Build a Bigger Soundstage

Try Some Old-School Tricks To Widen Your Mix
Publish date:
Updated on

I know about panning to place sounds in a stereo field, but I’d like my mixes to have more depth and a bigger soundstage. I keep reading that analog consoles can provide a more open soundstage, and wonder if my problem is from doing in-the-box mixes. Will adding an analog console really make that much difference? If so, can you recommend a model?

Matt Soderquist Philadelphia, PA via email

Applying this string of processors in Ableton Live 9 to a percussive shaker track places it more in the soundstage background. Many techniques can help you create a bigger soundstage, whether you are working in the box or mixing on analog console. Begin by visualizing the space you want to create. If you want a “live” sound, then the drums will probably be further back, and you’ll want to add some room ambience to them. If the drums were recorded without room mics, short delays or a reverb set to simulate a small space can help.

Image placeholder title

Trimming high frequencies ever so slightly will also place sounds more in the “back” of the mix. For example, if the mix includes background singers and a lead singer, make the lead singer a little brighter; in addition, using less reverb on a lead vocal brings it more “up front” in relation to other sounds. As another example, trimming a tiny bit of highs from rhythmguitar parts and adding some subtle ambience will place them “behind” the lead guitar part. Centered, dry parts will be the closest to the listener.

Try a combination of panning, EQ, and ambience, and you should be able to create a more convincing soundstage no matter how you’re mixing!
The Editors

Got a question about recording, gigging, or technology?
Ask us! Send it to