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Sunday, March 18, 2012

HOW TO USE THE STEREO EXPANDER / ENHANCER (free Vst Plugins inside)


Hello and welcome to this week's article! Today we're going to talk about Stereo Expanders / enhancers / exciters / wideners.

A stereo expander is a tool used to increase the width of your mix; although you may have already set the pan on your single channels, sometimes the global mix may still sound "thin", not enough open when compared to your reference albums.
The reason is in the Mastering Phase: sometimes in this phase, along with the other processors, many producers add a stereo expander/enhancer, in order to open up the mix even more, and let it "breathe" and surround the listener.

Today the best commercial DAWs already features an in-bundle stereo expander, but here is a selection of the best free ones: UPSTEREO, that can also excite some frequencies to help the Mastering, BRAIN DOC STEREO ENHANCER lets you decide the width by frequency, FLUX features a vector display that shows you graphically the stereo imaging, and the WIDEBUG is a simple and low-cpu consuming widening tool.

What do we need to know about stereo expanders? That only some frequencies of the mix needs to be expanded, while others needs to stay modo: we need to expand the highs, from the 1000hz up nice and wide (just increase the Width setting until the mix is open like your favourite reference album), while going increasingly mono as we go down with the frequencies, until we are completely mono from around 512hz down.
We need to do this way since the larger the wave is (so the lower it is), the less directional it becomes, thus if we make it wide we risks to create phase problems.
The "phase problem" is the fact that certain frequencies may contrast others with the result of deleting them, so we need to use a Spectrum Analyzer if we can, in order to avoid such problems.

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