Here is another stereo mixing trick to go along with the Haas, cross, and panned delay tricks. This technique creates a stereo sound that fills the room and appears to come from all sides of the listener’s head at the same time. The basic idea is to start with a mono track panned dead center and invert the phase one one of the channels. Your digital home recording setup is quite likely already equipped to perform this trick.
Set up your DAW
I am usin REAPER as my DAW so this section will include detailed information on setting it up with that particular program. The technique should be easily adaptable to any capable modern DAW like Cubase, SONAR, or Pro Tools.
- Start with a mono source track. This could be a keyboard, guitar, kick drum, or anything else you might want to apply a special stereo effect to. The only requirement is that it be a pure mono signal.
- Duplicate the track. The easiest thing is to copy the sound file and paste it to another track, but you can accomplish the same thing with some fancy routing. In REAPER, click the track button labeled “io” to bring up the “Routing” dialog. Click “Add new send…” and choose a track from the dropdown list. Make sure the new send is configured to be “Post-FX”.
- Pan your original track hard to one side (100% left or 100% right) and pan the duplicated track hard to the opposite side. For my sound clips below I have the original part panned 100% left and the duplicated part panned 100% right. It is worth noting it does not matter which side you pan the tracks to, so long as they are opposite. You will perceive the exact same effect no matter which side you pan each track to.
- Now reverse phase on the duplicate track. In REAPER this is done by clicking the reverse phase button on the track (it looks like the Greek letter Phi – ?)
- Play your mix back and you it will now sound like your chosen track is coming from all around you!
- Mono clip – this is the keyboard track playing back in mono.
- Stereo clip – this is the keyboard track playing back with the right channel phase reversed.
- Low frequency sounds are much more affected by this technique. So if you put it on a hi-hat the effect will be much more subtle than if it were on a guitar with a lot more lower and low mid frequencies present.
- Any track with this technique applied will cancel itself out when summed mono. If you need your mix to be mono-compatible, you should avoid this technique or create a special mono-mix without it.
Your home studio is your playground, remember to always have fun there!