Mono to Stereo

       Changing a mono track to stereo is really quite impossible since the information to accomplish this just isn’t in a mono file. True stereo involves panning individual instruments in space and then adding reverb to simulate the environment. In this case, we’re going to simulate stereo by using equalization, reverb and a special plug–in effect that I happened upon by chance.

       The track we’re going to use was recorded at my band’s last live show. Those of you that read my blog will know that our guitarist, lead vocalist and main songwriter is on sabbatical to attend medical school in the Caribbean. I arranged for us to have a last hurrah and it just so happened that my nephew, who plays a mean harp, was in town from Albuquerque. This song is a cover of a blues standard—”Just Like I Treat You”. What I intended to do was to focus the bass frequencies and the frequencies that contained the lead vocal in the middle since that’s where they belong and give the rest of the sonic spectrum some semblance of space.

       I recorded the entire show using a Sony cassette deck to take the tape out from my Mackie 1604 VLZ. It ran a little hot so I got some tape compression. Click here for the unadulterated track. What I intended to do was to focus the bass frequencies and the frequencies that contained the lead vocal in the middle since that’s where they belong and give the rest of the sonic spectrum some semblance of space. I first separated the track into mono right and left channels and used the normalization feature included in Sonar to make sure the individual tracks were of equal volume. I then made three copies of the right and left mono tracks and panned the first pair hard left and right. I equalized these tracks to bring out the acoustic guitar and harmonica by cutting the bass frequencies and boosting the 4000 hz levels.I also used my secret weapon on these tracks to give them some space. Whenever you boost a frequency, the overall volume of the track will increase so I had to adjust by lowering the volume of these tracks to about –6db or so. The other two pairs were kept panned in the center. I took the second pair of right and left tracks and equalized them by boosting the bass frequencies and cutting the midrange and high frequencies to feature the bottom end. Since the tracks were normalized before eq, I pulled the volume fader back to about –6db to compensate. The third pair of tracks was eq’d so that frequencies around 2500 hz were boosted and the bass frequencies were cut entirely. Again, I had to compensate for the boost by pulling the volume fader back to about –8db.

       Next, I set up an auxiliary send on the first pair of tracks and inserted the Lexicon Pantheon reverb plug–in so that those tracks would have a bit more sense of space. Finally, I compressed the entire mix tp bring everything together and the result is here. You could take this to extremes by chopping up the track into individual frequency bands by instrument and panning them where you wanted to. Since we really only had 4 instruments to deal with, I feel it works pretty well.

 

Click here for more information and a free download of my secret weapon, the EXpressor plug-in.

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