Make Your Acoustic Guitar Larger Than Life

Hey friend, welcome back to another Sage Audio video.  Today I’ll be showing you, how to make your acoustic guitar track larger than life with just one simple step.  A lot of singer songwriters, and engineers alike struggle with creating a detailed and impressive acoustic guitar sound, especially when using only one microphone.  Now due to budget limitations or hardware limitations, one microphone may be the only option, so it’s incredibly important to know how to take that mono track, an turn it into something that can compete with stereo recordings.  With that said, let’s get started.

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So, what I have here is a mono acoustic track.  I recorded this with a fairly decent condenser microphone, but as you can see since this track is mono, I recorded it with just this one microphone.  Now if we take a listen real quick, it sounds pretty good, but once we start layering vocals, maybe an electric guitar or piano, this track will get lost in the mix.

In order to make this track stand out we’re going to use this one plugin here from Izotope, called Izotope Ozone Imager.  Now the one I’m using is the 6th iteration of this plugin, if you have this version great, if you have an earlier or a later version that’s completely fine it will still work the same.  But one thing that is important is selecting the mono —> stereo option when inserting this plugin. After doing so you can see here in logic that the meter next to the channel fader is now stereo.

Once the plugin is pulled up you can see that the plugin separates the track into frequency bands, similar to how a multiple band compressor separates them.  These frequency bands will be important later on when you start adding addition instrumentation. Down here we can see the vector scope, and if you look while the track is playing, the signal is directly in the middle.  So even though we’ve converted this mono track to a stereo track, it’s still essentially a mono track in terms of imaging.

What we’re going to do now is turn on the stereoize function – I keep mine pretty low but you can adjust it however you see fit.  Now because I’m a firm believer in knowing what these functions are doing, essentially the stereoize slider is separating the mono track into multiple tracks, then delaying what time they arrive.  The more you increase the slider, the greater the delay, and subsequently, the larger the width of the stereo image.

Above the stereoize slider take a look at the bandwidth faders, here you control how stereo or mono you want your image to be, specific to the frequency bands I mentioned before.  

Now would be a good time to adjust these bands, based on what other instruments you’ll be recording or already have layered in.  So if I have a vocal track recorded as well, I’ll consider adjusting the 3rd bandwidth to the most prominent vocal frequency range, so about 1.5 kHz to 2.5 kHz, and then make that more mono if I plan to make the vocal stereo, or vice verse, make the image more stereo if I plan to make the vocal mono.  

Now lets take a listen, using a before an after to a good idea what this plugin is doing.  If you aren’t using headphones I’d recommend putting some on for the best effect.
So, what do you think? Have you tried this, or other stereo imagers before? If so how did you achieve the best results? Leave in the comment section below, we’d love to hear your thoughts.  If you liked this video, please subscribe, or share it. And as always if you have a mix you’ve been meaning to get mastered, or one that you just can’t seem to get to sound the way you want it to sound, send it to us at SageAudio.com, and we’ll send you a free professionally mastered sample of your mix.

Sage Audio Mastering

Nashville, TN

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