Doubling - achieving Stereo vs. Big Mono

redking

Senior Member
Joined
Mar 16, 2010
Messages
2,468
Reaction score
1,659
What are your guys thoughts on doubling guitar lines? What gives it the most prominent stereo effect - the doubled performance being ever so slightly different than the original take, or the sound / tone of the 2 guitar rigs being slightly different? (or a combo of the 2?)

ie. Will recording parallel guitar rigs that sound different during the tracking of "take 1" give you that big stereo spread as well as 2 separate takes?
 

bocage44

Premium Member
Joined
Oct 1, 2008
Messages
901
Reaction score
1,765
I have incorporated several different approaches to doubling in the sessions I've worked. One of the more common is recording two passes of the same section and having them panned anywhere from the 9 o'clock/3 o'clock positions to full wide. It's important to use two different takes, as the inconsistencies between takes are what really gives that nice full sound.

I've also used completely different setups for the right and left sides - that produces some really cool results. But again, using different takes for each.

Using just one take to try to create a doubling effect would produce unsatisfactory results I'd think, no matter if it's through two different amps. Even if you try to slightly shift two tracks of the same take in your DAW, you'll probably run into some phasing issues.

When you're recording the passes to create the doubled parts, a looser (not as exact) take will give you more of a chorus effect. The closer the two takes are, the more focused the sound. If you want to get adventurous, try different chord voicings, or even use different tunings (such as Nashville). Also, play around with different panning combinations. Be careful with too much distortion, it tends to muddy things up.
 

Nard

Senior Member
Joined
Nov 9, 2012
Messages
2,378
Reaction score
3,362
When I was in my first band as a teenager the other guitarist said there was no point being in the band if I only play the same parts as him as it doesn’t add to the song. For that reason I always record two guitar parts with subtle differences. I’ve always listened to bands with two guitarists or more and like listening for the different approaches they take to the rhythm parts.
 

Freddy G

V.I.P. Member
Joined
Mar 18, 2007
Messages
14,325
Reaction score
35,434
I have incorporated several different approaches to doubling in the sessions I've worked. One of the more common is recording two passes of the same section and having them panned anywhere from the 9 o'clock/3 o'clock positions to full wide. It's important to use two different takes, as the inconsistencies between takes are what really gives that nice full sound.

I've also used completely different setups for the right and left sides - that produces some really cool results. But again, using different takes for each.


When you're recording the passes to create the doubled parts, a looser (not as exact) take will give you more of a chorus effect. The closer the two takes are, the more focused the sound. If you want to get adventurous, try different chord voicings, or even use different tunings (such as Nashville). Also, play around with different panning combinations. Be careful with too much distortion, it tends to muddy things up.
Solid advice^

Using just one take to try to create a doubling effect would produce unsatisfactory results I'd think, no matter if it's through two different amps. Even if you try to slightly shift two tracks of the same take in your DAW, you'll probably run into some phasing issues.
depends on how much you shift. Anything up to about 10ms will get you a phasey, stuck flanger effect. But if you go for say 35ms of delay and spread the pan on the original and delayed signal, this can widen your mono track without creating phasing issues. This is known as the Haas effect.
 

Freddy G

V.I.P. Member
Joined
Mar 18, 2007
Messages
14,325
Reaction score
35,434
ie. Will recording parallel guitar rigs that sound different during the tracking of "take 1" give you that big stereo spread as well as 2 separate takes?
Not at all. If you take a single guitar performance and split the signal into two paths, one going to one rig and the other signal going to a completely different sounding rig, you can pan them hard and still it will not be perceived as any kind of big stereo spread.
 

yeti

Senior Member
Joined
Aug 19, 2008
Messages
3,560
Reaction score
3,478
depends on how much you shift. Anything up to about 10ms will get you a phasey, stuck flanger effect. But if you go for say 35ms of delay and spread the pan on the original and delayed signal, this can widen your mono track without creating phasing issues. This is known as the Haas effect.
I dunno about all this Haas effect business and while I usually find myself agreeing with you on many things I believe in this case I have to disagree with you. :p

Rather than stating why in my own words I'll refer you to the good folks @ SOS

https://www.soundonsound.com/sound-advice/q-can-haas-delays-be-mono-compatible

the highlights: "Can Haas delays be mono compatible?
The short answer is ‘no’: although Haas delays often sound very impressive when heard in stereo, the parts on which they’re used will disappear or, at best, change in tone and level when mixed to mono, due to phase cancellation. And while increasing the delay time outside the 5-35 ms Haas region can remedy the cancellation problems, it will negate the effect that you found pleasing in the first place: you’ll hear a discrete echo, not a single sound."


