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101: Widening Tools Are Not The Secret To Getting Super Wide Mixes

If you've been trying to compensate for a lack of width in your mixes by using magical ‘widening’ plug ins on your mix bus, this episode is for you. 

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What we talk about on this episode:

  • We explain why there isn’t "wider" than your pan knobs will give you. Only the illusion of wider. 
  • Why abusing those tools leads to phase issues
  • Why trying to achieve the width on the mix bus is not the way to go about this
  • What perceived width actually is
  • Alternative (and better) ways to achieve wider mixes
  • Why making the mix brighter can also make it sound wider
  • Why a solid center can make things sound wider 
  • Why you should be especially careful with your low end when you're using wideners
  • Why width is a production decision and shouldn't only be addressed in mixing & mastering
  • Tools you can use to check for problems and properly compare your width to reference material

Some Of The Tools/Plugins We Mention On this episode:

ADPTR Metric AB

Soundtoys Microshift

iZotope Ozone Imager

Any correlation meter (your DAW probably has one)

Book A Free Coaching Call With Benedikt:


This episode was edited by Thomas Krottenthaler.

Benedikt's voice on this episode has been recorded with the Antelope Axino Synergy Core.


Automatic Episode Transcript — Please excuse any errors, not reviewed for accuracy (click for full transcript)

TSRB 101 Automatic Episode Transcript — Please excuse any errors, not reviewed for accuracy (click for full transcript)

[00:00:00] Malcom: just learn and embrace the basic core principles, rather than trying to do all of this weird stuff, and if you just focus on that first and then experiment going, you're going to kill it. 

[00:00:28] Benedikt: Hello, and welcome to the self recording band podcast. I'm your host, Benedick tine. And I'm here with my friend and cohost Malcolm Owen flood. Hello, Malcolm. How are you?

[00:00:37] Malcom: Hello. Good morning, Benny. I'm great, buddy. How are you?

[00:00:40] Benedikt: I'm doing great. Thank you. If you're listening on or watching on YouTube today, I'm going to look a little different because I'm in the studio and not at home. And my camera is not as good here. So that's why different background, different quality. If you're 

[00:00:55] Malcom: have a 

[00:00:55] Benedikt: the podcast, that won't matter.

[00:00:57] Malcom: A similar lighting set up though with like the [00:01:00] nice kind of warm light in the background far. Right. 

[00:01:02] Benedikt: Oh yeah. Okay. Yeah. That's true. That's true. That that's true. It was not intentional, but you're right. Yep. Um, so, all right. Um, I don't know, we just talked. I feel like because we had this amazing, um, meetup just at the end of last week, which was pretty, pretty good. Pretty cool. 

[00:01:24] Malcom: Yeah, I think that is the banter for this week. Is that a, if, you weren't here on Friday, just the previous Friday, we did a, an online meetup with our community to celebrate our hundredth episode of the self recording band podcast, which is brick and sweet. If you ask me if you were there, thank you for coming. If you weren't, you missed out, it was a good time. 

[00:01:42] Benedikt: Yeah, totally. Totally. Yeah. That was a great time. That was a first for us an episode like this, but it was really fun yeah, by the time you listened to this episode, you've already had a chance to listen to, to that episode probably, hopefully. And uh, if you want to do. That next time with us. Like whenever we do [00:02:00] something like that, again, you're just trying the self recording bank community on Facebook. If you go to the surf recording band.com/. Then, um, you'll be redirected to our Facebook group and then you can, you can join us there and discuss episodes with us, ask questions, interact with your peers. And w you'll know when we do meetups or episodes like that again. And I think, yeah, that will, I hope that that will be more community interaction on the podcast as well in the future, because this is really fun. I think at some point we'll do something like that.

[00:02:32] Malcom: Yeah. If you're, I would be so surprised to meet somebody that listens to the podcast that isn't in the Facebook group, but I know they're out there. I know that there are people like that. but I like, I dunno what you're doing. If That's you you're missing out on so much, so much knowledge and stuff. Like so much of the conversations we have on, on the community group are so. So good. And it's just like a place to bounce off questions off of other other members and, uh, and Benny and myself as well. And, and our previous guests chime in [00:03:00] there as Well, sometimes, which is just amazing. Shout out to Diego on that front. He's just a guitar whiz. Um, so yeah. if you're a listener of this podcast, you absolutely should be in our Facebook group. 

[00:03:10] Benedikt: Yeah, totally. Totally. The self recording band.com/community. Yeah. Anything else you wanna tell us about your weekend or anything spectacular that happened between this meetup and today, 

[00:03:22] Malcom: Well, 

[00:03:23] Benedikt: before we move on, I know you always have something prepared, so I don't want 

[00:03:26] Malcom: not, not, really this time, other than to say that if you listen to that episode, we did a survey on, I think it's going to be in the edit of the episode, uh, on if it's like, it was like pizza versus beer. People had like the people that came on got to choose and. Beer wine or no alcohol at all. And pizza and beer just won by a landslide. Like it was a, it was no contest really. And, uh, I immediately celebrated that with pizza and beer on the following night. Very happy about that. That was a successful weekend for sure. But, uh, Yeah. otherwise laid pretty [00:04:00] low. Um, I did buy a plugin, but we're trying to talk about gear last, so let's just move on. 

[00:04:07] Benedikt: All right. All right. Let's do that. Yeah. By the way, I asked these questions like the pizza versus burger, and then be your worst wine or no alcohol at all. If you don't drink. I do that because I started that with my other podcast. At some point I didn't ask every single guest, but I asked it every, every night. and it's interesting because pizza and beer really seems to be the winning combination or like, I don't know why. I mean, 

[00:04:28] Malcom: hard to beat. 

