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Disappearing synth pad in mono - any tips?

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Disappearing synth pad in mono - any tips?

Postby Murray B » Thu Jun 10, 2021 7:20 pm

Hello all,

I've been gradually working on the tips given to me from the last mix I put on here for feedback and a new improved version is just about done :D

However, I thought I'd do a quick check on what the mono version sounds like - mostly fine, but my super wide phasing synth pad pretty much disappears when in the mono version of the mix.

So far I have tried changing the polarity of the synth's left channel - this improved the mono level a little (not as much as I hoped) but the result doesn't sound anywhere near as good as the original noise in stereo.

I am suspecting that one of the causes of the problem is that I boosted only the 'Side' level of the synth sound to push it to the edges of the mix and leave space for the other instruments, if this is the case then is there another way of getting the width that would be more mono compatible?

Is there anything else I could try?

Thanks in advance.
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Re: Disappearing synth pad - sum to mono any tips?

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Thu Jun 10, 2021 7:32 pm

Murray B wrote:my super wide phasing synth pad pretty much disappears when in the mono version of the mix.

Yes, it would. The clue is that it's 'super wide' which means most of the signal is carried in the Sides component, and very little in the Mid component. When summing to mono the Sides component is discarded, hence your problem.

I am suspecting that one of the causes of the problem is that I boosted only the 'Side' level of the synth sound to push it to the edges of the mix and leave space for the other instruments, if this is the case then is there another way of getting the width that would be more mono compatible?.

As explained above, if you put stuff only in the Sides component you inherently lose mono compatibility. No way around that.

So, you either:

1. reduce the width a bit to find a happier compromise,

2. or you blend in a little of a similar -- but different-- mono pad to give an acceptable (slightly different) sound in mono,

3. or you could try a phase rotator on one channel of the stereo pad. A 45 degree rotation may achieve what you want.

4. Or you could try introducing a short delay to one channel of the stereo pad, taking care with the value not to introduce obvious comb-filtering colouration in mono.
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Re: Disappearing synth pad in mono - any tips?

Postby Murray B » Thu Jun 10, 2021 9:16 pm

Thanks for taking the time to explain this Hugh and for the advice,

I'm still a novice with this stuff especially with the whole Mid/Sides thing and I still don't really know what I don't know yet...

I will try all of the above options and see what works best in the A B between the Mono and Stereo versions, every day's a school day :D
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Re: Disappearing synth pad in mono - any tips?

Postby Eddy Deegan » Thu Jun 10, 2021 10:10 pm

Murray B wrote:I'm still a novice with this stuff especially with the whole Mid/Sides thing and I still don't really know what I don't know yet...

Murray, you're not alone. I sort of get the the mid-side thing but in practice I could well find it difficult to identify the symptoms if summing to mono, which is something I do occasionally but need to do more of.

I'm continuously working on getting my engineering skills up to speed but much as I hate to admit my shortcomings on that front I'll always be more a performer than an engineer. Years of working on the engineering has definitely yielded great improvements but there is plenty I still need to learn and/or become familiar with.

Taking to heart the advice from folk who have done engineering for as long as one has done performing is humbling and enlightening in equal measure ;)
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Re: Disappearing synth pad in mono - any tips?

Postby Ben Asaro » Thu Jun 10, 2021 10:28 pm

Eddy Deegan wrote:much as I hate to admit my shortcomings on that front I'll always be more a performer than an engineer.
Oh dear, I guess that makes me a well-intentioned noodler, as I can’t even play the instrument I’ve been writing in for the past 4 years. :D
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Re: Disappearing synth pad in mono - any tips?

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Thu Jun 10, 2021 10:35 pm

Eddy Deegan wrote:I sort of get the the mid-side thing but in practice I could well find it difficult to identify the symptoms if summing to mono, which is something I do occasionally but need to do more of.

This is one area where the BBC's old A/B M/S twin-twin PPM was so useful, and why being able to monitor the stereo difference signal on a monitor controller makes identifying and solving this kind of issue so much easier!

An audio vectorscope or Lissajous display is also very helpful for spotting this kind of thing.
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Re: Disappearing synth pad in mono - any tips?

Postby Eddy Deegan » Thu Jun 10, 2021 10:40 pm

Hugh Robjohns wrote:An audio vectorscope or Lissajous display is also very helpful for spotting this kind of thing.

Duly bookmarked, along with a couple of notes for reference. Thanks Hugh :thumbup:

Ben Asaro wrote:Oh dear, I guess that makes me a well-intentioned noodler, as I can’t even play the instrument I’ve been writing in for the past 4 years. :D

I've heard your work Ben - you're comfortably past "well intentioned noodler", that much I can say for sure :-)
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Re: Disappearing synth pad in mono - any tips?

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Fri Jun 11, 2021 9:12 am

Eddy Deegan wrote:
Hugh Robjohns wrote:An audio vectorscope or Lissajous display is also very helpful for spotting this kind of thing.

Duly bookmarked, along with a couple of notes for reference. Thanks Hugh :thumbup:

Although there are plenty of plugins and interface/DAW displays that can provide audio vectorscopes I much prefer an external hardware meter, just because it doesn't take up screen space, never disappears, and it's always viewable at a glance.

Arguably the best value on the current market is the TC Clarity M which is a really versatile, well designed meter that includes a vectorscope display and the TC Radar display for loudness evaluation. It's available in stereo and stereo+5.1 versions and I highly recommend it -- buy it now before Uli decides to stop TC from building it!

The stereo version is around £225 and I've seen the 2+5.1 version for under £300 online.
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Re: Disappearing synth pad in mono - any tips?

Postby The Elf » Fri Jun 11, 2021 9:19 am

+1 for the TC Clarity.

Yes, you can do it other ways, but I find that having the Clarity just sitting there doing its thing all the time means you reference it more often, even for simple curiosity.
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Re: Disappearing synth pad in mono - any tips?

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Fri Jun 11, 2021 9:45 am

Quite so... and the thing about vectorscope displays is that it takes time to learn how to intepret what you see and relate the display shapes to what you're hearing. So having the meter in the corner of the eye or just a glance away all the time really helps.
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Re: Disappearing synth pad in mono - any tips?

Postby Eddy Deegan » Fri Jun 11, 2021 10:09 am

One will be turning up here on Monday :D
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Re: Disappearing synth pad in mono - any tips?

Postby The Elf » Fri Jun 11, 2021 10:23 am

Eddy Deegan wrote:One will be turning up here on Monday :D
Having a tactical display is one thing, but having your own logo on there is far more important! :D
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Re: Disappearing synth pad in mono - any tips?

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Fri Jun 11, 2021 10:44 am

Show Off! :lol:
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Re: Disappearing synth pad in mono - any tips?

Postby Eddy Deegan » Fri Jun 11, 2021 11:03 am

:D :clap: :thumbup:
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Re: Disappearing synth pad in mono - any tips?

Postby MarkOne » Fri Jun 11, 2021 1:01 pm

I haven't actually tried this but an engineer who's opinion I value once told me about a widening trick with a graphic EQ like the waves 32 band GEQ that preserves mono compatibility

On the left channel you cut every even band and on the right channel you cut every odd band, and then make up the overall gain.

The idea being that you end up with elements of the signal in the left channel and the missing elements in the right channel.

Like I said I have never actually tried this but perhaps luminaries with bigger brains than I could chip in on the practicality.
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