doesn't actually end up having the end effect of skewing the mix you're applying it to.
That would be my first choice- tell them to fix the mix. I do find decent compression adds a nice amount of 'width'. Sometimes if it is required I'll add it to the odd track generally using the Crookwood M/S- perhaps 2-4% extra side channel. M/S EQ can come in handy, It's very rare though.

M/S has become the new buzz word with all these new M/S tools in both software and hardware! It's a mastering secret
Old 30th March 2010
  #66
Lives for gear
 
miro's Avatar
 

I believe many of you top notch ME's here say "rarely", "barely" or "not needed" for certain reasons:

1) most of you probably receive great mixes done by pro's
2) your analog gear certainly applies a better seperation and width than ITB mastering
3) you're in the game since a loooong time and thus thinking in a "classic" way

I understand and respect this for sure. On the other side stereo tools or M/S equalization has it's purpose and excitement *for me*.
This topic is as delicate as the use of limiters or clipping:
Use it like a man, not like a child - it can be your helpfull friend.
Old 30th March 2010
  #67
Lives for gear
 
lowland's Avatar
 

Verified Member
Quote:
Originally Posted by SafeandSound View Post
I suppose I am sensitive to what you say Nigel since you said "one day I will become a good ME"
When I said

Quote:
I... see someone who is well-meaning and who may make a good ME one day
I meant 'Chris Blair good' or 'Doug Sax good' - it wasn't intended as a put-down, though you're not the only one to think it was.

Consider the record put straight, but also consider that the ability to empathise with other people when their opinions don't exactly coincide with your own is a key part of an ME's toolbox as well, probably more important than any stereo widening apparatus!
Old 30th March 2010
  #68
Lives for gear
 
lowland's Avatar
 

Verified Member
Quote:
Originally Posted by SafeandSound View Post
Nigel ok it's all sweet, the conditions make me a little aggressive at times I am sorry for coming across officious.
If by 'the conditions' you mean here @ GS Mastering, I can think of a very simple cure!

Otherwise,
Old 30th March 2010
  #69
Lives for gear
 
loujudson's Avatar
Here's a slightly different point of view - I do live sound mostly, and record the shows, and when "mastering" the live tracks I sometimes fel the need to widen the image, because with a stereo PA you don't want to pan too far or the house will become unbalanced for anyone not sitting center. So I just barely pan things according to stage position, then widen is a bit for the CD for the band.

MS works a charm for this, so I've been doing it for years, subtly for the most part, as it affects the reverb as well as the placement. It also allows a centered voice to be tamed or accentuated if needed, and the bass level adjusted...

L
Old 30th March 2010
  #70
Deleted User
Guest
In general people should ask themselves what they actually are correcting; it's either the mix or their own playback situation.

A constant use of M/S processing and/or a lot of 0.1 dB's here and there would indicate the latter to me.


Regards
Patrik
Old 1st April 2010
  #71
Lives for gear
 
Table Of Tone's Avatar
 

Verified Member
I just do what the music tells me to do!
If the track is saying "C'mon Man! Give me a little pazaz!", I'll do just that!
Old 2nd April 2010
  #72
Lives for gear
 
Beyersound's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by miro View Post
I believe many of you top notch ME's here say "rarely", "barely" or "not needed" for certain reasons:

your analog gear certainly applies a better seperation and width than ITB mastering
.
Wrong! You make a couple of valid points, but this is not one of them. Mixing in the box is not limited at all in this way. There are some top pros who actually mix ITB.
Old 2nd April 2010
  #73
Lives for gear
 
Beyersound's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by loujudson View Post
Here's a slightly different point of view - I do live sound mostly, and record the shows, and when "mastering" the live tracks I sometimes fel the need to widen the image, because with a stereo PA you don't want to pan too far or the house will become unbalanced for anyone not sitting center. So I just barely pan things according to stage position, then widen is a bit for the CD for the band.

MS works a charm for this, so I've been doing it for years, subtly for the most part, as it affects the reverb as well as the placement. It also allows a centered voice to be tamed or accentuated if needed, and the bass level adjusted...

L
+1! I sometimes do similar things with some of my live tracks, although my apnning is not quite as limited in that situation.
Old 2nd April 2010
  #74
Lives for gear
 
24-96 Mastering's Avatar
I'm doing a clasical recording right now where I'm lifting the side channel by 8 dB!