[00:04:29] Benedikt: yeah. It's hard to beat. I mean, I think I didn't answer it at all, but I, my favorite is actually burger, so 

[00:04:36] Malcom: Oh 

[00:04:37] Benedikt: yeah. I mean, I like pizza, but I'm definitely a burger guy, so I'm always surprised to hear that 90% of all people prefer pizza, but like, that's just seems to be a thing.

[00:04:48] Malcom: Yeah. Yeah. I'm not gonna even engage. I have things to say, but I will not because this is not what our podcast is about. 

[00:04:56] Benedikt: no, no, no, no. Uh, yeah, exactly. [00:05:00] So if you go join the community and let us know what you prefer so I can keep my score there and like update it. All 

[00:05:06] Malcom: must be losing, you must be losing by a landslide after the results of that. A hundredth episode. 

[00:05:13] Benedikt: Yeah. Yeah. It kind of started. I have to tell that people, you just tested into the context because it kind of started because a lot of punk bands and especially pop punk bands, but punk bands in general have they showed the signs or merged the signs and stuff around pizza, like pizza. It's just a theme and yeah. And, and on the other hand, when I, when we play shows my. And we got to, to like clubs then we often like in our scene, there's a lot of vegetarians and vegans, myself included. And we often, very often actually get like vegan burgers, which is amazing. And it's just, yeah. And like, so. Everybody seems to love these vegan burgers are burgers in general and we always eat them. But at the same time, everybody seems to talk about pizza and have pizza on their shirts. And like in their emergency science and stuff, it just was, there was a time when that was just really a thing. So I started asking people what they actually [00:06:00] prefer, and it turns out that apparently nobody likes burgers, but everybody likes pizza.

[00:06:05] Malcom: Okay, hold on. But you've been asking pizza. Oh, sorry, listeners. We're still going here. I tried, I tried to get us off this, but uh, you said burgers or pizza, but you did not say vegan burgers or vegan pizza. And if that was the question, I would have 100% say vegan burgers for sure. 

[00:06:22] Benedikt: Oh, okay. Okay. That's interesting. That's okay. Yeah. That's that's a different angle. Yep, totally. Yeah. Anyway, 

[00:06:29] Malcom: Pretty much you're asking what is meat better served with? 

[00:06:32] Benedikt: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. True. True. That might be the problem of this question. Yeah. Okay. Anyway, let's move on to today's episode. 

[00:06:41] Malcom: Sorry. 

[00:06:42] Benedikt: Uh, yeah, sorry. Really. There's nothing to do with any of that. Today's episode is about mixing and specifically about widening and, uh, the, the use of imagers and widening tools and your mixes. so what we're trying to talk about is that that a lot of people try to compensate for a lack of. [00:07:00] By using widening plugins on their mixed bus, widening tools on their mix bus. So the, they think that makes needs to be wider. So they put something on their mixed bus to make it wider. We're going to check about why that is not the best idea often, and it's not the way it's not the solution to that. Um, if you have, if you feel like your mix is not wide enough, that is usually not the solution and what we're then going to talk about what you can actually do to make your makes a sound wider and what some, some better approaches to that, could look like. So that's what we're going to talk about today. And I know that this is something that a lot of people brought up when I did the coaching calls or when I do coaching calls. A lot of people say some things like I always put, I don't know, ozone imager or something on my mixed bus. And my mix is still don't seem as wide as my favorite songs. Why is that? And that question tells me that they think that the reason for those mixes, that they like why those are so big and why that, the reason for that is those widening tools. [00:08:00] And the answer is this is not the reason usually. So. They're trying to fixing the right problem, but that they approach it differently or we're on the wrong way.

[00:08:09] Malcom: I just want to read, like, Yeah. The title where you wrote down was widening slash imagers are not the secret to getting super wide mixes. Just to sum it up into like a single sentence there. Um, and you're absolutely right. People will throw often ozone, like you said, um, because it's like, it's like a. Uh, mastering mixed bus. Plug-in almost, I mean, it can be told to used on individual tracks and stuff like that, but that is, seemed to be what it's aimed at and what is advertised at and what a lot of tutorials are. Um, and presets are as well. But, uh, it's you just have to remember, you've got two speakers in front of you or on your head, and really that is the limit of your width. And both of those spots can be reached with up-and-up. So. If you're trying to get there without using the pen knob, that might be a first clue that we're, we're, we're doing something wrong. And, and for me, in my [00:09:00] experience with kind of seeing what we're talking about here, people trying to use wideners to achieve with, I often do see that I see like the overhead's panned out like 60% and then a Weidener thrown on the drum bus to get it the rest of the way.

[00:09:12] And it's like, well, that doesn't make sense. 

[00:09:15] Benedikt: Yes.

[00:09:16] Malcom: Um, and so, Yeah. it's the mixed. Especially, but, uh, actually maybe not, especially the next bus for sure, but on instrument buses, I see it all the time as well. Um, when the, the pen knobs haven't been utilized to do the same thing and you should always use the patent ops first, in my opinion, 

[00:09:32] Benedikt: Yes. I totally agree. I think a reason. Why people don't do it or do it like you just described where they would pan things halfway and then widening it and then widen it with it with another tool. I think one reason for that could be that they. I don't want the separation. Like they don't want different things left and right. They want everything everywhere. And then the overall picture is just wider. So I think that that could be part of the problem. So when you, for [00:10:00] example, you have a pair of overheads and you pan them hard, left and hard, right? It could be that, that the symbols, most of the time depends on depending on the overhead setup that you're using. But most of the time one symbol will be far to the left and the other, another one will be on. And maybe people think that this is bad and they want the high hats everywhere, but then they want everything still wide. And that, that's why they do it. I think that, that could be a reason for it. I had it sometimes when people sent me multiple backing vocal tracks and I would pay. Apart like left and right. And spread them out over the, the, the stereo field. And then, they would get back to me and say like, no, just don't pan the backing vocals, just use a widening tool to Biden them, but leave them like left and right. And, and I'm like, oh, okay. That's interesting. So maybe people think that it's not okay to have something just on one side. And that could be a reason for, for that. I don't know, but I, I assume this is the case.

