I recently ripped a live performance of a song which I really liked.

I was converting the ripped song to an appropriate format, intending to title it and plaster a alternate cover art on it when I thought to myself, was there a way to make it sound better?

Now, I am no sound engineer. I am sure with higher end tools and proper setting, a good live recording can be attained, as evident by all the live albums out there. But for a home user like myself armed with a simple software like Audacity, is there a way to fake the sound stage/stereo separation of a track?

While I am not looking to get a perfectly recorded stereo track, I am keen to know if there are little tweaks that will make a track sound cleaner without introducing too much noise or excessive removal of a track's dynamic range.

  • 1
    You should describe the problem better.. First of all , is the track stereo at the moment ? Secondly , you want to seperate the instrument in a way that when a guitar plays in the middle you want it on the right? or just 'stretch' the given stereo image (if there's one)
    – frcake
    Oct 2 '16 at 18:23
  • @frcake I just saw your comment, what would be the appropriate search term to do what you mentioned? (separating the instruments to left and right channels from the middle). The track is in stereo, but its just ripped straight from a stage performance.
    – Carrein
    Oct 9 '16 at 2:35

It depends what you mean by "cleaner" really. Is this a professional or amature recording? If you just want to improve the recording then there are many things you can try. EQing to get a better sound is probably the easiest. Stereo separation can be added or increased by using subtle stereo effects like chorus, delays and reverb or adding a slight distortion effect to the whole mix, then setting slightly different parameters for left and right. Remember that the lower frequencies are usually centred, and the higher frequencies are widened.

I've "restored" or improved bad cassette recordings. After the unwanted noise removal, I do things like split the spectrum up into four bands, adding relevant effects to each band and specialized stereo enhancement effects to the higher frequencies and reinforce and tighten the lower frequencies. In the end I have about 15 stereo and mono tracks, with crazy routing between them. With this many tracks you have to be well aware of phase issues and how to handle them. There's no reason you can't do this but on a smaller scale using Audacity. It depends on how much time you want to spend on it really.

There are many free vst plugins out there that you could use. They may not be as good as some of the specialized plugin suites, but you're only doing this for personal reasons.

Some simple things you can try is adding compression to the lower end to tighten it up, and adding some reverb to the top end to make it feel more spacey. You can then use EQ to bring out the frequencies you like and maybe enhance the midrange. Give it a try and see how it sounds. But if you have no clue what you are doing, you may find that you'll get lost pretty quickly and need to spend some time on it.

  • Thanks for the length reply. Ill look into some of these terms, and hopefully I can coerce something better from my track.
    – Carrein
    Oct 7 '16 at 0:33

My favorite approach is to force spread with a spring reverb with short decay. Set as a send/return to dial in how much you add... THEN play with mid/side eq. Gives you some nice width to work with.

I use valhalla ubermod.

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