Most mixes, let’s face it, don’t leap out of the speakers. Stereo widening is required.

Your mix will struggle to attain the wide and immersive characteristics that mixing and mastering aim for if it lacks a solid stereo image. The characteristics that pull the listener out of their seat and into your song.

What exactly is a stereo image?

The apparent spatial positions of sound sources inside an audio stream are referred to as stereo image.

For example: a nice stereo image is when you’re listening to an incredible piece of music that creates a crystal clear picture of which instruments are performing and where they are in relation to you.

Your stereo picture contains three dimensions, much like the actual 3D world:


The height of your mix relates to the volume of your mix. With the correct use of levels and EQs, you may attain height.


The width of your mix (or speakers) determines how your sounds go from one side to the other. Width may be achieved in a variety of ways (more on that below), but panning is one of the most essential aspects of width.


The depth of your mix depends on how you use time-based effects like reverb and delay to create a deep or shallow image.

I understand that the topic of this essay is width. However, in order to produce the broadest stereo picture possible, you must consider all dimensions. You can’t think about one dimension without thinking about the others, since they all work together to produce the stereo picture.

Good stereo mic’ing methods are also required for a large stereo picture. But that’s a discussion for another day. The emphasis of this essay will be on stereo image methods used during the mixing stage, particularly for achieving that huge, extra-wide sound.

In this post, you’ll discover 7 fast and simple tips for widening your stereo visuals and breaking out of the box with your mixes. Let’s get this party started.

1. Start your mix in mono

It may sound strange, but mixing in mono is a great place to start if you want a more expansive mix.

Frequency balancing difficulties are one of the most difficult problems to solve for broad stereo pictures.

Your mix must be well-balanced throughout the frequency spectrum. Otherwise, the mix will sound empty and murky, and you’ll become tired of listening to it.

Frequency mismatches are particularly dangerous since they may induce masking. Masking is a psychoacoustic phenomena in which stronger sounds in the same frequency range conceal (or mask) softer ones. It’s one of the most crucial aspects of mixing. Masking is never a good idea!

Listening in mono gives you the most direct view of your mix, making frequency balance and levels problems easier to detect and correct.

It will be much simpler to make your mix shine in stereo after it sounds excellent in mono—before you add any panning, reverb, or delays—because the overall image of your mix is already rock solid.

Now it’s time to add the finishing touches!

2. EQ your “Presence Zone”

In the frequency range of 2.5-5 kHz, the “presence zone” may be discovered.

The human ear is most sensitive to frequencies between 2.5 and 5 kHz. It’s the first thing your listeners notice and remember. Any noises within that range will be easier to hear and will seem closer to you.

It’s a traditional option to provide space in the presence zone for lead vocals. But, if at all feasible, whichever part of your mix you want to be front and center should occupy portion of the presence zone.

Make the most of your precious presence zone by drawing your listener’s attention to the finest and loudest portions of your mix.

But be cautious! When there’s too much going on in the presence zone of a mix, it narrows the stereo picture and makes instruments seem too near and crowded. Always avoid overdoing the presence zone for a broad mix!

Using a spectrum analyzer, keep an EQ. Check it on a regular basis to check if there is too much data in that range. You haven’t finished EQing if you’re hearing too much in the presence zone. Return to your bands and make any necessary changes!

You’ll give each instrument the room to shine and extend your stereo picture into that lovely wide space your ear loves by EQing your mix (in mono initially, but again and again throughout the mixing process).

But keep in mind that breadth begins with a clear presence zone—start there and work your way out.

3. Use your reverbs for multi-dimensional sound

Reverb is a traditional mixing technique for adding breadth, as well as the all-important third dimension of depth, to your mix.

When you add depth to your stereo picture, you’re also extending the overall stereo image. Every sound will have more space to breathe and settle into the mix with reverb.

Reverb is a traditional mixing technique for adding breadth, as well as the all-important third dimension of depth, to your mix.

When you add depth to your stereo picture, you’re also extending the overall stereo image. Every sound will have more space to breathe and settle into the mix with reverb.

There are a variety of methods to utilize reverb to create space to your mix, but any reverb approach will give your mix a sense of depth and spaciousness.

There are many different kinds of reverb. Each has the ability to give your mix a unique feel and depth.

It will take some effort to find the right kind of reverb to provide that additional oomph without dramatically altering the nature of your audio. However, Hall reverb is an excellent place to start when it comes to breadth.

But don’t stop there… Depending on your mix and production approach, any kind of reverb may do wonders for creating three-dimensionality.

4. Pan for ultimate width

The most important stage in creating a broad stereo picture is panning.

Panning allows you to position individual instruments, or even certain frequencies of instruments, in a specific location within your stereo image—and to go as wide as you like.

Always base your panning choices on the whole of your mix. Panning may be done in a variety of ways, but no matter how you do it, it’s essential for obtaining a broader mix.

Here are some short guidelines and principles to help you get your panning in order and achieve breadth in your mix:

Maintain a mid-range low end

Lower frequencies should not be panned. Low frequencies drive your rhythm and are the core of a groove, so keep them straight down the center.

Keep your L and R balanced

Because our brains are wired to center stereo images, keep the L and R channels balanced to prevent phantom center confusion.

Pan using your ears, not your eyes, at all times. Look away from the knobs!

The sound quality is the only thing that counts. Close your eyes and listen until you hear that exact sweet spot while panning.

Even if your L and R channels’ levels are equal, if one side has more sound competing for the presence zone, the stereo picture will sound off balance.

Keep your main vocals in the middle of the mix

Unless you have a compelling reason to do differently, keep your lead vocals in the middle as well.

To truly let your lead voice shine, put it front and center.

5. Double track to widen your image

Double tracking is a tried-and-true method of obtaining a large stereo picture.

It’s easy: take two identical (but slightly different) recordings of the same piece of audio, put them on separate tracks, then pan them hard left and right. It will deepen both of their sounds, as well as make your mix seem bigger and more expansive.

6. Use Microshifting to expand your space

Microshifting is a smart method for generating juicy stereo pictures that make your channels seem bigger and wider than they really are.

Here’s how to do it:

Take one stereo track and pan it to the middle, where it will stay. After that, copy the track twice more (for a total of three versions), then patch a pitch shifting plugin inline on both copies.

Now, using the pitch shifter, lower one copy by a few cents (5-10 cents is typical) while raising the other duplicate by the same number of cents. After then, pan one copy to the left and the other to the right. That’s what microshifting is all about.

Replay the three songs in stereo to appreciate your ingenious technique and freshly expanded stereo picture!

7. To make the Haas Eff, use a delay

The Haas Effect is a stereo image-widening method that employs delay. It’s great for adding breadth to your audio stream without altering its timbral characteristics.

  • Create a duplicate of a track, then sidechain patch a delay audio effect onto it.
  • Then, on that copy, add up to 30ms of delay, but no more.
  • Pan hard left on the original track and hard right on the duplicate. This gives the impression of a single stereo track with a broad range of frequencies. The result will be perceived as spaciousness rather than delay by your ear.

Create a mono version of the audio and keep it panned in the middle to repair it. This manner, even when summed to mono, the music retains its punch.


Stereo widening is essential for elevating your mix to the next level and wowing listeners with your soaring sound.

It’s also critical to make sure that each track fits well in your mix and achieves its full potential.