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Old 2010-12-09, 11:54
James Bernard's Avatar
James Bernard James Bernard is offline
 
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52 Reason / Record Tips - Week 41: Mid-Side Processing for Great Masters

When it comes to mastering, one of the hottest things right now is a technique known as "mid-side processing." As a basic description, mid-side processing uses phase cancellation tricks to isolate the mono information in a mix (bass, vocal, kick drum) from the stereo items (guitars, keys, effects) and then lets you master them separately and recombine them for a very nice sounding master.

This week I brought in two special guests to help me design a mid-side mastering patch for you as well as to help describe the technical intricacies of how this is done. Be sure to visit the links in this video, download the patches, and visit the websites I mention.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3i0IMHAnzK8

http://www.propellerheads.se/stuff/JB41.zip

http://www.peff.com

http://web.mac.com/gilesreaves/Giles...usic/Home.html

http://southern.bandcamp.com/track/head-spins

Big thanks to Kurt Kurasaki, Giles Reaves, and Southern.

Last edited by James Bernard; 2010-12-09 at 11:57.
  #2  
Old 2010-12-09, 12:05
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ProfessaKaos ProfessaKaos is offline
 
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Awesome video....I'm really liking all the mastering video's your doing JB they are bloody awesome.
Kurt's Combi Patches works so well to give your mix a better balance and cleaner sound when tweaked for your liking. Haven't tried Selig's patch yet cause I'm so into Kurts...
Great Job JB and the Props Gang
  #3  
Old 2010-12-09, 12:16
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Truhse Truhse is offline
 
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Vvery interesting. the tutorial last week left some questions. What is better for my final mixes?

- mutliband compression
- mid-side compression

or maybe...

- multiband mid-side compression?

James, what is better now?

Btw with multiband you used the term "mix", and for the mid-side you talked about mastering. So am I right when I assume I first have to multibandcompress during the mixdown, and in the mastering I should ALSO mid-side compress in the best case?

Sp do we have to do both, or are they just differnet methods to do the same (with slightly different results)?

Last edited by Truhse; 2010-12-09 at 12:23.
  #4  
Old 2010-12-09, 13:07
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James Bernard James Bernard is offline
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Truhse View Post
Vvery interesting. the tutorial last week left some questions. What is better for my final mixes?

- mutliband compression
- mid-side compression

or maybe...

- multiband mid-side compression?

James, what is better now?

Btw with multiband you used the term "mix", and for the mid-side you talked about mastering. So am I right when I assume I first have to multibandcompress during the mixdown, and in the mastering I should ALSO mid-side compress in the best case?

Sp do we have to do both, or are they just differnet methods to do the same (with slightly different results)?
The import thing to note is that there is no law that says you MUST do this or that when it comes to mixing/mastering..

What I am presenting to you are options and techniques and depending on the song or genre.. certain methods tend to achieve the result you are after.

Which one? That's really up to you to decide!

So what I am trying to do here is give you lots of tools in your toolbox to get the job done.
  #5  
Old 2010-12-09, 13:14
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Truhse Truhse is offline
 
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Of course. And we do really appreciate this. But sometimes we tend to "dont understand anything instantly".

So let me change the question a bit. Can we archieve even better results by using both techniques? If yes, which step we should do first?

Cheers

edit: maybe anyone can exchange the compressors in the patch with multiband compressors? I tried but ended up in "not to know" whre to put the CV cable now....

Last edited by Truhse; 2010-12-09 at 13:34.
  #6  
Old 2010-12-09, 13:35
James Bernard's Avatar
James Bernard James Bernard is offline
 
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Honestly the song will dictate the technique.

Mastering is always an art/science of choosing the tool you need to make the song sound it's best.

So, if the song in question was mixed well and just needs a little extra special sauce.. I personally would go for mid-side.