[00:10:53] Malcom: And it told the could be a valid reason to try and do something different for sure. Just most of the time, it's not [00:11:00] most of the time, it's totally fine. Especially with drums because you're going to have crosstalk between your overhead pair anyways. It's it's already doing that job for you, um, by like actually that's, I think that's important to touch on by panning your a space pair, you know, typical overhead setup by panning it hard left. You are still what we're hearing still sounds like it's pen in because the left mic is hearing stuff on the right side. And the right mic is hearing stuff on the left side. It is doing the same thing as when you pan something slightly in it is introducing volume into the other channel. Right? So if you do that with a set of guitars that have been double tracked, you were kind of creating that effect of crosstalk in a way. But with drums it's already there for you. So even if you're a hard pan on drums, you're still getting that cross. 

[00:11:45] Benedikt: Yeah, totally. And what happens when you do instead of panning, when you do a lot of widening, you get this big. Sort of sound that's often in pop productions. You hear that a lot where you have a couple of cents and everything is like [00:12:00] everywhere. Like everything is stereo and big and wide, but there there's this point where. At some point, it doesn't sound wide anymore. It's just, it's just a big mano. It's like, it is not really monitored, so it's sort of wide, but it's not really wide because left and right. It's still sort of the same. And that, I think it's far more interesting and also wider to actually have different things on the two coming out of the two speakers, except for the stuff that's supposed to be. Mano. it's, it's also a balance. So maybe some elements of your mix can have some widening, like a synth or something that's not really organic or real sounding, but if you do that to everything, it's actually not going to get wider. It's just going to sound like a, uh, a huge mono thing, sort of.

[00:12:39] Malcom: Right. Yeah, no, I told the agree yeah, separate track instrument. It's always going to like doubled instruments, always gonna sound wider because you have different frequencies, different performance, so different timing, different transits, everything about it is different. And that is what creates stereo with. So when we're using an Weidener, it's actually trying to do that [00:13:00] for us. It's trying to. Send the information to both sides and change them slightly so that we perceive differences between the left and the right. If there wasn't any difference, it would sound like motto, right? Yeah. And we told the, encourage you to, uh, to try this out, just grab a guitar track or. Duplicate it entirely don't change anything and just pan it left up time. One, one of. them left the original and then pan the duplicated one. Right. And see what it sounds like when you play them. It'll sound like it's coming right up in the middle. It'll sound dead motto. And that is a mistake. Every beginner first-timer makes they think that they can just copy and paste the track over now it's doubled. Yeah. it doesn't work. It's still motto our ears. Hear the same information from both sides. It is now coming up the center. Um, so that's important to understand. Now the next thing that a beginner will do is time delay. One of the sites. I think that fixes it and it does something, but it doesn't fix it. And your, your brain eventually catches up. And that's another thing that some of these whitener tools do, they delay the signal. So it's kind of doing that for you. And then [00:14:00] the next thing you could do is grab an IQ or processing of some kind and change one of the sides, the bank different than the other. And that's going to increase the effect of it sounding more like a double, so that there's something on the left and something on the right and not just the one track of the middle, but it's still not that great. So essentially. Those two ideas of delaying and then changing the frequency response is what wideners do. Um, and they do do something they're just not great. 

[00:14:30] Benedikt: Yeah. Yeah. You, by the way, you've just answered a question from our community. I think because yesterday we had this question in the community where somebody had. if you could, instead of double tracking guitar, if you could just copy it and then change the sound on one side, use a different amp SIM or something, or ramp it through a different end or something like that. And he read that in some, some forum. And yeah, as you just said, you could do that, but it won't ever sound as wide as a real double. And you could introduce some weird phasing issues, especially when you collapse it to [00:15:00] mano. When you listen to the phone or something, or a Bluetooth speaker or something like that, it could get really weird. So it's never going to replace a real double and yeah, that's just, you'd be basically answered to the right right there. The thing is, what I find interesting is what you wrote in our outline here is that there isn't wider than your pan ups will give you only the illusion of wider. So that's interesting. So how so I totally get what you, what you say here, what you mean there, but how can we explain the two out of this? And it's like, wow. Why would you make something wider than like the physical limit of our speakers or headphones allow us to receive like,

[00:15:36] Malcom: yeah. I mean, generally I don't,

[00:15:40] Benedikt: yeah. 

[00:15:40] Malcom: use the patent OBS and that is my width. And then I'll I, if I want it that the sound wider, I have to make the rest sound narrower, um, is kind of how I think of it. And I treat that hard, left hard, right. As the width. And that will, that does the same thing. So if you monitor what things where you reverse and then go 100% wide on the course, it's going to sound massive on the course. [00:16:00] It's all context. You know, but. In theory, you could be a hundred percent wide and then try sneaking in a Weidener for a part or on a, on an instrument or something for that one part to see if it does seem wider. And it might, it, it totally might. But it, I don't know, maybe just, just the genre music I'm working on. And like, I just don't like the sound of a Widener's do a lot. Um, so just, you know, like the cost of a whiner is that it messes with your face. And it kind of smears the tightness of everything. So there there's totally a cost in my opinion. And our brains generally catch up with it. If you sit there listening to it, it just starts sounding less and less. Cool. As you listen to a widened instrument, it starts sounding less wide it's. It's totally bizarre, but I encourage you to do. And, uh, so that cost is why I try and work the other way around. I use my pan knobs first and then I will try and narrow things do to make sure my [00:17:00] wide parts seemed wide. 

