Stereo ef­fects with mo­du­la­tion

Us­ing mo­du­la­tion for widen­ing

Future Music - - FM EXPLAINER -

Most mo­du­la­tion ef­fects op­er­ate in stereo and they do this by off­set­ting the left and right chan­nels, which ef­fec­tively cre­ates two dif­fer­ent sig­nals on ei­ther side of the stereo field. This is usu­ally done by dif­fer­ing the LFO po­si­tion for left and right, mean­ing that the rate of mo­du­la­tion will run dif­fer­ently for ei­ther side. This of­ten sounds im­pres­sively wide and lush, but at the ex­pense of phase co­her­ence be­tween left and right, mean­ing that your stereo sig­nal’s tim­bre may change dra­mat­i­cally when the track is played back in mono. Be sure to test for mono com­pat­i­bil­ity, and rein things in if the phase can­cel­la­tion is too de­struc­tive.

Although we tend to use mo­du­la­tion to pro­vide cen­tred sig­nals (ie, a mono gui­tar part) with width, don’t be afraid to go old-school and in­stead use these ef­fects in mono. A straight-up mono cho­rus ef­fect on synths can give a dis­tinc­tive ‘fluffy’ tim­bre that sounds com­pletely dif­fer­ent to its stereo equiv­a­lent.

A touch of cho­rus can be the per­fect stereo widener for vo­cals or synths. Keep the ef­fect’s rate to a slow speed for gen­tle ‘drift­ing’, or ramp up rate amount for a more ‘bub­bling’ ef­fect. Feed­back val­ues should be kept low for sub­tlety. By mix­ing in your mo­du­la­tion ef­fect via an aux­il­iary re­turn, you’ll have greater flex­i­bil­ity over your stereo width. Use a stereo con­troller plugin or mid/side pro­ces­sor last in the aux chain in or­der to cus­tomise the sig­nal’s width to your choos­ing. An­other widen­ing trick in­volves pan­ning your dry sig­nal to one side of the stereo field, and your mod­u­lated sig­nal to the op­pos­ing side. You don’t have to keep their pan off­set val­ues equal, ei­ther: try cen­tring the dry sound, then push your ef­fect sig­nal out fur­ther.

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