The Dark Arts of Mid Side

The Dark Arts of Mid Side


January 26th, 2016


The Dark Arts – Mid Side

When I was first starting out in making tunes I never gave a second thought to stereo image. It was more a dark art of the mastering engineer. Over the last few years the mystery of mid side is a little less confusing to me and I am more confident to split channels in the mix into they’re mid and side elements and process them separately.

I believe Mid-Side is also used in the movie and TV business when recording.

Low Centre:

As far as I understand it is generally good practice to keep your low end in the centre as in with no stereo information as it can cause anti phase problems and if you ever want your music to translate to vinyl then its just not possible to cut anti phase signals. 300hz and down in mono is a good rule of thumb that I have always worked to. There are plugins that will allow you to mono just the low end but sometimes its best to do it at the channel level.


Where are you hearing it:

I am kinda old school when it comes to production so I tend to just have effects on my sides I like it when you hit the mono button and the tune still sounds the same just not wide like before. Because I am making music primarily for the club environment I always think that really only half the crowd ever get to hear a good stereo image and the rest to the sides of the arena are only really hearing one side of everything that is assuming that the club even has a system running in stereo. You can never count on a stereo image in clubs its just the nature of all the crazy sound techs doing things in they’re on special way.


space for everything:

With the infinite headroom and awesome EQ’s, FX, and other gadgets and gismos available to us today you would think that there would be space for more but it seems more and more that there is less and less space. I have recently started summing my tracks because it gives you this separation that you just can’t get out of the 1 and 2 in the box. Mid Side processing can defiantly free up space though when done right, I am still learning and I think sometimes the want for music outweighs the technical workflow.



As a rule I go by the more stereo info in a sound the less focus as far as I am aware and in turn has tendencies to be perceived as not so loud in the mix. There are of course sounds that I have found that break all the rules for whatever reason and sometimes just running a sound through an exterior preamp and back into the box can give it something that is very hard to describe.



Again as in previous posts I always use some kind of visual spectrum analyser for eery sound as I go through the mix and EQ each channel as needed. I also use the spectrum on the sides to see whats going on as I solo them. There are things you just can’t hear sometimes.

To quickly get you started you can hear the sides on Ableton by loading the Utility plugin and selecting the width to 200%. To hear just the mid info select o%.

Screen Shot 2016-01-26 at 19.35.03 Screen Shot 2016-01-26 at 19.34.56 Screen Shot 2016-01-26 at 19.41.10

The Possibilities are endless on what you can do to the Mid and Sides. Sometimes the best thing is nothing if it sounds sick already!

Thanks for reading!

Please leave a comment if you have anything to add or just found it interesting.


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