Six mixing tactics to try for pro stereo width
Use these widening techniques in combination to create wide yet mono-compatible mixes
To add width, first look at which sounds can be panned out to the sides. Panning just one sound out to one side may upset the balance of your mix’s width; counteract it by panning another sound in the opposite direction.
Elements such as running hi-hats or FX sweeps sound great when you get their stereo position swirling with a bit of auto-pan. While your DAW’s stock device will do, advanced autopanners like Soundtoys PanMan give you deeper control over the width and pan angle of the pan motion.
Often, you’ll want to use reverb to place sounds in an obvious virtual space, and this will add width as a byproduct. To maintain a sound’s ‘dryness’, try gently fading up an extremely short reverb, designed to act as a cosmetic widener rather than obvious ’verb.
Again, you might be using stereo delay as an overt effect in your track, which will add width anyway. But try blending short delays in the mix, purely to add width. Be careful with phase-incompatible Haas delay, too – try a dedicated ‘microshift’ delay plugin instead, and mix the dry and wet signals to retain mono solidity.
A pseudo-widener is a good option after you’ve explored our previous tips, as they don’t add much character. Multiband wideners are great, as you can customise which frequencies are widened. To stereoise mono sounds, apply short reverb, then use a widener to magnify the width added by the reverb.
Finally, there are mid/side processors such as simple M/S gain plugins and EQs. Simply turn up the side signal’s gain for more width, or widen only the high-mids of a signal using a high-shelf EQ boost to the sides. M/S processors are also great for controlling or exaggerating the width applied in our previous steps.