Sound stage – unnatural is good

Sound stage is important! I’m sure you’ve heard that from many people. At least if you’re into mixing and audio in general. Then they start babbling about how you have to place the elements. The kick, the snare, the bass and the lead vocals dead center. The guitars, keyboards to the sides. Then operate with ambience to get the singer to the front. And the rest of the band behind her/him. Just to get a natural sound stage. And at that point, your head will start spinning. With a bad headache developing as well.

Sound stage – dare to get an unnatural one

Are you okay my friend? Oh, there you are. So, the good news is, you don’t have to go through all that crap, just to get a pleasant sounding mix. A natural sound stage is just that. It’s something that tries to get closest to how things usually occur in nature. In our case, it’s the way a band happens to sound on stage. Now think about it a little bit. Do we need it to be that way? Of course not. What we need is a good sound. And we can get that with setting up an unnatural sound stage as well. Only it requires a certain degree of freedom. Freedom of creativity.

Sound stage – dare to get an unnatural one

sound stageIf you think it’s something new and unusual, think about those early stereo mixes. Remember how the drums were on one side, the bass on the other. Sometimes things were walking from left to right and back, between the speakers. And there were moments when an instrument that was drenched in lush reverb dried up suddenly. If you remember these moments, you’re on the right way to create and perfect your own arsenal of tricks.

Sound stage – dare to get an unnatural one

It is true that you can do just about anything with a good tune. It will work in most situations and get the message through. But if you can make the mix of that good tune memorable, you’re golden. How can you make it memorable with manipulating the sound stage?

  • Create a dream like sound with placing elements to unusual positions. Both front to back and left to right.
  • Move elements around every now and then.
  • Pick an element and make it bigger-than-life. Use the levels, ambience and distortion. Nothing is scarier than an enormous drum kit beating in the center of your head.
  • Be brave to make things dry. Like Sahara sand.
  • Go from narrow to wide open. Or the other way ’round.
  • Operate with dynamics. Create contrast with soft and loud parts.
  • Thank me later.

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