[00:17:02] Benedikt: Yeah, absolutely great, great approach. You said something about it's mirrors things. So what are. What, what do you need to understand is that a widening tool always messes with the phase. That's part of why it's, it sounds wider. And this might might work. If you listen to on a, on a, like a stereo set of speakers, that's, well-positioned in front of you, or you're listening on headphones, but as soon as you collapse it to mano, or even, maybe it doesn't work well, and you think it works well, but it will do something with, with the phase and especially with the center of the image. So w what I want to say, I think. When you widen something, you'll listen to you'll listen for the effect. On the sides, you'll listen to the things that actually get wider and you probably don't focus as much on things like the kick drum, the standard and the vocals and stuff like that. But that stuff also gets affected. So what happens is it might get wider and you might, or like it might sound a little wider. But you're sacrificing a solid [00:18:00] center, a solid low end, a solid, like the most important part of the information of the song, like the groove, everything th th the bass drum, the kick, um, like the bass guitar, the kick drum, the vocals, the snare drum, everything that's in the center. If that stuff is really solid and it's a clear. Like Phantom center between your speakers. If that's really solid, everything on the side seems wider and the whole mix is more clear and defined and it's like, we're punchy, there's clear transients. And when you use widening tools, not only the stuff on the sides gets pushed out further. The center is not a solid anymore. It kind of could be that the, that the drums disappear into the background could be that the snare has less punch, could be that the vocal is not as upfront anymore. And you might not notice him immediately, but when you do an AB test, this, this could become pretty obvious and it, the cost of widening could be that the most important part of your mix is actually suffering and that's not worth it. I think.

[00:18:57] Malcom: Totally. Yeah, absolutely [00:19:00] agree. Okay. So not a lot of good, good reviews on widening so far. But I feel like I should say that I use it every mix. 

[00:19:10] Benedikt: Ah, yeah, yeah,

[00:19:11] Malcom: Um, so when do I use why the need, um, and I wonder if this is going to be the same for you, Benny, but for me, It's almost always on individual channels rather than buses or on the mix bus. 

[00:19:24] Benedikt: yeah.

[00:19:24] Malcom: The only time I ever used it on the mixed bus hilariously is to, to narrow things. Good widening tools also allow you to mano frequencies, so do the opposite. So we'll, we'll touch on that. I'm sure a little bit, but, but common places for me to use. Widener's is on things like backing vocals, especially if I get a mano backing vocal where it hasn't been doubled and I want it to sound like it's coming to the sides, that's kind of a work around and I've come to embrace that. It is a sound in itself. So every once in a while I will get. The Doubletrack backing vocals and decide to instead artificially go with the [00:20:00] fake sounding thing, because it sounds different. Um, and in some cases that's cool. Uh, I also like to you throw wideners on things like keys often So, so a micro shift by sound toys. I'm sure we've mentioned that on this episode. That's kind of my go-to for that, but there's, there's a bunch of different ones. But Yeah. I like to use it on individual things sometimes like a Amano lead guitar might sound cool if it's widened and just sounds a little more stereo. For a fact, I guess, so I treat it more like I'm inserting a guitar pedal, like a chorus guitar pedal or something on, on an instrument rather than trying to make my, my mix sound different. It's like, I'm trying to change the, this one sound to be something else. 

[00:20:43] Benedikt: Yeah. Agreed. I think that trying to do it all on the mix bus is not a good idea. And that is the same for almost everything. Like you wouldn't do all of your compression chest in the mixed bus or all of your human system, them express. So you wouldn't do all your imaging or writing decisions just in them express you do it on the [00:21:00] individual tracks. You're totally right. Yeah, those applications are kind of the same that I use it for. There's a couple more. So I use it also on almost every mix. I, I have to say, I sometimes even use it on them express, but if I do or on the, in, uh, when I get, when I, when people send me stuff that I, um, to master sometimes if it's, if I really feel it's like too narrow, I might do a little bit of it, but I'm very careful about phase. I might do like an elliptical filter after it where I mano the low end again. So I might compensate for that too, to make sure I have a solid center and low end. And if I use it, it's not like. I crank it all the way up. I use five to 10% max or so on an isotope widen or something like that. So it's a very subtle thing. And I always try and listen for the side effects as well, and then compensate if necessary. So it's a very subtle thing if I do it, but sometimes do it. But I totally do it for the same reasons that you just described. One application would also be sometimes it's cool to have a bass guitar that is [00:22:00] typically mano. Sometimes when we do the split thing that we often described on the podcast, sometimes I take the upper part of the base, like just the, the, the upper mid range or the, the pic attack, like the, really the, you know, the, the bright part of the bass guitar. Sometimes I sent that to an additional, like to send to an ox effects, track, and I might. Uh, chorus on there or a widening plugin and widen it just a little bit and blend that back in with the bass guitar. And that kind of makes it blend better with the guitars on the sides. So I leave the low end alone, but I split up and I widened the top end of the base sometimes. So that's one thing that I do, and that's not really just widening that's mono to stereo and then widening basically D the isotope widen or image or whatever it's called is really great for that, because. take a stereo signal and just make it wider or narrower, or you can like do this weird mono to stereo thing, stereo wise, I think it's called. And then you widen it. So I do that sometimes on base, but I leave the low end [00:23:00] alone and sometimes I do it on keys SSL. For example, when, when, when bands sent. Let's say a Hammond organ, for example. And there's like, just know, and it's just a mano signal for whatever reason. And I really don't feel like it, it fits the center really in the central really well. There's the bass guitar. There's the vocal, there's the drums. And I really don't know where to put it, I suppose. Make it stereo and then widen it just to make it a little bit left and right of what's going on in the center. Um, that's something I like to do or same with strings. Sometimes people send me stuff in mano that I would rather have in stereo. And then I do things like that just to, so I don't have to put it on one side and you can still make it wider.

