stereo imaging conundrum

Discussion in 'Drums' started by eatmyshoes, Mar 10, 2008.

  1. eatmyshoes

    eatmyshoes Guest

    hey guys. I have a problem the recent song we're working on. I don't know where to put the instruments. I have the following tracks, all in mono:

    drum overheads (only had access to one cardioid mic)
    lead guitar
    bass guitar
    synth pad

    How can I make this stereo?
    I have a lot of stereo reverb, and backup vocals panned left and right, but don't know what else to do... it doesn't really need a second guitar part so i can't really use that to pan that left and right. I was thinking of adding shakers but I really don't know what else can be done.

    Any suggestions would be great...
  2. Kapt.Krunch

    Kapt.Krunch Well-Known Member

    Nov 21, 2005
    I'm trying to imagine that.....

    Kick, snare and ONE overhead...not gonna get a lot of movement from those, unless you figure out how to get some space around that overhead, huh?

    Bass guitar...also down the middle.

    Lead vocal down the middle, backups panned?

    So far the panned backups are the only stereo elements...

    May double the synth pad and play with slight delays, and possibly even do the same with the guitar. Maybe the pan the synth pads far l and r, and the guitar a bit less?

    I guess you could pan the snare just slightly one way, and the overhead slightly the other, with the kick down the middle to see what happens.

    What's the drum kit look like?

  3. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    Mar 8, 2004
    Tacoma, WA
    Other than the standard panning (which would leave you with a primarily mono signal - which, BTW, is quite common - moreso than you'd think), here are a few tricks I've done to "enhance" the stereo imaging of tracks.

    Single overhead -
    Put a reverb on with a HPF so that it primarily catches the cymbals.

    With this extra signal you can either LPF the original (on a seperate track) and use the reverb track as your cymbals (which will sound quite wide - nice for an effect - annoying for an entire album). Or you can simply blend it lightly back in with your main overhead track. I would stick with a short early-reflection time - <10ms and a relatively short decay time (<1.2 seconds - maybe much less).

    For guitars -
    copy and paste - pull one of the guitars ahead between 5 and 10ms and the other back an equal amount. Pan left and right to taste (again equal but opposite amounts). This won't make the guitars sound very wide, but it will help to leave a slight hole in the middle for your vocalist who may be struggling to get over a hole drumkit, guitar and synth.

    Any chance the Synth was recorded in stereo??
  4. fourone3

    fourone3 Active Member

    Jan 17, 2007
    This is more of a question than a suggestion:

    Could he pan the guitar slightly, put up a reverb aux and pan it an equal amount in the opposite direction? Or perhaps to the snare instead?

    Then pan the synth in the opposite direction of the guitar just slightly?

    When you copy and paste, then delay the pasted track, are there any consequences when collapsing back to mono? Instead of delaying the track, what about putting a chorus on one, to give it a different type of separation?

    Again, just throwing things on the wall to see what sticks, and to satisfy my curiosity :)
  5. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    Mar 8, 2004
    Tacoma, WA
    Sure. The primary energy will still be on the side in which you panned the original guitar part, but it would give you some extra width. I wouldn't go too wide. Also - reverb on the will sound a little 80's ish...Def Leppard??

    Sure. This could help spread the energy a little. Again - great for effect, annoying over an entire album.

    Yes. If done improperly (too wide of a spread for example) you could have some pretty bad phase cancellation. Additionally, it could make the voice struggle when collapsed to mono. These are things that can easily be worked out while mixing by trying it in mono then switching back and forth while making minute adjustments.

    Sure. It's been done a million times. You won't get that much of a stereo spread though without some kind of delay.

    Was that you that did that with the booger in the restroom at the Outback Steakhouse? That was gross!
  6. fourone3

    fourone3 Active Member

    Jan 17, 2007
    Excellent. I'm definitely going to have to try these out, just in case I'm ever faced with this - I'll know where to NOT go

    Is liking 80's hair bands a guilty pleasure? If so, I'm afraid I am indeed guilty.
  7. taxman

    taxman Active Member

    Sep 22, 2006
    How was this done is the dark ages when mono recordings were reissued as stereo?
  8. eatmyshoes

    eatmyshoes Guest


    wow. so many great suggestions. Thank you all.

    The Reverb with HPF on the overheads is brilliant.

    I wanted to try the whole effects on left and guitar on right deal before. kinda like van halen used to do with delay...

    I was also thinking about creating a second synth pad (the one we have now is more of an effect thing) and pan them both wide.

    One problem with having the backup vocalists left and right and the main vox center is that the backup vocals stand out more than the main vocals because the musical space is wide open to the left and right.

    if you want to hear what I'm working with... here's the track with minimal compression, eq, and leveling, and only two vocal verses finished. kick and snare are too loud as well.


    track called pills.

    P.S. The vocals stink.
  9. BrianaW

    BrianaW Active Member

    Jan 10, 2008
    New York
    I use this sometimes, it might work for the overhead.

    "This VST plugin uses a six bands filter to spread a mono signal to "fake" stereo signal, it has panning+LFO on every band so you can make dynamic effects, you can make slow and subtle changes as well as making extreme panning modulation, it works great on drumloops and strings and it works specially nice on synths."

    Another idea would be to either copy a track or use a send and put a 100% wet room reverb on it with a really short attack and decay, so it sounds like it's just across the room a little. Then mix it low, and pan it to the right and pan the dry track slightly left (or pan to taste).

    Blueline chorus mixed lightly under the lead vocal might make it sound more lush too. All of the great suggestions in this thread should give you everything you need. Oh, and the vocal sound great to me bro. :)
  10. bent

    bent No Bad Vibes! Well-Known Member

    Oct 26, 2007
    Cocoa, FL
    Home Page:
    Cucco's advice is sound. Try it, you might like it.
    The only thing I'd add is an option that you already nixed - I'd record another track of guitars.
  11. eatmyshoes

    eatmyshoes Guest


    I tried using waves s1 stereo imaging vst at university studio and it sounded like it just added ambiance and when used waves stereo analyzer it didn't change the image width...

    I'm stuck. If you want here what I'm talking about... listen to imagine by john lennon (when his vocal comes in the piano shifts wide.) How do they do that?

    Also if anybody could tell me how "I'm Ready, I Am" by The Format accomplishes the wide stereo guitar in the intro that'd be really really great!! It's driving me crazy...

    here is a playlist with both songs so you can hear what I'm talking about, along with another song that I just really like the mix.
  12. I've never really noticed that with "Imagine" untill now but I don't see why you would want to replicate it?

    It sounds terrible to tell you the truth!

    My guess is that they simply panned most of the piano to the right as soon as the vocals started to make space for the bass on the left due to limitations and recording techniques of the time. Most of the Beatles tracks were done this way.

    I don't really have any tips on stereo imaging as I don't have enough experience.

    What I would say is for the drums you could have panned them the way the actual drum kit was possitioned, i.e.

    Kick - Centre
    Snare - Left or Right on the Kit
    Hi Hats - Left or Right on the Kit
    Tom/s - Left or Right on the Kit

    Then you could have played about with the Overheads to create a wider sound but your kind off limited with what you have already.

    I think the best bet is to play about with it and go with what sounds most natural to you.

    Listening to your track I would say the guitar part sounds ok how it is, to me it's the drums that need a bit of work. They are very faint compared to the other parts, especially the kick. The snare also sounds like a tin can.

    hope this helps;)
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