Stereo signal in mixing and mastering
Stereo is not just stereo! Stereo signal in the mix and mastering
From the experience of the last few years we can report that it happens again and again that we receive so-called "false stereo files". This can have various causes. We want to address two of these causes of stereo files im Mixing and mastering elaborate.
It must have been 2010 when we first noticed the problem.
A long-standing customer who had already had two albums edited by us, for example, wondered after the third album why the instrumentals of his songs no longer sound the same after editing as they did before editing.
With this statement he surprised us after 3 years of working together. So far we have always assumed, based on his style, that this effect of his instrumentals was definitely desired (they were German Hip hop, boombap style), since the correction requests for his mixdown, in the entire period, never wanted to have a change in this regard. The customer is also always obliged to provide his finished mixes and finished Masterto remove properly.
In the end we were able to find out after long inquiries that the whole problem had to do with the fact that he was creating mono tracks for his project Vocal recording had created. Until then, this would also be a correct course of action. However, it happened to the customer that he had pulled his finished instrumental for the mix on a mono track as well.
After recording his vocals, he exported all of the tracks in stereo. If he had exported all tracks in mono, this would not happen. And the mistake with the instrumental would have come up quickly.
We recently had another situation in our studio. Here, too, we received stereo files as the output format for mix and mastering. After checking and comparing it with the customer's Rough Mix, we realized relatively quickly that stereo information was also missing here. After a detailed discussion with the customer, we found out that this error had probably occurred in Cubase when exporting the audio tracks.
The customer had selected everything correctly and released it for export, but ticked the “Mono Downmix” box in the “Export window”. Thus, no stereo information can be given in the apparent stereo file.
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Options for checking stereo signals
A good way to test a stereo file on your stereo information in order to enable an error-free delivery of the mixing and mastering files is by means of a "correlation measuring device". Many "analyzers" have already integrated this. Otherwise there are also some "free VSTs". Here you can quickly see whether stereo information is contained in the material being played.
Another possibility to determine an audible difference would be to fade out, or the so-called "mute“ of the side signals in the mix or mastering.
Mistakes happen where people work, so the tracks should be checked prior to transfer to a Mixing- or Mastering studio always checked again for correctness in order to avoid long production times and the associated additional work, which automatically causes additional costs. Then it also works with the CD Mixing!
Stereo practice tip for mixing and mastering
In order to be able to reproduce a good stereo, the following requirements are necessary:
- Loudspeakers should not be too close to the rear wall and should have the same distance to the sides and rear walls if possible.
- The listening position should be in the "sweet spot" - this is usually at the tip of the "isosceles triangle". To do this, imagine the two monitors as two corners of the triangle, the third corner in our case would be the listener.
- Ideally, the tweeters are at ear level.
- The room should be acutely optimized. Keyword: first reflections.