6 tips for getting a wide mix in music production

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No more weed mixes. Check out these techniques to add breadth to your music.

Do you have the impression that something is missing from your song? In need of a certain luxuriance? It might need a bit of width. A large mix creates drama and an epic and immersive experience for the listener.

Getting breadth in your music is a game of contrasts. Your ears will perceive the difference between sounds as if they are physically further away. Remove fine mixes and open up your sound as you produce by widening the stereo field, to fatten up your track.

Try these suggestions and see if you notice the difference in your music production.


The panning is your friend

Try to pan the elements to the far left, center and far right and listen to the difference as the sound opens up. Fill in the gaps and place some instruments halfway, as moving them all to the far edges can create a mudder sound, so always be sure to trust your ears first.

Check out more panning tips here.


Be generous with the effects

Chorus, flanger, delay, and reverb can all have a wider impact. A little can go a long way, barely noticeable in individual sounds but making a subtle difference overall. Reverb, for example, is designed to make signals sound like they’re bouncing deep into three-dimensional space, not just recorded in a stuffy box.


… Or show favoritism towards a sound

Choosing just one sound in your mix and adding effects can make the whole mix look like it’s been processed. Try selecting an element in your mix to add reverb to. Using the delay in the same way is the same concept. You can also apply both effects at the same time.


Double trouble with double tracking

If you are recording live instruments, try double tracking for a wider sound. Record a second version of your instrumental audio track. There will always be natural differences even if it is exactly the same instrument, the same player and the same notes. Now pan hard, hitting one track on the far left and the other on the far right. You can also treat each track slightly differently, by adding effects. See how he opens the sound.


Be careful not to lose punch

Adding effects such as chorus will give a soaring feel, but you could very well lose some attack in a sound. Be aware of the balance between seeking a wider stereo field and maintaining the clarity of each sound. Don’t overlook the individual elements.


Remember the separation

Create separation within a bus by turning the EQ up and down. For example, in backing vocals, amplify signals that are panning on one side, then cut off those that are panning on the opposite side. A subtle difference in the frequency curve between the left and right ears creates a broadening effect.


Always check your mix in mono after applying effects to widen the stereo field, to make sure they haven’t ruined the sound quality and the instruments haven’t given up completely.

Each producer has their own techniques, tips and tricks for adding breadth to a mix. There is no one-size-fits-all solution. Try different ways and see if you notice your track sounding wider, bigger, and better.


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