Izotope Ozone Imager Tips (Stereo Width, Phase Issues, Balance)

Svemir

Member
Hi guys/gals,

I'm not such a pro at mixing and I'm still learning, despite this I have recorded and mixed a few songs at home which sounds pretty ok to me.
I'm using Cakewalk by Bandlab, I'm now in the phase where I'm trying to understand a few things like Mix balance, stereo width and phase issues.
I downloaded Izotope Ozone Imager (freeware version) and upload it on my Master bus, I was wondering if any of you is using it and would give me some tips.
There are some things that are not quite clear to me.

So I have read and followed pretty much the LCR technique, recommended by lot of mixing engineers, so in my mix (instrumental song), I have drums, bass and lots of guitars with clean and distorted parts.
So where I have only 2 guitars I panned them 100% right and left, when 3 guitars I put 2 on the sides and one in the mid. Bass and drums in the center.
I used a reference track and also there I can hear the guitars 100% or so panned L/R.

I tried to look at the stereo ozone imager graph on the master bus but it's not clear to me what should it looks like, how it is suppose to look?
I understand that the -1/0/1 bar on the right should be between 0 and 1, if it goes to -1 it's out of phase.
If it's out of phase, what should I do to the mix? pan the guitars I put 100% left and right more in the middle? like 60/50 % pan?
If so, that wouldn't follow anymore the LCR technique correct? I want my guitars to be wide.
Out of phase means the instrument is too much panned left and right and so should be panned more in the mid? Am I wrong?

In my mix in the first (clean) part of the song it goes under 0 on the right bar, so it seems out of phase, what should be done to avoid this? again not pan the guitars 100% R/L?

Also the waves I see in the imager left and right should not be larger or the same as the one in the middle? or is it ok?
WHat if one wave on the left end is longer that the one on the right? is it bad?
Could someone please clarify these points?

Here's my mix if someone would like to have a listen.
https://drive.google.com/file/d/1oLGf45PdSCaTDvxdgJU7Fm2DdYNpHXeG/view?usp=sharing

Thanks

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Svemir

Member
I'm finding out the problem step by step and now I think I'm getting closer to the solution!
Indeed the freeG Meter plugin is transforming the mono signal in stereo! The one I had on the master bus was widening all my mix.
If I switch it off the signal goes back to mono.
Now some tracks are also affected by the TH-U amp sim plugin, in some tracks the plugin is active but is not converting it to mono, in some other tracks it is.
Just need to figure out why.
Should the guitar tracks be transformed in stereo by the amp sim plugin? I think yes, because the track resulting out of phase is the one that is in mono (Arpeggio)
 
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mjbphotos

What?!?
I don't know anything about the particular software you are using.
BUT (BIG but) why do you keep insisting that L/C/R is the way to mix? Try some experimentation.
 

Svemir

Member
I don't know anything about the particular software you are using.
BUT (BIG but) why do you keep insisting that L/C/R is the way to mix? Try some experimentation.
Because I trust this guy, he mixed big bands:


And also because my friend has a recording studio and he also recommended to pan guitars 100% L/R, at least distorted ones, if you have 2, and if you have 3, one in the center and 2 to the extreme sides. .
if not 100% can be 90% or 80% but mostly should be on the extreme L/R.
This might depend from the genre, in my case, post rock, hardcore punk music, works that way, not sure about the other genres, might be different.

In any case that plugin is to measure the balance of your mix, and to see if it's out of phase. Are you aware of phase issues?
 

Gtoboy

Active member
I recommend doing a little studying up on the phase correlation meter. The different guitar parts being panned hard L/R won't cause a phase issue, though they can cause volume differences from side to side, which is a whole nother conversation.

The idea of hard panning is to leave space for other instruments, reverbs, delays, ear candy , etc.. An "ideal" mix IMHO would have each third of the "pie" filling the particular "slice" nearly edge to edge and about 1/2-2/3 of the way outward from the center radiation point. You can have too much "empty space" in a track making it sound amateur-ish YMMV
 

Svemir

Member
I recommend doing a little studying up on the phase correlation meter. The different guitar parts being panned hard L/R won't cause a phase issue, though they can cause volume differences from side to side, which is a whole nother conversation.

The idea of hard panning is to leave space for other instruments, reverbs, delays, ear candy , etc.. An "ideal" mix IMHO would have each third of the "pie" filling the particular "slice" nearly edge to edge and about 1/2-2/3 of the way outward from the center radiation point. You can have too much "empty space" in a track making it sound amateur-ish YMMV
I was trying to follow the LCR panning rule (100% R/L and center), I found out the following looking at Ozone stereoscope.

