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Is there anything to be gained from "stereo-izing" a mono source?

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Is there anything to be gained from "stereo-izing" a mono source?

Postby feline1 » Tue Jul 24, 2012 3:51 pm

This is a mastering question, I guess.

Say I have a mono room recording of a gig (anything really, from an orchestra to a rock band) - it sounds good, and it has plenty of natural ambience and reverb. But it's in mono.

Is there anything to be gained by applying some kind of stereo effect? (e.g. a bit of stereo comb filtering, or that Bob Katz thing where you put little short early reflections on either side)
This will make the sound stage sound "wider", but only by differentially splaying out various frequencies... it that actually going to only ever just bugger up fidelity and make things sound worse? Or is that an aesthetic judgement and just something down to taste?

Or, all other mastering treatments and tweaks being equal, would it be wiser to just leave it in mono?

Your opinions please...
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Re: Is there anything to be gained from "stereo-izing" a mono source?

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Tue Jul 24, 2012 4:00 pm

If done right it shouldn't bugger anything up, but it is entirely subjective and aesthetic and a matter of taste. Obviously, it won't really be stsreo, but if done carefully it can create a sense of space which may well help the material to sound more natural to many listeners.

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Re: Is there anything to be gained from "stereo-izing" a mono source?

Postby feline1 » Tue Jul 24, 2012 7:51 pm

I think maybe in the past I have been overzealous with "stereo width" plugins for no good reason other than "cos I can"... which can make for a bit of a smeary mess rather than a subtle sense of being "more natural" ...

...I guess it also depends a lot of how "big" the original is (by which I mean, how many combined sources and instruments there are in it) and how much natural ambience it already has on it.
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Re: Is there anything to be gained from "stereo-izing" a mono source?

Postby SafeandSound Mastering » Tue Jul 24, 2012 8:58 pm

A smidgen of very high quality reverb can sometimes be just enough, it happens on occasion when a client delivers a mono track that cannot be re-mixed/was recorded mono etc. which sounds odd amongst a set of stereo tracks. Exactly what will work may need some experimentation. In any event, and with irony, watch your mono sum compatibility. In any event go easy with it anything extreme could start having undesirable consequences for fidelity.

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Re: Is there anything to be gained from "stereo-izing" a mono source?

Postby alexis » Wed Jul 25, 2012 3:46 am

I've read that the early 60's had a pseudo stereo, where they would eq two copies of the mono track differently and pan.

This made me look it up, and I found this article which addresses your question at least in part, especially near the bottom:

http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/oct00/a ... reomix.htm
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Re: Is there anything to be gained from "stereo-izing" a mono source?

Postby shufflebeat » Wed Jul 25, 2012 8:11 am

It does open up the use of very subtle IRs for which I would otherwise struggle to find a use, particularly those which give the impression of significant distance where stereo spread is a feature of the reverb rather than of the soundsource.
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Re: Is there anything to be gained from "stereo-izing" a mono source?

Postby feline1 » Wed Jul 25, 2012 8:19 am

SafeandSound Mastering wrote:A smidgen of very high quality reverb can sometimes be just enough, it happens on occasion when a client delivers a mono track that cannot be re-mixed/was recorded mono etc. which sounds odd amongst a set of stereo tracks.

Ah good point, yeah - the switch from stereo to mono would sound odd in the middle of an album, particularly on headphones.
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Re: Is there anything to be gained from "stereo-izing" a mono source?

Postby SafeandSound Mastering » Wed Jul 25, 2012 10:18 am

I usually keep such a reverb very short and adjust the M/S balance or Width of the return and tend to use a HD convolution reverb. I use the unlikely titled Wizoverb W2 (now discontinued) it's nothing less than incredible.

You ears/phase correlation meter will be your friend here, 2 I know of for free, Flux stereo tool and Voxengo Span has one.

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Re: Is there anything to be gained from "stereo-izing" a mono source?

Postby Martin Walker » Wed Jul 25, 2012 11:51 am

Sometimes even some early reflections can help, by simulating the walls, floor and ceiling of the room without adding a longer reverb tail.

Many reverb plug-ins let you separate the ER from the main tail.


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Re: Is there anything to be gained from "stereo-izing" a mono source?

Postby Folderol » Wed Jul 25, 2012 4:35 pm

Very interested to hear the replies here. I still have nightmare memories of late 1960s attempts to stereo-ise that were so bad I immediately re-mono-ised them

Hmmm. I wonder how many hyphens you can put in a word
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Re: Is there anything to be gained from "stereo-izing" a mono source?

Postby Flow Mastering » Wed Jul 25, 2012 4:37 pm

feline1 wrote:This is a mastering question, I guess.

