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4 Tips for a better stereo mix

Nothing is better than a full mix with an excellent stereo image. For the listener, it feels like diving into another world full of magical sounds. But to create such a sound adventure, you need the mixing knowledge and experience. So, in this blog we're presenting you the top 4 tips to create better stereo mixes.





Table of Contents:

1 - Know what you want

2 - Panning & FX

3 - Creating space

4 - Mastering


 

1 - Know what you want


The first tip is very important for the next steps and overall how to think about creating a good stereo image. You got to know what you want your stereo image to sound like. Try to find some reference tracks that have a stereo field that you love. Also see what works best for your genre. Usually EDM tracks are more focused on the mono image, as you have a lot of low end energy and power to play the record in clubs, at a festival, or other music events. At such events, the stereo image is less noticable due to the speaker setup. This means a good mono mix is logically more important than a stereo mix for Dance music. The opposite counts for a pop track. Such tracks have many different elements, so you have more ear candy and instruments that are panned. If you listen to old pop rock records for example, you will just hear a guitar in the intro that is hard panned. Here is an example of that.


Of course, don't afraid to be creative and know that there are no rules. So if you want to create an EDM track with an amazing stereo image and lots of ear candy, go for it! Just make sure you know what you're going for.




2 - Panning & FX


Once you have an idea for what you want and you've done your leveling, it is time for panning. Make use of your inspiration from your reference track(s). Open your mixer and start panning elements left and right. Sometimes it can be cool to automate the pan as well.


The next step is to add effects like reverb & delay. Using delays is a super common way to increase the stereo field. Also with delay you can create the Haas Effect. Basically what you do when creating the Haas effect is you apply a delay to a mono sound, pan it to the right or left, and change the delay time to a number between 7 and 30ms. This will create the Haas Effect, which will make your element sound super wide. Just try it yourself, it can sometimes help to create an extra wide effect on certain elements.




3 - Creating space


You often see people creating space in the mix in a certain frequency area, so a vocal fits better into the whole mix. But have you ever considered doing this with the help of stereo imaging? The best example here is a lead vocal. When you have a hook and you want to highlight just the incredible vocal, do not just try to overcomplicate the vocal mixing, try to create room to breathe for the vocal. Usually different elements like pads, drums, and guitars are competing with the vocal. This is where you make those elements wider by panning them and using stereo imaging. Sometimes you can also take a mid/side EQ and lower some mid frequencies where the vocal is most present.




4 - Mastering


If you've followed along this far, you should now have a good sounding stereo image. The last step is to add the final 10% to turn this into an amazing sounding mix. It's time to move to mastering. With the help of mid/side equalizers and imaging plugins like the Ozone Imager, you can give your stereo image that last boost that will really bring everything to life. Start out by boosting side frequencies by an excessive amount to really hear what it's doing to your mix, and then bring the levels down again until you've found a good spot.




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