The main reason in wanting a wider mix is quality of the finished track. If you want a louder mix you have to make your mix sound wider. You can do this by applying:
- Stereo imaging
- Left and right eq
- Delays & Reverb
These techniques will make sure that there is still room for all elements in the track. It also creates a bit of headroom for the final mastering and offers more possibilities to increase the sound volume in the end.
A key technique to make your leads sound wider and ‘fuller’ is to apply stereo imaging. What you do is you:
- Export (bounce) your finished lead (finished sound) to audio, WAV preferably.
- After bouncing your lead you re-import it into your track as audio file.
- Once imported, low cut and filter all the low frequencies (everything under 500 Hz) of the duplicated lead.
- Put a stereo enhancer on it with some ‘hall reverb’.
To finish it off, you take the volume fader completely down and mix it back in gently until you notice the wider lead sound without it sounding ‘muddy’.
Left and Right Eq
Multiple EQ vst’s allow you to give the L and R channel separate eq. This done right widens up your sound a lot.
One of my favourite plugins (FabFilter Pro-Q 2) best features is that it’s very easy to equalize both stereo channels in a different way. This is a great way to surgically remove unwanted sound artefacts, or even to add stereo effects.
To make this even more powerful, Pro-Q 2 offers both Left/Right and Mid/Side channel modes. In the default Left/Right mode, each EQ band works either on both stereo channels, or on the left or right channel only. This is controlled by the stereo options at the left hand side of the band controls.
To clean up your mix, use the Mid/Side function on Fabfilter Pro Q2:
- Select the ‘Side’ option and cut all the low end out of your final mix. Sub bass is always played in mono so stereo bass sounds are not necessary. Doing this you will clean up unwanted sounds in your mix which do not matter anyways.
- For the ‘Mid’ part you can do the opposite, high cut the high end to make sure ‘higher’ mono aspects are deleted out of your mix.
Panning helps you to decide how wide your mix ends up being and sounding to the listener. It can be used to create space in a mix, enhance existing space, and create a more immersive music experience for the listener.
In the image above you can see a mix which is panned very narrow. In human language this means that the person listening to the track will not hear much width and depth in the music. It will sound like it’s all coming from the same centered place.
In this picture on the other hand, the mix is spread over the spectrum. Which gives the listener a more exciting and more enjoyable experience.
Tips regarding panning:
- Do not pan too much for the drop. Try to keep things simple and symmetrical to receive maximum impact and power in your track and on the dance floor.
- Less is more: In most tracks, a wide mix doesn’t come from panning everything. Instead, receiving a wide mix is the result of panning a couple of interesting, signature elements in your track whilst maintaining a strong, balanced center.
- Symmetrically pan similar sounds: Pan sounds which play in the same frequency range symmetrically of each other. For example: A hi hat and a high note acoustic guitar. These two match great because they both usually play in the same rhythm and frequency range.
- Check in mono and consider the club: Most audio systems in clubs play mono. Having this in mind, identical audio signals panned both left and the right will probably cause phase cancellation when the mix is played through a mono system, particularly in the low end. So definitely check your mix in mono to be sure that no important sounds are getting lost in the mix.
Delay & reverb
The most important thing regarding reverb & delay is to make 2 or 3 good presets of your own and use these in your specific track. Having the same 2 – 3 delay/reverb settings for one track makes sure reverb and delay tail’s don’t clinch with each other and maintains a clean mix.
The biggest problem with effects it that most people don’t know what they’re capable of. For artists who play guitar, piano,… they need to practice as well to get to know a specific track, instrument or part of a song. So keep that in mind and use that time to experiment with effects.
Taking everything here in consideration you should be able to make your mix and your track much more interesting. You will be able to rise your tracks up to the next level.
By adding in small, signature elements wide in the mix and adding such every 16 bars you will make your track enjoyable to listen to.