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What's your go-to stereo widening plugin?

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Re: What's your go-to stereo widening plugin?

Postby Matt Houghton » Tue Nov 17, 2020 10:08 am

The Elf wrote:
Sam Inglis wrote:I don't use them. I just hard pan things in the first place and that seems to make the mix plenty wide enough.
+1 This is all it takes.


For some styles that works. But some others demand outside-the-speakers stuff.
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Re: What's your go-to stereo widening plugin?

Postby Rich Hanson » Tue Nov 17, 2020 10:48 am

Don't use it very often, but I find the Quad Image from T-Racks can be useful occasionally - it's multiband: I have a couple of synth patches that I like which have a lot of stereo info but can be quite wayward in the low end, so I use it to pull the low frequencies into mono.
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Re: What's your go-to stereo widening plugin?

Postby The Elf » Tue Nov 17, 2020 10:53 am

Matt Houghton wrote:
The Elf wrote:
Sam Inglis wrote:I don't use them. I just hard pan things in the first place and that seems to make the mix plenty wide enough.
+1 This is all it takes.
For some styles that works. But some others demand outside-the-speakers stuff.
I've never done it and I've never been asked for it. Not once.
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Re: What's your go-to stereo widening plugin?

Postby Luke W » Tue Nov 17, 2020 11:32 am

I'm also in the "don't use it" camp, but that's probably got as much to do with the sort of material I usually work with as anything. I do a bit of M/S processing now and then, but the only times I've tried dedicated "widening" plugins I've not been much of a fan of the result.
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Re: What's your go-to stereo widening plugin?

Postby Sam Spoons » Tue Nov 17, 2020 12:53 pm

Only slightly OT, can anybody point me at a tutorial on panning? Interested in the pros and cons of hard panning compared to 'realistic' panning.
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Re: What's your go-to stereo widening plugin?

Postby ManFromGlass » Tue Nov 17, 2020 1:27 pm

This sounds like it would be an interesting can of worms to open.
For example - how would one define “realistic” panning? If I’m sitting way up in the rafters beside the sound system because I’m too cheap to buy a regular ticket then that would be my panning reality for that band. And then which perspective is good for the drum kit? And on
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Re: What's your go-to stereo widening plugin?

Postby Zukan » Tue Nov 17, 2020 1:49 pm

I use Pan Knob by Boz Digital as it has a selectable crossover frequency.

You can use any of the BX range of mid/side tools with mono maker functionality. Keep low frequencies mono and work the sides....
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Re: What's your go-to stereo widening plugin?

Postby desmond » Tue Nov 17, 2020 1:56 pm

Zukan wrote:You can use any of the BX range of mid/side tools with mono maker functionality. Keep low frequencies mono and work the sides....

Generally, if I widen, I either do like the above - say, the widener in Ozone, and I'll generally widen the upper mids a smidge bit, and the top end a bit more for the sparkly stuff - as long as it doesn't sound bad or mess with the mix too much, and I'll leave the mids and below as they are are. It's just a small subtle push out as part of the last polish.

*Or*, instead of on the mix, there may be a part, maybe a synth pad or a special effect or something, and just on that part I'll use S1 to push out beyond the speakers a little bit - it gets it out of the way of other things, and widens the apparent sound stage without having too many consequences or having to process the entire mix.

And yes, there are different tools that use different techniques for widening - many of them do sound dreadful, and are best avoided. There are other good ones around though, I just tend to stick to these ones as I know their sound and behaviour...
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Re: What's your go-to stereo widening plugin?

Postby The Elf » Tue Nov 17, 2020 1:59 pm

If I sat a tambourine on one speaker and hit it with a stick, the sound would originate from that speaker's position. In what sense would panning a recorded tambourine into that speaker be 'unnatural'?

Wide panning is not 'unnatural', but in context it can sound that way, especially in headphones - and especially when dry of ambience. The trick is to use what you know to either mitigate or exploit these things.
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Re: What's your go-to stereo widening plugin?