Successful applications of the Haas effect can be found in Live sound reinforcement (Delay towers) but IMO using Haas effect to widen critical mono sources in a stereo field will always result in mono compatibility issues. And while I'm no expert on mp3 encoding it is my belief that any fancy wide Haas effect widening will be first to be thrown out by the codec, remember that mp3 encoding relies on Haas effect ( if you're supposed to locate left, you only get left) and temporal masking (among other things) to identify "unnecessary audio information", heck they have to remove 90% of audio data so what's first?....HF content above 15KHz (nobody can hear that, right?) and unnecessary non-correlated signals. Listening to the side signal of an audio stream reveals the ugly truth. IMO the best thing you can do to mp3 proof your mixes is to rely on honest mono compatible techniques and and avoid distortion from maximizers, but that's another story altogether. The other thing that i usually think about when it comes to these "delay tricks" is that with microphones we tend to obsess about the detrimental effects of (minimal) group delay on the sonic integrity of the signal yet adding liberal amounts of delay (relatively speaking) to the original guitar signal is somehow ok. What about the transient mess it'll create in mono?

The only things that works well IMO are double tracking with different rigs/ sounds or M/S type treatment.
 
Last edited:

Freddy G

V.I.P. Member
Joined
Mar 18, 2007
Messages
14,325
Reaction score
35,434
I dunno about all this Haas effect business and while I usually find myself agreeing with you on many things I believe in this case I have to disagree with you. :p

Rather than stating why in my own words I'll refer you to the good folks @ SOS

https://www.soundonsound.com/sound-advice/q-can-haas-delays-be-mono-compatible

the highlights: "Can Haas delays be mono compatible?
The short answer is ‘no’: although Haas delays often sound very impressive when heard in stereo, the parts on which they’re used will disappear or, at best, change in tone and level when mixed to mono, due to phase cancellation. And while increasing the delay time outside the 5-35 ms Haas region can remedy the cancellation problems, it will negate the effect that you found pleasing in the first place: you’ll hear a discrete echo, not a single sound."


Successful applications of the Haas effect can be found in Live sound reinforcement (Delay towers) but IMO using Haas effect to widen critical mono sources in a stereo field will always result in mono compatibility issues. And while I'm no expert on mp3 encoding it is my belief that any fancy wide Haas effect widening will be first to be thrown out by the codec, remember that mp3 encoding relies on Haas effect ( if you're supposed to locate left, you only get left) and temporal masking (among other things) to identify "unnecessary audio information", heck they have to remove 90% of audio data so what's first?....HF content above 15KHz (nobody can hear that, right?) and unnecessary non-correlated signals. Listening to the side signal of an audio stream reveals the ugly truth. IMO the best thing you can do to mp3 proof your mixes is to rely on honest mono compatible techniques and and avoid distortion from maximizers, but that's another story altogether. The other thing that i usually think about when it comes to these "delay tricks" is that with microphones we tend to obsess about the detrimental effects of (minimal) group delay on the sonic integrity of the signal yet adding liberal amounts of delay (relatively speaking) to the original guitar signal is somehow ok. What about the transient mess it'll create in mono?

The only things that works well IMO are double tracking with different rigs/ sounds or M/S type treatment.
Fair enough....but the question was not whether it would fold down to mono compatibility. :)
I do tend to think of these things in terms of what I do mostly, which is either live sound or creating a sound design for playback in a theatre. In both of these instances I never worry about mono compatibility or any other kind of "translation to another system" concern because both those situations are proprietary.
 
Last edited:

mmd

Senior Member
Joined
Sep 24, 2012
Messages
2,514
Reaction score
2,513
I have always found the best and easiest way is to just play the part twice. I will use a different guitar and a different rig for each take.

I have used one guitar performance and "doubled" it via a splitter box and two different rigs, but not to any real satisfying result. Usually I'd do that with cleaner takes, using a chorus box as a splitter.

I also have a true stereo Rivera S120 amp with built in stereo chorus. I have tracked that amp with two separate cabs - one power amp with EVMs, the other with G12-75s - and the chorus to "spread" the sound. It sounds okay, but not as good as just playing the part twice with different guitars and rigs.

These days, I do A LOT of my tracking using a Line 6 Helix. Even using the Helix, running two parallel rigs to separate outputs panned L-R, it just sounds better to track the part twice, lol.

Basically everything bocage44 said is what I have discovered over my years of recording. He has given some killer advice.
 

yeti

Senior Member
Joined
Aug 19, 2008
Messages
3,560
Reaction score
3,478
Fair enough....but the question was not whether it would fold down to mono compatibility. :)
I do tend to think of these things in terms of what I do mostly, which is either live sound or creating a sound design for playback in a theatre. In both of these instances I never worry about mono compatibility or any other kind of "translation to another system" concern because both those situations are proprietary.
Yes, the question was not about mono but I also draw from what I do mostly and mono compatibility is still huge in my field.

But yes, if you control the reproduction system you can get away with a lot more, feature film mixing would be another example of that, until it comes time to mix the film for DVD or broadcast release where all bets are off, you can't predict the playback situation. Imagine where surround music releases would be if there was a way to ensure proper playback system alignment, but I digress.

The mono thing is incredibly important and not enough people are aware of this, in the last 6 months I had to reject music scores and audio mixes delivered for broadcast, done by professionals, due to total lack of mono compatibility. they always ask why it matters, nobody listens in mono, etc.. Fact is that more people listen in mono that one might assume, many of them don't know it though. Anyway, I think it's a valid point to consider when discussing these production techniques, that's why I brought it up.

