A Flaw in Logic (And How to Fix It)

There’s one simple but VERY annoying issue with Apple Logic that really bugs me.

This problem constantly occurs with stereo image.

You must sort it out in order to achieve a solid mix…

And yet Logic doesn’t have a straight up way for dealing with it!

Before all you Ableton or Cubase kids cream your twinkies… Your situation might not be much better so pay attention!

I am not sure about the other DAW:s to be honest, but I would like to hear what the deal is – feel free to drop us some comments.

 

However, despite the situation there are ways we can work around this problem, so let’s spill the beans.

I’m going to show you three different ways to tackle this bastard.

 

So What Is It??

I’m talking about stereo content in the low end of the audio spectrum.

Shouldn’t happen, but it does.

 

What’s the fuss?

Admittedly, stereo bass can work in some genres such as jazz or lighter rock music.

But for bass-heavy club music?

Don’t do it.

 

Making the low end mono will make your mix more solid.

You also prevent the bass from the sides of the stereo image from piling up into a boomy blob when the tune gets played back through a mono system (such as many club systems).

Lastly, if you are aiming for a vinyl release… You should know that the mastering engineer will make the low end mono anyway if it isn’t already.

Otherwise it just can’t be pressed properly.

And when someone else does that for you… Depending on the severity of the problem…

Your tune might end up sounding a bit different and not how you intended.

 

So you’re better off just dealing with it in the mix.

 

Always make the bass mono.

And not just that.

Also the low end of your drums, synths, effects… Anything with low frequency content.

 

What people used to do was to simply make all bass and drum channels mono.

That still works, but the technique is not up to today’s standards.

 

You want to be able to make the low frequencies mono while still having control over the rest of the stereo image.

 

Now, all frequencies of up to 100Hz at least should be mono. I often go higher.

 

So how do you do that??

It is straight up STUPID…

But Logic does not have straight up functionality for this…

 

So here are the workarounds for you – three of them as I promised.

 

Solution #1

Split the signal into two different channels – one with the bass content and the other one with the rest. Make the bass content channel mono.

Here’s how:

  1. Through Bus sends, have it go into two AUX channels.
  2. Shut down the original channel by setting it’s output to “No Output”.
  3. Use a low pass filter on one AUX channel, and a high pass filter on the other. Both filters tuned at the same frequency (let’s say, 100Hz for example).
  4. Make the channel with the low pass filter (the bass channel) mono.

 

Here’s a screenshot of how this looks like in the Logic mixer:

 

It’s a bit of a hassle but it gets the job done.

 

Solution #2

There are stereo image manipulation plugins that do a great job with this kind of thing (and much more).

Such as the MStereo Processor by Melda Productions.

 

 

Extremely versatile – it actually allows you to shape the stereo image in 4 different bands.

 

Solution #3 (my personal choice)

I use an EQ plugin that does M/S processing.

The PSP Neon to be specific.

I simply high pass the side channel at whatever frequency I want.

Boom… done.

That’s all there is to it.

 

 

The great thing with Neon is that it’s easy for you to audition exactly the point below which you want to make the bass mono.

Plus it has an analyzer built-in which actually shows if there’s stereo content going on in the low end or not.

So they completely took out the guesswork with this plug-in.

It has many other extremely nice functions as well.

But I might tell you a bit more about that another time.

 

Anyway, here’s a few ways for you to deal with this issue. I am really hoping Apple will provide some up to date tools for working with the stereo image in their upcoming big Logic 10 (Logic X?) update.

In the meantime we’re stuck with these tricks!

What about those other DAW:s… Live? Cubase? Reason? Are you guys covered with this? Let us hear in the comments…

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  • Logan

    I use Brainworx XL on the master and it has a mono cuttoff on it which i usually set to around 150hz.

    I know Reason also has a stereo imager that allows you to do the same

    • Brainworx have some great plugins indeed!

  • Matti

    My weapon of choice is FabFilter Pro-Q!

  • Lza

    http://www.toneprojects.com/products/plug-ins/basslane/

    Its free and works. PC only though.

    • Thanks for the tip, that is excellent news for the PC users!

  • D4

    So would you put neon on a bus and send every channel to it cutting off frequencies around the 100hz point?

    Not sure I follow your last solution properly.

    Thanks

    • It’s better to tackle this problem at the source if possible, to keep things simple. So most of the time I just do it on the individual channels itself.

      And please note I am not suggesting to cut everything below 100Hz. Neon has the ability to do mid-side processing, and I am only cutting the low end from the side channel.