Postby ManFromGlass » Tue Nov 17, 2020 2:13 pm

Musing out loud - so back in the day, did those early Beatles tunes sound odd with the extreme panning? Was that panning more the exception rather than a rule? I can’t remember any other tunes panned that way, but I didn’t have a true “stereo system” until much later.
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Re: What's your go-to stereo widening plugin?

Postby desmond » Tue Nov 17, 2020 2:15 pm

ManFromGlass wrote:Musing out loud - so back in the day, did those early Beatles tunes sound odd with the extreme panning? Was that panning more the exception rather than a rule? I can’t remember any other tunes panned that way, but I didn’t have a true “stereo system” until much later.

The Beatles tunes were in mono, for the most part*. There was no panning.

From what I remember it was only for re-releases/remasters in stereo that the remixers made a *choice* to present them like that. An odd choice that I would not have made...

* I wasn't born in this era, so I don't have intimate knowledge of every Beatles record ever made, so pinch of salt and all that, later ones may have been in stereo perhaps
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Re: What's your go-to stereo widening plugin?

Postby The Elf » Tue Nov 17, 2020 2:24 pm

When stereo first appeared it was a while before the industry figured out how to use the two speakers - those early Beatles mixes were simply one guess.

In the context of my example above... a drum kit has natural width, so panning the entire kit to one speaker will sound subjectively odd. Panning a single drum of a kit to one side won't be so jarring.

When I'm panning a kit I hard pan *overheads* (and ambient mic's), then I match the panning of the (mono) close-mic's to what I hear in the overheads. Mono overheads leave me feeling sad! ;)
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Re: What's your go-to stereo widening plugin?

Postby blinddrew » Tue Nov 17, 2020 2:50 pm

::: contemplates repeating himself :::

::: decides there are better uses of everyone's time :::

;)
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Re: What's your go-to stereo widening plugin?

Postby CS70 » Tue Nov 17, 2020 5:08 pm

The Elf wrote:In the context of my example above... a drum kit has natural width, so panning the entire kit to one speaker will sound subjectively odd. Panning a single drum of a kit to one side won't be so jarring.

Not a particular disagreement or anything, but just a though - isn't a drum kit having a certain width only when you are playing it, or you are the singer in front of it? Or maybe at the pub if you're sitting very near..

From where the audience sits in anything but a very small place, the "width" of all that's on stage is fairly limited. I mean, I don't hear a big difference if the guitar amp is on the left on the right (when I'm off stage). And PAs are generally mono? When I switch on the Auratone and turn to face it, the drums are very much mono but I ain't particularly jarred :)

The other day in the car I listened to an old 70s song (dont remember which, but it's super famous) and it really hit me how the mix had for example the floor tom panned completely on the side.. it was very strange! I had never noticed before.

I mention because if I want to get that epic left-to-right movements of the toms (which I love) I always really need to work hard for it. And then plenty people go and listen on mono speakers! :D
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Re: What's your go-to stereo widening plugin?

Postby The Elf » Tue Nov 17, 2020 6:21 pm

CS70 wrote:
The Elf wrote:In the context of my example above... a drum kit has natural width, so panning the entire kit to one speaker will sound subjectively odd. Panning a single drum of a kit to one side won't be so jarring.
Not a particular disagreement or anything, but just a thought - isn't a drum kit having a certain width only when you are playing it, or you are the singer in front of it? Or maybe at the pub if you're sitting very near.
I listen to the kit as the overhead mic's heard it. The distance from overheads to drums will dictate the panning of the close mic's, so the further away the overheads, the less the close mic's will need to be panned to match, since the angle is lessened.

In other words it's a situation of capturing the sound you want at source. If you want the kit to be less wide (and hence more distant) then place the overheads further away.

Of course, I'm deliberately over-simplifying here! Let's leave mic spacing and angles for another day...
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