STEREO MIXING STRATEGIES
Want your mixes to strike the perfect balance between jawdropping stereo width and mono power? Look no further…
Achieve maximum width every time with our advice
Creating a ‘wide’ mix can be one of the biggest challenges facing any producer or engineer. Go too far when dialling in panning, stereo wideners and ambience effects, and your track will suffer when played back through a mono speaker or PA system, with elements changing or even disappearing altogether. On the flipside, exercise too much restraint with your stereo effects and the mix will end up sounding amateurishly narrow – and pretty inadequate when played side by side with the wide, powerful commercial releases that you hear played on the radio today.
So where’s the perfect middle ground between impressive stereo width and mono power? And how can we make sure that both headphone listeners and festival punters can enjoy your prosounding mixdown? You’ll find out over the next few pages as we work through the essential strategies you need in your locker to make perfect mixes that not only have plenty of width but still sum to mono effectively and sound awesome in the club – in exactly the same way that today’s best commercial productions always do.
Before we get stuck in, remember that every style of music is different, and each track demands its own approach. Trends and tastes vary wildly across genres, so bear this in mind when applying our tactics to your own mixes. Pop-style productions often go all out with the stereo niceties, while primarily club-destined bangers will prioritise mono compatibility.
Assuming you’re already using decent monitoring and headphones, practice and experience are the only ways to get your head around stereo mixing tricks. A foolproof way to fast-track your skills is by referencing the stereo content of your favourite commercial mixes, which we’ll look at further over the page.
Ultimately, it helps to have a stereo gameplan right from the start of writing a track, as fixing things later on in the process is always much more of a hassle than simply dialling in the right stereo balance from the start.