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I was wondering if anyone had some tips for getting that kind of stereo feeling on specific sounds? Here is an example:

I love the way this track has been built as it varies continuously. I presume they are synths processed with different stereo parameters as you can hear that some of them are wider / narrower than the others. They are also panned in different ways.

How would you proceed to get that effect? Also, if you add a stereo plug-in on the master channel, how would it affect the processing on the single channels?

Thank youuu

  • Stereo is about short delays between the L/R as well as volume changes. Therefore if you send a channel 75% to the R, put a short delay (about 30cm) on it before it goes into L. Think about your two ears, a sound from the far left of the stage will hit your left ear before it hits our right ear. – Ian Ringrose Aug 28 '15 at 21:54
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It seems the effect you are looking to achieve is either chorus or unison (both basically work the same way though). Another alternative would to simply use a stereo expander, this would be best if the sample/synthesized sound you are using already has unison/chorus applied, or would not sound great with unison or chorus (ex. snare drum). There are plenty of free plugins that can do these three things. Google is your best friend :-).

  • What I'm trying to achieve is the following: If you listen at 1:30 you'll hear one synth in the centre / sounds like it's mono and then one which is way wider - then they alternate. Also, I'd love to understand how to keep the sounds consistent as if you spread them too much / make them mono they become less powerful. – Dan Apr 28 '15 at 13:59
  • Are you routing all your sounds through a single channel? Not a good idea. Each instrument should have it's own mixer channel and FX chain. That way you can control them individually. – Nelson Addison May 3 '15 at 14:20
  • What DAW do you use? Maybe it would be easier for you to understand me if I know that. – Nelson Addison May 28 '15 at 15:19
  • I use Ableton and I don't route all the sounds to the same channel, every channel has a separate chain of processing. – Dan Jun 3 '15 at 11:04
  • You could automate the stereo spread if that's what you mean by "alternate." And for power, you should be able to tell how good the spread sounds if you listen, trust me, it'll be evident. – Nelson Addison Jun 4 '15 at 16:38
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Stereo expander

If you put a stereo expander on the master channel, it will affect every channel on your mixer. You will have to add stereo expander like UpStereo to a single channel to expand a single sound.

Stereo separation

You could also use the stereo separation knob on the mixer (if the mixer has this function). For example: take three same sounding synths, pan one sound 25% left, one sound in the middle and pan one sound 25% right, connect the channels to one channel and turn the stereo separation knob to get a broader sound. Also you could add a stereo expander on the channel where the three sounds are connected to, to achieve an even broader sound. I prefer to use this as an extension of panning and eqing.

Definition of stereo separation

"Distinction or difference between the signals carried by the two channels of a stereophonic system"

  • I've already tried that but it results in the group being wider, not the single sounds having different effects. If you listen at 1:30 you'll hear one synth in the centre / sounds like it's mono and then one which is way wider - then they alternate. Also, I'd love to understand how to keep the sounds consistent as if you spread them too much / make them mono they become less powerful. – Dan Apr 28 '15 at 13:58
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One thing you could try:

  • Split the sound you want into 2 layers, Split the EQ into highs frequencies on one layer and low frequencies on another.

    Next add a chorus to your high frequency layer and play around until you have a chorus styled distorted sound (I usually set the dry/wet between 25% and 50% on the chorus).

Another thing you could try is:

  • If you are looking for a stereo styled effect (in EQ terms)

    You could browse through some EQ presets on your DAW, most DAW's have a radio styled preset which could be what you are looking for.

Hope this helps at all.

EDIT: I just noticed that I read the question wrong, you was referring to stereo width as oppose to stereo effect, I'll leave the answer here anyways in hopes of it being useful in any way.

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I have listened to the sound at 1:30.

What we really need to understand is not the name of the effect you want, but the fundamental principal at work here.

To get stereo width, you want to introduce asymmetry into the left and right channels for a particular sound. This can be done with chorus, a stereo width plugin, or manually. I find that manually creating stereo width can have the best effects.

So to try and achieve that sound, I recommend doing it manually. This involves the following steps.

  1. Make your synth.
  2. Duplicate it.
  3. Pan one all left pan one all right.
  4. Make left and right different.

So the magic will actually be in step 4. How do you want to make it different? You can pitch the left and right up or down very slightly. Or you could even use different EQing on the left and right.

OR

What I think is being done in this case, is that one track is slightly delayed. Ableton, for example, lets you specify a ms delay for any track. I recommend specify a slight delay in the left or right channel by 10 - 50 ms. Also you might want to try to EQ the left and right differently. Try giving a bump around 10khz for one channel.

EDIT: After more listens I even think that the left and right channel have slightly different synth patches. So they started with the same synth patch, panned one instance left and right, then changed parameters of one synth like ADSR and filter resonance.

But really what you need to remember is that stereo width is achieved by introducing asymmetry in the left and right channel.

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Another possible technique to consider: make one note dry, and give the other a small amount of stereo reverb. The amount of stereo reverb can be very small (so the difference is not that easy to hear) yet still function to spread out the sound.

I think that a chorus effect can also spread out a synth across a panning region, but the image may not be as stable--it might want to move around a bit depending on the chorus settings.

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