Getting Your Mix “Wider.”
Want to add some width to your mixes? Here’s some great tricks that can make your recordings sound bigger and wider.
1. Fill up your stereo image. Put some headphones on and listen to your mix. Your left ear is 9 o’clock, your right ear is 3 o’clock. Got it? Great. Do you have different elements of the mix at 9, 10, 11, 12, 1, 2, 7 3 o’clock? If not, fill those suckers in. Empty spots in your stereo image will make your mix sound thin.
2. Double some tracks. Not a mixing trick, but a production trick. If you want your recording to sound huge, do two takes of an instrument and pan one hard right and the other hard left. This works really really well with rhythm acoustic and electric guitars.
Don’t try just copying and pasting a track and and panning them hard left and right, that will only make it sound twice as loud, and panned dead center.
3. Use a stereo widening plugin WITH CAUTION. Seriously. Be careful. Stereo widening plugins are almost always over used by people who are new to mixing. A dab will do ya’.
4. Multiple vocal takes. Doubles and harmony. Lots of takes. Pan em’ all over the place check it out. If you double your vocals, so long as you’re reasonably in tune, all of your mistakes will sometimes seem to disappear, and will make a song or chorus sound huge.
5. Mono reverb. Mono!? Yep. Use multiple mono reverbs, each on it’s own aux track, and pan the output of the aux left or right. Sometimes, panning it in the opposite direction of the track you’re adding reverb too can be a cool trick too.
6. Track drums one drum at a time. Try this if you’ve got a lot of time on your hands. A trick that many people (like Dave Grohl) have used with success on some songs, is to not play the whole drum set at once, but instead, to play each drum (kick, snare, toms, then cymbals) one at a time on it’s own track, overdubbing each drum on it’s own track one at a time. There’s no “bleed” from the other mics when you record like this, so you can get a super wide (and sometimes much easier to mix) recording.