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Thread: Mixing strategies for stereo tracks?

  1. #1
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    Mixing strategies for stereo tracks?

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    Having just acquired some mics for this purpose, I'm starting to record stereo tracks, XY and MS so far. I'm enjoying the results on the individual instruments, but now I'm looking ahead to mixing time to understand better how to record the tracks. I'm recording acoustic instruments, dreadnaught guitar, mandolin, fiddle, upright bass and banjo, no vocals. These are played and recorded one instrument at a time, mostly by me.

    My original thought is to record the rhythm section instruments, bass and guitar in mono and the lead instruments in stereo.

    The real question I have is mixing strategies for mono and stereo recorded instruments. I've become decent at recording mono tracks in a way to fit with each other with minimum EQ. In the past, one typical way I've paned these mono instruments is banjo -60, mandolin -30, bass 0 (center), guitar +30, fiddle 60. I'll sometimes bring a lead into the center depending on what this does to the rest of the mix. This seems to give a decent balance where everything can be heard. When I pan things wider, it loses some of the "ensemble" sound I want.

    I suppose I could mix the stereo tracks in the same places, such as both tracks of the mandolin XY panned to -30. Would I be losing some of the advantages of stereo recording that way? Should I pan the lead instruments out wider and occupy this extra space with wider panned stereo recorded tracks? Should I use stereo tracks for just the solos and not for backing other solos?

    Any comments are greatly appreciated.

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    There is no sense in recording in stereo if you are going to collapse the tracks to mono upon mixdown. At best you'll end up with a louder mono track, at worst, because of phase issues, the instrument will disappear!

    If you have a bunch of instruments recorded stereo and you still want to place them via panning, you simply narrow the stereo field (e.g., from +100/-100 to +50/-50) and then shift both sides an equal amount in either direction. So if you wanted to pan an instrument that was +50/-50 to the left, you could make the new panning +100/0 or +80/-20, etc. depending on how far you want to pan it. If you need to pan more extremely, you will need to narrow the stereo spread of the track even more, so you might end up with +100/+40, for instance.

    For these very reasons, I never record stereo tracks unless it enhances the instrument being recorded, and the enhancement will be noticeable in the full mix. This usually means I only end up recording large instruments in stereo (piano, drum kits).

    I'm not sure if this is what you were asking about. If not, sorry to waste your time!

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    Very Interesting. Im always curious about the theory behind stereo tracks and panning and all that.
    I own: Tascam TSR-8
    Tascam M-1600 mixer

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    Dunno if this will apply in your situation but when recording acoustic/classical guitar duets, one part at a time, I like the sound of an ORTF pair out a few feet (in a good sounding room) on each guitar... then when mixing, I keep the mic's hard panned for each guitar and adjust the L/R levels of each part so one guitar is moved to 10 o'clock and the other to 2 o'clock. This keeps most of the stereo room sound and gives each guitar a realistic place in the stereo field. Recording each guitar in mono and just panning them can sound pretty good too, it just doesn't get as much of the complexity of the real room sound.

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    You know....


    You guys replied to thread that was started in October... of 2002
    If you don't know where you're going, any road will take you there.

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    Timeless information is...well...timeless!

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    Well I saw it at the bottom of this forum in the suggested threads thing. It is still a good question today...
    I own: Tascam TSR-8
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    Haha.... It's all your damn fault poopchute.

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    With a name like that, whaddya expect?

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