FL Studio – Introduction to MID/SIDE Processing [VIDEO]

In this video I show you how to split a stereo signal into MID and SIDE in FL Studio using the Fruity Stereo Shaper and a couple of applications of this process. I’d recommend watching full screen at 1080 resolution.

 

In this tutorial I’ll show you how to quickly split a stereo track into MID and SIDE so that you can do some clever processing.

Routing the Mixer Channels

You will need your original stereo audio track to go through one mixer channel, which will become the MID channel, and you will need to sidechain this to a second channel which will become your SIDE channel.

Setting up the Fruity Stereo Shaper for MID/SIDE processing

stereoshaper

You will need to load a Fruity Stereo Shaper onto the MID track. Then select the preset called MID – aSide Splitter. This converts the signal into MID and SIDE, sending the MID through the track the Stereo Shaper is on and the SIDE to a sidechained track. If you only have this track routed to the master then you should find that setting the in/out difference to 2 will send the SIDE information to the SIDE track. When you play the audio through the MID track you should see that there’s also audio now coming through SIDE. If you mute the SIDE channel you should hear that the output becomes mono, because you’re only hearing the MID information. If you want to hear just the SIDE information then un-route the MID channel from the Master. This will sound quite strange because the SIDE information doesn’t become real stereo until it’s added back to the MID information. It’s complicated… 🙂

MID/SIDE Processing

So, now you’ve split your stereo signal into MID and SIDE you can start to do some MID/SIDE processing. This is when you change one of the two channels independently of the other. Two basic but effective types of MID/SIDE processing would be to adjust the volume and to adjust the EQ. For example, increasing the volume of the SIDE channel will cause the audio to sound wider. The same effect can be achieved by reducing the volume of the MID channel.

Another common MID/SIDE trick is to use EQ (In the video, I use FL Studio’s stock Fruity Parametric EQ 2) to reduce the lower frequencies on the SIDE channel and force these frequencies to the centre of the stereo field. This would usually be made up of your kick drum and bass instruments which sound much tighter when they’re straight down the middle.

You can now use any processes you like on the MID or SIDE separately to create some interesting effects. Experiment and see what you can do. I’ve previously used a subtle delay on the SIDE channel which resulted in a really spacey sound. Other effects may sound awful so if it doesn’t work, scrap it!

Important Consideration – Mono Compatibility

When mixing or mastering you should ALWAYS regularly check what the audio sounds like in mono (some would even recommend doing all your mixing in mono up to the last stages). There are some situations where your finished track could be converted to mono; some club speaker systems, or some radio channels, for example. When this happens there will be a change in the sound. Obviously there won’t be any stereo so an instrument panned to the far left will not sound like it’s coming from the far left. But there’s also a certain amount of loss. In general, the wider the audio sounds in stereo, the more you’re likely to lose when squashed to mono. This can mean losing an entire instrument, like a wide sounding keyboard, or an entire frequency range.

There’s always going to be some difference when converting to mono but you should constantly check your mixes in mono whilst working on them to ensure the change isn’t too dramatic. You want your final mix or master to be as ‘mono-compatible’ as possible, meaning it sounds good in both stereo and mono.

So that’s an introduction to MID/SIDE processing in FL Studio. I hope you find this tutorial helpful. Do check out my other FL Studio articles and feel free to comment and share. Please like my Facebook page to keep up to date with new posts and join our FL Studio Q&A group to ask for advice and help each other.


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