A couple previous tips dealt with how to give mono instruments, like guitar, a stereo image that won’t degrade when collapsed to mono. Widen Your Mono Guitar—Sans Problems used delay, but in a way that minimized phase issues. Delay-Free Stereo from Mono used two Multiband Dynamics, set for no compression, to separate the audio into bands that you could then pan left or right.
This tip takes the process even further—it’s versatile, relatively simple, easily customizable, and also, has no phase issues when collapsed to mono. I’ve even used it to create a subtle, artificial stereo image from old mono records.
The Stereo Separator is particularly effective with power chords and rhythm guitar, especially as an alternative to layering parts in search of a “bigger” sound—you can obtain a stereo spread with a single track, so the sound is more defined compared to using multiple layers. And of course, if you scroll to the end there’s a downloadable FX Chain, so you can start playing with this immediately.
This example assumes a mono, distorted guitar track, like what you’d obtain by using a single mic on an amp. To create a stereo image, we first need need to convert this to a stereo track. So, set the track’s Channel Mode to stereo, and bounce the track to itself (Ctrl+B) to convert it into a dual mono (i.e., stereo, but with the same audio in the left and right channels). Now we can start playing with the stereo imaging.
And now, the fun begins! Play with the Pan controls to spread the different frequency bands in the stereo field—the audio example gives a good idea of the type of effect this FX Chain can do. The first example is mono, the second widens the image a bit, and the final example does a somewhat more radical stereo image.
Of course, you can go into the routing window, and change the levels of the various splits. Or, add FX in the splits…change the split frequencies…there’s enough to keep you busy for a while. Happy stereo!