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How to learn from listening to mid and side channels in a reference mix

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How to learn from listening to mid and side channels in a reference mix

Postby armans » Sat Nov 21, 2020 8:40 pm

I am opening up a lot of my favourite music and trying to learn from the mix. I especially like to take sparse parts of the song as I feel they are more exposed and I can learn more about what was done to the individual elements to get them to sound so good together.

I seem to get stuck when listening to the side channels most as I can hear things but I am not sure I understand what they mean. Here is a link to two short clips. One is the full mix and the other is just the downmix of the side channel.

https://gofile.io/d/ekIbug

There is a guitar, a a vocal and some rides in the background in the side channel which obviously means that this is the difference between the two channels, or what is not panned in the centre. Most the width seems to be coming from the guitar but I also here the vocal in the sides. Does that mean that the vocal is panned? Or does it mean that the reverb is in stereo and that is what you hear in the side channel?
Also, is there anyway to make out how the guitar was recorded or how it was treated to get that stereo effect?
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Re: How to learn from listening to mid and side channels in a reference mix

Postby CS70 » Sat Nov 21, 2020 8:54 pm

If the vocals where panned, you would hear it clearly in the full mix. But they are firmly central in the second snippet.

So yeah probably the vocals are "stereo-ized" by something which creates a difference between the L and R channels - in that specific case maybe a combo of a doubling effect and stereo reverb (there's a kinda warbly/flangy sound in the Side channel), but there's gazillions of effects which may end up producing that effect, so hard to say.
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Re: How to learn from listening to mid and side channels in a reference mix

Postby armans » Mon Nov 23, 2020 3:40 pm

CS70 wrote:
So yeah probably the vocals are "stereo-ized" by something which creates a difference between the L and R channels - in that specific case maybe a combo of a doubling effect and stereo reverb (there's a kinda warbly/flangy sound in the Side channel), but there's gazillions of effects which may end up producing that effect, so hard to say.

Any ideas in what kind of doubling effect? Im curious because in mono I cant hear any doubling and you would hear it wouldnt you?
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Re: How to learn from listening to mid and side channels in a reference mix

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Mon Nov 23, 2020 4:23 pm

armans wrote:Most the width seems to be coming from the guitar but I also here the vocal in the sides. Does that mean that the vocal is panned? Or does it mean that the reverb is in stereo and that is what you hear in the side channel?

It sounds to me like there is a very light, mainly just early-reflections style reverb on the vocals, and that's a stereo effect appearing in the Sides component. It may be from a reverb machine, or it could be from the recording room via a stereo mic. But the main vocal is central.

Also, is there anyway to make out how the guitar was recorded or how it was treated to get that stereo effect?

If you listen to the left channel only, and then the right channel only, the staccato guitar chords sound quite different on the two sides. The right is noticeably brighter, so I suspect there were two mics looking at different parts of the guitar, probably with the neck mic panned right and the body mic panned left.

You need to remember that Mid and Side are just alternate ways of analysing the stereo image, but they won't tell you everything on their own. You also need to analyse the Left and Right channels too...
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Re: How to learn from listening to mid and side channels in a reference mix

Postby The Elf » Mon Nov 23, 2020 4:38 pm

armans wrote:Any ideas in what kind of doubling effect? Im curious because in mono I cant hear any doubling and you would hear it wouldnt you?
No, not necessarily. I often use a smudge of stereo detuning/delay and you wouldn't hear it overtly - it's just a tiny bit to add fairy dust and make the vocal sit forward of the mix - tiny, tiny amounts...
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