• Mix/Production : Mid/Side
  • Started by Mar T.
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Mix/Production : Mid/Side
on: December 24, 2016, 02:17:18
« Last Edit: November 18, 2020, 12:51:04 by MrBouzouki »
Hi all,

I'm studying all kinds of material lately about recording. I believe recording your sound sources as well as possible is key to a natural (not overproduced) sound. And I like a natural sounding 'reproduction' of the recording.
As opposed to the stereo (left/right) recording, we can also use 'mid/side' recording. One 'mono' mic to record the central/mid/mono part of a take, and one figure 8 pickup pattern mic recording the 'sides'.
In the mix you can recreate the stereo image by
-Add one track with the mono recording (center panned)
-Add one track with the figure 8 mic and pan hard left
-Add one track with that same figure 8 mic recorded signal panned hard right AND inverted phase

In that way you can master the mono mix by only enabling the mono track (and treat it, also in context of the whole mix) AND you can master the stereo width (and treatment) of your mix ajusting the parameters of the two 'side' tracks (at the same time). What I like so much is that the side tracks 'cancel' each other out completely when played in mono. So you can put your entire vision of 'how' you want your mix to sound into one mix/master. It'll sound great on a mono (read: cell phone, tablet, bluetooth speaker, intercom etc.) system AND will sound fantastic on any stereo source (because the mono mix is in balance)..
I'm interested in your thoughts. Did you read about/hear from this method? What are your experiences?

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Re: Mid/Side - For the recorders/mixers/producers amongst us
Reply #1 on: December 24, 2016, 11:56:32
I have used this mic'ing technique for acoustic guitar but I actually like it more for recording a live take of guitar and vocals. My biggest tracking challenge is always acoustic guitar and M/S has always felt a bit too cumbersome. I could never quite get a result that had me smiling.

Getting a natural sounding acoustic guitar recording is a real challenge indeed. I have tried every trick in the book with two mics. It seems that there is always some sort of phased relationship between the two tracks....which can sound musical, btw.

These days I mostly track my acoustics with one LDC microphone and then process that track in a way that I have developed over the years for just the right balance of stereo width and mono compatibility. Perhaps that discussion should be saved for the thread on creative uses of processing with delays.  ;)
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Re: Mid/Side - For the recorders/mixers/producers amongst us
Reply #2 on: December 26, 2016, 14:07:46
Funny, there are a number of very highly respected engineers who swear by M/S, and others who hate it hate it hate it.  I haven't experimented with it yet and don't really have an opinion other than to say that in theory it sounds like it gives you a higher degree of control over the sound stage, but the haters will argue that it's not natural.
These day's I've been pretty happy with the tools I have in my bag..
For acoustic guitar I've been experimenting with the over-the-shoulder technique with two LDC's and I think I like it.
Piano.. An X/Y pair at 120 degrees-ish. Sounds Awesome to me.  When I try a third mic, it helps to give things body, but there are usually phase issues to deal with so I  end up compromising with the way I mix them.
Vocal: One LDC straight up thank you.

I totally forgot that we had discussed this already. Man...I am getting old.  :-[

As I mentioned in my Mystified Thread, I used M/S to do that one take recording. I just did a trial run of the same song but just tracking the acoustic guitar. I don't know what I was doing wrong when I tried it before.....but it really sounds good now.

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The vid in the opening post was not available anymore, tried to find a replacement. I hope this willl re-ignite the discussion on this interesting matter I'm still studying. What do you think fellows?
I think I'm just going to try it in my next recording and see where it goes..

Re: Mix/Production : Mid/Side
Reply #5 on: April 07, 2017, 14:45:43
ive not recorded much with M/S so i cant comment much on that but ive used it pretty much as a processing tool.
some plugs can split the sound into one M and one S channel and process it in different ways. heres an example of the S channel
distorted and limited hard in the plug Saturn from Fabfilter. some kind of larger than life effect together
with the heavy sidechaining.


its also usable when mastering to make things a little wider with an M/S eq. boosting the mids in the "Sides" a bit and
cut some mids in the M-channel. or just change the balance between the two. it starts to sound unnatural pretty fast
in my experience though.

Re: Mix/Production : Mid/Side
Reply #6 on: April 07, 2017, 14:51:46
heres an example of the S channel
distorted and limited hard in the plug Saturn from Fabfilter. some kind of larger than life effect together

Wow...I threw on my headphones for that and it was a strange experience. I could feel the sound from the sides kind of sucking rhythmically back toward the middle at the beginning of that piece. It was a very physical sensation.....pretty cool.

What made this work for me as a recording technique was playing with the panning of the two side tracks in the mix, one of which was phase inverted. I found that I liked the stereo image better when they were NOT hard panned.

In my last effort I only used it for the acoustic guitar. I panned those two "side" tracks at around 60/60 and then bounced all three tracks to a new stereo track. I was then able to pan that stereo track off to the left a bit to make room for other instruments on the right.

When I tracked a live recording with it I lifted the "mid" mic up a bit to capture more of the vocal and panned the "side" tracks a bit wider but still not hard.

As with any of our little tricks, we need to experiment with them to get them just right for the project at hand.

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