Educational Series: Width

Discussion in 'Mixing and Mastering' started by Giggity, May 21, 2019.

  1. Giggity

    Giggity Producer

    Jul 23, 2018
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    Subject: Width

    Plugin/s: Elysia Alpha Compressor (or any M/S enabled compressor)


    This has various applications: Drum-bus, vocal-bus, or the Master-bus. The same stereo compression principles apply here, unless otherwise stated.

    The procedure slightly defers depending on the application and taste, however, the mindset remains the same. I'll explain via case-examples, and hypothetical scenarios:

    In some cases, you feel the need to add more click to your kick drum while keeping everything else intact, this is where the mid compression comes in play. Contrarily, your percussion and cymbals, deserve to be slightly wider, however, not statically (read stereo widener effect), but dynamically. This is when side compression comes in play.
    Vocal buss:
    The mid section of your vocal, is typically the dry or at least close to dry with minimal space effects (read delays, reverbs) (in genres such as modern pop). after having everything set in the mix and you feel the need to bring the vocal slightly bit forward while leaving everything else intact. That's when you, surprisingly enough, turn to Mid-side compression.
    Now, two ways to approach this, you could follow the additive approach or the subtractive approach; meaning, you could increase the make-up gain of the mid channel after compression, or you could compress the sides more (subtractive approach). in determining which one is better, it comes down to application, if compressing the sides won't change the feel of the track, I'd recommend going with that subtractive approach that it's counter approach in order to maintain the tonal balance of your track.
    You'd want to give a dynamic width increase to the side channel, while also emphasizing the mids. Note that M/S compressor would come after your mix-buss compressor. The attack and release times should aim for a natural tone, while maintaining the signal integrity, meaning not affecting the transients.
    Synth-bus, Guitar-bus, etc.:
    All of the tips from above apply here.​

    Caution: There needs to be side information present in the mix for this work, you can't have a mono track playing and apply this technique.

    Comments: There's close to zero margin of error and guess-work present in this technique, particularly because everything you do here is mono-compatible. The only error that remains, is if you make the track too wide that'd lead to an unnatural sound. Additionally, M/S compression is a lot similar to M/S EQ as far as affecting mids or sides, but where tonal integrity is at stake, you will choose M/S compression.

    Care to contribute? Check out this guide.

    Educational Series: Depth.

    Edit: Consistent font format.
    Last edited: May 21, 2019
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  3. No Avenger

    No Avenger Audiosexual

    Jul 19, 2017
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    Subject: Width

    Plugins: Channel's pan pot, any kind of multiband stereo expansion tool, for instance AAY-Audio aMS-ToolsPRO, or even the DAW's stock tool (I think meanwhile they all have one).


    1. First spread the different sounds from hard left to center to hard right (check this with monitors and headphones). For instance don't use the same pan position for guitars and choirs.
    2. Reduce the width where necessary/appropriate. The more stereo sounds you use, the more you'll need to narrow them and set different center positions. This way you'll achieve a better separation which makes the mix more transparent. You can also center them, adjust to different width and lower the center a bit with a tool like A.O.M. Stereo Imager D.
    3. You can widen mono sounds with a delay, for instance sound left, delay right, or a ping pong delay for (more) centered sounds.
    4. Use stereo expansion only for a very few sounds in selective frequency bands above ~ 160Hz (that's why you should use a multiband tool).
    5. Additionally you can also 'counter eq' both sides. Means, raise for instance 2, 4, 6 & 8kHz and lower 1, 3, 5, 7 and 9kHz a bit on one side and do the opposite on the other side. Of course you can also use the opposite eqing for the same side and different sounds (and then the opposite for the other side - you can still follow?).
    6. You could, better say, should also narrow the frequencies below ~ 160Hz in the according instruments. This gives you more defined low frequencies.
      In every x.1 (and x.2) system the low frequencies of a stereo file are automatically routed to the subwoofer, so they are no longer stereo. This split frequencies varies, depending on the system, from ~ 40Hz to ~ 180Hz.
    Caution: Although it sounds very nice to expand especially reverb a lot, this can ruin the phase/mono compatibility very quickly. Clubs often play mono and if you overdo the expansion the sounds will get drowned or are completely lost.
    Last edited: May 21, 2019
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