5 Ways to Turn a Mono Signal into a Stereo Source - YouTube

23 October 2017 in Motion -

Thinking Inside the Box on YouTube.

Mono to Stereo Tips on YouTube.

Hi, welcome to an episode of “Thinking Inside the Box” on Noah’s Ark. In the video, I’m going to show you 5 different ways to turn a mono signal into a stereo source.


1. Double Tracking

One of the most common ways to reinforce a mono track is to double track it, meaning to record the same exact part over again. The problem with just duplicating the signal and panning the signal elsewhere in the stereo spectrum from the original source is that it will just place the source in between the two tracks or double the volume of the signal.

By double tracking, even the very slight differences in the two takes will create enough variation for our brains to decipher them as two different sources. This allows to put both signals opposite to each other left and right and widens the instruments instead having it dead center and allows for other instruments to take space in the mix.

One neat trick I use very often when I only have one take of a percussion track let’s say, provided the track was recorded on the click, is to split the performance down the middle and bring the second half over to the first half on a separate track. This way I have two different signal playing the exact same performance and I can pan them away from each other.


2. Delayed Duplicate

If you don’t have access to a double tracked part, you can alternatively duplicate the mono signal and delay it by a couple of milliseconds. Up to a certain threshold, our brains will still identify the source as one single signal and this will allow you to pan it opposite to each other.

However there are potential problems with this method as it will introduce phasing between the signals and the amount of delay applied will influence the spacial positioning of the source. Typically, a delay time of roughly 20ms should do the trick and in the end the phasing effect can be used intentionally as a creative effect in the mix.


3. Panned Reverb

Another way to add dimension to a mono source is to send the signal to a reverb and pan the reverb signal opposite to the source while adding some pre-delay. This will not have the same effect as the delayed duplicate because the opposite signal will only have early reflections relatively in common with the source.

This technique allows you to keep some space on the source signal side and gives the illusion of having a stereo signal in a bigger room. A neat trick to use when the mix is spatially imbalanced on one side.


4. Mono/Stereo Plugin

Ever wondered when a Mono/Stereo plugin would be useful? You probably have a couple of mono/stereo instances lying around in the plugin folder such as the DB-33 rotary speaker or the Auto-Pan utility.

I often find myself using the UAD Fender Tweed 55 Deluxe or UAD Ocean Way Studios in mono/stereo as I can place the sound source as a range of area instead of a single point source in the stereo field.

The Fender amp will allow me to have two different microphones on the cabinet and I can adjust their relative volume and placement in the stereo field to give it a different character.

The Ocean Way plugin will give irregularities to the signal in a beautiful acoustic space that will widen the mono source considerably when used in mono/stereo configuration.


5. Haas Effect

Ultimately there is the Haas Effect which you probably heard before. This simple technique will create the illusion of depth and space to a mono signal using only delay and pitch shifting.

The effect can be achieved by duplicating the signal twice and delaying them by 20ms, panning them respectively left and right, applying a pitch shifting of ±4 cents respectively while preserving the original signal intact in the center.

This will give dimension and depth to a vocal signal for example, a very popular effect in the 80s, applied using a Roland Dimension D chorus.

So that’s it and I hope you learned new techniques to widen your mono sources into stereo elements and add depth to your mixes.

To find out more about mono to stereo tips, you can watch the video above or on YouTube here.


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