During the first part of the Sean Paine Workshop (credits: Gucci, Future, Young Thug, 2Chainz, Migos, Fetty Wap, Waka, Sosa, and more) at RAC, Sean spoke about his journey through the industry and how he got started, and also shared some of techniques he uses. As with most engineers starting out, Sean stuck to certain guidelines of what to do/what not to do, until his mentors taught him a few tricks of the trade.
For this article, we’ll be looking at Sean’s tips on getting that sweet spot with your reverbs. If you’re listening to your effect after countless tweaks and still aren’t satisfied with its width, read on to find out how to manipulate the stereo spectrum of the reverb to give it that “outside of the speakers” width.
Getting the right plugin
First, you’re going to want to get your hands on a plugin from Waves, named the S1 Stereo Imager. This plugin can be used to extend the stereo spread of reverbs to get an even wider and bigger-sounding effect (think of Travis Scott going “Yeah!”). You’ll only have a few sliders to adjust with the S1, but that means that you can easily set how wide or narrow you want the effect to sound, as well where you’d like to place it in the stereo spectrum.
If you place the S1 Imager on a full mix, for example, it’ll sound like a normal mix should at the default setting. But when you listen to it on speakers, you’ll notice your mix start to sound like it’s coming from the sides of your speakers once you increase the width slider, giving you an awesome stereo image. For heavy guitar-based tracks or for layers of synth tracks, you can easily spread them out to create more room for other instruments to sit in the mix. Conversely, when you decrease the width slider on a stereo track, you’ll hear your source go from stereo to mono.
The Asymmetry Slider
The power of this plugin is the asymmetry slider. This slider allows you to manipulate the balance of the sides without affecting what’s going on in the centre. Think of stereo drum overheads; if one side is more dominant than the other, but your kick and snare are centred right, you can quickly correct this issue using the S1 Imager plugin by manipulating the asymmetry slider.
Check out this quick video of Sean explaining how and why he uses the Imager.
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Illustration by Yihong Guo