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Avoiding pseudo-stereo

From: Audio Mixing Bootcamp

Video: Avoiding pseudo-stereo

Most synthesizers and virtual instruments have sort of a pseudo-stereo effect that makes instrument sound larger than it really is when panned hard left and right. The problem is that this kind of effect can actually make your mix sound less distinct. In this video, I'll show you some techniques for dealing with some instruments that have artificial stereo, so you can hear that instrument better in your mix. So, the first thing we're going to do is listen to some instruments that are in stereo. Some are artificially put in stereo and some are recorded in stereo. The tendency is, if you have a stereo instrument, to pan it hard left and hard right, but the problem is sometimes that can actually cause more harm than good in the mix.

Avoiding pseudo-stereo

Most synthesizers and virtual instruments have sort of a pseudo-stereo effect that makes instrument sound larger than it really is when panned hard left and right. The problem is that this kind of effect can actually make your mix sound less distinct. In this video, I'll show you some techniques for dealing with some instruments that have artificial stereo, so you can hear that instrument better in your mix. So, the first thing we're going to do is listen to some instruments that are in stereo. Some are artificially put in stereo and some are recorded in stereo. The tendency is, if you have a stereo instrument, to pan it hard left and hard right, but the problem is sometimes that can actually cause more harm than good in the mix.

Let's start with an electric piano. Let's listen to it mono. Now this is recorded in stereo, and what makes it stereo is the fact that it has a channel that has vibrato on it, so you will hear it warble a little bit. (music playing) Let's pan that out in stereo. (music playing) Now you can hear that it got wider, but what really is going to make a difference is what happens with the other instruments after this.

Now the next one that we want to listen to is the strings. Now let's add the strings, and this was made stereo artificially by using a chorus. Let's hear what it sounds like. (music playing) Now I can really hear that one warble as well, and usually what happens is one side is very, very stable and the other side is the one that has the warble on it in the stereo mix.

Now when you put two instruments together like this, you can actually hear them okay, it's not so bad, but as you begin to add more instruments that are panned hard left and hard right, that's when the problem begins. Now let's add the organ. Notice that the organ actually is assigned to a subgroup. So we have the high organ, we have the low organ, and they are both assigned to a stereo subgroup that's panned hard left of hard right. (music playing) Now as you can hear, there is a little bit of disconnection, as we talked about in a previous movie, where the low frequencies and the high frequencies don't seem to live together, and that makes the sound a little artificial.

Let's add the electric guitar now, and once again that was recorded in stereo, and it's also recorded left and right and assigned to a subgroup, which is panned hard left and hard right. And let's listen to that. (music playing) When we have more and more stereo instruments that are panned hard left and hard right, we come up with a condition that I call "big mono." And big mono basically means that when you pan everything in stereo hard left and hard right, you don't really wind up with anything that's near a stereo field; everything just sort of sounds the same, and it steps on one another.

The beauty of having stereo is the fact that we can put each instrument in its own little part of the stereo soundscape, and that's really what we want to do. It's the best thing for us to hear each instrument distinctly. So the first thing we're going to do is begin to pan things, and I'm going to pan the keyboards, just a little to the left and a little to the right, and you'll hear immediately how things begin to change and we begin to hear them a little more distinctly. So let's take the organ. We are going to go to the subgroup on the organ. Even though you can see the B3 hi and B3 lo are panned hard left and hard right, panning is actually going to follow what I'm going to do right here.

So as you can see, I am going to keep one of the channels hard left and I'm going to have the other one that's not quite as hard left-- it's going to be up towards the center. And I am going to the electric piano, I am going to exactly the same thing: I am going to keep one hard right and I'm going to take another one that's more toward the center. Now let's have a listen. (music playing) Now we have a little bit more of a sense of stereo sound field, a little more spaciousness, but we still have that sense of big mono.

So now I am going to take the electric guitar and I am going to pan it more towards the center. So I'm going to go to the subgroup. I am going to pan this just a little off the center here, a little off on the right one, have a listen. (music playing) Now you can really start to hear the stereo.

You can hear each instrument in its own little part of the soundscape. But we still have the problem with the strings. Sometimes an instrument that has artificial stereo actually sounds better in mono, and in this case we are going to make this mono by panning both channels up the middle. And the easy way to do that is to hit the Option key and just click on each pan knob, and you can see they automatically go right to the center. Let's have a listen. (music playing) Now you can hear they are each in their own little soundscape. The only problem is that the strings sound just a little on the dull side, so we're going to skip ahead a little bit to what we will watch in another series of movies.

We are going to add some long reverb onto the strings. We are actually going to make this somewhat stereo. We are going to put it into a stereo sound field and make it a little more spacious. And we are going to do that by clicking up here on the send and have a listen as we play it. (music playing) So now you can see that a mono instrument can sometimes work better than one that uses artificial stereo.

We have a sense of spaciousness, yet everything is in its own part of the soundscape, and this is the best way to make each individual instrument sound very distinct and jump out into the mix.

