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Need help with deconstructing a mix and learning what is going on…

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Need help with deconstructing a mix and learning what is going on…

Postby sosman288 » Tue Apr 17, 2018 1:15 am

Hello. I'm a jazz musician and home recording enthusiast. I'm trying to teach myself to create more professional sounding mixes. I use an app to hear what is coming from the left and right speakers, to identify the pan positions of each instrument. When I listen to a recording, like First Circle by Pat Metheny, I notice that almost all the instruments are, generally, coming from both speakers. If they are panned to one side, it is not by much. However, there is still a very apparent, and full, stereo effect. I don't know how to identify what is going on. Are there ways to deconstruct the mix to learn what is going on? I would like to understand how instruments are positioned in these types of mixes. Thanks.
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Re: Need help with deconstructing a mix and learning what is going on…

Postby CS70 » Tue Apr 17, 2018 7:23 am

sosman288 wrote:Hello. I'm a jazz musician and home recording enthusiast. I'm trying to teach myself to create more professional sounding mixes. I use an app to hear what is coming from the left and right speakers, to identify the pan positions of each instrument. When I listen to a recording, like First Circle by Pat Metheny, I notice that almost all the instruments are, generally, coming from both speakers. If they are panned to one side, it is not by much. However, there is still a very apparent, and full, stereo effect. I don't know how to identify what is going on. Are there ways to deconstruct the mix to learn what is going on? I would like to understand how instruments are positioned in these types of mixes. Thanks.

Not sure what you mean with "stereo effect", but if you have two speakers, it'll be stereo :D

I don't have that record here, but if it's more than just having the sound reach your ears with slightly different timing and reflection patterns, the general techniques that come to mind are mid-side treatment, panned reverbs, or phase widening or some of the many stereo-oriented boxes and plugins around. What specifically do u mean?
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Re: Need help with deconstructing a mix and learning what is going on…

Postby saxpiano » Tue Apr 17, 2018 7:30 am

I'm in the same boat on all counts. And that's a fantastic recording. I know there are numerous forum threads online about the "ECM sound" and there are even some featuring at least one engineer involved in many of the sessions. As you may know, their sound has been criticized as sterile by some but I love it and it makes up the majority of my vinyl collection. I hope you find more answers to this question from those more knowledgeable than we are, as my mixing skills are crap and really need some help. My quess for the phenomenon you described is that stereo widening effects may have been applied to tracks or the entire mix, maybe during mastering. And even as a keyboard player using stereo samples quite frequently, I often struggle to hear explicit differences between the left and right tracks, though they definitely exist and synergize with each other beautifully. So I'd bet that tracks like the drums, piano, probably Lyle's synths and maybe guitars are tracked in stereo, though you might not be able to hear the differences clearly between L and R in the mix.
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Re: Need help with deconstructing a mix and learning what is going on…

Postby Tim Gillett » Tue Apr 17, 2018 9:06 am

To me First Circle is a beautiful track in so many ways. How much of that is because of the stereo mixing? It's interesting to listen to it in mono, or switching between stereo and mono. For me the stereo definitely adds to listening enjoyment but there's a limit to that contribution. To me it still sounds great in mono, perhaps because most of what I hear in stereo is basically still there in mono, perhaps the sign of a good, solid stereo mix, and generally a great piece of music, recorded and mixed well.
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Re: Need help with deconstructing a mix and learning what is going on…

Postby sosman288 » Tue Apr 17, 2018 11:58 am

To CS70, I was referring to my impression that the track seemed to have a lot of width. The stereo field seems very full and broad. Yet, both sides of the stereo program are not disimilar. I’m wondering what exactly is causing that. Is there is a slight delay to one side of the stereo program? Are there tools to measure and confirm that, like we have for spectrum analysis? I can’t tell what is going on, using just my ears. I am wanting to learn from this mix. Thanks.
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