Easy-to-follow video tutorials help you learn software, creative, and business skills.Become a member
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) So now you can see that a mono instrument can sometimes work better than one 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) 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.
Get unlimited access to all courses for just $25/month.Become a member
73 Video lessons · 18933 Viewers
130 Video lessons · 19796 Viewers
110 Video lessons · 11592 Viewers
71 Video lessons · 15789 Viewers
Access exercise files from a button right under the course name.
Search within course videos and transcripts, and jump right to the results.
Remove icons showing you already watched videos if you want to start over.
Make the video wide, narrow, full-screen, or pop the player out of the page into its own window.
Click on text in the transcript to jump to that spot in the video. As the video plays, the relevant spot in the transcript will be highlighted.