How to Mid-Side Process Your Master

 
How to Mid-Side Process Your Master
 
 

1.  What is Mid and Side?

2.  How to Make Your Master Mid and Side

3.  Quick Mastering Mid-Side EQ Settings

4.  Quick Mastering Mid-Side Saturation Settings

5.  Quick Mastering Mid-Side Compression Settings

6.  Quick Mastering Mid-Side MB Compression Settings

7.  Quick Mastering Mid-Side Limiting Settings

What is Mid and Side?

Mid and Side routing is the isolation of the left and right signals into the mono or mid image and the stereo or side image.  When observing the stereo image, the mid is at 0 degrees or centered and the side is at 180 degrees. 

Mid-side is used to affect the stereo width of a mix or master and can be created with some unique routing, or separated using mid-side plugins.

How to Make Your Master Mid and Side

If you want to make your master mid and side you can either use a plugin with mid-sider functionality, or you can use some creative routing.  To make my master mid and side I’ll duplicate the master, and use MSED by Voxengo.

With it, I’ll mute the mid on one and the side on the other, and then label my 2 tracks mid and side so I know which is which.

What’s great about this is that I can adjust my stereo width by changing the amplitude of these 2 tracks.

Quick Mastering Mid-Side EQ Settings

When using a mid-side equalizer, you can attenuate the side’s low end with a high-pass filter to make the lows mono – then cut out the side around 2kHz to make the vocal more focused.  I’d also boost the side’s highs with a shelf to expand the high frequencies.

If you want to make the overall track wider or more narrow, alter the output and boost or cut the entire mid or side.  Also, you can make any of these bands dynamic to cause program-dependent stereo expansion.

Quick Mastering Mid-Side Saturation Settings

When using a mid-side saturator, I’d separate the signal into 4 bands, and then make the distortion on the lows and high mids occur only on the mid, and the distortion on the low-mid and highs occur on the side.  This keeps the signal focused but impressively wide.

This setup makes it so that the distortion on the kick and bass as well as the vocals is centered, making them more powerful.  The distortion on the body of the track, as well as the most aggressive frequencies, are spread.

Quick Mastering Mid-Side Compression Settings

When using a mid-side compressor, you can control the stereo image by determining what gets compressed more, the mid or side.  To expand the image of your master compress the mid image more, to narrow the image of your master compress the side more.

The default for these compressors will be to compress the mid more, in turn expanding your image – this is probably the intended effect, but alter your settings to cause more compression on the side if wanted.

Quick Mastering Mid-Side MB Compression Settings

A multi-band compressor/expander is probably the best plugin for mid-side processing.  Expand the side’s highs, and expand the low mids around 400Hz – then expand the mid’s lows around the kick, and 2kHz around the vocal, then adjust the attack and release times to determine its behavior.

What’s great about a multiband expander is that it lets you control both the frequency of your stereo imaging, and the duration of the imaging by altering the attack and release.

Quick Mastering Mid-Side Limiting Settings

Similar to mid-side compression, mid-side limiting will typically cause more compression to the mid-channel – additionally, it isn’t super common to be able to change how this limiting occurs from channel to channel.  All you’ll need to do is switch the limiter to mid-side mode.

In most compressors, the monitoring will show the mid-channel on the left, and the side on the right, so keep this in mind when trying to measure how much mid compression and stereo expansion is occurring.


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