To the OP: Not with the intent to 'widen the stereo' per se, but to change solo instrument / orchestra relation. But still... whatever it takes to achieve the goal is right. It helps to have a goal before you start knob-twiddling though Which is probably why 'stereo widening' - as a preset sweetening function - is not really one that much discussed in pro mastering. If the mix is lacking width / dimension, the specific reason for that is usually addressed, if at all possible. If OTOH all that's wanted really is slightly 'sweetening' an already great mix, some unlinked compression or a 0.2 dB lift of the S signal can be enough already.
Old 2nd April 2010
  #75
Moderator
 
jayfrigo's Avatar
 

Verified Member
You pull up these tools when you need them; not simply by default, or to try everything in the room to see if you can shoehorn in a use for it.

I just finished a record for which I used M/S on every track. It may be a rare example, but I'm not a luddite about it. I'm happy to use it when it actually will help more than it harms, and when there's not a better way to accomplish a well-defined goal.

As experience grows, you learn to get the most out of each tool so you don't feel that you need to have everything but the kitchen sink in your chain to accomplish your goal (except when you really need to!). You also get better at tempering that initial rush from hearing some processes, and paying closer attention to the negative side as well. Experience improves judgement as to how best to balance these competing concerns, and choosing which methods will give you the best chance of success with the fewest side-effects.
Old 2nd April 2010
  #76
Lives for gear
 
Waltz Mastering's Avatar
 

Verified Member
Quote:
Originally Posted by jayfrigo View Post
You pull up these tools when you need them; not simply by default, or to try everything in the room to see if you can shoehorn in a use for it.

As experience grows, you learn to get the most out of each tool so you don't feel that you need to have everything but the kitchen sink in your chain to accomplish your goal (except when you really need to!). You also get better at tempering that initial rush from hearing some processes, and paying closer attention to the negative side as well. Experience improves judgment as to how best to balance these competing concerns, and choosing which methods will give you the best chance of success with the fewest side-effects.

It's hard to find any fault with this reasoning.
Old 2nd April 2010
  #77
Lives for gear
 

Verified Member
Quote:
Originally Posted by Table Of Tone View Post
I just do what the music tells me to do!
If the track is saying "C'mon Man! Give me a little pazaz!", I'll do just that!
And it's hard to find fault with this reasoning!
Old 4th April 2010
  #78
Lives for gear
 
Table Of Tone's Avatar
 

Verified Member
Quote:
Originally Posted by Andy Krehm View Post
And it's hard to find fault with this reasoning!
Well you know...
It really depends on what the client is wanting me to do?

If they are wanting me somehow add a little magic that is maybe lacking in the mix, I'll run with the vox up mix N add a little Bendini!
If the mix is already wide (maybe too wide) I'll sometimes even take a little off!
Old 4th April 2010
  #79
Lives for gear
 
miro's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Beyersound View Post
Wrong! You make a couple of valid points, but this is not one of them. Mixing in the box is not limited at all in this way. There are some top pros who actually mix ITB.
I said ITB mastering not mixing. And, of course, you can achieve superb results ITB.

Allthough you have to do more (processing) ITB to get the same or similar results as with analog gear IMO.

Old 4th April 2010
  #80
Lives for gear
 
MattGray's Avatar
 

Verified Member
Quote:
Originally Posted by miro View Post
I believe many of you [Edit] ME's here say "rarely", "barely" or "not needed" for certain reasons:

1) most of you probably receive great mixes done by pro's
2) your analog gear certainly applies a better separation and width than ITB mastering
3) you're in the game since a loooong time and thus thinking in a "classic" way
1) Not really... with today's declining record budgets great mixes are more of a rare commodity than a common commodity.
2) Not sure about more width but great analog processors can certainly sound more 'natural' & generally have more depth than digital processing ime.
3) Not at all... I've come from a completely ITB background & expanded into all forms of analog mastering hardware & like to use a balance of both on most jobs using each for it's best attributes. I consider this a more "modern" approach to mastering. It's keeping your craft up-to-date with advances in technology & blending it with the "classics" of yesteryear.