      This gets rid of the stereo bass content while preserving the mono bass content.

  • D4

    Hi,

    On inserting Neon HR I highlight the mid-side button and select side on the channel select with my analyser resolution on max and nothing appears in the EQ when I select the mid channel everything shows?

    Am I doing something wrong, I’ve tried on multiple channels (kick, bass, pads)

    Sorry to use you for tech support but interested in seeing what can be achieved with this method.

    Thanks again

    • That sounds like the sounds you have going are mono. The side channel should show movement if there is stereo content going on.

  • Badeshi

    you can use Audio Racks in Ableton to split the signal into 2 and Monofy the lower frequencies using autofilter and Utility plugin… works pretty well and is easy to setup/control

    • Ilpo Kärkkäinen

      Good stuff thanks for sharing. Need something like that for Logic.

  • nuKs

    I sometimes use the logic’s direction mixer to make stereo track mono but it seems to create phasing issues. Does your method do the same ?

    • Ilpo Kärkkäinen

      Direction mixer is good for narrowing down the stereo image of the entire spectrum, but won’t work in this context as it doesn’t have multi-band operation.

      To answer your question though… Have you tried using the direction mixer in MS mode? I must confess I haven’t used the direction mixer much but you could probably avoid phase cancellation issues that way.

      The difference between LR and MS modes:
      Reducing the stereo image in MS mode reduces the amount of Side (stereo) channel while leaving the Mid (mono) channel intact. Where as in LR mode narrowing of the stereo image is achieved by summing up the content of the left and right channels (which can result to phase cancellation).

  • nuKs

    Thanks for the reply. I used to employ Direction mixer with band spliting which work the same as your mentionned Solution #1 (I wasn’t aware of that mono button :D).
    I’ve just made a test with absynth : 2 sines, one on each side, and the second one with 0.5 phase. When putting them to mono, each side is cancelling each other and the resulting signal is null.
    When using real M/S source, there shouldn’t be any problem as the mid is already a solo band. But when converting a L/R signal to M/S, the mid becomes L+R and the issue remain when cutting the sides.
    I found two solutions to this problem :
    1. Use only one of the side of the sub and then mono-it.
    2. Cut the sub and layer another one.

    Anyways, it doesn’t seems to make a huge difference in your tracks :p

    Note : Direction mixer doesn’t convert the input in M/S when using the specified mode. Instead, it assumes the input is already in M/S (the left is considered as left and right as side).

    • Ilpo Kärkkäinen

      Ahh right I shouldn’t have assumed that about direction mixer. Thanks for pointing that out, that’s good to know. Logic really isn’t very good with the stereo image.

      Yeah I do quite often just cut the wild bottom end and layer another one which is more controlled and good quality. That is a very valid way of getting around the problem.

      Ps. I only now just found out there is an easy way of making Logic play either the left or the right side of a stereo track. Check the “taking the sides” tip at the bottom of this post: http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/nov11/articles/logic-1111.htm

      • nuKs

        Glad to help and thanks for the tip.
        Your website is truly a gold mine for me.

  • MAIKEL p

    Ever since I stopped working on windows based systems I had to give up my trusty vst Basslane.. worked as a charm!
    Tried Nugen filter, but didn’t like it too much,
    The most effective method is indeed using a mid-Side EQ (fabfilter in my case).
    So you have control over the slope (6db, 12db) for the mono cutoff, and ofcourse a full fledged equaliser.. (I work in Studio One)
    great post btw, important reminder

    • Ilpo Kärkkäinen

      Yup.. They really should build a quick and easy Basslane type functionality in all modern DAWs.

      • Izotope Imager ( module, separate vst) works as a charm nowadays..
        I should have mentioned that one.. reallly quick to setup

        • Ilpo Kärkkäinen

          Yeah Izotope is great. I use Ozone but don’t have the advanced version where you can use the different elements as separate plugins.

          I use the Brainworx Digital V2 a lot at the moment which is great for precise control of stereo image. They also have BX_Control plugin which has the same low end mono maker functionality.

          http://www.brainworx-music.de/en/plugins

  • Pie berger

    The EQ Eight in Ableton Live and CurveEQ in Cubase both have M/S processing capabilities and can thus be used to address this problem.

    • Ilpo Kärkkäinen

      The EQ8 in Live 9 is great! One of my favorite tools these days.

  • tbay

    new EQ in LogicX solves this… yes? 😉

    • I have no idea… Does it have M/S functionality? I am still using Logic 9.