[00:23:45] Malcom: So we said that widening kind of smears things and that in this case, like the case of a mano, Oregon, that's coming up the middle or strings that are just like, where do you put this thing? It just pokes out no matter where it is, because it's a violin, they're very, our ears are tuned to that frequency, [00:24:00] um, by smearing it, and now it comes kind of from everywhere and nowhere at the same time. And that's desired in this case. Right. On an individual instrument. That might be exactly what you want. You don't want your whole mix bus to sound like that now, do you? 

[00:24:13] Benedikt: exactly. Exactly. Exactly. By the way that's, that's, that's a little off topic, but that is what some of those Dolby Atmos mixes, when folded to stereo sound like to me, that is that in fact that I sometimes get like this weird smeared band and a small club thing, I don't 

[00:24:31] Malcom: Yep. I agree. I think that fat it's going to die out 

[00:24:35] Benedikt: yeah, 

[00:24:36] Malcom: or even who knows, maybe it'll just get better, but, um, 

[00:24:39] Benedikt: yeah. That's a different topic. Yeah. 

[00:24:41] Malcom: different topics. 

[00:24:42] Benedikt: Yeah. So let's, let's talk about how you can actually achieve a white mix, if not, by using wideners on the mix bus, like what are some techniques that actually work better? Or in addition with a subtle widening maybe?

[00:24:55] Malcom: For sure. Okay. Well, the first thing I want to say is I think people are too worried about this, um, [00:25:00] because they they're like, alright, we gotta use a different, like, you know, change the, the knobs on the amp before we check the right side and then put it back and check the left side and like spend all this time doing that. The truth is that most people don't do that. And it ends up plenty wide. Um, the differences in like for a guitar, for example, the differences in performance are going to give you plenty of. I think and you, you can, you know, change the cue on one side and it will sound wider. So you have that option, but I think most of the time you don't really need to even be thinking about it. Um, it, it, it will be plenty wide, uh, now, um, so, so, so how do we make it wider? I think we did say it already, but one of the things that I like to do is try and make other stuff narrower, I guess. So like for low end is kind of actually where I'm headed with this. You can kind of use it using ozone imagery. You could go in and just make the low end of your mix narrower. Um, and again, I would recommend that over trying to make [00:26:00] something wider and that's a pretty common move for me is to monetize my. 

[00:26:05] Benedikt: Yeah, so no narrowing stuff to make other things appear wider is definitely the way to go. It's all context, as you said, also. Being intentional with, we also kind of said that already, but like being intentional with what. Widen. They could be part of an individual instrument like with the base or could be maybe you want to widen a bright layer of guitars, but not the whole guitar bus. Maybe there is a solid, um, load tuned, rhythm guitar, whatever, like leave that alone so that it has all the punch in the D sounds. Clear and in fat and punchy and all that, but maybe there's a layer on top of that with an effect on it already, that doesn't suffer as much if you widened and smeared a little bit, and then you just widened that or you add an octave above and then you widen that. And that way all the guitars sound a little wider. Maybe you can just take individual parts of layers [00:27:00] and widen them while leaving. The most important part of it alone. So that could be, that could be an option. I think if you've mixed well, and if you, so with mixed, well, I mean, Usually we try to keep the low end information in the middle and we, the stuff on the sides usually doesn't have a ton of like sub information. That's not true for every single genre, but like in our, the rock world, usually on the sides is not the. Based heavy stuff. And if you did it like that, if you have your left lesson, right, you have your base kick drum and stuff in the middle and the guitars are not too, Woofy not too muddy, like filter properly and there's space for everything. If you then on the mix bus, increase the brightness a little bit. If you make the whole mix a little brighter. It might also become a little wider because you're bringing up the stuff that's already on the sides. Sure. Like the snare and the vocal will also get brighter, but the symbols, the guitars, the strings, whatever you [00:28:00] have on the sides already, that stuff will come up. The low end will stay as it is. And that might give you the perception of a little bit wider mix. That's what a lot of mastering people do. So they will, they would just brighten the mix and through that, it will appear wider. Or they'll just brighten the sides. If you have a mid-sized queue, that's a little more advanced, but you can just add top end only to the site information, which is also a form of widening, but it will leave the important stuff in the center alone. So.

[00:28:26] Malcom: Yeah. Yeah, totally. I think so much of the concern of width and, and, you know, people trying to figure out why their beginner mixes don't sound wide is balancing. You know, you might have your guitars that are out to the sides, turned down too low, and all you need to do is turn them up a couple of DB and by their pan to the side. So if you make them louder, your mix gets wider, right? The side information is your way. So if you just remember that and make sure that they're loud enough or they're balanced DQ wise to, for us to hear them the way you want, that's going to do So. much for you. 

[00:28:59] Benedikt: [00:29:00] Yeah, absolutely. And also. That if you have a good separation between the central and the sides where. There, there, there are no phase problems where the stereo image and the overheads and everything is correct. So that stuff is that that's, that's supposed to be in. The center is really center. Then everything that's on the sides will also sound a little wider because there's this perceived gap. But especially if you use like LCR panning, there's this perceived gap between Centra and sides and the more solid your center is, the wider. Everything else will seem if the center is. Often like the snares, a little to the left and the kick a little to the right. And like, it's not really so solid. It might seem a little narrower overall, but there's these mixes that are, that can sound really cool where you really have this narrow solid center. And then you have these super wide guitars on the size and basically nothing in between that is probably the widest. Something can sound and that can be achieved without widening tools. That's just a really good. [00:30:00] Mixed with a clear separation between the elements and like the mix end with a really solid center, I 

[00:30:05] Malcom: Yeah, totally. That's such a good argument for LCR again, and LCR for anybody that doesn't know is just left center. Right. Um, so those, you pretend those are the only three places you can place things when you're panning, it's hard left up the middle or to the right. Most people will break that rule with the Toms,

[00:30:22] Benedikt: Yeah.