Say I have a mono room recording of a gig (anything really, from an orchestra to a rock band) - it sounds good, and it has plenty of natural ambience and reverb. But it's in mono.
Or, all other mastering treatments and tweaks being equal, would it be wiser to just leave it in mono?


In the context of an album. if all the tracks are mono and the same recording (gig), I would leave them mono. The problem arises if you have stereo tracks and suddenly a mono one. Very strange listening experience, particularly on headphones. Whenever I have to master an album with a mono track in the middle of it (usually a mix bounce error) and there is no possibility of getting a stereo version, I generally use the Waves PS22 plug-in which creates different slices of EQ and pans them L&R (with lots of options to choose), as it does not add reverb. it works pretty well as long as you don't go aver the top with it and check for phase issues.
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Re: Is there anything to be gained from "stereo-izing" a mono source?

Postby dubbmann » Wed Jul 25, 2012 8:45 pm

i just have to ask ... what is a mono room? i mean, hugh and martin have responded without derision, so i know it must make sense, but just not to me. do you mean a plug-in that's mono? if not, then i'm at sea. a real, physical room is a spatial filter, meaning it has 3 spatial dimensions and 1 temporal dimension (unless one subscribes to string theory, but i have yet to see a ten spatial/1 temporal dimension IIR/FIR filter ;-). what the heck is a mono room?

inquiring minds...

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Re: Is there anything to be gained from "stereo-izing" a mono source?

Postby zenguitar » Wed Jul 25, 2012 11:23 pm

dubbmann wrote:what the heck is a mono room?

A bedsit?

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Re: Is there anything to be gained from "stereo-izing" a mono source?

Postby Martin Walker » Thu Jul 26, 2012 7:56 am

dubbmann wrote:i just have to ask ... what is a mono room? i mean, hugh and martin have responded without derision, so i know it must make sense, but just not to me. do you mean a plug-in that's mono? if not, then i'm at sea. a real, physical room is a spatial filter, meaning it has 3 spatial dimensions and 1 temporal dimension (unless one subscribes to string theory, but i have yet to see a ten spatial/1 temporal dimension IIR/FIR filter ;-). what the heck is a mono room?

inquiring minds...

d


Hi dubmann!

I think your lateral thinking filter has kicked in a bit too early

What feline said in his original thread was a "mono room recording of a gig" i.e. a recording made [color= blue] in a room[/color] in mono. What we're trying to so here is turn this mono recording into a pseudo-stereo one by adding some (admittedly spurious) room reflections and possibly reverb tail.


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Re: Is there anything to be gained from "stereo-izing" a mono source?

Postby feline1 » Thu Jul 26, 2012 3:04 pm

Indeed. Would it make things any easier if I revealed that the "room" in question was actually the Royal Albert Hall?
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Re: Is there anything to be gained from "stereo-izing" a mono source?

Postby SafeandSound Mastering » Thu Jul 26, 2012 4:25 pm

Oh that changes everything, make it sound round.

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Re: Is there anything to be gained from "stereo-izing" a mono source?

Postby Dynamic Mike » Fri Jul 27, 2012 12:45 am

I read an article a few years ago about a guy having problems using classic mono tracks in a modern TV series because the jump from stereo to mono was clunky. If I remember correctly he duplicated the track adding an exciter fairly heavily, then ran this through an early reflections reverb and mixed a tiny bit of the 100% wet reverb signal back into the original. I always intended to try it on some old vinyl but never got around to it, so I've no idea if it's worth the effort.

Also there was a SOS article a year or two ago about a chap doing restoration of old tracks which I think discussed this.
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Re: Is there anything to be gained from "stereo-izing" a mono source?

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Fri Jul 27, 2012 9:23 am

feline1 wrote:Would it make things any easier if I revealed that the "room" in question was actually the Royal Albert Hall?

We used to use an old mono Proms recording to demonstrate stereo-effects processing when I was training at the Beeb. Using a fake M-S process worked remarkably well on that kind of material.

Take two feeds of the mono track, and route one equally (panned centre) to the left and right outputs as the Mid signal. Take the other feed and high-pass filter it to remove everything below about 150Hz (not that critical -- adjust to taste), then delay by about 80ms. Again this delay time isn't that critical and can be adjusted to taste. Longer delays (up to about 150ms)make the space sound bigger.

Split the delay output into two and feed one to the left output, and flip the polarity of the other and feed to the right output. These two are the fake Side signal. Adjust the relative level of the two side channels (together) to achieve the required degree of stereo width. This arrangment is entirely mono compatible becuase the two side signals will cancel out when summed to mono to leave the original track completely intact and unadulterated.

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