- I had some phase issues in the part of the song where 2 clean guitars Only, panned 100% L/R were playing

- In the parts where 2 distorted guitars are 100% panned L/R, there's no phase issue because the bass and the drums are in the center.

- So in the clean guitars part, following Ozone stereoscope, I panned them 60% left and right, no phase issue.

- I can conclude that the LCR panning rule is good and sounds wide but applicable only on distorted guitar parts with drums + bass in the center

At the end with Ozon I gave a little bit of stereo widening in the Master bus.

Do you think is a good point? It's the first time I do this balancing/phase thing, if is not the hard panning causing the phase issue, what would that be? If I adjust the panning, I can see in the Ozone Imager bar is not going anymore on -1, but is standing between 0 and +1, meaning is in phase
 
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Massive Master

www.massivemastering.com
Don't follow meters. Follow your ears. You should know if there are phase problems - the meter doesn't. ALL stereo mixes will have a sum and a difference. This can be a nice, natural or even exaggeratedly wide sounding spread, or it can be a serious problem. The meter won't tell you which one it is.

The LCR rule (which really isn't LCR, and he's probably confusing a bunch of people by calling it that), is just panning - Pan where you want. If you want things panned all the way to the sides, that's fine. But I notice even in the video, he pans things that should be wide to the sides and things that shouldn't (like toms) in a more natural manner. This isn't anything groundbreaking - This is just panning. As long as that panning doesn't cause phase *problems* then do what you want.

But you should still consider coherence of the mix. Some people like a big wide mix with no location. Others like a very natural soundstage. Others like something in between. It depends on the source and the other instrumentation. A solo piano piece can probably get away with a stereo pair being split 100%. A piano as part of a jazz ensemble on the other hand, that's just going to sound stupid (subjectively - the whole band is going to sound like it's "inside" the piano).

In any case, glad you found the issue with the previous version.
 

Svemir

Member
Don't follow meters. Follow your ears. You should know if there are phase problems - the meter doesn't. ALL stereo mixes will have a sum and a difference. This can be a nice, natural or even exaggeratedly wide sounding spread, or it can be a serious problem. The meter won't tell you which one it is.

The LCR rule (which really isn't LCR, and he's probably confusing a bunch of people by calling it that), is just panning - Pan where you want. If you want things panned all the way to the sides, that's fine. But I notice even in the video, he pans things that should be wide to the sides and things that shouldn't (like toms) in a more natural manner. This isn't anything groundbreaking - This is just panning. As long as that panning doesn't cause phase *problems* then do what you want.

But you should still consider coherence of the mix. Some people like a big wide mix with no location. Others like a very natural soundstage. Others like something in between. It depends on the source and the other instrumentation. A solo piano piece can probably get away with a stereo pair being split 100%. A piano as part of a jazz ensemble on the other hand, that's just going to sound stupid (subjectively - the whole band is going to sound like it's "inside" the piano).

In any case, glad you found the issue with the previous version.
Thanks a lot for making me notice the previous issue, you were completely right man.
Sounds much better now, even if now I'm re-checking all mixes with the Ozone Imager for other potential phase issues and to try to balance the mix, unfortunately my ears are not trained like yours so I have to rely on some meter.
Basically I notice that when the meter goes to -1 (meaning out of phase) I correct the tracks panning putting it a bit more in the mid and then the meter goes up between 0 and 1 (in phase), I did like that for every track, not sure is the right way to fix this but is something.
 

mjbphotos

What?!?
Ok, so if you are doing 60% pans, you are no longer using L/C/R!
The reason I don't like hard panning is it does not sound natural to my ears. Yes, it can be used for a particular effect. I've listened to plenty of older music that was panned that way - due to limitations of tracks and gear in those years. So maybe some others don't like my mixes because they aren't 'wide' enough, I'm not making mixes to please everyone, just like I don't write songs to please everyone. Generally, when I am doing a mix that has multiple instruments and drums I pan them like I was watching/listening to a band playing in front of me - the drums are in the center, but each mic is panned according to where the drum is. If the drummer does a roll-off, I hear it move from right-center to left-center, the high hat's to the right a little, the ride cymbal to the left, etc. If I walk around the room, I don't lose half the mix because I am out of one speaker's 'cone' of sound.
Phase issues can be a very definite thing with 2 similar guitars playing a similar part panned hard - but you won't hear it except when in the perfect symmetrical listening place - or if you sum to mono. The phase issue comes from the slightly different picking/strumming - one guitar might be on an up-stroke while other is on a downstroke, for example. The phase problem can happen when partially panned too, of course, but you are likely to notice it quicker as the sound momentarily drops or gets louder. The more distortion you have on the guitars, the less this will be noticed because the distortions causes the individual notes to lose their definition = that's why it can be a real issue with acoustic guitar parts played similarly.
 

