March 13, 2008

Mono to Stereo... the quest of champions!

This post will be short... it's just a little tutorial on how to make a track you recorded in mono (with 1 microphone) sound like stereo.

This is great for lots of things, especially those backgroundy tracks... you know...
  • Guitars
  • Drum Overhead mics
  • Backup vocals
  • Piano
Sometimes it's even better than actually recording it in stereo! Like with acoustic guitar.

Since the best sound comes from near the sound hole, there isn't a lot of space to put the mics. And even when you do get two mics in there, they generally sound the same... making it really hard to get a good stereo sound! Welcome Haas effect!

The Haas effect is the official name of the trick I'm about to explain... whatever. If you're feeling nerdy, just hit the wikipedia link (while you're at it why don't you build a robot and start a podcast too?)

There are a few times you should not do this trick:
  • Main melodic track - needs to be mono, and panned close to center
    • Lead vocals
    • Lead guitar
    • Lead anything really
  • Anything with a lot of bass... (Haas effect doesn't play nice with low frequencies)
    • Bass guitar
    • Upright Bass
    • Bass Drum
    • Bass anything really
  • Snare drum - I guess it's too important to be stereo, who knows?
Hooray for seemingly arbitrary rules! Woo hoo! Exclamation point! Lets get down to business! ok I'm done...

Here's how to do it in 3 easy steps:
  1. You make a copy of you mono track (so now you have 2 of the same thing).
  2. You pan one track all the way left, and the other all the way right. Now you have the same mono signal... just louder (since it's the same signal coming out of both speakers)
  3. Put a delay on one of the tracks, with a delay time somewhere in the range of 10ms - 25ms.
I know cubase can add this delay without any plug-ins which is nice (I'll post a picture tomorrow). In protools/others you can use a "slap-back" delay, or other short delay... just make sure there's no feedback, modulation, eq, etc.

Happy stereoizing mike!

© 2008 Jim Robert