Sunday, August 10

Developing wide stereo ambiance sound in your recording

Professional sound recording is very easy to spot: it sounds so wide and with great ambiance.Do you think this is a very difficult technique? No, the technique is very easy.Think of live sound recording or a band playing live in front of you. What do you see and feel?

Great and wide ambiance, it is because of these following factors:

a. The stage is set wide compared to a human listener.
b. Stereo speakers are set wide apart (the left and right stereo I mean)
c. If there are two guitarist, having the two guitars playing two guitar will create some delays adding depth to the sound.
d. Reflections causing depths like echo or reverb.

These are the principles of creating wide stereo ambiance in your recording. So how can we do this during the music production process???

The short answer, is to do this right during the recording and mixing process. You cannot make some miracles during mastering process to create depths except widening the stereo but this not as realistic as doing it in the mixing process.

Below are the techniques I used to widen stereo and ambiance:

a. Double recording :

Believe me or not, but double recording is a very effective technique. To do this is to double record in left and right tracks in the stereo field.

For example: I record on the left (panned -50), then again record on the right (panned +50) same track. This will produce doubling effect and the little delay in the notes creates cool ambiance in your recording.

b. Track doubling + Delay

This technique is the artificial version of "Double recording". But this artificial doubling creates reality like double recording. This is applicable if it is not possible to do double recording due to constraint in time and budget at the studio for example.

To do this, is to record only one track then put it in the left first (example panned -50). After that, duplicate that same track using your software (most recording software can do this), and move that duplicated track to the right (panned +50 for example).

It now creates stereo (two mono sound at -50, 50 stereo field but no ambiance yet.

To add some ambiance, you can add delay to one mono track. The delay should be short enough just to add some space, not to create some obvious timing problems when heard by any listener.

c. Reverb mono sources

This is also a great effect to use. This simulates real listening, in which two mono sources are of different distances to the listener. By some doppler principle, it will create some delays in the ear creating ambiance and wide stereo sound.

To do is to have one completely dry track (no effects of reverb), then put it in the left (for example panned -50). Then on the right, place the duplicated track but put some reverbs to it. The reverb must be natural and around 500ms to 1500ms is enough.

d. Chorus and Flanger on mono tracks

This is similar to reverb mono sources, but put some chorus or flanger effect instead of the reverb effect.

Important: Since putting some reverb, chorus or flanger will cause the track to decrease in volume, it is important to have both tracks at highly similar volume for this effect to realistically work or else it will sound mono (one source is stronger than the other).