[00:30:22] Malcom: but, uh, but that's it otherwise it's, it's that? And I would say 99% of my mixes do follow that. Exactly. So. Yeah. by having your note, your, your double check guitars, heart laughed and heartbeat. They are not smeared. There's no crosstalk between them. And that does create the separation from your, your center channels. There there's this, they have their own worlds now. And so hilariously, I think by using LCR, panning versus panning in a little bit. So there's crosstalk and then using a Weidener a whole bunch. It's actually going to sound less wide because that crosstalk is making things narrower. 

[00:30:58] Benedikt: Yeah, exactly. That could [00:31:00] totally happen. Also, there are clever tools, um, that are like multi-band, wideners where you can just widen the top end or the mid range and not the base, for example, which is cool in theory, and can work well and oftentimes works better than widening everything. But the crossovers in there, the filters in there, they create those crossover. And yeah, like the whole thing, the whole processing that this thing applies can actually also be a trade off that you don't want. So you might just be widening the top end, but because of the filter that you're adding, maybe your snare drum transient is all of a sudden smeared or something like that. So you always have to be careful about those side-effects and as it just said, it could be that you want to make things wider, but it actually gets narrow because of the crosstalk that you introduce that can totally happen.

[00:31:48] Malcom: Told totally. Yeah, I'm always fighting for LCR as a starting point.

[00:31:53] Benedikt: Yeah, me too. Me too. Another approach that could work is not actually widening, but [00:32:00] taking something away from the sides to make things appear wider. So that means what I just said. When usually you have. The low-end information in the S in the middle and the, the mid range. And the top end is also in the central, but like the sides have more mid-range top end and less low end. But if there is a ton of low end information on your sides, for whatever reason from the room or that's something, I hear a lot where people just don't feel the room mix, or they have really Woofy Boomi guitars and enters, and the low end or something like that. If you filter that stuff out on the side, And leave it in the center that might make your whole mix appear wider as well. So you might just have too much low information on your sides, and that's why your mix doesn't feel really wide. But if you filter out low and on the sides with a mid-sized queue, for example, in improved. Uh, Fairfield filter, procure. You can add a low cut, but only to the sides. So if that's what you have to do, I would do it on the individual instruments as well. But if, if the only thing you [00:33:00] can do is do it in the mixed bus, then instead of widening, I would try filtering low end on the sides first, then maybe brightening the sides, um, making sure that the solid to the center is really solid. And that will give you a wider mix, I think, than, than trying to again, grab it all and widening it all. So maybe cutting low end on the sides of the way.

[00:33:20] Malcom: Right. So, Yeah. I absolutely agree with all of that for sure. I think though, we've been talking in the context of mixing. 

[00:33:28] Benedikt: Yeah. 

[00:33:29] Malcom: And, and fixing width in your computer, in the box or, or with hardware, whatever you use, but we're talking about doing it inside your computer, where in reality, I think that with is totally 100% a production decision. Um, and yes, we manipulate it all the time in the, in the box, but really you should be thinking about this while you track. So now the important thing to remember is that with equal stereo, Right. And so while you're recording, if you want to have a wide mix in the end, you want to have a lot of [00:34:00] stereo elements in your mix. So let's start at, Durham's do our overheads, a, an X, Y when they're just, you know, center of kit, the capsules are touching pretty much, or is it a space pair? And they're far away from each other now. The further away they are from each other. Obviously they're going to hear different things that is creating more of a stereo image because are those differences equal stereo and that equals width. So by just making that decision of X, Y versus a space pair, you've made a width decision on your entire drum kit sound right. Um, guitar. Is it just one guitar or is it two separate guitars or is it one guitar with two different apps that we've covered? Those are the more different from each other. That sound is the more width you can have. The more stereo it is. Right? So two different guitar performances, parent hard left and right is going to sound way more stereo than one guitar. Um, or, you know, like we said one guitar recorded with one app or the doubles recorded with a totally [00:35:00] different guitar. That's going to sound even wider. Probably too wide and there's going to be, and actually, you know, those intonation issues between using two different guitars to double track and stuff like that, that is also going to make it sound wider. It will sound wider a hundred percent. It just might not also sound the way you want. So there's definitely too much of a good thing. But the point being is that these, the more stereo and different the things are the more wide it's going to sound. And you should be deciding this as you record. 

[00:35:29] Benedikt: A hundred percent. Yeah. She has the same as true for yeah. If you double it all or not like these, these are the things that you obviously have to decide while you producing. And I think that's, so that's why it's so important that people, when they track and produce this, there, there songs that you also. Always had a ha should have a basic rough mix and panning going like you should, you should be able to hear what the final thing will sort of sound like, like not the final Polish sounding mix, but like where things will go in the [00:36:00] mix you should listen to, you should know what is left, what is right, what is center? And you should try and make those decisions as you track. Just like just set an outcome and not. The record, everything in mano and then send it off. And then the first time you hear it in stereo is when you get the mixed bag, that's not a good approach. You should do that while you track and then make decisions based off of that, I think. Yeah. So that's a good point. That's a, it's a, it's a production decision for sure.

[00:36:25] Malcom: Yeah, I just wanted to point out a good tool. It's not free. I don't believe. And it might even be a little expensive, but maybe not, but, uh, there's a tool called metric AB which allows you to do. Import mixes, you know, like any song that you have on your computer, you can just drag it into the sink and visualize all sorts of stuff. You can see, like it's, EEQ curb. You can see it's a stereo width across the frequencies. And that's really what I wanted to talk about in this. You can do a bunch of other stuff, but the width is the cool thing in this case, because you can pull it up and look at the song and see how mano the different frequencies are in it. Um, and you can compare [00:37:00] that against your own. Because it's a plugin. You just throw it in on your doll, on your master bus. So you can switch between your, your song and their song, whatever song you've loaded in and see the differences, um, and kind of get an idea of, okay, they went, you know, wider, like their, their top end is showing way wider than mine. What's what's happening or they're, they're, they're low end as much tighter and more of the middle than mine. Okay. I need to figure out why that is. It's a, it's really illuminating. 

