Mid-Side Secrets

Discussion in 'Production' started by miszt, Nov 24, 2015.

  1. miszt

    miszt BASSFACE Royale

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    Mid-Side came up in a few discussions with people recently, so I thought i'd make a little post about it :) Mid-Side is a staple of my Mixing and Mastering chains these days, i'm even building myself a hardware mid-side VCA (think SSL 4000) compressor with both mid-side compression, and mid-side side-chain..thats how much i love M/S processing :)

    If you find yourself using stereo expanders all the time, or having trouble getting stereo width in your tracks, without overdoing it or causing phase issues, then you should consider using Mid-Side techniques in your mixdowns, heres a few little tips and tricks that can really help to bring your stereoscape to life, aswell as giving you a big fat punchy center

    Mid-Side is an old-school recording technique, using 2 microphones, an Omni-directional one pointing straight at the source (often a vocalist), that's the Mid (can think of it as Mono or Center), and then a bi-directional one which is placed horizontally to pick up the Side, or Stereo sound.

    This is a great way to record sources and get control over the stereo field, while still having a nice clean mono recording, but its also a very useful tool in modern production and mix techniques

    Mid-Side EQ

    This is probably the most common way people use mid-side, most modern EQ's have a Mid-Side option, which allows you to set EQ for the mid channel and side channel indepedantly.

    One of the simplest ways to use it, is to set a High Pass @ ~90Hz on the side channel, this essentially cuts out any sub you may have from your stereo instruments, which can potentially cause phase issues in your sub, and then you can play around with the sub levels in the mid channel to get a nice fat sub line right where you want it, ie straight down the middle.

    There are loads and loads of different ways you can use Mid-Side in EQ, for eg adding a little extra shine to just the stereo side by adding a high shelf, or giving your snare a little boost down the middle/mid, or perhaps cutting a bit of warmth or mud out of the stereo/side, when you don't want to take to much out of your central sounds (eg if you have a big warm pad that's very stereo, along with a big warm bass that's center)


    Mid-Side Compression

    Mid-Side compressors are less common, but also very useful, sometimes it can be useful to have more compression on the mid channel, and a little less on the sides, for eg if the compression is making your pads or stereo reverb tails a bit over the top, but you like what its doing to your central sounds (perc/bass/etc)


    Other Mid-side FX... (useful if you don't have access to a Mid/Side encoder, as you can use any Mid/Side enabled EQ)

    almost any FX can be converted to mid-side to do interesting things, in Ableton you can fairly simply achieve this with any FX you want, here is a little guide for setting up a Mid-Side Buss, useful for both mono and stereo FX....

    Duplicate the channel with the sounds you want to play with
    Add an EQ8 to each channel, set them to Mid/Side Mode
    On the first channel, set EQ8 SIDE with a LOW Pass @ 30hz and a HIGH Pass @ 20Khz (this removes all the Side audio)
    On the second channel, set the EQ8 MID with a LOW Pass @ 30hz and a HIGH Pass @ 20Khz (this removes all the Mid audio)

    What you now have, is 2 channels, one playing only Mid, and the other playing only the Side

    Add your choosen FX to each channel and play! :)

    If you want to then process the channels as one again, simply group the 2 channels, and you once again have a single stereo channel to play with (in other DAW's, just route the 2 channels to a stereo buss)

    For Ableton users, here is a M/S Compressor Rack, its fairly basic, Threshold, Ratio, Attack and Decay for Mid and Side channels, can be expanded however you like really..you can also replace the compressors with other FX or add extra FX in

    ableton mid-side compressor rack


    There are also lots of Mid-Side encoder/decoders about, which makes life a little simpler, just add your Mid-Side Encoder, then your FX, then the Decoder
     
    Last edited: Nov 25, 2015
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  2. RUSSLA

    RUSSLA DNBF Monarch

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    I've been using Waves Center a lot to tame my side channels and allocate Punch, Highs and Lows where I want them. Highly recommend anyone to use it!
     
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  3. miszt

    miszt BASSFACE Royale

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    i think its basically a Mid-Side multiband compressor? If you have never tried doing mid-side compression with all the usual compressor settings, then it def worth giving it a try with a M/S encoder/decoder & your favorite compressor plugin, or using the M/S EQ setup I described above, at the very least it gives you a bit more insight into what waves center is doing which you might find interesting
     
  4. RUSSLA

    RUSSLA DNBF Monarch

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    I've gone down that route with FabF Pro-C in the past actually, switching it to M&S mode and compressing them separately but just found Center to be quicker and easier. All about workflow these days ;)
     
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  5. miszt

    miszt BASSFACE Royale

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    yeah its definitely simpler! that's why I am building myself a hardware M/S compressor, I love what you can do with M/S, but routing things thru a martrix is a pain in the arse


    heres a little Ableton rack M/S compressor I made to make things simpler...only the basic controls, threshold/ratio/attack/decay - can of course be expanded as much as you like

    ableton mid-side compressor rack
     
    Last edited: Nov 25, 2015
  6. RUSSLA

    RUSSLA DNBF Monarch

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    See this is why I wish I started on Ableton.. Oh well!
     
  7. miszt

    miszt BASSFACE Royale

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    I thought u did use ableton for some reason lol well never to late to start!
     
  8. RUSSLA

    RUSSLA DNBF Monarch

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    Haha nah I do however know the basics just never stuck with it. Maybe one day i'll give it another go but I know how to get everything I need done in LPX now so seems pointless.. He says ha
     
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  9. miszt

    miszt BASSFACE Royale

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    yeah well it depends how you work init...i don't think i could live without groups and racks anymore, when i think of all the routing I used to have to do just for basic stuff, damn lol