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Recording Tips: 1 Use Stereo As An Instrument

by Jardene Kellaway on 01/06/11

When you are recording a new song or tune, don't forget that the Stereo, or spliting of Sound Tracks between two tracks, can be used effectively as an Instrument in itself to enhance the over-all sound you create.  The 'classic' effect was used by The Moody Blues who moved a sound around the clock, or more technically speaking, ping-ponged it between Left, Centre and Right then back to Centre and on to Left.. and the sound appeared to the listener to be going in an orbit around their head.

The most effective way to use Stereo is to separate Instruments, placing them on the Left Channel, the Right Channel and placing the vocalist evenly on both sides which results on the voice coming from the Middle. The Lead Guitar, for example, could be channelled to the Left and the Saxaphone to the Right. Now we have the Singer in Centre stage, the Lead Guitarist on the Left of the stage and the Saxaphone Player on the Right of the stage.

The end result is a rich, room filling sound or a Head Filling Sound when listened to on Headphones. Instead of your song being a flat Canvas of Sound, it has become an curved screen which surrounds and embraces the listener. Much more exciting. Much more vibrant and it effectively pulls the listener right into the middle of everything instead of being a distant observer.

There are endless way Stereo can be used to create that special magic you are looking for. The Drums for instance, could be recorded with three Mics - one on the left Drum, one on the Right Drum and a third on the floor, close to the Bass Drum. By switching from a tightly compressed sound on the Left to a fully Echoing on the Right, you can get some very dramatic moments, depending on what the Drummer is actually doing at the time. The same Mic configuration will also allow a Drummer's 'Roll' back and forth from Left to Right and back, sound bigger, stronger and more dramatic as well as just plain, old-fashioned Exciting!

Vocally, this spliting of sounds between the two Channels allows you to separate the Lead Singer from the Backing Vocalists. Place the Lead Vocal Centred and the Backing Vocals, lightly echoed, on the Right Channel only and Left Channel only. Now the Singer is surrounded with a softer, echoed chorus of Voices which do not appear to befighting for the Listeners' attention with the main Vocalist.

So the rule is, Stereo is an Instrument too. It plays Effects and produces Depth.

 

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