[00:37:26] Benedikt: Yeah, totally, totally. The visual aspect of it. I think that's something we should talk about really quick. Because. Yeah. Some of it is, most of it is always is listening to it and listening to the side-effects. But that might be hard to hear, especially when you're just starting out. You might not be really able to hear the subtle differences in phase or like smearing transients and stuff like that. But there are tools that let you meet. The those side effects on those phase problems, at least to an extent. So there's metric AB, as it just said, you can compare it to your favorite [00:38:00] songs and then you can make the connection between what you hear and what you see. But there are also basic metering tools that almost, I think every door has probably, there is something called a correlation. Um, that you can just use on any stereo track or your mixed purse. And what that does, what the correlation meter does is it shows a zero in the center and then there's plus one on the right and minus one on the left. And there is a moving thing that moves between left and right somewhere. And if that thing is sitting between zero and plus one, That means there is no like really, really bad face canceling going on. Like that's, there's nothing that will cancel entirely when you fold it to mano. The, if, if the thing sticks all the way to the right, what you're listening to is really mano. That means that left and right is, are exactly the same. And the two speakers are moving that are, are making the exact same movements, so left and right. The same will sound will come out of the. If it [00:39:00] sticks all the way to the left two minus one, that means that left and right are identical. But one of the two is that has the polarity flipped in verse, like there's 180 degree polarity flip going on. So that is total cancellation and will sound very weird in mano. It will be silenced and a stereo will sound very weird. And it's, if it's in the middle, that's sort of like, let's say you have a single source because in a mix, there's a lot of things that. Th that are going on. So it might not be really easy to read the sort of meter, but on a single individual channel, like let's say you you've, you've taken this mano, Oregon, and you've widened it. And now it's a stereo thing. If the correlation meter sticks at zero, that means this is the widest. It can be without weird canceling if you fold it to mano. Um, if you, if the, if the meter. To the left side of the serial mark, then you're already, already losing information when you listen to it and motto. And if it stays to the right of the [00:40:00] zero, you're basically fine. I mean, your ears have to decide that, but if you're not sure, or if your, your speakers are set up in a weird way, then you can use tools like that to double check if you're actually losing information, if you're taking it too far, especially when you're waiting, when you're widening individual parts of your mixed individual instruments.

[00:40:18] Malcom: Right. 

[00:40:20] Benedikt: Yeah. And I would always use these tools to just learn what those effects actually sound like. So I don't think that a correlation mineral will be very useful on a mixed burst because there is loud mano information going on. And even if something in your mix is really out of phase, it might still show you a positive value. So it's difficult to use on the mixed bus, but there's a. It could be a cool learning tool. If you just put it on an individual track and then you gradually widen it, widen it, and you watch the meter. And then you listen to what happens as the meter moves towards the left side. And what happens when it crosses zero. And what happens when it reaches all the way to minus one. And you just get a feel [00:41:00] for what out of phase and too wide actually sounds like. And then you might be able to spot those effects also on, on the whole mix at some point. So I always think of these tools as like learning tools more than.

[00:41:12] Malcom: Yeah. that's fantastic. I agree learning tools. I haven't used a meter like that in ages, 

[00:41:20] Benedikt: Yeah, 

[00:41:20] Malcom: it's there and it's cool that it is there. Um, 

[00:41:23] Benedikt: Yeah, I use it in the, in the isotope Weidener thing, the image, because it has one built in and if I take a thing and do the stereo eyes, and then I widen it I kind, Alison of course, but I also look at it and, and I try to, yeah, I try to basically train my ears to be able to just spot when it just, when I take it too far. And yeah, 

[00:41:41] Malcom: Yeah, that's fantastic. Totally, totally. Yep. Good idea. Check it out that plugin, if, if you can, I'm sure some doors have some kind of, you know, phase metering built in as well. so. you could just look up your, your software that you already have and see if you have something that will kind of help with that as well. but metric AB definitely a fantastic. 

[00:41:59] Benedikt: [00:42:00] Yes, metric AB for so many reasons, I recommended all the time. Also a great learning tool, but yeah, it's an great overall referencing tool for 

[00:42:07] Malcom: All day. All right. So yeah, I think the key takeaways from this is to number one, you know, build your productions and recordings with width in mind. And, and listen to other productions. You like, like, if you like, how something sounds and think it sounds huge and wide figured out why this listen to it and think about what they've done and how it's tracked. That makes it sound that way. Right? I'm, I'm so amazed by how many people. Are blown away with the idea of double tracking a guitar when I'm like, all you listen to is bands with double track guitars. Like what did you think was happening?

[00:42:41] Benedikt: Yeah. Yeah. for 

[00:42:42] Malcom: Um, so, so yeah, analyze your favorite songs a little bit more and figure out what you like about. And then, yeah, and that is the biggest thing. Like we talked a lot about in the box, but really the out of the box stuff that the recording engineering part is the huge deciding factor of what. And then [00:43:00] LCR embrace it. Love it, try that. And you can always pan in from there. And then start using wideners as needed again, we really recommend the approach of treating it like a guitar pedal or something where you're just throwing it on individual elements to change how it sounds and thinking of it more as an effect than a width. And I bet you're going to have pretty good. All of that said, I do want to say that like a few months ago, my buddy, Matt sent me a mix that I love is one of my favorite mixes right now. And he used whiners all over it. We went through his plugin. It's like his, his session on a little, uh, call using audio movers, which is like a streaming software thing. And, uh, we just had a great time looking through it and, uh, Yeah. he did everything that I don't know. Yeah, tanning guitars Lynn use wideners to make them wider at certain parts and stuff like that. And it sounds incredible. He's one of my favorite mixers, so it can be used at to a great result. Absolutely. It told the Cambie. But you [00:44:00] really have to be careful, I think, cause I think there's a lot of room for air. Um, and the hidden cost of these things might not be apparent if you're not kind of trained to watch out for it. So, so be careful. I just think your default shouldn't be to go for them. 