Gtoboy

Active member
So I still think you are not getting the "out of phase" concept. The only reason to think about phase issues as has been stated is if they are causing a problem with how things SOUND and mono compatibility if that's something that is of concern(isn't for most of us). If you play two guitars at the same time in the same room the wave forms are going to interact and will in effect cause both to sound differently from if there was only one guitar playing. It's normal to have some parts of a signal reinforce while others subtract and that will show up as phase differences in a meter but it doesn't matter because it's not causing anything much different then hearing them in the same room. If you had two guitars panned hard left and right that had NO phase difference it would not sound wide. Instead it would sound like one big loud mono guitar part right down the center. The differences that are causing the phase bumps your seeing are why the guitars can sound wide and stereo. So go with what MM said and listen. Actual phase problems will generally cause parts to sound "thin" "flangy" lacking low end among the more obvious issues. If you have those kind of issues then a phase meter can help find the cause and reduce it but it's pointless to try and get the meter stuck in the center, the production would just sound blah IMHO
 

Svemir

Member
So I still think you are not getting the "out of phase" concept. The only reason to think about phase issues as has been stated is if they are causing a problem with how things SOUND and mono compatibility if that's something that is of concern(isn't for most of us). If you play two guitars at the same time in the same room the wave forms are going to interact and will in effect cause both to sound differently from if there was only one guitar playing. It's normal to have some parts of a signal reinforce while others subtract and that will show up as phase differences in a meter but it doesn't matter because it's not causing anything much different then hearing them in the same room. If you had two guitars panned hard left and right that had NO phase difference it would not sound wide. Instead it would sound like one big loud mono guitar part right down the center. The differences that are causing the phase bumps your seeing are why the guitars can sound wide and stereo. So go with what MM said and listen. Actual phase problems will generally cause parts to sound "thin" "flangy" lacking low end among the more obvious issues. If you have those kind of issues then a phase meter can help find the cause and reduce it but it's pointless to try and get the meter stuck in the center, the production would just sound blah IMHOthan
No indeed maybe im not getting it. Still no answer on how phase issue should be corrected.

It’s not a performance issue right? If the 2 guitars are not perfectly aligned maybe the picking is slightly not on time in some parts causing some kind of delay?

you are saying is an issue caused by 2 guitars l/r having the same kind of sound and amp and so getting confused with each other?

Or is it that they are too much panned left and right, consequently when you switch to a mono device you cannot hear one of them?
Should I care if my mix cannot be heard in mono really? Since its not club music and wont be played in mono speakers?
Should I really care about people playing music on their mono iphone speakers? Who does that?!!
Maybe i cannot hear the phase issue cause i’m mixing with headphones being at home with my wife cannot play it on speakers!?

Only thing I’m seeing is in the Ozone meter going in -1(out of phase) in some parts where only 2 clean guitars are playing, panned left and right, like if something is missing in the middle, but when the bass and drums starts playing, there’s no phase issue, probably because those are pan centered!
what should I do in this case? Should I just leave it like it is?
Or bring one clean lead guitar panned in the mid? If I do so, i have 1 pan center and one extreeme left, leaving the right empty, is this good for the mix balance?
I mean if i have only 2 guitars playing in my mix, there’s gonna be of course some empty space, whether I pan center and right then left would sound empty, or if i pan both left / right then the center would sound empty. What would you recommend? Am I worrying too much about this stuff?
 
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Massive Master

www.massivemastering.com
What they're getting at is that basically EVERY stereo mix will have elements that are out of phase to some extent. If you take two identical sounds, pan one left and one right, you will have what sounds like one sound coming from the middle. It's the DIFFERENCE between the left and the right that is perceived as "stereo" -- And sure, if you have something that's truly wrecked out of phase, a meter will show it. But you NEED to be able to HEAR it also - Because a meter isn't going to tell you if phase cancellation is actually problematic or just an unusually wide sounding mix that otherwise sounds reasonable.

Speakers and space. It all comes down to that, every time. You will only ever be able to hear as accurately and consistently as your speakers allow you to hear. And your speakers will only ever be as accurate and consistent as the space they're in allows them to be. There's a whole lot of "shortcuts" and "workarounds" in audio. There are none for that.
 
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