Vienna Symphonic Library Forum
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  • VSL stereo width

    Hi everyone,

    Is it just me or the stereo width of the VSL samples is rather big (and lots of other sample libraries too).
    They sound great. It's just that sometimes they sound too wide.
    Now I know that you can decrease the width and everything, but the original stereo panorama sounds great, yet...not focused enough (to my ears at least).

    I have heard that in big stereo recordings (where the mics are far from each other), it is common to use a mic placed in the center to keep the sound more focused while still being wide.
    Would it work to have a track fully wide (unaltered), and mixing in the same track but completely mono?

    I have tried it and it seems to focus the sound a little more.

  • Too wide!!!

    Hell I can't get em wide enough. Let me have your samples and you can have mine [:D]

    It may well be your speaker setup that needs looking at if your getting too wide a response. Cos I'm not kidding when I say that I have to really force the stereo width outwards.

  • Hm,
    I have changed my monitor setup many times and I don't think they're not wide enough, I have even checked with headphones.
    I think what I am really missing is some kind of focused center channel.
    Maybe when I meant too wide, I really meant wide enough but without some kind of focused center channel...
    I could be wrong though.
    I also had the idea of (i'm sure lots of other people had this idea) mic modeling everything. I'm trying to find what microphones where used in scoring sessions of movie scores that I am trying to get the sound of, then I could mic model everything and my eqing should be 75% done.

    Sorry everyone if i don't make sense...I have been trying to get the right mix for 2 months now...and I'll try pretty much anything now..but I seem to get closer and closer

  • Good arrangements should go a long way to mixing themselves. If you are having trouble getting the mix to sound how you think it should it might be an idea to start with the basic bones of your arrangement and add sections bit by bit and see if it builds up nicely.

    In a convential orchestration working through the strings, on to the winds, brass, then percussion can be a good way to go.

    With regard to eq and mic modelling there are loads of different approaches but if you are indeed struggling with your mix it may be time to remove all eq (keep a save of your current stuff as well) The VSL samples are well recorded and I'm sure mixed to great effect on many projects with the absence of Eq.

    After looking at your mix with the eq removed and any other fx see if there are any changes needed in performance levels of the various instruments or perhaps if a tweak of the orchestration helps. Once things start to happen at this stage you can look at Eq, perhaps some compression see what needs reverb and where.

    By this process you can fine tune and improve your mix in stages rather than trying to fix something further down the line where there may already be conflicts.

    I'm sure the guys at VSL put a huge effort into microphone choice and placement so I think trying to create a different feel to the samples in the mix may just as well be achieved by equalisation (severe in parts if it suits your mix) than with mic re-modelling.

    Finally with any elongated mix session make sure you reference it on more than one speaker system - listen in mono, listen on a small speaker, listen off axis - even partly out of the room - listen on headphones the smoother and more consistent a mix is across different playbacks the more confident you can be it will work.

    Also take a break, listen to other music where you respect the mixes, rest your ears then revisit your own mixes with new impetus and ideas.

    Keep trying and don't give up!!

    good luck


  • Also, don't kick yourself in the teeth over the mix.

    I came to realize a while back that I'm a composer .. not a mixing engineer and certainly not a mastering engineer. Although I know about them and can perform basic mixing .. sometimes it's best to give that job to someone that knows what they're doing. It's not a sign of failure on your part.

    My mixes are vexed by all the same flaws as yours .. and more I shouldn't wonder. But I found solice in letting someone else do that part, of the job. So I can focus on the writing.

  • thx a lot everyone for your input.

    I will proceed a little further with mic modeling to see if I can get anywhere with it. ..Hopefully I will...because my goal is to get the right mix through the least number of changes to the original sound. So far I have mic modeled every part with the Brauner VH1 mic. It took a lot of the mid frequencies that were bothering me and also made the sound crisper... I am sure that not the same mic was used for every part, so I will have to go deeper into using different models of mics for different instruments.

    Julian, you are probably right as to the stages of mixing. I usually stay in front of my monitors for hours without rest..and my ears do get fatigued, and I eventually get burnt out and give up on a project. I will make sure I take more rests and listen to the mix from different speakers.

    Hetoreyn, you are right...I am a composer..that is what I want to do..but for some reason I want my music to sound absolutely perfect, but now i realize that it is impossible without another person specialized in mixing.
    I have started music 6 years ago doing electronic music where I would do eveyrthing myself, so I used to write, mix, and master everything myself. I have to make myself stop worrying about the mix and mastering as much as I currently do, as it usually kills my creativity trying to get the right mix.
    Looking at it positively, I can determine that I have got a "close to good" enough mix to start focusing on the writing.

    Thanks again everyone...

    please put in more inputs on the subject if possible

  • I understand your need to want to do everything right, in the writing and the mixing. I share the same desire. In fact for a few years I did professional mixing in a small studio, and did quite well. But I was mixing small bands. Didn't really have to think a lot about lots of instruments.

    You can still get the perfection that you want. At the end of it all, no-one knows what sound you want ...better than you. Even if someone else mixes the majority you still have all the say and final decisions.

    When my engineer is mixing more often than not I'm standing behind, between the monitors and listening hard, and then if I hear things that need to be changed I will attack the mixer myself and then let him do the fine tuning. And if I'mm wrong about certain decisions I can count on him to tell me the 'better' ways of mixing.

    It's not a bad process! [:D]

  • "width" & "missing focus in center"

    If you wanna fake a "spot mic", you can place a single-channel track, i.e. a solo flute, and pan it where you want it, for example in the center.


  • A try could be to do exactly what you describe with the additional "mono" mic in the middle. Do a version with slightly more reverb than you'd take initially and mix it the way you like. Then use a second instance of the track, narrow it almost down to mono and do the positioning with a stereo imaging tool and mix both signals to get the right balance between focused and wide.

    Watch phasing issues - I'm not sure about mono compatibility either...

  • So far I seem to get a good result mixing in a mono channel. I'm going to keep working on it and see if I can get a good result, and hopefully a great one.