[00:44:14] Benedikt: Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. Um, there's a place for whiteness, for sure. Definitely. As always. And, and rules are meant to be broken as well. I've heard, I've even heard cool records with intentionally out of phase base. That's been widened as like, you know, like, of course, why not? I've even heard. There's a cool interview out there with Andrew chefs who, who made a mixed. I think it's one of the bands he released on his own label and they did, they even managed. And I don't know how that's impossible because when you go to vinyl, when you masterful vinyl, having the low end mano and avoiding phase phase issues in the low end is typically crucial because it can make the needle jump out of the. The groups, you know, like, uh, and, and there's technical problems that, that come from doing that, but they managed [00:45:00] to make a record where the base and I mean, the low end part of the base is completely out of phase. Like, it sounds really weird when you listen to it, but it's intentional and they made that work even on the vinyl records. And there's an interview where he describes the process. So they intentionally did the opposite of everything we just talked about. There's no solid center and low end it's out of face base. And it even works on a vinyl record, which is kind of crazy. So do whatever you want, if you know what you're doing, if it's intentional and like, so yeah, so, but it's cool that you said that because we're not telling you that you can't use wideners of 

[00:45:35] Malcom: Totally. Yeah. Told her, you know, they, they, they can be awesome. And again, that mix, I just love it so much. Um, 

[00:45:41] Benedikt: Is it the math that I know as well?

[00:45:43] Malcom: I don't know. 

[00:45:44] Benedikt: Which met? Can you say 

[00:45:46] Malcom: It is it's Maddie D I always grew up as his real last name. Cause he's mad. He'd be on everything. It's Matt D pumpkin tonino. Uh, yeah, yeah, of course. Yeah. Yeah. He, was in our mastermind group. Yeah. I've totally forgot about that. Um, 

[00:45:58] Benedikt: Exactly. He sent me a really [00:46:00] cool snare sample at some point.

[00:46:01] Malcom: Yeah. Yeah. He makes amazing stuff. He's, he's probably, you know, my top three engineers period. Um, and, uh, and, uh, yeah, he did about a song for a band called sleep shake. That's is so Cool. Two songs actually that are just really, really, really great. Yeah. And Yeah. great guy all around everything about Matt. I love. Um, and, uh, yeah, so I had something else there. Uh, there was the. Yes. you can use it. Oh, I, you know, early in the podcast, I think we mentioned something like this, um, like way back, I think we were talking about drums and it was that if you just learn and embrace the basic core principles, rather than trying to do all of this weird stuff, like. You know, using a phone on your snare mic, like a phone Mike has here, like, you know, doing all this weird, crazy stuff and you got 18 new mics pointing out a piano or something with all the keys taped down for the key of the song and stuff like that. But meanwhile, your overheads are out of phase and place terribly. And, and you've got like [00:47:00] there, Tom bike pointing out the ride and shit like that, you know, like there's really simple stuff that you hear over and over again. And if you just focus on that first and then experiment going, you're going to kill it. It just makes so much sense to go that route. So don't be like, oh, I'm going to like widen this and then duplicate it and have a mono version. And like all this crazy stuff. That's just messing with all your phase and you don't really understand it yet. Just like go okay, LCR. I know that it's going to be phase coherent. I know that if I don't use a widener and do a double track performance it's going to be more phase coherent as well. Just pretty much maintain phase as your first rule of thumb. And then if you were like, Hm, this doesn't sound weird enough. I'm going to try widening it. That's a good way to go. If that will yield a safe and good results. 

[00:47:45] Benedikt: Yes. A hundred percent. And, and then, um, I think sometimes people just also like confidence, so just know that you can trust your ears and your taste, even if you're not that experienced. I think just to some degree [00:48:00] you can, you can trust your ears and just do what sounds good to you. And when in doubt, you can just try and experiment. So before you're asking yourself a question for days, like. Should I just copy this or actually Doubletrack it, or should I use a Weidener or should I instead pen stuff really wide. Just try it, just try and see what it sounds like. Just use a Weidener and then go all the way with the panning. Do a double, like. Yeah. Track your guitar, track another take of your guitars. So do proper double tracking or just copy it over and manipulate it and see what both of those versions sound like. And then you'll, you'll hear the differences. And then when you compare both of those results to your favorite songs using metric AB or something like that, then you'll know what those people probably did. So sometimes you can just answer your questions yourself really pretty easily. If you just experiment and try those things out. And then you, you, you just, you can be confident and trust your ears and just know that yeah, you, you can do it. It's not, [00:49:00] it's really not some, some weird magic or, or rocket science. Oftentimes it's just trying out what works, comparing it to your favorite songs and training your ears like that. Yeah.

[00:49:11] Malcom: Yeah, that's it just, uh, put in the work, play, you know, remember your core principles and, uh, and I think you're going to have good results from this. 

[00:49:21] Benedikt: Yes. Maintain. What did you say? Maintain phase? What was your first 

[00:49:25] Malcom: phase correlation. 

[00:49:27] Benedikt: yes. 

[00:49:27] Malcom: and, and that's just a good rule in general, you know, uh, if you do you maintain phase, you're going to be a happy camper and anybody that has touched the mix after you've tracked it or done anything is going to be happy to. 

[00:49:40] Benedikt: Yep. Totally. All right. That's it for today? I think. 

[00:49:44] Malcom: Yeah, 

[00:49:45] Benedikt: Cool. Thank you for listening and see you next week. 

[00:49:50] Malcom: The next. 

[00:49:51] Benedikt: Bye-bye.


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