What is Mid/Side Processing and Why Should You Use It?
Mid-side (MS) processing is a technique used to manipulate the mid and side channel of an audio signal. It’s an essential tool for anyone who wants to achieve great sounding recordings and mixing in general.
In this blog post, we’ll go over what mid-side processing is and why you should use it. We will also provide some useful tips on how to use it effectively. Let’s get started!
What is Mid/Side Processing?
Mid/side processing is a technique used to process the audio signal in different ways based on its mid and side channels. We’ll begin by first defining what each of these terms mean: the ‘Mid’ channel contains just the information that appears in both the left and right channels, the Mono signal. The ‘Side’ channel contains all the information that differs between the left and right channels. In other words, this is the sounds only on the sides and no where else. You might be asking yourself, what does this have to do with audio processing? Well, by splitting an audio signal into its mid and side channels and processing them differently, we are able to achieve more effects than usual.
Why Should You Use Mid/Side Processing?
There are several reasons why you should be using mid/side processing in your mixing, such as the fact that it is an extremely flexible technique that gives you more options while mixing. One of the most common uses for mid/side processing is to apply compression to each channel separately. This becomes useful when you have a vocal track that is too loud in the mid frequencies (something that usually happens when a singer is louder than the rest of the music). You can apply a compressor to the mid part of the vocal, while letting the side frequencies pass through without any processing. This way, you are bringing down the volume of the vocal without affecting the quality of the overall track! Another useful application of mid/side processing is to apply reverb to each channel separately. This way, you can apply reverb to the vocal for clarity, while letting the rest of the track go without reverb. There are many more uses for mid/side processing that you can discover on your own!
How To Use Mid/Side Processing During Mastering?When mastering music, mid-side processing is typically used to subtly widen or narrow the stereo image of the signal. For example if I wanted to make the kick and bass centered, I could cut out low frequencies on the side image using a high-pass filter, and amplify the mid-image kick frequencies.This will make the low-end mono or centered, and keep the driving aspects of the mastered more focused and driving. Or if you fell like boosting your vocals you can easily attenuate 2kHz on the side image and boost it on the mid image. This will carve out some space for the vocal and reduce the effect that phase cancelation is having on the mono vocal.
Mid/side processing is a technique that every audio engineer needs to be familiar with. It’s a simple technique that can be applied in many different ways, giving you endless possibilities. If you’ve never used mid/side processing before, now is the time to try it out. It’s easy to start using it and the benefits are clear. You’ll gain more control over your mixes and have more flexibility when processing your audio.
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