Show transcript

This video is part of

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Audio Mixing Bootcamp

103 video lessons · 19152 viewers

Bobby Owsinski
Author

 
Expand all | Collapse all
  1. 1m 16s
    1. Welcome
      1m 16s
  2. 8m 20s
    1. Determining the listening position
      2m 27s
    2. Fixing acoustic problems
      2m 5s
    3. Setting up your monitors
      3m 48s
  3. 20m 17s
    1. Setting up your session
      5m 52s
    2. Setting up your subgroups
      7m 50s
    3. Setting up your effects
      6m 35s
  4. 8m 45s
    1. Developing the groove
      3m 46s
    2. Emphasizing the most important elements
      3m 44s
    3. Knowing what to avoid
      1m 15s
  5. 1h 4m
    1. Learning the principles of building a mix
      1m 1s
    2. Assigning the drums to a subgroup
      3m 55s
    3. Building the mix from the kick
      10m 8s
    4. Building the mix from the snare
      8m 46s
    5. Building the mix from the toms
      5m 25s
    6. Building the mix from the overhead mics
      3m 53s
    7. Checking the drum phase
      4m 44s
    8. Balancing direct and miked bass channels
      3m 36s
    9. Building the mix from the bass
      3m 26s
    10. Building the mix from the vocals
      4m 19s
    11. Balancing the rhythm section
      2m 44s
    12. Balancing the rest of the instruments with the rhythm section
      5m 22s
    13. Making a mix without building it
      4m 20s
    14. Balancing the harmony vocals
      2m 35s
  6. 23m 2s
    1. Looking at the three main panning areas
      9m 23s
    2. Panning the drums
      6m 9s
    3. Avoiding pseudo-stereo
      7m 30s
  7. 1h 17m
    1. Understanding compressor parameters
      3m 42s
    2. Setting up the compressor
      14m 44s
    3. Compressing the drums
      7m 53s
    4. Compressing the room mics
      4m 9s
    5. Compressing the bass
      5m 24s
    6. Using the New York compression trick
      4m 23s
    7. Compressing the clean electric guitars
      4m 40s
    8. Compressing the distorted electric guitars
      4m 48s
    9. Compressing the acoustic guitars
      8m 7s
    10. Compressing the piano
      6m 35s
    11. Compressing the electric keyboards
      4m 32s
    12. Compressing the vocals
      4m 34s
    13. Compressing the horns
      3m 55s
  8. 25m 36s
    1. Learning noise gate basics
      9m 23s
    2. Using the noise gate on guitars
      3m 57s
    3. Using the noise gate on drums
      7m 38s
    4. Learning de-esser basics
      2m 15s
    5. Using the de-esser on vocals
      2m 23s
  9. 36m 4s
    1. Understanding equalizer parameters
      10m 16s
    2. Learning subtractive equalization
      8m 57s
    3. Learning frequency juggling
      8m 28s
    4. Using the magic high-pass filter
      7m 39s
    5. Learning the principles of equalization
      44s
  10. 49m 46s
    1. Equalizing the kick
      6m 7s
    2. Equalizing the snare
      2m 57s
    3. Equalizing the rack toms
      5m 4s
    4. Equalizing the floor tom
      4m 32s
    5. Equalizing the hi-hat
      4m 56s
    6. Equalizing the cymbal or the overhead mics
      6m 49s
    7. Equalizing the room mics
      5m 13s
    8. Equalizing the bass
      3m 59s
    9. Editing the bass rhythm
      4m 21s
    10. Equalizing the rhythm section
      5m 48s
  11. 47m 58s
    1. Equalizing the electric guitar
      8m 15s
    2. Equalizing the acoustic guitar
      4m 55s
    3. Equalizing the hand percussion
      3m 28s
    4. Equalizing the lead vocals
      6m 5s
    5. Equalizing the background vocals
      4m 14s
    6. Equalizing the piano
      4m 46s
    7. Equalizing the organ
      6m 49s
    8. Equalizing the strings
      6m 4s
    9. Equalizing the horns
      3m 22s
  12. 30m 47s
    1. Learning the principles of reverb
      1m 59s
    2. Understanding reverb parameters
      6m 49s
    3. Timing the reverb to the track
      6m 6s
    4. Equalizing the reverb
      2m 51s
    5. Using the two-reverb quick setup
      5m 35s
    6. Using the three-reverb setup
      7m 27s
  13. 59m 8s
    1. Adding reverb to the drums
      7m 56s
    2. Adding reverb to the vocals
      11m 59s
    3. Adding reverb to the guitars
      5m 17s
    4. Adding reverb to the piano
      4m 19s
    5. Adding reverb to the organ
      3m 43s
    6. Adding reverb to the strings
      5m 36s
    7. Adding reverb to the horns
      2m 57s
    8. Adding reverb to the percussion
      4m 46s
    9. Using reverb to layer the mix
      12m 35s
  14. 46m 8s
    1. Learning delay principles
      1m 40s
    2. Understanding delay parameters
      6m 54s
    3. Timing the delay to the track
      1m 28s
    4. Using delay timing variations
      2m 51s
    5. Equalizing the delay
      4m 23s
    6. Understanding the Haas effect
      2m 51s
    7. Using the three-delay setup
      7m 23s
    8. Adding delay to the vocals
      8m 43s
    9. Using delay to layer the mix
      9m 55s
  15. 21m 35s
    1. Understanding the types of modulation
      2m 43s
    2. Understanding modulation parameters
      4m 13s
    3. Modulating the guitars
      4m 7s
    4. Modulating the keyboards
      3m 17s
    5. Modulating the vocals
      4m 17s
    6. Modulating the strings
      2m 58s
  16. 12m 22s
    1. Mixing with subgroups
      5m 5s
    2. Using mix buss compression
      4m 21s
    3. Understanding the evils of hypercompression
      2m 56s
  17. 39s
    1. Goodbye
      39s

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