Let me surmise a bit further... One of the biggest things which put me off using artificial stereo "widening" effects was the day I traded my Dynaudio BM6A's for Duntech's & a Pass Labs X250. I am now hearing the imaging (& many other things) in far greater detail than I've ever heard before. One of my 'ah-ha' moments after upgrading was when I analysed what stereo imaging processing was really doing to music. I've since tried analog widening from a Dangerous S&M & various digital incarnations such as the M/S implementations in the Weiss EQ1-Mk2 & DS-1 Mk3. Plug-ins from DUY Wide, Waves S1, Brainworx Digital, iZotope Alloy & iZotope Ozone's multi-band (in min & lin phase crossover modes) & broadband stereo widening processing. While they all do sound quite different one common negative side effect is phase smear on anything panned to the center. Snare drums or any percussive transients tend to lose focus, front to back depth is reduced (more 2D), vocals sound more vague/distant. Often just engaging M/S processing can bring about this effect without spreading or increasing the 'S' channel gain.

This sort of processing definitely has a number of negative aspects to it & this has very little to do with whether you're mastering through an analog chain or completely ITB & more to do with your monitors & whether you are truly hearing the negative side effects of the processing. Now days I only ever use one of these types of processors when I consider it will improve a poorly mixed track more noticeably than the negative attributes of the processing will detract from it (same as any mastering processes really).

Sometimes M/S EQ is essential for carving through a poor mix as it offers more control. Other times if the vocals &/or the kick & snare need to go back into the mix a little more (rare!), or if you just want to make a 'mono-esque' type mix sound more 'stereo' than increasing the 'S' channel or boosting/cutting certain EQ ranges on the 'S' channel can sometimes be the best choice.

As mentioned by others in this thread "do what's right for the mix" but make sure you can hear the negative side effects & than weigh up the good with the bad before you pull the trigger & don't default to doing M/S or "stereo widening" processing on everything.
Old 4th April 2010
  #81
Lives for gear
 
DrDeltaM's Avatar
 

Verified Member
Quote:
Originally Posted by MattGray View Post
Often just engaging M/S processing can bring about this effect without spreading or increasing the 'S' channel gain.
That is a strange observation, something must have been wrong with the MS encoder/decoder, as mathematically LR and MS are identical. Going from one to the other and back should not have any influence on the sound.
Maybe you observed this only with certain analog encoders/decoders? In the digital domain, it's hard to do this wrong.
Old 4th April 2010
  #82
Lives for gear
 
24-96 Mastering's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by MattGray View Post
As mentioned by others in this thread "do what's right for the mix" but make sure you can hear the negative side effects & than weigh up the good with the bad before you pull the trigger & don't default to doing M/S or "stereo widening" processing on everything.
I'll second that and extend it to M/S EQ (i.e. for urgical operations, not for widening).

1. Make sure your monitoring/room allows you to hear the trade offs.
2. Make sure you know how to identify the trade offs.
3. When you set an M or S filter to address a specific issue, often compare with the same/similar filter on L/R to make sure you're not losing more than you're winning.
Old 4th April 2010
  #83
Lives for gear
 
Table Of Tone's Avatar
 

Verified Member
Quote:
Originally Posted by MattGray View Post
1) While they all do sound quite different one common negative side effect is phase smear on anything panned to the center. Snare drums or any percussive transients tend to lose focus,
I found exactly the same thing with every type of M/S processing, until I got the Bendini!
Old 4th April 2010
  #84
Lives for gear
 
24-96 Mastering's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Table Of Tone View Post
I found exactly the same thing with every type of M/S processing, until I got the Bendini!
Don't worry, you'll learn to identify its trade-offs too

Sorry, I couldn't resist. Seriously though, what method of widening does the Bedini use?
Old 4th April 2010
  #85
Lives for gear
 
Table Of Tone's Avatar
 

Verified Member
Quote:
Originally Posted by 24-96 Mastering View Post
Don't worry, you'll learn to identify its trade-offs too

Sorry, I couldn't resist. Seriously though, what method of widening does the Bedini use?
Of course you can seriously mess up a mix with it if you use it wrongly, just like you can with everything else out there, but we're mastering engineers, right?

