How to widen a track in the mix

any plugins that will do this?

I have a track (bongos, recorded with single mic) that needs widening in my mix. It sounds like it to occupies too narrow a space in the stereo field and it’s the main percussion in the song.

Is there a good free plugin that will achieve this?

Or maybe convert the track to stereo and apply a chorus? I don’t have a chorus plugin so its not something I can try.

Anyhow, suggestions please? Thanks.

You could try stereo reverb, or split the track and use EQ and pan to make the tracks sound different.

As you’ve suggested, chorus might help - there is a free chorus plugin (Dx) that comes with N-track.



I’d try splitting the tracks, spreading with a nice wide pan, eqing one side more towards the bottom end and one more towards the top end.

Or something. Might work, might not.

“Widening” can mean several things, right? E.g., that fake stereo processing that assigns some frequencies to the right, others to the left, using a comb filter arrangement. Or stereo reverb with different predelays on each side (um, you know I’m going to say it, get SIR and some of the lexicon impulses, there are some great ones there for this sort of thing). Or stereo delay with different delays on left and right (the Waves delay has some preset for this, not exactly free, but worth checking out if you know someone who has the plug in). Or left and right processed to different pitches, e.g., left down a few cents and right up a few, with the unprocessed track in the middle. Or combinations, esp. pitch shifting with delays left and right (e.g., down left with 35 ms of delay and up rigth with , say, 25 ms delay). Or maybe something as simple as setting the low freqs to one side and the high to the other (which I think is a preset on FASoft’s paraEQ).

there are quite a few free plugins for this too…try this one. scroll to the bottom…its the stero touch one

Those voxengo folks sure have been busy. :)

Ohh, they have a free m/s decoder! :)

Try the stereo reverb first. The other things mentioned here can create a very cool stereo image, but for a track like that I bet you want a natural sounding image, not a “wall of sound” effect or something like that.

Make sure to check “expand mono track to stereo” in track properties. Then try plugging in n-Track reverb, and use the “Ambience 2” setting, for starters. For imaging purposes, you don’t need the reverb tails as much as the early reflections, so try increasing the “damping” value. Pay attention to the “Lock L&R” button at the bottom – if you have that on, any change you make gets set for both left and right equally – but you want to make sure that “room size” and “early reflections” are a bit different in left and right. Fool around a bit and see if you can something interesting. Then try a few other reverbs; each one gives a different sound and there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. But I use n-Track Reverb a lot for this very purpose, especially with acoustic tracks. Great for vocals too.

Something you’ll learn is that with some carefully controlled reverb, you can “locate” a sound source more fully in the soundstage than merely panning. Panning is a coarse control over direction; delays help to fine tune. But it’s reflections off walls that really locates the sound in a “space” rather than sounding like a mono track merely panned somewhere (a very boring sound unless it’s a pretty full mix).

All good answers above. Other options are try SIR and look (listen) for the right IR to spread things out in a natural way. If you want a wall effect, try WideBoy.

Expand mono to stereo
MDA Stereo
MDA Image

With that combo of plug-ins you can make it sound wider than the speakers…though there’s a good chance having them that wide won’t be very natural sounding. Less is best. It doesn’t take much to have a big effect even though the effect is pretty inaudible in the sense that reverb is very audible.

Thank you all for your suggestions.

MDA Stereo uses a comb-filter effect, which isn’t a natural sounding image, but it’s a nice one. However, I don’t care for MDA’s plugin for this effect, because it often shifts the low frequency image off-center. That is, it unbalances the EQ at the low end. I don’t remember the plug, but there’s another freebie somewhere that’s also a good comb filter stereo FX and also has a low-cut on the effect so that the comb filter is only applied in the frequencies that affect delay-based imaging and avoiding low frequency EQ imbalances between left and right.

I’m curious why you’d follow MDA Stereo with MDA Image. What mode do you use it in? LR->MS, so that the effect cancels out in mono? That’s a great technique, but bears some discussion.

Note that while Mid-Side technique (which MDA Image does) is great for stereo material, by itself has no useful effect on mono signals. (Put it after a stereo effect like Phoo says, though, and it certainly does do something – I use it a lot myself. It’s a great little plugin!)

Not free, but the PSP Stereo pack has a comb filter plug in of that sort, and it sounds pretty good. $24 US dollars for the pack, which includes

"PSP PseudoStereo, PSP StereoEnhancer, PSP StereoController, PSP StereoAnalyser. "

If you are wanting to stereo eq, instead of doubling the track, you can just expand to stereo and use the classic series “classic EQ.” It’s a stereo eq that sounds very nice. Used in combination with a stereo verb and you will be doing nicely.


I'm curious why you'd follow MDA Stereo with MDA Image. What mode do you use it in? LR->MS, so that the effect cancels out in mono? That's a great technique, but bears some discussion.
I use for a Fake Quad effect actually. Mostly it's to have some effects track (a special guitar part for example) seems like it' coming from WAY over there, like over you left or right shoulder.

And yes, it does cancel in mono when used to these extremes. I have to be careful with mono compat when using it way. Sometimes it's ok to go away in mono...but not usually. I wouldn't put it on a major track with those settings.

Used just a little it can do interesting and subtle things. In an ironic twist it can help a track that is sticking out too much seem like it's pushed back, or it can bring a track that is to far back to the front.

There's LOTS of room for experimentation.

Another widener is C-Plugs Stereo (is that what it's called). It does about the same thing, but it includes more functionality.

I often use C-Plugs Stereo on the master channel just to see the graph – can be very helpful to compare ones mixes with similar-genre commercial music.

MDA Image ... LR->MS
I'm at work and don't have those in from of me, but what I use is the default. Slap it in there and crank the width up to 200% for max effect. I don' think it's the mid-side setting, but it's pretty radical and not for most things. It can be pretty close to simply flipping the phase on one channel so the left and right are 180 out from each other. As we know that's a bad idea, so that's why it takes lost of fiddling.

Occasionally I'll use the Haas setting in MDA Stereo. It can be more radical.

Like I said this is for creating fake quad effects mostly. I've heard some CDs that use that kind of effect occasionally. Sting uses Q-Sound on his Soul Cages CD. The sax right at the beginning is a prime example. That sax will totally disappear in mono, but sounds like it's behind and over your shoulder normally.

I use it on the noise guitars in phoo and the far tones version of Panic in Detroit.

OK, I see phoo. That would be in LR->LR mode, I think. The input gets converted from LR to MS, so you can crank up the width, and the output is converted back to LR mode. When you do this, that track will have less than half it’s amplitude when summed to mono; it’ll tend to disappear in the mix. So don’t do it with lead vocals, unless you really don’t like the vocalist. :;):

Once, by mistake, I had a guitar part where the dry lead guitar was + in left and - in right, and the reverb was in center (the opposite of what was intended). It was actually a pretty cool effect, since the guitar was supposed to sound in the distance and the reverb was cranked up pretty high. But the funny consequence was, the further you got from the speakers, the further away that guitar sounded! You’d hear mostly just reverb.