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How to Widen Vocals with Split Panned Processing

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How to Widen Vocals in a Mix with Split Panned Processing
How to Widen Vocals in a Mix with Split Panned Processing - youtube Video
Hey folks, Matthew Weiss here., This is gonna be sort of a seat of my pants tutorial here. I was mulling over ideas about gain staging and things like that and there’s this sort of common myth that if you duplicate a track of audio and you pan the original and the duplicate apart you get a wider sound. And that’s fundamentally not true. You actually just get a louder mono sound.

But then I was thinking, if you wanted a wider sound, all you would really have to do is make slight adjustments to each side. And by doing so you automatically will get a wider sound because there will be differences between what the speakers are projecting. So I have this vocal here. I’ll play it for you.

[rap vocal]

So I got it EQ’d a little bit here. I’m just pulling up some presence range and doing a little bit of attenuation on the lower bands and midrange just to keep it present, but without becoming overwhelming. So nothing totally crazy.

Then I thought, Ok what would happen if I duplicated the signal and I EQ’d each side slightly differently. So here on the left side taking a bit of midrange and boosting a slightly lower presence range. And on the right side I’m not taking out the midrange, I’m boosting a slightly higher pretense range. And then on my multiband I am doing slightly different bands because I brought the brighter tone forward on the right side. On my multiband I’m bringing the more midrange-y tone, more constantly forward, and then I’m doing the opposite on the left side. So ultimately the distribution of frequency is gonna feel about even, but there’s going to be fluctuations and changes that are gonna naturally happen as a result of the tonalities changing in the vocal. So let’s check that out, it sounds like this.

[rap vocal with EQ and multi band equalization]

Split. So right away it doesn’t sound vastly different, it sounds slightly less centered more or less. It doesn’t necessarily sound super wide which I was hoping it would sound a little bit wider but it really didn’t. Then I thought, what if I use some kind of stereo widening process and I pull up the side information and see how that fairs. And so I ended up getting this.


[rap vocal with EQ + multiband EQ + Brainworx stereo width]

So here was my original. Split.

So it has this sort of slightly smeared quality which I think gives it a kind of hazy texture. Did it get what I originally thought I was gonna get? No, you don’t really hear the spread so much in the vocal. But it kind of does this thing, it like smears it a little bit and considering there’s this kind of film noir-ish quality to the overall record, I like what it’s doing. So anyway, here it is.

[rap vocals with processing]

Anyway, so the point of this tutorial I guess isn’t necessarily to show you a technique, but to so sort of instate the idea that when you get an idea, it’s worth trying. And if it doesn’t work out the way you expect it, that’s ok. Not everything does, but when it does produce a result that’s interesting or unique you can still be benefiting from it in some way shape or form. This one I’m gonna A/B it one last time before I end this tutorial. Listen, try and feel the emotional quality of the version that’s duplicated and EQ’d differently versus the one that’s concentrically in the center.

[vocal with and without processing]

And split. However it worked out I actually like it speaks to me the tonality and the sense of movement inside the split one. Actually speakers to me more and I can’t quite put a finger on why but I don’t need to, I can just acknowledge that I like it. Alright guys, til next time.


Matthew Weiss

Matthew Weiss

Matthew Weiss is the recordist and mixer for multi-platinum artist Akon, and boasts a Grammy nomination for Jazz & Spellemann Award for Best Rock album. Matthew has mixed for a host of star musicians including Akon, SisQo, Ozuna, Sonny Digital, Uri Caine, Dizzee Rascal, Arrested Development and 9th Wonder. Get in touch:

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