I have absolutely no idea why or how this thing does what it does but all I can say is that I would never use any of my other M/S tools as long as this machine is still workin'!
Old 5th April 2010
  #86
Lives for gear
 
Storyville's Avatar
One thing that is nice about M/S is that it effects the signal in a unique way. For example - let's say you have a mix with a guitar panned 50% right. Separate M/S, raise the side signal, you are essentially panning the guitar out farther right at the cost of phase difference. But, let's say you eq up 5khz on the side signal. Now, you have made the same guitar essentially exist in a different way then it did during the mix. It's changed the signal in a way that simply eq and panning would never do. This makes M/S an important tool and consideration.

To the necessity of the mix should be a given - but personally, I like to hear what a little M/S can do on my mix - unless I like how it balances perfectly when I hear it in a completely different room on different speakers.
Old 5th April 2010
  #87
Deleted User
Guest
Quote:
Originally Posted by Storyville View Post
One thing that is nice about M/S is that it effects the signal in a unique way. For example - let's say you have a mix with a guitar panned 50% right. Separate M/S, raise the side signal, you are essentially panning the guitar out farther right at the cost of phase difference. But, let's say you eq up 5khz on the side signal. Now, you have made the same guitar essentially exist in a different way then it did during the mix.
I'm soooo happy to always treat everything the same way so I don't have to pretend that I could possibly take care of single instruments within a mix that's already carved-in-stone.

From a mastering perspective the above mentioned philosophy is lethal.


Regards
Patrik
Old 7th April 2010
  #88
Lives for gear
 
MattGray's Avatar
 

Verified Member
Quote:
Originally Posted by DrDeltaM View Post
That is a strange observation, something must have been wrong with the MS encoder/decoder, as mathematically LR and MS are identical. Going from one to the other and back should not have any influence on the sound.
Maybe you observed this only with certain analog encoders/decoders? In the digital domain, it's hard to do this wrong.
Well I was always pretty impressed with the Weiss EQ1 M/S, quite transparent with no processing, but I was mainly referring to the Dangerous S&M encode/decode. It's not hugely coloured but I can certainly hear it when it's switched in even without adjusting the width. As for other Digital incarnations, it's been a while since I've done a proper test.. maybe a null test from L/R to M/S back to L/R & check how cleanly it cancels out. I've tried Flux Epure & Ozone's M/S & while they can come in handy from time to time when you need to get your hands dirty & fix things, on a good mix I much prefer L/R EQ over M/S EQ.

Matt
Old 7th April 2010
  #89
Lives for gear
 
MattGray's Avatar
 

Verified Member
Quote:
Originally Posted by Table Of Tone View Post
I found exactly the same thing with every type of M/S processing, until I got the Bendini!
I'm still waiting for those samples when you find the time One thing I have noticed with certain masters & I don't know if this is largely the sound of the mix or the mastering but some masters sound so well centered. Like the mono is locked right up the middle but there is still a nice width & depth... perhaps it's the Bendini?
Old 7th April 2010
  #90
Lives for gear
 
Table Of Tone's Avatar
 

Verified Member
Quote:
Originally Posted by MattGray View Post
I'm still waiting for those samples when you find the time One thing I have noticed with certain masters & I don't know if this is largely the sound of the mix or the mastering but some masters sound so well centered. Like the mono is locked right up the middle but there is still a nice width & depth... perhaps it's the Bendini?
QOTSA Songs For the Deaf, would be a good example of what you are describing, right?

I've been flat out busy the whole of this year so far, so I haven't had a chance to get anything over to ya as yet.
Possibly best to send me a mix that you know really well N I'll cut it using a little Bendini and get it back to ya?
If I'm running an album, it's no trouble for me to cut an extra track once I've got it!
Post Reply

Welcome to the Gearslutz Pro Audio Community!

Registration benefits include:
  • The ability to reply to and create new discussions
  • Access to members-only giveaways & competitions
  • Interact with VIP industry experts in our guest Q&As
  • Access to members-only sub forum discussions
  • Access to members-only Chat Room
  • Get INSTANT ACCESS to the world's best private pro audio Classifieds for only USD $20/year
  • Promote your eBay auctions and Reverb.com listings for free
  • Remove this message!
You need an account to post a reply. Create a username and password below and an account will be created and your post entered.


 
 
Slide to join now Processing…
Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Similar Threads
Thread
Thread Starter / Forum
Replies
Jack P / So much gear, so little time
70
amost / Mastering forum
13
hive / So much gear, so little time
9
TLMUSIC / So much gear, so little time
10
danno812 / Music Computers
6

Forum Jump
Forum Jump