Enhance your mix with smart:EQ 3’s Mid/Side processing

June 17, 2022 | Tutorial

EQing with Mid/Side processing is a method that’s often underrated when mixing. A few specific adaptions to the mid and side signal can help to make your track sound cleaner and more transparent, without changing the characteristics of the audio tracks. In this article, we show you three examples of how you can get more out of your track by using the Mid/Side function of smart:EQ 3.

The mid/side function of smart:EQ 3, in short M/S, enables you to work on the center (mid) and the side signal independently from each other. This opens up a lot of possibilities, such as increasing the width of a track’s stereo image or enhancing the transparency of an entire mix.

You can learn more about how M/S processing was created and all its underlying technical basics in this article “Not new but newly discovered – Mid/Side processing”.

Take a look at the following video tutorial or the step-by-step instructions down below, if you want to know how you can create space with M/S processing, make a drum track clearer or how to work on the masterbus to create a tight and transparent mix.

Step by step

We suggest using high quality headphones or studio monitors when listening to the following audio examples.

By using Mid/Side processing in these three examples, we can get from this mix ….

sonible · Mid/Side-smartEQ3-mix-without-EQ

… to a much more balanced, clearer and wider sound.

sonible · Mid/Side-smartEQ3-mix-with-EQ

1. Create space in a mix

Unedited:

sonible · Mid/Side-smartEQ3-Guitar/Vocals-without-EQ

Edited:

sonible · Mid/Side-smartEQ3-Guitar/Vocals-with-EQ

As you can hear, the initial arrangement of the mix sounds cluttered and there are frequencies of the acoustic guitar that coincide with the vocals. The global M/S parameter works perfectly to remedy this – by increasing the side signal, the guitar is pushed to the side, the acoustic guitar sounds wider and there is more room in the center for the vocals. Please not that too much difference between die mid and side components can lead to a phasy sound and the mono compatibility is impacted.

2. Clear drum sound

In this step, the kick and the snare of a drum loop should be adapted independently from each other to gain more clarity and presence. You can use single filter bands to make precise changes in the mid and the side signal. By clicking right on a standard filter you can switch between stereo, mid or side.

Unedited:

sonible · Mid/Side-smartEQ3-Drumbus-without-EQ

Edited:

sonible · Mid/Side-smartEQ3-Drumbus-with-EQ

Since the kick often sits right in the center of a stereo image, it helps to reduce boominess by decreasing the mid at 200Hz. The snare and clap, however, are mostly in the side signal. That’s why I increase the side signal at 1kHz to create more clarity. With a high shelf filter at 3.5 kHz the perceived stereo width is broadened and the drum break becomes airier and more present.

 

3. Mid/Side in the Masterbus

Unedited:

sonible · Mid/Side-smartEQ3-Masterbus-without-EQ

Edited:

sonible · Mid/Side-smartEQ3-Masterbus-with-EQ

Using Mid/Side processing in the master bus can help to make an entire mix more transparent and tighter. Place a lowcut side filter at around 100Hz to make the low end mono in order to avoid phase cancellation in this range. Next, I increase the Mid components at 80Hz to make the bass and kick more present. A slight decrease of the side components at 2kHz give the vocals more room in the mix, since they are in the center or a stereo image.