If the song was mixed on $5 usb speakers by a platypus wearing earmuffs, then I am probably going to head straight for multi-band processing of some sort to fix all the mistakes.
  #7  
Old 2010-12-09, 13:43
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Truhse Truhse is offline
 
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really good answer for me. that means multiband compression did not made that much at my tunes cause my mixdown was already good?! that sounds good to me.

so I will try out the mid-side thing next time. thanks again fr all that helpfull stuff.
  #8  
Old 2010-12-09, 18:51
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selig selig is offline
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by James Bernard View Post
Honestly the song will dictate the technique.

Mastering is always an art/science of choosing the tool you need to make the song sound it's best.

So, if the song in question was mixed well and just needs a little extra special sauce.. I personally would go for mid-side.

If the song was mixed on $5 usb speakers by a platypus wearing earmuffs, then I am probably going to head straight for multi-band processing of some sort to fix all the mistakes.
I'll add that with M-S techniques, you can effectively isolate different 'parts' of the sound stage (especially when you don't have access to the original mix elements/tracks), making this more of a Mastering technique rather than a mix technique. But as always, there are plenty of creative uses for this technique that can be useful at the mix stage.

My main comment would be that this process works best when you CAN'T access the original mix, because if you were still actively mixing the track then most of these 'fixes' would be easier to do on the individual elements. The pro mastering engineers I know don't use this as an 'every day' technique, but it can be a real life saver when you can't go back to the original mix!

And remember, this is entirely dependent on how 'stereo' your mix is in the first place - listen for activity at these three 'points': the center, hard left, and hard right. A mix with 'information' present at all three points (and in between) will benefit most from this approach. Mixes that tend to be mono will have little effect using the M-S technique, as will mixes with no clear center images.

An 'ideal' mix for understanding this technique would simply have a vocal in the center, and two tracks/takes of guitars panned hard Left/Right with no reverb. This would allow you to effectively isolate the vocal from the guitars, and help you understand what's possible with this technique. Add a few other instruments or reverb to the mix, panned at intermediate positions and you will also begin to understand the limits of this approach!

The track used in the video is an excellent example of when this technique can be effective, as the acoustic guitars are panned L-R with vocals/bass/drums in the center. In this case if there was something you wanted to do ONLY to the acoustic guitars (making them brighter is one example), it would be easy with this setup. Or if the vocals weren't loud or present enough, this mix would allow you to EQ the vocal without affecting the guitars.

Bonus points:
One basic and effective use of this technique is simply to change the balance between the mid and side information - even without using EQ or compression this can be helpful. Consider using this technique on sub-mixes: e.g., take all your reverb returns and run them through a M-S combi and reduce the Mid channel to help 'spread' the FX and create a 'hole' in the center for the drums/bass/vocals. Remember, you can also add FXs to the Mid or Side channels, to add more reverb to the vocals (filter out the low frequencies on the way to the reverb), or add a chorus/doubler/reverb effect to the sides. For mixes that aren't wide enough, you could process the sides with a little compression and bring their overall level up, or even use the Stereo Imager on just the high frequencies of the sides for extra 'width'.

My bottom line: this isn't necessarily going to apply to every mix like a compressor or even multi-band compression, but you should keep this in your 'quiver' of techniques for those special occasions where nothing else works - and as always, consider using this technique in non-traditional ways! :-)
  #9  
Old 2010-12-09, 13:12
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OMOMs OMOMs is offline
 
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thats awesome!
my workaround for MS was way more cumbersome!
thanks a lot!
  #10  
Old 2010-12-09, 17:30
TechFreq TechFreq is offline
 
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Posts: 49
Off topic;

If you or someone else at Propellerhead could put out some information on making Thor speak, it might be interesting. In fact, it could be a series, with some different vowel and consonant sounds each time. I am trying to figure out how to make the "nd" sound at the end of a word.

Edit: I did read the current article on Thor's Formant Filter. Still working on that "nd" sound.

Last edited by TechFreq; 2010-12-09 at 17:47.
 

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