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Any tricks to widen the strings without losing the room image?

fustrun

Active Member
As the topic states i am looking to widen the stereo image of my string section without ruininng room image or cause phase issues ... any tips?

This is what i want to chieve at the end of the day:

Note the crazy big strings at the beginning.
 

Blackster

Senior Member
One of the best ways I've come across to widen the stereo image is using different reverbs for your left and right sides of the signal. This also works with mid/side signals. There's a wonderful very inexpensive tool around from Audio Vitamins that lets you treat those signals separately.

I'm not in front of the computer but I can point you to the tool later.
 
The obvious starting point is panning. I get most orch samples are recorded in situ with the image as it would be in a full session recording, but I often find that samples sound perceptually narrower than the real thing would do in the same space, so don't be afraid to exaggerate the natural panning slightly. You can try it just with the default pan pots, or there are various utility plugins that will pan for you in different ways with eq, phase relationships etc - sometimes that can sound more natural, used sparingly.

Don't be afraid to build your sound world in a way that wouldn't be possible with a real trad orchestra layout - samples afford you the possibility of splitting more lines out of separate processing, so if there's a Violin 1 part that would sound better coming from the right when the rest of the section is left, go ahead and flip the panning.

The other part of the equation is layering. Fill in the sound gaps of your primary strings with different libs, different articulations... Anything to add more complexity and depth (obviously this is an art in itself and not as simple as just slapping more shit on top). Get it right and it adds to the feeling of a rich stereo image much more effectively than sticking Ozone on the master and cranking up the width.
 

j_kranz

Active Member
From Alan Meyerson:

“One of my favorite tricks is to make use of the Haas Effect. So, if I have an instrument that is stereo in track but a bit mono in sound, I delay one channel of that track by usually between 150 (3.4 ms) and 250 (6.2 ms) samples. I use the time delay plugin in Pro Tools for this. What this gives me is an apparent shift in the position of the sound in the stereo field without doing a pan”.

I find this works great to widen things up a little bit but not alter the room or quality of the sounds. Kilohearts has a great little tool for this and it's cheap:

 
OP
fustrun

fustrun

Active Member
Thank you guys!

I am aware of the hass effect and have used it a few times however it would not work on a large string section.

Would love the name for that panning tool!
Also would love some more info on the reverb technique!

So i added another dry library to the mix, added close mics, panned things around ever so gentley and then added an s1 imager on the string bus doin very little and finally hitting my verbs to glue everything together .. sounds pretty good i think ..
 

Jerry Growl

Composing Music in the Plastic Dark Ages
I'm curious why you think that...
Yes, Haas works effective to increase a sense of spaciousness for mono sources. But it does also havoc in the phase issues dep, especially when using stereo sample material with baked in reverb (room mics, Tree mics, AB stereo mics)

Production weighs pretty heavy on the reference track (Clover Paradox). Besides great recordings skills they are obviously using a heavier compression style and a lot of EDM mix production tricks (subsynth, expander & bus compression combo, M/S mix groups, enhancers, etc) Probably many more mix tricks than I'm aware of. The airtight braahm/hits are well programmed too. The pre-production is probably monstrous.
 

Nick Batzdorf

Moderator
Moderator
Usually Jonathan's Haas tip is for creating walls to widen a mono signal and sort of bring it forward. You can also detune the delays a little.

But there's no reason it can't work on a stereo signal too, although I'd be more inclined to use it on the reverb than on the strings. Flanging/chorusing/delay fx-ed reverb tails isn't a new idea, of course, in fact variations of that are a hallmark of the Lexicon sound - which is also traditional for scoring: scoring stage + Lexicon hall.

Having said that, the first thing fustrun said is that he doesn't want to lose the room. To me that means long predelay.

Then you add your big, wide reverb wash.
 
If you double the tracks and hard pan them and then EQ each a little differently (not so much to create phase) that can help - or using mid-side EQ. As can using a little compression with a compressor that you can unlink so it compresses each channel individually (if compressing a stereo channel) - or even compressing a reverb tail that way.
 

shawnsingh

Active Member
Orchestration matters too. If the same notes are layered on the entire strings section, there will be a vaguely diffused centered sound. Assigning specific notes to each section based on where they are in stereo image can make a huge difference in the perceived width.
 
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