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Music Production: Stereo Separation

Updated on August 3, 2016

What is stereo separation?

Stereo separation refers to the concept of spatial audio distinctions between sounds. Basically, where each sound is coming from relative to your position. If you were placed in the center of a room, with a drummer on the left side of the room and a bassist on the right side, you would hear the instruments louder through your ear on their side of the room. The drummer would be louder in your left ear and the bassist would be louder in your right ear.

Stereo Separation VS Panning

When it comes to separation in music production, there are two very common types of plugins, plugins that pan sounds, and plugins that stereo separate sounds. The best way to learn the difference between these two types of plugins would be to get both of them and try them on the same sound so you can hear how they affect it differently. A panning plugin allows you to pan the signal between the left and right speakers on a stereo system, while the stereo separation plugin would allow you to "push/widen the sound to the sides". One way to think about this would be to imagine that you are in a room with two speakers directly in front of you. As you widen the distance between the two speakers, the sound gets "wider". Separate the sounds too much and it feels like there is nothing left in the middle. You might also hear the word "separation" in the context "Wow, that filter really added more separation between the high and low frequencies than the other one".

Favorite Panning Plugins

- PanCake 2 (Free)

- Fruity PanOMatic (Stock FL Studio plugin)

- Audio Damage Panstation ($39.00 USD)

- MAutopan (Free)

Note: A lot of DAWs (Digital Audio Workshops/Workstations) have pan settings on individual mixer tracks and/or audio tracks that can be used instead of panning plugins for basic panning needs.

Favorite Stereo Separation Plugins

- Waves S1 Stereo Image ($150 USD)

- Fruity Stereo Enhancer (Stock FL Studio plugin)

Stereo Separation Example

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