Want to avoid disasters?
Keep your M.E. happy?
Follow these mid side monitoring guidelines while mixing your tracks!
Ultimately, with mid side monitoring as one of your mixing tools, you’ll sound good, everywhere - OK?!
Before explaining what to listen for, I’ll re-visit the very basics of Mid Side techniques to explain what we’re listening to.
To review, we’ve covered the basic starting set-up here.
When preparing a stereo file for mid side work, first we sum the left and right channels to give us the MID signal.
For the SIDE signal we invert the polarity of one the channels, and then, sum to these two channels together. Here now, any element of the signal that appears in both the left and right channel at equal volumes vanishes.
That’s as far as we need to go for this discussion here.
To automate all this for you, I offer these two methods; both very simple - and 100% effective.
These solutions let you do mid side monitoring: whether it’s the MID, the SIDE, or the FULL STEREO mix.
TC’s option (the one I currently use) can be accessed by toggling on the front panel or through its software mixer.
But, if your happy with the audio interface you have, BrainworX’ free plugin allows you the very same options simply by inserting it at the end of your master buss. (This also allows single left and right channel monitoring, among other things).
Now we know what we’re doing, how to do it, and why, let’s find out......
You’d better have all the drama, punch, and power happening in the mid signal that you have in the full stereo signal.
This goes back to the why:
You get the point - I hope!
This avoids playback problems on challenged systems like boom boxes - problems like unwanted vibrations and resonances.
This is also important if you plan on cutting your track to vinyl. You don’t want your listener’s needle jumping out the groove because you spread your bass too wide.
This is just a variation on the first two points combined but critically important!
If it does, you have phase issues you need to address before you go any further.
Your stereo mix, in cases like this, may have a "really cool" 3D, surround-like effect going on, but few people are ever listening in the sweet spot to a song, even if they listen in stereo.
And these "effects" rarely translate to headphone listening.
*But this doesn't address a more serious issue:
You should note that this applies for 99% of pop recordings. Live, Jazz, and Classical recordings often follow different criteria to achieve a proper balance. Nevertheless, the reasons for monitoring still apply.
Mid Side Monitoring is a crucial component in my mastering process.
It'll determine whether I'm ready to continue with the project or if I need to contact you, the artist!
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