PreSonus Blog

Widen Your Mono Guitar—Sans Problems

Your guitar is most likely mono. But sometimes you want a wide, full, stereo image. I can relate.

One technique is to send the guitar track to an FX channel, insert a delay set for a relatively short delay (like 25 ms), and then pan the original track and FX channel oppositely. But if you sum the signals to mono, then there’s the possibility of cancellation. In fact, I saw a guy in an internet video who said this was a terrible idea, and you should just overdub the part again and pan that oppositely if you want stereo.

Well, overdubbing is an option, assuming you can play tightly enough that the parts don’t sound sloppy. But don’t forget Studio One has that wonderful Channel Mode button on the Main output, so you can test stereo tracks in mono—simply adjust the delay time for minimum cancellation. You won’t be able to avoid cancellation entirely, but tweaking the time may keep it from being objectionable (especially once the delay time gets above 25 ms or so, because that’s more into doubling range). To make any phase issues even less noticeable, lower the delayed sound’s level a little bit to weight the sound more toward the dry guitar.

But I wouldn’t be writing this tip if I didn’t have a better option—so here it is.

  1. Pan your main guitar track to center.
  2. Send it to two FX Channels.
  3. Insert an Analog Delay in each channel, with Mix set for 100% delay, Factor to 1.00, Mod to 0.00, and Width fully counterclockwise. Pan them oppositely. Set the damping as desired. The screenshot shows a good starting point for your settings.

  1. Set different delay times, preferably somewhat far apart, for the two delays. I prefer prime number delays (3, 5, 7, 11, 13, 17, 19, 23, 29, 31, 37, 41 ms) so the delay timings don’t interfere with each other. For example, set one delay to 11 ms, and the other to 29 ms.
  2. Bring up the levels of the two delayed channel to create a pleasing stereo spread. It won’t be as dramatic a spread as using one dry and one delayed sound panned oppositely…but frankly, that “super stereo” effect sounds gimmicky compared to a full, robust stereo image. However, if you do want a more dramatic stereo separation, drop the center channel guitar by 6 dB in relation to the FX Channels that are panned right and left—you’ll still get most of the benefits of this approach. (You may need to group all three channels, and raise their levels a bit to compensate for the drop from lowering the center channel level.)

Now, here’s where the magic happens. Set the Main output mode to mono, and you’ll hear virtually no difference between that and the “faux stereo” signal, other than the stereo imaging. The reason why is that now, we have a guitar in the center channel—so choosing mono creates a center channel buildup. This raises the main guitar’s level above the delayed sounds, so there’s virtually no chance of audible cancellation, and it balances the level better between the stereo and mono modes.

Now you have a wide guitar that sounds equally loud, and is phase-issue free, in mono or stereo—happy Friday!

  • Blane

    I think it sounds more natural when the pingpong width is set to 0. That said, I like the flexibility of your original solution. A single effect for mono to stereo with that flexibility might be a good feature request for future versions of Studio One.

  • Yes, I used that technique in a previous tip about creating virtual room mics. Perhaps I’m “old school” but I like to have all the parameters for the center, left, and right channels in front of me. But – it would make sense to take the time to make an FX Chain that could combine all these elements in a single channel. Thanks for the idea!

  • Yes, that’s a great idea! You have to remember to set the Width fully clockwise. However, it is a bit less flexible if you want to weight the delay toward one side or another, or bring the delays a little close to center. But if you want the delays to always be panned extreme left and right, that’s a very good solution.

  • Blane

    On the bottom right side of the analog delay feed section there is a L C R selection option. How about selecting L for one instance and R for the other? That would make for a simpler and lower CPU chain.

  • It works fine with vocals – give it a try! However, I’m usually wrapping a fair amount of ambiance (e.g., reverb) around the vocal anyway, so that kind of masks this more subtle difference.

  • Mark Haven Hoyle

    Thanks Craig. What are your thoughts about applying this panning process to a lead vocal track?

  • It doesn’t have to be. For example, you can pan it toward the left, one delay full left, and one delay center to “weight” the guitar toward the left. However, I can’t guarantee the mono guitar that’s converted to stereo that way will collapse perfectly to mono (which was the whole point of this tip), unless you adjust the levels of the delayed sounds appropriately. And of course, you’re still dealing with center-channel buildup whenever you collapse stereo to mono.

  • Gianluca Cori Carlitto

    Problem is now we have a guitar in the center.

  • Removing Distractions

    Thanks for the original post and the tips on using it in the channel editor

  • Donnie Hart

    You’re right, that probably would be a better choice! For some reason, I started using Binaural Pan, years ago, and I don’t know why. It’s just a habit I got into. Thanks for the correction!

  • The Dual Pan would probably be a better choice…although the Binaural Pan might do some interesting things 🙂

  • Денис Зубарев

    You can use splitter before analog delays

  • Donnie Hart

    You could try putting a Binaural Pan before each Delay, and set the Binaural Pan’s pan knobs to left and right, respectively.

  • Removing Distractions

    How would pan the delays in the channel editor?

  • The support and comments from people such as yourself is why these tips continue, and why PreSonus is behind them. Thank you!

  • Yes. absolutely. You can create a “widener” FX Chain if you’d like.

  • Removing Distractions

    Can You also use this trick in the channel editor?

  • Eric Clouatre

    Thanks for the Tips. I always get a something outa of your lessons.