Also, not too many folks consider what happens to their mixes during (multiple passes of) encoding and the undesirable, sometimes unpredictable side effects there have nothing to do with mono compatibility but everything to do with the psycho-acoustical considerations on which these codecs are built. IMO these are important issues to consider during the mix.

Out of curiosity: Does anyone build a decent facebook/ youtube/ spotify/ soundcloud/ etc. emulation plug-in to check what these codecs do to a stereo mix?
 

Frogfur

Senior Member
Joined
Jan 18, 2013
Messages
20,018
Reaction score
35,922
Can't Buy Me Love. Recorded in Paris then double tracked back in England.
 

Static

Senior Member
Joined
Nov 27, 2012
Messages
138
Reaction score
165
Using just one take to try to create a doubling effect would produce unsatisfactory results I'd think, no matter if it's through two different amps. Even if you try to slightly shift two tracks of the same take in your DAW, you'll probably run into some phasing issues.
I don't necessarily agree with this.

We often split the guitar feed into two different amps or sims and record the part in one pass, or use multiple mics positioned differently into separate tracks. Gives you options during mix down. We haven't run into the phasing issues you might get just cloning the same track.

I agree that two different takes has desirable qualities - we use this method regularly too.

If guitar is the main rhythm track layering multiple takes and panning can really beef up and smooth out your mix.
 

rxbandit

Senior Member
Joined
Sep 8, 2009
Messages
8,299
Reaction score
15,804
I don't necessarily agree with this.

We often split the guitar feed into two different amps or sims and record the part in one pass, or use multiple mics positioned differently into separate tracks. Gives you options during mix down. We haven't run into the phasing issues you might get just cloning the same track.

I agree that two different takes has desirable qualities - we use this method regularly too.

If guitar is the main rhythm track layering multiple takes and panning can really beef up and smooth out your mix.
What you're talking about isn't really doubling, its recording the same take with different amp/mic setups (or simulations of) which is great recording technique but doesn't result in the "doubled" sound that this thread is talking about.
 

Static

Senior Member
Joined
Nov 27, 2012
Messages
138
Reaction score
165
What you're talking about isn't really doubling, its recording the same take with different amp/mic setups (or simulations of) which is great recording technique but doesn't result in the "doubled" sound that this thread is talking about.
Got it. Thanks for the clarity - sometimes we don't read what we think we read! Cheers.
 

filtersweep

Senior Member
Joined
Apr 11, 2012
Messages
1,370
Reaction score
1,839
A stereo modulation effect will often suck the life out of the mix. I’d be hard challenged to find an example of good use of it. Why do you want a stereo spread of one guitar? Most commercial recordings have very focused placement to promote good separation of tracks.
 

Freddy G

V.I.P. Member
Joined
Mar 18, 2007
Messages
14,325
Reaction score
35,434
A stereo modulation effect will often suck the life out of the mix. I’d be hard challenged to find an example of good use of it. Why do you want a stereo spread of one guitar? Most commercial recordings have very focused placement to promote good separation of tracks.
Well.... as a stereo chorus effect on a clean guitar can be texturally glorious
 

filtersweep

Senior Member
Joined
Apr 11, 2012
Messages
1,370
Reaction score
1,839
Well.... as a stereo chorus effect on a clean guitar can be texturally glorious
Do you have some prominent examples with a significant stereo spread? Most recordings are with nearly mono chorus
 

Freddy G

V.I.P. Member
Joined
Mar 18, 2007
Messages
14,325
Reaction score
35,434
Sure...Roland Dimension D is one of my favs. Lifeson has used that and the TC 1210 spacial expander for years on stacks of recordings.....wide stereo spread. First pedal I ever bought in the late 70s was a Boss CE-2....it sounds great, but it's mono. And the glory of the stereo field is not there at all. That's how most people use a true stereo chorus....as a lush textural effect. Sure, if you want to focus a part to stick out and be prominent then stereo chorus will fight that.
 

yeti

Senior Member
Joined
Aug 19, 2008
Messages
3,560
Reaction score
3,478
A stereo modulation effect will often suck the life out of the mix. I’d be hard challenged to find an example of good use of it. Why do you want a stereo spread of one guitar? Most commercial recordings have very focused placement to promote good separation of tracks.
Hmm. I'm not a fan of chorus at all but....
....I dunno, clean tones by Eric Johnson, the Edge, Andy Summers, Pat Metheney, Adrian Belew, David Lindley, Billy Duffy, pretty much every 80's new wave guitarist sporting a Roland JC 120, etc. The list is endless. I do not see how a stereo modulation effect could possibly suck anything out of a mix, it doesn't even fight focus if it's supporting a mono, unmodulated version of same guitar track recorded via a different amp. Lot's of players use the wet on the outside, dry in the middle approach. Using chorus on stereo verb or delays to give space to a mono guitar track is also very common and effective.
 




Top